New York State IPM Program

New Perennial Crops for Weed Suppression and Carbon Sequestration

October 19, 2020 by Debra E. Marvin | Comments Off on New Perennial Crops for Weed Suppression and Carbon Sequestration

 by Bryan Brown, PhD

Farmers tell me all the time – “If only my crops could grow like weeds!” Well that’s just what happened to Jonathan Bates, owner of Food Forest Farm, who noticed that some of his edible perennial plants were taking over his garden. These are big and robust plants that smother our usual weeds – perfect for low-maintenance gardens. So he starting cutting back these plants and selling the rootstock online.

Jonathan Bates holds a large leaf from a Princess Tree

Jonathan Bates holds a leaf of a princess tree, a plant that provides high-nitrogen forage through fall leaf drop. He uses this plant to provide shade in livestock pastures.

Excited by the idea of crops that outcompete weeds, I recently toured the farm with Jonathan. He showed me thick stands of edible perennial brassicas like horseradish, sea kale, and Turkish rocket; thriving carrot-family perennials like skirret and giant Korean celery; and leguminous plants like wild senna, Illinois bundleflower, and Astragalus that serve as high-nitrogen forage for livestock while also providing pollinator resources and building soil fertility.

Jonathan Bates sits in front of a large perennial vegetable.

No weeds there! Several edible perennial brassicas show promise as robust weed suppressive crops.

A huge advantage with perennials is that you don’t have to rototill the ground every year to prepare for planting. That has big benefits aside from being a labor-saver. Any time the soil is tilled, it accelerates decomposition of organic matter and loss of carbon to the atmosphere. Whereas perennial plantings serve as a carbon sink by sequestering atmospheric carbon into plant tissue that eventually becomes soil organic matter. Such “carbon farming” is starting to become big business as a means to forestall climate change.

With so many benefits to these perennial crops, I think it’s just a matter of time before we see more farmers start growing them – and we start seeing them on our dinner plates!


graphic showing photo of Bryan Brown and his information. Email him at b r y a n dot b r o w n at cornell dot edu




October 14, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Dealing with Mole Problems in Turfgrass

Dealing with Mole Problems in Turfgrass

Dealing with Mole Problems in Turfgrass

Guest post by Paul D. Curtis, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University

Moles are small, insect-eating mammals that are highly specialized for living underground. Unlike voles, moles have very small eyes, no external ears, a hairless, pointed snout, and forefeet that are enlarged and turned outward for digging in the soil. All three mole species found in New York State have short, thick, velvety fur that lies flat in either direction as the mole makes its way through a burrow system. Moles are classified as unprotected animals in New York, so they can be trapped or removed whenever they cause turf damage.

Photo of starnosed mole showing its large front feet and hairless nose ringed by pink tentacles

Star-nosed mole showing fleshy appendages on its snout. Credit:

The two most commonly-encountered mole species in New York State are star-nosed (Condylura cristata) and hairy-tailed moles (Parascalops breweri). The star-nosed mole may be found throughout the state. It typically reaches 5 inches in length and its nose is surrounded by 22 small, fingerlike projections, which readily distinguishes it from the other mole species. Continue Reading →

October 13, 2020
by Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Comments Off on Why does my sweater have holes? It might be clothing moths.

Why does my sweater have holes? It might be clothing moths.

Moths of all species, sizes and shapes are abundant during the warm months in the Northeast. They are attracted to lights. They get indoors. For the most part they don’t want to be there. But there are several species of moths that thrive indoors. While some of these will infest grains and pantry items, others feed on natural fibers like wool. The webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth  are two types that will destroy wool rugs and clothes and will feed on animal-based fibers like fur, silk, feathers and leather. Museums and taxidermy mounts are notably at risk of damage. Even sweat-stained clothes aren’t safe.

