In recent years, the stink bug has become a major problem for Georgia crops, particularly in cotton fields, where it costs farmers millions in losses annually. To develop more efficient methods to control the pest, a University of Georgia researcher wants to learn more about it, especially its travel habits.“Our main mission for this project is to learn about the ecology and biology of the stink bug and then develop environmentally friendly control strategies that exploit these findings,” said Mike Toews, a research entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Tifton, Ga.Georgia farms, like many in the Southeast, are diverse, with various crops planted from early spring until late fall in fields near each other. In early spring, stink bugs emerge from roadside weeds or wooded areas where they spent the winter. They then migrate to developing crops. They linger along the way, feeding, looking for companionship and building populations in early-maturing crops like corn and wheat. By late-summer, they’ve built up a hungry army, which turns its focus to the tasty developing cotton boll — the fruit that makes the lint. In Georgia, they claimed 20,000 bales of cotton, or $6 million in damage, in 2006 alone.“Stink bugs start early in weeds, then move to corn, peanuts, soybeans and veggies before damaging cotton at the end of the season,” he said. “The idea is to figure out how we can prevent stink bugs from building up and damaging late-season plants like cotton.”Toews and Clemson University entomologists Jeremy Greene, Francis Reay-Jones and economist Carlos Carpi are using a three-year $154,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center to pinpoint when and where the bug enters various Southeastern crops.In Tifton, Toews is using cotton, peanut, soybean, grain sorghum, pecan, watermelon and corn fields, totaling 402 acres, as his research farmscape. Using sweep nets, traps, damage assessments and Global Positioning Systems technology, he’s learning about the bug’s reproductive habits, or cycles, and tracking its path through the farm.He is closely monitoring and mapping the population build up and the times when stinkbugs enter cotton fields. They typically settle at the edges of the fields first, he said.“We are targeting sprays on these edges at the times they are moving in the fields to prevent the need for spraying the entire field,” he said.Typically, farmers scout fields for stink bug damage. Once a threshold level of damage is met, the entire field is sprayed. By targeting just the edges at the right time, he said, farmers could reduce their insecticide use by 75 percent; some by as much as 90 percent. “By targeting sprays,” he said, “we’re not broadcasting the field and killing beneficial insects that can actually help fight other (cotton-eating) pests.”Georgia’s subtropical climate suits cotton production. It also appeals to hordes of cotton-eating bugs. For decades, farmers sprayed insecticides on cotton 12 to 14 times during the growing season, or once a week, to protect it. Stink bugs were likely present then, too, but were controlled with those sprays.The eradication of the boll weevil allowed farmers to stop spraying weekly. In the mid-‘90s, farmers started planting cotton varieties that contained a bacterium that killed caterpillars soon after they ate the leaves. That bacterium doesn’t hurt stinkbugs.Farmers now spray insecticide only two or three times during the growing season. Without the added chemical control, stinkbugs have now emerged in force.Georgia’s ranks second in cotton production behind Texas. The state’s crop is worth between $500 million and $600 million annually.
The Palm Beach County School District released new details on Thursday as to how the 2020-21 academic school year may look, one day after school board members reached a consensus to begin the year with online-only classes.A spokesperson for the district sats that, unlike last March when teachers had just a few days to prepare and switch to distance learning, the district has had all summer to prepare for the possibility of virtual teaching with the new school year.In addition, Justin Katz, the president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, says the district will give teachers professional development training over the next few weeks, in an effort to help them be better equipped for online teaching.“There’s going to be a very rigid set of rules and working conditions that teachers will have to adhere to or face reprimand because that’s what we need to do to perform uniform high quality education,” Katz explains.In addition, a spokesperson says the school district plans to distribute 82,000 more laptops to students and make WiFi more readily available throughout the district.At Wednesday’s school board meeting, board members decided to start the 2020-21 academic year, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 10, with online-only classes.A final vote will take place this Wednesday, July 15.WATCH LIVE: Press conference with U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia in Jacksonvillehttps://t.co/iPQ1J4aefk— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 9, 2020 Claiming that students statewide have suffered an “education gap” from online distance learning, the governor asked school districts to consider opening campuses right away for the 2020-21 academic year.“I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed,” DeSantis explained. “In spite of good efforts with the online, it’s just not the same. So I worry about that gap.”The governor went on to say that he is concerned about the social impact that distance learning has on children.“There’s something to be said for being in school, seeing people you know, growing up like a normal kid,” according to the governor.He added that he would not hesitate to put his three children, who are not yet old enough to attendAccording to Gov. DeSantis, exceptions should be made for students who have significant health issues, and that choice is up to parents.“Different parents have different calculations. If a parent wants to opt for virtual education, they should absolutely be able to do that. We shouldn’t be forcing them to do any kind of decisions,” DeSantis said.There are 232,718 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,009 deaths in Florida as of Thursday.Palm Beach County has 18,656 cases and 578 deaths. Board members also suggested the possibly of having teachers go into their classrooms several days a week to use their SMART Board and materials to teach children at home.A vote on that suggestion is also set for Wednesday.Following the final decisions, the school board will submit their plan to the Florida Department of Education for final approval.Last week, the Florida’s Department of Education issued an order requiring public school districts to open campuses five days a week.However, Palm Beach County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donald Fennoy said the district has some flexibility with that order, as the district takes recommendations and advice from health leaders.On Wednesday, President Trump said he wants schools to reopen nationwide in the fall, and threatened to cut federal funding if they fail to reopen.Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that children should be learning in classrooms.“Educating our kids is absolutely essential,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the Jacksonville Port Authority. “I have no doubt we can do this safely.”WATCH GOVERNOR ON SCHOOLS:
She is the latest athlete to speak out about friction between law enforcement and the black community in the US.In Tuesday’s Facebook post, Williams, 35, wrote that she had asked her 18-year-old nephew to drive her somewhere so she could work during the journey.She said that when she saw a police car she “remembered that horrible video of the woman in the car when a cop shot her boyfriend”. “All of this went through my mind in a matter of seconds,” she added.Williams was apparently referring to the July 6 fatal shooting of Philando Castile, whose girlfriend live-streamed the confrontation with police in St Paul, Minnesota.The Grand Slam champ said she checked her nephew was not speeding so they would not get pulled over, and then regretted not having driven herself.“I would never forgive myself if something happened to my nephew,” Williams wrote. “He’s so innocent. So were all ‘the others.’”“I am a total believer that not ‘everyone’ is bad. It is just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated, and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives.”Williams quoted Martin Luther King Jr, writing: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”She added: “I Won’t Be Silent”.Williams spoke out amid a wave of anti-police brutality sporting protests in the US, triggered after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem.Some 214 black people have been killed by US police this year out of a total of 821 people, according to Black Lives Matter monitoring group, Mapping Police Violence.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Serena Williams has voiced her fears about police violence, writing on Facebook: “I won’t be silent.”The US tennis star posted that she found herself feeling wary of law enforcement during a recent journey with her teenage nephew.Williams said that when they drove by a patrol car she remembered a woman whose boyfriend was fatally shot by police.