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International news in brief – January/February 2016

| March 28, 2016
  • The Hague, Netherlands: Huge seizures of 190 tonnes of counterfeit pesticides

Europol supported a massive 12-day international operation Silver Axe, during which 350 inspections of containers were carried out at major ports and airports in seven countries. As a result, law enforcement agencies from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands discovered 190 tonnes of illegal or counterfeit pesticides. One hundred cases of infringements were also detected, which led to the initiation of further investigation by the authorities, seven of which are still ongoing. Operation Silver Axe focused on the sale and placing on the market (imports) of counterfeit pesticides, including infringements of intellectual property rights such as trademarks, patents and copyright, as well as targeting the illegal trade of pesticides.

Throughout the operation, (16-27 November 2015), Europol’s experts exchanged and analysed data among participating countries, and liaised with rights holders from the private sector. Cooperation with private industry remains crucial and was key to this successful operation. CropLife International, the European Crop Protection Association ECPA and the European Crop Care Association ECCA, representing the plant protection industry, participated in the preparation phase as well as during the operation. Operation Silver Axe was organised in line with the EU Action Plan on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and was financially supported with an EU granted budget.

  • USA: Developers now need to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat

The USDA has announced its decision to require developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat, beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.

The decision to require growers to plant GE wheat under the more stringent permit process rather than the notification process employed in the past, is designed to provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulations specify that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimize the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.

This action also strengthens the United States wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.

  • Australia: Trialling GM fruit fly

Trials of a genetically modified insect are to be carried out to see if it can control a destructive crop pest. The engineered Mediterranean fruit flies possess a gene that prevents female flies from reaching adulthood. When released into the environment, they mate with wild members of the same species and pass on the gene to their offspring, which die before they can cause damage to crops. The flies have been produced by the British based company Oxitec.

The Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAFWA) has now announced it will conduct an indoor assessment of the engineered fruit flies. Eggs were imported from the UK and reared at DAFWA research acilities. Their potential for pest control will now be assessed in glasshouse trials. A decision last year by Australian regulators to phase out the organophosphate insecticide fenthion has prompted a search for alternative methods of controlling the fruit pest. Oxitec male flies are released to mate with wild female flies. When they do, they pass on a “self-limiting” gene which prevents female offspring from reaching adulthood. This prevents the females from stinging fruit crops, or reproducing, thus shrinking populations of the fly in the release area.

  • USA: New Wireless Rodent Trap from Victor

Victor, a leading, global provider of intelligent solutions for effective rodent control, have introduced the Kill-@lert Remote Notification System at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The product was on the tradeshow booth of Exosite, a provider of strategic IoT (Internet of Things) technology that worked with Victor® to develop the system’s cloud-based services.

The new Kill-@lert Remote Notification System will be featured at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

The new Kill-@lert Remote Notification System will be featured at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

The Kill-@lert System offers both mouse and rat trap solutions and uses wireless technology to inform users when a trap has been tripped. Users can track the performance of the system with a convenient, user-friendly online platform. The complete system comes with four traps, a tablet, USB connector and a range extender, and is ideal for use in residential and small- to medium-size business settings.
The trap creates a 100-foot “bubble” of wireless coverage that can be increased by adding a range extender and positioning them so that the wireless “bubbles” overlap. This gives users the flexibility to place traps exactly where they need them — under shelves, behind cabinets, storage lockers, drop ceilings, commercial kitchens, and any other place that may see increased rodent activity. “The Kill-@lert System is the result of years of careful planning and design that changes the way consumers, business owners, and pest control managers take care of rodents,” said Boris Bajlovic, senior category development manager for Victor®. “We’re incredibly excited to be able to showcase how we’ve revolutionized pest management at one of the largestelectronics expositions in the world.”

