December 9, 2009

Last Week of Class

So this is the last week of class so no more blogs based on lab assignments.

However, some of you have asked some good insect questions so I will cover those in subsequent blogs. In addition, some of you have asked what exactly I do so I'll cover some of my research and what goes on in the life of an entomology graduate student.

So, in that vein: this week in addition to finishing up final homework assignments (alfalfa weevil and bean leaf beetle) and projects I have been preparing for the ESA meeting in Indianapolis. This means editing my presentation slides and trying to practice my talk. I, also, have agreed to write an abstract for an international meeting in June in Portugal (no I don't get to go). If the abstract gets accepted then I will write a paper for the Proceedings Journal and make a poster for my major advisor to take with him when he goes to the meeting. After the ESA meeting there is a RAMP meeting which means that I must do another presentation but this one is just an update of my research and more informal so less practicing time.

So hopefully next week I will have pictures of Indianapolis and provide some details on ESA.

November 20, 2009

Pesticide Labels; how do we read them?

The week before Thanksgiving break, our class toured the Grain Marketing Product and research center (GMPRC) with Jim Campbell (yes, my major advisor). Link to my teacher's blog for more information about the tour.

Unfortunately, I was ill and my teacher decided that in order to get credit for this week my assignment is to write about how to read pesticide labels.

So first a bit of a background:

In the United states there are approximately 1.2 billion tons of pesticides produced every year.
Insecticides are pesticides that are designed to kill insects and related invertebrates. Insecticides are typically chemicals. Insecticide nomenclature (naming) is a formal process which follows formal rules (“Definitive Rules for the Organic Chemistry”) and approval processes (Entomological Society of America {ESA}). All insecticides have three names: common, trade, and chemical.

Common Name is selected by the ESA and there is only one common name.

Trade Name (brand or proprietary) is given by the formulator (maker) or manufacture of the insecticide; most insecticides have multiple trade names and these names are followed by the registration mark ®.

Chemical Name (formula) describes the chemical composition of the insecticide and there is only one chemical name.

The sale and use of insecticides is regulated by federal and state laws. These rules are for the protection of pesticide users, consumers of treated products, domestic animals, and the environment. Pesticide labels must include ALL pertinent information for a pesticide except the identity of inert (inactive) ingredients. Insecticides must be registered with the EPA (see link at bottom of blog) and the registration of an insecticide is only valid for 15 years. This means that the insecticide must be reevaluated every 15 years to maintain EPA registration. However, the EPA can revoke a registration if new scientific evidence suggests that the insecticide is more harmful to humans, beneficial organisms, and/or the environment. There are two types of registration: general-use or restricted-use.

General-use insecticides are considered to be safe for the general public to use without additional training or knowledge. However, it is still critical to read and carefully follow the label instructions. These include insecticides that can be purchased in your local grocery store.

Restricted-use insecticides require additional training in order to safely use. These insecticides are often highly toxic to humans, other mammals, and/or beneficial organism and/or can negatively impact the environment if used, stored, or destroyed improperly. These include insecticides used by agricultural applicators, home-pest exterminators, and researchers (yes, I have gone though some EPA training).

Now a little bit of information on how toxicity is categorized and key words that you should find on pesticide labels.

NOTES: LD50 is the lethal dose where 50% of the population (usually rats) is dead. RE (reentry interval) is the time when you can go back into the treated area. ALL labels regardless of toxicity must have the statement “keep out of the reach of children.” Category I pesticides must have the skull and crossbones symbol.

Now that you have some basic concepts about insecticides and labels, I'm going to go more in-depth in what you should be looking for (find) in labels. I'm going to use DiaconII® to demonstrate label reading since I'm quite familiar with this insecticide (I use this in my research). The active ingredient is methoprene which is an insect growth regulator. Insect growth regulators affect the growth of insects particularly the larvae and pupae.

DiaconII® currently has two labels (specimen and supplemental) and an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). Link for specimen label for Diacon II

The specimen label is the label that is on the container. Notice that the label contains the trade and common names, EPA registration number which can be used to look up more information on the EPA website, and the cautionary statements for children and CAUTION. There is information on how to apply first aid if necessary and how to properly store and dispose of the chemical and the container. Additionally, there are many different applications for this chemical and it is critical that the applicator (such as myself) knows which application they should be using. Link for supplemental label for Diacon II

The supplemental label is additional information that the company provides for applicators. The trade name and EPA registration number are on the label. This label provides (in my opinion) better instructions on how to apply the chemical and calculate the amounts required for applications. Link for MSDS for DiaconII (Methoprene, Insect Growth Regulator)

The MSDS is the last piece of information that I'm going to discuss. The MSDS is not required to be given to the purchaser but it is required to have one available for people to review. Many state and government regulations require employers to have a book that containers all of the MSDS's for all chemicals that are used and/or stored on their premises. The MSDA containers the trade and chemical names, precautionary statements, and EPA registration number. Toxicity and first aid measures are also provided. Furthermore, information about application equipment (personal protection) is also mentioned. In my opinion, this should be required to be provided with every pesticide purchase and it is a benefit for you to read before applying any pesticide.

