Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Invasive Insects Cost the World How Much?!

An interesting article was recently published in Nature Communications looking at how much invasive insects cost worldwide.  Invasive insects are one of the more important categories of invasives, impacting shipping/trade, farming, ecology, forestry, health care, and more.

formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) damage.  Image credit: formosanus Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The article evaluated 737 existing studies, books, and reports from 1911 through December 2015 on the  economic cost of invasive insects cost. The articles/book/reports were first evaluated based on reproducibility of results and of the 737 initial sources, only 158 contained usable and relevant economic estimates.  Evaluation of those studies show that invasive insects, at a minimum, US$70 billion per year for goods and services and US$6.9 billion per year for human health.

The article was submitted with supplementary material which included a spreadsheet of the studies and numbers gleaned from each source.  For more information on the study and specific numbers for certain insects, check out the article.

Source Article: Massive yet grossly underestimated global costs of invasive insects
Science Direct Article: Invasive insects: Underestimated cost to the world economy

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thoughts from the International Congress of Entomology 2016

It has been a little over a week since we participated at the International Congress of Entomology 2016 in Orlando, FL and it was a great experience.  The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health hosted a booth in the Exhibit Hall for the week and we also participated in the Symposium: What Happens When Pest Occurrence Data is Shared: End of the World or New Horizons?

Image by: Rebekah D. Wallace
The conference had over 6,600 registered attendants and about half came from outside of the United States, representing 102 countries. It was a great opportunity to meet people we may not have another chance to otherwise.  In the six days that the Exhibit Hall was open and we were able to talk to over 260 people from at least 32 countries.  We talked at length with researchers from Nigeria, industry representatives from the U.K., academics from New Zealand, and more.  Some of the most interested attendees were the students who came from everywhere.  We were able to talk to people who had not heard of our program, those who only knew about one or two things that we do, and people who were avid supporters of Bugwood.

In working at the booth, we were able to make new connections with people who may be interested in using images from the Image Database in teaching and outreach.  Many were also interested in contributing images so that other researchers, teachers, students, etc. could have access to high-quality images.  We talked to people about EDDMapS and how we work with people in the invasive species community to map species occurrences across the U.S. and in Canada, and there were many people interested in potentially mapping in their own country, asking how we could work together to make that happen.  They learned about our smartphone apps and all of the types we have developed for reporting invasive species, identification, decision support, and more.  The teachers, and really anyone who has given a presentation, were interested in Bugwood Presents, our presentation database that allows you to upload, download, and embed presentations.

But, really, the greatest thing is when avid supporters would come to the booth and talk with other visitors about all of the things that we have done with them.  Countless projects, hours (and after-hours), travel time, webinars, e-mails, phone calls, and more with all of our partners is definitely worth it to hear how much people have been satisfied with the work we are doing.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

Monday, October 10, 2016

No-Till Agriculture Results in Greater Soil Microbe Biomass

Image by: Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

A recent study by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences did a meta-data analysis of 62 studies across the world and found that there was greater soil microbe biomass in no-till agricultural systems as compared to conventional tillage agricultural systems.  Soil microbes are important because they breakdown plant biomass and release important nutrients back into the soil for absorption by other plants.  During 2010-11 in the U.S., about 23% land growing corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat was on a farm where no-till/strip-till was used on every acre and about 56% had at least some of their land in no-till/strip-till.  Tillage practices can vary greatly by region and soil type.