New York State IPM Program

June 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?

Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?

“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn: the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops, and summer sweetens all to me.” –  James Russell Lowell
bumblebee on white clover

Dandelions, clover, and many other lawn weeds can help sustain pollinators.

It’s Pollinator Week, a week dedicated to halting and reversing the decline in pollinator populations and recognizing the valuable service they provide.

There are plenty of resources out there to create pollinator gardens and meadows. NYSIPM biocontrol specialist Amara Dunn has been documented an ongoing project trying to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects to help support agricultural systems in her blog, Biocontrol Bytes. Head over and check out her efforts.

But what about places that can’t allow tall vegetation because of space, inability to weed areas, or aesthetics? Lindsey Christiansen, CCE Albany and I decided to explore the recommendation to create pollinator friendly lawns.

Many recommendations prompt us to allow spontaneous lawn flowers (weeds have attained a PR manager) to flourish. A Massachusetts study found 63 plant species in untreated lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators.

But Lindsey and I were wondering if there was a more formal way to create a pollinator friendly lawn. We searched out and found a number of seed mixes and a project was born.

“The best laid plans of mice and men…” – Robert Burns

While fall is a great time to put down seed, we solidified our plans in October, leaving us with little time. We decided to spend the remainder of autumn prepping the plots and wait until winter to put the seed down through dormant overseeding. We laid out three rows of 100 sq.ft. plots. The first row was scalped by running the CCE lawn tractor over it at its lowest height of cut. The second row was stripped using a sod cutter, and the third row was aerified multiple times using a core aerifier to break up the soil and create open soil.

Three rows of five plots are shown against a satellite view of CCE Albany. The first row was scalped, the second was cut with a sod cutter, and the third was aerified.

The demonstration project was established in an unused part of the CCE Albany property which allows for road visibility.

Two rows were prepped using a sod cutter and aerifier rented from a local hardware store.

Removing sod cut with a sod cutter is much easier when you have good turf. The weedy lawn proved a challenge to remove.

 

Synchronized seeding

And then it was time to wait. Ideally, we would have a stretch of bare ground in March with a few inches of snow in the forecast. So we waited. And waited some more. But it was a winter that wasn’t and as the forecast showed above average temperatures into the future, we decided to scatter the seed on March 6 with hopes that winter would provide a last gasp.

This table lists the seed mixes used in the study and what species are listed. MN Native Landscape Bee Lawn Mix includes Sheep Fescue, Hard Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Creeping Red Fescue Dutch White Clover, Creeping Thyme, Self-Heal; PT 705 Xeriscape Lawn Alternative includes Banfield Perennial Ryegrass, Eureka II Hard Fescue, Quatro Tetraploid Sheep Fescue White Yarrow, Dutch White Clover, Strawberry Clover, Sweet Alyssum; PT 755 Fleur de Lawn includes Banfield Perennial Ryegrass, Eureka II Hard Fescue, Quatro Tetraploid Sheep Fescue White Yarrow, White Clover, Baby Blue Eyes, Sweet Alyssum, Strawberry Clover, English Daisy; American Meadows Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix includes Sheep Fescue Roman Chamomile, English Daisy, Yellow Daisy, Creeping Daisy, Dwarf California Poppy, Sweet Alyssum, Five Spot, Baby Blue Eyes, Soapwort, Creeping Thyme, Strawberry Clover, Johnny Jump-Up; and Agway Conservation Green includes Perennial ryegrasses, Red Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass White Clover

Five seed mixes were chosen for the demonstration project. For dormant overseeding, it is recommended that you double the rate, but we were sometimes restricted by the amount of seed we could purchase within our budget.

Snow cover on the dormant overseeded plots.

Winter finally threw us a bone on March 24th. The theory behind dormant overseeding is the weight of the snow pushes the seed close to the soil and as it melts into the soil, it draws the seed down with it through capillary action. The snow also protects the seed from predation. We can only guess how much seed to we lost to birds over those weeks.