Now, I realize that I didn't walk you through a label but I found a website that does a good job of providing pictures and text for reading a label so for more in-depth information please use this link:

Experience Rating:
I'm highly disappointed that I couldn't get to go on the tour. I have NOT yet seen the inside of a flour mill which sounds strange when you think about the fact that I'm working on a stored product project but all of my research is into a mechanism and it's possible consequence in flour mills

As promised- here are the links for registrations & EPA labels: Link for registrations to use for EPA website for labels Link for EPA labels but you must have registration numbers to find labels; however I had a hard time getting the labels to show up on the screen but that could be a software problem.


Pedigo, L. P., & Rice, M. E. 2006. Chapter 11: Conventional Insecticides for Management, Pages 371-434. In Entomology and Pest management, fifth Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Ware, G. W. Chapter 21: Toxicity and Hazards of Pesticide Use, Pages 215-234. In The Pesticide Book, Fifth Edition. Thomson Publication, Fresno, California.

Yu, S. J. 2008. 2000. Chapter 3: Pesticide Laws and Regulations, Pages 17-23. In The Toxicology and Biochemistry of Insecticides. CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, New York, New York.

NOTE: the use of pesticide names is for educational and demonstrative purposes and is not a recommendation of use or efficacy.

November 16, 2009

Lab 7: Insect Zoo

Yes, I realize that I'm behind on getting my post done this week. Unfortunately, I got sick on Tuesday and today was the first day that I felt well enough to venture out of my apartment for anything other than the doctor's office.

PHOTO: "Rain forest tree" in front of the zoo.

Last week we walked over to the KSU Insect Zoo and were given a tour by the zoo's director, Kiffini Holt. She talked about the zoo's mission and how the zoo works to fulfill that mission.

PHOTO: Honey Bee exhibit

We went to the zoo to get some "inspiration" for a poster that we are creating for class. These posters will be displayed the first week of December and will be voted on by tour groups and faculty members. Of course, if you want to have a tour with me you can vote on your "favorite" poster as well (HINT, HINT)!

PHOTO: Giant Prickly Stick (one of my favorite exhibits)

I chose Dragonflies since they are one of my favorite insects, I'm already working on a Dragonfly project, and I would like to do a Ph.D. on dragonflies.

The tour didn't really help me with deciding how to present the information for my poster. Kiffinie did tell us that usually they have kindergartners and their chaperons for tours. So, this confirmed my suspicion that lots of photos with color contrast and little words will capture the kids attention. Fortunately, dragonflies are highly photogenic and come in a wide variety of colors. Additionally, they are predators so they also have a "cool" factor. The complexity of my project comes with balance- dragonflies have a "complex" life cycle so limiting the text to explain how their life cycle works may be a challenge but I think I found a photo to help with this.

PHOTO: Jungle Nymphs (how many insects do you see in this picture?)

Part of our assignment is to embed two of our "wow" pictures. So here are the photos that I consider the "wow factor."

Mating Dragonflies

Dragonfly nymph eating a fish

I just noticed how grainy these photos look so I may need to find different photos or see if I can fix the photos with photoshop or something.
I enjoyed going to the insect zoo; I have been there several times but this was the first time I was there since I moved back to Kansas. Of course, I enjoyed looking at the tarantula's and Kiffini has created some "ecosystem" exhibits that are quite good. I suggest that people go over to the zoo to see the insects and look for the "changing" exhibits.

This week we had our FINAL insect byte:

November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

We don't have a specific blog assignment due today and I was going to post my extra credit assignment but I decided to blog about Veteran's Day instead.

First of all: to all the veterans I want to thank you for serving our country.

Secondly: to all the soldiers, wherever you are stationed, thank you for serving our country & I hope you come home safely.

Thirdly: for the families thank you for supporting your soldiers

This year Veteran's Day holds a different meaning for me. As some of you know, last month my favorite veteran, Daddy Mac passed away. I wasn't able to go home to celebrate his life with my family and today I'm thinking about him and his service to our country. I wasn't born when he was in Japan and Korea but one of my fondest memories him relates to his service. Daddy Mac would never say "good-bye" but he would give me a big hug and say "I'll see you later. " He said that he did that because he always hated leaving his family and having to say good-bye so this was his way of accepting this hardship.

I feel that some people don't truly understand the hardship that those of us with family & friends in the military go through. When our loved one is overseas in a combat zone- we watch the news, pray everyday, and jump when the phone rings. Our thoughts are always with that person- where are they today, are they okay, and hoping that they are safe.

This morning I was greatly disappointed that I couldn't watch the Veteran's Day Parade and add my silent support for those serving and those that had served. I did take the time to thank a soldier on my way to class. I also texted one of my friends to wish him a nice day. This is one day that I think we should all be able to take off and take the time to do something nice to recognize those that make the sacrifice to serve our country.

