Updates

Impacts of COVID-19 on the Green Industry

Impacts of COVID-19 on the Green Industry

Our CMBS team has published a new study, led by Dr. Pulkit Marwah, Dr. Yu Yvette Zhang, and Dr. Mengmeng Gu on the impacts of COVID-19 on the Green Industry. Here is the abstract! Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many horticultural businesses to alter the way they operate. This includes, but may not be limited to, changing hours of operation, working with limited staff, and restricting customer access indoors. This could result in several challenges for businesses. In this study, we evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 on the green industry in the U.S. and identify the challenges for businesses. Based on our research findings, the major challenges faced by businesses were not having enough employees and inventory to keep up ...
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Investigating Producers’ Preferences for Crapemyrtle and Their Perceptions Regarding Crapemyrtle Bark Scale

Investigating Producers’ Preferences for Crapemyrtle and Their Perceptions Regarding Crapemyrtle Bark Scale

Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.) is the most popular summer flowering tree in the U.S. Its total value sold has almost doubled since 1998. Consumers prize crapemyrtles for their beauty and being relatively pest free. However, current crapemyrtle production and use might be affected by crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae), which has been confirmed in at least 14 U.S. states after its first sighting in Texas in 2004. In this study, we conducted interviews of business representatives. Our survey results indicate that producers anticipate a significant decrease in the value of crapemyrtle if infested with CMBS, and suggest industry demand for CMBS control (Fig 1). An important finding of our research is that a majority of businesses support science-based CMBS control research (Fig ...
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Landscape Structure and Its Effects on Crapemyrtle Bark Scale, and Its Natural Enemies

Landscape Structure and Its Effects on Crapemyrtle Bark Scale, and Its Natural Enemies

Knowledge of factors influencing abundances and distributions of species on host plants could facilitate effective, sustainable management of the non-native crapemyrtle bark scale, Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae (Kuwana) (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae). We characterized habitat variables associated with crapemyrtles, Lagerstroemia spp. (Myrtlaes: Lythraceae), widely planted in Texas landscapes receiving minimal cultural inputs such as insecticide, irrigation, fertilization, or pruning. Arthropod species on individual trees and landscape cover in a 32.4-m-radius area around each of 100 Lagerstroemia spp. (40 of ‘Natchez' hybrid cultivar and 60 of various other cultivars) were surveyed in Brazos County and Tarrant County during six consecutive seasons starting in spring 2018 and ending in summer 2019. Figure 1. Area measured for landscape variables mall in Tarrant county. Data were analyzed using ...
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Summary of Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Hosts

Summary of Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Hosts

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) has long been reported with a fairly wide host range. Online insect database has accumulated a good amount of host information for CMBS. For example, ScaleNet reported over 20 plant species from 15 families as CMBS hosts, including boxwood (Buxus microphylla), Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis), Axlewood (Anogeissus latifolia), Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), food wrapper plant (Mallotus japonicus), Dalbergia eremicola, soybean (Glycine max), Kalm’s St. Johnswort (Hypericum kalmianum), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), giant crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa), pomegranate (Punica granatum), common fig (Ficus carica), myrtle (Myrtus spp.), border privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium), Japanese Ternstroemia (Ternstroemia japonica), Needlebush (Glochidion puberum), Paradise apple (Malus pumila), Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis), Brambles (Rubus spp.) (García Morales M, 2016) ...
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Texas Plant Protection Conference 1st Place Award

Texas Plant Protection Conference 1st Place Award

Congratulations to Bin Wu for receiving 1st place prize for Ph.D. poster at the annual Texas Plant Protection Conference held December 8 - 10th (2020). Due to COVID-19, the conference was held virtually this year. The poster was titled "EPG Application in feeding behavior study helps rapidly confirm potential hosts of crapemyrtle bark scale (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae)". Traditional methods used to determine host range of a pest can be time consuming and costly, due to the need to rear the pest on the host plant. This study uses electrical penetration graph (EPG) monitoring to track crapemyrtle bark scales' style penetration in real-time to rapidly determine host plant acceptance. The full poster is available for download below. Click to download the full ...
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Dr. Held New Chair of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Dr. Held New Chair of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Congratulations to our colleague Dr. David Held from the crapemyrtle bark scale team for his promotion to Chair of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University. http://blog-agriculture.auburn.edu/theseason/held-named-chair-of-the-department-of-entomology-and-plant-pathology Congratulations Dr. Held! ...
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Dr. Gary Knox Receives Meadows Award

Dr. Gary Knox Receives Meadows Award

Dr. Gary Knox is the 2020 recipient of the Sidney B. Meadows Award of Merit from the International Plant Propagators’ Society (IPPS), Southern Region of North America. The Meadows award honors and recognizes outstanding individuals for their contributions to the nursery industry and to plant propagation in the Southern Region of North America. It is the highest honor bestowed upon an IPPS Southern Region member. Gary first became a member of IPPS in 1979 when he was a student at Purdue University. Dr. Knox is now with the University of Florida/IFAS as professor of environmental horticulture, Nursery Crops Extension Specialist, and director of Gardens of the Big Bend at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy. Dr ...
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Feeding preference and host range tests of crapemyrtle bark scale on economically important crops

Feeding preference and host range tests of crapemyrtle bark scale on economically important crops

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) is an exotic pest species that is causing aesthetic and economic damages to crapemyrtles and posing potential threats to other horticultural crops. Although previous studies reported the infestation of CMBS on at least 13 alternative hosts within families of Buxaceae, Cannabaceae, Combretaceae, Ebenaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Lythraceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Phyllanthaceae, and Rosaceae in Asia, its potential threats to other documented alternative hosts remain elusive and yet to be confirmed in the United States. Feeding preference trials of CMBS were conducted on forty-nine plant species and cultivars in 2016 and 2019. The infestations of CMBS were confirmed on Malus domestica (apple), Chaenomeles speciosa (flowering quince), Diospyros rhombifolia (diamond-leaf persimmon), Heimia salicifolia (sinicuichi), Lagerstroemia 'Spiced Plum' (crapemyrtle), ...
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Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Honeydew Secretion

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Honeydew Secretion

Black sooty mold is one of the major issues with heavy crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) infestation, which greatly reduces the aesthetic value of host plants. Black sooty mold can be seen not only on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) but also on alternative hosts infested with CMBS such as American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and pomegranates (Punica granatum) (Figure 1). Sooty mold is a collective term that comprises of several genera of fungi including Aureobasidium, Antennariella, Cladosporium, Capnodium, Limacinula, and Scorias [1]. These fungi grow on the honeydew secreted by sucking insects (such as CMBS nymphs) when they are actively feeding on the plant [2,3]. Figure 1. Black sooty mold found on pomegranate (Punica granatum; A and B), American beautyberry (Callicarpa ...
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Harmonia axyridis feeding on CMBS. Photo by Daniel Tomi

Attracting lady beetles for Conservation Biocontrol of Crapemyrtle Bark Scale

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) poses a huge threat to the utility of crapemyrtle trees by reducing aesthetic value due to sooty mold growth and disrupting photosynthesis. Currently, most homeowners and nursery producers rely on chemical insecticides to manage CMBS populations, but these pesticides can negatively impact natural enemies, pollinators, and the environment at large. Different management approaches are being investigated to reduce the reliance on insecticides, particularly systemic insecticides to reduce CMBS populations and damage. When insects feed on plants, the plants emit a blend of volatile odors; ‘smell’s that are released into the air. One function of these volatile odors is to attract predators to attack the herbivores. Multiple species of lady beetles present already in landscapes are attacking ...
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