New York State IPM Program

April 30, 2013
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Review Your Balance Sheet (aka Better Late Than … )

Review Your Balance Sheet (aka Better Late Than … )

Never. This post was slated to go live the same day Uncle Sam started surcharging tardy tax returns. Then — human error took over.

 

You don’t have to step back in time, though, for this post to help you — it’s as relevant now as it was on April 15. And it’ll stay relevant year-round. Still, as with so many IPM tactics, the sooner you start the better.

******************** and now for the post: 

 

While Uncle Sam is busy reviewing your 2012 balance sheet, why not take a close look at your IPM 2012 “balance sheet”: your notes or scouting records? Sure, last year’s pest diary can’t predict what will hammer you this year. Still — other than new pests on the prowl, the pool of potential malcontents doesn’t differ much from year to year. You can learn a lot from reviewing which pests harassed you most (or gave you a break).

corn rootworm: unwelcome guest

 

Especially — if your records say what conditions tended to make problems worse. Did pests blow in on storm fronts from points south; were fields too wet too late; did Jack Frost leave a calling card when you least wanted it?

 

Conversely, your records could show which growing conditions hammered pests on your behalf.

 

With all that as your backdrop, what did you do about troubling pests? How well did your tactics work? What did you learn; what could you build on (or do differently) this year? If your records go back several years (a decade would be gravy), you’ve got lots of good material to draw on for evidence-based, least-toxic decisions about what to do when nature throws you a wild card.

 

onion thrips: sneak attack

Whether you’re a farmer, landscaper, groundskeeper, or gardener, we’re right there to suggest what cards to play. Tune into our timely pest forecasts, trap networks, and field reports to get a heads-up on what’s headed your way. And tweak the cultural and scouting practices that — for instance — favor healthy plants that shrug off disease or let you know that a pest’s natural enemies are about to take command.

 

IPM helps you make those evidence-based decisions — decisions that emphasize, for instance, resistant plant varieties, sanitation, the right nutrients at the right time, or pheromone traps that act like “come-hither” baits for pests otherwise intent on eating your crops. Prevention, in a word.

 

And while you’re at it — why not review our research reports to see what we’re learning? Example: maybe your records show you spent $60± per acre on preventive fungicides for field corn — fungicides that, according to belief, also promote higher yields. Or do they? We did the work and the math on a real-world farm and we’re thinking — not so fast. Because in this case, the farmer would take a hit of about $40 per acre on sprays that didn’t really improve yields all that much.

 

Your records are just as valuable for both pests, inside or out, at the schools,

yellowjackets are great pollinators and predators — at a distance

warehouses, concession stands, or rental properties you care for. Maybe last fall you saw way too many yellowjackets at the dumpster — but you can take steps early to prevent more of the same. Similarly, you’ll want to scout early whether it’s ants, stink bugs, cockroaches or mice knocking at your door.

 

The operative word: early. Which is why this review matters so much. Because late may as well be never.

April 4, 2013
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Don’t bee fooled

Don’t bee fooled

April can fool you all month long. Even if your pest-prevention responsibilities lie mostly indoors where frost and rain rarely intrude — a school, an office building, a museum, your home — April has some tricks up her sleeve. Those perimeter  pests, for example: wasps, bees, ants, termites. For many species of wasps and bees, queens are the only ones that survive the winter, so most likely you won’t see them making their solitary way in early spring. Take yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets. They’re out there scouting for nest sites — which means you should be scouting for them.

 

this starter nest is still small

Scope out entryways, porticos, eaves, and attics for small starter nests — it’s far easier to deal with a queen and a half-dozen workers now than a queen and 5,000 workers later. When you see a nest, knock it down with a broomstick, the spray nozzle on a hose, or even your kid’s Super Soaker. Then step on it. If using the broomstick, best done early on chilly mornings — wasps can’t move fast when it’s cool outside.

 

About yellowjackets — they’re really aggressive in defense of their nests. Not all species nest where you can see them. Some go underground — nesting in abandoned rodent burrows, for instance. Others find sneaky little holes leading into walls or attics. Get professional help — and never swat a yellowjacket (or any other wasp) — it releases alarm pheromones that call its kin to the scene. In the melee that follows you’re likely to get stung way more than you’d like.

 

Got bumblebees buzzing around your house? Most likely they’re carpenter bees, actually. Bumblebees look fuzzy; carpenter bees have shiny black bellies. Some are all-black.

 

Watch as they crawl in and out of their perfectly round holes — these bees are nature’s power drill. Though males will dive-bomb you if you move quickly, don’t be fooled (or frightened!): they can’t sting. Females (less often seen) can sting — but only if you work hard to provoke them. Though new nests are small, carpenter bees can do serious damage as subsequent generations bore deeper into wood to rear their young in turn. How to cope? Start here.

 

Worried you’ve got termites? They might be ants instead. And both termites and ants can swarm on warm spring days — maybe making you think you’ve got some kind of weird bee instead. But those wings are temporary.

 

Here’s how to tell termites and ants apart. Termites seem to have just two body parts: rounded heads with straight antennas and cigar-shaped bodies. Ants, au contraire, have three distinct body parts and (more distinctly yet) narrow-waisted hourglass figures. Note their bent antennae, too. Most ants are an annoyance and no more … but carpenter ants can remodel your home — while termites can demolish it. What to do? Begin here: Carpenter ants. Termites.

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