And then it was time to wait again. And we were waiting in our homes due to the shutdown. So it was exciting to visit the site in early June and find baby blue eyes, dwarf California poppy, and sweet alyssum in bloom. The plot we were most worried about due to the small rate of application had the most visual pop.

flowering baby blue eyes and California poppy in the sod cut plot

The sod cut plot seeded with Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix was the most dramatic despite having the lightest rate of application.

green bee on baby blue eye blossom

And there were pollinators!

Lindsey Christiansen is pinning a clear plastic sheet down over existing lawn.

Solarization is an IPM technique using the sun to create high temperatures to kill existing vegetation.

We also started a fourth row, this time using solarization to prep the site. Plastic sheeting heats up the soil, killing existing plants and the seedlings of any weed seeds that germinate over the summer. We will keep the sheeting in place until it’s time to seed in the fall.

The recent hot, dry weather has not helped with establishment and there’s not currently much going on in the plots. So we are back to waiting and seeing.

And crossing our fingers that the forecast holds and we get rain by the weekend.

picture showing from left to right - plastic sheeting, aerated row, sod cut, and scalped row row

At the end of June, after a week of heat and humidity but no rain, there is not much flowering except for birdsfoot trefoil. For the record, birdsfoot trefoil was not in any of our seed mixes.

Many thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County for use of the site, Lindsey Christiansen for her partnership and strong back (and for checking my math), and Matt Warnken for scalping, hauling, sod cutting, photographing, and basically making himself indispensable.

 

 

 

 

June 23, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Best Wishes for a Pest-Free Retirement to Lynn Braband, NYSIPM Community IPM Educator!

Best Wishes for a Pest-Free Retirement to Lynn Braband, NYSIPM Community IPM Educator!

Lynn Braband has a favorite story about how he came to be employed by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. It occurred back in 1999 when Lynn’s experience with wildlife management brought him in contact with Director Jim Tette.

Our story is that it was a good day for IPM.  Statewide, regionally, nationally, and even internationally, Lynn Braband made things happen through his determination, eagerness to learn and then share, his passion for the environment ,and his reputation as an all-around naturalist and reliable, genial collaborator.  We have  kudos to share–only a portion of the comments provided before and during Lynn’s VIRTUAL retirement party–but you can’t help but notice our photo header above with some typical Lynn shots. Much like other members of the Community IPM team, on-site scouting for pests was a big part of Lynn’s visits to school districts around the state.

Hang on while we run through SOME of Lynn’s organizational ties, collaborations, presentations and publications:

Starting with Lynn’s Masters in Wildlife Biology, Lynn worked in the wildlife control industry–including his own business–before joining the IPM Program. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Sigma Xi, American Scientific Affiliation, National Pest Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, NYS Wildlife Management Association, and the NYS Wetlands Forum.  Add to that, his dedicated service on the National School IPM Steering Committee, the International IPM Symposium Program Committee, the IPM Program Work Team, Rochester Healthy Home Coalition, the Statewide School Environmental Health Steering Committee, and foremost, his co-leadership of the Northeast School IPM Working Group.

As you might know, Lynn created and led NY’s Statewide School IPM Committee (above), but his impact on School IPM became much more than statewide. His retirement announcement prompted praise from collaborators across the nation.

Working with school staff around the state led him to applied research on reducing the risk of yellow jacket stings at schools, and keeping geese off playing fields.

Lynn has spoken on bird management, critters on golf courses, reducing bedbugs in childcare centers, and White Nose Syndrome on bats. I counted more than 150 publications, and over 50 public presentations just since 2012!

Two in-depth school surveys across NY were personally guided by Lynn–it was just a part of his deep commitment and relationship-building with building and property managers at individual schools, and with BOCES health and safety officers.

Trust us, or ask one of his colleagues. The incredible impact Lynn had on expanding IPM knowledge and practices was impressive, and we’ll be doing our best to fill in! As for missing Lynn himself, that’s going to take some getting used to. He might even have a story about that!

photo and quote

Brian Eshenaur, NYSIPM: “It was great to see Lynn’s dedication to get IPM principals utilized in school buildings. Though his leadership, he and colleagues throughout the Northeast have created resources to further school IPM goals in the region.”