  • Thailand: Science Ministry discovers way to dispose of insects in rice

The Ministry of Science and Technology has opened an insectpest management plant where radio frequency is used to dispose of insects and their eggs in rice. Weerapong Pairsuwan, Permanent Secretary for Science and Technology, officiated at a ceremony to open a model plant for insect-pest management and control. This plant has the capability to terminate and remove insects and insect eggs from rice by using electromagnetic wave frequencies.

Electromagnetic waves will travel through the molecules of rice which will vibrate 1 trillion times per second, creating a certain degree of heat that, according to a research team in Chiang Mai University, insects and their eggs cannot survive. Mr Weerapong said the same procedure can be applied to other products such as corn, nuts and beans, and sesame.

He said the new technology helps to maintain the quality of Thai agricultural produce as well as improve the country’s ability to compete with its counterparts in the ASEAN market.

  • UK: First crop genetically engineered to release insect pheromone

Researchers at Rothamsted have investigated how insect pheromones offer potential for managing pests of crop plants. Volatility and instability are problems for deployment in agriculture but could be solved by expressing genes for the biosynthesis of pheromones in the crop plants.

This has now been achieved by genetically engineering a hexaploid variety of wheat to release (E)-β-farnesene (Eβf), the alarm pheromone for many pest aphids, using a synthetic gene based on a sequence from peppermint with a plastid targeting amino acid sequence, with or without a gene for biosynthesis of the precursor farnesyl diphosphate. Pure Eβf was produced in stably transformed wheat lines with no other detectable phenotype but requiring targeting of the gene produced to the plastid.

In laboratory behavioural assays, three species of cereal aphids were repelled and foraging was increased for a parasitic natural enemy. Although these studies show considerable potential for aphid control, field trials employing the single and double constructs showed no reduction in aphids or increase in parasitism. Insect numbers were low and climatic conditions erratic suggesting the need for further trials or a closer imitation, in the plant, of alarm pheromone release.

  • USA: Tackling bedbugs while on the move

When an estimated 46.9 million Americans travel during the Thanksgiving holiday season, they look forward to a four-day weekend of feasting, football and fellowship. But a rise in bed bug infestations has meant travellers may bring along some unwanted guests to the holiday dinner table. No longer just a risk in the bedroom, bedbugs are now being found in hospitals, nursing homes, movie theatres, retail stores, universities and public schools, and even on airplanes. Eight of the top 10 busiest airports for Thanksgiving weekend (25-30 Nov.) are located in the top 30 cities for bedbugs (as reported by Orkin).

Available in two sizes

To address this problem ThermalStrike has introduced a line of luggage products that features state-ofthe-art infrared technology that is lethal to all stages of bed bugs. According to Sales Director Brian Hirsch “Getting rid of bedbugs is no easy task,” Hirsch says. In fact, the NPMA recommends exposure to temperatures above 118°F for bedbug management. ThermalStrike Luggage is designed to exceed these temperatures to kill all stages of bedbugs and eggs, while regulating temperatures that are safe for most items. By raising the luggage’s handle and simply plugging the unit into a traditional wall socket, it treats all of your belongings,” Hirsch says. “It is peace of mind for travelers once they get to their destination, and when they return home.”

ThermalStrike luggage is TSA and FAA compliant and features an ultrathin heating system with an integrated thermometer that automatically shuts off after reaching the desired temperature to kill all life stages of bedbugs.

  • Canada: Coffee rust: Historical context and impact

Coffee rust disease management has made significant headlines in recent years for its devastating effect on coffee crops. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), losses in Latin America and the Caribbean alone have totalled well over $1 billion, causing hardship to coffee plantations, their labourers, coffee retailers, and the consumers who pay more for their morning coffee. The fungal disease, also known as “the big rust,” has a much longer and more encompassing history that goes all the way back to its discovery in 1869.

