New York State IPM Program

May 27, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on All Buzz. No Sting. Carpenter Bees Do Just What Their Name Suggests

All Buzz. No Sting. Carpenter Bees Do Just What Their Name Suggests

When winged assailants — bees, wasps, biting flies — come after us, well, we evolved to run or swat. Now, running makes sense. But swatting?

Sometimes that swatting thing can be an evolutionary dead end. Swat the wrong wasp and next thing you know the entire nest is on your case. An injured (or annoyed) wasp releases “attack pheromones” that tell its kith and kin there’s danger afoot and they’d best do

A gentle observer can get up close and personal with a male carpenter bee.

A gentle observer can get up close and personal with a male carpenter bee.

something about it, fast. If we get in the door quickly enough, too often we run for the wasp spray — not, by the way, a recommended IPM practice except in the most desperate cases. There’s simpler, more timely tricks of the trade. We suggested a couple  in our May 18 post.

Besides, not all creatures that buzz can harm us. That big bumble bee dive-bombing you — well, first off, it’s unlikely it’s a bumble bee. Bumble bees are remarkably gentle. But then, carpenter bees — bumble-bee lookalikes, only lots less furry — usually are too. (And remember: correct identification is key to good IPM.)

Females are busy making nests, but they'll rest on a gently outstretched hand.

Females are busy making nests, but they’ll rest on a gently outstretched hand.

Right now female carpenter bees are (as the saying goes) busy as bees. Whether it’s a horizontal tree branch, a cut log, your porch railing or the eaves of your home, they’re making nests for their young. If you just happen to wander too close, you might end up face to face with a large (and agitated) black and yellow bee — a mate-guarding male.

But in reality there’s nothing to fear.

Why? Because male carpenter bees have no stinger and pose no threat. So why all the fuss? The males are protecting females as they sculpt out nesting sites. If you stand by long enough, you might see several bees buzzing and tumbling with each other. You can identify the males by the pale yellow patch on their face. Two patch-faced tumbling bees — those are males in a tussle. One patch-faced, one without — those bees are mating.

These galleries go with the grain, providing shelter and provisioned with food for larvae en route to becoming adults.

These galleries go with the grain, providing shelter and provisioned with food for larvae en route to becoming adults.

And the females? They have a stinger. But they sting only at need to protect their nest. See some perfectly round holes (about a half-inch across) in your railing? These entryways make a 90-degree bend where females start creating galleries that run with the grain.

What do they eat? Nectar — which makes them useful pollinators. But these bees are smart cookies. When it comes to garden flowers like salvia and penstemon — anything with a slender, tubular flower that these big bees can’t get into — they become nectar robbers. They simply cut a slit at the base of corolla and steal the nectar, presumably leaving the pollination to somebody else.

So next time you’re hazed by a male carpenter bee, just stand quietly by (“quietly” is the operative word) and enjoy the show as they tumble about, mating with flying females or buzzing competing males. Next thing you know, they’re ignoring you entirely.

How to prevent them tunneling into your railings and eaves? After all, left untreated for years, it’s not that good for a home’s structural integrity. Seek no further for IPM’s: Get Rid of Carpenter Bees? Yes Please!

Many thanks to IPMer Matt Frye for providing the original material. Photo credits: male carpenter bee from Female carpenter bee from, Wikimedia Commons. Nesting galleries:

May 18, 2016
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Dandelions? Wasps? Mice? For Every Season There Is a Purpose (But It’s Not Always Obvious)

Dandelions? Wasps? Mice? For Every Season There Is a Purpose (But It’s Not Always Obvious)

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! — Mark Twain

For IPMers who answer homeowner questions, what many people want in spring is an answer to dandelions. These in-your-face, bright bursts of yellow are speckling lawns statewide. Homeowners that aren’t yet convinced how important these early flowers are to pollinators want them gone — now. The bad news (or good, depending on your perspective) is: it’s not the best time to do anything. The best time to control broad-leafed weeds is late summer and fall. (We covered this a couple of years ago: Dandelions – Love Them or Leave Them, but Don’t Spray Them.)

We have exactly the opposite problem with wasps and yellow jackets. Now is the time to prevent later problems because their populations are so low in spring.

Carpenter bee females create galleries or tunnels in dry wood during the spring. Bees bore into the wood, then turn 90 degrees to tunnel along the grain.

Identification is important! Is it a bee? Wasp? Bald-faced hornet? This carpenter bee will be managed much differently than other types of stinging insects.