“In the many years that I have worked with Lynn I’ve always been impressed with his “steadiness” (unlike me) and his work ethic. Lynn you have accomplished much and are an example of a wonderful public servant. I will miss learning from you.” Marc Lame, Indiana University.

Amara Dunn, NYSIPM: “Not only does Lynn do great IPM, but he is a genuinely kind colleague, and his sense of humor has enlivened many meetings.”

“I wish to take this opportunity to recognize Lynn Braband once more for his splendid support of school IPM efforts within his state and nationally. Lynn, you will be missed greatly; you have influenced, encouraged, educated and supported us all over the years.” Dawn Gouge, University of Arizona.

Jennifer Grant, NYSIPM: “Lynn’s steady commitment and patient persistence have been the underpinnings of his success in getting IPM implemented. That approach, along with his vast knowledge of wildlife biology and regulations, as well as his friendly demeanor, all combine to make it easy and enjoyable to cooperate with Lynn. Throughout his career, Lynn has also shown a strong interest in the ethics of science and pest management. He shares his musings with others, causing us all to think. Thanks for everything Lynn!”

“I want others in the IPM network to understand how instrumental Lynn’s work has been, what a legacy he leaves, and how much he will be missed upon retirement.” Lynn Rose, Pollution Prevention and EHS Consultant, Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, NYSIPM: “What a pleasure and an honor to have worked with you for the past two decades, Lynn. I’ve learned a lot from you, most importantly to be more thoughtful and more careful with words. I’ll definitely miss your humor and I will never forget that Albany dinner when Rod Ferrentino sketched out his crimes on the paper tablecloth and had us crying with laughter. I wish you all the best in your retirement from IPM and future adventures.”

Kathy Murray, Maine Dept. of Agriculture: “Lynn has made a lot of good things happen over the past many years.”

Debra Marvin, NYSIPM: “Lynn’s knowledge of wildlife, including his expertise on birds, make him a great IPM facilitator. But his methodical way of approaching problems, and his gentle respect of others, his philosophy and humor make Lynn so admired by his peers, and (lucky for me) a great supervisor and co-worker.”

Joellen Lampman, NYSIPM: “I will miss my dinner time conversations with Lynn, many of which caused fellow diners to wish they had eaten somewhere else that night. But mostly I will miss his stories, his dry sense of humor, and his ability to organize different people with different interests around a common goal statewide, regionally, and even nationally.”

NYSIPM’s Matt Frye chose to honor Lynn in another way:

 

June 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report – Nematodes, Spotted Lanternfly… a last Look and Recap

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report – Nematodes, Spotted Lanternfly… a last Look and Recap

Today we reach the end of our in-depth look at our most recent annual report from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. While many of you receive it in the mail, the large number of in-person sharing we generally do as we speak with people around the state was obviously limited. We continue to do our best to reduce risk from pests and treatments, and to reduce the risk of Covid-19.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO A RETURN TO THE MANY WORKSHOPS, PRESENTATIONS, ON-SITE EVALUATIONS and GATHERINGS THAT WE VALUE AS PART OF OUR FOCUS!

 

photo of is microscopic worms known as nematodes

Steinernema-spp under magnification.

Nematodes Go to School

For decades, researchers and practitioners alike have played around with beneficial nematodes to control insect pests in turf and agricultural crops. These nematodes are microscopic worms that move through soil looking for host insects to infect. Once inside a grub or other insect, the nematode releases bacteria that feed and reproduce, eventually releasing a toxin that kills the host. As an added bonus, nematodes often persist for years in the soil after just one application—they’ve been shown to permanently establish in both alfalfa and corn. Nematodes are an ideal biological control agent because they occur naturally in soil and can be applied to boost pest control. Now these tiny but mighty native worms have been enlisted to help protect school playing fields from pests, and to help teach science, too. Dr. Kyle Wickings, a Cornell entomologist, has been using native New York beneficial nematodes on school playing fields to target grubs, and to reduce the need for pesticide sprays. NYSIPM staff teamed up with him to train teachers in four school districts to add nematode sampling to their science curriculums. In addition to student-collected data, the team inoculated eight playing fields at three schools and then sampled the fields in the fall for signs that the little worms were sticking around. To date, results have been too variable to make recommendations, but our researchers—as tenacious as these worms—will keep on testing.

