New York State IPM Program

August 28, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Severe weather causes intense rain and wind across NY

Severe weather causes intense rain and wind across NY

Severe weather outbreaks yesterday caused intense wind and rain for prolonged periods across New York State. Significant rainfall and strong winds were recorded, with tornado warnings issued downstate in the Hudson Valley.

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August 27, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms for central NY, Catskills and Hudson Valley

Enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms for central NY, Catskills and Hudson Valley

The National Weather Service predicts slight to enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms across large portions of New York State for Thursday 27 Aug 2020.

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August 14, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on SPOTTED LANTERNFLY HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED IN NYS: Here’s what you should know..

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED IN NYS: Here’s what you should know..

The NYSIPM program, along with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Department of Environmental Conservation have been monitoring for Spotted Lanternfly since its first occurrence in PA in 2014. In preparation, we developed educational resources for New Yorkers. Partnering with affected states, we’ve maintained a map tracking its spread and quarantines across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region.

photo of five SLF adults

Adult spotted lanternfly on tree trunk (photo, B. Eshenaur)

Now, as of August 14, 2020 has confirmed a living population of spotted lanternfly on Staten Island. Because pests don’t care about borders, experts anticipated this introduction into the state and put in place the groundwork needed to keep ahead of this invasive.

Knowledge and experience from Pennsylvania’s spotted lanternfly specialists continues to benefit Cornell extension and research staff. Pennsylvania agriculture experienced grapevine deaths in some vineyards, and their economists estimate a potential combined annual loss to their state of $324 million and 1,665 jobs. Because of SLF’s ability to be a significant agricultural pest, research is underway even now, as Cornell researches biological and other control options.

photo of adult lanternfly and egg masses on tree bark

The spotted lanternfly is not a fly, but a large planthopper. Adults are about an inch long. They do not bite or sting, and are not a threat to people, pets or livestock. For most New Yorkers, it will be no more than a nuisance pest. Nymphal and adult spotted lanternflies have piercing-sucking mouthparts that drill into plant phloem. SLF’s excrement—a sappy liquid called honeydew—makes things sticky and becomes the breeding ground for sooty mold, an annoying black fungal growth that is not toxic and does not kill plants. If necessary, wash honeydew and sooty mold off of your outdoor belongings, and move them out from under trees that have hosted the SLF. Note: honeydew can also draw ants and yellow jacket wasps.

Spotted lanternfly’s favorite host is another invasive species, the Tree of Heaven, but they also feed on many other trees and plants (see our list). Unfortunately, this includes cultivated grapevine. With New York state’s important wine production and grape growing regions from Long Island to Western NY, we are particularly concerned about this pest’s impact.

To properly identify spotted lanternfly and understand its life cycle, host plants, and how to monitor and manage it, visit our resources here.

“What should I do?”

1) If you think you see a spotted lanternfly, use the new reporting form found here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a08d60f6522043f5bd04229e00acdd63

2) Educate yourself. It is likely that spotted lanternfly will continue to spread north through New York and New England. Check out the lanternfly life cycle  here so you’ll know what to look for. From fall through spring, look for egg masses. (See: how to destroy egg masses). In late spring and early summer look for the nymph stages; in late summer through fall, look for adults.

life cycle graphic

3) Don’t transport this pest. Individual and commercial travelers alike should be aware that there’s the potential to spread this insect to new areas without knowing it.  Adult spotted lanternfly can end up in vehicles. Egg masses can be laid on virtually anything, and can be overlooked. Inspect anything that you load into your vehicle. Checklist here: https://nysipm.cornell.edu/sites/nysipm.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/SLF-checklist.pdf

4) Keep up with the latest news on the spread of Spotted Lanternfly and other pest management concerns by following this and other NYSIPM program blogs, Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram.

