New York State IPM Program

May 15, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Stubborn Pests: Organic Solutions

All crops have pests. Managing them on certified organic farms is firmly rooted in IPM practices such as crop rotation, sanitation, and the use of pest-resistant varieties. In fact, it’s written into the regulations. But despite the best IPM prevention practices, pesticides are still needed for certain stubborn pests. With organic vegetable production gaining in importance in New York—a 28% increase in the number of farms from 2011 to 2016—growers have an even greater need for objective information about allowed pest management products.

To provide that info, we teamed up with Cornell AgriTech faculty members Chris Smart, Brian Nault, and Tony Shelton to conduct trials. At the end of nine years, we have many successes that are effective options for cucurbit powdery mildew, squash vine borer, worms on brassicas, potato leafhopper, and others.

Alas, some pests still have us stymied, namely striped cucumber beetle and cucurbit downy mildew, so pesticide testing will continue. Next up, we focus on pests, beneficials, and weed IPM in organic squash production systems. And, to accommodate the increasing number of researchers working in organic systems, we’re helping Cornell AgriTech transition 24 acres of research fields into certified organic production. IPM and organic: natural partners.

Photo of striped cucumber beetle

(Above) Double damage. The sharp-dressed striped cucumber beetle causes direct damage, massing on newly emerged or transplanted seedlings and sometimes chewing them to the ground, while also transmitting a sometimes-fatal bacterial wilt.

Don’t Get Ticked NY!

image of illustrated child with tick on skin

(Above) Ticks prefer moist, warm places. Teach children to make tick-checks a personal habit—the last defense against disease transmission. Knowing the spots and bumps on their skin helps them recognize new ones—new ones that happen to have legs.

Ticks are really ticking off New Yorkers worried about Lyme disease, the United States’ number one vector-borne pathogen. It’s transmitted by the blacklegged tick found abundantly throughout our state. This particular pest can also spread diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. Unfortunately, additional tick species abound, and together, the many illnesses they can cause are serious threats to human health. That’s why NYSIPM is committed to reducing the impact of these little blood-suckers.

Recognizing our ability to effectively convey key risk-reducing strategies, the NYS Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases joined the fight by funding our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign. We provide easy-to-understand information at the website, and distribute ID cards, infographics and tick removal kits to educators and the public statewide through community events, extension offices and BOCES. Last year we handed out almost 50,000 tick ID cards, a few thousand tick removal kits, and directly reached over 5,000 people.

“Tick-educated” New Yorkers now recognize tick habitats, and—rather than avoid the outdoors—now know how to look and feel for ticks during their daily tick check. While threats from ticks continue to increase, so does New Yorkers’ awareness of how to stave them off. So please … don’t get ticked, New York.

photo shows items inside a tick kit: magnifier, pointy tweezers, tick identification card, alchol swabs, small mirror for checking hard to see places, small zip loc bag to place tick in if found. All parts of a tick kit that is a small zippered pouch to keep handy when going outside.

(Above) Get the pointy. Our Don’t Get Ticked New York Tick Kits are popular handouts at events across the state. You can make your own by gathering pointy tweezers, a magnifier, a mirror, alcohol wipes, and a vial or plastic bag to store the offender. But kits won’t help you if you don’t have them nearby. Our tick cards are the perfect resource to have on hand, and you can print out the same graphics from our website at www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

May 5, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 Tick Management!

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 Tick Management!

Getting Schooled in Tick Management

photo shows a man at a tick workshop with a completed tick drag

(Above) Success! With his pants tucked into his socks, and having just assembled his own tick drag mat, workshop attendee Fred Koelbel has a right to feel accomplished. Thanks to the Long Island host district, Three Village—and our training—he’s now ready to reduce the incidence of tick bite risk in his own district.

Ticks are a problem everywhere, but schools are a special concern. We want kids to spend time outside playing sports and enjoying nature. But we want them to be safe too. Did you know that children aged five to nine years old have the highest incidence of Lyme disease? To help protect children at school, we developed a Tick Awareness and Management for Schools workshop that teaches school facilities staff how to assess and mitigate tick risks. Workshop lessons include tick biology and ecology, how to build a drag mat for detecting ticks, and time outside practicing tick survey methods. Managers learn how to reduce kids’ exposure to ticks, and involve teachers and students in the process. First piloted in Suffolk County, the workshop—now offered statewide—continues to improve with participant input.

