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.
April 6, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Timely School IPM Tip #3: Sanitation
This is the third and final post dedicated to tactics of school IPM most appropriate to the current situation of shuttered schools. (If your building is open to provide meals for at-home students, we applaud your efforts!)
Post #1 Scouting, Post #2 Exclusion. Sanitation is a third step in structural pest management, as it reduces pest habitat (food, water, shelter).
Sure to gain your attention, this photo (below) proves there’s been a lack of sanitation (and scouting, and exclusion!) But this scenario might well be the case in buildings left unattended during the Covid-19 closures. This may seem extreme, but sanitation isn’t just removing dead rodents, it’s keeping storage areas, kitchens and classrooms free of crumbs, condensed water, and recyclables.
Below is a (partial) look at our recommended Best Management Practices chart. We left off the Daily practices in favor of what can be done best during shutdown. Sanitation is more than just cleaning greasy stove tops. It’s getting to all those places we’d rather ignore, and reducing clutter and keeping food products in pest-proof containers.
The key factor is sanitation and reduction in habitat. Take care not to bring them in on packaging material (inspect incoming food). Clean up all spilled foods; don’t leave dirty dishes overnight; store all food in pest-resistant packaging; modify areas where pipes and utilities enter walls (caulk and screen all entrances); reduce moisture by improving plumbing and insulating pipes that routinely sweat. Empty garbage every day. Keep floor drains capped or full of water. Increase ventilation in moist areas. Baits are the most efficient and widely used form of control, but prevention is the least toxic method of control.
(Above) Mouse droppings are not just unsightly, they can cause allergic reactions and health issues, and can carry disease. Cockroaches exacerbate conditions like asthma. SANITATION also assists monitoring. If this area was cleaned last week, you can be sure the droppings are new.
(Above) Drain Fly Harborage: Clogged floor drains with decaying organic material provides breeding habitat for drain flies.
(above) This commercial storage area shows good spacing and pest-resistant storage. Keeping cardboard to a minimum, and providing space between items, and space below and behind the shelving makes for easier cleaning. (photo Dr. Matt Frye)
Today, we want to emphasize ways to EXCLUDE pests. Exclusion is a fundamental way to reduce pests in buildings. Unfortunately, it’s not always a quick and easy job.
Some gaps are easy to see. Improperly fitting door sweeps or gaps along utility lines, for instance. Others, like gaps along roof lines are harder to locate, and harder to access.
We’ve included some videos and some links to METHODS and exclusion product resources. NOW is a great time to address pest reduction or prevention needs in quiet school buildings. Trade names used herein are for convenience only; no endorsement of products is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products implied.
(Above) “You might be a pest management champion” if you automatically look for gaps like this in structural doors.
(Above) This gap is obvious, but so often ignored. A proper job of completely sealing this with cement will keep rodents out. Even so, areas like this should be scouted on a regular basis, as pests will find a way to re-use old pathways.
Before adding ‘exclusion’ in the form of stainless steel wire mesh fiber
Weeding tools have come a long way! Last summer, Eric Gallandt invited me to present the results of my latest “stacked” cultivation trials at the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo. I brought my camera along to document the exciting exhibits by vendors and other researchers. Stacked cultivation featured prominently, as did enhanced accuracy – achieved through improved steering capability or camera-guided tools.
(Above) KULT Kress demonstrated their camera guided sweeps and finger weeders (only one row operating). These weeds were too large for optimal finger weeder performance. In-row weeds are most effectively controlled when less than one inch tall.
(above) The camera guidance system display was brought out from the tractor cab to show participants how it focuses on green plants to determine the location of the crop row.
(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).
(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).
(above) The cultivating tractor from Tilmor is reminiscent of the Allis Chalmers G, but notice the new crane-winch system for moving tools into place.
(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.
(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.
(above) Ellen Mallory PhD, and Tom Molloy from UMaine discuss their results testing the potential of the CombCut and inter-row hoeing in small grains.
(above) “Stacking” cultivation tools is not just for vegetable crops, this combination has proved effective in small grains.
(above) Slow-motion-video of camera-guided hoeing in a small grain. This practice is gaining popularity in Europe but is still uncommon in the United States.
(below) The futuristic “Tertill” from Franklin Robotics. This solar-powered weeding robot attacks weeds with a string trimmer on its belly and it senses crop plants based on their height. I can’t believe this is now on the market! Flying cars will be next!
March 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Permethrin Treated Clothing? Do it the right way.
