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2012

The Zombie-Ant Fungus Is Under Attack, Research Reveals
May 3, 2012
A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by David Hughes of Penn State University.
A dose of treatment: Workshop shows ways to combat swift-moving ash borer
May 3, 2012
Rick Turcotte, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said the chemical used to protect Pennsylvania’s trees from the invasive and highly damaging emerald ash borer has a fitting name.
New GM Crops Could Make Superweeds Even Stronger
May 2, 2012
Herbicide-resistant superweeds threaten to overgrow U.S. fields, so agriculture companies have genetically engineered a new generation of plants to withstand heavy doses of multiple, extra-toxic weed-killing chemicals.
Waste not, want not: Dive into composting this spring
May 2, 2012
Mark Smallwood first learned about compost as a child while preparing a garden for growing onions. "My earliest memories are in the garden with my grandmother, making compost," said Smallwood, executive director for the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny Township.
Ticks not necessarily worse this year
May 1, 2012
Anyone who spends time in the outdoors is probably aware of the dangers ticks pose to pets and people. Despite some anecdotal evidence that there could be a boom in the tick population in 2012, experts say it’s really too soon to tell.
Dow Corn, Resistant to a Weed Killer, Runs Into Opposition
April 26, 2012
To Jody Herr, it was a telltale sign that one of his tomato fields had been poisoned by 2,4-D, the powerful herbicide that was an ingredient in Agent Orange, the Vietnam War defoliant.
Daylong Cram Course in Agriculture
April 26, 2012
Alumni Hall at Penn State University’s campus was crowded with booths and students on April 12 for the University’s Ag Day.
FRANKLIN COUNTY GARDENING: Two things that bug us
April 26, 2012
It's time to begin a lookout for two insect pests that make an appearance each year in the area: gypsy moths and mosquitoes.
In search of the 'lost ladybug'
April 25, 2012
Leah Tyrrell wants to make something clear: She does not wear ladybug sweatshirts. She does not carry her belongings in ladybug bags, shelter from the rain beneath a ladybug-shaped umbrella, or take notes with pens decorated with little ladybugs.
Starbucks to phase out coloring from crushed beetles
April 25, 2012
Starbucks Corp said on its blog on Thursday that it will stop using a natural, government-approved coloring made from crushed beetles in its strawberry flavoring by late June, bowing to pressure from some vegetarian customers.
Push for local agriculture, products is growing
April 24, 2012
Buy local means many things to many people. It is the heirloom tomato grown on a Perry County farm, sliced and paired with locally made buffalo mozzarella cheese on a caprese salad. It is the coffee, roasted by hand and brewed from bean to cup at the corner coffee shop. Or the neighbors chipping in to purchase organic grass-fed beef from a nearby farm.
Every Curb is a Shoreline: Responsible Yard and Garden Care to Protect Water Quality
April 23, 2012
The growing season began early this year in Pennsylvania, so that means that many of us have already been hard at work preparing yards and gardens for the impending warmer weather.
Weed Resistance Creates New Normal for Farmers
April 23, 2012
Dealing with herbicide resistant crops is a way of life for Richard Wilkins of Greenwood, Del. The first herbicide resistant weed discovery was made in 2000 on a farm a few miles from his. Wilkins, along with Penn State Extension weed specialist Bill Curran, discussed the challenges and realities of weed herbicide resistance Monday with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists.
Keeping Flies, Bugs Uncomfortable
April 19, 2012
Flies, odors and neighbors — oh my. During the Technology Tuesday webinar sponsored by the Penn State Dairy Team, the topic turned from cow comfort to tackle another farm issue, flies and odors. Robert Graves, professor of agricultural engineering at Penn State, said the goal is to keep flies and odor-making microbes “uncomfortable.” Unhappy flies and other pests mean smaller populations.
