New York State IPM Program

January 27, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
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IPM: Pests, Best Practices, and the Passage of Time

January — that’s when the long process of combing through this year’s crop of NYS IPM research reports begins. We’re looking for great stories to feature in our annual report. As usual, we’ve got lots of contenders. And would that we had room for them all.

Beneficials are a big deal now in IPM. This hover fly pollinates crops — but it’s the larvae that do the dirty work on aphids and more. Photo provided.

Beneficials are a big deal now in IPM. This hover fly pollinates crops — but it’s the larvae that do the dirty work. Photo provided.

Our theme this year? Well, it is our 30th anniversary. So we’re taking a “then and now” approach that highlights the changes we’ve seen in IPM practices — and predicaments — over time. The “IPM practices” part? Let’s call them best practices. They’re generally the result of years of focused diligence; of continually fine-tuning tactics, incorporating technology breakthroughs, and building partnerships around the state, the Northeast, and the nation.

As for those “IPM predicaments” — well, just think “bed bug.” Who knew, 30 years ago, that bed bugs were waiting in the wings for their place in the spotlight? Consider them a symbol of sorts — a critter that stands for the ever-increasing numbers of invasive species now infiltrating our homes, our gardens, our farms and forests.

If anything proves the value of IPM not just to farmers, not just to practitioners, but to all of us, it’s our response to a sweeping range of pest problems new and old. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, for closer look at our recent IPM research, check out our previous annual reports.

January 16, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
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Back to School for Fruit Growers | IPM and More

Kicking off February, two Lake Ontario Winter Fruit Schools back to back:

February 2, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Niagara County CCE Training Center, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport, NY 14094

February 3, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Wayne County, Quality Inn, 125 North Main St., Newark, NY 14513

You’ll learn about recent research results, new pest issues, disease control, new technologies, and fruit-supply topics that will help you compete in the ever-changing marketplace — and produce high quality fruit. Workshop leaders include guest speakers from the Cornell faculty and the Lake Ontario Fruit Program team. Also included: a concurrent session for Spanish speaking employees at the same locations. Lunch is included in the cost of registration.

Pests are ever-present in our orchards and vineyards. Go Back to School for helpful info.

Pests are ever-present in our orchards and vineyards. Go Back to School for helpful info.

Here’s the complete schedule and registration information for both events. (The Wayne County info really is there, but on some browser windows it’s hidden under the photo on the left.)

More fruit schools the following week in Northern NY and the Hudson Valley:

February 9, 2015, The Northeast NY Commercial Tree Fruit School, The Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, Lake George, NY. More info, registration:

February 10 – 12, 2015, The Lower Hudson Valley Commercial Fruit Growers’ School, Garden Plaza Hotel, Kingston, NY.  More info, registration.

Are you a vegetable grower?

Stay tuned for several vegetable schools later in February.

January 14, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
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There’s an App for That: IPM’s “Greenhouse Scout” Makes “Greenhouse Grower” List

NYS IPM’s Greenhouse Scout was featured recently in Greenhouse Grower’s online e-Newsletter as one of 15 apps for 2015. Here’s why.

In the pest-friendly environment of a greenhouse, you need all the friends you can get. So more and more growers are turning to biocontrol — to using beneficial insects, mites, and fungi to control pests.

Why? Most growers want to use the fewest pesticides possible. And say you’re a pest. Becoming resistant to a critter that’s built to eat you for dinner is a lot harder than becoming resistant to a pesticide. But pesticide resistance is a growing problem.

Now your smart phone or tablet puts everything you need to know about scouting and biocontrol in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Now your smart phone or tablet puts everything you need to know about scouting and biocontrol in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Yet biocontrol is an information-dense process. You’ve got to integrate a wealth of details if it’s going to work.

Smartphone apps can help do the data-crunching for you. Which is why NYS IPM, a Cornell University program, built Greenhouse Scout, a smartphone app that brings together:

  • pest and beneficial ID and biology
  • biocontrol application technology
  • visual records of greenhouse pest populations throughout the growing season
No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

Not only that, but Greenhouse Scout lets you tweak the system to your own production requirements. And it helps even if you don’t use biocontrol yet — the interactive scouting function lets you identify locations with QR codes, then enter and graph pest numbers according to which greenhouse bench you’re scouting. No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

Find NYS IPM’s Greenhouse Scout at Android and iPhone app stores.

