While visiting our blog, you have also been checking out older posts. Our second most popular post viewed in 2018 was a 2014 post, Identifying Your Pest – with Poop?. There are a lot of budding scatologists out there.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
Our new Spotted Lanternfly video, Have YOU Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses was just posted, but it has already reached the number two spot. This invasive insect is getting a lot of attention and we need your help to keep track of it in New York.
Squirrels appreciate the protection of an available attic.
Today’s blog post is by Lynn Braband.
COMMUNITY IPM EDUCATOR
NYS IPM Program, 2449 St. Paul Blvd., Rochester, NY
Lynn has major responsibilities in assisting New York State schools and municipalities in the implementation of IPM. Activities have included organizing school IPM implementation workshops throughout the state, surveying schools on the status of their pest management programs, and conducting IPM demonstration projects at schools. Recent projects have included addressing nuisance geese on athletic fields, efficacy testing of yellowjacket container traps, and wildlife damage management outreach such as the revision of the publication Beasts Begone
Winter is on the horizon (although this year, it seems like it has been here for over a month), and many animals, including tree squirrels, begin preparing for the long, cold months. 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.
Exclusion is not a quick fix, but work such as this prevents many problems later.
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 http://www.americanladderinstitute.org/?page=BasicLadderSafety .
Lynn pulled this oldie-but-goodie photo out of his files–two great examples of chimney inserts that act as exclusion barriers against birds, bats and rodents.
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. Visit http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/factsheets/buildings/NY_wildlife_laws.pdf 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 http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html . Another source is the NYS Wildlife Management Association, the state trade group for wildlife control operators http://www.nyswma.org/findanwco.php .
November 2, 2018
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Update on IPM in NY Schools
Recently members of the NYS IPM Program met in Albany as part of a joint meeting of the Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools Steering Committee and the Statewide School IPM Committee.
NYS IPM Educator Joellen Lampman demonstrates ‘dragging for ticks’ as a method to determine tick presence on school grounds.
Clean, Green, and Health Schools is coordinated by the NYS Department of Health and helmed by Dr. Michele Herdt. Their purpose is to promote a healthy learning and working environment in our state’s schools, both public and private.
School environmental health is the way the physical environment of school buildings and school grounds influence the overall health and safety of occupants. School environments can impact occupant health, absenteeism, employee/student retention and satisfaction, academic performance, and operation costs for the school. Children are more vulnerable to environmental exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to their body weight, than adults, their body systems are still developing, and their behaviors put them at greater risk, such as hand-to-mouth action and playing on the ground.
Unfortunately, gaps in outside doors are a common problem in public buildings and offers easy access to rodents.
The New York State Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools Program is designed to help all school employees, volunteers, students, parents, and guardians contribute to improving their school’s environmental health. The program has been developed by a multi-disciplinary Steering Committee to help schools improve their environmental health through voluntary guidelines. Schools that participate in this program gain the opportunity and knowledge to create schools with better environmental health. The program provides information for all school occupants on policies, best practices, tools, knowledge, and resources in nine main areas:
Indoor Air Quality;
Energy and Resource Conservation;
Integrated Pest Management;
Mold and Moisture;
Chemical and Environmental Hazards;
Cleaning and Maintenance;
Last year, they began a free pilot program to create safer and healthier learning and working environments for all students and staff across New York State. We are looking for schools that would like to be a part of this pilot program and improve the environmental health of their school through low or no cost actions.
As of October, 2018 they have ten school buildings involved, and hope to have at least 10% of NY schools enrolled in the program by 2024.
The NYS IPM Program is glad to be part of the efforts.
Later in the morning Vickie A. Smith and David Frank from the NYS Dept. Of Education shared their work with charter schools, engaging the participants in the joint meeting with ideas on how to better reach this growing segment of education in NYS.
While we have sought to find a way to work with non-public schools in NY, charter schools are also another subset with their own particular concerns. Like many non-publics, some charter schools operate in rented buildings (some are indeed buildings owned by a public school), and therefore it is not always clear who is responsible for environmental issues school staff face. Charter schools have multiple authorities to report to depending on their location: The NYS Board of Regents, SUNY trustees, NY City Department of Education and the Buffalo City School District. Many students in charter schools are ‘at-risk’. 80% are considered economically challenged, or have disabilities or language barriers.
