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
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?
May 20, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on 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.
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.
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.
THE NYS IPM Program is proud to consider POLLINATOR PROTECTION part of our focus. Visit these topics on this blog, the Think IPM Blog:
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.
(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!
(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.
(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.
April 24, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on EARTH DAY 2020 – A Special Note from Director Jennifer Grant
Happy Earth Day, Earth Week and Earth Year to you all! The 50th anniversary… incredible! IPM and Earth Day came from the same roots, the environmental movement that was burgeoning over a half century ago. The concept of IPM has come of age, and has permeated people’s approach to growing our food, managing schools, and protecting themselves from pests. Fifty years. Do you look back and get energized by what’s been accomplished, or are you daunted by all the work that lies ahead?
To me, one of the bright lights is that millennials are environmentally conscious, and demand environmental consideration from those providing them with food, employment, cars and other products. Today most people know and care about Climate Change, and want to curb it and its dreadful effects. People around the world are aware of threats to the environment, and are banding together to protect it.
“…sitting in Geneva it’s hard to complain about being home when you look out over Seneca Lake”
Now that most of us are home, it’s a perfect time to look at our normal lives and see what we miss, and what are we’re doing better. We’re driving our cars and flying in planes a lot less. We’re getting out to walk and ride our bikes because there’s nothing else to do. We’re cooking and baking a lot of foods from scratch. Some have “gone back to the land” and are planting vegetable gardens for the first time in years, or ever. Can we incorporate some of these good habits into our new normal as the corona crisis subsides? Why not strive for those goals? The current situation is teaching many about the power of working together. What if your whole neighborhood designates a community garden and produce share? What if your office designates a day a week for working from home, and carpools on the other days? What if your kids grow up to set policies that don’t allow pollution?
Looking within our own NYS IPM program, I am always impressed with the creative ways our staff is working with others to reduce the need for pesticides in agriculture and in our communities. This is not just their profession, for most it’s their passion. As we’ve explored what Earth Day means to each of us, I’ve loved learning that our own Lynn Braband was out marching for the first Earth Day, and that Amanda is teaching her very young sons about Earth Day and has them planting trees.
Please go hug a tree—physically or virtually—and make a plan to save the world, because every day is Earth Day!
“NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant says she is considering ditching her car and selling cold beers off the back of her bike in retirement”
(Thank you Jennifer, for the great post. A special and bittersweet post as we near the end of Jen’s time as our Director!)
April 23, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Earth Day 2020 – IPMers Consider 50 Years of Caring and Action (part #2)
From Livestock & Field Crops IPM Extension Area Educator KEN WISE:
What I remember the most of Earth Day is when I taught high school forestry and fishery. On Earth Day, we would plant several acres of Douglas fir seedlings or release salmon in rivers with my students in the Cascade Mountains. We would grow our own seedlings and had a built our salmon hatchery.
Earth day for me is an everyday state of mind. My work in a small way I hope helps sustain the land.
Mountain Lake in the Cascades (public domain)
From Community IPM Extension Area Educator MATT FRYE:
In grad school I coordinated an annual trash removal project in our woodlot, and prior to that I helped with tree plantings. But it’s been a few years, so this is more of a reflective thought on Earth Day…
Earth Day for me is a reminder. It’s a day to slow down. To take a deep breath. To experience and admire the wonders that this world has to offer. Equally, it’s a call to action. For if we fail to nurture and actively protect them, someday those wonders may be but a memory.
Photo of Matt from Matt’s collection
From Ornamentals IPM Coordinator BETSY LAMB:
To me, it is the power of people coming together for a cause. And sometimes even people on apparently opposite sides of an issue who see that environmental improvements actually have benefits for both sides.
It is easy now to say that it is just a meaningless ‘holiday’ but we need to be reminded of how far we have actually come and what some of the changes have been and are. Like some other issues, the changes have become the expected norm – which is perhaps a victory in itself. And that is not to say that there are no longer challenges. There certainly are – and some new voices pointing them out and encouraging new responses. Hope, frustration, action, and change!
Betsy teaching biocontrol in a greenhouse meeting. (Photo NYSIPM)
From Program Administrator AMANDA GRACE:
Photos from Amanda’s collection
Each year, we plant a tree with the boys to celebrate Earth day. We try our best to educate and raise awareness, especially to our future generation(s), on the importance of unity and coming together to protect and nourish our global home.
“if you want a child’s mind to grow, You must plant the seed.”
Happy Earth day!
