Research in raspberries at Cornell AgriTech over the last four years has shown promise as an alternative tactic to reduce the impact of SWD on berries. As described in a previous blog posted in 2014, Hummingbirds, these birds may indeed enjoy eating SWD.
Preliminary data analysis for 2018 shows that when SWD numbers are very low or very high, there is little to no difference in the number of SWD caught in Scentry traps placed in the area of the field with hummingbird feeders compared to those in the area of the field without feeders. However, when numbers are moderate, there was a difference. Along a transect down the length of the field, the trend was for there to be fewer SWD in the hummingbird feeder area compared to the no-feeder area, as shown in the chart.
The diet of an average hummingbird consists mostly of flower nectar and insects. Flower nectar provides sugar to support their high metabolic rate… even higher during flight due to their rapid wing flapping rates. The insects hummingbirds eat provide them with protein, amino acids, and necessary vitamins and minerals. The insects must be small enough to swallow whole during flight — watch out, SWD!
Two grower demonstrations were undertaken this year, as well. One in blueberry and one in raspberry. Both growers undertook cleaning the feeders and changing the sugar solution twice per week to keep the hummingbirds well fed and active within their plantings. At the workshop held in Salem, NY last month, several of the tiny birds were seen dashing about.
Placing and maintaining 25 hummingbird feeders per acre, may be a bit too arduous for some growers. This is the number of feeders we've been using in our research and grower demonstration plots and the number used by the blackberry grower in Mississippi.
Other ways to attract hummingbirds to your berry planting that don't rely on the use of feeders, would involve allocating space for flowering plants that they prefer. Interplanting with rows of Monarda (bee balm), for instance, would be one approach.
Of course, SWD is around a lot longer than hummingbirds, which have, at this point in time, likely flown off to the South on their journey to the Yucatan peninsula in Central America. Flying across the Gulf of Mexico or along Mexico's coast, they make their way to their overwintering grounds. And, as SWD populations explode in late summer, it is difficult to control SWD, let alone rely on a flying predator.
If you think hummingbirds don't eat small insects, then guess again! I've seen these contraptions showing up in stores this year — to feed hummingbirds. They are rearing capsules for fruit flies (vinegar flies, as entomologists call them). Perhaps someone should tell them we don't need more SWD? ...just more hummingbirds!
The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets (DAM) today confirmed that spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest from Asia, has been found in Albany and Yates counties. A single adult insect was discovered in a vehicle in the Capital District. In addition, a single adult insect was reported on a private Keuka Lake property in Penn Yan, Yates County.
State agencies encourage the public to report findings of spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest. More details about this insect are below the press release.
DEC and our partners at the Department of Agriculture and Markets are closely tracking the spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive pest, as part of our ongoing efforts to prevent its establishment and spread in New York. This pest has the potential to severely impact our state's agricultural and tourism industries,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “We are encouraging the public to send us information to bolster our efforts—they are our eyes on the ground.”
Following both reported cases, DEC and DAM immediately began extensive surveys throughout the area. At this time, no additional insects have been found. DEC and DAM urge New Yorkers to report potential sightings to email@example.com. Anyone that suspects they have found SLF is encouraged to send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “It’s critical that we monitor for and control this invasive species, which can weaken plants and have a devastating impact on our farm crops and agricultural production, especially apples, grapes and hops. Since our farmers are among those facing the greatest potential impact, we ask them to join us in helping to watch for the spotted lanternfly, and signs of infestation, and report any sightings immediately.”
SLF (photo above) is a destructive pest that feeds on more than 70 plant species including tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), maples, apple trees, grapevine, and hops. SLF feedings can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. SLF also excretes large amounts of sticky "honeydew," which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants. SLF also has the potential to significantly hinder quality of life due to the honeydew and the swarms of insects it attracts.
SLF was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 and have since been found in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. Given the proximity to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, New York State is at high risk for infestation. While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread primarily through human activity. SLF lay their eggs on any number of surfaces such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture and firewood. Therefore, the insects can hitch rides on any outdoor item and be easily transported into and throughout New York.
Jennifer Grant, Ph.D., Cornell University Director New York State IPM Program said, “Knowing that this pest was likely to arrive, we have been working with our State partner agencies to develop integrated strategies to get the word out and manage SLF in grapes, hops, apples and other susceptible crops. It’s imperative that the public help slow the invasion and spread by reporting possible sightings and acting responsibly when traveling in quarantine areas.”
Adult SLF are active from July to December. They are approximately one-inch long and half an inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults begin laying eggs in October. Signs of an SLF infestation may include:
Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.
One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.