So I want to thank Daddy Mac, Andy, Steve, Dave, Herald, Gary, Jason, Phil, Pat, Eric, and AJ for serving our country; I'm glad that you all made it back home!

This week we had more insect bytes due so mine are below: (lygus bug is a key pest on strawberries) (yes, I got to do an arachnid!!)

November 6, 2009

Extra Credit

Ah Extra Credit- I'm sure some of you are thinking does she REALLY need extra credit? Well, in my opinion, YES!!! I really do.

So one of our extra credit "assignments" is to find two videos (one bad & one good) based on a crop that we have looked at (corn, wheat, soybean, alfalfa, sunflowers, and sorghum) on Then we are to explain why we liked or disliked each video. We can only do two crops since each crop is worth 5 points and there is a maximum of 10 extra credit points.

So first up: CORN

In my opinion this is a good video. Two men (Darren & Brian Hefty) have a television show (Ag PhD) where they talk about several aspects of farming. I looked at a few of the shows videos before I found this one. In this episode they discuss tips for when to use fungicides in corn. I appreciate the fact that they talk about how important weather is when determining if using a fungicide is justified. However, I think the video could be improved with better photography (its a bit grainy) and if they discussed the diseases and signs of the disease in more detail.

In my opinion this is a BAD, BAD, BAD video for many reasons. If you don't want to watch the video I understand its 10 minutes LONG - yes I watched the entire video. It seems to be what occurs in this farmers life when he's harvesting corn; he harvests corn, loads corn, unloads corn, drives through town (NOTE- they have nice bus stops), and repeat (several times). In addition, there are no words or text so unless you are a farmer or know a lot about farming- you have NO IDEA what's going on. No I'm not a farmer so I'm guessing as to what he's doing. However, the music is great (sounds a bit like Enimga) so I enjoyed listening to that while being bored by the video. However, I think this could become a good video with editing (lots of editing). In addition, add some text or voice overs for what's going on (for example- the farmer could introduce the video by saying "Hi I'm [insert name here] and I'm going to show you a typical day when I'm harvesting corn."). Now, I understand that this video was done in some other country (likely a slavic country given the text at the end of the video {credits?}) but I'm sure that not everyone in this persons country knows what he's doing and there are translator software packages out there. For those of you with young ones- I'm curious as to if your children liked the video (lots of cool machinery) so if you could give me some feedback on that aspect I would appreciate it.

I admit that this video was just for fun. I was looking for corn videos and ran across this one and despite the fact that its not educational it is visually & musically enjoyable. Think of this as a reward for sitting through the above 10 minute video- a well deserved reward!


I found another good video on insects. However, this video is VERY long (16 minutes). They do use text to break up the video and provide information such as economic thresholds. In addition they have music in "text breaks". However, I think this video could be improved by cutting the video in half in essence making two videos (one for Japanese Beetle and one for Soybean Aphid). In addition, I think that Dr. Cullen could discuss natural enemies of these two pests in order to provide a more complete picture of these soybean insect pests.

So I thought I would see if I could find a better harvesting video. I watched several and they are all similar to the 10 minute corn video. However, this one while still bad for all the non-informative reasons mentioned above is MUCH BETTER than the corn video. So please note that this one is shorter (much shorter- less repetition) and the song kicks ASS (yes, it's more metal so be forewarned before going down this road). If there are any farmers out there that are interested in making a video of your harvest, please, please, please tell us less farm machinery oriented people what you are doing so we can learn. Thanks! (Note- I did talk to one of my friends about these harvesting videos and he agrees with me that there should be some detail about what the farmer/grower is doing)

And to end on a high note: I found dancing slugs (that's right I said dancing slugs)! Enjoy!!

November 3, 2009

How on earth do Dectes survive the winter?

This week we had ANOTHER indoor lab. I'm sorry, I would have rather gone out in the sprinkles (if you could call them that) and looked at anything (dirt, soybean lodged plants from Dectes larvae, jack-o-lanterns, heck even pre-Halloween Christmas decorations). My brain really didn't want to be inside and thinking!

Images from

Dectes larva (left); Dectes adult (right)

So, this weeks assignment was to look at if Dectes texanus (Dectes stem borer) are cold tolerant or cold intolerant (avoid cold). Dectes is a stem borer in soybean; its “original” host is sunflower but in Kansas it is typically found in soybeans (weird, right? another one of entomology's conundrums). For more information on Dectes:

Cold tolerant insects have “defenses” that keep them alive after they have been frozen at the supercooling point. These defenses include the use of ice nucleating proteins, production of cyroprotectants, and restriction or tolerance of intracellular freezing.

Cold intolerant insects, also, have defenses against cold but often die when they are frozen at the supercooling point. These defenses include migration, hibernation, avoidance, and removal of ice nucleating materials from gut.

