SHORT CUTS

VIRUS AIMED AT MOSQUITOES

One mosquito genus, called Culex, has been found to transmit the West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis. Agricultural Research Service scientists have received a patent for a baculovirus — a virus specific to arthropods — a virus that kills Culex mosquitoes, according to an ARS Web site article by Jim Core. The article says the patent also includes a method for transmitting the baculovirus to the mosquitoes. The baculovirus infects only Culex mosquitoes, but not other insects, plants, wildlife or people.

Baculoviruses are uncommon in mosquitoes. James J. Becnel, an entomologist with the ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology discovered CuniNPV, a baculovirus that is a candidate to develop into a larvicide, according to the ARS article. The virus is activated when mixed with magnesium. When the mixture is added to a body of water where mosquitoes breed, larvae ingest it. According to Becnel, the virus can kill 85 to 95 percent of mosquitoes after two to three days and the magnesium won't harm the water.

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For more information visit the USDA Web site at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2003/030423.htm.

MANY CALIFORNIA ENGINES UNLAWFUL, CARB WARNS

Officials from the California Air Resources Board recently said that many engines owned by California rental centers are not registered with the board or with local air pollution control districts and therefore are subject to fines and penalties.

CARB officials estimate that about 30,000 portable engines of greater than 50 horsepower are not registered in the portable equipment registration program or with local districts and therefore may not be “lawfully” utilized in California. Officials from local air pollution control districts commented during a recent workgroup meeting that they believe many of the 30,000 engines are owned by rental centers and greater enforcement efforts were discussed.

U.S. ELECTRIC POWERED LAWN EQUIPMENT TO POST STRONG GAINS THROUGH 2007

U.S. shipments of power lawn and garden equipment are projected to rise over 3 percent annually (including price increases) through 2007, approaching $10 billion. Advances will result from increasing consumer demand for lighter weight and higher horsepower products. These and other trends are presented in Power Lawn & Garden Equipment, a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Although gas powered equipment will remain dominant, electric powered products are expected to post significantly stronger gains. Battery-powered equipment will fare particularly well, with shipments of cordless products growing at nearly 10 percent annually to $430 million in 2007.

Turf and grounds equipment — turf tractors in particular — will experience above average gains based on the favorable outlook for professional landscaping services, partially due to the rising number of older consumers. Blowers, vacuums and sweepers will continue to benefit from the popularity of combination products. Lawnmowers will continue to be the largest product segment.

Growth in the commercial lawn and garden equipment market will be bolstered by the rising number of professional landscapers. Replacement sales, a result of the heavy use of professional equipment, will also benefit demand. The growing golf industry will also create opportunities, especially for higher-end turf equipment. Despite these factors, the residential market will continue to dominate power lawn and garden equipment sales, representing nearly 75 percent of the total in 2007.

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