Last autumn a homeowner had “a swarm of bees” take residence in the attic. A pest management professional removed the nest and sprayed an insecticide. When “the bees” were noted this spring, the homeowner worried that they were back for a repeat performance.

The homeowner admitted that he didn’t know if it was bees, yellow jackets, or paper wasps. Identification matters when deciding how to deal with a large active population (you can find pictures of different types of stinging insects here and a video here). But no matter what type of insect is currently scoping out his house, the IPM solution is the same. Find the opening and seal it properly. (Unless it’s a carpenter bee. For more information on them, check out our Get Rid of Carpenter Bees? Yes, Please! fact sheet.)

This soffet was likely damaged when a ladder slipped during a routine gutter cleaning.

This soffit was likely damaged when a ladder slipped during a routine gutter cleaning.

In the case of our nervous homeowner, a damaged soffit provides access for all sorts of critters. (The soffit connects the outside wall with the overhang on your roof.) Forget stinging insects. The 1/4″ to 1/2″gap is large enough for bats and mice to enter. (Mice are good climbers.) This is relatively easy to repair by reseating the soffit flush with the bottom. To learn more about sealing openings, you can’t go wrong with the NYS IPM publication Beasts Begone! A Practitioner’s Guide to IPM in Buildings.

When yellow jacket nests are this small, there is little risk in removing them manually.

When yellow jacket nests are this small, there’s little risk in removing them manually.

Along with inspecting your house and outbuildings for openings that provide access to stinging insects, take the time you’d have spent on dandelions to watch for queens starting new nests under decks and eaves. These small nests can be easily removed using a broom handle or stream of water. (We covered this last year: Inspect for Wasps and Avoid the Sting.)

Looking for yet more info on stinging insects? Seek no further: NYS IPM’s Stinging Insect IPM video and What’s Bugging You page.

May 12, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
1 Comment

April Was the Cruelest Month: Hard Freeze in Fruit Orchards

Imagine a winter rather like this past one. A winter where February behaved like March (mostly) and March impersonated April. A delight to be sure. But not for the fruit grower with an eye on the weather. Not in New York; not anywhere in the Northeast or parts of the upper Midwest, for that matter. If growers made it through that sudden plunge on Valentines Day (which wiped out the peach crop in the upper Hudson Valley and several other northeastern states), it was time to start worrying all over again. Because along came April — an ordinary April. An April with nighttime temps that dropped like a stone in a well.

"Old temp" means the lowest temperature blossoms can endure, undamaged, for 30 minutes.

“Old temp” is the lowest temperature blossoms can endure, undamaged, for 30 minutes.

Whether they grow apples or pears, cherries or blueberries, growers might (even now) have reason to worry. They’ll likely get a decent crop this year if their orchards are sited on slopes with good air drainage, just-right soils that help slow bud-break, and the moderating influence of nearby lakes or oceanfront. And then there’s the simple fact that, for apples and pears (peaches too) at least, one viable blossom per cluster is about all a tree needs for a good crop. The trees might lose 90 percent of their blossoms, but growers don’t have to go back and thin them when the trees set fruit — Mother Nature just did it for them. (This rule of thumb doesn’t work for cherry or blueberry growers, though what mix of varieties they grow can make a big difference at harvest time.)

Growers in the most vulnerable locations did any or all of these four things:

  • Checked their Extension specialists’s email posts for advice.
  • Stocked up on fuel for smudge pot or burn piles.
  • Prayed for a temperature inversion.
  • Put up wind towers or called their helicopter pilot.

The Extension specialist (in this case Peter Jentsch, senior Extension associate at Cornell’s Hudson Valley Research Lab) probably said that smudge pots or small, strategically placed fires — 40 to 60 per acre — could help, raising ground temperature just enough to squeak by. “Strategically” means on the upwind side of the block. “Squeak by” means raising ground temps by about 3°. If 3° won’t do it, he would’ve said, don’t bother. And minus a temperature inversion — a canopy of slightly warmish air blanketing the cold air below it — don’t set up the wind machine or call the helicopter pilot. All it would do is blow more frigid air around, drying out buds and growing tips.

Smudge pots, strategically placed, can help raise temperatures just enough to make a difference.

Smudge pots, strategically placed, raise temperatures just enough to make a difference.