Think ticks might be a problem on your school grounds? NYSIPM staff offer consultation ns and risk assessments to help schools determine if ticks are present and abundant. So far, 20 schools have been evaluated, and grounds managers discovered how they could reduce risk or limit areas accessible to kids and staff. School nurses and health educators also benefitted from training, thanks to the NYS Center for School Health Seminars that hosted Don’t Get Ticked NY! information booths.

Learning how to keep kids safe and avoid ticks is one lesson school professionals won’t want to miss.

photo shows the monitoring ticks poster

POSTER: How to Monitor for Ticks in Your School Yard.

Above: Show and tell. This poster and twelve more like it provide easy-to-understand guidance in the fight against tick-borne disease. Download, print and share. They’re just part of the extensive science-based, well-informed resources on our Don’t Get Ticked New York website, www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

Curious about habitat, repellants, monitoring for ticks, or minimizing risk? You should be. And don’t forget that daily tick check!

 

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?”

 

 

 

April 7, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Help! I found a tick on me! – Spring Edition

Help! I found a tick on me! – Spring Edition

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

Part of what we want is to be outside! And, with COVID-19, more people than ever are heading to the great outdoors. Which, unfortunately, is where the ticks are. And ticks want a blood meal. In the early spring we still have some adult blacklegged tick adults hanging around. But the time has also come again for blacklegged tick nymphs to look for a meal. As well as American dog ticks. And lone star ticks. And the recently discovered Asian longhorned tick.

When taking pictures of ticks for identification purposes, try to have the tick fill as much as the frame as possible and take multiple pictures to increase the chances of one being in focus.

And people want answers to questions such as this one, “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?”

We’ll start by stressing there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a tick bite. This has been covered in multiple places including our Don’t Get Ticked NY website and various blogs including keeping dogs tick free, using repellents effectively, and the proper use of permethrin treated clothing. If you do find one attached, we covered tick removal in the blog post It’s tick season. Put away the matches and YouTube video How to remove a tick.

Identifying ticks

With four major tick species in New York, it’s important to identify which one bit you. Each species, life stage, and, for adults, whether it is a male versus female have different color patterns. The length of the mouthparts vary between ticks. They have festively named festoons which can also help with ID. As ticks are freakishly small, and we are looking at even smaller parts of their body, it is handy to have a magnifying lens, a good smartphone camera and a steady hand, or, better yet, a microscope. Don’t have one? There are options for having someone identify the tick for you. They include:

If you want to give identification a go, the TickEncounter Resource Center has an excellent guide highlighting the scutum, festoons, and life history. Life history? Yes! Life history should only be used as a clue, however. Ticks don’t read the books and every life stage of the blacklegged tick has been found throughout the year.

Tick-borne pathogens

Identification matters because different tick species can transmit different tick-borne pathogens. Which is information you want to give your health care provider to help them make an informed decision..

First, let’s be clear that we provide mostly information about ticks. Any information about tick-borne pathogens that cause disease is restricted to what pathogens are carried by what tick species and how they are transmitted. It is beyond the scope of our roles as IPM Educators to discuss diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. (For this information, we refer you to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tickborne Diseases of the United States page.)

The chart show that blacklegged ticks can transmit the pathogens that cause Lyme, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Powassan Virus, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Erlichiosis. Lone star ticks can transmit the pathogens that cause Erlichiosis, STARI, possibly alpha-gal allergy, Canine Erlichiosis, Tularemia, and possible Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and American dog ticks can transmit the pathogens that cause Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and cause tick paralysis.

Different tick species host different pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one pathogen at a time.

The poster to the right shows what disease pathogens can be transmitted by the three ticks of greatest human concern in NY, the blacklegged tick, dog tick, and lone star tick. To date, no Asian longhorned ticks in the U.S. have tested positive for any tick-borne pathogens.

What’s the risk?

A question you will likely be asked when reporting a tick is, “How long was the tick attached?”. In my honest opinion, this is a rather silly question. Ticks are very, very good at not being noticed. They want to stick around for up to a week feeding. To help deter detection, they release antihistamines and painkillers in their saliva. And, perhaps more importantly, none of us want to admit to ourselves that a tick was feeding on our blood for days. It’s a hard psychological pill to swallow. There is also some question in the medical literature about the time required for transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Especially if the tick was removed improperly. And we know Powassan virus can be transmitted in a matter of minutes. But the question will still likely be asked.

