“Frugality, I’ve learned, has its own cost, one that sometimes lasts forever.” – Nicholas Sparks
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.
“Frugality, I’ve learned, has its own cost, one that sometimes lasts forever.” – Nicholas Sparks
Commercially available “tick tubes” are tubes filled with permethrin-infused cotton. Mice take the cotton to line their nests and are treated for ticks every time they return home. It’s estimated that a typical ¼ acre yard needs six tubes twice a year, with a 12 pack costing ~$45 . Although this cost isn’t excessive, there are many videos and articles on making DIY tick tubes to help people save money. But what is the actual cost?
A dozen tubes covers about a 1/4 acre for $45. (Image does not imply endorsement.)
3 Reasons Why Making Your Own Tick Tubes is a Bad Idea:
1) They 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. The formulation used in commercially available tick tubes is uniquely suited for controlling ticks on mice. Other permethrin formulations are designed for other uses which are specifically listed on the label.
2) You could be putting yourself, others, pets, nontarget animals, and the environment at unacceptable risk.
Tick tubes target ticks attached to field mice. When spending time in the nest, mice expose themselves to the tick-killing products.
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 making your own tick tubes is NOT a use listed on the label of any permethrin product. One potential risk: Permethrin is highly toxic to bees. Bumble bees often nest in abandoned mouse burrows, so making your own tick tubes could harm these important wild pollinators.
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 tick tubes 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, pollinators, and the environment at risk. DIY tick tubes that pose greater risks while providing poorer control of ticks are hardly a bargain; be sure to use the real thing.
Bed bugs are a longtime pest all over the world. Lord knows we here in the states have labored under their curse for upward of four centuries now. The respite we got from DDT was short-lived in evolutionary time, since it takes little for a pest of any sort to become resistant to whatever pesticide we throw against it.
It’s 1939. Most of us haven’t been born yet. But bed bugs are here. How they got around? This cartoon tells all.
Hard to see, difficult to deal with, bed bugs are well-nigh impossible to live with. These hitchhikers have one seeming aim—to take a trip from one place to the next without you noticing a thing. And by the time you do, it’s too late to wave good-bye. The only thing bed bugs have going for them? They don’t carry disease—a consolation, yes, though a small one when you’re in the thick of it all.
To help, we offer the ultimate in how-to guides: How to Get Bed Bugs Out of Your Belongings. Here you’ll find the pesticide-free solutions you need for household items—items too easily overlooked by the professionals. And the money to replace your stuff? Our guide saves the day.
Consider the humble hair dryer. Our electronics—TV remote, cell phone, lamps and laptops—the list goes on. And you can bet your bottom dollar: bed bugs can find hidey holes within them all. But just try tossing them in a hot dryer (the solution for many a personal or household item). Here’s a place where the hair dryer, helped by its friend the vacuum cleaner, could save the day.
From our guide: Bed bugs are drawn to heat … Warm electronics, especially, should be inspected. Use the hair dryer to blow hot air into cracks and crevices to flush bed bugs, and use the vacuum cleaner to suck them up. Many electronic devices can withstand heat of up to 160°F. Check the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer to confirm that the unit can withstand heat.
You get the idea. Now get the guide. And while you’re at it—check out a whole slew of other IPM resources for bed bugs, cataloged here.
September 13, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on 35,500 western bean cutworms later, it’s a record year for IPM in corn
Got a sweet tooth for sweetcorn? You’re in good company. So should you hear rumors on the wind about wormy sweetcorn — or field corn or dry beans (the kind you put in your soup kettle) and you’re curious about what’s behind them, here’s the scoop:
The western bean cutworm (just call it “WBC”), a recent invasive, is making waves in the midwestern and eastern corn belts. This pest made landfall in New York’s million-plus acres of field corn in 2010, its numbers spiraling ever upward since. This year, though, has been a record-breaker. WBC has become a pest we can count on for a long time to come.
To cope with WBC, the New York State IPM Program coordinates a “pheromone trap network” for WBC in field corn; in dry beans too. A second IPM trap network focuses on sweetcorn, though it also traps for WBC in beans.
But what is a pheromone and how does the network work? Think of pheromones as scents that insects send wafting on the wind to alert others in their tribe that something important is happening — and the time to act is now. In this case, pheromones are the “come hither” perfumes female moths use to advertise for mates.
Trapped — one more male out looking for a date.
But lures imbued with chemical replicates of pheromones can intercept males on their quest, dooming them to a very different fate. IPM scouts strategically place special trap buckets around corn and bean fields. Each contains a “kill strip” treated with an insecticide. Farmers, Extension educators, and crop consultants check the buckets each week to count their take.
And though it’s their larvae — the worms — that give WBC its name, here we’re counting the adults; in this case, moths.
It’s traps — and scouts — like these that do the job.
