New York State IPM Program

February 22, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Happy Cows, More Milk — Organic Dairy Guide en Español

Happy Cows, More Milk — Organic Dairy Guide en Español

Happy cows. More milk. Now let’s try it in Spanish: Vacas felices. Más leche.

Pests can pack a wallop to a dairy farmer’s bottom line, costing between five and 20 percent of lost production. For every 100 cows you’ve got (and most farmers have many more) that can run to the tune of $23,000 to 95,000 per year. Of course, these estimates are based on data that can vary from region to region and year to year.

Misery loves company, and the time cows spend huddling for relief from stable flies is time not spent grazing. Less grazing, less milk. [Photo credit follows.]

But you get the idea — which is why the NYS IPM Program’s guides for organic dairies are so valuable. In fact, in the past six months alone these guides have garnered nearly 340 “pageviews” — a geeky term for how often someone explores an online document. After all, pests have no more respect for organic farmers than they do for conventional ones.

Before we say more about cows or our organic guides, though, let’s talk about people — namely the people who do the work. Because even on a small farm, the farmer can’t go it alone. Yet it’s hard to find good reliable labor for this difficult, labor-intensive work.

Stable fly bites hurt. What to do? Many tiny parasitic wasps attack stable fly pupae (no, they won’t sting you). Releasing parasitoids and other natural enemies is a core IPM practice.

That’s why dairy farmers in New York and across the nation have come to rely heavily on Hispanic workers — workers who are more tech-savvy than you might think, says Cornell Cooperative Extension bilingual dairy educator Libby Eiholser. Eiholser provides training programs and reference materials in Spanish and translated NYS IPM’s Spanish-language organic dairy guide — which has received 130-plus pageviews as of this posting. Now Hispanic workers have the opportunity to become yet more invested in the value of their work.

So … for all those pests that pack a wallop? Now Hispanic workers can open Guía del Manejo Integrado de Plagas (MIP) para los Ranchos Orgánicos and it’s all right there — the pest, the damage … oh, and the unhappy cows. IPM answers are right there too.

Informed workers, happier cows. Trabajadores con conocimiento, de vacas felices. Happy cows, more milk.. Vacas felices, más leche.

Learn more about IPM, livestock, the works.

Photo courtesy Bill Clymers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

August 24, 2015
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Carpenter Ant Satellite Nest – Elimination!

Carpenter Ant Satellite Nest – Elimination!

Of the ant species that invade homes, carpenter ants cause considerable distress due to their large size. This is particularly true in the spring and early summer, when foraging ants may be found in many rooms within a home. While these foragers are not much more than a nuisance, it is the nearby ant nest that is alarming to homeowners. Especially since carpenter ants can damage wood.

Carpenter ants can be thought of as an indicator species, since they tend to nest in wood that is damaged by moisture. Their presence is suggestive of a roof leak, clogged gutters, poor drainage from the home, or other structural issues that result in water-damaged wood. When nests are found in homes, they are often satellite colonies of the larger nest that is located outdoors in rotting wood such as a tree stump. It should be noted that carpenter ants do not eat wood as food (like termites), but rather use the structure for nesting purposes.

As an urban entomologist, my home is a laboratory of pest management trial and error. This spring and summer I observed carpenter ants in one corner of my garage. On the workbench below, I would occasionally see a dead ant or some frass (the excavated wood and food-stuffs kicked out of the nest). It wasn’t long before common house spiders (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) discovered the ants and started to feed on them, adding to the carnage on my work bench.

house_spider

House spider dining on a carpenter ant, with egg-sacs and newly-hatched spiders.

IMG_2062

What’s left after a spider feeds on many ants.

As summer progressed, I decided the experiment was over and wanted to rid myself of what I believed to be a satellite ant colony. I inspected the area around the ant sightings, and in the very corner of the garage, in a recessed void, I found what I was looking for – a large pile of frass and many ants. With my vacuum in hand (the same one I’ve used for eliminating yellowjackets), I vacuumed up as many ants as possible, plugged the end and left the vacuum in the heat of the sun for two days. Problem solved! Now I just need to find the parent colony.

IMG_2073

The spiders showed me exactly where the nest would be – the void in an upper corner of the workshop.

IMG_2075

Carpenter ant frass includes sawdust and pieces of insects.

Learn more in our carpenter ant factsheet!

Skip to toolbar