Look for this logo when you go shopping for your app.

Look for this logo when you go shopping for your app.

 

January 9, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
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Education and E-ducation: Winter Farm Schools for IPM and More

It’s not easy, keeping up with the abundance of winter production schools, webinars, and online courses. Here’s a small sampling of options for everything from straight-up greenhouse production to biocontrol (hey, that’s a core tenet of IPM) to a smorgasbord of small-farm options for beginning or diversifying farmers.

Are you a greenhouse grower? Here’s a January 27 two-fer:

  1. Hudson Valley Nursery Greenhouse School Jan 27 in Middletown, NY. For more info, call 845-344-1234 or email cah94@cornell.edu.
  2. Capital District Bedding Plant Conference Nurserymen’s Education Day and Trade Show (whew!)  January 27 in Latham, NY.  Contact Chuck Schmitt <cds34@cornell.edu> for more information

    The Oirus bug eats thrips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — a real boon for greenhouse growers.

    The Oirus bug eats thrips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — a great  biocontrol and a real boon for greenhouse growers.

Meanwhile, e-GRO is ready for spring with a LOT of webinars for you. Biocontrol, sponsored by Syngerta, airs on January 30. (Hint: the down-pointing arrow on the right gives you the whole enchilada — who the speakers are, their topics, and when each speaker begins so you can log in for whatever you want. They’ve even scheduled a lunch break!)

By the way, that e-GRO course on LEDs in greenhouse production (February 13) — that could be interesting. And presumably good for your wallet. And here’s another that will help you consider if organic fertilizing options (February 27) are for you. After all, anything that helps you build a healthier soil is foundational to good IPM.

Do you farm veggies — even mushrooms? Are you diversifying and need to explore potential markets and profits? Check out classes from January through March at Cornell’s Northeast Beginning Farmers.

Whatever your passion, the Cornell Small Farm Program helps make it work for you.

Whatever your passion, the Cornell Small Farm Program helps make it work for you.

New this year! Completing all requirements of one or more online courses makes you eligible to be endorsed for a no-interest loan up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip.

Here’s a sampling.

  • BF 102: Markets and Profits – Exploring the Feasibility of Your Farming Ideas
  • BF 103: Taking Care of Business – Understanding the Business, Regulatory, and Tax Implications of Your Farm
  • BF 106: Organic Certification – What, How, and Why (or Why Not)
  • BF 121: Veggie Farming – From Season-Long Care to Market
  • BF 140: Small-scale Organic Grain Production – Is it Right for Your Farm?
  • BF 150: Woodland Mushroom Production – For Fun and Profit
  • BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning – Building Profit into the Picture

Led by experienced educators and farmers, the Beginning Farmer Project offers interactive 5 – 7-week courses that connect you to the people and information you need to start a successful farm business. In fact, many courses apply even if you’ve farmed for years and are maturing or diversifying your operation.

 

January 7, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
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We Reward Excellence: IPM at Its Best

Each year we seek nominations for recipients of our “Excellence in IPM” award, which recognizes exceptional IPM practitioners who do exceptional work. And when the nominations come in, we’re reminded again of the dedication and support of so many whose work truly makes a difference for the people of New York and often well beyond.

In alphabetical order, awardees of 2014:

Richard Belowski learned his craft on the job, rising through the ranks to become golf-course superintendent at Battle Island State Park in Fulton, NY.  But on the way he worked at Bethpage State Park, the first public golf course to host the U.S. Open — and a longstanding home to IPM research. At Battle Island, Belowski has made the entire course available for research, graciously explaining to golfers why this matters when their favorite fairway is closed. He walks the talk, too. Case in point: staying out by moonlight to apply beneficial organisms to combat grubs.

Richard Belowski

“Turfgrass Insects of the United States and Canada” (blue cover) is among the references Belowski keeps close by as he helps plan IPM research at Battle Creek. Photo supplied.

