New York State IPM Program

April 24, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on EARTH DAY 2020 – A Special Note from Director Jennifer Grant

EARTH DAY 2020 – A Special Note from Director Jennifer Grant

photo of NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

Happy Earth Day, Earth Week and Earth Year to you all! The 50th anniversary… incredible!  IPM and Earth Day came from the same roots, the environmental movement that was burgeoning over a half century ago. The concept of IPM has come of age, and has permeated people’s approach to growing our food, managing schools, and protecting themselves from pests. Fifty years. Do you look back and get energized by what’s been accomplished, or are you daunted by all the work that lies ahead?

To me, one of the bright lights is that millennials are environmentally conscious, and demand environmental consideration from those providing them with food, employment, cars and other products. Today most people know and care about Climate Change, and want to curb it and its dreadful effects. People around the world are aware of threats to the environment, and are banding together to protect it.

photo of Seneca Lake sunset

 “…sitting in Geneva it’s hard to complain about being home when you look out over Seneca Lake”

Now that most of us are home, it’s a perfect time to look at our normal lives and see what we miss, and what are we’re doing better. We’re driving our cars and flying in planes a lot less. We’re getting out to walk and ride our bikes because there’s nothing else to do. We’re cooking and baking a lot of foods from scratch. Some have “gone back to the land” and are planting vegetable gardens for the first time in years, or ever. Can we incorporate some of these good habits into our new normal as the corona crisis subsides? Why not strive for those goals? The current situation is teaching many about the power of working together. What if your whole neighborhood designates a community garden and produce share? What if your office designates a day a week for working from home, and carpools on the other days? What if your kids grow up to set policies that don’t allow pollution?

Looking within our own NYS IPM program, I am always impressed with the creative ways our staff is working with others to reduce the need for pesticides in agriculture and in our communities. This is not just their profession, for most it’s their passion. As we’ve explored what Earth Day means to each of us, I’ve loved learning that our own Lynn Braband was out marching for the first Earth Day, and that Amanda is teaching her very young sons about Earth Day and has them planting trees.

Please go hug a tree—physically or virtually—and make a plan to save the world, because every day is Earth Day!

photo of Jennifer Grant on a four wheeled bike with a cooler chest ont the back

“NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant says she is considering ditching her car and selling cold beers off the back of her bike in retirement”

(Thank you Jennifer, for the great post. A special and bittersweet post as we near the end of Jen’s time as our Director!)

 

July 2, 2015
by Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Comments Off on The Wannabe Bees

The Wannabe Bees

Who wants to be a bee? I don’t claim to know the deepest desires of insects that visit our gardens and farms, except that they want to survive, eat and reproduce. So why do so many mimic other insects that are dangerous, such as yellowjackets? The black and yellow stripes of a typical yellowjacket are easily recognizable to birds, humans and other mammals and signal “Danger! I sting!”. That’s a pretty powerful message that ensures yellowjackets and other wasps and bees are avoided by hungry predators looking to raid the colony for tasty larvae or honey. It’s called aposematic coloration and serves as a warning to other animals not to mess around. From skunks to poison arrow frogs to snakes, aposematic coloration protects both predator and prey from unfortunate interactions.

But what about the harmless insects that are similarly colored? In landscapes and gardens throughout the U.S. you can look closely and find small black and yellow-striped insects

Hover fly on daisy fleabane.

Hover fly on daisy fleabane.

hovering above flowers. Harmless hover flies (a type of fly in the Syrphid family) display a mimicry of yellowjacket coloration, as you can see in the picture. Adults hover flies feed on nectar and pollen, thereby serving as minor pollinators of many flowering plants. The larvae, or maggots, of some hover flies are saprotrophs (feeding on decaying

matter) and some are predatory on smaller insects, like aphids and thrips. Aphids, alone, cause tens of millions of dollars in crop damage each year. Hover flies are considered among the many important natural enemies of aphids and other plant-feeding pests. A gardener’s friend, indeed!

Also in the Order Diptera (which includes all flies and mosquitoes) are the amazing robber flies. The one pictured is called a bee-mimic robber fly. It closely resembles a bumble bee

Bumble bee robber fly

Bumble bee robber fly

and enjoys the protection that such mimicry provides. How could you tell it apart from a bumble bee? All flies, including these, have only one pair of wings. Look closely at the image and you can see a round dot at the base of the wing. That is called a haltere, which is a wing reduced into a flight stabilizer. You can also see very enlarged eyes, relative to the head, small V-shaped antennae and a thick straw-like mouth. Yes, robber flies can bite! But they are voracious predators of other insects – whatever they can catch. Although robber flies are indiscriminate about what other insects they eat, if you have a garden with pests and you see robber flies, they are probably doing good deeds for you.

By looking closely at the many insects that visit your yard and garden, you might be surprised at how many beneficial insects you see. Maintaining your green space using fewer pesticides and incorporating IPM strategies to manage plant feeders will help protect these amazing natural enemies.

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