Joellen Lampman and Cornell Cooperative Extension staff and Master Gardeners examine soil and nematodes

(Above) Students learned that these beneficial nematodes (round worms) might be hard to see without a microscope, but are hard at work attacking grubs in the soil under the playing fields. David Chinery, Horticulture and Turf Educator at CCE Rensselaer County, helps this middle school teacher get her hands dirty.

Here, during our Nematodes in the Classroom Workshop, she sifts through soil for dead wax worms that indicate whether nematodes are present and successfully parasitizing insects.

The Spotted Lanternfly: They Get Around

Hailing from Asia, the spotted lanternfly (SLF) arrived in Pennsylvania in 2012 on landscaping stone. They’ve been ravaging vineyards and making a mess of backyards ever since. SLF are clumsy fliers but adept hitchhikers. They lay their eggs on practically any hard surface—wood, rusty metal, railroad cars, and shipping containers are all fair game. SLF has been called, “the worst invasive we’ve seen in 100 years.” Of their arrival here, New Yorkers now say, “It’s not a question of if, but when.” A bright spot is the incident command structure formed by New York’s Departments of Environmental Conservation, Agriculture and Markets, and Parks. They started preparing early, and asked NYSIPM to help with outreach and awareness. Our goal? Immediate identification and education to prevent SLF establishment for as long as possible. Delaying their imminent debut gives us more time to inform the public, while allowing researchers to expand the management toolkit—including the use of natural enemies. We’ve created pest alerts, online courses, identification guides, YouTube videos, slide sets, and webinars. NYSIPM talks about SLF a lot. In the first year our staff mentioned SLF in more than 60 presentations, alerting nearly 2,500 participants representing the grape, wine, apple, hops, ornamentals, vegetable, berry, turf, and landscape industries. The good news? The efforts seem to be working. At the time of printing, a few SLF have been sighted in New York, but no infestations found. We want to give a shout-out to our friends in Pennsylvania who have generously shared information, and to New York’s government agencies and extension educators for getting the word out.

Four adult lanterfly on tree bark

(Above) Dressed to kill. These beautiful yet destructive adult spotted lanternfly adults are out and about in the late summer and fall. Watch for them, but also for egg masses and nymphs the rest of the year.

In closing, our annual report is an important part of our program because it showcases our service to our stakeholders and justifies the trust of our collaborators and funders. Highlighting many, but not all, of our accomplishments takes time. Collecting the stories and photos–after narrowing down the list of ideas–and then writing concise and interesting stories is the work of our director and commodity directors. After the retirement of our lead staff writer, Science Writer Mary Woodsen, we want to thank Mariah C. Mottley for her contribution!

graphic shows the names of IPM staff and the backcover information included on our annual report. This list includes are collaborators across the state and thanks the writers and Karen English for her graphic design.

June 6, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on NYSIPM partners with The Tick App

NYSIPM partners with The Tick App

The Tick App: Studying human behavior, tick exposure and the risk of Lyme disease using a citizen science approach via a smartphone application.

picture titled The Tick App has a picture of the app open on a cell phone

Concerned about ticks? Download The Tick App for free to join our research efforts and report your tick encounters.

If you have heard any NYS IPM Program staff talk about ticks, you have probably heard us mention that there is a lot we don’t know about ticks. Or exactly how our actions impact our risk of getting a tick-borne disease. So it is with great pleasure that we announce that we have partnered with the Diuk-Wasser lab at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who created The Tick App.

By downloading the app through GooglePlay or the AppStore, you will have access to information about:

  • ticks biology and identification
  • tick activity in your area
  • tick prevention
  • how to remove a tick

It will also help you identify ticks that you find through the Report a Tick button.screen shots from The Tick App

That’s a lot of information at your fingertips. The most important part of the app, however, is the daily log where you share with the team how you spent your time, what steps you took to prevent tick encounters (if any), and if you found a tick on you, a family member, or a pet. Your information is confidential and will only be shared as aggregated data based on zip code.

I have been using the app for two years and have made entering my data a daily routine, along with my daily tick check. It takes only minutes to complete.