The answer? Take another look at that tick and refer to TickEncounter who has helpfully created charts showing the growth of ticks as they feed.

Chart showing increasing size of ticks as they feed linking to TickEncounter Resource Center website.

Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center

I have found this chart particularly useful when people swear the tick was on them for only a few hours. Having an estimate of the attached time is helpful information for your physician.

A microscope is definitely handy to help see the distinguishing features on removed ticks.

And now back to the original request: “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?” In this case, we were able to put the tick under a microscope to help with identification. Before reading on, what would you say it is?

 

This looks like a blacklegged tick nymph which was attached for 1 to 2 days, so any pathogens carried by the tick might have been transmitted. I recommended printing the Tick-Borne Diseases and Non-Pathogenic Impacts sheet, circling the identified species and life stage, writing down the estimated time of attachment, and calling their health care professional.

One last question often asked – “Should I get the tick tested?”

We follow the CDC recommendation of not having the tick tested for diagnostic purposes. The reasons include:

  • Positive results showing that the tick contains a disease-causing organism do not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
  • Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
  • If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. If you do become ill, you should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.

    Don't Get Ticked NY campaign logo

    Promoting IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease.

And finally…

This really isn’t the best time to need to head to the doctors. If you don’t get bitten by a tick, you don’t need to go through this process. Our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign provides you with the information you need to protect yourself from the risk of tick-borne diseases. Check it out before your next trip outdoors.

Let’s stay safe out there as we enjoy the beautiful spring.

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.

 

April 6, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Timely School IPM Tip #3: Sanitation

Timely School IPM Tip #3: Sanitation

This is the third and final post dedicated to tactics of school IPM most appropriate to the current situation of shuttered schools. (If your building is open to provide meals for at-home students, we applaud your efforts!)

Post #1 Scouting, Post #2 Exclusion. Sanitation is a third step in structural pest management, as it reduces pest habitat (food, water, shelter).

Sure to gain your attention, this photo (below) proves there’s been a lack of sanitation (and scouting, and exclusion!) But this scenario might well be the case in buildings left unattended during the Covid-19 closures. This may seem extreme, but sanitation isn’t just removing dead rodents, it’s keeping storage areas, kitchens and classrooms free of crumbs, condensed water, and recyclables.

photo shows a sticky trap with three mise on it. one is still alive, the other two dead. one is just what's left after other pests have fed on it.

Below is a (partial) look at our recommended Best Management Practices chart. We left off the Daily practices in favor of what can be done best during shutdown. Sanitation is more than just cleaning greasy stove tops.  It’s getting to all those places we’d rather ignore, and reducing clutter and keeping food products in pest-proof containers.

a partial chart of things to do monthly, quarterly or annually to reduce pest problems in buildings.

For example, the non-chemical practices to reduce cockroaches:

The key factor is sanitation and reduction in habitat. Take care not to bring them in on packaging material (inspect incoming food). Clean up all spilled foods; don’t leave dirty dishes overnight; store all food in pest-resistant packaging; modify areas where pipes and utilities enter walls (caulk and screen all entrances); reduce moisture by improving plumbing and insulating pipes that routinely sweat. Empty garbage every day. Keep floor drains capped or full of water. Increase ventilation in moist areas. Baits are the most efficient and widely used form of control, but prevention is the least toxic method of control.

photo shows a corner in a storage or boiler room where rodent droppings have accumulated.

(Above) Mouse droppings are not just unsightly, they can cause allergic reactions and health issues, and can carry disease. Cockroaches exacerbate conditions like asthma. SANITATION also assists monitoring. If this area was cleaned last week, you can be sure the droppings are new.

photo shows a plugged floor drain in a commercial kitchen

(Above) Drain Fly Harborage: Clogged floor drains with decaying organic material provides breeding habitat for drain flies.

