Monday, February 22, 2010

For all those coffee drinkers out there!

Coffee is one of the biggest cash crops in many parts of the world, and the coffee berry borer is one of the most widespread pests of the coffee berry. The female borer drills a hole into the berry and then lays her eggs. The eggs hatch and the larvae complete their development by feeding on the berry. These tiny beetles cause economic losses estimated at $500 million. Recently, however, a group of scientists discovered a thrips species, Karnyothrips flavipes, which is a natural enemy of the coffee borer. This thrips was identified as feeding on the eggs and larvae of the coffee borer inside the coffee berry. Scientists found the highest percentage of thrips preying on borer larvae and eggs early in the growing season, which coincides with the coffee borer populations being the highest. More research is needed to determine how effective this predator is at controlling the coffee borer and to see if this thrips is preying on the coffee berry borers in other coffee producing countries. For the full story, please view

Photo of green Arabica coffee berries growing in Kona, Hawaii.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Entomology Curriculum

The waiting is over...the 4-H Entomology curriculum has been revised! The new curriculum is more engaging for younger audiences and will give all visitors a competitive advantage for college entomology or biology courses. The online material has been redesigned and now consists of printable workbooks in addition to web-based html pages. Web tools now contain more and larger photos of pinned and preserved insects, which will greatly aid contest participants as they prepare for the entomology contest as well as help aspiring entomologists learn insect orders. In addition, the taxonomy used in the new curriculum is being taught in most colleges in the world, and it matches that being taught in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. There are also several digital videos on insect collecting that have been added as supplemental material for those who wish to make an insect collection. The new 4-H entomology resources can be found at