Friday, May 25, 2012

Didymo: A Video Diary on Vimeo

Didymo: A Video Diary on Vimeo

Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Megacopta cribraria - kudzu bug - a recent introduction to the United States; another invasive species

kudzu bug 
Megacopta cribraria (Fabricius)

image by Joseph LaForest,  University of Georgia,      

               I wrote about a recent invasive arrival to the United States last year Sunday, October 30, 2011"A new invasive species: Asian kudzu bug Megacopta cribraria attacks legumes in US" This newcomer to American ecosystems, Megacopta cribraria, is native to India and China and is also found in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The bean plataspid is pea-sized, greenish brown, and round with a wide posterior. In case you need to know, the insect  to waddle when it walks on a surface and is an excellent flier.[1]

               This insect is an invasive species from Asia that attacks soybean and other legumes. It also beneficially also feeds on kudzu, an invasive plant species that has spread throughout the southern United States. This sets up a classic collision of desires for it is reducing some of the invasion pressure of kudzu while at the same time threatening the heart of American agriculture.  USDA-APHIS reports that the "pest, which is sometimes called the kudzu bug or lablab bug, was first detected in the United States in November 2009 on kudzu in Barrow County, GA. At that time, a number of homeowners complained about a large number of bugs that had swarmed onto the sides of their homes and other structures, leaving a mildly offensive or bitter odor in their wake. As of August 2010, the bean plataspid has been identified throughout Georgia, in numerous South Carolina counties, and in one North Carolina county."

               So far this particular blog - and this pest - reads like the innumerable other posts about invasive pests that have established in the United States and are causing harm to our ecosystems and the services and resources they provide. And, because it is more of the same thing, most of us are becoming hardened to the point of  being inured and unconcerned by what seems to be background disturbance, a life-style noise and an acceptable condition of modern life. In other words, as with most things today that involve the environment, the this invasive insect and the damage it causes are someone else's problem because it is not directly impacting anything we care about at the moment.
               It turns out that there are places in the world that do not want this invasive insect and are willing to stop American shipping from bring our goods such as cotton to their ports.[2] Honduran officials refused thousands of pounds of goods already landed in their ports this winter after finding several dead bugs in the bottom of cargo containers because of their concerned after learning about reports from China indicating that the bean plataspid can significantly impact springtime soybean crop losses of up to 50 percent and summertime losses of up to 30 percent. It does not help that the bean plataspid is also listed as a harmful pest of Chinese fruit trees. If it moves to other host plants in the Americas, the pest has the potential to cause significant agricultural damage.[3]

               Amazingly enough we have been fighting invasive species before there was a United States of America (Connecticut keeps trying to ban plants). An invasive species, the Hessian fly, established itself during the American revolution and worked havoc on our young nation's commercial trade. what is new is that invasive species are entering and establishing at ever growing rates. We are being overwhelmed by a biological oil-slick, a living forest fire that is permanently altering our ecosystems and the services they render. Our response is to mimic the ostrich - to hear no evil and see no wrong, to leave to a future generation the task of cleaning up and responding to the damage we are allowing to happen.

               We need to find money to raise awareness and engage the political process.

[1] USDA-APHIS PPQ Invasive Insect (Bean Plataspid) Poses Risk to Soybean Crops and Infests Homes in Southeastern States. [accessed May 20, 2012]
[2] National Cotton Council. kudzu bug remediation. [accessed May 20, 2012]
[3] Erin France. April 8, 2012. Kudzu bugs raise concerns. [accessed May 20. 2012]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Online Invasive Species Management Training Program

Text Box: SCC Environmental Science Interns at Lake Waccamaw State Park, Lake Waccamaw, N.C.          Introduced invasive species are the number two threat to native plants and animals in the U.S., and cause over $150 billion in losses to the American economy, annually.  Efforts to control invasive species are piecemeal and under-funded.  Compounding the problem is a lack of trained technicians to assist with control and management efforts.  People seeking invasive species management positions generally have training in biology, forestry, agronomy, or related fields – but generally no training or field experience in controlling invasive species.

          In response to this need, Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, N.C.,  and Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD, are exploring a collaboration to offer the first ever college-level program to train invasive species field managers.  Under this new program that was developed by Dr. Randy Westbrooks, an internationally recognized Invasive Species Prevention Specialist, students may take online courses for job training (PGCC), a Certificate of Invasive Species Management, or an Associate in Science degree in Environmental Science Technology with a second year focus in invasive species management (SCC).

Career Opportunities……….

County Agencies and Municipalities

- Cooperative Extension Service
- County Weed & Pest Departments
- City Parks Departments, etc

Federal Agencies

- USDA Forest Service
- USDA Natural Resources 
    Conservation Service
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- National Park Service

State Agencies

- State Departments of
- State Departments of Agriculture
- State Departments of Natural
Private Industry
- Landscaping Companies
- Environmental Consulting Firms
- Invasive Plant Control Companies
- Pest Control Companies    

Rebecca Westbrooks - Chair, Natural and Social Sciences
Southeastern Community College, Whiteville, NC
Phone: 910-642,7141, Ext. 291

John Peter Thompson - Sustainable Workforce Training Program, Curriculum Specialist
Prince George’s Community College, Westphalia, MD
Phone: 301-440-8404

For questions or interest please E-mail:

Southeastern Community College
Prince George’s Community College

Invasive Species Management Training Program

Credit Hours:
IVS 110
Introduction to Invasive Species (Internet Course)
3 Hours

Ecology and Biology of Invasive Species, Economic Impacts, Survey of Major
Invasive Species Taxa (Plants, Aquatic Nuisance Species, Insects and Diseases,
Injurious Wildlife, General Management Approaches, Sociological Aspects,
Ethical Considerations
IVS 210
Overview of Invasive Species Management Strategies (Internet Course)
3 Hours

Foreign Pest Prevention, Port of Entry Exclusion, Early Detection, Survey,
Containment and Eradication, Control Methods (Chemical, Cultural Mechanical, Biological), Interagency Committees and Partnerships, Weed Management Areas, Invasive Plant Task Forces, Outreach and Education.
IVS 211
Overview of Invasive Species Management Programs (Internet Course)
3 Hours

- Federal/State Animal and Plant Regulatory Programs (USDA APHIS, State Departments of Agriculture, etc.)
- Federal/State/Local Management Programs (National Park Service, California Department of Food and Agriculture, etc.)
- Interagency Programs and Projects

IVS 220
Invasive Plant Survey Methods (Internet Topics, Field Studies)
4 Hours

Detection, Delimiting, and Appraisal Survey Methods, Data Synthesis and Archival

IVS 221
Invasive Plant Control Methods (Internet Topics)
3 Hours

Containment, Eradication and Control Methods, Equipment Operation, Care and Maintenance, Safety.

IVS 260
State Pesticide License Exam Preparation (Internet Course)
1 Hour
GIS 110
Introduction to GPS and GIS Mapping (Internet Course)
1 Hour

Total Credits =
18 Hours

Program Content is Subject to Change.