The Living Lice Comb

IMG_7281Aquaculture adopts integrated pest management techniques for water-borne pests.

Like their land-based colleagues, fish farmers have to deal with pests and parasites that attack their animals. And like famers on land, they are looking for natural ways to deal with the pests that minimize the use of chemical treatments.

For salmon farms on the east coast of Canada, that means finding a way to fight the sea lice that can plague their open-water net pens. The aquaculture industry is now experimenting with using “cleaner fish,” such as cunner fish and lumpfish, to help control lice numbers, similar to how land-based integrated pest management techniques use natural predators to control pests. Read more in Hakai.

Pesticide makes invading ants suicidally aggressive

Neonicotinoids change behaviour in ways that could affect spread of invasive species.

Neonicotinoid insecticides have developed a bad reputation for their unintended and potentially harmful effects on pollinating insects such as bees. A study in New Zealand now shows that the chemical can also change how native and invasive ants interact.

New Zealand is facing an invasion of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), which compete with native southern ants (Monomorium antarcticum). The insects often meet in urban or agricultural areas, where neonicotinoids are in use. So ecologist Rafael Barbieri, a graduate student in the lab of Philip Lester at Victoria University of Wellington, wondered whether the behavioural changes that have been associated with sublethal neonicotinoid exposure in other insects affect how the two species interact. Read more in Nature.