“Frugality, I’ve learned, has its own cost, one that sometimes lasts forever.” – Nicholas Sparks
The label is the law and will tell you everything you need to know about using a pesticide correctly and legally. (Image does not imply endorsement.)
Some pesticides containing permethrin can be applied to clothing, footwear and gear to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. Recent research confirmed that permethrin interferes with blacklegged, American dog, lone star and Asian longhorned ticks’ ability to move and, thus, to bite. EPA-registered products specifically designed for clothing contain 0.5% permethrin. A 22.5 oz. spray bottle claims to treat five outfits and costs $14. However, some people look to save money by buying a permethrin product meant for turfgrass or ornamental applications and diluting it to 0.5%. But what is the actual cost?
3 Reasons Why Making Your Own Permethrin Spray is a Bad Idea:
1) It probably won’t work. A pesticide product contains inert ingredients that help the active ingredient (in this case, permethrin) perform properly for the uses listed on the product label. Products used in clothing and gear sprays are uniquely suited for binding the permethrin to fabric and product labels tell you how long they will be effective (e.g., six weeks or six washes, whichever comes first). If you make a DIY spray with a permethrin product designed for other uses, it won’t bind as well to your clothes; thus, there is no way to know if it will work or for how long, putting you at risk for a tick bite.
2) You could be putting yourself, others, pets, non-target animals, and the environment at unacceptable risk. Permethrin can be harmful if absorbed through the skin and if a product is not designed to bind the permethrin to your clothing, the insecticide will instead move from the clothing onto your skin. For your protection, the EPA will register the use of a pesticide only if rigorous safety testing shows it will “pose no unreasonable risks to people or the environment when used according to label directions.” Only those uses listed on a pesticide label have met this standard, and treating clothing and gear is NOT a use listed on the label of other permethrin products.
3) It is against the law. Because of Reason #2, the first sentence in the Directions for Use section of all permethrin products is “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” Which, by the way, also means it is against your state’s laws.
Commercially available permethrin clothing and gear sprays cost more because it takes time and money to develop the right mix of ingredients and conduct the required safety testing to ensure that the product will control ticks without putting people and the environment at risk. DIY treatments that pose greater risks while providing poorer control of ticks are hardly a bargain; be sure to use the real thing and follow all label directions.
“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.
Back in 2013, the Northeast School IPM Working Group (NESIWG) received a Partnership Grant from the Northeastern IPM Center to develop a Best Management Practices (BMP) website.
Reducing pest and pesticide exposure is important for children, just as it is for district staff and visitors. But schools are especially challenging to manage because they include such varied and heavily used settings such as classrooms, cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, playing fields, playgrounds and gardens.
The burden of use on an athletic field. (NYSIPM photo)
With the help of many contributors, the NESIWG both created and collected resources for school IPM. We wanted to help administrators, school boards, parents, teaching and support staff, athletic directors, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and custodians how a designated pest management plan can reduce both pests and the need for pesticides. The website was a success.
By 2018, NESIWG members saw the need to update old links and fill out gaps in the content. Eager to keep the website a useful and comprehensive resource, the working group applied for and received a NEIPM Communications grant. Again using focus groups, the following changes were made:
a reorganization of the pest species list,
additional information on relevant pesticide use regulations in all Northeastern states,
grouping resources by stakeholder roles,
the addition of two new pages: Breakfast in the Classroom and Playgrounds
Additionally, the recent grant included an update of the working group’s homepage, a new ranking of regional school IPM priorities, a current membership list and an index of school IPM contacts in the Northeast.
Front (Outside) of Brochure
Now, with changes soon to be complete, the NESIWG welcomes your visits and assistance in sharing this helpful site. After all, finding and using the website is key!
Soybean Disease Identification, Expansion of Soilborne Soybean Diseases and the Soybean Cyst Nematode in NYS, and Considerations for Soybean Seed Treatment Options for these Threats
Cayuga County CCE specialist Ron Kuck held a shop meeting at Dumond’s farm in Union Springs on February 19th. Jaime Cummings, Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator at NYSIPM shared information on how to correctly identify, differentiate and manage soybean diseases, which seed treatments are most beneficial and cost-effective for soybeans in NY, and how to deal with the new soybean cyst nematode now that it’s been confirmed more widely in NY.
A good turnout on February 19 for a Cayuga County Shop Meeting. Growers concerned with soybean diseases heard the latest from NYSIPM’s Jaime Cummings.