This history is reviewed through a new article entitled, “The Big Rust and the Red Queen: Long-Term Perspectives on Canada: Coffee Rust Research” in which the authors discuss the rust in a broader historical context, chronicling coffee rust epidemics, the social and ecological conditions that produced them, and the evolving scientific responses to this threat. The article highlights the many innovations used to combat coffee disease outbreaks, such as the efforts to develop diseaseresistant plants, chemical and agroecological control, and even a network of international coffee research institutes. It also incorporates the broader social and economic histories of coffee production into particular stories of rust epidemics and rust research. The article also points out examples of the current research and disease mitigation challenges in developing nations versus affluent parts of the world.

  • Spain: Biological innovations to take root in a new R&D centre

At the end of 2015, Koppert Biological Systems, laid the foundation stone for a sustainable building in the Spanish town of Vícar and hopes to bring microbiological solutions closer to growers around the world. ‘This building is much more than an economic investment. It represents Koppert’s commitment to agriculture and reflects our interest in working side by side with farmers to improve the competitiveness and commercial value of their crops’ said Koppert’s local Sales Director, Valter Ceppi.


The Mayor of Vícar in the province of Almería, Antonio Bonilla, and Councillor María Fernández, were present at the stone laying ceremony for the new 300 square metre R&D centre which Koppert Spain is building.

Research into microorganisms that are beneficial to agriculture will be one of the key activities to be developed at the new R&D centre. The identification of fungi and bacteria which naturally increase the growth and productivity of plants, while strengthening the natural resilience of crops against diseases that are mainly transmitted through the root, form the basis for a range of Koppert’s seed, soil and plant enhancement products.

There will be a second laboratory for entomological research and an area devoted to quality control for all the biological products which Koppert sells in Spain. The new R&D centre will have sufficient space to accommodate both permanent staff and visitors. Koppert commissioned a firm specialized in designing sustainable homes to draw up the plans. The new building will be self-sufficient in terms of energy, relying on solar and wind power, and will be constructed with materials that take maximum advantage of the light and Mediterranean climate to minimize its environmental impact.

  • China: Chemicals that make plants defend themselves could replace pesticides

New research considers how rice plants can be influenced to fend off a common pest – the white- backed planthopper, (Sogatella furcifera). This pest attacks rice, leading to yellowing or “hopper burn,” which causes the plants to wilt and can even damage the grains. It also transmits a virus disease called, southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus, which stunts the plants’ growth and stops them from “heading,” which is when pollination occurs.


Plants have natural self-defence mechanisms that kick in when they are infested with pests like the planthopper. This defence mechanism can be switched on using chemicals. In the study, researchers developed a new way of identifying these chemicals. Using a specially designed screening system, they determined to what extent different chemicals switched on the plants’ defence mechanism. The team designed and synthesized 29 phenoxyalkanoic acid derivatives. Of these, they identified five that could be effective at triggering the rice plants to defend themselves and repel the white-backed planthopper.

This suggests that these chemicals have the potential to be used in insect pest management. The next step for the research will be to explore how effective the chemicals are at boosting the plants’ defences in the field.

  • UK: Pelsis expand European presence through acquisition of Tanaco

In January, the Pelsis Group announced the acquisition of Tanaco A/S of Esbjerg, Denmark. Tanaco is an established business serving the Danish Professional Pest Control market as well as the Consumer Pest Control market. Tanaco will continue to operate from its current location, there will be no changes to staffing levels there and the current owner of Tanaco, Henrik Lange will also remain with the business for the foreseeable future.

Pelsis Group CEO, Peter Mangion, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Henrik Lange and the whole team at Tanaco in this, our first platform business in the Scandinavian Pest Control market. This transaction is consistent with the Pelsis strategy of acquiring well established businesses, with strong brands and great people. Pelsis now has manufacturing, packing and distribution facilities, as well as office locations in nine countries, and customers in more than eighty countries”.

Henrik Lange, Chairman and Owner of Tanaco said “I am very pleased that Tanaco now is a part of the Pelsis Group. Tanaco has always been geared towards growth and with skilled loyal employees, good customer relations and trading partners, Tanaco has become a major player in the Scandinavian market. The fact that we are now part of Pelsis Group I see as a great enhancement of our ambition to serve our customers in an even better way.”