A small tan moth, the webbing clothes moth, with three 5th instar larvae

Webbing clothes moth, Mohammed El Damir,

Small brown casemaking moth,

The casemaking clothes moth, iNaturalist @bramblejungle

If you see tiny moths flying around your home, especially when you haven’t had the windows and doors open, you might be seeing one of these destructive pests. The key to control? First, know what you’re dealing with. Clothes moths (referring to both types) are ½ inch long, golden or mottled tan and brown in color and have fine fringes on the tips of their wings. Because they are easily confused with grain moths, it is also critical to find the source, which will be their larval food source.

In the case of grain moths, you’ll see adults flying near your pantry and cupboards and the larvae inside food packages. Clothing moths, however, prefer dark places like the back of a closet or under furniture on a wool rug. Adult moths do not feed. Their half inch long white caterpillars (larvae) do all the damage. A telltale sign of webbing clothes moth is the silky webbing spun by larvae on the surface of the material they are eating. The casemaking clothes moth larva creates a silken tube around its body that it drags around while feeding on materials. Larvae tend to hide within folds and creases in fabrics and along the edges of carpets. The result? Holes in fabric and damaged carpets, weak spots in leather and missing fur. But their foods are not limited to the things we own. A dead rodent or bird hidden in a wall or ceiling can provide nutrition for a full infestation of moths.

A piece of wool material with one tan colored moth, one pupal case and a larva of the webbing clothes moth.

Webbing clothes moth, Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series ,

a casemaking clothes moth larva with its head peeking out of the tube-shaped case

A casemaking clothes moth larva with its case, a tube of hair and silk, for protection.

If it is unclear just where the moths are coming from, you might consider using pheromone traps labeled for clothing moths (available online). These combine sex pheromones with a sticky surface to catch flying moths.  Place one in the far corner of each room where an infestation is suspected, including the basement and attic. Traps catching the most moths are usually closest to the food source. Too many pheromone traps can flood the space with pheromones that end up confusing moths, so less is more.

Once you have located the source of the infestation consider a plan focused on cleaning. Wool clothing, pillows, small rugs and the like can be dry cleaned or placed in a hot dryer for 30 minutes as a heat treatment (do not wash first).  Many items can also be frozen to kill eggs and larvae. Large rugs can be cleaned with hot steam or you may have a pest management professional treat the rug with a low-risk product. For the long term, vacuum frequently paying attention to crevices and gaps that serve as hiding spots for larvae.

A triangle-shaped cardboard moth trap with moths caught on the sticky surface inside the folded structure

A moth trap that uses pheromones to capture pest moths.

A red cardigan sweater with holes on one side from moth feeding damage.

Casemaking clothes moth damage on a sweater, University of Georgia,

Once woolens have been treated, it is important to store them where moths cannot reach. Airtight containers, such as plastic bins or vacuum sealed bags, should be used for storage. Keep household humidity low to discourage pests and store vulnerable items, like furs, in cold storage during the warmer months. Rugs and fabrics made of synthetic materials are not at risk of damage.

If no obvious source can be found and a dead animal in the wall or ceiling is suspected, hire a professional to treat inside the wall and seal openings that allow moths to get into living space.

It is possible that the source of clothing moths will not easily be found, leaving residents frustrated. Pheromone traps can help by catching flying moths as they seek mates, thereby reducing the population until the source can be located.

Visit our website for general IPM for the home as well as specifics for fabric moths and pantry pests.

graphic shows photo of Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann and her contact information

October 12, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on The leaves are falling, manage wisely for ticks

The leaves are falling, manage wisely for ticks

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, The Falling Leaves, Under the Maples

photo of map of NYS with heat map showing the stage of leaf color from Oct. 7-13. Adirondacks and Catskills are at or past peak. Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley are just changing. The rest of NY is at mid-point

2020 I LOVE NY Fall Foliage Report for New York State October 7-13, 2020

Ah, autumn. Leaf peeping drives, apple picking, pumpkin-spice everything, and the annual argument of what to do with those leaves falling on your yard.