Photo shows metal storage shelves with proper spacing and pest-resistant storage of food items. Spacing the metal shelves in a way that allows cleaning and reduces pest habitat

(above) This commercial storage area shows good spacing and pest-resistant storage. Keeping cardboard to a minimum, and providing space between items, and space below and behind the shelving makes for easier cleaning. (photo Dr. Matt Frye)

Here are some resources:

UC IPM: How to Get Rid of Pantry Pests

(A longer video on Cockroach control in the home) Minnesota Dept. of AG and EPA: Cockroach Prevention and Control  and (En Espanol)

Green Cleaning Products – EPA – Protecting Students and Staff with Green Cleaning Products

And in this time of specific cleaning needs, EPA Recommended Cleaning products against Virus

 

April 2, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Timely School IPM #2: Excluding Pests

Timely School IPM #2: Excluding Pests

Last week we promoted SCOUTING for pests.

Today, we want to emphasize ways to EXCLUDE pests. Exclusion is a fundamental way to reduce pests in buildings. Unfortunately, it’s not always a quick and easy job.

Some gaps are easy to see. Improperly fitting door sweeps or gaps along utility lines, for instance.  Others, like gaps along roof lines are harder to locate, and harder to access.

We’ve included some videos and some links to METHODS and exclusion product resources. NOW is a great time to address pest reduction or prevention needs in quiet school buildings. Trade names used herein are for convenience only; no endorsement of products is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products implied.

While you’re at it, visit our School IPM Best Management Practices Website where we’ve gathered plenty of resources for successful school IPM.

Photo shows the gaps entry doors of a school building

(Above) “You might be a pest management champion” if you automatically look for gaps like this in structural doors.

Photo shows a large2-3" gap around a pipe going into a brick wall foundation

(Above) This gap is obvious, but so often ignored. A proper job of completely sealing this with cement will keep rodents out. Even so, areas like this should be scouted on a regular basis, as pests will find a way to re-use old pathways.

photo shows a gap in a cement wall around a utility pipe.

Before adding ‘exclusion’ in the form of stainless steel wire mesh fiber

photo shows gap around pipe filled with metal mesh fiber

After. Stainless steel mesh resists rusting.

VIDEO: NYSIPM Rodent Management – How to keep them out

VIDEO: NYSIPM: Exclusion – an old concept with new life

VIDEO: TEXAS SCHOOL IPM: Sealants versus Caulking

VIDEO: TEXAS SCHOOL IPM: Patching a rat hold with mesh

ONLINE ARTICLE: PCT’s Annual Pest Exclusion Issue.

ONLINE ARTICLE with VIDEO: Stop Pests in Housing: Developing a Pest Exclusion for Cockroaches and Rodents

March 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Permethrin Treated Clothing? Do it the right way.

Permethrin Treated Clothing? Do it the right way.

“Frugality, I’ve learned, has its own cost, one that sometimes lasts forever.” – Nicholas Sparks

A photo of Sawyer Permthrin Clothing and Gear label is used an example of a clothing spray product endorsed by the EPA. It links to another blog post on permethrin use.

The label is the law and will tell you everything you need to know about using a pesticide correctly and legally. (Image does not imply endorsement.)

Some pesticides containing permethrin can be applied to clothing, footwear and gear to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. Recent research confirmed that permethrin interferes with blacklegged, American dog, lone star and Asian longhorned ticks’ ability to move and, thus, to bite. EPA-registered products specifically designed for clothing contain 0.5% permethrin. A 22.5 oz. spray bottle claims to treat five outfits and costs $14. However, some people look to save money by buying a permethrin product meant for turfgrass or ornamental applications and diluting it to 0.5%. But what is the actual cost?

3 Reasons Why Making Your Own Permethrin Spray is a Bad Idea:

1) It probably won’t work. A pesticide product contains inert ingredients that help the active ingredient (in this case, permethrin) perform properly for the uses listed on the product label. Products used in clothing and gear sprays are uniquely suited for binding the permethrin to fabric and product labels tell you how long they will be effective (e.g., six weeks or six washes, whichever comes first). If you make a DIY spray with a permethrin product designed for other uses, it won’t bind as well to your clothes; thus, there is no way to know if it will work or for how long, putting you at risk for a tick bite.