  • Kenya: plant health clinics to stem spread of Tuta absoluta

In the US, plant clinics have been instrumental in protecting the country from foreign attacks. In Montana, for example, plant clinics have been credited with protecting the $100 million wheat, $4 million cherry, and $5.4 million alfalfa seed industries, while also providing timely diagnosis that nips the diseases before causing major damage. Though Kenya is yet to have such elaborate and advanced interventions, private research groups and the government are taking steps in addressing threats to food security in a sector that provides income to more than 75% of the population and contributes 30% to the country’s GDP. Led by the research institution Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), in partnership with Kenyan research institutions and government, the model has trained approximately 268 plant doctors and recorded 11,600 plant health queries.

On a Saturday mornings, groups of farmers queue up outside outdoor kiosks while doctors sit in wooden chairs accompanied by their tools of trade: microscopes, pen knives, laptop, and magnifying lenses. Clinics like these have halted major diseases like the virulent Maize Lethal Necrosis, which hit Kenya’s food baskets in 2012, destroying 300,000 tonnes of corn in one year according to CABI, and tomato leaf miner which wipes out up to 100% yields in days. CABI has also been carrying out plant health rallies across areas where the disease and pests are rampant, to train farmers on early detection and control measures.

  • USA: Cockroach swarming pheromones produced by gut bacteria

A chemical analysis of cockroach faeces has revealed that bacteria in the insects’ guts may play an important role in influencing their communication. The bacteria produce a cocktail of volatile compounds that end up in the faeces and can attract other cockroaches, causing groups to swarm. Researchers at North Carolina State University in the US analysed samples of cockroach faeces and identified 40 volatile carboxylic acids that act as attractants to immature cockroaches or nymphs.

When faeces from cockroaches without any gut flora was analysed, only minute traces of most of these compounds were founds, and 12 were absent altogether. Nymphs were much less attracted to the faeces of these cockroaches than that of a control group with their gut flora intact. But this effect could be ‘rescued’ by inoculating the cockroaches with a mixture of six species of gut bacteria.

The team say their study highlights the previously overlooked effect of gut flora in communication among insects. Next, they plan to investigate whether gut bacteria contribute to the development of scent profiles that are unique within a particular colony of cockroaches.
Source: A WadaKatsumata et al, Proc. NatlAcad.Sci. USA, 2015, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1504031112.

  • UK: New venture for Silsoe Spray Applications Unit

On 1st January, Silsoe Spray Applications Unit became an independent limited company. Silsoe Spray Applications Unit is an experienced, internationally recognised, research team with specialist skills in spray/aerosol generation and characterization; spray behaviour and fate – in the air and on target surfaces; modelling of airborne spray, aerosols and pesticide exposures (environmental and human) and the relationship between the surface application of active chemicals and biological performance.

Measurement of spray drift into a field margin

Measurement of spray drift into a field margin

The Unit will remain at Wrest Park, in Silsoe, where it has unique facilities for research into pesticide application and spray technology, including a purpose-built wind tunnel for spray drift experimentation, allowing use of active ingredients—one of very few in the world; a range of laser-based instrumentation for droplet sizing, with bespoke software for spray analysis; a comprehensive range of analytical equipment for quantifying applied chemicals and a high-speed track sprayer for delivering field-scale sprays under controlled environmental conditions.

The new business is owned by Robert Willey, who also owns Househam Sprayers, although the unit at Silsoe will remain separate and independent. The research team is led by Clare Butler Ellis, and includes four scientists (Christine O’Sullivan, Andy Lane, Clive Tuck and Rafael Alanis) and a part-time admin assistance (Rachel Miles). Paul Miller is a director of the new business, and will also provide technical consultancy.