Charter schools are considered public schools and must comply with many of the same rules. Our day of discussion proved there are plenty of opportunities to increase the use of IPM in all schools in NY State.
It’s unfortunate that we must spread the news that living Spotted Lanternflies have been detected in New York State, but to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Here is the text of the press release published by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets:
DEC and DAM Announce Confirmed Finding of Spotted Lanternfly in Albany and Yates Counties
State Agencies Encourage Public to Report Findings of Invasive Pest
Red is ever a reminder to other critters: this might be toxic. (Photo Penn State)
The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets (DAM) today confirmed that spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest from Asia, has been found in Albany and Yates counties. A single adult insect was discovered in a vehicle in the Capital District. In addition, a single adult insect was reported on a private Keuka Lake property in Penn Yan, Yates County.
“DEC and our partners at the Department of Agriculture and Markets are closely tracking the spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive pest, as part of our ongoing efforts to prevent its establishment and spread in New York. This pest has the potential to severely impact our state’s agricultural and tourism industries,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “We are encouraging the public to send us information to bolster our efforts—they are our eyes on the ground.”
Following both reported cases, DEC and DAM immediately began extensive surveys throughout the area. At this time, no additional insects have been found. DEC and DAM urge New Yorkers to report potential sightings to email@example.com.
Bed bugs are a longtime pest all over the world. Lord knows we here in the states have labored under their curse for upward of four centuries now. The respite we got from DDT was short-lived in evolutionary time, since it takes little for a pest of any sort to become resistant to whatever pesticide we throw against it.
It’s 1939. Most of us haven’t been born yet. But bed bugs are here. How they got around? This cartoon tells all.
Hard to see, difficult to deal with, bed bugs are well-nigh impossible to live with. These hitchhikers have one seeming aim—to take a trip from one place to the next without you noticing a thing. And by the time you do, it’s too late to wave good-bye. The only thing bed bugs have going for them? They don’t carry disease—a consolation, yes, though a small one when you’re in the thick of it all.
To help, we offer the ultimate in how-to guides: How to Get Bed Bugs Out of Your Belongings. Here you’ll find the pesticide-free solutions you need for household items—items too easily overlooked by the professionals. And the money to replace your stuff? Our guide saves the day.
Consider the humble hair dryer. Our electronics—TV remote, cell phone, lamps and laptops—the list goes on. And you can bet your bottom dollar: bed bugs can find hidey holes within them all. But just try tossing them in a hot dryer (the solution for many a personal or household item). Here’s a place where the hair dryer, helped by its friend the vacuum cleaner, could save the day.
From our guide: Bed bugs are drawn to heat … Warm electronics, especially, should be inspected. Use the hair dryer to blow hot air into cracks and crevices to flush bed bugs, and use the vacuum cleaner to suck them up. Many electronic devices can withstand heat of up to 160°F. Check the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer to confirm that the unit can withstand heat.
You get the idea. Now get the guide. And while you’re at it—check out a whole slew of other IPM resources for bed bugs, cataloged here.
August 22, 2018
by Matt Frye Comments Off on Pest Exclusion: An Old Concept With New Life
The Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion, or SCOPE, started as an idea from industry expert and world-renowned rodentologist, Dr. Bobby Corrigan. Well-versed in pest management literature, Bobby’s reading of a particular sentence in Hugo Hartnak’s 1939 text, “202 Common Household Pests,” resonated with a concept he was thinking and teaching about all along, “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.”
Indeed, Hartnak was promoting pest exclusion. But the concept never really took off, in part due to the expansion of available synthetic pesticides around the same time, which revolutionized the industry and ‘protected’ homes by directly killing pests.
Fast forward more than 60 years to the early 2000’s, when federal regulation changes and new restrictions were imposed on rodenticides, pyrethroids, and indoor use of organophosphates. These changes to chemical pest control provoke careful consideration of the long-term solutions that make sites less attractive to pests and keep them out – two essential IPM techniques of sanitation and exclusion. Sanitation removes sources of food and water that sustain pests, but requires cooperation from clients to do their part in maintaining a clean environment. On the other hand, exclusion represents an opportunity for the pest management industry to perform work on a semi-regular basis that seals openings and prevents pests from moving into and within structures.
Dr. Bobby Corrigan identifies an unprotected grate with gaps large enough for Norway rats to enter.
