Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New findings on beetle flight may help control deadly walnut tree disease

(Phys.org) —New research from entomologists affiliated with the University of California, Davis, shows how environmental conditions influence the seasonal flight behavior of the walnut twig beetle, which spreads a deadly fungal disease in black walnut and other walnut trees. The research may lead to better control of the disease, now found throughout much of the United States.

Yigen Chen and Steve Seybold continually trapped the tiny insect, about a third of the size of a grain of rice, over three years along Putah Creek in Davis, California. They recorded how temperature, light intensity, wind speed and air pressure influenced when the beetles took flight.

"Understanding the walnut twig beetle's seasonal flight cycle and factors that govern its flight are critical first steps in the early detection of invasive species prior to implementing pest eradication or integrated pest management programs," said Chen, a research entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The work appears online in the journal PLOS ONE.

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