2) You could be putting yourself, others, pets, non-target animals, and the environment at unacceptable risk. Permethrin can be harmful if absorbed through the skin and if a product is not designed to bind the permethrin to your clothing, the insecticide will instead move from the clothing onto your skin. For your protection, the EPA will register the use of a pesticide only if rigorous safety testing shows it will “pose no unreasonable risks to people or the environment when used according to label directions.” Only those uses listed on a pesticide label have met this standard, and treating clothing and gear is NOT a use listed on the label of other permethrin products.

3) It is against the law. Because of Reason #2, the first sentence in the Directions for Use section of all permethrin products is “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” Which, by the way, also means it is against your state’s laws.

Commercially available permethrin clothing and gear sprays cost more because it takes time and money to develop the right mix of ingredients and conduct the required safety testing to ensure that the product will control ticks without putting people and the environment at risk. DIY treatments that pose greater risks while providing poorer control of ticks are hardly a bargain; be sure to use the real thing and follow all label directions.Campaign Objectives Reduce human exposure to tick-borne illnesses. Promote IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease. Make tick avoidance easy to understand and accomplish

For more information about permethrin, visit the National Pesticide Information Center and EPA. And for more information on ticks, tick-borne diseases, why there are so many of them, and how to protect yourself, check out www.dontgettickedny.org.

 

Authors:

A photo of Dan Wixted links to the Cornell University Pesticide Safety Education Program page..

Dan Wixted, Pesticide Management Education Program

  • Dan Wixted, Cornell University Pesticide Management Education Program
  • Joellen Lampman, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program

March 20, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Protect yourself from spring ticks

Protect yourself from spring ticks

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

The spring of 2020 might have everyone’s yards incredibly tidy, as gardening and yard work are on the short list for things we can all do while social distancing. But COVID-19 isn’t the only disease we need to watch for, and new research shows that protecting yourself from tick-borne pathogens is more important than ever.

They’re active now

table showing blacklegged tick eggs laid in the spring, nymphs active in spring, larvae active in summer, adults active in fall

This table shows the textbook description of when blacklegged tick lifestages are active.

Blacklegged ticks are most active in the spring and fall, although you can often find them active year round if conditions are right (above 37o in the winter, cool and damp in the summer). Many still consider ticks to be a summer pest, but the poppy-seed sized nymph starts questing in the spring, and there have already been reports of nymphal activity in New York. These ticks are considered to be the most dangerous life stage due to their small size, so be sure to put all your tick prevention strategies into place now.

table showing blacklegged tick eggs laid in the spring, nymphs and adults active in spring, larvae and nymphs active in summer, larvae and adults active in fall, adults active in winter

In reality, different blacklegged lifestages can be active almost anytime of year depending on weather conditions.

Keep it clean

A study looking at the effectiveness of recommended yard management measures against ticks showed the presence of trash could predict an increase in ticks over a clean yard, likely due to an increase in the number of small rodents that find both shelter and food amongst the trash. This was more pronounced in yards without forested areas. Sanitation is an important IPM step, so pick up and pack out that trash!

Check your leaves

photo of blacklegged tick adult on dried leaf

Both adult and nymphal blacklegged ticks are active in the spring.

How you managed your leaves in the fall can impact your tick risk this spring. New research shows that piling leaves along woodland edges increased the number of nymphs found by three times or more. Whether they were raked to the edge,  blown there with a leaf blower, or the wind had its way with them, thicker leaf litter creates suitable microhabitats for overwintering ticks.

Identify areas in your yard where leaves have accumulated. Are they close to areas you spend a lot of time, like the kids’ swing set or your garden? It’s best to remove them. Are they in the far corner where no one ever goes? You can probably leave them, but be aware that the tick risk will likely be higher. Check for yourself. It’s pretty easy to monitor for ticks.

Protect Yourself

So while you are out raking, hauling, bagging, and tidying, be sure to wear long pants tucked into socks and a long-sleeve shirt tucked into your pants – all treated with permethrin, apply repellents to exposed skin, and conduct a tick check as soon as you come indoors.

For more information on protecting yourself from tick bites, visit www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

December 6, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Shopping For Christmas Trees?

Shopping For Christmas Trees?

by Ryan Parker and Brian Eshenaur

When choosing the perfect tree, people usually consider variety, size, and shape. But with the phenomenon of a new invasive planthopper, Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) (SLF), the tree’s origin may be something to think about.

