New York State IPM Program

November 3, 2015
by Karen English
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Cornell Forest Entomologist Tackles Tough Pests, Earns Excellence in IPM Award

by Mary Woodsen

Mark Whitmore with assistant gathering data on Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

ITHACA, NY. November 3, 2015: Emerald ash borer. Hemlock woolly adelgid. These pests pack a one-two punch for New York’s 18 million acres of forestland. Now, for his hard work and dedication in slowing the spread of these formidable pests, Mark Whitmore — a forest entomologist at Cornell University — has received an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University.

Indeed, Whitmore was the “Paul Revere” of sneaky invasive pests such as emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid long before they crossed the state line, says Brian Skinner, senior arborist with National Grid, an electric transmission distributor in New York and New England. Like other transmission companies, National Grid is deeply concerned by the potential damage that borer-killed ash trees could cause our electric system.

“Mark has been an avid and welcomed presenter to those of us in New York’s utility vegetation management industry,” Skinner says. “Often addressing small crowds with NIMBY attitudes, he offers a hope of preservation. He never gives up, becomes despondent or changes his message.”


Mark Whitmore receiving the Excellence in IPM award from NYS IPM Director Jennifer Grant

Dr. Hilary Lambert, executive director of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and well aware of the value of hemlock trees to watershed health, couldn’t agree more. “Mark has been ready to help the public at every step of the way in developing outreach materials, volunteer events, and teams to monitor for the adelgid, not only in the Cayuga Lake basin but widely across the state.” Lambert says. “His emphasis on effective solutions, not despairing hand-wringing, has been especially welcome.”

Whitmore’s work is built around classic IPM techniques: prevention and monitoring, biological controls — the predators and parasites of these two pests — and, if needed, low-toxicity pesticides. “Mark’s meticulous research brings together all the strengths of IPM; of truly integrated pest management,” says Jennifer Grant, director of NYS IPM. But it’s his passion for his work that really makes the difference, Grant notes. “Whether it’s volunteer citizen-science groups, utility companies, or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, people look to Mark for the information and expertise they need,” Grant says. “He speaks for the trees.”

Whitmore received his award at on November 3 at Cornell University’s Ag In-Service training before dozens of his peers.

October 1, 2015
by Matt Frye
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If you’re not monitoring, you’re not performing IPM.

Why? To start, let’s consider the distinction between an inspection and monitoring. An inspection is a view of pest activity at that moment in time. But what if pests are only active at night? Or on weekends when the building is quiet? Thus, monitoring is a record of pest activity in the times that you are not present.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a decision making process that uses information about pest populations to decide how to manage them. Monitoring is a critical step in IPM programs that offers valuable insights:

1. Species Identification: insect monitors intercept pests, allowing a trained professional to identify them. In turn, identification provides information about preferred harborage, food and water sources.

2. Early Detection: monitors can intercept pests that are present at low levels, and can help identify a problem before it gets out of hand.

3. Directionality: monitors can provide information about pest directionality: where are they coming from [harborage] and where they are going [food locations]. Monitors might also provide clues about non-obvious pathways, such as overhead areas (Figure 1).


Fig. 1. This firebrat likely fell onto the monitor from above.

4. Age of Population: rodent bait stations can contain informative evidence (Figure 2). Are droppings all one size, or are they mixed sizes, suggesting the presence of different age groups? Are droppings black, meaning that they are visiting the station for the first time, or are some droppings the color of the bait, suggesting multiple feedings?

2011.2.23 (2)

Fig. 2. Mixed large and small droppings suggest adult and juvenile feeding; mostly black droppings suggest this is the rodents first feeding.

Parasitoids, predators and secondary pests can also tell you about the age of the infestation (Figure 3). Ensign wasps are egg-case parasitoids of American cockroaches. Their presence suggests that the cockroaches are actively reproducing nearby, whereas secondary pests may indicate the presence of old bait or pest carcasses.

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Fig. 3. An Ensign wasp (egg-case parasitoid, 1), adult and juvenile (2) American cockroaches, and a spider beetle.

