Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011

Invasive sea squirt puts Connecticut's shellfish sector on alert

By Natalia Real

The invasive sea squirt Styela clava has appeared along the Eastern Seaboard and is threatening Connecticut’s USD 30 million shellfish business, informed Carmela Cuomo, head of the marine biology programme at the University of New Haven (UNH).

The migration of the foreign pest southward from Canada and northern New England jeopardizes the farming of bivalves such as clams, mussels, scallops and oysters in Long Island Sound.

Connecticut’s shellfish industry provides 300 jobs and has 70,000 ac of shellfish farms, according to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

“The spread of this particular species of sea squirt westward in Long Island Sound, along with laboratory studies of its temperature tolerance, indicates it can survive at higher water temperatures than scientists had previously believed,” Cuomo said. “If further testing confirms that Styela can reproduce in warmer waters, Styela may pose a greater threat than has previously been imagined and may even be able to spread as far south as Florida.” ...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 16, 2011

Kudzu bug spreads across Southern states

Sharon Dowdy, News Editor UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences

Almost two years ago, a tiny immigrant pest arrived in Georgia, and there’s nothing the state’s immigration office can do to make it leave. The bean plataspid, or kudzu bug, munches on kudzu and soybeans and has now set up residence in four Southern states.

Homeowners consider the bug a nuisance. Soybean producers shudder at the damage it causes. And many are hoping it will prove to be a kudzu killer.

Spreading problem

The kudzu bug was first spotted in Georgia in the fall of 2009 when insect samples were sent to the University of Georgia Homeowner Insect and Weed Diagnostic Laboratory in Griffin, Ga. The first samples came from UGA Cooperative Extension agents in Barrow, Gwinnett and Jackson counties.

“The bug can now be found in 143 Georgia counties, all South Carolina counties, 42 North Carolina counties and 5 Alabama counties,” said Wayne Gardner, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Last fall, Gardner had to search repeatedly to find the pest in kudzu patches in north Georgia. “Those areas are loaded with bugs this year,” he said.

By studying the pest for the past year, Gardner has determined wisteria, green beans and other legumes are the bug’s true hosts in the landscapes and home gardens. A plant becomes a true host of the insect when different life stages of the insect are found on the plant, he said...

No one seems to mind if the bugs take out a 1,000 or so acres of kudzu. But are they?

“We found the bug caused a 32 percent reduction in kudzu growth last year in the plots we monitored,” said Jim Hanula, an entomologist with the USDA Forest Service. He monitored the bug on kudzu plots in Athens, Ga., for the past year.

This may sound like reason to celebrate, but kudzu roots can grow as deep as 12 feet and weigh up to 300 pounds, Hanula said.

“We’re hopeful that feeding by the bug year after year will deplete those roots and weaken the plants,” he said. If the bug’s effect is cumulative, kudzu plants will likely weaken, and patches won’t be as thick.

“Hopefully, the bug will reduce kudzu’s ability to climb, which would be good for forestry,” he said.


New Invasive Aquatic Plant Confirmed In New York Lake

Pat Bradley

ITHACA, NY (WAMC) - Hydrilla has been confirmed in the inlet to Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes. The water weed is native to Asia and was brought to the U.S. in the 1950's when aquarium contents were dumped in Florida. Since then it has aggressively spread thru eastern waterways. Cornell Cooperative Extension Invasive Species Program Coordinator Chuck O'Neill says hydrilla is in Suffolk and Orange counties, but it's discovery in Cayuga is the northernmost sighting. State and local officials met in mid-August to discuss the scope of the infestation of hydrilla and what rapid response options need to be taken. Again Chuck O'Neill. Another concern is that hydrilla is often confused with native water plants. Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Director Hilary Smith says that's an obstacle for control of the weed. Hilary Smith says hydrilla has been on the radar for years as a possible invasive of concern. Scientists say boaters can prevent the spread of hydrilla by draining and cleaning boats and gear when leaving any waterbody.

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