Floriculture specialist Nora Catlin brings IPM expertise to commercial greenhouse growers on the east end of Long Island. Many are among the largest operations in New York and the Northeast, and all are in the business of growing plants that have to look pretty. But when bugs or pathogens — or even production techniques that inadvertently create inviting places for pests to call home — Catlin is there with solutions. From helping set up bench washers that rinse away bugs on orchids to identifying almost impossibly small bugs with a big impact on a range of crops, Nora’s guidance makes IPM work for these growers.

bed bugs on hand

It’s easy to see why this bed-bug photo went viral. L to R: life stages. Top to bottom: reddish nymphs and dark, oval-shaped adult have just had a meal. Photo: Allison Taisey

Allison Taisey’s infectious humor, powerful (but never overpowering) work ethic, deep knowledge base, and easy confidence in communicating with all sorts of audiences have made her an outstanding example of what the principles of the Excellence in IPM award reflect. Whether it’s cockroaches, mice, or bed bugs (especially bed bugs!), Taisey’s informative training sessions for both practitioners and householders have earned her a place among the leading lights in the world of the urban integrated pest management.

Field crops and livestock are Keith Waldron’s stock in trade. And whether he’s working with farmers, extension educators, or industry reps, his dependability, responsiveness, and productivity have earned him broad respect as an honest broker — and one whose caring attitude and ready humor help diffuse conflict among, say, farmers and neighboring homeowners. Meanwhile, Waldron’s hands-on teaching materials for classes held in farmers’ fields have made the principles of IPM so much easier to understand. In fact, one nominator recalls an aphid infestation found during class time — just in time to save his crop.

Keith discussing soybeans with Don Rutz

Scouting soybeans — you can’t stay on top of pests if you don’t scout, even when the crop looks healthy. Photo supplied.

Mark 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. But his warnings of the devastation they could provoke in our forests and parks have never been couched in the language of hand-wringing and despair, but rather hope and sound solutions — making Whitmore the go-to expert for groups and institutions ranging from volunteer citizen science groups to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Awards are given at meetings, conferences, and similar venues where awardees can be recognized among their peers. For these five, our deepest gratitude.

December 19, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
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Calling All Farmers — Winter Conferences (and the IPM Connection)

Regardless of your orientation — conventional farmer or organic — hardly any principle of good farming practices fails to include core IPM practices. So take a look at New York’s three largest conferences planned for January, see what they offer, and make it if you can.

The 2015 New York State Agricultural Society | January 7 — 8 | Holiday Inn, Syracuse NY

The agricultural world has been diversifying for decades. Yet more than ever, finding the right niche is a constant challenge in production agriculture. Is it time to shift gears, adding or subtracting crops or products within one commodity, or should you move into another commodity or service? Is value-added vertical integration the way to go, and should it be independently or as a cooperative effort? The list goes on — and IPMers will be there.

Keynote speaker Dr. David Kohl addresses these questions and more, engaging conference-goers in a dynamic and informative program. Known for his deep knowledge of agriculture, demographics, and the national and world economy, Kohl has a gift for making any topic an edge-of-your-seat presentation.

More on Facebook.

The 2015 Empire State Producers Expo | January 20 –22 | The Oncenter Convention Center, Syracuse, NY

Combining the major fruit, flower, vegetable, and direct marketing associations of New York, this expo is both a comprehensive trade show and educational conference for the fruit and vegetable growers of New York, nearby states, and Eastern Canada.

From invasive weeds and insecticide resistance to remerging viruses and soil health (and so much more), the Expo is made to order to growers hungry for information that positions them to grow the healthiest, most pest-resistant, and highest-value crops they can.

The 2015 Northeast Organic Farming Association: New York | Winter Conference | January 23 – 25 | City Center, Saratoga Springs, NY

Organic farmers (and serious gardeners) from New York and the Northeast flock to Saratoga Springs each year for a comprehensive program that offers best practices for a range of crops and products from the commonplace to the exotic — with a focus this year on the healthy soils that are the bedrock of every successful farm.

The conference features keynoter, researcher, and writer Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute in Kansas and the subject of articles and recipient of awards too numerous to mention here.

More on Faecbook.