5. Proximity to Harborage: juvenile pests, including rodents and cockroaches, stay close the harborage. Intercepting them on monitors can narrow your search to nearby areas for identifying the harborage (Figure 4).

6. Management Efforts: some monitors might contain evidence about recent control efforts (Figure 4). Finding German cockroaches with crinkled wings is a sign that they have been treated with an insect growth regulator. But what if you didn’t apply this kind of product? Perhaps the cockroaches are coming from a neighboring area.


Fig. 4. Nymph (1) and adult (2) German cockroaches on an insect monitor. The arrow indicates the location of crinkled wings from treatment with an insect growth regulator.

Effective monitoring programs provide good coverage of pest vulnerable areas. The location of monitoring devices are recorded on a facility map, and a pest catch log records the number of pests caught on each monitor. These specifications allow the pest professional to collect enough information to determine if a treatment is needed, where to focus efforts and what treatment should be applied.

September 25, 2015
by Joellen Lampman
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Lawn IPM – Reducing Stress

“It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs.” ― Charles Martin, Chasing Fireflies

While drought stress might not seem like an IPM issue, it can definitely impact how your grass will respond to pests, both current and future. As Pat Vittum, Turf Entomologist at UMass, tells her students, “Turf can take one or two stresses, but not three or four.” How can you reduce stress during these dry times?

Yes, it is dry out there.
Yes, it is dry out there.
Hold off on fertilizers…

at least until the weather flips to cooler temperatures and you can water it in, either by timing it before predicted rain or through irrigation. Fall fertilization will help to increase turf density by helping the turf produce more tillers, rhizones, and stolons and encourage shoot growth, but only if it can reach the root zone. Look to apply one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 ft2, plus other nutrients recommended by a soil test.

Baby it

Now is not the time to park on the grass, host a neighborhood  pickup flag football game, or allow the kids to set up a bike ramp.

Mow high

Set your mower to its highest setting. The longer the leaf blades, the deeper the roots, providing a buffer against drought, diseases, and insect damage.

Make sure those blades are sharp.

If you haven’t yet sharpened your blades, don’t wait any longer. Dull blades shred rather than cut, allowing more moisture loss and increase turf stress. You can find information on blade sharpening here.

Wait to mow

Unless you have irrigation, your lawn is likely not growing. No growth, no need to mow. If storms drop some needed moisture and the grass takes off, wait until a cooler time of the day to mow. Do not, however, wait too long. If you end up leaving clumps of clippings, they can block out the sun and seal in the moisture, leaving the turf susceptible to humidity loving diseases. Once it is growing, mowing should be conducted often, twice a week or more. Mowing increases shoot density by increasing tillering (stems that develop from the crown of the parent plant). The more tillers, the fuller your lawn, leaving less room for weeds.

For up-to-date information on turfgrass conditions, listen to Cornell’s Frank Rossi’s weekly podcast. Grass specific weather information, including when and how much to water, can be found at ForeCast: Weather for the Turf Industry.

September 24, 2015
by Lynn A. Braband
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New York State School Environmental Health Summit: Is Your School Clean, Green, and Healthy?

A tentatively scheduled FREE conference for School Professionals, including teachers, facilities managers, nurses, administrators and others. Learn more about indoor air quality, asthma management, integrated pest management, and national programs to promote environmental health in schools. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Location: Saratoga Springs City Center
522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Date: October 13, 2015
Time: 8:30-5:00 PM

Speakers from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Education Department, New York State Department of Transportation, Healthy Schools Network, and more.

Registration will open soon. For more information, please see the event website.

September 15, 2015
by Joellen Lampman
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Protecting Pollinators: The New York Pollinator Conference – September 22

Pollinators, both wild and managed, are an important part of our environment. With so much information in the news about pollinators, NYS IPM is providing current information on pollinator health and practical strategies for everyone to enhance pollinating insects and a forum for discussion on these topics.