The more people entering data, the better the team will be able to connect the dots between what we do and how that brings us in contact with ticks. We will then be able to better create recommendations to keep New Yorkers safe.

And there’s no better time as The Tick App is launching the #BattleOfTheDailyLog this June, pitching NY against other northeast and midwest states. C’mon New York! We can do this!

Don’t worry. We’ll still continue to provide tick information through the Don’t Get Ticked NY Campaign via our website, blog posts, and presentations.

 

June 5, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on It’s New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

It’s New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

The mission of the New York Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state, and empowering them to take action to help stop the spread.

While we won’t be able to gather for invasive species identification walks, removal projects, or in-person presentations, there are plenty of online opportunities to increase awareness. And the good news is that you will have access to statewide opportunities. Presentation topics run from learning how to identify plants information and enter it into iMapInvasives to the more specific info on beech leaf disease, crayfish, “murder hornets”, how climate change, and deer, impact native plants and pave the way for invasives, and more. For a full list of virtual events, visit https://nyisaw.org/events/.

And there are numerous challenges offered this year. Be sure to use the hashtag #NYISAW! ISAW Social Media Challenges, many suited for the kids, include:

Sunday – learn about your local invasive species and share a selfie

Monday – create some Invasive Species Art!

Tuesday – use the Agents of Discovery app to learn about invasive species

Wednesday – increase others’ awareness by creating a banner and hanging it in your window

Thursday – help track invasive species in NYS through iMapInvasives. New to iMap? There will be an online training at 1:00

Friday – spotted lanternfly is on our doorstep, if it’s not already here undetected. Check out spotted lanternfly trivia and help keep track of this destructive pest. (For more information, visit NYSIPM’s Spotted Lanternfly webpage.)

Here are a few other challenges that caught my eye:

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has created the Invasive Species Backyard Bingo Challenge. I have (alas) seen many of the invasive species, but not enough to get BINGO (yay?).

The Capital Region PRISM has an EcoQuest Challenge focusing on watercress, European Frog-bit, oriental bittersweet, and swallowwort using iNaturalist.

Lower Hudson PRISM Ecoquest Challenge is focusing on Siebold’s and linden viburnum. They recommend using the Seek app to help build your identification skills and confirm your ID.

The NYS Parks Niagara Region is also using the Agents of Discovery App. They will post details on their Facebook page during ISAW.

These challenges, and more are also listed on https://nyisaw.org/events/.

And, of course, the NYS IPM Program has numerous resources on invasive species, including numerous blog posts we have written about invasive species and the recordings from our 2017 Invasive Species Conference.

So download the Seek app, head to the backyard and identify some invasive species. Upload the information to iMapInvasives. And then feel free to remove them. This weekend I’ll be CAREFULLY digging up wild parsnip along my roadside. How about you?

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.

May 29, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on A Tribute to Peter Castronovo

A Tribute to Peter Castronovo

The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program lost a wonderful collaborator and friend recently with the passing of Peter Castronovo.

graphic made with two photos of Pete Castronovo

Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, NYSIPM Community IPM Coordinator. “Peter was a dedicated IPM practitioner for the University of Rochester, including Strong Memorial Hospital and the Memorial Art Gallery. He was a reliable colleague and friend to us all. Managing a University/Hospital in the age of bed bugs, along with all other sanitation tasks was never without challenge, but Peter took the time to find and carefully implement the best solutions. His humor and storytelling were often the highlight during our Council meetings, where he regularly traveled across the state to participate for more than twenty years. His talent, advice and kindness will very much be missed. Peter was an avid outdoorsman and a passionate supporter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.”  You can make a donation in his name to this organization here:  https://www.rmef.org/

Dr. Jennifer Grant, NYSIPM Director. “Peter Castronovo was an amazing professional. We can talk about environmentally sound solutions for managing pests—but Pete had to apply those IPM practices in hundreds of dormitories, classrooms and a prestigious teaching and research hospital. He was always networking, gathering and sharing pest management ideas. He served on several NYSIPM and Cornell advisory committees, and helped select several NYSIPM Directors. Our conversations ranged from bed bugs to yellow jackets and skiing. Peter contributed so much to so many; he is sorely missed.”

photo of Lynn and Pete

Lynn Braband and Pete Castronovo’s friendship extended far beyond their passion for practical pest management.