December 17, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
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Child Safe Playing Fields Act – Frequently Asked Questions

A New York law essentially banning pesticide use on the grounds of schools and day care centers has been full effect since 2011. The letter of the law states:

No school or day care shall apply pesticide to any playgrounds, turf, athletic or playing fields, except that an emergency application of a pesticide may be made as determined by the county health department or for a county not having a health department such authority as the county legislature shall designate, the commissioner of health or his or her designee, the commissioner of environmental conservation or his or her designee, or, in the case of a public school, the school board.

Questions about the law still abound. Here are the most common questions we receive:

What areas are affected?

The inside of this fenceline falls under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act.

The inside of this child care center’s fenceline falls under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act.

Besides the playgrounds, turf, athletic or playing fields clearly stated in the law, playground equipment and fence lines around athletic fields and tennis courts are included.

The following areas are left to local discretion, but with the understanding that the intent of the law is to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides:

  • Areas around buildings
  • Ornamental plants such as trees, shrubs, and flowers

Pesticides used inside of schools or day care centers, or to protect a structure, are not banned.

Family day care centers are exempted.

What if a fence line is managed by the surrounding landowner (such as childcare center on a college campus)?

The law applies to the interior fence line that encloses the play area (the side that children may contact).  The law would not apply to the exterior fence line.

If a park hosts school athletic events, such as games and practices, must it be managed under the law?

No.

What pesticides are banned and are there any exceptions?

Pesticides are substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests. They include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, and plant growth regulators. All EPA registered pesticides are banned by this law for use on grounds at schools and day care centers, with the following exceptions:

  1. Antimicrobials such as bleach
  2. Aerosol sprays (18 ounce or less) to protect from imminent danger from stinging or biting insects
  3. Insect and rodent baits in non-volatile containers
  4. Products containing boric acid or disodium octaborate tetrahydrate
  5. Horticultural oils and soaps
  6. EPA exempt pesticides, known as minimum risk pesticides and 25(b) products, are not registered by EPA because they find them to pose little or no risk. Cornell has a list of allowable herbicides for schools and day care centers available for your reference.

Note that all of the above exceptions (except bleach) must be applied by a NYS licensed pesticide applicator. Any off label use of a product – such as the use of bleach, road salt, or home remedies to control a pest – is illegal under state law.

Is there a provision within the law to add additional materials to the exempt list?

No. A change would require either the EPA to add to its 25B list or the NYS legislature to pass new legislation.

clover_field

While clover does not provide the traction and stability of turfgrass, it is considered a repetitive pest problem and not an emergency under the law.

Can you tell me more about these emergency exemptions?

Under the law, a public school can seek permission for an emergency application from their school board. Non-public schools and day care centers ask the Department of Health in the case of emergencies that threaten public health, such as ticks, or the DEC for those significantly affecting the environment, such as an invasive species.

While the law does not indicate what might be construed as an “emergency”, the Guidance document states pest issues are NOT emergencies if they are:

  • manageable with allowed products and practices
  • a routine or repetitive pest problem
  • purely an aesthetic issue

We are used to dealing with the DEC on pesticide issues. Besides deciding on emergency exemptions for environmental issues on private school and day care grounds, what is their role in the law?

The Department of Environmental Conservation, in consultation with the State Department of Education, State Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services has written guidance for alternative management of turf, but has no role in enforcement.

Where can I find help in managing my grounds without the use of pesticides?

Cornell University is committed to helping you provide safe, functional school and childcare landscapes. The Cornell Turfgrass Program connects you to numerous resources, most notably the Safe Sports Fields Management website and the Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to an Attractive Environmental Asset ibook. The NYS IPM Program has a dedicated page for schools and childcare centers, including a new blog, The ABCs of School and Childcare Pest Management. We also encourage you to take advantage of educational opportunities throughout the year.

December 5, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
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Dealing With Wildlife and the Laws That Protect Them

When we think about pests, bugs and mice are the first things that typically come to mind. But what if larger critters such as squirrels, bats, woodchucks, deer, or pigeons become troublesome? IPM works for them too. You must, however, be aware of laws that apply to nuisance wildlife and how they might affect  your IPM plan.