We always suggest fresh-cut trees from New York’s many great tree farms!Christmas tree farm in winter

 

First of all, we’ll say it’s unlikely that SLF will be on your cut tree. Conifers are not a food source for this pest, but egg-laying females are indiscriminate as to where eggs are placed. That’s why we offer a list for travelers making their way through quarantined areas.

Adult spotted lanternfly with covered egg masses on rusty shovel

Adult spotted lanternfly with covered egg masses on rusty shovel Photo: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Print this list and keep it in your vehicles!

SLF egg mass on tree trunk

Egg mass Photo: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

At this time of year, winter has killed off adults, but their hardy egg masses remain. Although ornamental in appearance, Spotted Lanternfly is one “ornament” you don’t want hatching from their mud-like egg masses and decorating your property this coming spring. SLF causes economic damage to agriculture, forestry and tourism, and is a major nuisance to homeowners. Learn more by visiting our SLF website!

We bring this up because the SLF quarantined areas of Pennsylvania (shown in blue on the map below) happen to be home to many Christmas tree farms (Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill).

distribution map as of November 2019

Distribution map as of November 2019

If you’re buying a pre-cut Christmas tree, ask the seller where their trees came from. If it’s from PA, learn about this pest and inspect the trunk.  But don’t stop there. Get into the habit of citizen science! “Scouting” (actively knowing how, why, and where to look) for pests gives you a critical role in stopping the spread.

eggs and egg mass on bark

Eggs, and covered eggs (egg mass) on bark. Photo: Emily Swackhamer, Penn State Extension

What else can you do?

There are plenty of cut-your-own farms in New York with family-friendly atmosphere where you can get a fresh tree. If you don’t have time for a cut-your-own experience, ask your tree sellers if they’re aware of SLF risk on out-of-state trees. Awareness is key!

photo of Brian Eshenaur

Brian Eshenaur

Here’s some Christmas Tree tips from our own Christmas Tree expert, IPM’s Brian C. Eschenaur:

2019 was an excellent growing season for Christmas Trees.  We had more moderate summer temperatures and good rainfall this year.  Those suitable growing conditions allowed trees to put on healthy new growth, and the fine weather gave Christmas tree growers good conditions to prune trees so they will be in great shape for harvest. This year’s early-November cold snap was also beneficial in “setting” the needles which is good for longer needle retention in some tree species.

Once in a while we hear from people concerned about the “single use” aspect of real Christmas trees.  But considering the alternative of a plastic tree produced, then shipped from overseas, (and eventually ending up in a landfill), real trees have their benefits.  They are a renewable resource and by buying locally you are supporting growers that will continue to maintain their fields which are part of the greenspace we all value.

Choose a variety and shape that fits your needs. Many growers are producing a wide variety of firs, spruces and even old-fashioned pines. Each variety tree offers its own shape, color, fragrance, and even branch stiffness which is important to consider for holding ornaments.

Trees always look smaller in the field so don’t forget the tape measure.  Measure the floor to ceiling height before you go tree shopping and then while choosing so you end up with a tree that fits nicely into your home.

Don’t be afraid to bend the branches and shoots. Green needles should not come off in your hands. Also, the shoots should be flexible. Avoid a tree if the needles are shed or if the shoots break instead of flexing.

If possible, make a fresh cut on the bottom so the tree’s vascular tissue (pipe work) is not plugged and the tree can easily take up water. Then, if you’re not bringing it into the house right away, get the tree in a bucket of water outside.

Once you move your tree inside the house, don’t locate it next to a radiator, furnace vent or other heat source. And always remember to keep water in the tree stand topped off, so it never goes below the bottom of the trunk.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your “Holly Jolly Christmas” and hopefully “it’s the best time of the year.”

Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker, NYSIPM Program

Cheers from all of the NYSIPM staff.

 

 

October 23, 2019
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Help! I found a tick on me!

Help! I found a tick on me!

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
Whether conducting a thorough tick check or just examining the lump behind your knee, this is something no one want to find.

Whether conducting a thorough tick check or just examining the lump behind your knee, this is something no one wants to find.

The time has also come again for blacklegged tick adults to look for their last blood meal to fuel the mating process. (To be specific, it’s time for the adult females to secure that last blood meal. It’s time for the adult males to secure a female.) And it’s time for requests such as this one, “I was wondering if you could ID this tick that I pulled off of myself and give me any tips on what diseases this variety tends to carry and transmit.”