For Immediate Release:  August 14, 2020

graphic with titles of four state agencies

State Agencies Encourage Public to Report Findings of Invasive Pest

The New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (AGM), Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) today confirmed that Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest from Asia, has been found on Staten Island.  Several live, adult insects were discovered by OPRHP staff in Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve.  SLF (see photo below) is a destructive pest that feeds on more than 70 plant species, including tree-of-heaven, and plants and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as maple trees, apple trees, grapevine, and hops.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Department is working closely with its partners at the Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to mitigate the impacts of this destructive pest, which can weaken plants and have a devastating impact on agriculture.  While this find on Staten Island is concerning, New York State has taken strong actions to combat the establishment of SLF since 2017.  We will continue our work to survey and inspect high-risk areas and implement targeted management plans.  We also urge the public to be vigilant and report any suspected sightings of SLF to help slow the spread of this invasive.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Since Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in neighboring states, DEC has worked aggressively with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, USDA and other partners to educate New Yorkers and take steps to prevent this invasive species from establishing itself in New York State. This invasive pest has the potential to severely impact and stress New York’s forests, agricultural crops, and tourism industries. The first live find on Staten Island is concerning, but our goal remains to find Spotted Lanternfly early and prevent it from further entering New York State and limiting any serious threats to our natural resources.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Spotted Lanternfly poses a troubling threat to the environment and agriculture of New York State but also to the quality of recreational opportunities and experiences we offer in our State Parks and public lands. I applaud our Parks’ environmental stewardship staff for identifying this pest, so New York State can quickly begin taking steps to slow its spread. Park visitors across the state can help in identifying and reporting this destructive pest, and I urge them to familiarize themselves with its signs.”

Following the finding by OPRHP, AGM, working with DEC, OPRHP, and the USDA, immediately began extensive surveys throughout the area.  Crews will continue to survey areas on Staten Island, develop management plans to slow SLF’s spread, and minimize the damage and impact from this invasive species.

AGM urges New Yorkers to report potential sightings using the web reporting tool found here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a08d60f6522043f5bd04229e00acdd63

SLF feedings can stress plants, making them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. SLF also excretes large amounts of sticky “honeydew,” which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants, and impacting forest health. SLF also has the potential to significantly hinder quality of life and recreational activities due to the honeydew and the swarms of insects it attracts.

First discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, SLF has since been found in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia. Given the proximity to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey infestations, New York State is at high risk for infestation.

Since 2017, AGM, DEC, and OPRHP have taken an aggressive approach to keeping SLF from establishing in New York State, conducting surveys of high-risk areas across the State; inspecting nursery stock, stone shipments, and commercial transports from quarantine areas; and launching a comprehensive education and outreach campaign to enlist the public’s help in reporting SLF.

While these insects can jump and fly short distances, they spread primarily through human activity. SLF can lay their eggs on any number of surfaces, such as vehicles, stone, rusty metal, outdoor furniture, and firewood. Adult SLF can hitch rides in vehicles, on any outdoor item, or cling to clothing or hats, and be easily transported into and throughout New York.

The public is encouraged to thoroughly inspect vehicles, luggage and gear, and all outdoor items for egg masses and adult SLF before leaving areas with SLF, particularly in the counties of states in the quarantine area—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia.   If SLF adults are found, residents should remove them and scrape off all egg masses.

Residents can also help by allowing surveyors access to properties where SLF may be present.  Surveyors will be uniformed and will always provide identification.

Identifying SLF

Adult SLF are active from July to December. They are approximately one-inch long and half an inch wide at rest, with eye-catching wings. Adults begin laying eggs in September. Signs of an SLF infestation may include:

  • Sap oozing or weeping from open wounds on tree trunks, which appear wet and give off fermented odors.
  • One-inch-long egg masses that are brownish-gray, waxy and mud-like when new. Old egg masses are brown and scaly.
  • Massive honeydew build-up under plants, sometimes with black sooty mold developing.

For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit https://agriculture.ny.gov/spottedlanternfly.

photo of an adult spotted lanternfly

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

August 5, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Isaias dumps rain in eastern and northern New York

Isaias dumps rain in eastern and northern New York

Tropical Storm Isaias moved northward through the Hudson River and Champlain regions of New York yesterday, resulting in significant rainfall accumulations.

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July 13, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Noteworthy rainfall across New York State this past weekend

Noteworthy rainfall across New York State this past weekend

Two major systems brought significant amounts of rain to all of New York State this past weekend. Tropical Storm Fay moved up the Hudson River Valley while a large front from the West hit western and central NY Saturday and Sunday.