  • USA: Flower power – attraction to Buddleja could improve mosquito control

Some mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in water sources near flowers, a preference researchers theorize could be exploited to limit the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases, yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya and lead to improved pest control.

Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs near flowering butterfly bush. (Photo : James Gathany, CDC)

Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs near flowering butterfly bush. (Photo : James Gathany, CDC)

A team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Florida focused on the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and its egg-laying habits to determine whether the presence of flowers would impact where the insects laid their eggs.
When female mosquitoes were fed a bloodmeal and released in large cages with water containers near flowering buttterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii), a plant chosen for its year-round growth and mosquito appeal, researchers found that the mosquitoes laid significantly more eggs in them than in containers that lacked flowers.

“This study provides evidence of the attractiveness of flowering butterfly bushes to ovipositing (i.e., egg-laying) Aedes albopictus,” Dr. Timothy Davis, one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement. “Ovipositing mosquitoes are those that have taken a bloodmeal and, in instances where pathogen transmission is occurring, are the potential vectors as they may have acquired the pathogen through the bloodmeal. Therefore, exploiting the attractiveness of flowering butterfly bushes in developing control techniques could assist in stopping pathogen transmission.”

But why do these mosquitoes prefer flowers? Aside from its sweet taste, flower nectar is a valuable energy source which benefits pregnant females and their offspring.

  • Hawaii: Tackling mosquito borne disease

Trap-N-Kill is based on a US military design made to protect troops from the mosquitoes that carry tropical diseases, like Zika. The traps trick the mosquitoes into killing themselves.

Trap-N-Kill is based on a US military design made to protect troops from the mosquitoes that carry tropical diseases, like Zika. The traps trick the mosquitoes into killing themselves.

The Hawaii Department of Health has identified 241 new cases of dengue fever since the outbreak began in September. Springstar’s company president, Michael Banfield has been working closely with Hawaii Civil Defense and community groups to help combat the current dengue epidemic. The company’s Trap-N-Kill product is based on a US military trap designed to protect military personnel from the mosquitoes that carry tropical diseases, like Zika. After a female mosquito takes a bloodmeal, she has an irresistible urge to lay her eggs, and the Trap-N-Kill is an attractive place to do so. The product is a simple black container that mimics the breeding sites for the Aedes mosquito species. As soon as the mosquito goes into the trap, she picks up a dose of pesticide. A research study in a Florida ommunity found that putting just four traps in each yard reduced local mosquito populations by over 70%. SpringStar is now preparing for trap demonstration trials in Zika infected regions. Company researchers have been working closely with CDC researchers in Puerto Rico to develop a pesticide-free mosquito trap. In addition, they are working with the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology on an NIH-funded auto-dissemination device. This technology will turn female mosquitoes into “delivery drones” for an insect hormone that will kill mosquito larvae in hard-to-reach areas.


  • And finally… UK: Overweight raccoon caught after a year on the run

IPC Jan-Feb filler page 11 news in briefIn February a ravenous overweight (8.1kg (18lbs)) raccoon was finally lured into a baited trap. It also sighted on campus at the University of Sunderland and when bins were being ransacked on a regular basis, officials became concerned. The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs tracked it down and it is now vaccinated and awaiting a new home. The raccoon had possibly been kept as a pet until discarded in the wild. Those who encountered it said it showed no fear of humans, wandering close to them before taking whatever food it could and running away for a midnight snack. A number of the North American natives have been spotted in the wilds of the UK, a cause for concern by some scientists with fears the US mammal could become a pest and devastate native wildlife.

The danger is that they will breed and establish themselves. Raccoons can have a damaging effect on native wildlife particularly amphibians such as frogs and toads and birds as they raid their nests. Sightings of the animals have been spotted in the wild in Hampshire, Durham and west Berkshire. The escapees are thought to be single pets, reducing the chances they can breed.
Source: and see video

Published in International Pest Control – January/February 2016 issue

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Category: International Pest News, news in brief

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