Traditional pest management techniques that rely on trapping or killing pests will not necessarily prevent these interactions – but exclusion can. Dr. Corrigan’s vision is to advance the pest management industry by increasing adoption of exclusion practices to limit human-pest interactions.
What building materials, structures, or design features lead to pest entry or harborage? This concrete hollow block was home to mice, as evidenced by the sebum or rub marks, and could be sealed with cement.
Together, the working groups collected data on building design, materials and other factors that might help to predict common pest exclusion issues. With an understanding of what materials fail in which situations, this can help the pest management industry in identifying common entry points, or provide insight to construction professionals for opportunities to reduce indoor pest problems. Core members also contributed to a literature review of pest exclusion (both items are still in progress). In March 2018, SCOPE members participated in a session at the 9th International IPM Symposium in Baltimore, MD to discuss different ways of promoting exclusion to enhance adoption. “Partnerships to Strengthen the Role of Exclusion in IPM” explored opportunities to include exclusion in efforts such as building renovation, weatherization, fire proofing, asthma reduction, and compliance with regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and SOX compliance.
SCOPE members continue to provide training on pest exclusion techniques as a way to promote this critical and effective IPM strategy. The website includes articles from trade magazines and resources such as inspection forms to help individuals11 or companies develop their exclusion program.
What can SCOPE do for you? If you have feedback or thoughts on ways that SCOPE can help you build your pest exclusion program – contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 12, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on It’s Invasive Species Week, and …
It’s rare that a creature as small as a spider could be aware of a human in such a charismatic way, but that’s the nature of the jumping spider. With two pairs of forward-facing eyes set on a flat face (along with two other pairs pointing outward) the jumping spider is a predator that relies on its keen vision to find prey—even as it evades predators and keeps an eye on you. No larger than an inch (and mostly much smaller), these spiders are harmless to humans but present in our environment in all but the coldest weather. They seem to thrive in the complex outdoor spaces that we create with our homes, sheds, landscapes, patio furniture and gardens.
Look at that dude’s face! (It’s a male.) credit: Creative Commons en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Why? Because there are plenty of spaces for hiding and lots of prey.
Jumping spiders make up the largest group of spiders in the world—about 13 percent of those we’ve named. While most are found in the tropics, over 300 species of jumping spiders inhabit North America. They are mainly carnivorous, meaning they are hunters. Sometimes jumping spiders incorporate nectar into their diets, and one species is known to feed on plant matter—making it unique among all spiders. As hunters, jumping spiders use a variety of strategies, from ambushing prey to sneakily dropping down on their victims from above.
Like most spiders, they extrude silk from silk glands at the rear end of their abdomen, but jumping spiders don’t spin webs. They use their silk as a safety line for rappelling and to remember where they’ve been. Jumping spiders can take prey much larger than themselves. Like all spiders, they subdue their prey with venom from their jaws, aka chelicerae.
One of the truly remarkable things about jumping spiders is their ability to … you guessed it … jump. With those big binocular eyes, they calculate the distance of a leap and the position of prey before leaping. Once airborne, they drop that silk line for safety.
Jumping spiders have also have elaborate mating rituals. These include drumming and vivid dancing by male spiders hoping to attract females. The peacock spider is a great example.
So what does this have to do with IPM? Sometimes just understanding the creatures we see in our everyday lives can have an impact on our feelings about killing them. Many people have negative feelings about spiders. Yet most are completely harmless and never infest homes. They are serious predators of flies, mosquitoes and other pest insects. In fact, the ecological services of spiders are much larger than we can measure.
Jumping spider captures a carpenter ant queen
Consider the ways you manage your home landscape, especially the areas around the perimeter of the house or building. Reducing the use of insecticides can help conserve beneficial arthropods like jumping spiders. Most home landscapes never need insecticides for management. If a shrub or a plant has persistent pest issues, such as aphids or mites, it might not be worth keeping. Just remove that problem plant and replace it with something better adapted and pest-free. After all, choosing the right plant for the right place is core to good IPM.
Meanwhile, keeping mulch away from the foundation (consider a pebble border) can help keep insects such as ants out of your house. Make sure those shrubs and trees around the home are not touching the side of the building to eliminate the bridge from landscape to house and the need for perimeter insecticide use.
Creating a more sustainable landscape encourages beneficial arthropods—the spiders and such—naturally found in your yard. Spiders, mysterious and creepy as they might seem, are top predators of insect pests. As the charismatic ambassadors of the spider world, jumping spiders remind us that it’s OK to live and let live.