NYSIPM Community Educator Lynn Braband worked closely with Pete. “Peter was a great collaborator over the years with me and the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program of Cornell University, from bringing his expertise as a speaker in workshops that I organized to assisting in outreach concerning the use of yellowjacket container traps. And he was a good friend. It was less than a month ago that he participated in my virtual retirement party.”

Dr. Amara Dunn, NYSIPM Biocontrol Specialist. “When I was new to the Community IPM team and pest management in and around structures, Peter was friendly and welcoming right from the start. I will miss him!”

photo shows members of the Community IPM council in a meeting room. Photo shows Pete Castronovo closest to the camera

Pete, (closest to the camera) was a major contributor to the state-wide Community IPM Council.

Joellen Lampman, NYSIPM Community IPM Extension Specialist. “Peter was a great at storytelling that helped illustrate his wide range of pest management struggles – many brought on by people. He loved sharing his experiences and solutions and was also open to new ideas and collaborations. He will be sorely missed.”

photo of IPM award paper

Learn more about Pete’s 2007 Excellence in IPM Award

graphic with quote

Dr. Matt Frye, NYSIPM Community IPM Extension Educator. “My first memory of Peter was the extremely warm welcome he offered when I joined the IPM Program. In the years that followed, I got to know Peter during coffee break conversations, and truly enjoyed hearing about his experiences, relayed with enthusiasm and gusto. At professional meetings, Peter’s thoughtful questions and insights were greatly appreciated, and he was a leader among his peers. His absence at Community IPM Coordinating Council meetings and the Food Processing and Pest Management Workshop will be deeply felt.”

photo of group at Bergen swamp

Pete joined IPM staff and collaborators on a tour of what is being done to protect the delicate ecosystem in Bergen Swamp.

Scott Menrath, P.E. Director, Bureau of Pesticides Management, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation “This is very sad and unexpected news. Peter was such a gentleman, so practical and down to earth, and curious to learn about new and different things. He was a constant fixture at Community IPM meetings and always participated and contributed to the group in ways only Peter could. He always had something to say. His stories were amazing and amusing. He made you shake your head and laugh out loud. Most of all you could see and hear how much he cared about IPM, about finding practical solutions to real, daily pest problems in a very large university setting, and above all, about people – the students, faculty and staff he served as well as the larger community. Clearly he will be missed by everyone who knew him.”

Thomas Gallagher, Agricultural Specialist, CCE Albany County. “I will miss Peter at our meetings. I always enjoyed talking with him over lunch or after the meeting He had so much knowledge to share from his many years of experience. My best to his family and our IPM family.”

photo of Pete at work on the U of R campus

Pete on the University of Rochester Campus

John Santacrose, Chair of the Albany County Soil and Water Conservation District (ACSWCD). “This is a tough time for all. He offered his wisdom and knowledge to us in so many ways that will be missed by all. His contributions to all things IPM were immense. My condolences to Peter’s family and all of his friends at the IPM program.”

Dr. Mary Centrella, Director and Educator, Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP), Cornell Cooperative Extension “What tragic news. I only met Pete briefly, but was struck by his candid and energetic personality, and his colorful stories. My heart goes out to his friends and family.”

Gil Bloom, President of Standard Pest Management, Queens, N.Y.  “A loss to all who knew him and to all those who don’t even realize how much he impacted their health. The meetings will not be the same.”

Susannah Krysko Reese, StopPests in Housing, Northeastern IPM Center. “I had only met him once and that was memorable enough to understand the extent of this loss. Condolences to you all, clearly he was a valued colleague and friend.”

Jim Carpentier, Env. Program Specialist 1, Pesticide Product Registration, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “Pete certainly was a great guy. Once you met him, you couldn’t forget him! 😊 He will be missed very much.”

This short presentation video includes Lynn and Pete’s interview regarding their valuable success against stinging insect problems. We know you’ll enjoy seeing Pete’s enthusiasm!