If there’s an inversion, those heaters and small fires might also have helped. Note that Jentsch didn’t say “bonfire.” Too hot a blaze could punch through to the inversion layer, depleting it. And growers who work on a big-enough scale might have turned on their wind machines or called an experienced pilot, because when it’s not too windy it could be worth a trip to the skies. The premise: a helicopter hovering overhead pulls down that warmish air. The ‘copter’s thermometer tells where and how the temperature shifts as it gains altitude. Depending on how much it shifts and how thick the canopy is, the decision is — is it worth paying big bucks to mix up?

April is past; May has begun. Jentsch is in touch with growers and other Extension specialists all through the Hudson Valley and beyond. “It’s not all the doom and gloom,” he says. “Growers with the best sites and mix of crops seem to be doing all right.” Still, it’s sobering to think about the effect two days at the wrong time can have, Jentsch says. “For the growers who got hammered, it can throw a their livelihood into a tailspin for many months to come.”

So there you have it — an April rather like this one. Normal in every way but one — that it followed so mild a winter.

May 9, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Futuristic Billboard Kills Zika Mosquitoes

Futuristic Billboard Kills Zika Mosquitoes

Its creators call this a billboard. And while it has much in common with the classy, upscale billboards now peppering cities and towns around the world, this particular model is actually a sophisticated piece of equipment — built to attract mosquitoes from more than a mile away.

The goal: to intercept and kill mosquitoes — specifically Aedes aegypti and kin — that might otherwise be inclined to sup on us.

The other goal: to slow the spread of Zika.

Zika is a relatively new mosquito-vectored virus. It hopscotched through Africa and Asia starting in the late 1940s, seemingly to little effect. But circa 2013 something changed. Outbreaks in Southeast Asia and several Pacific islands — where in French Polynesia the virus was linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome — had scientists sounding the alarm.

Then in 2015 came Brazil. Zika hit the big time and ballooned out of control. And along with the link to Guillain-Barré came a second: to microcephaly in the brains of newborns. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of newborns.

These links between mosquito-vectored Zika and severe neurological damage have yet to be proven, but few are in the mood to wait before taking action. Which is why two unlikely actors — NBS, a Brazilian ad agency, and billboard designers Posterscope (with offices in 34 countries) — collaborated on their Mosquito Killer Billboard.esquema_ENG_1000 panel 6

The billboard’s job: to attract mosquitoes with lactic acid (mimics human sweat) and CO2 (mimics human breath). The collaborators are demoing two of these billboards (the only two in existence) in Rio de Janeiro. Which means the jury is out on will they work on the scale they need to.

But the billboard’s Creative Commons license provides a blueprint that allows anyone, anywhere to replicate the work the designers put into their prototype.

Killer billboard's innards suggest DIY potential — if you have the skills.

Killer billboard’s innards suggest DIY potential — if you have the skills.

“The idea might be a bust if simply attracts mosquitoes to places where people also congregate,” says Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an entomologist and Extension specialist with Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM). But strategically located on the periphery of public spaces, she suggests, “they could act as a sink that really does cut back on these unwanted visitors.”

Does this even matter to people in the Northeast? Rest assured. Aedes albopictus, aka Asian tiger mosquito, can also transmit Zika. This globe-trotting mosquito made landfall in the U.S. in 1985 and has spread widely through the Southeast, arriving in Long Island, the metro New York area New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island roughly ten years ago. Under laboratory conditions it vectors an impressive suite of diseases, though only a handful affect humans.

Still, that handful could prove worrisome if the tiger mosquito proves as competent a vector as its cousin A. aegypti. One factor in our favor is this: tiger mosquitoes like supping on birds even more than on us, which should lower their vector potential. But while both species are well adapted to urban lifestyles, A. aegypti prefers warmer zones in the southern U.S. For Zika, this makes A. albopictus the most likely vector of choice for people in more northerly areas.

Right now the best advice is to learn everything you can about Asian tiger mosquitoes and stay informed. Check the CDC’s website often and follow recommendations for keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe.

April 26, 2016
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on It’s tick season. Put away the matches.

It’s tick season. Put away the matches.

It’s tick season and social media is blowing up with recommendations for removing ticks. Petroleum jelly, a hot match, twisting tools, and swirling with a cotton swab are a few on the list. They all promise to cause the tick to release with the head intact. People are very concerned about leaving the head behind.

Deer tick embedded in leg.

Deer tick embedded in leg. Photo: Wellcome Images flickr

But when it comes to ticks, the head and mouth parts are the least of your worries. Hot matches, petroleum jelly, etc. — just know that if the tick freaks out (and it will), more saliva or even what’s in its stomach — and both carry pathogens — will get into you. May the thought of a tick throwing up into your blood stream give you pause.