7-day rainfall totals for New York State as of 12 July 2020. Data provided by the National Weather Service Advance Hyrologic Prediction Service.

7-day rainfall totals for New York State as of 12 July 2020.

Most counties and townships received a minimum half inch of rain across the state, which was timely given the fact that most of NY had transitioned to abnormally dry conditions, or moderate to severe drought in some areas, as of 10 July. Click here for additional drought status information.

More than 3 inches of rain were recorded in Catteraugus, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Oswego, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester Counties as well as all boroughs of New York City. Smaller areas of Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, and Yates Counties also received similar amounts.

Lumberland and Highland Townships in the southwest corner of Sullivan County may have experienced rainfall in excess of 8 inches.

In the future, visit the ThinkIPM Blog for summaries of severe weather events impacting IPM practices and agricultural production in NY.

Rainfall data provided by the National Weather Service Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service.

This report was provided by the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) which is part of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

June 5, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on It’s New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

It’s New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

The mission of the New York Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state, and empowering them to take action to help stop the spread.

While we won’t be able to gather for invasive species identification walks, removal projects, or in-person presentations, there are plenty of online opportunities to increase awareness. And the good news is that you will have access to statewide opportunities. Presentation topics run from learning how to identify plants information and enter it into iMapInvasives to the more specific info on beech leaf disease, crayfish, “murder hornets”, how climate change, and deer, impact native plants and pave the way for invasives, and more. For a full list of virtual events, visit https://nyisaw.org/events/.

And there are numerous challenges offered this year. Be sure to use the hashtag #NYISAW! ISAW Social Media Challenges, many suited for the kids, include:

Sunday – learn about your local invasive species and share a selfie

Monday – create some Invasive Species Art!

Tuesday – use the Agents of Discovery app to learn about invasive species

Wednesday – increase others’ awareness by creating a banner and hanging it in your window

Thursday – help track invasive species in NYS through iMapInvasives. New to iMap? There will be an online training at 1:00

Friday – spotted lanternfly is on our doorstep, if it’s not already here undetected. Check out spotted lanternfly trivia and help keep track of this destructive pest. (For more information, visit NYSIPM’s Spotted Lanternfly webpage.)

Here are a few other challenges that caught my eye:

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has created the Invasive Species Backyard Bingo Challenge. I have (alas) seen many of the invasive species, but not enough to get BINGO (yay?).

The Capital Region PRISM has an EcoQuest Challenge focusing on watercress, European Frog-bit, oriental bittersweet, and swallowwort using iNaturalist.

Lower Hudson PRISM Ecoquest Challenge is focusing on Siebold’s and linden viburnum. They recommend using the Seek app to help build your identification skills and confirm your ID.

The NYS Parks Niagara Region is also using the Agents of Discovery App. They will post details on their Facebook page during ISAW.

These challenges, and more are also listed on https://nyisaw.org/events/.

And, of course, the NYS IPM Program has numerous resources on invasive species, including numerous blog posts we have written about invasive species and the recordings from our 2017 Invasive Species Conference.

So download the Seek app, head to the backyard and identify some invasive species. Upload the information to iMapInvasives. And then feel free to remove them. This weekend I’ll be CAREFULLY digging up wild parsnip along my roadside. How about you?

a graphic showing a photo of Joellen Lampman and her role at New York State Integrated Pest Management. She is the school and turfgrass specialist and is located in the Albany Cooperative Extension Office in Voorheesville.

May 20, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on World BEE Day 2020

World BEE Day 2020

Protecting bees and other pollinators has become an important social issue. But beekeeping, and the 20,000 species of bees worldwide, have been providing livelihoods, much of our food supply, and important biodiversity for thousands of years.  Today, we help celebrate the first official World Bee Day as proclaimed by the U.N. through their food and agriculture organization.

poster of world bee day

We’ve collected some of our blog posts supporting pollinator protection (see below). First, here’s some facts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization:

HONEY: Honey is a nutritious, healthy and natural food produced by the bees. Its benefits go beyond its use as a sweetener as it contains several minerals, enzymes, vitamins and proteins that confer unique nutritious and organoleptic properties. Honey can be monofloral if one specific plant nectar and pollen content prevails in pre-defined percentages or polyfloral if it contains an unspecified mix of different nectars and pollens. Due to environmental, geographical and climatic conditions honey may vary in pollen content and relative humidity. Honey is produced in all five continents and its consumption varies from country to country also due to cultural reasons and eating habits.