For more detail on insect winter survival strategies:

We used a “frosty” (seriously that's what they are called) to lower the temperature of 10 thermoconductors with Dectes larvae on them and wrapped in gauze to -15 degrees C and look at survival. Unfortunately, only two of these showed the curve that our teacher is looking for but he reassured us that he has done this several times and that all of the Dectes died. So how do they survive the winter in Kansas?

We then looked at reasons why/how Dectes larvae (overwintering life-stage) would be able to survive in the winter, in Kansas in the two plants (sunflower & soybean). The class came up with several hypotheses:

Tunnel humidity caused by frass cap at end of stem
Stem Size
Chamber Size (width)
Snow and/or soil as insulation against cold
Dectes size (more pith in sunflowers so larger in sunflowers than in soybeans)

The class decided to test chamber size by selecting three representatives from each crop (sunflower and soybeans) with a similar amount of soil around the roots, place the thermocoupler electrodes into the stem to a depth where the Dectes larva would overwinter (so under the soil), and run the experiment until it plateaus out so where there is no more change. So the idea is to see if there is a difference between the two crops. I would say that the hypothesis is that it takes longer for the wider chambers (sunflowers) to reach the supercooling point (-15 degrees C).

For further information on how this experiment was done please look at the teachers class blog:

The below graph is the result of "our" experiment. Each line is a mean of the three plants; xsun is the sunflower, xsoy the soybean, and the control is a measure of the external temperature of the plants (the termocouplers were attached to the outside of the plants).

The first thing to note about this graph is that the control rapidly drops in temperature whereas the plants have a slow descent into the colder temperatures. This indicates that the plants provide some protection for the Dectes larvae overwintering in these plants. The second key point is that the plants plataue above the supercooling point of -15 degrees C which further strengths the thought that the plants are providing protection for the overwintering larvae. The third point is that the sunflowers have a "gentler" slope than the soybeans which may provide more time for overwintering larvae to "adjust" to the colder temperatures. The final point is that soybeans and sunflowers plateau at the same time which indicates that at that point there is no advantage over one plant or the other for the survival of the overwintering larvae which as mentioned earlier is above the supercooling point.

My initial thought about this study was that we might need another control which represented stems without a ball of dirt around them. Now that I've looked at the data I'm undecided about another control (it could help and it shouldn't hurt the data). Setting that aside- I think this data tells us quite a bit and indicates that perhaps just being in the plant keeps the Dectes alive during the winter. However, I think a more important question (given the above data) is why the shift from the original host plant (sunflowers) to soybeans?

Experience rating:

Interesting even though we didn't get to "play" outside. Now that I've looked at the data I have more questions than I did during the class devoted to this lab.

October 22, 2009

I have another FREE BLOG WEEK! CARTOONS!!!

So since we had an exam our teacher extended the deadline for the discussion blog which as you may know I posted last week.

So I have another week where I could find a couple more cartoons (to be honest I had already planned them out) for my "godson" and hear what his mom and dad have to say about watching MORE insect cartoons.

So first up: Happy Halloween (Samhain for those of you pagan inclined)!

For all the growers out there- this is what the caterpillars are doing in the spring in your field, garden, flower pot, yard, etc.

And finally but most importantly, another "dragonfly" for Matthew! To be honest the insects are actually damsel flies but I'll save that discussion for another day.

I hope everyone enjoys their week & has a Happy & safe Samhain!!!

We did have the sunflower insect byte due this week & wheat (links below) is due the following week so I took care of both of them so I could free up some time for research writing (YEAH RIGHT!!!). Sunflower Pest Wheat Pest

Ah- so before I forget I rode me bike through City Park on my way home & another lace bug rode with me home. They are so pretty- at least I think they are pretty but I'm an entomologist what can I say? Lace bugs are pests on ornamental plants but I still like them maybe I would like them less if they wanted to munch on my "balcony garden."

Eggplant Lace Bug
Photo from

(On far Right) Sycamore Lace Bug Photo from Follow this link to learn more about lace bugs as a pest.

October 15, 2009

WARNING- Angela on the “soap box” regarding intellectual property & research

This week we did not have a lab but we were asked to read a couple of brief articles and then we were to have a discussion regarding the papers.

Waltz, E., 2009. Under Wraps. Nature Biotechnology. 27 (10): 880-882. Link for the article below:

American Seed Trade Association's Executive Committee (2009), Biotechnology Industry Organization's Food & Agriculture Section Governing Board (2010). Research with Commercially Available Seed Products (Internal ASTA Draft). Unpublished Policy Recommendations pending approval(s). Link for general information regarding ASTA below:

To briefly explain the “problem” which is addressed in Waltz's article: there are several crop industry companies with seed products which have genetically modified traits; in order for farmers to use these seeds they must sign a “technology stewardship agreement” which states that they can't conduct research on the seed or give it away for research & if they do they risk a lawsuit; furthermore, scientists must get permission from the seed company to perform any research on the seeds & are frequently denied the request or told that they can not publish the results which essentially makes the research findings useless for the scientist, buyer (grower/farmer), and consumers; given this vicious circle when a grower asks for information regarding trials & efficacy he/she only has the word of the seed company & no information from an independent consultant & therefore can't make an intelligent & informed decision regarding his/her choice of seed.

