Guest post by Paul D. Curtis, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University
Moles are small, insect-eating mammals that are highly specialized for living underground. Unlike voles, moles have very small eyes, no external ears, a hairless, pointed snout, and forefeet that are enlarged and turned outward for digging in the soil. All three mole species found in New York State have short, thick, velvety fur that lies flat in either direction as the mole makes its way through a burrow system. Moles are classified as unprotected animals in New York, so they can be trapped or removed whenever they cause turf damage.
Star-nosed mole showing fleshy appendages on its snout. Credit: TN.gov
The two most commonly-encountered mole species in New York State are star-nosed (Condylura cristata) and hairy-tailed moles (Parascalops breweri). The star-nosed mole may be found throughout the state. It typically reaches 5 inches in length and its nose is surrounded by 22 small, fingerlike projections, which readily distinguishes it from the other mole species. Continue Reading →
October 12, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on The leaves are falling, manage wisely for ticks
The time of the falling leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept. – John Burroughs, The Falling Leaves, Under the Maples
2020 I LOVE NY Fall Foliage Report for New York State October 7-13, 2020
Ah, autumn. Leaf peeping drives, apple picking, pumpkin-spice everything, and the annual argument of what to do with those leaves falling on your yard.
On one hand, leaves can provide a natural mulch for the landscape, breaking down to provide organic matter and nutrients to soil, and provide habitat for native beneficial insects and arachnids. On the other hand, too many leaves can smother lawns and provide habitat for damaging diseases. But we’re not going to delve into that debate today. Today we’re focusing on the tick-leaf connection. Continue Reading →
August 6, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Meet the Keynote Speaker for the School IPM 2020 Conference
“We should have little trouble with vermin if builders would hear and understand the ‘language’ of vermin and do a better job in eliminating their entrances and hiding place.” – Hugo Hartnak, 1939
For Bobby Corrigan, pest management is a passion. Called upon for his expertise across the country, we are honored to include him in our conference.
Pests enter school buildings in one of two ways: they are transported in by students, staff, or delivery truck or they make their way in from the outside. The School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next virtual conference will focus on the first mode, but we will also include information on the second with tips, and a tool, to help with exclusion – or keeping pests out of buildings. Dr. Bobby Corrigan, co-founder of the first Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion, will join us to discuss rodent vulnerable areas.
“Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry (or other items) but which actually contain plant seeds. Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating. People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds. They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.”
*Note to newsrooms: Please advise consumers to email USDA with their full names and telephone numbers, pictures of the package and any other relevant information.
Contact information for people residing outside of New York State:
Schools across the world are having conversations about safely sending teachers, students, and the rest of the school staff back for face-to-face education during a global pandemic. These are vitally important discussions and plans need to adapt to new information. And this focus on school health and safety also provides an ideal, if unanticipated, backdrop for our rescheduled annual conference – School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next.
Covid-19 is an excellent example of a community issue that cannot be handled by school personnel alone. We have all been called to support the health of the community through social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing. Our conference will focus on community-wide pest issues such as German cockroaches and bedbugs. There is simply no way for schools to prevent these insects from being reintroduced by students, school staff, and delivery trucks. How then, as a community, can we address these issues before they breach the school walls? And avoid the subsequent calls by some to close the building for pesticide applications?
The penultimate hitchhiker, bed bugs need to be dealt with at a community level.
Please join us on the mornings of August 11 and 18 as we hear from community and agency leaders – and you! – about efforts to provide healthy learning and work environments. We welcome your experiences and ideas as we use this momentum to address school pest issues now and into the future.
iMapInvasives has put out a call for help and we’re happy to do our bit. Check out this citizen science project looking at increasing the amount of information regarding invasive species throughout New York. Written by Mitchell O’Neill, End User Support Specialist for iMapInvasives.
There is one more weekend in the 5th Annual Invasive Species Mapping Challenge – ending Wednesday July 15th! Join this citizen science effort to fill data gaps for four key invasive species in New York State’s official invasive species database, iMapInvasives. The species are jumping worm, tree-of-heaven, water chestnut, and European frogbit – which have wide-ranging impacts on land and water resources, agriculture, gardening, and recreation.
In this webinar, the iMapInvasive’s team cover the identification of these species and how you can participate.
Did we mention there are prizes for each species? Here is one example.
Great data has come in over the past 2 weeks, but it’s still very much anyone’s challenge! The top contributor for each of the four species wins a prize!
I encourage you to go out and search for invasives this weekend – remember to record not-detected records if you search for one of the species in its habitat but did not find it. View our webinar on identifying these species and reporting them to iMapInvasives here. Please email email@example.com with any questions!
Be sure to check the leaderboard to watch your name rise to the top as you record observations!
June 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?
“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn: the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops, and summer sweetens all to me.” – James Russell Lowell
Dandelions, clover, and many other lawn weeds can help sustain pollinators.
It’s Pollinator Week, a week dedicated to halting and reversing the decline in pollinator populations and recognizing the valuable service they provide.
