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 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 11, 2020
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Rats in the time of Coronavirus Isolation

Rats in the time of Coronavirus Isolation

As an entomologist that specializes in pest management, the Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in some unique concerns. Recent attention has focused on how human isolation affects rodent populations, but other challenges await. Fear of food shortages led residents to stock up on items like flour, rice and pasta. With grocery store shelves restocked and a food shortage not realized, this hoarding behavior creates the perfect storm for pantry pest problems. Without proper storage in tightly sealed containers, these insects can infest forgotten items and result in ironic food waste, created by fear of a food shortage.

A group of rats eat spilled food from a plastic container during the daytime in an urban area.

Urban rats feeding on spilled food.

But for now, let us turn to the issue at hand – rats, and specifically urban rats. Across the country, as people retreated to their homes to isolate, once cryptic rats emerged to forage in broad daylight. Observers noted rats fighting over food, cannibalizing each other (muricide) and their offspring (infanticide), and moving to new locations. Sensational headlines talk of angry, mutant super rats, but what is really happening?

A rat standing on the edge of a metal garbage can with food in its mouth.

Rat feeding on food waste from a park garage can.

Let’s take a step back. Before humans were isolating, abundant food waste from restaurants, trash cans in parks, subways and housing areas provided nourishment to sustain large urban rat populations. Seemingly overnight, however, those predictable resources disappeared. The outcome is a struggle for survival and a thinning of the herd as large populations are challenged by limited resources. This is a case study on tenets of the Theory of Natural Selection, but is it enough to change the evolutionary trajectory of rats to create super rats? Definitely not. Modern rats are opportunistic animals that are already adapted to deal with food shortages. Movement to new areas and cannibalism are known rat behaviors, made obvious on a large scale during this pandemic. While it may feel longer, people have only been isolating for about two months in the US, enough time for one to two rat generations. Meanwhile, rat evolution has occurred over thousands of generations to create the “diabolically clever” animal we face today.

The truly important question we should ask ourselves is, how should we respond? The pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to see exactly how our behaviors and our management of food waste affects rodent populations. Indeed, we are the cause of our rodent problems. What steps can we take to manage rodent populations today and into the future?

To start, now is the ideal time for municipalities and pest professionals to work together to reduce rodent populations. Rats are stressed for food, making them more likely to feed on rodenticide baits and interact with baited traps. Efforts should be coordinated to the scale of the rodent population. For example, in New York City, data from the Rat Information Portal can guide management and direct adequate attention to areas with high rat pressure – rather than waste resources elsewhere. Furthermore, efforts must consider the management unit that will impact the rodent population. Whereas contracted pest management companies may service an individual store front or building, the rodent problem may span an entire block between nesting and feeding sites.

Now is also the time for building owners and managers to assess their facilities for pest entry points, and to use appropriate materials to seal openings. Not all materials are rodent-proof, and guidance on selecting the appropriate materials can be found on the Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion’s website. Keeping pests out of facilities is the best approach to minimizing exposure to rodent-borne disease and the physical damage that rodents cause by gnawing.Logo of the Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion. The letter O is made to look like a magnifying glass, with a silhouette of a rat inside the O. The bigger challenge is to devise long-term strategies that will reduce rodent access to food waste. If, upon lifting social distancing restrictions we return to “business as usual,” with trash bags left on street corners overnight, we will see a rapid return of rat populations and lose any ground we gained in the war on vermin. Certainly pest proof refuse containers would help, but not all solutions require an expense. Changes in the pickup schedule for food waste, the timing of when trash is placed on the street, how and where refuse is stored before disposal, and other considerations can be tweaked to minimize food availability for rats.

The Coronavirus pandemic will not create super rats, but can help us in the fight to reduce their populations and impacts – if we choose to do so.

graphic showing Dr Matt Frye

May 8, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Dwindling bee numbers is a problem. The question is not should we protect pollinators and create habitat, but how? What’s the best method? The most economical? The best bee habitats—made up of plants of varying sizes and bloom times—are easy on the eye. They’re also excellent real estate for other helpers, like spiders and certain beetles, that eat pests. So can pollinator habitats provide biocontrol benefits too?

To answer these questions, our team set up pollinator habitat plots around our Christmas tree research planting—testing establishment methods, evaluating weeds, counting and identifying the insects attracted, and studying the biocontrol value to the trees.

photo of echinacea flowers in a field

ABOVE: Flowers providing pollen or nectar are important to both pollinators and many pest-eating “beneficial” insects. You can help them by choosing a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall with flowers of diverse shapes. This Echinacea makes pollen and nectar readily accessible to both small and large bees, proving that it’s not just their beauty that’s worthy of our admiration.