The ASTA draft is the result of a meeting in July which attempts to address researchers concern over not being able to perform this necessary & perhaps critical research. The draft does suggest cooperation between researchers and seed companies in order for researchers to be able to perform the research but the seed companies are not required to follow these suggestions.

I, as a consumer, researcher, & entomologist, find the current operating procedure disturbing & makes me wonder what exactly the seed companies are trying to hide from their consumers. I realize that there are multiple companies that produce these genetically modified traits & they have specific processes that they want to protect. However, I'm not interested in gene technologies & it's my understanding that is WHY YOU HAVE A PATENT to protect the technology not prevent credible research from occurring. Furthermore, in the past researchers were allowed to test hybrids and companies (the same ones with stewardship agreements) were willing to provide the hybrid and publication of results was allowed. So what has changed? Is it the cost of creating the gene traits, the increased demand for more improved crops, the market demand (its hard to sell some of the crops with these traits in foreign markets), ????? I'm not sure but what I do know is that should I get a job working as a consultant I won't be able to do that job effectively & neither can any other consultant, researcher, or extension specialist. How can I answer any questions regarding the efficacy of these seeds, potential long-term effects, the validity of the companies claims, etc. The fact is that under current practices I can't because I don't know, I can't test it, an neither can you.

As some of you know, every other Wednesday I attend a “bitch n stitch” session with some friends. At this meeting, we work on various craft project (mending, knitting, crochet, etc.) and we talk about whatever is on our mind. So this week we discussed different jobs, the proposed government medical care plan, literature, and the above problem. I found it interesting that despite the groups diverse range of backgrounds & education we had the same opinions about the topic. First of all, we don't have a problem with genetically modified crops. However, we are curious about why many countries (European Union) do not allow most of these technologies to be imported into their countries so why are we using these technologies & decreasing our ability to be competitive in the overseas market. Secondly, we would like to see how exactly these traits are or are not affecting non-target organisms (including humans) in what would be considered valid experiments. Furthermore, are there any long-term effects on the environment when using these technologies. Thirdly, insecticide resistance was mentioned and NOT by me. It appears that the public is aware of insecticide resistance although they may not understand how it occurs they are easily educated & informed about the implications of resistance. So, the fact that there is concern about the possibility of insects developing resistance to these traits especially with the fact that there is Bt resistance is not a trivial concern. Finally, the discussion regarding insecticide resistance lead to a conversation about “Silent Spring. ” We discussed how it changed the public perception of insecticides, how insecticides are used, & then the resulting legislation due to public concern. This lead me to wonder if this is the direction that GMO's are headed for- more public awareness, legislation, restrictions, costs, etc.

I, then, decided to performed my own Internet research to find information regarding these “stewardship agreements.” Waltz's article is in fact is correct, these agreements do in fact restrict how the seeds can be used. In fact, I was horrified about some of the requirements these companies enforce with these stewardship agreements (products that can be used, farm transfers, etc.). In addition, the stewardship agreements require farmers to follow insect resistance management (IRM) and refuge requirements that are required by law (EPA- Environmental Protection Agency), which, in my opinion, is a good idea. However, I wonder how many people are actually checked by the seed companies to insure that they are following these legal requirements. Furthermore, I read the stewardship guide for Agrisure ® Traits which helped me understand what traits they offer and what exactly separate and common refuges are and how they can be handled. So if this is on the mid-term exam I'm GOOD! The below links are for the stewardship agreements and the stewardship guide if your interested.

Link for Syngenta seeds, Inc. Stewardship Agreement

Link for Syngenta Stewardship Guide

Link for 2009 Monsantao Technology/Stewardship Agreement (Limited Use License)

NOTE: I chose these companies because I had heard of them, I could not find one for Pioneer so that's why I don't have one from them, and one of the above companies was mentioned by my group of friend (they do not have a good reputation with the "common" public and NO I will not tell you which one it is).

We were given an additional week to post this discussion but I chose to go ahead & post mine since it was done BEFORE I found out that we had an additional week.

October 8, 2009

Lab 5: The benefits of “overachieving”

This weeks lab assignment was to compare the results from last weeks lab. However, I did this with the last blog so I get a “FREE” blog week.

We spent the lab time briefly discussing the results and how we could compare our results to the class at large. In addition, some of us stayed to see the greenbug alarm response. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos but with my camera they would not have really shown anything.

However, I did take a look for some videos and I found this cartoon discussing biocontrol in gardens. It's cute so good for the kids but it's a bit inaccurate regarding releasing lady bugs. My suggestion for lady bugs is to release them a few houses from yours and then pray that they migrate to your house.