From Community IPM Educator LYNN BRABAND:
Here is a photo of my participation in the first Earth Day as a sophomore in community college. I am at the red arrow. I was one of the organizers of the day’s activities in that municipality. Personally, the event was part of a journey that I was already on.
Newspaper article from Lynn’s college years, see the close up below.
Lynn Braband (at red arrow)
Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a few more thoughts on the significance of Earth Day. Thank you to Jennifer Grant and Joellen Lampman for helping to pull this post together!
April 10, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on It’s Bat Appreciation Week
The sun was set; the night came on apace, And falling dews bewet around the place; The bat takes airy rounds on leathern wings, And the hoarse owl his woeful dirges sings. – John Gay
Little brown bats capture beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: J. N. Stuart flickr
Big brown bats feed on beetles and other hard-bodies insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr
Bats are one of those creatures that instill fear in people. (Thanks, Hollywood.) But as all our New York bats eat insects, at a rate of around 700 insects per hour, they can play an important biocontrol role in our IPM programs.
The federally endangered Indiana bat eats beetles, flies, moths, and other insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr
There are two types of bats in the Northeast. Some species are communal and typically overwinter in caves, mines, and sometimes, to our consternation, our buildings. They include the little brown bat, big brown bat, eastern long-eared bat, eastern pipistrelle, small-footed myotis, and the federally endangered Indiana bat.
(If you find bats lodging in your attic, it is best to call in the professionals. They’ll work with you at the right times of the year to close up crevices and holes that let bats in. Closing up entry holes in the summer could trap baby bats inside. For more information, visit What’s Bugging You – How to deal with bats.)
The hoary bat is our largest bat, migrates to Mexico for the winter, and feeds on beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: Tom Benson flickr
Bats in the second group live largely solitary lives, roost primarily in tree canopies and cavities, and migrate south for the winter. These include the red bat, hoary bat, and silver-haired bat.
According to the Cornell publication, Bats in the Forest and Beyond, “in a study of a colony of 150 brown bats in an agricultural area, researchers estimated that the colony consumed over 1.25 million insects in a year. This is not surprising, considering that a single bat may eat 3,000 insects on a given summer night. Bats roosting and foraging in New York forests consume forest and eastern tent moths, and a variety of other potential forest pests”.
Whitenose syndrome on little brown bat. Photo: New York US Fish and Wildlife Service
The legal status of bats varies from state to state. In New York, two species, the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, are protected. However, the conservation of all bats is encouraged. This is particularly important since the populations of some bat species, especially the little brown bat, have been decimated by an introduced fungal disease, white-nose syndrome.
So what can we do to help? According to the Cornell Wildlife Health Center, “to minimize spread of the fungus [that causes white-nose syndrome], people should not handle bats, avoid entering caves and mines with bat colonies, and should decontaminate all equipment and clothing between caves and bat roosts”.
Leave or plant trees with deep furrowed bark such as shagbark hickory that provide roosing spots for bats. Allowing dead trees with peeling bark can also provide habitat. If you must take down these trees, avoid cutting from May to early August when bats are raising thier young. We can also install bat boxes, which mimic areas bats would naturally roost.
Looking for something to do with the kids? Alyson Brokaw, a student involved with The Cornell University Naturalist Outreach Program, talks to students about her love of bats and developed a companion education guide.
Alyson talks about why the world’s only true flying mammals are so amazing and why you should learn all about them! Plus, Alyson answers the burning question: “Why do bats hang upside down?”
April 7, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Help! I found a tick on me! – Spring Edition
It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain
Part of what we want is to be outside! And, with COVID-19, more people than ever are heading to the great outdoors. Which, unfortunately, is where the ticks are. And ticks want a blood meal. In the early spring we still have some adult blacklegged tick adults hanging around. But the time has also come again for blacklegged tick nymphs to look for a meal. As well as American dog ticks. And lone star ticks. And the recently discovered Asian longhorned tick.
When taking pictures of ticks for identification purposes, try to have the tick fill as much as the frame as possible and take multiple pictures to increase the chances of one being in focus.
And people want answers to questions such as this one, “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?”
With four major tick species in New York, it’s important to identify which one bit you. Each species, life stage, and, for adults, whether it is a male versus female have different color patterns. The length of the mouthparts vary between ticks. They have festively named festoons which can also help with ID. As ticks are freakishly small, and we are looking at even smaller parts of their body, it is handy to have a magnifying lens, a good smartphone camera and a steady hand, or, better yet, a microscope. Don’t have one? There are options for having someone identify the tick for you. They include:
The Tick App – a citizen science project with a free smartphone app collecting information on how and where people are becoming exposed to ticks
Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center
If you want to give identification a go, the TickEncounter Resource Center has an excellent guide highlighting the scutum, festoons, and life history. Life history? Yes! Life history should only be used as a clue, however. Ticks don’t read the books and every life stage of the blacklegged tick has been found throughout the year.