Though a literature review on tick removal techniques put out by the London based Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections shows the lack of research in this area, it concludes that grasping the head as close to the skin as possible using forceps or pointy tweezers and pulling straight up is the best method. This mirrors the current CDC recommendation and is what the NYS IPM Program advises.

Grasp the head as close to the skin as possible using pointy tweezers and pull straight up.

Grasp the head as close to the skin as possible using pointy tweezers and pull straight up. Photo: Fairfax County

And if you accidentally break off the head? Don’t sweat it. Just treat it like you would a splinter.

Want to see a video of the tweezer technique? Here’s a good one from the TickEncounter Resource Center.

After removing the tick, place it in a plastic bag, put the date on it, and stick it in the freezer. If you start to feel poorly in the next few weeks, take the tick with you to the doctor. Different ticks carry different diseases and knowing what species bit you can help the doctor decide on the best course of treatment.

Of course, avoiding being bitten is the best strategy of all. For more information on ticks, visit

April 20, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on BioBlitz! Earth Day Helps Teach Appreciation of Wild Things on Golf Courses

BioBlitz! Earth Day Helps Teach Appreciation of Wild Things on Golf Courses

BioBlitzLogo 2016It’s BioBlitz time. Beginning on Earth Day (Friday, April 22) and running through Migratory Bird Day (Saturday, May 24), hundreds of Audubon International-certified golf courses are hosting events for golfers, their families, their friends (kids too) — to see who can find and ID as many plants and critters (bugs and mushrooms count too) as they possibly can.

Fluffy owlets have a home at Bethpage State Park's golf course. Photo courtesy Audubon International.

Fluffy owlets have a home at Bethpage State Park’s golf course. Photo courtesy Audubon International.

In fact, any golf course in the world is welcome to participate. Most will have skilled group leaders on hand to help with ID or offer a pair of sharp eyes and ears to help people distinguish among the range of plants and animals whose homes border on fairways and roughs — especially those rare or endangered species.

And prizes? There’ll be prizes — but the biggest prize of all is engaging local interest, understanding, and support of the environmental advantages golf courses can provide to their towns.

Staghorn sumac at Bethpage provide great food reserves for migrating birds. Photo courtesy Audubon International.

Staghorn sumac at Bethpage State Park provide great winter food reserves for songbirds. Photo courtesy Audubon International.




April 19, 2016
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on iMapInvasives Training

iMapInvasives Training

 Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you go outside? Then the NY Natural Heritage Program is looking for you to help map invasive species! And they are providing free training throughout the state for your convenience.


iMapInvasives is now available on your smartphone.

iMapInvasives New York is New York State’s on-line all-taxa invasive species database and mapping tool. It’s one stop shopping to provide information on your invasive species observations and surveys in NY and control efforts. You can even use your smartphone to report new findings (a new feature for those that have already received training).

Training is required to enter data, and free sessions are being offered this spring in each of the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (or PRISM for those in the know). It includes beginner and advanced levels — plus sessions on how to identify invasive at some of the locations.

Citizen scientists, educators, and natural resource professionals are part of New York’s invasive species early detection network. Join them by learning how to use iMapInvasives. Visit for schedule details and registration.Training schedule 2016 spring

Questions? Contact

And speaking of invasives, you can ensure your garden and landscape are not contributing to the invasives problem by using choosing native plants. Walk away from the Japanese barberry and Norway maple and discover other beautiful options. Alternatives to Ornamental Invasive Plants: A Sustainable Solution for New York State is available online.

The Invasive Species Database Program is supported by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund through a contract with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.


April 13, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on No Greenhouse, No Grow Light? This Advice Is a Fun Read Anyway

No Greenhouse, No Grow Light? This Advice Is a Fun Read Anyway

Now, I don’t have a greenhouse or even a grow light on my windowsill. But sometimes IPM ornamentals specialist Elizabeth Lamb’s  posts are so much fun to read that I just want to share them with the world.

From now on, it’s Elizabeth’s voice you’re hearing.

I just figured out how to hyperlink in my emails.  I’m quite the dinosaur!  Click on the blue words to get the link if you are a dinosaur like me.

