Urban IPM

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fire Ants are Swarming! Treatment options

There are numerous ways to manage fire ants, but they are often broken into two categories- broadcast treatments and individual mound treatments.  Individual mound treatments are used to treat one mound at a time and can be labor intensive and may result in more pesticide being spread into the environment.  Broadcast treatments spread product (granular or bait) over a large area.

Individual mound treatments include pouring boiling water onto the mound, using insecticide mound drenches, spreading insecticide granules onto the mound and watering them in, sprinkling insecticidal dusts on top of the mound or using bait-formulated insecticides around the perimeter of the mound.  There are also many “home remedies”, but be advised that many of these do not kill fire ants.  Many home remedies make the fire ants move to a new location (often 1-2 feet away), but do not kill the ants.

Bait-formulated insecticides most often consist of a de-fatted corn cob grit coated with soybean oil; the soybean oil is where the active ingredient (what kills the pest) is dissolved. Worker ants collect bait as a food source and take it back to the colony to share with other ants, including the queen.  Depending on the active ingredient, the bait may cause the queen to die or be unable to produce viable eggs, which gradually kills off the colony.  When using baits, results are often slower to observe when compared to individual mound treatments, but can provide 80-90% suppression for 12-18 months.  A bonus to broadcasting baits is that the amount of active ingredient is generally very small, which places less chemical into the environment.

With any pesticide treatment, read and follow all label instructions.  Make sure to water in the pesticide if the label instructs to do so.  Failure to water in chemicals when recommended by the label does an inadequate job of killing the ants.  Baits should not be watered in or used before a rainfall event; baits will not be picked up by ants if they get wet.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Beetle or true bug?

Several people have been asking me about "beetle" problems they are having on their plants.  When I finally see the insect it's not a beetle, but a true bug. So, how do you tell the difference between the two groups?

Beetles: Beetles have hardened forewings (the front wings), so they may look as if they have a straight line down their back. Beetles also have chewing mouthparts with mandibles.

True bugs: True bugs have their forewings hardened at the base and membranous at the end. This creates a triangular shape on their back. True bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts (sort of an elongated beak) that fit on the underside of the body between the legs.

Friday, April 15, 2016

East Austin Garden Fair- tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th

Come to a great garden fair - Rain or Shine!
Saturday - April 16, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm 

Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center - Gymnasium 

2608 Gonzales Street, Austin, TX 78702
Free: Admission, Plants (vegetables & herbs), Garden buckets, Garden books/magazines and soil screening for food gardeners. Easy instructions for soil sampling at http://austintexas.gov/soilkitchen
Visit with friendly gardeners regarding:
  • Bee Keeping, Backyard Chickens, Bugs & Butterfly Gardening
  • Growing Fruit, Citrus, Vegetables & Herbs
  • Preserving Your Harvest & Food Safety
  • Lawns, Turfgrass & Tree Care
  • Drip Irrigation Methods & Rainwater Harvesting
  • Straw-bale Gardening, Grow Boxes & Keyhole Gardens
  • Firewise Landscaping & Native and Adapted Plants
  • Composting Basics & Worm Composting
  • Houseplants, Terrariums, Greenhouses & Hoophouses
  • Aquaponics, Community Gardens & Bio-intensive Methods
  • Caring for Garden Tools & much more!
Kids will have a great time with 20 activities on bugs, birds, bees, butterflies, seeds, herbs, leaves, soils and seeing nature up close. Get an apron and build a tool box at the Home Depot Kid's workshop.
For more information, please call 512-854-9600