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International news in brief – September/October 2016 issue

| December 30, 2016
  • UK: Mitie launches new specialised drone service

In June, Mitie announced the launch of a new drone service. The technology enables improved property surveying, efficient thermal mapping and the inspection of high-rise buildings – previously unreachable. The drone inspection service offers unrivalled benefits in terms of quality of the inspection, cost reduction and instant reporting.
The drone’s hi-resolution 4K camera boosts the accuracy of each survey giving facilities and property managers a more detailed inspection service. With the ability to reach 400ft, previously inaccessible places are reachable from the ground and without the need for specialist equipment. Footage and imagery of any areas of concern are immediately transmitted to the operative’s smartphone or tablet for inspection. This data can then be processed in real-time to Mitie’s computer aided facilities management (CAFM) system, Miworld.

Mitie trialled drone technology for its pest control business, inspecting roofs for gull’s nests and has extended its use across the whole FM spectrum of services. Peter Trotman, MD of Mitie’s pest control business says: “Drone technology is great innovation which increases our safety when working at height and it also offers both cost and time efficiencies compared to traditional surveying methods. “The new technology enables us to provide our clients with a more comprehensive and flexible service with the ability to recommend solutions in real-time.” The small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) are operated by licensed Civil Aviation Authority members, enhancing safety and reducing the cost of surveying at height.

  • Global: We have entered Anthropocene, the new man-made epoch

An international working group, voted by 34 to zero, with one abstention, that planet Earth
has entered a new epoch dubbed the Anthropocene because of the extent of humanity’s impact on the planet. The warming temperature, higher sea levels, ash from fossil fuels, plastic waste, a dramatic increase in erosion, the spread of animal species around the world and radioactive particles left around the world from nuclear bomb tests would all contribute to permanent changes in the Earth’s rocks, the scientists said.
They are still considering what date should be chosen for the so-called “Golden Spike” – a line in the rock that marks the boundary between the Holocene and Anthropocene epochs, but believe it should be in the mid-20th century. The announcement was made at the 35th International Geological Congress in South Africa. Their recommendation has to be agreed by the International Union of Geological Sciences in order to be formally declared and enter textbooks.
Dr Colin Waters, secretary of the Anthropocene Working Group, compared the changes made by humans on Earth to the end of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago, the start of the Holocene epoch. “In the last century we have had such a huge impact that we’re actually taking the planet away from that natural [climate] oscillation and changing the trend for global temperatures from what should have been a cooling trend to a warming trend,” he said.

  • Ireland: DoA to distribute booklet on Effective Control of Rodent Pests

A booklet entitled, Effective Control of Rodent Pests on Farms produced by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use Ireland (CRRU Ireland) in cooperation with TEAGASC and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is being distributed to all 140,000 farming households in Ireland by the Department of Agriculture.
This booklet outlines in detail how rodent control should be carried out on farms in an effective, responsible and environmentally friendly manner in compliance with current regulatory requirements. Best practice rodent control as specified in this booklet – and in the CRRU code – is a condition of the GLAS scheme and is an important element of GLAS training.

Many farmers and other rodent control practitioners may consider rodenticides as their primary and only means to control rodent pests. Since rodenticides can have harmful effects on non-target species, all available control options – as detailed in this booklet – must be considered before the use of a rodenticide can be justified. The booklet contains images and information on some of the birds and animals that are at risk of secondary poisoning from rodenticides.
An Integrated rodent pest management plan is part of Good Farming Practice. The booklet can be downloaded at the CRRU Ireland website –

  • Botswana: Big steps toward successful management of alien invasive weeds

Teams of scientists and labourers from the Department of Water Affairs in Botswana undertook a decades old challenge to combat invasive weeds in the Okavango Delta wetlands of Botswana. A review paper “Alien Invasive Aquatic Plant Species in Botswana: Historical Perspective and Management” describes the species biology, distribution, historical spread, negative impacts, and control achieved right from their discovery in Botswana. The review presents success stories of control of Salvinia, Salvinia molesta, by its biocontrol weevil, Cyrtobagous salviniae. No fresh releases of the weevil were undertaken after mass releases in 1999 and 2000, which were established in three years. It also presents the successful eradication of water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, in the transboundary Kwando River wetlands by 2005. Management of the growth of water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, from 2012 in the transboundary Limpopo River jointly with neighboring South Africa is also addressed in the review.