Participants took a pre-workshop quiz to gauge their knowledge of the subject, and a post-workshop quiz to see how much they learned. And, they learned a lot! The average quiz rating before the workshop was 57%, and was 87% after. This means a 30% knowledge gain regarding when and which management methods are most effective for each soybean disease, including when pesticides are not the best option, and how to incorporate integrated pest management options for minimizing losses to the soybean cyst nematode.
Soybean Sudden Death (SDS) Foliar Symptoms
Ron Kuck received positive feedback from a number of participants, who each said that they appreciated the workshop and Jaime’s expertise and enthusiasm on the subject matter.
About 35 farmers and agriculture professionals attended February’s Shop Meeting in Union Springs, NY.
Symptoms of Northern stem canker on soybean.
Thank you to all who coordinated and attended this successful event.
On Wednesday, February 12th, the New York State Turfgrass Association (NYSTA) Central Regional Conference provided the backdrop for a special recognition.
“NYSTA’s Citation of Merit award recognizes someone who is dedicated to turfgrass research and education, and promotes the careers of those in the turf industry. The New York State Turfgrass Association commends Jennifer for her leadership and service to the turfgrass industry and her valued commitment to environmental stewardship principles. Jennifer’s work secured the foundation of a nationally-respected IPM program. NYSTA is honored to include her in our prestigious group of Citation of Merit recipients.”
It’s clear that nominees have certainly earned the admiration and respect of their peers and colleagues. Those of us who work with her everyday couldn’t agree more.
Dr. Betsy Lamb, Dr. Jennifer Grant, and NYSTA’s Vice President, Steven Whipple
NYSIPM’s own Dr. Betsy Lamb was able to announce and present the award. “I am pleased and honored to announce that the 2020 Citation of Merit is awarded to Jennifer Grant, my colleague and friend.”
Here are some of the accolades:
Kevin Cassidy, New York State Director of Golf
“I first met Jennifer 20 years ago when she and Frank Rossi approached Bethpage State Park looking to apply their IPM research to a fully operational golf course. In 2010, what was learned initially through trial and error on Bethpage’s Green Course was expanded successfully to our entire golf operation statewide (19 facilities). I have witnessed firsthand Jennifer imparting her wisdom and passion to all of our facilities, reinforcing the fact that they can indeed provide top notch playing conditions, while doing it in an environmentally sustainable manner. I was thrilled to hear that Jen was being awarded the Citation of Merit by the NYSTA – what a well deserving recipient. Congratulations my friend!!”
Kyle Wickings, Associate Professor, Cornell Entomology
Dr. Kyle Wickings
“I have always been impressed by Jennifer’s perspective on the turfgrass industry. Her knowledge of the needs and interests of our stakeholders and commitment to improving the sustainability of turf make for an excellent combination. I continue to use this as a model when gauging the value of my lab’s research and extension programming.”
Julie Suarez, Associate Dean, Office of Governmental and Community Relations
“Jennifer’s strength, grace, and great kindness are the traits I will miss the most. I am, of course, impressed with her tremendous accomplishments in the field of IPM – the living turfgrass BMP’s, all her work with Bethpage and Parks on pollinator habitat – the list can be endless. But what I will miss the most are the endearing personal qualities that she has always brought to her job – the steadfast commitment, perseverance, and ability to figure out how to just make things happen and frequently on a shoe string.”
Andy Wilson, Bethpage State Park Director of Agronomy
Jennifer and Andrew Wilson during a teaching event on Bethpage State Park Golf Course
“Jennifer’s diligence to not only Bethpage but New York State led us to be at the forefront of seeking solutions and experimenting with novel approaches to pest problems that reduce reliance on pesticides. Those solutions and approaches sometimes do not work, which is part of the process. Which makes me appreciate Jen’s patience. As a golf course superintendent I can admit we are an impatient bunch. Dr. Grant has dealt with some of our frustration and persisted in guiding us along a path where we are more thoughtful about how we maintain the golf course short and long term. When I first met Jennifer 20 years ago I did not realize how lucky I was to work with someone so talented.”
Dr. Frank Rossi, Associate Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Cornell University
Dr. Frank Rossi
“In my thirty years of working around the world on progressive IPM, no single person has had greater impact on adoption of IPM principles that generally lead to reduced pesticide use than Dr. Jennifer Grant. She has lead industries throughout NY quietly but diligently toward principles of land management (beyond turf) that have made NY agriculture and communities among the most productive and environmentally responsible in the world.”
Scouting for pests–in this case grubs–is key to successful IPM, and IPM has always been the focus of Jen’s trainings.