New York State IPM Program

September 28, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Move Over, Medusa: Pretty? Poisonous! in the Caterpillar Clan

Move Over, Medusa: Pretty? Poisonous! in the Caterpillar Clan

Our gratitude to Paul Hetzler, CCE St. Lawrence County, for letting us use this post. The IPM connection? ID those fuzzy beasts before you add them to your “warm and fuzzy” petting zoo. 

When I was a kid I was fascinated by caterpillars but had trouble with the word. To me, the sweet little woolly-bear traversing my hand was a “calipitter.” It was only years later I learned that a calipitter is an instrument used to measure the diameter of a caterpillar to the nearest micron.

Caterpillars continue to interest me, although I no longer find them universally cute. Imagine the letdown and loss of innocence following the discovery that some of these fuzzy, fascinating, gentle creatures that tickled their way across my hand were venomous. This revelation was akin to finding out Bambi was a dangerous carnivore, which in fact is a fear that haunts me to this day.

Stunning — and striking in a not-so-nice sort of way. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Stunning — and striking in a less-than-pleasant sort of way. White-marked tussock moth larvae, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

It seems a further injustice that many of the so-called “stinging-hair caterpillars” are among the cutest and most colorful out there. But at least they are not aggressive the way yellow jackets can be. They are strictly defensive, the defense being hollow hairs connected to poison glands that secrete toxins. The chemical cocktail is species-specific, and often involves serotonin, histamine, formic acid and various amino acids.

The hairs inject their charge only when the critter is roughly handled. Or falls down your shirt, or gets in your sleeping bag, or is pressed against your skin in some other way. Their stings cause a painful rash which could persist a week or more. Some people have more severe reactions requiring medical treatment.

You’d think poisonous caterpillars would be from exotic locales, but to my knowledge all in our region are natives. One large group is the tussock moth clan. These caterpillars look about as terrifying as teddy bears. Two examples are the hickory (Lophocampa caryae) and white-marked (Orgyia leucostigma) tussock moths, common locally. I’ve had many encounters with these and their kin over the years.

Hickory tussock caterpillars are mostly white, peppered with a smattering of longer black “whiskers.” White-marked tussock moth larvae look like they’re fresh out of clown school, with a yellow-and-black striped pattern, bright red head, a pair of super-long black appendages as a headdress, a row of lateral white hairs on each side, and four bright yellow (sometimes white) tufts behind their heads like a row of smoke stacks.

The stubby brown hag moth caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium) definitely does not look like a caterpillar. It could easily be mistaken for a dust-bunny or bit of lint. Sometimes known as the monkey slug, this oddity has eight furry, arm-like appendages and should get a prize for its resemblance to a plush toy. If you come across the monkey slug, do resist the impulse to cuddle it.

Much like the way poison-arrow frogs dress flamboyantly to advertise they’re a poor choice as prey, some toxic caterpillars have paint jobs even brighter than those of the tussock moths. For example, the brilliantly attired stinging rose (Parasa indetermina) and saddleback (Acharia stimulea) caterpillars might make you think some practical joker has set out miniature party piñatas. Eye-catching and bristling with barbs, no one is going to mistake them for a plush toy.

Fortunately, many poisonous caterpillars look the part. The Io moth (Automeris io), a huge moth bearing a striking eye-spot shape on each wing, starts out as a neon-green (red until its first molt) caterpillar crowded with serious-looking barbs. Going further afield, the giant silkworm moth caterpillar (Lonomia oblique) of southern South America has been responsible for as many as 500 human deaths — and it looks terrifying, too.

Keep in mind that just about every fuzzy caterpillar, venomous or not, can induce asthma. Those hairs are fragile and readily become airborne. Pests such as the eastern and forest tent caterpillars — and gypsy moths too — sometimes  occur in numbers so great enough to trigger asthma, especially in children. Even the beloved woolly bears (many species of the family Arctiinae) trigger attacks in some people.