The review also looks at legislation regarding aquatic weeds. The Government of Botswana regulates the movement and importation of boats and aquatic apparatus to prevent the importation and spread of aquatic weeds by the strict implementation of Aquatic Weed (Control) Act -1986. The efforts made by the department have benefited tourism, water resource use, and wildlife. Partly due to the achievement of aquatic weeds control, the tourism sector is now very stable and contributes ca. 25% to the country’s GDP.

The authors Kurugundla et al. suggest that integrating biological and physical control with public awareness campaigns while working with conservation groups and NGOs would provide sustainable development of wetlands for ecological integrity and livelihoods.

  • US: Wearable device offers new protection from biting insects

With fears about Zika virus spreadi ng worl dwi de, a leading insect repellent brand has expanded its product line to include wearables. Sterling International Inc., the company behind Rescue! insect traps and attractants, has expanded its product line to include a new wearable repellent device called GoClip. The active ingredients are all-natural essential oils that serve as a spatial repellent to keep insects away. The oils are infused into a porous core that allows a controlled release over a 48-hour period. That core is housed in a metallic plastic cover with a clip that easily attaches to a shirt collar, waistband, cargo shorts pocket, hat or lanyard. When worn, the fragrance disperses into the air and helps shield the wearer from insect landings. Repellence is claimed to last 48 hours total, or six days – based on eight hours’ use per day. When not in use, a resealable zippered pouch helps it maintain potency.
The launch follows years of development that began with a Department of Defence Grant awarded to Sterling in 2008 for a wearable “personal insect repellent device” to protect soldiers in the Middle East from mosquitoes and sandflies. The GoClip retails for around $5.
For more information, visit

  • UK: Birth of NBC Environment

To reflect how business has evolved NBC Bird & Pest Solutions has rebranded to become to ‘NBC Environment’ to better reflect their business services and culture. The company also has moved to a new purpose-built facility and the new head office houses a falconry centre where they have commenced a falconry breeding programme.
NBC began life in 1993 with a Princes Trust Grant of £1500. John Dickson, Managing Director, identified an opportunity in the waste management industry for bird control using falconry. The business grew and in 2004 the business was franchised to establish a nationwide presence. In 2013 the business expanded further to develop its own operations nationally.
For more information, visit

  • Belgium: New COO for Biobest

Effective from October 1st, Karel Bolckmans rejoins Biobest as Chief Operating Officer (COO), returning to the company where he started his career in biocontrol in the early nineties. Karel brings a unique track-record and a proven capability to transform the biocontrol industry. In a company statement it says at Biobest, he will provide invaluable input to set out the company’s future growth strategy. He will maximize the market impact of the company’s rich innovation pipeline. And he will spend significant effort on keeping the company’s global production infrastructure robust and ready to deal with continuous double digit growth.

Jean-Marc Vandoorne, Biobest CEO comments “I’m pleased to welcome Karel in our executive team. Karel is widely recognized and respected as a pioneer in the biocontrol business through his experiences at Biobest and Koppert. With his most recent experience at Special Fruit, he has acquired an even deeper understanding of the needs of the horticultural supply chain in terms of sustainable production. I am very confident that Karel will make a significant contribution to Biobest’s growth.”

Karel himself added ”I am passionate about biological control and sustainability. It has been a great experience to work for a couple of years in the supply chain of high quality horticultural products, but I’m excited to return to the biocontrol and pollination business. Significant investments in innovation have resulted in a strong pipeline of new products and technologies. I’m excited about Biobest’s growth potential in the years to come and eager to help fully realize this potential.”