Here is another video which talks about biological control and how you can use it for gardens.

This week we had to turn in another insect bug byte so the link for my insect is below:

And just for fun- I found another insect cartoon!

October 6, 2009

Lab 4: The JOY of estimating soybean damage

This weeks lab assignment was to look at two different ways of estimating plant damage in soybeans. Unfortunately, this did not mean that we were allowed out into the field but the “field” was brought to us.

We used two different types of qualitative methods:
The first one was to look at soybean plants and determine the types of damage to the plants and try to determine what type of insect caused that damage.

The early planted soybeans had already gone through senescence. So they were brown and dead looking. It was difficult to determine what kinds of damage the plant had sustained. It appeared like it had some root loss but this could have been caused by being ripped out of the ground. However, “real” root loss is caused by various grubs (beetle larvae). I would say that its too late to sample these plants again especially since its so difficult to see the damage.

On the other hand, the late planted soybeans were green and yellow and it was easier to find potential insect pest damage. Some of the leaves had “window paining” damage which is usually caused by caterpillars. There was chewing damage in the middle of the leafs which is indicative of bean leaf beetle feeding. Chewing damage in the leaf margins indicates the presence of grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Some of the soybean pods had round damage which indicates more caterpillar feeding. I think that the late planted plants coudl be sampled again and could benefit from a sampling of the pests that are in the field.

The second estimation method involved estimating soybean leaf damage. Sixty leafs were obtained from the KSU Ashland Research Farm and were placed in plastic sandwich bags. Each student was asked to estimate the percent of damage on the leaf and write it down in a grid. My leaf estimates ranges from 1-96%, the mean was 26.1, and the standard error was 25.4. The standard error is quite high but in this case where we are estimating damage it is quite possible that there would be that much variation in the estimates of leaf damage. The teacher and his students used a scanner and image analysis software to determine the actual leaf damage estimate. The then compared the students estimates to the actual leaf damage estimate.

The teacher posted the above graphs with the equations and R2 values at the below link if you are interested in the r2 values and linear equations.

The class r2 values range from 0.8447 to 0.6798. The r2 values indicate the fit between the observed (our estimates) and the model (the scanner). R2 values run from 0-1, where 1 indicates a "perfect" fit. So our estimates are fairly good to medium in range. link for more information on r2 values

I did not "win" the prize for having the best r2 value but my r2 of 0.7801 was good enough for second place so I can't complain. Additionally, this indicates that my mean and standard error were very good and there was that much variation.

Experience rating:

So-so, I would rather have been outside and not in a lab but I did learn that my leaf estimation is decent.

On a non-lab related note. One of my friends heard the below song and suggested that I listen because "its me." I agree, and it does have one of my favorite insects in the title so if you like music and can handle metal then check it out. The video is not theirs but is done by a fan and he/she includes dragonfly slides so it is "educational" to a small degree.

Note that I FINALLY figured out how to embed videos into the blog!!!!!

This week we also turned in another bug byte so to see mine click on the below link:

September 28, 2009

Free but not FREE week

This week we didn't have lecture or lab. I'm sure your thinking that meant that I would have some more free time to use in order to focus on my proposal, right? NO!!!

We had multiple assignments due last week and this week. So I pulled those together and made all the deadlines. WHEW!!! Maybe, NOW I can find some time for my proposal.

So, if you want to see the insect bytes that I pulled together go to the links below.

I decided to find some videos of insects eating so check them out if you have time: Dragonfly eating a horse fly

Preying mantis taking out a mouse, YES I said mouse; this is NOT for the faint of heart

Assasin bug feeding from a vampire bat

September 21, 2009

Lab 3: Pentamid Sampling & Other Unexpected Findings

This weeks lab assignment was to sample for Green Stink Bugs (Order Homoptera, Family Pentamidae, Acrosternum hilare) at the Ashland Bottoms Research Farm.

Brief Description: Green Stink Bugs are large, green, triangular insects with a large scutellum. Their name comes from the fact that they produce a disagreeable odor (I have never smelled this odor so I can't confirm that it is disagreeable).

Pest Status: The pest status depends on the species.
Three species can be found in the United States:
1. Nezara viridula (Southern Green Stink Bug) is a pest on many crops including soybeans
2. Podisus maculiventris (Spined Soldier Bug) is a beneficial insect which primarily feeds on caterpillars
3. Acrosternum hilare (Green Stink Bug) can be either a pest or a beneficial insect; as a pest it will suck sap from the stems, leaves, and reproductive parts of soybeans and other crops

Development & Life Cycle: Green Stink Bugs have paurometabolis (gradual-metamorphosis) development. This form of development is characterized by the life stages living in similar environments and eating similar foods; the nymphs (young) resemble the adults except that they have no wings, later nymphal stages have wing pads, coloration is different, the nymphs molt into larger and more developed stages until they reach adulthood, and they have no external genitalia. Adults and nymphs have sucking-piercing mouth parts.

