The twelve pests of Christmas (trees)

For many, December means celebrating Christmas and a central part of that is a Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have been used in celebration for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life. Pagans worshiped trees, and Romans used evergreen wreaths during the festival of Saturnalia.

The trees commonly used as Christmas decorations come from the genus Picea which is made up of around 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Picaceae. Popular Christmas tree species include Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, and Norway Spruce.

The modern-day Christmas tree is thought to have started in 16th century Germany when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. The Christmas traditions we know today were shaped by the Victorians, when the first Christmas tree was brought from Germany to the British royal household by Prince Albert in the 1840s. These days, around 7 million real trees are sold each year in the UK, and as many as 30 million in the USA.

But with real trees come real creatures…

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Giving garlic mustard the biocontrol treatment

The CABI Blog

Garlic mustard leaves with typical feeding marks of Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis

In eastern North America a species of weed has become an aggressive invader. Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one of the most rapidly increasing woodland invasive plant species, spreading across northeastern and midwestern USA and southeastern Canada ata rate of nearly 2,500 square miles per year.

The plant was most likely introduced to North America in the 19th century, taken from its native habitat of Eurasia by settlers for medicinal and culinary use. Although the crushed leaves and seeds of garlic mustard smell like cultivated garlic and have been used as flavouring in cooking for centuries, the plant actually belongs to the cabbage family.

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Fall armyworm radio campaign for next growing season launches in Zambia

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CABI in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia through the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) has launched a national radio campaign focusing on the identification, prevention and management of fall armyworm. The campaign aims to help smallholder farmers in Zambia minimise fall armyworm losses and learn how to safely use chemicals.

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The time is ripe for climate adaptation in agriculture

The CABI Blog

climate-change-1325882_1920By Janny Vos, Director of Strategic Partnerships at CABI

I recently attended the launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) in The Hague where the words of the CEO of the World Bank – Kristalina Georgieva – resonated strongly with my work as part of an organisation that aims to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. In a nutshell, it’s all about working together as we aim to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ms Georgieva said, “What is new is the scope, the speed and the scale at which we must work to adapt to climate change. And it is cost effective as the returns on investments will be high.” CABI’s primary interests are helping farmers to grow more and lose less to agricultural pests and diseases, and the ‘returns on investments’ are indeed…

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Invasives Most Read 2018

Parthenium in Pakistan

2018 has been a bumper year for the CABI Invasives blog, with 4 times more posts than 2017 and over twice the number of views (over 20,000!). With so many articles published this year, we have compiled a list of the top 20 most read to round off 2018.

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Addressing the root of the problem — why plant health and evidenced-based interventions matter to global development

by Duncan Barker (Research and Evidence Division, DFID) and Dr Roger Day (CABI). Reblogged from the DFID Research blog.

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Global agriculture faces a myriad of threats, of which one of the greatest is invasive species. With no native organisms to control them, invasive species such as plant pests and diseases spread out of control, damaging crops and risking the food security of developing countries.

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Action on Invasives short course on classical weed biological control

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Zygogramma bicolorata, often referred to as ‘The Parthenium Beetle’ feeds on the leaves of Parthenium and is already being used as a biocontrol in a number of countries

Invasive species pose a serious threat to food security, biodiversity, water resources, human and animal health, and economic development. It is widely acknowledged that integrated control is the most effective strategy in managing invasive plants where it involves the use of herbicides, manual or mechanical control, and biological control agents in an integrated way. Last month, a short course on invasion biology and classical biological control of weeds was delivered at CABI in Pakistan.

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