  • Austria: New insect imaging technique may help victims of sleeping sickness

Researchers from the IAEA Insect Pest Control Laboratory in Vienna, Austria have employed near infrared still photographs and timelapse video to observe the pupa of the living tsetse fly, and for the first time have watched its development into an adult. The imaging technique, which is described in the open-access Journal of Insect Science, may allow lab workers to identify male and female tsetse flies before they emerge as adults, which could make it easier to control them.
The tsetse fly is the vector of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), which infects people and livestock in many areas of Africa. Releasing males that have been sterilized by irradiation, known as SIT or the Sterile Insect Technique, is one way of managing the flies. The new imaging technique may make the sterilization process more efficient because males and females can be sorted earlier and easier. Males would then be sterilized and released to mate in the wild, and females could be kept in the lab in order to rear more males for future sterilization. The authors express hopes for wide application of the infrared technique they have used, and they hope that this technique will be adapted for many purposes in the field of entomology and beyond.
A video of the development process is available at
For more information, visit

  • NZ: Rats, possums and stoats beware as War is declared on invasive pests

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key in July announced a program to make the Pacific Ocean nation “predator free” by 2050, ridding its islands entirely of invasive species that are a threat to endemic birds and other native species. The project would be the first of its kind in the world. The government will put almost $20 million a year of new money, on top of more than $40 million that already goes into pest control annually, into various projects targeted at wiping out three species: rats, stoats and possums.
Pest-control methods currently employed include trapping, ground baiting and hunting. Controversially, New Zealand conducts air drops of sodium fluoroacetate, also known as 1080, although conservationists hope that the new initiative will involve trying out alternative approaches.

The prime minister says the three species, which are only found in New Zealand through human activity, some having arrived on trading ships, for instance, kill 25 million native birds a year and also prey on ground species such as lizards.

Any plan to eradicate huge swaths of animals is sure to prove contentious, but will the program actually work? Officials think so, and they estimate that eradicating the introduced predators will save the New Zealand economic sector nearly two percent of the country’s gross domestic product each year.
Read more at or

  • US: Scientists join BioConsortia science advisory board

BioConsortia who develop microbial solutions for natural plant trait enhancement and crop yield improvement, has announced that it has further boosted its R&D breadth and expertise with the addition of three world class experts to its scientific advisory board. All three are renowned leaders in their respective fields of research and each brings exceptional experience and knowledge applicable to different aspects of BioConsortia’s AMS (Advanced Microbial Selection) process.

Dr. Stephen Long FRS, is Endowed University Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology in the Institute of Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois and also Professor of Crop Sciences at Lancaster Environment Centre in the UK. Dr. Gary Andersen is Head of the Ecology Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Senior Scientist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, and Adjunct Professor in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. Professor Allen Rodrigo is the Director of the Research School of Biology in the Australian National University College of Medicine, Biology and Environment. “We are delighted to have attracted to our advisory team such prominent scientists who share our vision of addressing the need for highly effective biological solutions in agriculture. We are working closely with them to identify new opportunities, prioritize our research and development goals and collaborate closely on the strategic direction of the Company.” said Dr. Susan Turner, Sr. Vice President of Research.

  • South Africa: Nematodes to protect pine forests

The Sirex woodwasp (Sirex noctilo), is threatening South Africa’s pine forests, which makes up more than half of the 1.3 million hectares of plantation forests, an industry which employs 170,000, and exports $1.7 billion worth of wood products annually. The Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria has been working with industry and government partners to combat the infestations. “Methods to control pests such as the Sirex woodwasp exist, but a solution that works elsewhere doesn’t always work as well here in South Africa as it does in Australia or Brazil,” advises research lead Professor Bernard Slippers. “It is essential that one finds local solutions that consider local forestry practices, genetic diversity and environment conditions.”
Researchers at FABI are using nematodes as biocontrol agents against Sirex. The nematodes infect wasp larvae, and eventually sterilize the adult females that develop from these larvae. A fungus that lives in symbiosis with the wasp plays a key role in this biological control approach, since the nematodes must feed and breed on this fungus to infect the wasp larvae.