On one hand, leaves can provide a natural mulch for the landscape, breaking down to provide organic matter and nutrients to soil, and provide habitat for native beneficial insects and arachnids. On the other hand, too many leaves can smother lawns and provide habitat for damaging diseases. But we’re not going to delve into that debate today. Today we’re focusing on the tick-leaf connection. Continue Reading →

September 22, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Cover Crop’s Double Success for Soybeans

Cover Crop’s Double Success for Soybeans

photo of cereal rye grass cover crop

Mature fields of grain crops moving in the wind is a lovely sight. Having admired the beauty of ‘cereal rye’ in a field, I asked NYSIPM Integrated Weed Management Specialist Dr. Bryan Brown if rye has been part of successful weed suppression efforts.

The answer is yes, but even better, there’s anti-fungal benefits too. Continue Reading →

September 11, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Ticks and Their Pathogens in New York State– New Findings Released

Ticks and Their Pathogens in New York State– New Findings Released

A scientific paper, Active surveillance of pathogens from ticks collected in New York State suburban parks and schoolyards (2017-2018), was published in July of 2020. Four NYSIPM Staff– Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, Joellen Lampman, Dr. Elizabeth Lamb, and Dr. Matt Frye are among the authors. The increasing number of cases of tick-borne disease prompted this work, and its success will help identify their risks to New Yorkers’ health and the health of their pets and livestock.

photo shows Joellen Lampman using a tick drag on school property to monitor for ticks

Why? The goal of this study was to highlight the importance of active surveillance for tick-borne pathogens, by describing their prevalence in ticks collected from school yards and suburban parks, and to guide the use of integrated pest management in these settings. Continue Reading →

September 4, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Blue Spruce: Threats and Remedies

Blue Spruce: Threats and Remedies

Guest Post by Nancy Cusumano

photo shows bare spots in blue spruce tree

Failing branches and needle drop is a sad sign of problems on this once-beautiful blue spruce.


There’s a blue spruce tree right outside my bedroom window. It is one of the first things I look at every morning (along with my husband, of course). I can see if it is sunny, rainy, or snowing. This tree was a very dense, full tree that has harbored several bird nests over the years.

This spring, however, I noticed that I could see right through the tree where I never could before. I think it lost maybe half its needles over the winter. Many branches are completely bare. When I went looking at other blue spruces in my yard, I noticed a similar pattern. Continue Reading →

August 28, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Severe weather causes intense rain and wind across NY

Severe weather causes intense rain and wind across NY

Severe weather outbreaks yesterday caused intense wind and rain for prolonged periods across New York State. Significant rainfall and strong winds were recorded, with tornado warnings issued downstate in the Hudson Valley.

Continue Reading →

August 27, 2020
by Dan Olmstead
Comments Off on Enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms for central NY, Catskills and Hudson Valley

Enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms for central NY, Catskills and Hudson Valley

The National Weather Service predicts slight to enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms across large portions of New York State for Thursday 27 Aug 2020.

Continue Reading →

August 21, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on AIR QUALITY: Pest Management, when pests are too small to see

AIR QUALITY: Pest Management, when pests are too small to see

A recent EPA nationwide webinar, What Schools Need to Know: Practices and Principles for Healthy IAQ and Reducing the Spread of Viruses, focused on indoor air quality in school settings. Air quality was important before the current pandemic but is now central to the back-to-school issue.  For today’s post we’d like to share some EPA and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation resources. Some highlights: airborne disease is not the only issue. Proper surface cleaning and air filtering must be addressed. Products used to kill virus organisms are not just ‘disinfectants’, but pesticides, so their labeled directions must be followed. School buildings across the country vary widely in age, size, and management budget, making indoor air quality an important subject long before SARS Covid-19.

graphic showing pages available in the EPA air quality site

Indoor Air Quality has never been so important. In addition to its usual IAQ resources, EPA has created a specific Covid-19 webpage.

graphic shows portions of two labels of common cleaning wipes with a note to keep out of reach of children

The Label is the Law. Read the label on very common containers of disinfectant wipes!

The major takeaway from this webinar’s experts? Using a combination of tactics is crucial to success. Continue Reading →

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