Voles are an example of a non-protected wildlife species. They chew the bark off woody plants and their above ground tunnels can be seen in turfgrass after snow melt. Photo © cyric

Voles are an example of a non-protected wildlife species. They chew the bark off woody plants and their above ground tunnels can be seen in turfgrass after snow melt. Photo © cyric

In New York, the regulatory players involved are the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (all species) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (migratory birds and federally endangered and threatened species). Through these agencies, every wildlife species in the state has a legal classification. What is of upmost concern is determining whether your nuisance is classified as “unprotected” or “protected.”

Legal Classification: Unprotected

Unprotected mammals include shrews, moles, bats (except Indiana bats, which are federally protected), chipmunks, woodchucks, red squirrels, flying squirrels, voles, mice, and Norway rats. Unprotected bird species include rock doves (feral pigeons), house sparrows, and European starlings.

An unprotected species can legally be taken by the property owner at any time of year and by any means as long as other laws (i.e., pesticide regulations, firearm discharge ordinances, trespassing laws, etc.) are not violated. The DEC defines taking as pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring or netting wildlife and game, or performing acts that disturb or worry wildlife.

Some might consider it too cruel to take an animal and decide that capturing your nuisance pest with a live trap is best. Before heading to the hardware store, recognize that you cannot release an animal off your property without a permit. An unprotected animal can be released on the same property where it was captured or must be killed and buried or cremated.

Legal Classification: Protected

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harrassing them, such as with dogs or lasers, does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest, such as addling their eggs, does need a permit. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harassing them (such as with dogs or lasers) does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest — such as addling their eggs — does need a permit. When in doubt, contact the DEC. Photo: Joellen Lampman

For some protected species, if an individual animal is causing damage (not merely being a nuisance), it can be taken by the property owner. Mammals that fall under this category include opossums, raccoons, weasels, and gray squirrels. (Skunks may legally be taken if they are only a nuisance, even if they are not causing damage.) But the animal, dead or alive, cannot be transported off the landowner’s property without a nuisance wildlife control permit obtained from the DEC.

A few mammals (including bear, beaver, deer, mink, and muskrat), most birds, and (currently) all reptiles and amphibians are not only protected but cannot be captured or removed from the property without special case-by-case permits.

Animals with a legal hunting or fur trapping season can be taken as long as the proper hunting or trapping license has been obtained.

Nuisance Wildlife Control Permits

Nuisance wildlife control permits are issued to people who have gone through the prescribed application process. These permits allow protected species to be taken in any number, at any time, and from any location — with permission of the landowner — within the state. Permits must be renewed annually. Private nuisance wildlife control operators, pest control operators dealing with nuisance wildlife, municipal animal control officers, and some wildlife rehabilitators must obtain the proper permits.

Laws change, so if you have a question concerning the legal status of a species or contemplated action, contact the Wildlife section of the regional office of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

For information on IPM for nuisance wildlife, refer to Beasts Begone!: A Practitioner’s Guide to IPM in Buildings  and Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators.

(Adapted from Legal Framework for Nuisance Wildlife Control in New York State by Lynn Braband, NYS Community IPM Program at Cornell University)

December 2, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
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Grape and Hops Winter Workshops: Now!

It’s that time of year — growers (some of them, anyway) get a break from fieldwork and start taking advantage of workshops around New York.  Here are two, coming right up.

Grape Pruning Workshop

Friday, December 5, 2014 (repeats on or Friday, March 6, 2015)

vineyard

A vineyard in the Finger Lakes Region. Photo: K. English

Interested in learning how to prune grapevines? Don’t miss the Finger Lakes Grape Program’s hands-on pruning class and demo. A brief indoor session provides time to get familiarized with proper techniques and ask questions. Then outside we go — and everyone will have the opportunity to prune vines on three different training systems. Instructor: Mike Colizzi, Viticulture Community Educator with the Finger Lakes Grape Program. Dress for the weather — and bring your own pruning sheers.

