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UF/IFAS faculty member coordinates global pest paper contest

Topic(s): Agriculture, Household Pests, Pests
Jiri Hulcr, a University of Florida assistant professor of forest entomology, coordinates a global contest that encourages students to write original research papers about insects as pests. Courtesy: Jiri Hulcr

Jiri Hulcr, a University of Florida assistant professor of forest entomology, coordinates a global contest that encourages students to write original research papers about insects as pests.
Courtesy: Jiri Hulcr

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida entomology faculty member coordinates a global contest for students’ original insect research, and he recently announced the two winners for 2013.

The contest encourages students to research the natural history of pests, said Jiri Hulcr, a UF assistant professor in forest entomology and a member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For their research papers, Stephen Taerum, who attends the University of Pretoria in South Africa and Emily Meineke, a student at North Carolina State University, won the most recent contest, now in its second year, said. For winning, they shared the annual prize of  $500.

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UF helping develop insecticide to target malaria-carrying mosquitoes

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Research

ENZYME PESTICIDE

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In malaria-ridden parts of Africa, mosquito netting protects people from being infected while they sleep; now, a University of Florida entomologist wants to improve the netting by coating it with insecticide toxic only to mosquitoes.

The insecticide would work by interfering with an enzyme found in the nervous systems of mosquitoes and many other organisms, called acetylcholinesterase. Existing insecticides target the enzyme but affect a broad range of species, said entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor in UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Acetylcholinesterase helps regulate nervous system activity by stopping electrical signaling in nerve cells. If the enzyme can’t do its job, the mosquito begins convulsing and dies. The research team’s goal is to develop compounds perfectly matched to the acetylcholinesterase molecules in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, he said.

 “A simple analogy would be that we’re trying to make a key that fits perfectly into a lock,” Bloomquist said. “We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species.”

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UF entomologist Roxanne Connelly leads American Mosquito Control Association

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Green Living, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species

Connelly small

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When questions arise about mosquito control, University of Florida entomologist Roxanne Connelly is one of the state’s most sought-after experts. Now, that expertise has earned her the presidency of a national organization.

Connelly, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was inducted Feb. 27 as president of the American Mosquito Control Association at the association’s annual meeting in Atlantic City, N.J. She’ll serve a one-year term.

“I’m very pleased about it,” Connelly said in a March interview. “Holding this position is really an honor for me because I was elected to it.”

The election happened at the 2010 AMCA annual meeting, where members voted Connelly to a four-year leadership stint. In 2011 she began by serving a one-year term as vice president, then another year as president-elect, and now president. In 2014 she’ll become immediate past president.

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Huge, aggressive mosquito may be abundant in Florida this summer, UF/IFAS expert warns

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS

UF/IFAS Photo by Marisol Amador

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If mosquitoes were motorcycles, the species known as Psorophora ciliata would be a Harley-Davidson – big, bold, made in America and likely to be abundant in Florida this summer.

Just how abundant is a matter of speculation, but University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman says last year the state had a bumper crop of the huge, biting insects, which are sometimes called gallinippers. He said there may be a repeat on the way.

“I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year,” said Kaufman, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again.”

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UF/IFAS expert: Female mosquitoes become savvy about other-species suitors

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, RECs

Lounibos

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Talk about meeting Mr. Wrong.

Female yellow fever mosquitoes sometimes contend with the courtship and mating efforts of males from another, competing species – the Asian tiger mosquito.

She’s naïve, he’s sneaky. Both species spread dengue, a viral disease that’s a major human health threat.

In an ironic turnabout, Florida dengue cases may rise in the near future due to female yellow fever mosquitoes becoming savvy about the false-flag suitors, leading to increased yellow fever mosquito populations, says an expert with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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Two UF/IFAS faculty members honored for international work, influence

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, Research, Weather

SuAward

Nan-Yao Su, right, is congratulated by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Click here for high-res image.

 FraisseAward

Clyde Fraisse, right, is congratulated by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Click here for high-res image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Termite control pioneer Nan-Yao Su and climate expert Clyde Fraisse of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were honored for their international work this week, receiving a pair of annual awards.