HIVE PRODUCTS: Honey bees may provide livelihood or a source of income for many beekeepers all over the world. This could happen through the services provided by the bees (mainly pollination service, apitherapy and apitourism), or directly through the bee products. The last include: alive bees to guarantee always new queen bees or bee packs, honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly and venom. Bee products may be used as food for humans, feed for animals, cosmetics, medicines used in conventional medicine (mainly vaccination), or in apitherapy, or other like manifold products, carpentry, attractant, sweeteners, etc.

benefits of pollinators poster

POLLINATORS: Disappearing pollinators can mean losing some of the nutritious food we need for a healthy diet. The decline of pollinators could have disastrous effects for our future of food. Their absence would jeopardize the three-quarters of the world’s crops that depend at least in part on pollination, including apples, avocadoes, pears and pumpkins. And enhancing pollination isn’t just about mitigating disaster – with improved management, pollination has the potential to increase agricultural yields and quality. Pollinators also play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity thus improving the resilience of plants to climate change and other environmental threats.

photo of bee

THE NYS IPM Program is proud to consider POLLINATOR PROTECTION part of our focus. Visit these topics on this blog, the Think IPM Blog:

Pollinater Protection Resources

A virtual visit to an educational Pollinator Garden

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Jen Lerner and her focus on pollinator protection

Right Plant, Right Place – for Pollinators

Planning for Pollinators

Pollinator Week, 2017

photo of bee on flower

AND MORE posts specific to Pollinator Protection from BIOCONTROL BYTES:

Habitat for beneficial insects (including pollinators) at home

Details of what plants were chosen for our beneficial insect research plots

Just how much time goes into establishing beneficial insect habitat?

 

 

 

 

May 8, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Dwindling bee numbers is a problem. The question is not should we protect pollinators and create habitat, but how? What’s the best method? The most economical? The best bee habitats—made up of plants of varying sizes and bloom times—are easy on the eye. They’re also excellent real estate for other helpers, like spiders and certain beetles, that eat pests. So can pollinator habitats provide biocontrol benefits too?

To answer these questions, our team set up pollinator habitat plots around our Christmas tree research planting—testing establishment methods, evaluating weeds, counting and identifying the insects attracted, and studying the biocontrol value to the trees.

photo of echinacea flowers in a field

ABOVE: Flowers providing pollen or nectar are important to both pollinators and many pest-eating “beneficial” insects. You can help them by choosing a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall with flowers of diverse shapes. This Echinacea makes pollen and nectar readily accessible to both small and large bees, proving that it’s not just their beauty that’s worthy of our admiration.

Wildflower and grass species favored by pollinators were chosen from lists of native perennials. Some started from seed; others were transplants. By the end of the first season, natural enemies and pollinators had arrived—including lady beetles, lacewings, predatory stink bugs, spiders, hoverflies, predatory beetles, butterflies, and many wild bees. This year the plots have matured even more. We collected flying insects with sweep nets, counted butterflies, and caught wasps and bees in brightly colored bowls of soapy water. We even had a method for catching insects moving along the ground.

So far, we have lots of tips for helping growers and gardeners create their own beneficial insect habitat. As to fewer pests in Christmas trees? Time will tell.

What’s New with NEWA?

Are summer conditions becoming more unpredictable? Are you wondering how to make informed and timely decisions about pest management? If you say yes to both, you’re not alone. NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications, is here to help by providing live, on-farm decision support for fruit, vegetable, and field crops production. NEWA pairs real-time weather data from growers’ fields with online crop-specific pest forecasting. And it’s growing every year.

Developed by scientists with pest biology expertise, NEWA models predict disease progression, insect infestations, and crop phenology. Apple growers rely on apple scab forecasts in the spring, grape growers monitor grape berry moth risk through the summer, and field corn growers track western bean cutworm flights throughout the season to know when to scout.