Wildflower and grass species favored by pollinators were chosen from lists of native perennials. Some started from seed; others were transplants. By the end of the first season, natural enemies and pollinators had arrived—including lady beetles, lacewings, predatory stink bugs, spiders, hoverflies, predatory beetles, butterflies, and many wild bees. This year the plots have matured even more. We collected flying insects with sweep nets, counted butterflies, and caught wasps and bees in brightly colored bowls of soapy water. We even had a method for catching insects moving along the ground.

So far, we have lots of tips for helping growers and gardeners create their own beneficial insect habitat. As to fewer pests in Christmas trees? Time will tell.

What’s New with NEWA?

Are summer conditions becoming more unpredictable? Are you wondering how to make informed and timely decisions about pest management? If you say yes to both, you’re not alone. NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications, is here to help by providing live, on-farm decision support for fruit, vegetable, and field crops production. NEWA pairs real-time weather data from growers’ fields with online crop-specific pest forecasting. And it’s growing every year.

Developed by scientists with pest biology expertise, NEWA models predict disease progression, insect infestations, and crop phenology. Apple growers rely on apple scab forecasts in the spring, grape growers monitor grape berry moth risk through the summer, and field corn growers track western bean cutworm flights throughout the season to know when to scout.

Our latest survey proves NEWA’s unparalleled decision support to growers is working. Users attest they saved over $4,000 in spray costs and more than $33,000 in prevented crop losses annually.

NEWA partners with extension, industry, and academic partners statewide, including the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program that supports western New York’s Concord grape growers. Thanks to the close collaboration between NYSIPM, growers, and processors, that region benefited from the addition of 11 weather stations last year, a move that nearly doubled their decision-making power. NEWA also joined forces with the NYS Mesonet at the University at Albany, a collaboration that resulted in ten pilot locations across the state.

Today NEWA offers 42 models using data from 677 weather stations in 14 states. NEWA and NYSIPM support agriculture throughout New York and beyond. The latest forecast? The future looks bright.

photo of an Onset weather station

An Onset Weather Station

May 5, 2020
by Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Comments Off on Asian Giant Hornets – A Concern for New York?

Asian Giant Hornets – A Concern for New York?

A pinned specimen of a large wasp, the Asian giant wasp from a side view.

Asian giant hornet, pinned. Photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

By now many Americans reading or watching the news have heard about “murder hornets” from Asia invading the American landscape. It is true that in many parts of East Asia, Japan in particular, a large hornet lives and feasts upon honey bees and other insects. This is the Asian giant hornet (AGH), or Vespa mandarinia, which is a relative of the European hornet (Vespa crabro) that we typically see in North America. The European hornet is an import to America that has naturalized, or become established here as if it was native. The Asian giant hornet has just arrived on North America’s west coast, by unknown means. Residents and beekeepers alike are hoping it doesn’t become naturalized in America.

Pinned specimen of the large black and yellow Asian giant hornet, seen from above.

Asian giant hornet, Photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest, measuring 1.6 to 2 inches long, with a particularly large yellow-orange head. It is a social insect, living in colonies built in soil burrows dug by rodents and other animals. While people may not often see Asian giant hornets, beekeepers will definitely notice their decimated colonies of honey bees. It takes a handful of Asian giant hornets to slaughter an entire honey bee colony, after which hornets feed on the larvae, pupae and honey inside the hive. Japanese honey bees, which are a different species of honey bee than what we raise in North America, can fight back against AGH by surrounding and super-heating the wasp in a ball of bee bodies. Our European honey bees do not have this defense behavior. If AGH becomes established in the US and Canada, the greatest threat will be to beekeepers and their honey bees.

The hazard to humans posed by the stings of AGH is real. The venom is toxic and with their long stingers, AGH can inject more venom into a wound than most other stinging insects. Stings lead to intense pain and swelling, and can induce renal failure and anaphylaxis. Multiple stings can be deadly. But, these hornets do not come after humans and left alone, they mind their own business. The efforts to eradicate AGH from Washington State and Canada will be a priority aimed at avoiding their permanent establishment in the US. Unlike claims in some media outlets, it will likely take many years for this wasp to spread across the country on its own if we fail to eradicate it. Beekeepers will be on the front lines of detection.