Extension Educators Adjust to New Reality
April 17, 2012
Having been a county Extension director in Lebanon County for the past 12 years, Winifred McGee has had to split her time wisely between her administrative duties and providing programs to the public. But with recent changes to Penn State’s Extension system, McGee is returning to her first love — focusing solely on education.
Backyard Pesticide Use May Fuel Bee Die-Offs
April 17, 2012
The controversy over possible links between massive bee die-offs and agricultural pesticides has overshadowed another threat: the use of those same pesticides in backyards and gardens. Neonicotinoid pesticides are ubiquitous in everday consumer plant treatments, and may expose bees to far higher doses than those found on farms, where neonicotinoids used in seed coatings are already considered a major problem by many scientists.
PA IPM News Spring 2012 Now Available
April 16, 2012
The PA IPM News Spring 2012 edition is now available as a downloadable PDF file and includes articles on bed bugs, ants, Christmas tree scouting reports, green cleaning products, West Nile virus and more.
Warm Weather is Increasing Insects in Lackawanna County
April 16, 2012
Sunshine dappled the surface of Lake Scranton and the sky was pastel blue, but Erin McBride found herself running through a black cloud on her daily jog. "This is the worst I've seen it so far this year," the 25-year-old Old Forge native said after her run Tuesday. "It was definitely a cloud (of insects). I had to keep my head down to keep from getting them in my eyes and mouth."
Expert sees increase in ticks
April 13, 2012
A scientist believes people living in the Northeast might be at greater risk of contracting Lyme disease this year than ever before. That's the unsettling assessment by Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.
Weeds Off to a Happy Start
April 13, 2012
A weed couldn't ask for better weather than we've had so far this year. The same extraordinarily warm start that had our dogwoods blooming three weeks early has been a boon to weeds as well -- especially ones that sprout from seed in late winter to early spring.
Researchers seek fix for destructive bug
April 11, 2012
Pennsylvania’s state tree — the eastern hemlock — is threatened by a bug in about three-quarters of counties. Local farmers hope to draw attention to the problem, and Penn State researchers are working to find a natural enemy to combat the bug — the hemlock woolly adelgid.
West Nile Virus Strikes Early
April 5, 2012
A mild winter and balmy spring temperatures means increasing mosquito populations and the diseases they carry, including West Nile Virus.
Whole Room Heat Treatment Controls Bedbugs
April 5, 2012
Penn State University, teamed with Parks Pest Control and Orkin, is using whole room heat to control the bedbug infestations in dorm rooms.
Early Warm Temps Mean Early Pest Pressure
April 2, 2012
Researchers in Pennsylvania and Michigan have started a full-court press in providing growers with information on the latest pest monitoring and control tips.
Growers Get Tools to Deal With Plant Diseases
March 30, 2012
The warmer than usual winter and balmy start to spring has Beth Gugino, plant pathologist at Penn State, concerned about pathogens that may have lived on plant tissue that didn’t die over winter.
More ticks mean more bites
March 30, 2012
When Donna Fisher's 12-year-old son, Matthew, woke up one morning complaining of back pain, she thought he had just slept awkwardly. "I started to rub his back and he said, 'You have to stop — that hurts,' " said Fisher, a New Kensington resident. When Fisher called to check on him later that day, Matthew said his older brother, Sean, told him he had a blackhead on his back.
Ticks, stink bugs flourish after mild winter
March 28, 2012
Because of the very mild winter, some of the area's most annoying pests never went dormant, making this spring "horrendous" for ticks and fleas, one local doctor says. The size and strength of the stink bug population is left up to anyone's guess.
Maker Pulls Pesticide Amid Fear of Toxicity
March 28, 2012
A manufacturer has pulled a controversial pesticide from the American market, surprising both growers and environmentalists who have warned that it poses serious hazards.
Growers assess damage from Monday night freeze
March 28, 2012
Monday night was sleepless for Adam Voll, who spent the wee hours fanning apple trees and irrigating peach trees at his family's farm in Butler County, where the temperature fell to 19 degrees, damaging at least some of the crops.
