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Researchers find potential biocontrol for bed bugs

The life cycle of a bedbug. Image courtesy EPA.

Naturally occurring fungus may help where chemical pesticides are failing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The resurgence of common bedbugs is partly due to their increase resistance to insecticides — like many other nuisance species, they’ve evolved to develop an immunity to the toxins. But a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say they may have discovered the key to effective biocontrol of the nuisance bugs — a natural fungus that causes disease in insects.

In the study, the researchers used an airbrush sprayer to apply spore formulations of the Beauveria bassiana fungus to paper and cotton jersey, a common bed sheet material. Then control surfaces, again paper and cotton jersey, were sprayed with blank oil only. The surfaces were allowed to dry at room temperature overnight. Continue reading

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Environment: Tamarisk biocontrol may work after all

Imported leaf-eating beetles slowly adapting to local ecosystems

Tamarisk along the Colorado River near Moab. Photo courtesy Tom Dudley.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Efforts to control invasive tamarisk plants along the Arkansas River are looking up, thanks to a boost from some unexpected evolutionary adaptations. A small imported but that eats and kills the water-sucking plants has been expanding its range and reproducing more efficiently after adapting to regional cycles of darkness and light.

“This is one of the clearest cases of rapid evolution,” said Tom Dudley, who has been involved in the tamarisk control efforts at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute Riparian Invasive Research Laboratory.

The tamarisk leaf beetle has managed to delay its entry into hibernation to adapt to the shorter days of the southern region of the United States. That adaptation enables the beetle to survive until spring and prolongs the time it has to reproduce. Continue reading

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