Identification matters because different tick species can transmit different tick-borne pathogens. Which is information you want to give your health care provider to help them make an informed decision..
First, let’s be clear that we provide mostly information about ticks. Any information about tick-borne pathogens that cause disease is restricted to what pathogens are carried by what tick species and how they are transmitted. It is beyond the scope of our roles as IPM Educators to discuss diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. (For this information, we refer you to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tickborne Diseases of the United States page.)
Different tick species host different pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one pathogen at a time.
The poster to the right shows what disease pathogens can be transmitted by the three ticks of greatest human concern in NY, the blacklegged tick, dog tick, and lone star tick. To date, no Asian longhorned ticks in the U.S. have tested positive for any tick-borne pathogens.
What’s the risk?
A question you will likely be asked when reporting a tick is, “How long was the tick attached?”. In my honest opinion, this is a rather silly question. Ticks are very, very good at not being noticed. They want to stick around for up to a week feeding. To help deter detection, they release antihistamines and painkillers in their saliva. And, perhaps more importantly, none of us want to admit to ourselves that a tick was feeding on our blood for days. It’s a hard psychological pill to swallow. There is also some question in the medical literature about the time required for transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Especially if the tick was removed improperly. And we know Powassan virus can be transmitted in a matter of minutes. But the question will still likely be asked.
The answer? Take another look at that tick and refer to TickEncounter who has helpfully created charts showing the growth of ticks as they feed.
Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center
I have found this chart particularly useful when people swear the tick was on them for only a few hours. Having an estimate of the attached time is helpful information for your physician.
A microscope is definitely handy to help see the distinguishing features on removed ticks.
And now back to the original request: “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?” In this case, we were able to put the tick under a microscope to help with identification. Before reading on, what would you say it is?
This looks like a blacklegged tick nymph which was attached for 1 to 2 days, so any pathogens carried by the tick might have been transmitted. I recommended printing the Tick-Borne Diseases and Non-Pathogenic Impacts sheet, circling the identified species and life stage, writing down the estimated time of attachment, and calling their health care professional.
One last question often asked – “Should I get the tick tested?”
We follow the CDC recommendation of nothaving the tick tested for diagnostic purposes. The reasons include:
Positive results showing that the tick contains a disease-causing organism do not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. If you do become ill, you should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.
Promoting IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease.
This really isn’t the best time to need to head to the doctors. If you don’t get bitten by a tick, you don’t need to go through this process. Our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign provides you with the information you need to protect yourself from the risk of tick-borne diseases. Check it out before your next trip outdoors.
Let’s stay safe out there as we enjoy the beautiful spring.
March 20, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Protect yourself from spring ticks
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood
The spring of 2020 might have everyone’s yards incredibly tidy, as gardening and yard work are on the short list for things we can all do while social distancing. But COVID-19 isn’t the only disease we need to watch for, and new research shows that protecting yourself from tick-borne pathogens is more important than ever.
They’re active now
This table shows the textbook description of when blacklegged tick lifestages are active.
Blacklegged ticks are most active in the spring and fall, although you can often find them active year round if conditions are right (above 37o in the winter, cool and damp in the summer). Many still consider ticks to be a summer pest, but the poppy-seed sized nymph starts questing in the spring, and there have already been reports of nymphal activity in New York. These ticks are considered to be the most dangerous life stage due to their small size, so be sure to put all your tick prevention strategies into place now.
In reality, different blacklegged lifestages can be active almost anytime of year depending on weather conditions.
Keep it clean
A study looking at the effectiveness of recommended yard management measures against ticks showed the presence of trash could predict an increase in ticks over a clean yard, likely due to an increase in the number of small rodents that find both shelter and food amongst the trash. This was more pronounced in yards without forested areas. Sanitation is an important IPM step, so pick up and pack out that trash!
Check your leaves
Both adult and nymphal blacklegged ticks are active in the spring.
Identify areas in your yard where leaves have accumulated. Are they close to areas you spend a lot of time, like the kids’ swing set or your garden? It’s best to remove them. Are they in the far corner where no one ever goes? You can probably leave them, but be aware that the tick risk will likely be higher. Check for yourself. It’s pretty easy to monitor for ticks.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:
ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.
No one wants to find an embedded tick.
We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.
Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019
Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.