Syrphid Fly. Photo courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State University,
Syrphid Fly. Photo courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

A conference fee $25 will cover refreshments and lunch. To register, visit Protecting Pollinators: The New York Pollinator Conference and click on Credit Card Processing: Protecting Pollinators OR send a check to Pollinator Conference c/o Janet Garlick, NYS IPM, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456. Please make sure the name of the attendee(s) or the company name is on the check. Letters should be postmarked by September 18, 2015.


September 22, 2015, 8:30 – 4:00


Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County, 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, NY  12186


8:30 – 9:00      Registration

9:00 – 12:00    State of Pollinators

  • State of Knowledge on Health of Native and Managed Bee Species – Applied Research, Scott Mcart and Emma Mullen, Entomology Department, Cornell U.
  • Other Insect Pollinators – Carmen Greenwood, Suny Cobleskill
  • Adoption of Bee Friendly Policies on Government and Private Properties: Motivations, Expectations, and Results – Susan Kegley, Pesticide Research Institute, Inc.
  • New York State Pollinator Task Force

12:00 – 1:00      Lunch

1:00 – 4:00      Practical Applications for Pollinator Protection and Conservation – Success Stories

  • Current Research on Ornamental Production Options – Dan Gilrein, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County
  • Current Research on Wild Pollinators In Apple – Maria Vandyke, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
  • Practical Applications – As a Landscaper – Laurie Broccolo, Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care, Rochester NY
  • Practical Applications – As an Ornamental Producer – Mark Adams, Mark Adams Greenhouses, Adams Fairacre Farms
  • Practical Applications – Using Mason Bees – Charles Mohr, Crown Bees
  • Current Research on Pollinators and Strawberry Yield – Heather Connelly, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
  • Practical Applications – As a Gardener – Jennifer Stengle, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Putnam County

Are you ready for fall invaders?

September 10, 2015 by Matt Frye

Insects exhibit a variety of behaviors or adaptations that help them to survive the harsh conditions of winter. One that can be quite frustrating to homeowners belongs to the the group of insects we call “overwintering pests.” These organisms survive winter by taking refuge in South or West facing cracks and crevices, which maximizes exposure to the warm sun and buffers them from wind and freezing cold. While trees and rocky hillsides provide overwintering sites in nature, man-made structures that now dominate the landscape are perfectly acceptable to these insects.

The Culprits. Multicolored Asian ladybird beetles, boxelder bugs, western conifer seed bugs, cluster flies, and the brown marmorated stink bug are common fall invaders in the Northeast. Some of these insects are exotic invasive species that were accidentally introduced to the US, such as the stink bug, which was first identified from samples collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the 1990’s. A new insect, the kudzu bug, was introduced to Georgia in the early 2000’s and may soon invade homes in the Northeast.

Note the light and dark bands along the edge of the body.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug [note the light and dark bands along the edge of the body]


Boxelder Bug [center of 3 stripes partially covered by pin]


Western Conifer Seed Bug


Multicolored Asian Lady-Bird Beetle [note “M” pattern on white thorax]

Can they be Stopped? If overwintering pests gain access to buildings through cracks and crevices, it seems reasonable that sealing these openings will keep pests out. While no formal research has tested this hypothesis, a recent grant awarded by the Pest Management Foundation will evaluate the effectiveness of exclusion as a technique to keep stink bugs and other overwintering pests out of homes (Note: the Pest Management Foundation is the education, research and training arm of the National Pest Management Association). In the mean time, below are some common recommendations to dealing with overwintering pests:

  • Using an appropriate sealant labeled for doors and windows, seal exterior gaps that could allow entry into the home. Remember to inspect locations where wires, pipes, and other utility lines enter the structure, especially on the South and West facing side of buildings.
Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 4.03.58 PM

Look for and seal gaps around window and door frames.

Repair torn screens

  • Make sure that screens are tight fitting in the window frame, and they do not have any tears.
  • Keep attic doors and fold-down stairs closed during winter months. Insects can enter attic spaces through soffits, later entering the livable space when they are attracted to lights and heat.
  • Flues should be closed in the fireplace when it is not in use.