There are plenty of resources out there to create pollinator gardens and meadows. NYSIPM biocontrol specialist Amara Dunn has been documented an ongoing project trying to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects to help support agricultural systems in her blog, Biocontrol Bytes. Head over and check out her efforts.
But what about places that can’t allow tall vegetation because of space, inability to weed areas, or aesthetics? Lindsey Christiansen, CCE Albany and I decided to explore the recommendation to create pollinator friendly lawns.
But Lindsey and I were wondering if there was a more formal way to create a pollinator friendly lawn. We searched out and found a number of seed mixes and a project was born.
“The best laid plans of mice and men…” – Robert Burns
While fall is a great time to put down seed, we solidified our plans in October, leaving us with little time. We decided to spend the remainder of autumn prepping the plots and wait until winter to put the seed down through dormant overseeding. We laid out three rows of 100 sq.ft. plots. The first row was scalped by running the CCE lawn tractor over it at its lowest height of cut. The second row was stripped using a sod cutter, and the third row was aerified multiple times using a core aerifier to break up the soil and create open soil.
The demonstration project was established in an unused part of the CCE Albany property which allows for road visibility.
Two rows were prepped using a sod cutter and aerifier rented from a local hardware store.
Removing sod cut with a sod cutter is much easier when you have good turf. The weedy lawn proved a challenge to remove.
And then it was time to wait. Ideally, we would have a stretch of bare ground in March with a few inches of snow in the forecast. So we waited. And waited some more. But it was a winter that wasn’t and as the forecast showed above average temperatures into the future, we decided to scatter the seed on March 6 with hopes that winter would provide a last gasp.
Five seed mixes were chosen for the demonstration project. For dormant overseeding, it is recommended that you double the rate, but we were sometimes restricted by the amount of seed we could purchase within our budget.
Snow cover on the dormant overseeded plots.
Winter finally threw us a bone on March 24th. The theory behind dormant overseeding is the weight of the snow pushes the seed close to the soil and as it melts into the soil, it draws the seed down with it through capillary action. The snow also protects the seed from predation. We can only guess how much seed to we lost to birds over those weeks.
And then it was time to wait again. And we were waiting in our homes due to the shutdown. So it was exciting to visit the site in early June and find baby blue eyes, dwarf California poppy, and sweet alyssum in bloom. The plot we were most worried about due to the small rate of application had the most visual pop.
The sod cut plot seeded with Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix was the most dramatic despite having the lightest rate of application.
And there were pollinators!
Solarization is an IPM technique using the sun to create high temperatures to kill existing vegetation.
We also started a fourth row, this time using solarization to prep the site. Plastic sheeting heats up the soil, killing existing plants and the seedlings of any weed seeds that germinate over the summer. We will keep the sheeting in place until it’s time to seed in the fall.
The recent hot, dry weather has not helped with establishment and there’s not currently much going on in the plots. So we are back to waiting and seeing.
And crossing our fingers that the forecast holds and we get rain by the weekend.
At the end of June, after a week of heat and humidity but no rain, there is not much flowering except for birdsfoot trefoil. For the record, birdsfoot trefoil was not in any of our seed mixes.
Many thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County for use of the site, Lindsey Christiansen for her partnership and strong back (and for checking my math), and Matt Warnken for scalping, hauling, sod cutting, photographing, and basically making himself indispensable.
June 6, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on NYSIPM partners with The Tick App
The Tick App: Studying human behavior, tick exposure and the risk of Lyme disease using a citizen science approach via a smartphone application.
Concerned about ticks? Download The Tick App for free to join our research efforts and report your tick encounters.
If you have heard any NYS IPM Program staff talk about ticks, you have probably heard us mention that there is a lot we don’t know about ticks. Or exactly how our actions impact our risk of getting a tick-borne disease. So it is with great pleasure that we announce that we have partnered with the Diuk-Wasser lab at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who created The Tick App.
By downloading the app through GooglePlay or the AppStore, you will have access to information about:
ticks biology and identification
tick activity in your area
how to remove a tick
It will also help you identify ticks that you find through the Report a Tick button.
That’s a lot of information at your fingertips. The most important part of the app, however, is the daily log where you share with the team how you spent your time, what steps you took to prevent tick encounters (if any), and if you found a tick on you, a family member, or a pet. Your information is confidential and will only be shared as aggregated data based on zip code.
I have been using the app for two years and have made entering my data a daily routine, along with my daily tick check. It takes only minutes to complete.
The more people entering data, the better the team will be able to connect the dots between what we do and how that brings us in contact with ticks. We will then be able to better create recommendations to keep New Yorkers safe.
And there’s no better time as The Tick App is launching the #BattleOfTheDailyLog this June, pitching NY against other northeast and midwest states. C’mon New York! We can do this!
Don’t worry. We’ll still continue to provide tick information through the Don’t Get Ticked NY Campaign via our website, blog posts, and presentations.