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 New insight into why Pierce's disease is so deadly to grapevines
11.06.2018 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
29.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Better model of water under extreme conditions could aid understanding of Earth's mantle

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

What are the effects of coral reef marine protected areas?

21.06.2018 | Life Sciences

The Janus head of the South Asian monsoon

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>