Expert Expects Large Tick Population After Warm Winter
March 26, 2012
Although the growing season hasn’t even started, there’s already a bumper crop — of a critter that really ticks people off.
Enjoying the warmth? So are breeding ticks
March 20, 2012
Warm weather beckons us outdoors. It also brings out the bugs. Both of them together can be a dangerous combination. Especially if it's blood-sucking deer ticks that latch themselves onto your skin and can cause a painful and debilitating disease.
Christmas Tree Scouting Reports Now Available
March 20, 2012
Christmas tree scouting reports for the 2012 growing season are now available online at the Pennsylvania IPM Program's website and on the 1-800 PENN IPM hotline.
A boon or a bane? High temps are here
March 20, 2012
A mild winter that’s ending with an early warm-up can be a great thing for sun lovers and folks with an aversion to the cold. But it can also cause some problems: • a potential for ruined fruit crops. • an early start for some allergies. • and the early appearance of some stinging insects.
Destructive stink bug found in Somerset County
March 19, 2012
The brown marmorated stink bug — an invasive species officials have been worried about for more than a year — has been confirmed in Markleton. The voracious plant-eater, identified by scientists at Pennsylvania State University, was found by Tony Marich in his home.
Dreaded, costly emerald ash borer has arrived in the Philly region
March 19, 2012
A small, glitter-green insect that has killed more than 50 million ash trees in the Midwest and beyond has arrived in the Philadelphia region. Officials had both dreaded and expected it - just not this soon.
March 18-24 is Poison Prevention Week
March 19, 2012
U.S. poison centers answer more than four million calls each year. That’s one call every eight seconds! This March marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week. In honor of this important occasion, the U.S. EPA is hosting a conference call on poison prevention with Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on Monday, March 19 at 10:30am EDT.
IPM researcher sees challenges ahead
March 16, 2012
When Dr. Larry Hull entered the world of land-grant university tree fruit entomologists in 1972, integrated pest management was just the new kid on the block. The idea of IPM was to draw back from the heavy reliance on chemical pesticides and to integrate a diverse group of pest control tactics, most of which were just ideas that needed to be developed.
Parasite Manipulation of Host Behavior
March 16, 2012
A dead Camponotus leonardi ant infected by Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l, a brain-manipulating fungus. The fungus has grown stalks from the ant's head and the bulbous, reddish tissue on the stalks are ascomata (spore producing bodies), from which spores are shot out nightly to infect new hosts.
Pennsylvania growers get another all-clear on Plum Pox virus
March 15, 2012
Pennsylvania’s fruit orchards remain free of the Plum Pox virus. That’s the good news relayed by State Agriculture Secretary George Greig, reporting on the results of a survey conducted last summer in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.
Stink Bugs Still Big Threat Despite Decline
March 9, 2012
It appears growers are at least doing their part to control the brown marmorated stink bug, or Asian stink bug as it is now referred to, as evidenced by their apparent decline in numbers in orchards last season.
Bugged: How Philly exterminator extraordinaire outsmarts pests
March 7, 2012
Martin Overline doesn't like to brag, so he leaves it to others to say what he will not: He ranks among the best mouse men on the East Coast. He doesn't breed mice or collect them for study. He kills them. Sends them on their furry, four-footed journey to that giant mousetrap in the sky. And metes out similar fates to other creeping, crawling pests.
Farmers Face Tough Choice On Ways To Fight New Strains Of Weeds
March 7, 2012
David Mortensen, a weed ecologist at Penn State University, predicts that weeds will evolve resistance to new herbicides too. He says it's a kind of treadmill, where farmers constantly need new weedkillers. "When one herbicide fails, you add a second herbicide, and then a third herbicide to the package. And I am convinced that this is not a sustainable path forward," he says.
Sharing Knowledge and Best Practices Conference
March 5, 2012
Steve Jacobs. Jacobs, a senior extension associate with the Pennsylvania State University Department of Entomology, talked about the brown marmorated stink bug at a recent Chicago pest management conference.
