Tag Archives: entomology

USDA grant allows research of effects of grassland harvest on insect pollinators

Rufus Isaacs and Doug Landis, both Michigan State University entomology professors who have MSU Extension and AgBioResearch appointments, have received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study the effects of grassland harvest on pollinator populations.

The research team is seeking landowners and managers to assist with the project this fall. Appropriate sites include those in southern Michigan with at least 10 acres of grassland that will be mown, not mown or mown leaving a 10 percent refuge strip. Landowners can keep the forage. The team will sample the fields for two seasons for bees.

The project will investigate ways to manage grasslands with minimal damage to insect pollinators.

The team will connect with Extension educators and specialists as the results of the research become available.

Read more here.

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MSUE educators key in identifying invasive pest

Recently, Michigan received the bad news that another invasive pest has arrived in our state – the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The unwelcome guest feeds on fruits, vegetables, corn, soybeans and much more. It is difficult to control with insecticides and is a smelly nuisance that clusters on and in homes when the weather turns cold.

 Michigan State University Extension staff members as well as employees of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and other agencies are vigilant about identifying and mitigating the effects of any new pests that enter our borders.

 An MSU student collected the first specimen in Berrien County for a class project. It was his instructor in the course, MSUE educator Duke Elsner, who identified the bug as one of concern. Dr. Elsner submitted it to the USDA for further verification. A resident in Eaton County brought the second specimen to his local Extension office to MSUE educator George Silva, who sent it to MSU Diagnostic Services. There, entomologist Howard Russell identified it as a brown marmorated stink bug and forwarded it to APHIS for confirmation.

 MSU entomology specialists are gathering information and writing research proposals to address the issues this new pest will create.

 If you are curious about this pest, learn more from this fact sheet developed by entomologist Chris DiFonzo along with Howard Russell.

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Filed under Entomology

And other duties as assigned …

It didn’t take long for my colleagues in the Michigan State University Extension director’s office to compare notes and realize that their letter of offer included the phrase “… and other duties as assigned.” That clause has been the subject of some well-intentioned joking and well-deserved ribbing. “Other duties as assigned” applies far more frequently than any of them anticipated. Of course the problem is that my colleagues routinely OFFER to take on one of those “other duties”, like chairing an ad hoc committee, writing a position paper or providing leadership for a new initiative.

From my first year in the director’s office, one of those “other duties” people has been Larry Olsen. Early on, Dr. Olsen agreed to leave his post with the MSU Department of Entomology to serve as interim state leader for agriculture. Later, he applied for, and was appointed as the state leader without the interim modifier. We have benefited from his leadership, insight and tremendous work ethic over the past four years, not only in providing leadership for our agriculture Extension programs, but also in taking on local, statewide and national duties. He is the ultimate team player.

About six weeks ago, Dr. Ernest DelFosse, Entomology chair, asked Dr. Olsen to return to his home department to serve as associate department chair. After benefitting from Dr. Olsen’s leadership for four years, it was hard for me to accept that he would leave that role. At the same time, I realized that after all he’s done for MSUE, I need to honor the move that he felt compelled to make at this point in his career. In effect, it was time for me to share Dr. Olsen’s contributions with his home department rather than sequester them for MSUE. And in all honesty, the decision wasn’t really mine to make—it was Dr. Olsen’s.

Dr. Olsen officially began serving as associate chair of Entomology on February 1 and ended his role as MSUE state leader for agriculture on that date. Those of you who have interacted with Dr. Olsen will likely continue to see him at conferences and meetings that involve Integrated Pest Management (IPM), pesticide safety, and more general work related to plant protection.

So I want to say publicly how much I appreciate Dr. Olsen’s work on behalf of MSUE these past four years (and before that as an Extension Specialist), and how much I respect his integrity and commitment to this university. Besides, the truth is that we’ll continue to benefit from his leadership in our IPM program and our Pesticide Applicator Safety program. And wherever he is assigned, I’m confident that Dr. Olsen’s going to find himself doing what he’s done here for four years—contributing considerably to many “other duties as assigned.” Thanks, Larry!

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