Our latest survey proves NEWA’s unparalleled decision support to growers is working. Users attest they saved over $4,000 in spray costs and more than $33,000 in prevented crop losses annually.

NEWA partners with extension, industry, and academic partners statewide, including the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program that supports western New York’s Concord grape growers. Thanks to the close collaboration between NYSIPM, growers, and processors, that region benefited from the addition of 11 weather stations last year, a move that nearly doubled their decision-making power. NEWA also joined forces with the NYS Mesonet at the University at Albany, a collaboration that resulted in ten pilot locations across the state.

Today NEWA offers 42 models using data from 677 weather stations in 14 states. NEWA and NYSIPM support agriculture throughout New York and beyond. The latest forecast? The future looks bright.

photo of an Onset weather station

An Onset Weather Station

April 17, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #1 Director’s Report, and a Look at 30 Years of Grape IPM

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #1 Director’s Report, and a Look at 30 Years of Grape IPM

photo is of a research field in Geneva NY

(Above) Two splendid September days saw many visitors to our Open House and Twilight Field Day. Master Gardeners, growers, and researchers chatted with NYSIPM staff about our Christmas tree research and wildflower plots. Can establishing pollinator and natural enemy habitat also reduce pest problems? We’re finding out. Project Leaders: Amara Dunn, Elizabeth Lamb, Brian Eshenaur.

This new blog series will highlight the stories we were proud to share in our latest annual report! Download the entire report brochure here.

photo of NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

Director’s Message

With new arrivals like the Asian longhorned tick, New York’s pest problems are everchanging; so is pest management. Crop production, tillage, pruning and harvesting practices all look different than a generation ago. Old, broad-spectrum chemical pesticides are giving way to biologically-based and species-specific products. But IPM principles are just as relevant today as they were when the concept of IPM was developed over a half century ago.  For example …

Prevention: Together with our state agency partners, we’re holding off the introduction of spotted lanternfly into New York, while preparing growers for its eventual arrival.

Monitoring: Our network for environment and weather applications (NEWA) is more in demand than ever, incorporating weather data into pest prediction models.

Risk Reduction: Two decades of researching and teaching low chemical use practices on state park golf courses, and measuring environmental impact, have made us national leaders in risk reduction in golf.

Decision-making and record keeping: Our apps for sweet corn, hops, and conifers will soon join those we created for greenhouse biocontrol, western bean cutworm, and field crops scouting.

Non-chemical control: We’re testing and teaching cultivation and cover cropping for weed management, and raising awareness of biological control approaches.

Protecting non-target organisms: IPM goals of protecting humans, wildlife, pets, and beneficial organisms—including pollinators—are alive and well.

IPM is perpetually new and fresh, and ready to address today’s challenges on farms and in communities. Please read on and learn what the New York State IPM Program (NYSIPM) has been up to lately.

Three Decades of Successful Grape IPM

Thirty years ago, New York State grape growers faced an out-of-control pest, the grape berry moth (GBM)—despite four or five insecticide sprays a year. After developing a new IPM protocol for assessing GBM risk and managing the pest, researchers needed someone to show growers how to use it in their vineyards. That’s when, funded by the state, NYSIPM hired its first grape IPM specialist. Once on board, Tim Weigle demonstrated research-based techniques for GBM management to growers in the Lake Erie Region. The program was a wild success. Weigle got growers’ sprays down to one or none by applying Cornell IPM know-how. And the crop? Virtually moth-free.

Photo shows Tim Weigle standing in a vineyard

Tim Weigle

Over the decades, Weigle went on to develop, test, and teach solutions for a myriad of insect, disease, and weed problems in vineyards—not just in NYS, but across the Great Lakes region. He reached over 1,500 growers, processors, and fruit workers annually. How? Via educational meetings, workshops, webinars, podcasts, videos, and newsletters. Likewise, Weigle helped colleagues develop IPM guidelines, field guides, record-keeping software, and most recently collaborated on digital vineyard management tools.

In 1992, Weigle helped develop NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications. Today, weather stations live-stream data to inform IPM forecasts that address the five main threats to vineyard health. NEWA’s online network gives up-to-the-minute decision support so growers know when their crops are at risk—or not—thereby reducing extra sprays. Weigle ushered in e-NEWA, directly delivering NEWA results to growers by email, and in 2019 he doubled Lake Erie weather stations to 44, bringing IPM forecasts to even more grape growers.

