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.