New York State IPM Program

October 18, 2017
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Stink Bugs and Window Weeps

Stink Bugs and Window Weeps

This stink bug would appreciate a free pass into your home (or for that matter, your office). Learn how to keep it out.

After a few splendid years of low stink bug populations, we find ourselves in the midst of an epic invasion. In the past few weeks, I have captured dozens of brown marmorated stink bugs (aka BMSB), which fly from surrounding trees and perform a smack-landing onto my screen windows.

I do my best to capture the BMSB I see with a cup of soapy water. Simply place the cup under the bug and put your other hand over the bug. As a defensive mechanism, stink bugs will drop into the cup, requiring no physical contact on your part. Just toss them out the door or off your balcony. Or you could wrap it in a tissue and squish it; the tissue will keep stinky oils off your hands and out of the air. (As your final coup, you could drop the tissue in your compost bucket.) Both methods save a five-gallon flush down the toilet — really, you don’t ever have to flush stink bugs.

For the stink bugs I don’t catch, I try to keep them out of my house by making sure that my windows screens aren’t torn, there are no gaps around my windows and doors (they fit snugly into the frame), vents are screened or louvered, and window air conditioning units are removed before autumn — all key preventive tactics and core to good IPM. But I recently observed a new entry point on windows that I hadn’t considered before: the window weep hole.

Holes in screens are an invitation to stink bugs and other pests.

This window weep is missing its cover.

Weep holes are design features that allow water to escape from a structure, whether it’s a window, sliding door or a brick building. Weep holes must remain open for water to drain even as they exclude pests. For example, weep holes in brick can be covered with specifically designed screen materials or filled with pest exclusion products such as Xcluder Fill Fabric*. Newer windows have weep hole covers that function like one-way-doors: they open to drain water but are otherwise closed. Sometimes — as in the case of my windows — these break off, leaving an excellent entry point for pests such as BMSB. Once bugs enter the weep hole, they can climb up through gaps into the window track and into the space between the screen and the windowpane. When you open the window, well — you just gave them a free pass into your home.

Weep hole covers are available for purchase at a number of outlets, but you must buy the right cover to fit the dimensions of your window. Because of the variability in window weep hole sizes, pest professionals and maintenance personal who manage offices and apartment buildings might choose to use Xcluder Fill Fabric that can be cut to the proper size, providing both pest exclusion and water drainage.

*NOTE: Trade names used herein or products shown are for convenience only. No endorsement of products in intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products implied.


November 7, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on How to Winterize Your Compost Pile

How to Winterize Your Compost Pile

Let’s make compost. It’s an earthy topic. Does it matter? Oh, yes. Bagging up organic matter and setting it out for trash is a pity — the moment it’s dumped in the landfill, it turns quickly to methane, a greenhouse gas 20-plus times more potent than CO2. And trash trucks bring tons of it to landfills every day. In 2013 alone, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash; we recycled or composted about 87 million tons.

Mites are mighty helpful in compost piles. Credit

Mites are mighty helpful in compost piles. Credit

Which is all well and good, but we can do better. Compost encourages healthy and balanced populations of soil organisms that can suppress plant pathogens by (good IPM!)

  • parasitizing them or
  • out-competing them for food and water.

Bacteria, molds, mites, and more — these good guys are on your side. But what happens to that compost heap when the ground is frozen or the snow is deep?

Like biannual and perennial landscape plants, soil organisms normally go dormant in winter. Yes, you could keep adding your kitchen scraps and recyclables to the pile. But they’ll freeze in place unless you can keep the good guys active through most of the winter. And it’s not that hard.

The lasagna method is hot — even when it's not. Credit organicgardensnetwork.

The lasagna method is hot — even when it’s not outside. Credit organicgardensnetwork

So while it’s still fall, harvest finished compost to make room for winter compost. Then insulate the pile with bags of leaves or bales of straw. Meanwhile, if you want to cut back on trips outside, make a pre-compost bucket.

Think of it as a mini-compost bin for food scraps, old newspaper, and the like. You’ll want to mix browns and greens just like you would outside using the “lasagna method” with its alternating brown and green layers for your outdoor compost. (Think of your pre-compost bucket as the “ravioli method.”)

Best you chop those food scraps first, though. Because the good guys will slow down a tad when they get chilly, you want to make it as easy on them as you can. Smaller particle sizes give them more surface area to do their work and keep them cozier while they do it. Then come spring they’ll really rev up.




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July 13, 2016
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Invasive Species Are on the Move — Help Stop Them

Invasive Species Are on the Move — Help Stop Them

It’s the 3rd Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) in New York. Groups statewide have sponsored activities July 10 – 16. We invite you to join in and learn how to protect your favorite natural areas.

What’s at stake? Some of the greatest harm both to our environment and agriculture is caused by invasive plants and animals — organisms that have been introduced to new areas, whether accidentally or intentionally, then spread uncontrollably.

Last year, PRISM organized more than 100 invasive species activities were held statewide. This year, the regional New York PRISMs (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) are poised and ready with a lineup of even more great activities and events to mark the occasion. Invasive Species Awareness Week offers many opportunities to learn more about invasives — including how prevent and manage their spread.

Japanese barberry is one example of a common landscape plant that has escaped cultivation and invaded natural areas.

Japanese barberry is one example of a common landscape plant that has escaped cultivation and invaded natural areas.

What makes a species invasive? Most reproduce in high numbers, lack predators and are highly adapted to their new environment. They can be costly, affect your health or vastly change ecosystems. Examples? Emerald ash borer, giant hogweed, and Japanese stiltgrass — to name but a few.

Invasive species removal events are scheduled throughout the state this week. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Invasive species removal events are scheduled throughout the state this week. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Invasive species are often spread unknowingly. A gardeners’ plant swap, dumping a bait bucket, moving firewood to a campsite miles away — it can be as simple as that.

You can help manage and control invasive species; in fact, people like you are often the first line of defense in reporting new infestations. How? By:

  • keeping a sharp eye out for unwanted hitchhikers in the plant and animal kingdoms
  • learning about which invasive species are of local concern by visiting your local PRISM website
  • reporting sightings to

Stop the invasion. Protect New York from invasive species: that’s our state’s slogan. The line-up of events across New York includes an array of activities such as removing invasive species, screenings of “The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid” documentary, and invasive species workshops. The full schedule of events is online at Events are free, but preregistration for some events may be requested.

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