Trapping Pests. On warm winter days, stink bugs and other overwintering pests may become active. During the day, they can be found at windows, while at night they may fly towards artificial lights from the television, computer or lamps. One indoor trap type that is easy to make and effective is a pan trap. Read more about this device here: Stink bugs beware! Homemade stink bug traps squash store-bought models, Virginia Tech researchers find.

Additional Resources:

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Factsheet

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Prezi

This gallery contains 5 photos

September 1, 2015
by Lynn A. Braband
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Everything Wants to Prepare for Winter


A Gray Squirrel checks out a possible winter home.

Although summer heat is predicted for New York State through at least the Labor Day weekend, signs of the inevitable change of seasons are upon us. The daylight hours are becoming shorter, territorial singing by birds has decreased greatly, and many animals, including tree squirrels, begin preparing for the long, cold months of winter. In addition to their well-known behavior of caching nuts during autumn, squirrels look for protective sites for over-wintering. Often, these locations include the attics and walls of houses and other buildings. It is not unusual to have 8, 10, or more squirrels over-wintering in a building. Structural damage caused by the animals’ chewing can be significant. There is also the possibility of infestations of parasites associated with the animals, and at least the potential risk of disease transmission.

As with the management of any pest situation, prevention is preferred over seeking to rectify a well-established problem. For squirrels, this would include an inspection of the building exterior looking for potential entry sites and routes of access. August and early September are optimum times for inspecting. This is ladder work so safety is a very important consideration. Consult ladder safety sites such as the American Ladder Institute.

Cage trapping is a common tactic of many homeowners and businesses in seeking to rectify a squirrel or other wild animal problem. The animals are then transported off-site. However, this is illegal in New York State, and many other places, without a state-issued permit. Read Dealing With Wildlife and the New York Laws That Protect Them for a synopsis of the legal framework for dealing with nuisance wildlife.

Individuals who operate under such a permit are referred to as Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators or, simply, Wildlife Control Operators. These individuals have passed a comprehensive exam on solving wildlife problems and have the experience and equipment to address nuisance wildlife and wildlife damage situations. For names of permit holders, contact your regional office of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Another source is the NYS Wildlife Management Association, the state trade group for wildlife control operators.

For more information on dealing with squirrel issues, see:

Controlling Squirrel Problems in Buildings

Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheets: Tree Squirrels

August 24, 2015
by Matt Frye
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Carpenter Ant Satellite Nest – Elimination!

Of the ant species that invade homes, carpenter ants cause considerable distress due to their large size. This is particularly true in the spring and early summer, when foraging ants may be found in many rooms within a home. While these foragers are not much more than a nuisance, it is the nearby ant nest that is alarming to homeowners. Especially since carpenter ants can damage wood.

Carpenter ants can be thought of as an indicator species, since they tend to nest in wood that is damaged by moisture. Their presence is suggestive of a roof leak, clogged gutters, poor drainage from the home, or other structural issues that result in water-damaged wood. When nests are found in homes, they are often satellite colonies of the larger nest that is located outdoors in rotting wood such as a tree stump. It should be noted that carpenter ants do not eat wood as food (like termites), but rather use the structure for nesting purposes.

As an urban entomologist, my home is a laboratory of pest management trial and error. This spring and summer I observed carpenter ants in one corner of my garage. On the workbench below, I would occasionally see a dead ant or some frass (the excavated wood and food-stuffs kicked out of the nest). It wasn’t long before common house spiders (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) discovered the ants and started to feed on them, adding to the carnage on my work bench.


House spider dining on a carpenter ant, with egg-sacs and newly-hatched spiders.


What’s left after a spider feeds on many ants.

As summer progressed, I decided the experiment was over and wanted to rid myself of what I believed to be a satellite ant colony. I inspected the area around the ant sightings, and in the very corner of the garage, in a recessed void, I found what I was looking for – a large pile of frass and many ants. With my vacuum in hand (the same one I’ve used for eliminating yellowjackets), I vacuumed up as many ants as possible, plugged the end and left the vacuum in the heat of the sun for two days. Problem solved! Now I just need to find the parent colony.