For more on how you can support Pete’s memory, see this link to Peter Castronovo’s Obituary

Thank you to all who were able to contribute to this post.

May 26, 2020
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Ground Bees – What Can I Do?

Ground Bees – What Can I Do?

It’s time to revisit my 2015 post about ground bees. That entry was intended to help people understand the critter in their yard, but people want to know – what can I do about them?

Image shows a mound of soil with a female ground bee sticking her head out.

Female ground bee peeking outside of her burrow.

Recommendation 1: Let them Bee.
Ground bees are not like the common honey bee, nor are they similar to yellowjackets. Instead, ground bees are solitary, meaning that each hole is occupied by only one female bee and her offspring. Why does this matter? This difference in life history means that female ground bees do not have to ‘defend the nest,’ and are therefore not aggressive. According to the literature, they only sting when held. In fact, if you stand near a burrow entrance, female bees will retreat and hide in the burrow. The bees flying around at ground level are the males, who are looking to mate with females in the burrow, and do not have a stinger. I have observed ground bees very closely, and have never been stung. Ground bees are one of the first pollinators to emergence in the spring, and are only active for a few weeks. Because of this, the first recommendation is to let them run their course each spring – an important consideration due to declines in native bee populations. 

Image of lawn in spring with sparse vegetation and exposed soil, representing habitat of ground bees.

Sparse vegetation provides habitat for ground bees. Look closely and see mounds of soil from bee burrows.

Recommendation 2: Discourage their Bee-havior.
Let’s take a step back. Why are ground bees in your yard to begin with? It has to do with your lawn! Ground bees burrow in areas with exposed soil and sparse vegetation. A long-term solution to ground bees, then, is to make your yard less hospitable. You can do this by growing dense turf, following suggestions on the Cornell Turfgrass website. Dense grass and roots prevent bees from accessing the soil and digging new burrows. Keep in mind that this long-term solution will take time to implement and to impact the population.

Recommendation 3: Murder them.
Dramatic? Maybe. But having lived with ground bees for several years, I don’t see any reason to outright kill them. If you go this route, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Treatment can be expensive. Ground bees are not covered under most annual contracts, making this a special service. Each burrow must be treated with an appropriately-labeled product, making it labor intensive. Be sure to ask for an estimate before hiring a company for the service.
  • Following treatment, children and pets should avoid that part of the yard if residual insecticides are used.
  • Pesticide treatment is a short-term solution. After treatment, the bees preferred habitat remains and a colonizing bee can arrive next year and build a new burrow. If you pay for treatment, definitely take steps to discourage future populations, or be prepared to treat the same issue multiple times.

True that not everyone appreciates insects the way I do. But, taking time to observe these docile and ecologically important bees can ignite a fascination with their tiny world. For, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” -Aristotle

For more information:

Visit the Cornell University Department of Entomology’s page on native bees t learn more about ground bees in natural systems https://entomology.cals.cornell.edu/extension/wild-pollinators/native-bees-your-backyard

graphic showing Dr Matt Frye

May 20, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on World BEE Day 2020

World BEE Day 2020

Protecting bees and other pollinators has become an important social issue. But beekeeping, and the 20,000 species of bees worldwide, have been providing livelihoods, much of our food supply, and important biodiversity for thousands of years.  Today, we help celebrate the first official World Bee Day as proclaimed by the U.N. through their food and agriculture organization.

poster of world bee day

We’ve collected some of our blog posts supporting pollinator protection (see below). First, here’s some facts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization:

HONEY: Honey is a nutritious, healthy and natural food produced by the bees. Its benefits go beyond its use as a sweetener as it contains several minerals, enzymes, vitamins and proteins that confer unique nutritious and organoleptic properties. Honey can be monofloral if one specific plant nectar and pollen content prevails in pre-defined percentages or polyfloral if it contains an unspecified mix of different nectars and pollens. Due to environmental, geographical and climatic conditions honey may vary in pollen content and relative humidity. Honey is produced in all five continents and its consumption varies from country to country also due to cultural reasons and eating habits.