First, let’s be clear that the information we provide about tick-borne diseases is restricted to what pathogens are carried by what tick species and how they are transmitted. It is beyond the scope of our roles as IPM Educators to discuss diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. (For this information, we refer you to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tickborne Diseases of the United States page.) We will, however, provide you with information you can give your health care professional to help make an informed decision.

Different tick species host different pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one pathogen at a time.

Different tick species host different pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one pathogen at a time.

Tick-borne diseases

The easiest part of the request was what disease pathogens are carried by what ticks. The poster to the right shows what disease pathogens can be transmitted by the three ticks of greatest human concern in NY, the blacklegged tick, dog tick, and lone star tick. You can download and print it out and then go to the next step – identification.

Identifying ticks

Each species, life stage, and, for adults, whether it is a male versus female have different color patterns. The length of the mouthparts vary between ticks. They have festively named festoons which can also help with ID. As ticks are freakishly small, and we are looking at even smaller parts of their body, it is handy to have a magnifying lens, a good smartphone camera and a steady hand, or, better yet, a microscope. Don’t have one? There are options for having someone identify the tick for you. They include:

If you want to give identification a go, the TickEncounter Resource Center has an excellent guide highlighting the scutum, festoons, and life history. Life history? Yes! As temperatures drop, so does the activity of lone star, dog, and the newly discovered Asian longhorned tick, increasing the odds that the attached tick will be a blacklegged tick. And the active blacklegged ticks are most likely to be adults. Life history should only be used as a clue, however. Ticks don’t read the books and every life stage of the blacklegged tick has been found throughout the year.

What’s the risk?

A question you will likely be asked when reporting a tick is, “How long was the tick attached?”. In my honest opinion, this is a rather silly question. Ticks are very, very good at not being noticed. They want to stick around for up to a week feeding. To help deter detection, they release antihistamines and painkillers in their saliva. And, perhaps more importantly, none of us want to admit to ourselves that a tick was feeding on our blood for days. It’s a hard psychological pill to swallow. There is also some question in the medical literature about the time required for transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Especially if the tick was removed improperly. (We covered safe removal of attached ticks in the blog post It’s tick season. Put away the matches and YouTube video How to remove a tick.) And we know Powassan virus can be transmitted in a matter of minutes. But the question will still likely be asked.

The answer? Take another look at that tick and refer to TickEncounter who has helpfully created charts showing the growth of ticks as they feed.

Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center

Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center

I have found this chart particularly useful when people swear the tick was on them for only a few hours. Having an estimate of the attached time is helpful information for your physician. Take your printed Tick-Borne Diseases and Non-Pathogenic Impacts sheet, circle the identified species, write down the estimated time of attachment, and consult with your health care professional.

Pictures such as this can be helpful, but for an accurate identification, nothing beats the actual tick.

Pictures such as this can be helpful, but for an accurate identification, nothing beats the actual tick.

And now back to the original request: “I was wondering if you could ID this tick that I pulled off of myself and give me any tips on what diseases this variety tends to carry and transmit.”. The submitted picture is included to the right. (You can click on it to make it bigger.) Before reading on, what is your identification?

This looks like an adult blacklegged tick which was attached for 2 to 3 days, which is within the time frame that pathogens carried by the tick could have been transmitted. I recommended bringing in the tick for a more certain identification.

One last question often asked – “Should I get the tick tested?”

We follow the CDC recommendation of not having the tick tested for diagnostic purposes. The reasons include:

  • Positive results showing that the tick contains a disease-causing organism do not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
  • Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
  • If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. If you do become ill, you should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.

Having said that, the Thangamani Lab in the SUNY Upstate Medical University is investigating the geographic expansion of ticks and tick-borne diseases in New York. They are conducting free tick testing for research purposes. Please consider contributing to this citizen science project and visit the website for directions on how to submit your tick.

Promoting IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease.

Promoting IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease.

And finally…

If you don’t get bitten by a tick, you don’t need to go through this process. Our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign provides you with the information you need to protect yourself from the risk of tick-borne diseases. Check out How Do I Protect Myself From Ticks? before your next trip outdoors.

Let’s stay safe out there as we enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

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