This year the two networks combined have caught more than 35,500 moths — far more than in any other year. Those in the know, know — this is not good. WBC is a sneaky critter. It even eats its eggshells as soon as it hatches, removing evidence that it’s out and about. Meanwhile, trap network numbers can vary considerably from county to county; even from farm to farm. Regardless, when armed with counts in their area farmers know when it’s time to ramp up scouting their fields. Because once they’ve reached threshold — the IPM “do-something” point — it’s time to act.
Why wait till a field reaches threshold? Because sprays are expensive — both to the farmers’ bottom line and the environment. Because time is money too; spending it needlessly out on a rig does no favors. Because treating only at need is one very good way to keep all these costs as low as can be.
Because — it’s what IPM is here for.
June 19, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on It’s Pollinator Week. Read All About It.
It’s summer; the goldenrods will be blooming soon, with bumble bees buzzing around them. Photo courtesy David Cappaert.
When we think about bees, we mostly think about honeybees … a European native brought here by the very first colonists. Now honeybees are struggling, hammered by a constellation of 20-plus diseases and parasites — not to mention a range of insecticides and fungicides.
About 450 species of wild bees also populate our fields and gardens. They have similar problems. And they’re losing habitat.
This is serious business: we depend on pollinators for at least one-third of our food supply. Altogether, these pollinators boost New York’s economy by $1.2 billion.
And consider all those other critters: flower flies and hover flies, wasps, butterflies and moths; even hummingbirds — they are legion, they work hard for their living; they help too.
NYSIPM funds educational projects like this. Photo courtesy Jen Stengle.
What to do? For starters, we can make all these helpers even more at home in our fields and gardens.
Indeed, it’s through bringing together everything IPM knows about host and pest biology and habitat; about pesticides and their EIQs; about habitat protection and biodiversity — these are the things we excel at, and these are what we’re putting into play now to find the answers we need.
Ah … answers. Such as?
Since protecting non-target organisms is core to IPM, we helped advise the governor’s Pollinator Task Force in crafting a Pollinator Protection Plan — itself informed by a national strategy to promote the health of all pollinators. And our flagship IPM Annual Conference highlighted an IPM problem-solution approach for the 100 participants: farmers, consultants, beekeepers (but of course), landscapers, researchers, policy makers, greenhouse growers, and more.
Check it out — not only because you care about your health and your food supply, but because you care about this beautiful world we live in.
May 16, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on Keep Off the Grass? IPM for Anyone With a Lawnmower
Now that spring has arrived and you’ve dusted off the lawn mower …
PUBLISHED ON MAY 3RD, 2017, CANTON, N.Y. | Courtesy Paul Hetzler, CCE St. Lawrence County
As a kid of about five, I became suspicious of lawns. In a rare moment of TV viewing, I had seen a public-service ad wherein a bundle of green leafy stuff thudded into an eerily vacant playground while a baritone voice boomed out something like “Grass. We think it’s bad for kids. Stay away from it.” My mom insisted this was “bad grass” which did not grow in our yard. However, she declined to elaborate, which fueled my mistrust. So I kept off the lawn a while.
These days, “bread” is no longer money, “mint” is just a flavor, and the pernicious leafy stuff mostly goes by other names. There is only one grass, and it is almost time to cut it again. Jargon may change, but things like paying taxes and mowing lawns don’t seem to.
To help you, or so they say, a bewildering array of lawn-care products have sprouted at big-box stores and garden centers. It’s easy to spend a lot of dough — I mean money — on fertilizers, weed killers, and seed. But it’s hard to make sense of which products are right for you.
Before you shop, a couple of thoughts to help sort things out.
Grass is not for everyone. Or everywhere. If an area does not get 4 or more hours of full sun daily from March through September, trying to grow grass there is a waste of time.
Steep slopes and high-traffic zones probably need something other than grass, too.
Keep mower blades sharp — it can help reduce disease, plus it looks nicer and saves on mower gas. (Flickr Creative Commons Brian Boucheron)
Comparison spells trouble. Well not literally, but it’s mighty unfair. Fashion models have airbrush artists and makeup consultants. Golf courses have full-time turf experts and a massive budget. With good information and a little work, we and our lawns can both look good, but let’s not compare with deep-pocketed pros.
Dr. Frank Rossi, a leading Cornell Turfgrass Science researcher, puts it this way:
“Chances are you can grow a pretty good lawn without using insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides. You may even be able to do it using little or no chemical fertilizer… Will your lawn look like a putting green? No… But if you arm yourself with an understanding of what grasses need to thrive, and commit to a long-term plan to meet those needs, you can grow a perfectly acceptable lawn…”
Get the dirt on your soil. If your grass looks bedraggled, fertilizer may not be the answer; in fact, early-season nitrogen can weaken grass and make lawns worse in the long run.
At the very least, get a soil pH test—a pH more acidic (lower) than 6.0, or more alkaline (higher) than 7.0 will hinder plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. The majority of samples I get at the office have pH values too high for healthy lawns, sometimes 100 or even 1,000 times too alkaline due to annual lime treatments. Lime is only good if it’s needed.