June 28, 2018
by Matt Frye Comments Off on What can I spray for …
Nobody—not even an entomologist like me—wants to see critters in their home, office, school, or favorite restaurant. But see them we do. And unfortunately, the first reaction most people have is to reach for a can of bug spray and hose the place down.
But what does this really accomplish? Two things: a quick kill of only the critters you sprayed, and you’ve now left a coating of pesticides wherever you sprayed. Satisfied? Probably not, since your goal is to solve the problem, not just kill a few critters. If so, then put down the bug spray and walk away—slowly.
When we think of pests, we might imagine them as vile creatures that are intentionally tormenting us. The truth, however, is that pests are always there for a reason. Maybe they are inside because they found a gap leading to a safe place to spend the winter (think brown marmorated stink bug, ladybug, or boxelder bug). Or maybe your gutters are clogged and there is a moisture problem inviting to carpenter ants. Or you have overripe bananas with the stem torn at the top, exposing the fruit within, and now you see fruit flies. While it’s true that a spray might kill pests—so too can a swift shoe.
But if we want to develop a solution that addresses the issue and prevents future problems, we must follow two simple steps:
Inspection. Where are the pests found and how did they get there? It might feel like your whole house is infested, but with a thorough inspection you can often find the source of a problem by looking for where the critters or their evidence are most numerous. If you can find the source of where they are feeding or breeding, chances are you can do them in.
Identification. Knowing the identity of a pest tells you why it is there. It’s also a necessity for crafting a sound management plan. For example, this spring I received many calls about ants. Even when callers had tried sprays, they were ineffective. Why? Each pest is there for a different reason—and needs its own management approach.
Carpenter ants trailing on the outside of a building might be moving from outdoor parent nests to indoor satellite nests.
Case 1: Ants in Rental Home! Using a few pictures to determine size and the number of nodes, the ants were identified as carpenter ants, which do not actually eat wood. Instead, they excavate rotten wood to make their nests. This means carpenter ants indicate a moisture problem somewhere in the structure; an important problem you might not otherwise have known about. So in an oddball way, you owe them a debt of gratitude. And although parent nests are typically outdoors, satellite nests can be found inside buildings—so an inspection is needed to discover where the ants are living. This can be accomplished by baiting and tracking ants to the source, then eliminating the rotten wood and ant nest. For more details, see our carpenter ant fact sheet.
Case 2: Ants in Bathroom! These ants are identified by how they smell when crushed. Their name? The odorous house ant (abbreviated OHA). They build nests in moist locations and forage indoors for spilled foods.
Odorous house ants can move their entire colony or split into several colonies — making it tough to deal with them. (Credit: Janet Hurley)
Based on their biology, OHA can be difficult to manage because the colony is mobile—moving nest locations at will—and can actually split into multiple colonies if sprayed or for other reasons. To date, the best method to control OHA are certain baits that, when placed correctly, can be spread throughout the colony to achieve control.
Case 3: Winged Ants Indoors! Known as citronella ants by their smell, this species isn’t really a pest of homes because they don’t eat what we eat, nor are they at home indoors. Instead they live in the soil and feed on secretions from root-feeding insects. But they can be a nuisance when winged ants emerge into homes. Since their sole purpose in life is finding a new place to live, spraying or baiting are pointless. To avoid problems down the line, you’ll need to eliminate the cracks and crevices where ants are getting inside.
Foraging pavement ants bring bait back to the nest and spread throughout the colony. They’re a great target for baits.
After you’ve found where the pests really are and ID’d them correctly, you can a develop short-term plan to reduce their numbers and long-term solutions that fix the conditions that allowed or enticed them in in the first place.
Need help identifying a pest? Here are some options:
Southeastern Pennsylvania, the epicenter of spotted lanternfly’s arrival in 2014, might seem far enough away to give us in New York prep time for dealing with this new pest, a weak flyer that usually hops to get around. But with the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula—and SLF for short), all bets are off. After all, it took over Korea, whose climate is surprisingly like our own, in no time flat. And now it’s in Maryland. Delaware. Virginia. New Jersey.
New York’s first find happened to be dead. Blind dumb luck.
