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Using worms to kill bugs: researchers looking at using natural means to control cucumber beetles



Scientists with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada are working on ways to try to help farmers who grow squash, cucumbers and watermelons deal with the ravaging of their crops by spotted and striped cucumber beetles, but without the need for chemical applications.

Suzanne Blatt at the Kentville Research and Development Centre is working with tiny worms to deal with the beetles.

And like so many other problems, it’s an issue connected to climate change.

“It’s been an increasing issue since about the mid 20-teens, that’s when summers started to get warmer and stay warmer,” Blatt said.

The beetles are native to North America, but have worked their way north.

As if that wasn’t enough, in 2020 researchers noted that it was now warm enough that were was a second flush, or emergence, of new beetles.

“They appear on your crop, they mate, they lay their eggs, the larvae hatch and feed on the roots, so that causes problems, the adults will feed on your flowers and your leaves, which causes problems, and the adults can vector a bacterial wilt, so there are three hits that they can do,” Blatt said. “But there is so much heat that those larvae had time to pupate, become adults and then appear and start the process again.”

‘If you can hit those, you’re fine’

That created new problems, because normally there is only one generation and “if you can hit those, you’re fine.”

It meant an updated strategy to what was being tried in 2019, which was crop trapping. That involves planting something more appealing to the beetles than the crop a grower wants to protect, such as putting zucchini or a hubbard variety of squash around buttercup squash. The trap crop is smaller and planted near the cash crop.

“The idea is that you’re planting a line around the rows you’re trying to protect, so (the beetles) would spend their time there,” Blatt said

The second wave

That experiment was looking good in the first year, until that second wave showed up.

So in 2021, the team transplanted a second trap crop at about the time the new beetles would have been emerging.

“The next thing we ended up thinking about was, ‘now that we have them there, how can we stop them from getting even to that second generation?’”

Enter the nematodes. Or, more specifically, entomopathogenic nematodes. That’s a group of carnivores that feed on the eggs, pupae, or often the larvae of insects.

Beetle, meet worm

The team introduced the microscopic worms to the trap crop in 2022 after the first flush of beetles.

“Now when the larvae come out, the nematodes are eating them,” Blatt said. “So, we should be able to stop that second flush.”

Ideally, that interrupts the cycle and reduces the numbers in a particular area.

Striped cucumber beetles outnumber a bee on a squash flower. Scientists with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada are looking a the use of carniverous nematodes to help combat the destructive pest. – Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

There are companies that are producing the nematodes commercially, but one of the hindrances to a grower trying to use them on a large scale is that the recommended application is 2.47 billion nematodes per hectare.

“That is a lot,” Blatt said. “A packet of 50 million can run from $50 to $150  dollars.”

That would be $2,500 per hectare.

“The cost to apply it to everything is just prohibitive,” she said.

That’s why the research is on attracting the beetles the trap crops and eliminating them there.

“The idea is to keep the cost down,” Blatt said “When you’re applying it to just the trap crop, you can take your 50 million package and it goes a lot further than if you’re trying to apply it to every plant in every row.”

The dip solution

Another method under trial is to dip transplants into a solution with the nematodes to infuse it directly into the plant ball before planting.

Part of the issue there is that they’re on the plant long before the beetles shows up, and may start to move away in search of food.

While it would be ideal if the nematodes just reproduced and expanded their hunting grounds to provide wider protection, Blatt said, many of the ones being produced commercially may not be adapted to Nova Scotia’s climate and able to survive the winter. So for now, the expectation is that the research will show that plastering the trap crop will work for one year.

As part of the research the team also planted nasturtiums. While that doesn’t seem to be effective at driving the beetles out, it did repel squash bugs to lay their eggs further away, Squash bugs are another pest that arrive after the cucumber beetles.

“For the home gardener, I would argue it’s going to be a benefit,” she said. If you’re planting your own stuff in, start your trap crops inside about a week ahead of the others, so when you put everything in the garden your trap crop is about to flower. That will pull them off anything that doesn’t have flowers. If you’re an early riser, go out first thing in the morning and shake the flowers out into soapy water.”

That will remove the beetles, she said. The best thing for the squash bug for home gardeners is to look under the leaves for the bronze-coloured eggs and squish them.”



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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart



Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert



Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled



Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!


1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.


2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.


3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.


4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.


5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.


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