HIVE PRODUCTS: Honey bees may provide livelihood or a source of income for many beekeepers all over the world. This could happen through the services provided by the bees (mainly pollination service, apitherapy and apitourism), or directly through the bee products. The last include: alive bees to guarantee always new queen bees or bee packs, honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly and venom. Bee products may be used as food for humans, feed for animals, cosmetics, medicines used in conventional medicine (mainly vaccination), or in apitherapy, or other like manifold products, carpentry, attractant, sweeteners, etc.

benefits of pollinators poster

POLLINATORS: Disappearing pollinators can mean losing some of the nutritious food we need for a healthy diet. The decline of pollinators could have disastrous effects for our future of food. Their absence would jeopardize the three-quarters of the world’s crops that depend at least in part on pollination, including apples, avocadoes, pears and pumpkins. And enhancing pollination isn’t just about mitigating disaster – with improved management, pollination has the potential to increase agricultural yields and quality. Pollinators also play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity thus improving the resilience of plants to climate change and other environmental threats.

photo of bee

THE NYS IPM Program is proud to consider POLLINATOR PROTECTION part of our focus. Visit these topics on this blog, the Think IPM Blog:

Pollinater Protection Resources

A virtual visit to an educational Pollinator Garden

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Jen Lerner and her focus on pollinator protection

Right Plant, Right Place – for Pollinators

Planning for Pollinators

Pollinator Week, 2017

photo of bee on flower

AND MORE posts specific to Pollinator Protection from BIOCONTROL BYTES:

Habitat for beneficial insects (including pollinators) at home

Details of what plants were chosen for our beneficial insect research plots

Just how much time goes into establishing beneficial insect habitat?

 

 

 

 

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 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Certifiably IPM

Growers and crop consultants need training like everyone else, so they go to school. The Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisers (NRCCA) offer regional and international certifications. NRCCA has online courses and a three-day intensive training conference covering four competency areas. And did we mention exams? Becoming a certified crop advisor takes dedication.

The curriculum covers the management of crops, soil, nutrients, and of course, IPM. NRCCA hosts experts from several universities and representatives from agribusiness who come together annually to facilitate basic and advanced trainings.

NYSIPM is integral to NRCCA training. We offer cutting-edge advanced instruction to students on how to scout for weeds, insects, and crop diseases, along with the latest environmentally-sound management recommendations. NYSIPM has become increasingly involved in field crops and vegetable training, and we now sit on the NRCCA exam board. We developed basic training video content for the IPM, plant pathology, and entomology components of the curriculum. It includes advanced field crops topics like our biologically-based bird repellant project, scouting 101, cereal leaf beetle biocontrol, and the soybean cyst nematode. We also helped NRCCA expand beyond the typical field crops arena by organizing a half-day Vegetable IPM School.

NYSIPM’s involvement in NRCCA training is an outstanding opportunity to reach industry representatives, crop consultants, custom applicators, farmers, academics, and soil and water conservation district staff with the IPM message. That’s certifiably IPM!

photo show people scouting for pests in a mature corn field

(Above) Pest management is an ever-changing challenge. New pests, cultural practices, and availability of products mean there’s always something to learn.

All I Want for Christmas

Everybody loves a Douglas-fir. Dignified and triangular, they have soft bluish-green needles and are native to temperate rainforests in the United States. Though not a true fir, they are the most Christmassy of Christmas trees for many. And Doug-fir has been popular with growers because of its resistance to deer damage, tolerance for warmer climates and wet soils, adaptability, and ability to grow quickly. That’s why it’s an important part of New York’s multimillion-dollar evergreen tree farming industry.

But Doug-fir has fallen out of favor with tree farmers because of Swiss needle cast disease—a fungal infection that makes the tree lose its needles and its holiday value. This iconic tree has gotten a reputation among growers for needing numerous and costly sprays.

What if this were not the case, and Doug-firs could be maintained with minimal sprays? NYSIPM ran on-farm trials and found that one or two well-timed sprays with good coverage were just as effective as the four or five sprays many growers currently apply.

Likewise, growers who adopted the reduced spray regimen report good results.

Beautiful trees and reduced pesticide applications? That gives everyone a Merry Christmas.

photo of a douglas fir christmas tree farm

Douglas-fir Christmas Tree Farm

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