This generalist eats more than just western flower thrips — it'll eat the thrips specialists like Neoseiulus cucumeris too. Photo courtesy

This generalist rove beetle eats more than just western flower thrips — it’ll eat the thrips specialists like Neoseiulus cucumeris, too. Photo courtesy

It’s a rove beetle eat predacious mite world out there.  Great information from Sarah Jandricic (OMAFRA) on how to keep your thrips beneficials from eating each other! Also, a little early nursery scouting might be in order – things they are already seeing in Ontario – Bagworms, Viburnum leaf beetle egg masses, and gypsy moth egg masses.

Lots of information from Tina Smith at UMass and Leanne Pundt at UConn
Keeping an eye on those calis. Calibrachoa troubleshooting for diseases and disorders. Or tackling thrips with bios and pesticides  (remember to check for NYS labels on any pesticides)  Lots of other resources linked to this report.

While you’re at it, be nice to your nematodes.   This article makes the point about not storing nematodes in a refrigerator that is opened frequently.  Another temperature shock could be mixing chilled nematodes with too warm water.  Not sure we have the research on this yet, but it makes sense.

What are those strange lumps?  It could be crown gall – found on some lobelias this spring. It is caused by a bacterium and can be spread by water splashing, although it needs an entry point to get into the plant.  No good control so add it to your scouting list.

Do you have a pH or EC (electrical conductivity) meter stashed in your greenhouse that you last used last season?  It probably needs to be recalibrated.  Have you ever done that?  Here’s how! And to keep Margery happy – lovely photos of Thielaviopsis – and how to avoid having your own.

Where have all the archived updates gone?  Well, NYS IPM is in the process of getting a new website and we consolidated all the updates into one blog to archive them  Coming soon.

’Tis the season for greenhouse information — from my email to yours.  Have a good week!

Grow greenhouse crops — or for that matter, Christmas trees? Want to learn more? Give Elizabeth Lamb a shout at Elizabeth M. Lamb <> and she’ll subscribe you. You can, of course, opt out anytime you want.

April 7, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Trees and Threes: Prune Now to Keep Trees Healthy

Trees and Threes: Prune Now to Keep Trees Healthy

Our gratitude to Paul Hetzler for this lovely piece, adapted for “Think IPM.” Here in one place is most everything you need to know about pruning to keep your trees fit and trim.

As far as trees are concerned, early spring is the best time to prune. (Late summer is second–best.) In the 4 to 6 weeks before bud-break, trees’ internal defense systems are perking up. It’s sort of the best of two worlds: Trees’ growth processes remain offline, but their shields are up against infection. (Like IPM says: give plants every opportunity to deal with pests the way they evolved to.)

A few warm days will fire up these buds. Prune now.

A few warm days will fire up these buds. Prune now.

Plus it’s a lot nicer working outdoors in early April than in January or February. OK, I guess that’s three worlds.

But first, a word about tools. Three kinds of tools. If you had to shovel your driveway with a spatula, you’d soon despair. Proper tools make a job easy. A professional-quality hand saw and bypass-type hand pruners are essential, and a good lopper is a welcome bonus. Good tools will last a lifetime, and you’ll be amazed at the difference they make.

That orange streamer helps you find pruners hiding in the mulch.

That orange streamer helps you find pruners hiding in the mulch.

Actually, many “threes” are involved in good pruning. For example, no more than a third of a tree’s live branches should be removed in any pruning cycle. (For older or stressed trees, however, 20% is maximum). But don’t remove a third of the leaf-bearing material each year. A typical pruning cycle for a shade tree is (surprise) three years.

Another guideline is that two-thirds of a tree’s leaf area should be in the lower half of the crown. In other words, don’t clean out interior foliage or remove lower branches unless there is a compelling reason to do so, such as safety or disease management. (It’s basic IPM — reach for the loppers before you reach for the spray.) Lower and interior branches are essential on hot sunny days when leaves in the upper canopy get above 85 degrees, which is too hot to photosynthesize. (IPM again: foster healthy plants that better resist pests.)

Get started with the three Ds: dead, damaged and diseased branches. (“Diseased” rings those IPM bells. Prevention!) They get the ax first. With those out of the way it’s easier to see what else needs attention. For crossing or rubbing branches, take the less desirable of the two. Whenever possible, favor wide branch-to-trunk attachments over narrow ones, which are more prone to breakage. (Broken branch-to-trunk? IPM again: prevent pathogens from finding an easy way in.)

In most cases, a branch is pruned back to the main trunk. But sometimes pruning back a large limb to a side branch is aesthetically preferable. Just be sure that side branch is at least one-third the diameter of the branch you remove.