A bit creepy, how cool it looks. (Photo insectimages)
How anything so pretty could be so nasty boggles the mind. But it’s the nature of nature. Since ID’ing SLF correctly is key to good IPM, let’s start with the nymphs—the young-uns. In this case they come in two snazzy colors. The early-stage nymphs are straight-on black or, once they’ve molted, black and white—handsome devils or trendy fashionistas; take your pick. For late-stage nymphs (late-stage means they molted—again—and outgrew the skin they had after they hatched), add blobs of blood-red, and that critter looks ready to conquer the world.
Which it might.
Does that bright, traffic-light red signal toxicity, as it does for many other potential prey? Right now all I know is that birds have been seen throwing up after grabbing one for a snack—and yes, they are toxic to us.
Red is ever a reminder to other critters: this might be toxic. (Photo Penn State)
Meanwhile, adult SLFs look positively benign. Lovely, in fact. Don’t believe it for a minute. These classy lads and lassies resemble butterflies or moths, but don’t believe that either—they are, you’ll recall, planthoppers; the name refers to its mode of locomotion.
Whatever. Spotted lanternflies have a destiny. Their natural expertise in the pole-vault isn’t their only way to get around. How many roads (think interstates especially) wend their way from southeastern Pennsylvania to points north, south, east and west? Lots.
Consider your car or camper, for starters. Firewood? You’d be slack-jawed at the degree to which firewood fits into the equation. Just the eggs alone—not easy to see with a cursory look—can easily hitch rides to new areas, meaning that New York is a mere hop, skip and a jump away. Trains, tractor trailers, wheel wells, the cargo hold in a jet—this pest doesn’t need to lay its eggs on organic matter. Planning a long-distance road trip? California, here we come.
“I don’t want to scare people,” says Dr. Surendra Dara, an IPM and crop advisor at the University of California, “but it has the potential to spread, and we do not have a biological-control agent.”
Which is why you, dear reader, are our eyes on the ground.
But wait. Other than toxicity, I haven’t even told you why to be alarmed about this critter. Grapes, apples, hops—these and more high-value crops rank in the billions for New York. Apples alone ring the register at about $317 million.
New York’s forestry crops are vital, too. Here’s what forest crops provide:
jobs for 49,200 people with payrolls of over $1.6 billion;
manufacturing, recreation and tourism providing over $11.0 billion to our economy;
removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, sequestering carbon, and producing oxygen critical for all life on earth;
filtering and buffering clean drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.
As our eyes on the ground, here’s what you need to know. Signs that spotted lanternfly are at our collective doorstep include:
sap oozing or weeping from tiny open wounds on tree trunks;
a yeasty smell (been near a brewery lately? That’s it);
inch-long, brownish-gray egg masses—like waxy mud when new, brown and scaly when old
heaps of honeydew under trees and vines and covered, often as not, with black sooty mold.
When you see this many SPFs in your orchard (this is Pennsylvania, mind you) — watch out. (Photo Smyers, Penn State)
Besides fruit and hops, what’s at risk? Everything from willows to walnuts—and smooth-barked trees especially. But keep in mind that many a mature tree which, once it has packed on the pounds around its waist and takes on a decidedly rough or furrowed look, looks svelte and clean-cut while still relatively young. Go outside and look at any gently-furrowed tree, and chances are you’re looking at a host. For those areas where tree-of-heaven runs rife, well—you’re looking at what might be its most favorite host of all.
Though it’s hard to wrap your mind around, it sups on some—maybe all—field crops. “We’ve seen it in some of the grain crops that are out there, soybean and what have you,” said Fred R. Strathmeyer Jr., Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of agriculture. “It’s able to feed on many, many different things.”
Now think about honeydew. Not the drink, not the melon; rather the stuff bugs secrete as they feed. A case of in one end, out the other as they move down the chow line. Although native insects also secrete honeydew, the size of the SLF and staggering numbers that congregate from place to place makes for a remarkable amount of honeydew. Parked your car beneath an infested tree? Time to clean off those sticky windshield wipers.
For sure—this sticky mess and the swarms of insects it attracts gets in the way of outdoor fun. In Pennsylvania, where SLF populations are the densest, people near the heart of the problem can’t go outside without getting honeydew on their hair, clothes, and whatever they’re carrying. At which point “outdoor” and “fun” no longer have all that much in common.
So that’s it in a nutshell and, for spotted lanternfly, all the news that’s fit to print. For now.