If it’s been over three years since the soil was tested, you might want to invest in a lab analysis. For under twenty bucks you can get nutrient levels with specific recommendations, plus pH and salt content. This last item may seem odd, but fertilizers, herbicides, wood ash and deicing agents are all sources of salt — which can damage soil structure, harm microbes, and aggravate water stress.
Only fertilize based on soil test results, and only use nitrogen in the fall.
Nature abhors a vacuum, which is why I keep mine hidden away indoors — no sense offending nature if you can avoid it. This hatred of emptiness means that if you don’t re-seed bare or weak spots in the lawn, Nature will fill it with whatever is handy — probably weeds.
Edging along the sidewalk or driveway may produce the look you want, but it also produces a lot of bare earth, so if you have a weed issue, especially crabgrass, breaking this habit will give you an edge on weed control.
Another type of vacuum is a close-cropped lawn. Not only does close mowing cause weak, stunted grass roots (and thus plants), it allows the sun full access to the soil. This gives weeds a tremendous advantage.
Have trouble with ground ivy? Put away the vacuum. Stop shaving the earth and start mowing the grass.
The most important thing you can give your lawn is more of its hair. Studies show that changing to a grass height of 3.5 inches leads to a vast improvement in lawn health. Leaving grass longer will greatly reduce weed pressure, lawn diseases, and fertilizer requirements. Perhaps the most dramatic change with longer grass is a lasting drop in weed population.
If you need to use herbicides to reduce weeds, follow the label instructions closely. Some broadleaf (selective) herbicides contain chemicals that could stress or injure trees. Pre-emergent herbicides inhibit weed germination, and are used for crabgrass control. Apply pre-emergent products around the time forsythia flowers are starting to drop.
Another tip is not to mow more than a third of the grass at a time. For example, to maintain a 3.5-inch turf height, mow before the grass gets over five inches high. Try to keep the blades sharp — it can help reduce disease, plus it looks nicer and saves on mower gas. And it almost goes without saying that grass clippings belong to the lawn, not the landfill. Leave the clippings—that’s your fertilizer.
White grubs — we have five species in northern NY — can become a problem if there are more than ten per square foot of lawn. Several nontoxic and low-toxicity treatments have come on the market in the past few years, but timing varies for all of them. Milky spore treatment is safe, but is not effective up north due to cool soils. You can also use beneficial nematodes to kill grubs.
There are many solid lawn-care resources out there, but always check the source, which should be from .edu or .gov sites. Cornell Senior Extension Associate Lori Brewer has assembled the work of many experts, including Dr. Rossi, into a comprehensive 47-page book entitled “Lawn Care,” which is free at http://hort.cornell.edu/turf/lawn-care.pdf
I think it will contribute to a better world if we teach our kids to stay grounded and let the grass get high.
These nematodes Hetzler mentions — beneficial organisms — are key to good IPM. In fact, good IPM embraces every concept Hetzler stands by. With IPM, prevention is always the best cure. And remember: even herbicides are a type of pesticide, because weeds are pests too. If you’ve ever spent a whole day weeding a not-that-big garden, you know that sometimes weeds are the most difficult contenders we face. — ed. MW.
May 4, 2017
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Stop Pests in Housing IPM Conference — Bed Bugs, Cockroaches and Mice, Oh My
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Do you work with public housing? Inevitably, pest issues come up. Knowing how to prevent problems and what to do when an issue arises can help save time and money while reducing human health risks. The May 31st “Stop Pests in Housing Conference” at the Century House in Latham, NY, will provide you with the information you need.
Join speakers renowned for their expertise as they address the big three pests: bed bugs, cockroaches, and mice.
This workshop is a part of the “Stop Pests in Housing Project: Enabling Residents to Live Pest Free and Housing Managers to Implement Integrated Pest Management.” It’s targeted to public housing managers, public works staff, maintenance staff, social workers, resident coordinators, Extension educators, and pest management professionals.
Coffee. Pick up registration materials. Sign up for DEC credits.
Introduction – Susannah Reese, StopPests in Housing, Northeastern IPM Center
IPM for Bed Bugs in Multifamily Housing – Changlu Wang, PhD, Rutgers University
How to Avoid Getting and Spreading Bed Bugs – Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, PhD, NYS IPM Program
Monitoring and Management of German Cockroaches in Multifamily Housing – Changlu Wang, PhD, Rutgers University
Managing Mice in Multifamily Housing – Robert Corrigan, PhD, RMC Consulting, Inc.
One Time Treatments and Pest Exclusion to Reduce Pest Allergens – Gil Bloom, ACE, Standard Pest Management
The People Side of Pest Management – Allie Allen, BCE, National Pest Management Association
Evaluation and wrap up – Matthew Frye, PhD, NYS IPM Program
Adjourn. Safe travels!
DEC Pesticide recertification credits available – 6.0 for categories 7a, 8 and 10.