Most recently, as the threat of the spotted lanternfly (SLF) looms across New York, Weigle brought his entomology and education skills to the forefront again, leading NYSIPM’s SLF awareness and outreach campaign. And his perceptive people-skills remind us that it’s not just vineyard managers who need to be vigilant, but every traveler passing through the SLF-infested areas to our south. Weigle has just retired, leaving large shoes to fill in grape IPM.

Grape and Hops IPM Extension Educator Tim Weigle, like some of the pests he helped growers successfully manage, is now a rare sight out in the field. His 2019 retirement from NYSIPM means more than an empty desk at the Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab, his base since its opening ten years ago. For 30 years, Tim partnered with researchers, growers, and industry to protect New York’s land and water. We hope Tim is now enjoying the fruits of his labor, literally!

 

For more on any aspect of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, please visit our website!

 

April 10, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on It’s Bat Appreciation Week

It’s Bat Appreciation Week

The sun was set; the night came on apace, And falling dews bewet around the place; The bat takes airy rounds on leathern wings, And the hoarse owl his woeful dirges sings. – John Gay

Little brown bats capture beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: J. N. Stuart flickr

Big brown bats feed on beetles and other hard-bodies insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bats are one of those creatures that instill fear in people. (Thanks, Hollywood.) But as all our New York bats eat insects, at a rate of around 700 insects per hour, they can play an important biocontrol role in our IPM programs.

The federally endangered Indiana bat eats beetles, flies, moths, and other insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr

There are two types of bats in the Northeast. Some species are communal and typically overwinter in caves, mines, and sometimes, to our consternation, our buildings. They include the little brown bat, big brown bat, eastern long-eared bat, eastern pipistrelle, small-footed myotis, and the federally endangered Indiana bat.

(If you find bats lodging in your attic, it is best to call in the professionals. They’ll work with you at the right times of the year to close up crevices and holes that let bats in. Closing up entry holes in the summer could trap baby bats inside. For more information, visit What’s Bugging You – How to deal with bats.)

The hoary bat is our largest bat, migrates to Mexico for the winter, and feeds on beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: Tom Benson flickr

Bats in the second group live largely solitary lives, roost primarily in tree canopies and cavities, and migrate south for the winter. These include the red bat, hoary bat, and silver-haired bat.

According to the Cornell publication, Bats in the Forest and Beyond, “in a study of a colony of 150 brown bats in an agricultural area, researchers estimated that the colony consumed over 1.25 million insects in a year. This is not surprising, considering that a single bat may eat 3,000 insects on a given summer night. Bats roosting and foraging in New York forests consume forest and eastern tent moths, and a variety of other potential forest pests”.

Whitenose syndrome on little brown bat. Photo: New York US Fish and Wildlife Service

The legal status of bats varies from state to state. In New York, two species, the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, are protected. However, the conservation of all bats is encouraged. This is particularly important since the populations of some bat species, especially the little brown bat, have been decimated by an introduced fungal disease, white-nose syndrome.

So what can we do to help? According to the Cornell Wildlife Health Center, “to minimize spread of the fungus [that causes white-nose syndrome], people should not handle bats, avoid entering caves and mines with bat colonies, and should decontaminate all equipment and clothing between caves and bat roosts”.

Leave or plant trees with deep furrowed bark such as shagbark hickory that provide roosing spots for bats. Allowing dead trees with peeling bark can also provide habitat. If you must take down these trees, avoid cutting from May to early August when bats are raising thier young. We can also install bat boxes, which mimic areas bats would naturally roost.

 

Looking for something to do with the kids? Alyson Brokaw, a student involved with The Cornell University Naturalist Outreach Program, talks to students about her love of bats and developed a companion education guide.

photo of the title to a video about bats from the Cornell University Naturalist Outreach program

Alyson talks about why the world’s only true flying mammals are so amazing and why you should learn all about them! Plus, Alyson answers the burning question: “Why do bats hang upside down?”

 

 

 

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