Here are some highlights about the Zika virus in the US. It may not be here yet but the mosquitoes in Texas are fully capable of transmitting the disease. Zika is a mild disease for most people, and only 1 out of 5 will even show symptoms. The true danger is the virus's effects on unborn babies; Zika causes microcephaly and other birth defects. Below are some news highlights and reference material if you'd like to know more:
The first POSSIBLE (not yet confirmed) case of a mosquito-to-human transmission has been reported in Miami, Florida. This means that the patient with Zika reported no travel to Zika-infested countries and no sexual contact with anyone who had traveled. They have not yet found any mosquitoes positive for the virus in the area.
The first case of sexual transmission of the Zika virus from a woman to a man has been reported in New York.
This is an adult cotton square borer, also called a gray hairstreak butterfly. The larvae only rarely reach concerning numbers in cotton. This one is laying eggs on pre-bloom sorghum head. They are not considered economic pests in sorghum, but can be found occasionally while sampling for headworm. The larvae are short, light green and look velvety, very easy to distinguish from a corn earworm or fall armyworm.
Harrison County, TX is now under quarantine for the emerald ash borer, an invasive pest from Asia. This beetle is an extremely destructive pest of ash, and Harrison County is ground zero for its spread into Texas as of May 2016. Four beetles were found in monitoring traps near the Texas-Louisiana border, but no infested trees have been detected yet. EAB was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has decimated hundreds of millions of ash trees in 26 eastern states. Quarantined counties are not permitted to ship out any ash products, including wood chips, firewood, and nursery stock. Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA-ARS
It's pretty amazing that four tiny beetles have caused such an uproar in a state as large as Texas. It's hard to imagine that our huge forests and beautiful parks could be so badly affected by such a minute insect. And here's the kicker: EAB have only been documented to fly a few miles from their origin tree. That means that the vast majority of their spread is due to the transportation of firewood from infested places. The cost of chemical control, economic losses from the sale of wood products, losses from forestry industries and nurseries, and the cost to remove and replace dead trees, is astronomical. Not to mention the loss of aesthetic beauty of our streets, yards, and parks. Photo by Mike Merchant. This tree shows bark flaking, which is caused by woodpeckers that feed on the borer grubs. Photo by Mike Merchant. These S-shaped galleries are characteristic of the borer larva, which disrupt the nutrient and water flow of the tree. It takes about 2-3 years for ash borer infestations to kill a tree, but all trees that are infested die eventually.
This map published by the USDA shows the current range of EAB in the US. Note that EAB detection depends on trapping and observation.
Sorghum headworm and stink bugs are under reasonable control after many fields were sprayed the last two weeks. Most sorghum is well into the hard dough stage and should be safe from economic damage from head pests.
Adult headworm moth
Sugarcane aphids are on the rise in most fields as beneficials were knocked back by the pyrethroid sprays. Some beneficial activity is back this week, mostly syrphid flies, Scymnus ladybugs, and green lacewings. Fields that were not treated have very high numbers of natural enemies that are working hard on the SCA.