Fee: $25.00/person
Preregistration required. Call Yates County Cooperative Extension at 315-536-5134 or Register on-line

9:00 am – Noon
Finger Lakes Teaching and Demonstration Vineyard
Anthony Road Wine Company
1020 Anthony Road
Penn Yan, NY 14527

Cornell Hops Conference

Saturday, December 6, 2014

hops

Starting a hopyard? Growers take heed: hops vines are high climbers. They’re also perennials. So plant varieties that resist disease, varieties that’ll hang in there for the long haul. Photo: T. Weigle.

A great networking and learning opportunity — meet with brewers, educators, growers, and prospective growers. Registration includes lunch and trade show. The conference consists of one full-day session, all on hops-related topics, along with two additional separate tracks:

  • growing hops for beginners
  • brewing

Please note — seating is limited.

Events & Pricing
Registration Fee: NeHA Members $75.00
Registration Fee: Nonmembers $85.00
Friday Beer Pairing Dinner: $45.00 (only 100 seats available)
Saturday Post-conference Happy Hour: $15.00
Saturday Beer Pairing Dinner: $30 (only 50 seats available; drinks not included)
Click here to register8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Morrisville State College
Morrisville, NY

Northeast Hop Alliance Complete Agenda
For more information contact: Steve Miller or phone 315-684-300 x 127 or Alycia Schick or phone 315-684-3001x 108.

This event is brought to you by the USDA Agriculture/NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Specialty Crop Block Grant, and by a NYS Farm Viability Institute grant.

November 25, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
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“No Surprises” Trip Prep? IPM, Prevention Are Key

So you’re thinking of a trip south, camper or boat in tow, or maybe a little winter getaway to your cabin in the North Country.  For “no surprises” trip prep, take advantage of every spell of mild weather to make sure you’ve

  • kept rodents from settling into cozy quarters (or disinvite those that have)
  • removed those enticing extras that make critters do their best to bust through your defenses

Here’s the IPM approach. Put on your overalls, grab a flashlight, and crawl under

Your cabin is more secure with mesh pushed into critter entry points.

Your cabin is more secure with mesh pushed into critter entry points.

your camper or into the crawl space under your cabin — or climb up a ladder to take a closer look at your eaves and loose siding as well as cable entry points. Plug every likely entry point and with something like copper stuff-it — a fine wire mesh that helps keep critters out — or by caulking those places where propane pipes, internet cables, or phone or electric lines come in.

Be careful. If need be, hire an electrician. Even turning off the breaker box doesn’t mean dangerously high voltage won’t zap you.

This can be tricky work, because rodents can squeeze through what look like impossibly small spaces. Sometimes they’ll pull out your wire mesh, but caulk worked into the mesh — or a spray foam that expands into it — will help keep the mesh in place. So look again. And know that foam alone won’t do the trick — even if the can says it deters mice, chipmunks, and the like.

Besides critter-deterrent foam, here’s what else won’t provide long-term control: ultrasonic devices and boom boxes blasting rap music (yes, it’s been tried!). Sure, you might get short-term control — but critters acclimate to predictable or constant sounds. And forget that persistent rumor that mothballs (or dryer sheets) will deter them. For one, it’s illegal to use mothballs this way. And any seeming deterrence is probably illusory.

If rodents haven’t made your camper or cabin home yet — if you don’t see mouse poop, for instance — count your blessings and roll up your shirtsleeves. Besides the obvious (boxes of crackers, say, or plastic jars of peanut butter), remember that crumbs beneath the couch cushions or inside drawers and hard-to-reach corners attract critters with sensitive noses.

Because rodents appreciate a cozy place to curl up as much as you do (and because prevention is key to good IPM), stash everything from paper napkins to blankets and pillows in tightly sealed containers. If you can, empty the drawers; leaving them open makes the space less of a hidey-hole — and less appealing.

Occasionally you might do such a good job on the outside, you actually trap a critter that was already inside your walls when you began. Though it seems harsh, the best thing is to place snap-traps at those key exit points you discovered during your inspection — and check them as often as you can. (Animals caught in live traps and released elsewhere often end up in some other critter’s territory, and the consequences aren’t all that pretty.)

Traps come in two sizes: mouse and rat; rat traps work also for squirrels and chipmunks. What size to put out? If you hear noise at night it’s probably a mouse or rat. If during the day, it’s probably a chipmunk or squirrel.