Anyone that suspects they have found SLF is encouraged to send a photo to email@example.com. Please note the location of where the insect was found, egg masses, and/or infestation signs. DEC and DAM also encourage the public to inspect outdoor items such as vehicles, furniture, and firewood for egg masses. Anyone that visits the Pennsylvania or New Jersey Quarantine Areas should thoroughly inspect their vehicle, luggage and gear for SLF and egg masses before leaving and scrape off all egg masses.
A Smartphone app is also available to help citizens and conservation professionals quickly and easily report new invasive species sightings directly to New York’s invasive species database from their phones. For more information, visit http://www.nyimapinvasives.org/ (leaves DEC website).
DEC, DAM, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the US Department of Agriculture will continue to survey throughout the Capital District and the Finger Lakes focusing on travel corridors and high-risk areas. Extensive surveys will continue to be conducted in high-risk areas throughout the state as well as inspections of nursery stock, stone shipments, commercial transports, etc., from Pennsylvania. DEC and DAM will also continue its efforts to educate the public as well as industry personnel.
The spotted lanternfly (SLF), also known as Chinese blistering cicada, is a plant hopper with piercing sucking mouthparts.
Discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly presents a threat to both woody and non-woody hosts that are present throughout the United States. While their list of hosts is large, the greatest agricultural concern falls on crops such as grapes, apples, stone fruits, blueberries, and hops. Its presence could lead to crop loss and increased management costs.
Spotted lanternfly lays eggs on any smooth and strong surface, including plant material, stones, bricks, metal, and plastic. Each egg mass contains 30-50 eggs in rows, usually covered in a mud-like substance. Spotted lanternfly may require Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to complete all life stages; however, research is underway to confirm if SLF can use other species—such as black walnut or hops. One generation occurs per year: adults develop in July, lay eggs in September, which overwinter. The first three instars are wingless, black with white spots, while the final instars turn red before becoming adults.
Both adults and nymphs commonly gather in large numbers on host plants to feed, and are easiest to see at dusk or at night. Extensive feeding causes sap to ooze from trunks and branches, and a fermented odor can occur over time. Honeydew excretions also encourage sooty mold build-up on leaves, fruit, and around the bases of trees.
Effective use of salt flotation will help you determine if your fruit are infested with SWD and if your spray program is working. It also will give you a perspective on what your customers may find when they take the fruit home to eat fresh or to make pies, jellies, jams and preserves.
I learned that variations on the salt flotation method helped a couple NY blueberry growers decide when to close this season. After a bad 2017 SWD season, when many NY blueberry growers suffered significant crop loss and shut down early, it was time to take action to monitor their fruit. Here are their methods.
We analyze a batch of berries picked off bushes and a batch gathered that have fallen to the ground. Blueberries are collected randomly across our 5-acre patch. We test batches of 20-30 berries from these two sources separately and then compare.
Mix a solution of one gallon of water to one cup of salt. Place collected blueberries in two separate, labeled bags. Slightly squeeze the berries to help release larvae. Some say to give it about an hour, but in most cases, if larvae are present, they will show up in the solution as early as 15 minutes. Of course, you will want to use a magnifying device such as a jewelers loop or magnifying glass. You will see small white larvae if infestation is present.
Their results this year:
Aug 08: negative, both from bushes and on the ground.
Aug 10: negative, both from bushes and on the ground.
Aug 11: positive, both from bushes and ground, but more pronounced with the latter.
In 2017, at least once, fruit tested positive for berries that were on the ground, but negative when picked from the bush.
The salt flotation method we use is basically the same as the method demonstrated at the SWD workshops in 2014-2015. But instead of pouring the salt solution into a low tray and visualizing larvae over a black paper with a hand lens, we pour the solution through a very fine stainless steel mesh permanent coffee filter and check for larvae under a dissecting microscope. It's faster overall, and much easier to find the hard-to-see 1st instar larvae (probably to my detriment, since in the past I could ignore what I couldn't see).
We collect 100 berries randomly from throughout the planting. These are covered with salt solution (1 cup salt in 1 gal water) in a plastic bag. I don't bother pressing on the berries to crack the skins as they suggest, but gave them plenty of time to exit on their own (at least an hour, usually 2 or more).
Results this year, percent fruit with larvae, in our unsprayed blueberry planting:
Jul 26: 1.5%
Aug 3: 4%
Aug 9: 16.5%
Aug 11: 30%
Aug 13: 78% - in two days, the SWD numbers rose dramatically!
In all cases, collect what appears to be sound, perfect fruit to test for SWD infestation using salt flotation. SWD entrance and exit holes in fruit are less than half a mm in diameter and practically invisible.
I hope these two growers’ experiences using salt flotation will motivate you to monitor your fruit in this way to check for SWD infestation.
There are still a lot of delicious berries out there; lets check them and protect them from this nasty insect!