Sampling & Damage: Green Stink Bugs are typically found in field borders before fruit is set and then they move into the field as pods and fruit are available. In soybeans, the adults and nymphs pierce the pods and feed on the seeds. This feeding results in small and shriveled seeds which reduce the market value of the crop.

NOTE: this damage is chewing damage likely from a caterpillar NOT a stink bug! I did see several caterpillars and adult grasshoppers which also cause chewing damage but are usually at the leaf edge not in the middle of the leaf.

Below is the map of the farm and the locations where I sampled (each sample is 10 sweeps of the net- so you take a step, sweep, step, sweep, continue for 10 net sweeps) for pentamids.

I tried to use a stratified-random sampling plan. However, I didn't realize the extent of the soybeans until I was in the back of the research plot and discovered that there were more soybeans on the sides of the wheat plots. I, also, chose not to sample in front of the research plots since I didn't want to disturb the research going on there & we parked there so we likely disturbed the area moving around. In the future, I want to get a generalized map BEFORE sampling so I can get a better handle on what type of method to use.

Below is the chart for my samples, numbers found, mean (average found in sample), variance (variation of samples), and standard deviation (also known as standard error, square root of variance).

The mean, variance, and standard error are used to determine the correct sample size to determine stink bug densities.
2.77 samples at the 90% confidence interval
1.36 samples at the 95% confidence interval
Please note that this is a very small number of samples but the mean and variance is going to be "pushed" by the number of zeros in the samples. For the adults this may not matter as much since I either found one or no adults. However, the number of nymphs found ranged from 0-5 so the zeros could definitely be skewing the data. My sampling plan could have missed some "hot spots" since I didn't sample four areas (including the research plot which we were asked NOT to sample) of the field.

We were, also, asked to time our sampling which I neglected to do. However, it took about 1.5 hours to do all the sampling and take all the photos. It may have been easier to do a present/absent count and given what I found it may have been just as precise.

I, also, observed multiple beneficial insects in every sample except numbers 2 and 14. The beneficial insects found: Adult & Nymph Lady Bug, Lacewing Nymph & Adult, Adult Spiders (several kinds), Adult Opiliones (Daddy-Long Legs - I won't get technical here but they are different from spiders {subject for another blog?}), and an Adult Nabid (Damsel Bug). I observed a Dragonfly flying around the field; I'm going to assume that was a female looking for food since males tend to be protecting territories at this time of year. In addition, in sample seven I found a cute, tree frog which is another form of biological control. Unfortunately, I didn't have a container with me otherwise he/she would have gotten to come home with me to live with the cats, tarantulas, & small jungle.

Experience Rating: I have previously sampled for insects in soybeans & this was different than I expected but it was a different field location. The number of pentamids found was similar to the previous sampling but there were far more beneficial insects. In addition, there were not many other damaging insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, and bean leaf beetles which were in abundance in the previously sampled field. However, the other field was sampled last year so it is possible that the results from this field are similar to what can be found in that field this year.

I would say that this was a positive experience especially since this is the FIRST time I have caught a frog (NOTE to self- MUST carry a container for living specimens)!

Interesting/Educational Links: (stink bug fact sheet) (stink bug fact sheet with color photos) (management options for Kansas)

References Used:

Pedigo, l. P., Rice, M. E. 2006. Entomology and Pest management, 5th Edition, Pearson/ Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

September 14, 2009

Lab 2: The “shock & awe” of Internet tools

This week’s lab was originally going to occur outside but due to the rain we were forced to stay inside and learn more about the Internet programs we will be using for this class.

These tools are:


This is probably the most familiar website for KSU students and is used to post lecture notes, grades, assignments, e-mail announcements to students, etc. I like this site, its easy to use and is a central location for everything that I need to have for class.

Day 1 after 2 hours


This site can be used as a hub for additional websites. Once, the teacher explained what this site could do for me I was excited to hear about it. However, there were multiple problems with getting the site to work to my satisfaction (no it still is not to my satisfaction but its closer).

The first hurdle was trying to figure out how to get websites that are not already a widget (like,, or After multiple unsuccessful attempts I discovered the “website widget” which allows you to insert websites.

I'm still having problems signing into several websites from my home netvibes page and I'm still working in multiple tabs which I was hoping to do away with.

The start of my private page


We have not done much with this site other than update our profile and “look around.” However, again there was a problem with using Once I figured out how to get this site on netvibes (see below for how to do this if interested), I then had problems signing on to the site through netvibes so that I could edit my profile. I resorted to opening another tab and working through there and then going back to netvibes. At some point, I managed to get the widget on netvibes to log me in and now I can work on netvibes instead of in a new window. Unfortunately, I have NO IDEA how I did it so please don't ask.