*** 2020 UPDATE – A dead queen Asian giant hornet was discovered this spring on a road near Custer, WA, which is close to the western Canada border. This indicates that queens produced by at least one colony in the Fall of 2019 overwintered and emerged. To date (6/3/20) no other detections have been reported.

There are several species of wasps in the US that are very commonly confused with AGH:

Cicada KillerSphecius speciosus – a large, native, solitary wasp, does not readily sting or act aggressive toward humans, hunts cicadas, exclusively, digs burrows in the soil where eggs are laid upon the body of paralyzed cicadas. Common in suburban areas.

A cicada killer wasp rests on a green leaf.

Cicada killer wasp, photo by Nancy Hinckle, bugwood.org

 

European HornetVespa crabro – an introduced social species, colonies started by a single queen, colony builds and expands a tan paper ball nest typically in hollow trees and abandoned barns and structures. More common in rural areas. Not aggressive unless harassed.

Pinned specimen of European hornet seen from above

European hornet pinned specimen, photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Pinned specimen of European hornet seen from the side

European hornet pinned specimen, photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baldfaced hornetDolichovespula maculata – Large black-and-white wasp, not a true hornet, colonies started by a single queen, nest is a grey paper ball usually high in trees or on the side of structures. Not aggressive unless harassed.

A black and white baldfaced hornet on a white background

A baldfaced hornet resting, photo by Johnny N Dell, bugwood.org

Yellowjackets (many species) – Vespula sp. – Small yellow-and-black wasps that nest in large colonies in soil and other man-made cavities. Can be aggressive, especially in early fall.

A yellow and black yellowjacket pinned in a collection.

A “ground hornet” or “widow yellowjacket, photo by J.L. Gangloff-Kaufmann

Paper waspsPolistes sp. – Slightly longer than yellowjackets, various colors, long legs, umbrella comb nest with a few to a few dozen wasps. Not aggressive unless harassed.

A black and yellow European paper wasp sits on a paper nest.

A European paper wasp sits on a paper comb nest. Photo by David Cappaert, bugwood.org

 

The Bottom Line: A few Asian giant hornets were discovered in Washington State in 2019. The greatest threat is to honey bees and beekeepers. Efforts to eradicate this wasp are underway. New York does not have Asian giant wasps and hopefully won’t anytime soon.

Residents of the west coast should keep an eye out for Asian giant hornets and residents of Washington State are strongly encouraged to submit reports of sightings to the Washington State Department of Agriculture. If you live in New York and have questions about wasps or any stinging insects, you can contact NYSIPM or your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for advice or to submit samples for identification.

 

May 5, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 Tick Management!

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 Tick Management!

Getting Schooled in Tick Management

photo shows a man at a tick workshop with a completed tick drag

(Above) Success! With his pants tucked into his socks, and having just assembled his own tick drag mat, workshop attendee Fred Koelbel has a right to feel accomplished. Thanks to the Long Island host district, Three Village—and our training—he’s now ready to reduce the incidence of tick bite risk in his own district.

Ticks are a problem everywhere, but schools are a special concern. We want kids to spend time outside playing sports and enjoying nature. But we want them to be safe too. Did you know that children aged five to nine years old have the highest incidence of Lyme disease? To help protect children at school, we developed a Tick Awareness and Management for Schools workshop that teaches school facilities staff how to assess and mitigate tick risks. Workshop lessons include tick biology and ecology, how to build a drag mat for detecting ticks, and time outside practicing tick survey methods. Managers learn how to reduce kids’ exposure to ticks, and involve teachers and students in the process. First piloted in Suffolk County, the workshop—now offered statewide—continues to improve with participant input.

Think ticks might be a problem on your school grounds? NYSIPM staff offer consultation ns and risk assessments to help schools determine if ticks are present and abundant. So far, 20 schools have been evaluated, and grounds managers discovered how they could reduce risk or limit areas accessible to kids and staff. School nurses and health educators also benefitted from training, thanks to the NYS Center for School Health Seminars that hosted Don’t Get Ticked NY! information booths.

Learning how to keep kids safe and avoid ticks is one lesson school professionals won’t want to miss.

photo shows the monitoring ticks poster

POSTER: How to Monitor for Ticks in Your School Yard.

Above: Show and tell. This poster and twelve more like it provide easy-to-understand guidance in the fight against tick-borne disease. Download, print and share. They’re just part of the extensive science-based, well-informed resources on our Don’t Get Ticked New York website, www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

Curious about habitat, repellants, monitoring for ticks, or minimizing risk? You should be. And don’t forget that daily tick check!

 

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