Prune the branch, not the trunk. At the base of most branches you’ll see a swollen area — the branch collar. It produces fungicides. (Classic IPM biocontrol, only the tree takes charge) Branch collars also close wounds more rapidly than ordinary tissue. This is part of the trunk and should never be cut. To put it simply, flush cuts are bad.

For branches over an inch thick, use a 3-stage cut to eliminate or reduce tearing the bark. First, cut the underside of the branch about one-third of the way through, a foot from the trunk. Make cut #2 directly above the first to sever the limb. Holding the stub, make the third cut just outside the branch collar.

Prune away those water sprouts, and root suckers if you see some too. Image courtesy CCE.

Prune away those water sprouts, and root suckers if you see some too. Image courtesy CCE.

Obviously, maples bleed if cut in March or April. While research tells us the loss of sugars is not significant, you could prune maples in the 3rd week in July, which is the other good pruning window. For fruit trees that water-sprout excessively, late-summer pruning reduces this problem. Park your saw, though, during spring leaf-out and again in the fall before leaf drop—wounds made then can lead to serious long-term problems.

In the past, pruning cuts were painted with wound-dressing compounds, but research shows this can actually accelerate decay (an IPM no-no). As far as I know, people-wounds can still be covered up with Band-Aids. Good pruning tools are really sharp, so keep one on hand. Maybe you should bring three, just in case.

Find more of Paul Hetzler’s posts here:

March 30, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Lee Telega, Cornell agricultural advocate, earns Excellence in IPM award

Lee Telega, Cornell agricultural advocate, earns Excellence in IPM award

Lee Telega loves farming. Respects science-based knowledge. Cares deeply for the environment. Navigates the halls of New York’s legislature as comfortably as he once navigated a tractor.

These attributes were a perfect match for Telega’s steadfast advocacy for the NYS IPM Program, because advocate he did. As a member of Cornell’s Government Affairs office, Telega knocked on thousands of doors — of lawmakers, agency officials, and stakeholder groups — to spread the word about the benefits of IPM. For this and more, Telega has received an Excellence in IPM award.

Lee Telega advocated for IPM, science, the environment, and communities across NY.

Lee Telega advocated for IPM, science, the environment, and communities across NY.

“Lee wasn’t just our guide in Albany,” says former NYSIPM Director Don Rutz. “He was perceptive, intuitive, and gifted with getting IPM’s message across quickly with no loss in clarity.”

Telega did more than schedule appointments and shake hands. A born networker, he went floor to floor, door to door in Albany’s Legislative Office Building, says Jennifer Grant, director of NYS IPM, who accompanied him on some of those jaunts. “Did you know the toll that ticks and Lyme disease are taking on your constituents — and what IPM is doing about it?” “School IPM is critical for providing healthy places for children to learn.” “Senator, I understand you like to play golf. So you might be interested in IPM’s groundbreaking research at Bethpage.” “Did you know the organic sector in your district is booming and how IPM helps?”

Telega didn’t grow up on a farm. His dad was a steelworker in Pittsburgh. But though he went to Penn State to study engineering, he left with a degree in animal science, followed by a masters in dairy nutrition at the University of Tennessee. He used it farming in West Virginia, then managing the University of Missouri’s dairy research and teaching operation.

Telega came to Cornell University in 1988 as a senior extension associate with the Pro-Dairy Program and was based in Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Albany office, where he shared space with NYS IPM. Among his mandates? Crafting environmental policies that benefit both farms and the communities growing up around them.

After a six-month appointment in Senator Hillary Clinton’s office in 2001, bringing her up to speed on ag issues in New York, Telega returned to Cornell and in 2004 became the agriculture and natural resource specialist for Cornell’s Government Relations Office in Albany. During these twelve years of state budget ups and downs, Lee was invaluable to IPM in securing and expanding its funding, says Charles Kruzansky, Cornell’s associate vice president for state government relations.

“Lee has both feet in both worlds — the farmers’ world and the urban world,” Kruzansky says. Telega knew how important IPM was to communities everywhere, because everyone must deal with pests — some of them daunting. “Plus he understands the care that goes into bridge-building policy work,” Kruzansky says. “IPM couldn’t have a better friend than Lee.”

Most recently, Telega’s appointment as New York’s state director for USDA Rural Development in 2013 brought together everything Lee most loved doing, says NYS IPM’s Jennifer Grant. “Lee did a world of good for growers and communities all across New York. We can’t thank him enough.”

Telega received his award on March 28 at the Statewide IPM Grower Advisory Committee meeting in Albany, held at the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more about IPM at

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