What to do for a sting? Use Scotch or packing tape on your skin to pull out embedded caterpillar hairs (along with a few of your own). Wash the area and isolate clothing you think might harbor stray hairs. Monitor for several hours for signs of a serious reaction and otherwise treat the rash the way you would any sting with calamine lotion, antihistamines, or hydrocortisone lotion as directed by your doctor.

Let’s hope that having a few bad apples around will not keep you from appreciating caterpillars. Even the ugliest ones grow up to be moths and butterflies, many of which are beautiful. And they’re all important pollinators. Stay away from the ones described here but feel free to investigate all others.

Just be sure to take along your callipitter.

 

February 5, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Celebrating 30 years of IPM

Celebrating 30 years of IPM

30-Year_coverProgram report. You see the words; what comes to mind? Jargon. Puffery. In a word? Boring.

But at NYS IPM, we’ve made a practice of telling stories — stories that take you on the farm, in the greenhouse, to the school cafeteria. Now we’ve taken the essence of all our annual reports spanning 30 years — and crafted an anniversary report that celebrates three decades of integrated pest management in New York.

Yes, our mission has changed over time. But the themes are the same. Thirty years ago, people cared about the food they ate. The fields they walked in. The schools their kids went to. Best ways to prevent pests, whether on their crops or in their gardens. A healthy environment for themselves and their families.

They still do. And we’re still here for them — for you, the reader. As relevant as ever. Check us out here.

BTW … the main thing to remember with this pdf? The middle part with the postcards and the map — that’s a foldout that takes you on an IPM road trip that highlights three-score stories standing for the hundreds we didn’t have space to tell. No way can a pdf do it justice.

To order a printed copy please contact the IPM Program office.

Road_Trip_foldout

February 6, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again

IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again

The NYS IPM Program turns 30 this year — a great time for a look down memory lane. We were five years old, for instance, when we began our TAg — Tactical Agriculture — teams for field crop producers. Then (and now!), TAg teams across the state met at key times during the cropping season: not in a classroom, not in an office, but in the fields their members farmed. After all, there’s nothing like hands-on experience with real-world problems and successes to learn tested tactics for making the right diagnoses and determine the best way to deal with pest or crop problems under a range of conditions.

Small groups. Hands-on. Learning from each other — on the farm. That’s TAg.

Small groups. Hands-on. Learning from each other — on the farm. That’s TAg.

Back in 1990, we figured each team would comprise three growers, a couple of agribusiness professionals, and a local Extension educator. Only three growers; really; five participants total if you don’t include the instructors? Yes. We knew that for these adult learners, the small group setting provided the greatest opportunity for in-depth understanding and active, individual participation. Meanwhile, each of those farmers could have scores or hundreds of acres in alfalfa or corn (and now, soybeans). Every decision they made built their competency in both economic and environmental security while contributing to their region’s agricultural well being.

But that first year out of that gate, teams averaged nearly 10 members. Oh — and then there were the “TAg-alongs”: neighboring growers who knew a good thing when they saw it. By now we’ve worked with well over 1,100 growers — growers who make IPM decisions on well over a quarter of a million acres.

Before there was email, there was paper. Want to save your hay crop? Often the answer is “harvest now.”  But back then, you just might’ve had to wait a few days for that answer to show up in your mailbox. And those few days might have given alfalfa weevil a strong advantage.

Before there was email, there was paper. Want to save your hay crop? Often the answer is “harvest now.” But back then, you just might’ve had to wait a few days for that answer to show up in your mailbox. And those few days might have given alfalfa weevil a strong advantage.

Yes, running a TAg team is intensive. Yes, it takes time to do it right. Yes — farmers ask tough questions! And back then we couldn’t shoot members an email if, say, a storm threatened to run amok and we needed to reschedule. We did it all via phone and postcards. Meanwhile, by season’s end, team members were doing things like lending each other equipment or sharing their experience and knowledge outside of class — proving that knowledge is power, that small is beautiful; that — well, that while TAg is old, it’s also new: it’s an endlessly renewable resource. That TAg works. Hats off to TAg on its 25th anniversary.

Consider western corn rootworm. Now it’s old hat, but when we began TAg it was still the new pest on the block.

Consider western corn rootworm. Now it’s old hat, but when we began TAg it was still the new pest on the block.