No problems with the site other than personal ones, however, placing the widget on and trying to figure out how to tweet and send direct messages to the teacher was not a user friendly experience.

The start of Day 2- revitalized & plugged into


This site is used to collect information found on the Internet in one place. Additionally, you can highlight important passages and post notes on the bookmarked sites. However, you have to download their toolbar in order to successfully use this tool. I had to agree to multiple security overrides in order to download the toolbar and install it on my laptop. Since, I don't have permission to download programs on my work computer and I don't carry my laptop everywhere I go this software is not what I would consider user friendly. Additionally, I rarely use the Internet for ANY type of research. The only exception to this is when I'm required to for a class and then I tend to do the minimum Internet search required and for the bulk of the assignment use books and journals that I find through the library.


This site has allows you to post videos for people to see. I had the same problems with using this site on netvibes as mentioned. In addition, I can NOT get the videos embedded on this site. I was hoping that this was just a network problem but I’m using a different network today and I still can’t get it to work even though I followed the teachers’ verbal instructions. I guess when I have time I will watch the video that the teacher put together to explain how to embed. So here are a couple of links with some videos that I found that I hope that you enjoy.

Not educational but VERY funny and I needed the laugh so check it out! (Ladybug Dance).

Educational video especially if you have never seen an adult ladybug eat an insect ; )


I think that I have successfully set up my blog and so far I have no problems with posting or editing pages. However, I still have not figured out a good way to label the photos but I may come up with something and then share it.

Day 2 after 4 hours

Experience Rating:

So, I'm going to rate this experience based on what the instructor said on the first day, “I wouldn't use these tools if they didn't make my life easier” since I too follow this general philosophy. In general, these tools DO NOT make my day-to-day life any easier and frankly they added quite a bit of frustration. I have spent more hours than I care to admit in trying to figure out how to get these tools to work for me which was part of the assignment for this blog. Overall, I had a positive experience with two of these sites, one was so-so, and the others were negative.

September 8, 2009

Lab I: A Review of Entomology "101"

This lab was designed to refresh our “entomology memory banks.”
The assignment was to sort alfalfa and soybean samples for unique individuals.

Alfalfa sample

Soybean Sample

Table 1: The common name, life stage(s), and crop(s) of the unique individuals found in Alfalfa (KEY: A = Adults, L = Larva, N = Nymph).

Table 2: The common name, life stage(s), and crop(s) of the unique individuals found in Soybean (KEY: A = Adults, L = Larvae, N = Nymphs) .

NOTE: the differences between the sizes of the samples and the number of "unique" individuals found in the samples. Fortunately, we did not have to do absolute counts but a presence/absence count.

Then sort the individuals by mouth part(s), antennae, and leg types.

Table 3: The mouth part, antennae, and leg type found in sample bag(s) by order.

The next part of the assignment is to select one of the individuals (alfalfa butterfly) and draw its mouth parts, antennae, and leg; label the different parts of these characteristics.

Most of these characters along with wing type can help place an individual in their correct order. If there was enough time, we were to organize the individuals by wing type.

Table 4: The description of the wing types found in the samples by order.

Experience "Rating":

This lab was pretty much what I expected- a review of basic insect structures. The samples that we sorted were similar to the ones that I collected during Insect Pest Management both in size and "unique" insects. HOWEVER, the finding of the red flour beetle (RFB) in the alfalfa sample makes me ask questions such as:

What the .... is that doing there (for those of you that don't know, I work with RFB and they are typically a stored product pest but they do fly & can be found in the "wild")?

Where exactly was this sample collected (so I can determine where the RFB could have came from)?

Cool Links that I think you will find informative and "fun":

"Lacewing Larva gets Lunch" a very cool video a brief description of what the differences are between insects & arachnids a remedial lesson in insect mouth parts an intense description of insects includes physiology & other "fun" stuff

References (used but not cited above):

Borror, D.J., Triplehorn, C.A., Johnson, N. F. 1989. An Introduction to the Study of Insects, 6th Edition. Thompson Learning Inc. United States of America.

Elzinga, R. J. 2000 Fundamentals of Entomology, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Salsbury, G.A., White, S.c. 2000. Insects in Kansas. Kansas Department of Agriculture.

September 5, 2009

Why hasn't she blogged anything and is this worth my time?

Hello All:

I have had several people e-mail or call wanting to know the frequency of my blog updates.

This class is on Wednesday afternoon and the blog assignment is due by 5pm on the following Wednesday. Therefore, my GOAL is to actually post the blog sometime between Friday and Monday afternoon.

Thanks for having an interest in what I have to say about bugs and I promise some exciting insect world information soon (hopefully tomorrow) !!!!

August 26, 2009

First Day of Class

So, today was the first day of class.

I have often thought about blogging but with research, classes, and life with my "family" I have never had the time or the patience to figure it out. Therefore, I'm going to use this assignment as a way to decide if I want to create a blog for my "family" so that they can follow what I'm doing.