The spiders showed me exactly where the nest would be – the void in an upper corner of the workshop.


Carpenter ant frass includes sawdust and pieces of insects.

Learn more in our carpenter ant factsheet!

August 18, 2015
by Matt Frye
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Trap Failure or Human Failure?

When preparing for any job, my dad will remind me to choose the right tool for the task. In a way, this is an extension of another one of his gems: work smarter, not harder. Selecting the right tool can increase your efficiency and help you to get the job done correctly. Time and again I have reaped the benefits of this wisdom.

On a recent inspection of a food service establishment, management informed me that they had seen a small rat in the service hallway. Traps had been placed by the pest professional, but as of yet, the stealthy rat had not been caught. My interest was piqued.


Tripped trap with piece of rodent tail

In the hallway I found that several rat snap traps had been baited and placed along the wall where the rat had been observed. One trap had been tripped, and actually had a small piece of the rodent’s tail attached, which seemed rather odd. How would a rat trigger the trap and get only its tail caught? That is when the real detective work started.



Teeth marks in bait on snap trap: pairs of teeth 1-2 mm wide suggest feeding by mice.

No droppings were present along this runway to help with identification, but the now short-tailed rodent had fed on the bait, leaving behind impressions of its teeth. I pulled out my ruler and found that the pair of teeth were less than 2mm wide, which is suggestive of mice. Indeed, mice tend to leave impressions that are 1 to 2mm wide, while a pair of teeth for rats tends to be 3.5 to 4mm wide. Now the pieces of this mystery were adding up. A small rat was not the culprit, but rather a mouse. The traps had not been effective (except for taking off a piece of tail) because mice are unlikely to exert enough force on the trigger to engage a rat trap. So, what is the right tool for this task? You guessed it, a mouse trap!

Did you know…

The term rodent (the group that includes mice, rats and their relatives) is a derivative of the Latin word rodere, which means “to gnaw.” Rodents gnaw on objects to obtain resources, in the process wearing down their teeth. In fact, rat teeth grow approximately 5 inches per year, and are kept short by their gnawing behavior or by grinding their teeth.


For more information, watch our YouTube video: Signs of a Rodent Infestation

August 12, 2015
by Joellen Lampman
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The German Cockroach: America’s #1 Cockroach Pest

German cockroaches are one of the most common insect pests found in urban areas throughout the world, and are the number one cockroach pest species worldwide. They are well-adapted to human environments, even enjoying similar humidity and temperature levels as we do. IPM can be used to exclude and eliminate this pest from our homes, schools, restaurants, ships, and greenhouses.

German cockroach Photo: Gary Alpert
German cockroach Photo: Gary Alpert

Did you know…?

  • By the Numbers: Roughly 3,500 species of cockroach are identified worldwide, with 70 of those species reported from the United States.
  • What’s in a Name? Despite its name, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, probably originated in Africa. In the 375 years since its original description as a species, it has had 23 different scientific names.
  • Codependents: German cockroaches depend on humans for their survival. There are no known populations of this species that exist in the wild!
  • Ancient Animals: Scientists have found cockroach fossils that date as far back as 300 million years, making cockroaches about 300 times older than humans. The largest fossil, from Ohio, measures nearly 3.5 inches long!
    Sticky traps can help you identify both what species of cockroach you have and where their populations are highest.
    Sticky traps can help you identify both what species of cockroach you have and where their populations are highest.

Integrated pest management of cockroaches not only relies on the proper identification of German cockroaches, but also identifying their hiding areas, which tend to be in areas with high moisture and easy access to food (think: under the kitchen sink or refrigerator). Baiting and trapping can then be used most efficiently. And, as usual, good housekeeping and sanitation will go a long way to reduce both food and areas where cockroaches hide. For more information, see The German Cockroach: America’s #1 Cockroach Pest. For information on other species of cockroaches, click here.