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

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.

 

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

“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.

November 18, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on For New Invasive Lanternfly, Best IPM Tool is Your Eyes

For New Invasive Lanternfly, Best IPM Tool is Your Eyes

Spotted lanternfly, aka Lycorma delicatula — put it on your radar now. True, as far as we know it’s not in New York. Yet. And with winter blowing in, any likelihood of seeing it this year is grows smaller by the day. But considering the havoc this new invasive could wreak if it breaks through the quarantine in Berks County, Pennsylvania, this is one pest to remember. And — especially if you’ve been in southeastern Pennsylvania of late — you can take action now.

Yes, it's pretty. Pretty bad. Even though it's probably not in New York yet, scout now for egg masses (below); next year for nymphs and adults. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dep't of Agriculture.

Yes, it’s pretty. Pretty bad. Though it’s probably not in NY yet, scout now for egg masses; next year for nymphs and adults.
Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dept of Agriculture.

This pest lays egg masses — beginning in September and up till the onset of winter — on just about anything with a smooth surface. So check your truck or camper, or any smooth-surfaced outdoor furniture or equipment you picked up during your travels. Here’s what to look for: a grey, puttylike, waxy coating over a mass of seedlike eggs that look as if they’re trying to poke through it.

What’s at risk? Apples. Grapes. Peaches. Dogwoods. Lilacs. All told, this natty but nasty critter (adults and nymphs alike are handsome little devils) hammers 70-plus species of smooth-barked trees and shrubs — plants we rely on for everything from apple pie and fine wine to the beauty they bring our yards and landscapes. And right now, our eyes are the best IPM tool we have for keeping this pest at bay.

Like a waxy gray putty — that's what you're scouting for to find hitchhiking egg masses. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dep't of Agriculture.

Like a waxy gray putty — that’s what you’re scouting for to find hitchhiking egg masses. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dept of Agriculture.

Actually, spotted lanternfly isn’t a fly. Not even a moth, though with wings spread it sure looks like one. It’s what entomologists call a “true bug” — an insect that pierces a plant with specially adapted mouthparts that suck up sap, rather as we might drink soda with a straw. But that sap is a plant’s lifeblood. Get enough sap-sucking bugs on your grapevines or cherry trees, and you’ve got a problem on your hands.

True, lanternfly gets around by hopping and seems not to move quickly on its own, despite the adults’ pretty wings. Problem is, this adaptable pest can hitchhike unseen on just about anything — not just on trucks cars and campers but flowerpots or outdoor furniture. Suddenly, Berks County doesn’t seem so far away.

New York’s orchards and vineyards alone contribute about $330 million to the state’s economy. When you factor in the value fine wines and grape juice, peaches and cherries, landscape and forest trees and shrubs, it looks lots worse. So of course we’ll remind you about spotted lanternfly next spring.

If you think you found egg masses, take a photo, scrape some off, place your sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container and report to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Plant Industry at 518-457-2087 or via email at plants@agriculture.ny.gov. Think you’ve seen the bug itself? Do the same photo-hand sanitizer-report-it thing. Now.

 

March 25, 2014
by Karen English
Comments Off on Computer or Calendar? — Choose NEWA for better IPM

Computer or Calendar? — Choose NEWA for better IPM

Traditionally, pest management practices were applied on a calendar basis, following somewhat of a cookbook approach.  However, with the newer classes of pesticides being produced today that are more target specific, timing of applications using the knowledge of a vineyard pest and the conditions that cause it to become a problem has become even more important.   Weather conditions can change drastically from one growing season to another, as well as, during a single growing season, which can make pest management decisions more difficult.  While you cannot control the weather, NEWA provides the opportunity to access weather data and IPM forecasts from weather stations across New York State, as well as a number of surrounding states.

What is NEWA and how can you use it to help you in developing and implementing an IPM strategy?  NEWA is the Network for Environment and Weather Applications and its face is a website, http://newa.cornell.edu that posts weather and pest model information from stations across New York and a number of surrounding states.  However, NEWA is much more than just a website. It is a repository of information to be used when developing and implementing an IPM strategy in a vineyard, orchard, or vegetable operation.

