Diary of a Pest

Nothing’s more juicy than getting to read a page from your enemy’s diary. Our friends at the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center released pages from the private diaries of pests, so you could get to know some of the pests we face in the Northeast!

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Spotted wing drosophila

Dear Diary,

Here I go, sawing through a raspberry at its peak of ripeness. Ahh! I lay eggs in cherries, blueberries, and other valuable crops in the Northeast. And I’ll keep on doing it, especially if I can keep it a secret. But boy, that Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center really irks me. They’ve awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars for research about me in the region. Talk about invasion of privacy.

One guy who’s really poking his nose in my business is Richard Cowles, a scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He and his buddies developed monitoring traps and bait that honestly my cousins and I couldn’t resist. They prevented $6 million in crop losses in one year! “Our early warning network is paying off,” said Glen Koehler, an associate scientist at the University of Maine. The nerve!

Credit: Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

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Brown marmorated stink bug

Dear Diary,

I get the feeling someone has been reading my diary. I’ve been called a lot of names—an invader, a stinker—but paranoid isn’t one of them. That’s ’cause farmers really are worried about me. But lately it seems like someone has been anticipating my every move. People say I threaten $21 billion worth of specialty crops in this country. You need a group of scientists and economists to come up with a number like that one. I don’t care about money. I just want to eat.

If I had to guess who’s been reading my diary, it would be that stupid Northeastern IPM Center. They funded a working group that expanded into a multi-million-dollar national research project. All they wanted was to put me in a padded cage so they could study my every move. They built the StopBMSB.org website defaming me and produced a series of videos for YouTube, showing growers how to track me down. How would you feel if someone did all this to you? You might feel a little paranoid yourself.

From Flickr Creative Commons, user photochem_PA.

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Late blight

Dear Diary,

That’s me, in the front at twelve days old, with my family. I’m rather proud of how we started in a small garden and spread into nearby fields in just over a week. When my cousins and I get together, we have a lot of fungus! Except one day… We were about to invade a tomato field when a Cornell scientist named Martha Mutschler spoiled the surprise. She breeds tomato hybrids with resistance to late blight. We just couldn’t hit her “Iron Lady,” a variety she’s brought to market through High Mowing Organic Seeds.

The Northeastern IPM Center also helped William Fry at Cornell to figure out some kind of “decision support system.” It slows us down in tomato and potato fields and growers can reduce fungicide applications up to 20%. I heard Maine’s Potato IPM Program in one year saved growers $17 million, helping growers use weather data and scouting results to gauge the risk of me! I’m so mad at USDA and the Northeastern IPM Center for funding them!

From Flickr Creative Commons, user Kirsten Jennings.

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Deer tick

Dear Diary,

For many generations, my family has run a successful business sucking blood. Nowadays, if we bite a deer, a mouse, or a person, we can share the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Once those bacteria get kickin’, people have chills, fever, even palsy. There were over 125,000 confirmed cases reported in the U.S. in five recent years.

But that birdbrained Northeastern IPM Center is funding research to drain our profits while reducing the use of pesticides. First it was research on rosemary oil, a food-grade compound that tree-huggers loved and we hated as much as synthetic pesticides. Then came deer-feeding stations. We were clinging to the heads and necks of deer as they fed on corn, and these contraptions swabbed us with a deadly solution. I like my blood red, not my balance sheet. With the Northeastern IPM Center in the market, the blood business bites.

From Flickr Creative Commons, user Michiey.

Read more at the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management website.

Do you live in Massachusetts? If you have a smartphone or a digital camera, the power to protect the natural heritage of Massachusetts is already in your hands! Check out the Outsmart Invasive Species Project to help stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that threaten our environment.

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