By studying each organism’s genome and population, FABI can select and develop the best nematode and process for the job. For this purpose, the researchers are creating global maps of the natural distribution of different variants of nematodes, wasps and the fungus. The genomic information might one day even be used to create sterile male wasps, which might offer additional control options.
Discover the story in full at Research Matters, the University of Pretoria research website:

  • India: The miriad uses of marigolds..oh and biocontrol

Goa’s alternative for the Rose, the Marigold is known locally as ‘Rosam’. Although Tagetes erecta, originated in South America, it is known as the ‘African Marigold’. It is a little different from Tagetes patula, the ‘French Marigold’ which actually gave the flower its name, a corruption of the term ‘Mary’s gold’, because these flowers with golden petals were offered in plenty at the shrines of Mary across the tomato growing belt of Mediterranean Europe.
The nativity of Mary is celebrated on September 8 and it coincides with the peak flowering of marigolds. So does Dusshera or Vijaya Dashmi, when the whole of India worships the tools of the trade even if now there is no longer the need to sharpen them to go to war as the Marathas did.

The root exudates of Marigold plants are effective against the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita and the root lesion nematode Pratylenchus penetrans. As an alternative to conventional nematicides, which may harm soil fauna and lead in turn to degradation of soil quality, growing marigolds has been shown to reduce nematode numbers by up to 90% in the field and produce flowers that have other uses such as garlands, in aroma therapy, to produce flavouring and yellow colour for food and drinks, and to feed to hens to get deep orange egg yolks.

  • NZ: Farmers seek biocontrol for smelly weed

Horehound, which resembles mint, has become an increasing problem on dryland farms over recent years, with conventional control methods proving futile. The weed is now recognised as one of the worst weeds in lucerne crops. Its prickly burrs also get stuck on wool, reducing its value and helping spread the weed’s seed. While the weed is nontoxic and unpalatable to livestock, if consumed in large quantities it taints the meat.

Sheep farmer Gavin Loxton has formed the Horehound Biocontrol Group, which is working with Landcare Research, in a bid to introduce to New Zealand two moths that are proving successful biocontrol agents against Horehound in Australia. The aim is to find out how widespread horehound is, to prove the biocontrol agents are needed. Preliminary responses to a survey indicated the weed was at a “tipping point”, believing a few decent droughts over recent years had assisted the weed. With New Zealand drylands predicted to become even drier he’s concerned the weed will become worse.

Herbicides are currently the only means of control against the weed. However, they also damaged clover, lucerne, and the soil. Dr Ronny Groenteman, a researcher at Landcare Research, felt farmers needed a better method and said that introducing the moths, one which feeds on the weed’s foliage and the other the roots, should prove be a “relatively straight-forward undertaking” given the extensive safety testing carried out in Australia before it was introduced there.

The first biocontrol agent could be introduced in as little as two years, with the cost estimated to be around $400,000.

  • And finally…South Africa: Not so daffy – biocontrol by duck

Ducks being photographed, by visitors to the Vergenoegd wine estate (Photo credit Schalk van Zuydam).

In 1984, John Faure, whose family had owned the Vergenoegd wine estate since 1820, imported six Indian runner ducks to control pests in his garden. He then started breeding them and, as the workforce grew, so did their job description. The estate, which was recently sold to a German owner, continues to use the ducks for pest control although it is much more expensive than pesticides, said the vineyard’s social media manager David Badenhorst but using the ducks is more sustainable, he added. “If you use conventional pest control, those chemicals are absorbed into the soil, which affects the growth of the vines and kills insects,” he said. “Our ducks go into the vineyards and they eat the snails and snail eggs while fertilizing the soil.”

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Category: International Pest News, news in brief

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