Invasion of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooters

Glassy-Winged SharpshooterThe fear of the dreaded Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter to Californian grape growers is as real a threat as monsters of b-rated movies of the '60s to good taste. A vector and transmitter of a bacterium that causes Pierce's disease that kills grapevines and other plants, the half-inch-long leafhopper has the potential to wipe out the North Coast's four billion dollar wine industry.

If you're a conspiracy buff, then you and I have come to the same conclusion: the French and Italians have somehow smuggled the nasty bug passed the ever watchful USDA.

Mantis-GaraffeBioengineering techniques have been enlisted in recent years in the efforts to control and contain the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter. Though experiments to produce an environmentally-sound, Sharpshooter-only predator has eluded various government agencies and private biotech firms for years, a breakthrough has come in the form of the first stable, genetically engineered mantis that has a voracious appetite for the invasive Sharpshooter.

With the proposed common name of Long-Neck Mantis, researchers at federally-funded laboratories are working round-the-clock to breed the bio-pesticide in large quantity for a summer release. No date has been set for the coordinated release of millions of Long-Neck Mantises in suspected Sharpshooter-infested agricultural regions.
Biotechnology offers nothing at present for grapes. But the prospect of one day engineering insect resistance to protect vines against pests is among the reasons several grape growers said they planned to oppose the ballot initiative.

Steve Dutton, whose Dutton Estate Winery is known for its chardonnay, said he hoped the genetic engineers would be able to modify grapes so they can resist disease spread by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a leaf-hopping insect. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ->
(click on images to enlarge)
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another point of view ...

Anonymous Donna Jensen


What the heck is that freakin' thing [the mantis]? it really freaked me out when I enlarged the picture. - Donna Jensen
 

Anonymous Ann


Looks like we need to raise a glass to the long-neck mantis for preying on the sharpshooter. However, this news confirms that I don't want to get into the grape growing business anytime soon.
 

Blogger Nam LaMore


donna: well, if it makes you feel any better, then just know that it will only exist in your nightmares and not in real life! there are far scarier, real mantises out there than this one. this one is actually kinda cute.

ann: yes, yes .. i'm all for promoting organic farming, and if we can get natural bioengineer prey-specific predators, that's all the better. i remember releasing hundrends of ladybird beetles in a friend's backyard one spring .. they help control aphids.
 

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