Access NEWA

On your computer, access NEWA weather and IPM forecasts, from stations across the Northeast, to better plan your IPM strategy.

An overview of how to efficiently navigate the NEWA website and how to use the resources found there are the main subjects of two NEWA Training workshops being conducted in western New York on April 8.  Participants have the choice of location for the two identical workshops held on April 8 at the following locations:

NEWA Training – Morning Workshop
10 AM – Noon, April 8, 2014
Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory
6592 West Main Road
Portland, NY 14769

NEWA Training – Afternoon Workshop
2 PM – 4 PM
Penn State Extension – Erie County
850 E. Gore Road
Erie, PA 16509

These courses are free but preregistration is requested by calling Kate at (716) 792-2800 x201.

Both New York and Pennsylvania pesticide recertification credits will be awarded for completing this training.

Additional workshops are being planned for 2014 through 2016 across New York State.  For additional information on workshops that are scheduled for other areas please contact Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Coordinator, Abby Seaman, Vegetable IPM Coordinator or Tim Weigle, Grape IPM Specialist.

Author: Tim Weigle, Grape IPM Educator

April 30, 2013
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Review Your Balance Sheet (aka Better Late Than … )

Review Your Balance Sheet (aka Better Late Than … )

Never. This post was slated to go live the same day Uncle Sam started surcharging tardy tax returns. Then — human error took over.

 

You don’t have to step back in time, though, for this post to help you — it’s as relevant now as it was on April 15. And it’ll stay relevant year-round. Still, as with so many IPM tactics, the sooner you start the better.

******************** and now for the post: 

 

While Uncle Sam is busy reviewing your 2012 balance sheet, why not take a close look at your IPM 2012 “balance sheet”: your notes or scouting records? Sure, last year’s pest diary can’t predict what will hammer you this year. Still — other than new pests on the prowl, the pool of potential malcontents doesn’t differ much from year to year. You can learn a lot from reviewing which pests harassed you most (or gave you a break).

corn rootworm: unwelcome guest

 

Especially — if your records say what conditions tended to make problems worse. Did pests blow in on storm fronts from points south; were fields too wet too late; did Jack Frost leave a calling card when you least wanted it?

 

Conversely, your records could show which growing conditions hammered pests on your behalf.

 

With all that as your backdrop, what did you do about troubling pests? How well did your tactics work? What did you learn; what could you build on (or do differently) this year? If your records go back several years (a decade would be gravy), you’ve got lots of good material to draw on for evidence-based, least-toxic decisions about what to do when nature throws you a wild card.

 

onion thrips: sneak attack

Whether you’re a farmer, landscaper, groundskeeper, or gardener, we’re right there to suggest what cards to play. Tune into our timely pest forecasts, trap networks, and field reports to get a heads-up on what’s headed your way. And tweak the cultural and scouting practices that — for instance — favor healthy plants that shrug off disease or let you know that a pest’s natural enemies are about to take command.

 

IPM helps you make those evidence-based decisions — decisions that emphasize, for instance, resistant plant varieties, sanitation, the right nutrients at the right time, or pheromone traps that act like “come-hither” baits for pests otherwise intent on eating your crops. Prevention, in a word.

 

And while you’re at it — why not review our research reports to see what we’re learning? Example: maybe your records show you spent $60± per acre on preventive fungicides for field corn — fungicides that, according to belief, also promote higher yields. Or do they? We did the work and the math on a real-world farm and we’re thinking — not so fast. Because in this case, the farmer would take a hit of about $40 per acre on sprays that didn’t really improve yields all that much.

 

Your records are just as valuable for both pests, inside or out, at the schools,

yellowjackets are great pollinators and predators — at a distance

warehouses, concession stands, or rental properties you care for. Maybe last fall you saw way too many yellowjackets at the dumpster — but you can take steps early to prevent more of the same. Similarly, you’ll want to scout early whether it’s ants, stink bugs, cockroaches or mice knocking at your door.

 

The operative word: early. Which is why this review matters so much. Because late may as well be never.

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