Review State K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines
March 5, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released for public comment the K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines for States, Tribes and Territories. The guidelines are primarily intended to be used as a resource for the establishment of a state, tribal, or territorial K-12 school environmental health program. EPA encourages the public to review the draft guidelines and provide comments by April 13, 2012.
The PA IPM News Winter 2012 edition is now available
February 27, 2012
Bed Bugs Can’t Beat the Heat at Penn State
February 27, 2012
As bed bugs continue to be a growing problem in apartment buildings, dorm rooms, hotels, hospitals and homes across the country, a new treatment method is proving to be very effective and less disruptive for students at Penn State.
When “Green” is not so Green
February 24, 2012
Take a walk down the aisle of your local supermarket or hardware store and you’ll see plenty of products with labels using phrases like “eco-safe” and “environmentally friendly”. Such “green” claims can help us choose better products, but how can we be sure they are what they claim?
PASA Leaders Share Hope for the Future, but Also Fear
February 14, 2012
When Kim Seeley joined the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) more than a dozen years ago, the once conventional dairy farmer saw it as a life-changing experience.
Integrated weed management best response to herbicide resistance
February 10, 2012
Over-reliance on glyphosate-type herbicides for weed control on U.S. farms has created a dramatic increase in the number of genetically-resistant weeds, according to a team of agricultural researchers, who say the solution lies in an integrated weed management program.
Penn State offers programs to help agriculture, people
February 6, 2012
Penn State Cooperative Extension has played a key role in the success of many agriculture-related businesses. "We would not be in business without Penn State Extension and their expertise," said Pat Frazier, owner of Lock Mountain Strawberries on Lock Mountain Road, west of Martinsburg.
Effort to establish blight-free American chestnut tree switches gears
January 31, 2012
The three-decades-old initiative to restore American chestnut trees back into forests in the eastern United States has entered a new phase, according to an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Farmers Learning Limits of Popular Herbicide
January 31, 2012
Pigweed spreads fast and grows as tall as two meters. This weed can overpower cotton and other crops. It comes from the amaranth family and is also known as Palmer amaranth or Palmer's pigweed.
Use Caution when Handling Bleach
January 24, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Household bleach has many uses. It deodorizes, disinfects, kills germs, mold and mildew, but can be toxic if not handled correctly, says a Penn State educator.
Philly Child Care Directors Featured
January 24, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Building on relationships with Philadelphia child cares, a new Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management project with the city’s child care directors will promote safer and healthier indoor environments in these facilities.
Registration is now open for the 7th International IPM Symposium
January 23, 2012
The 7th International IPM Symposium, "IPM on the World Stage-Solutions for Global Pest Challenges," will be held in Memphis, Tennessee USA on March 27-29, 2012 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Symposium sessions will address Integrated Pest Management (IPM) across disciplines, internationally, in the market place, agricultural, structural community settings, horticultural, and natural environments.
Are schools making kids sick?
January 16, 2012
As a third-grader in Winsted, Connecticut, last year, Matthew Asselin was sick -- a lot. He was lethargic and plagued with a persistent wet cough, respiratory infections and painful headaches.
Pennsylvania Fruit Tree Improvement Program Ensures Clean Trees
January 16, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fruit tree viruses are very costly to nursery owners, fruit producers, and consumers. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s virus testing certification ensures that fruit trees produced at participating nurseries are being grown using practices that greatly reduce the presence of common viruses.
Parasitic flies turn bees into zombies before wiping them out completely
January 4, 2012
Something is very wrong with the bees. Since 2006, the mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder has wiped out countless honeybee colonies throughout Europe and North America, and nobody knows why. But a weird parasite may hold the answer.
Bugs may be resistant to genetically modified corn
January 3, 2012
One of the nation's most widely planted crops — a genetically engineered corn plant that makes its own insecticide — may be losing its effectiveness because a major pest appears to be developing resistance more quickly than scientists expected.