Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Corn earworm moths get a lift from the wind

15.01.2004


Most corn earworms cannot survive the cold of a Northeastern winter, but each summer this sweet corn pest arrives back in the cornfields of the northeastern United States more quickly than most people believe is possible. Now, a team of Penn State meteorologists thinks it knows how the small moths travel long distances so quickly, and perhaps can predict where and when they will appear next.



"For years, researchers have assumed that the moths travel in parcels of air," says Matthew Welshans, undergraduate in meteorology and undergraduate research assistant at Penn State’s Environment Institute. "Few had actually tested this assumption, and no one tried to predict where or when the moths would land and earworms would appear in the Northeastern states."

Working with Dr. Shelby Fleischer, professor of entomology; Paul Knight, Penn State meteorologist; and Dr. Douglas A. Miller, assistant professor of geography, Welshans investigated the potential paths of corn earworm moths and other pests such as armyworm if they rode the wind as they spread northward during the spring and summer.


"We found a discernible trend that the corn earworm travels at some height and is impacted by the direction of the air currents," he told attendees of the 84th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Conference today (Jan. 14). "Depending on the time of day, the travel height could be from 500 meters (1640 feet) to a kilometer (3274 feet)."

The corn earworm larva is a major pest of sweet corn that destroys the top of the corn cob. While they will eat both field and sweet corn, a little damage to tops of field corn is irrelevant, while a chewed-up ear of sweet corn is not marketable.

"The northeastern United States accounts for more than 100,000 acres of sweet corn, or about a third of the total crop in the U.S.," Welshans said. "The crop was valued at more than $147 million in 2000."

The corn earworm moth lays its eggs on the corn silk but will lay them on other parts of the plant if the silk is not available. The eggs hatch in 2 to 10 days into small larvae that eat down the corn silk into the kernels at the tip of the ear. Because corn earworms are cannibalistic, usually only one or two larvae make it to the tender kernels. Eventually they drop to the ground and burrow in to pupate and emerge from the ground as moths. In the south, the earworms can have three generations per season with the last pupae wintering over before emerging to restart the cycle. In the north, assuming ground temperatures are normally cold, the winter-pupated insects freeze in the ground.

"Each year, in Pennsylvania, new corn earworms must fly into the area and repopulate," says Welshans. "But, the population grows much faster and greater than a slow move northward."

The researchers used a real-time tracking program called PestWatch that already exists in the Northeast. PestWatch uses blacklight traps that capture male and female moths and pheromone traps that capture male corn earworm moths. Individual volunteers count the insects in the traps once a week and report back to the PestWatch researchers at Penn State. The annual spread of the pest is put online so that farmers can see where insects are showing up (www.pestwatch.psu.edu).

Using this real pattern of insect population, along with a model developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to show wind patterns and a weather forecasting model to predict weather patterns, the researchers compared the actual pattern of insect appearances to that predicted by the wind and weather models.

"We want to be able to forecast when and were the moths, and subsequent larvae, will show up so that we can target the insects," says Welshans. "Then farmers can tailor the insecticides to reduce the amounts used or change their harvest or culling efforts."

With the two models and up-to-date information on where moths are, the Penn State researchers can not only track the insects but can also look backward at their paths to see where they are coming from and forward, to see where they will hit next.

"We are currently working on a flash program to animate the trajectories and integrate the PestWatch data so we can see the paths forward or backward," says Welshans. "Hopefully, this will be on-line for summer 2004."

One problem with the model is that volunteers only check the traps once a week so information tends to lag behind actual movement of the moths. However, because the various volunteers check their traps on different days of the week, using that to fill the time lag might be possible.

A’ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu/
http://www.pestwatch.psu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>