Su, an entomology professor at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, received the International Fellow Award; Fraisse, an associate professor with the agricultural and biological engineering department in Gainesville, received the UF/IFAS International Achievement Award.

Both were recognized Thursday at a meeting of top UF/IFAS administrators. Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, and Walter Bowen, director of UF/IFAS International Programs, formally presented the awards.

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UF/IFAS research: Typical populations of bedbugs can cause harmful blood loss in humans

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Household Pests, Pests
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For years, bedbugs have been turning up in sometimes odd and random places, such as subways, movie theaters, dressing rooms and schools, but scientists believed that to flourish, the insects would need more frequent access to human blood meals.

Turns out they don’t.

A new University of Florida study, published online this month by the journal Medical and Veterinary Entomology, shows the blood-sucking insects can do much more than survive — they can even thrive — with far less access to human blood than previously believed.

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UF/IFAS study shows how diet affects lab-raised mosquitoes in medical studies

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Household Pests, Pests, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most people try to avoid feeding hungry mosquitoes, but for some medical researchers it’s a different story.

Lab-raised mosquitoes are used in studies investigating how the blood-sucking insects transmit viruses and parasites. Those mosquitoes must be cared for and that means providing female specimens with blood, which supplies protein they need to produce eggs.

Some labs allow their mosquitoes to feed the old-fashioned way, by biting live animals. But to save time, money and effort, other labs give the insects packaged animal blood, which may contain additives or lack components removed by processing.

Scientists with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have found that different types of blood influence the quantity of eggs a female mosquito produces, and the likelihood those eggs hatch.

That’s important to know, because mosquito researchers typically want to know how closely their lab experiments mimic real-world conditions.

The study, conducted at UF’s Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, was published in the June issue of Journal of Vector Ecology.

To feed the mosquitoes, scientists used four blood sources: live chickens, chicken blood with an anticoagulant added, beef blood with an anticoagulant added, and beef blood with its main clotting protein removed. Female mosquitoes were divided into groups and most groups were offered only one blood source throughout the study.

One example of the variability the scientists found: Among mosquitoes offered beef blood without the clotting protein, only 31 percent chose to feed; among those that fed, 40 percent laid eggs and 70 percent of those eggs hatched. In contrast, 61 percent of the mosquitoes offered a live chicken chose to feed, 46 percent of those that fed laid eggs, and 83 percent of those eggs hatched.

Lead author Stephanie Richards, now an assistant professor at East Carolina University, said the results show that mosquito researchers should carefully consider feeding methods when designing experiments. She also suggests more research might be needed to determine whether different blood sources may affect mosquitoes’ ability to transmit viruses.

Contacts

Writer:  Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Source: Stephanie Richards, 252-328-2526, richardss@ecu.edu

 

 

Tussock moth cocoons cause allergic reactions in some, UF expert says

Topic(s): Green Living, Household Pests, Pests

 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s poison-control centers recently noted an uptick in calls about stinging caterpillars, and now a University of Florida entomologist warns that some people may suffer skin irritation from cocoons that are unusually abundant this year.

The culprit is a tussock moth, known scientifically as Orgyia detrita. Its caterpillars are usually active in March and April, often in the vicinity of oak trees. Touching the furry, black-and-white critters can cause localized swelling, itching, burning and redness. The caterpillar doesn’t produce stinging venom, but its hairs trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

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Color is key in controlling flies, UF researchers find

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests, Research, Safety

Florida Fly-Baiter

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Downloadable video is available at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10837916/20120215_FlyTrap.zip

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a carrier of as many as 100 types of germs, the common house fly is hardly as innocuous as its name might suggest.

Military personnel know this firsthand, and their need for effective fly control has helped University of Florida researchers create an innovative new fly control device.

Known as the Florida Fly-Baiter, the device is blue — in contrast to the yellow fly control devices on the market — and is far more effective, said Phil Koehler, a professor of urban entomology with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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