Urban IPM

Friday, June 24, 2016

House flies

Instead of complaining about all the rain we're getting, should we all switch to complaining about how HOT it is?

Warmer temperatures speed up development time of insects.  This means that they can reproduce and offspring reach adulthood faster allowing them to produce their offspring  which will reach adulthood rapidly and so on.  Do you see how this can cause pest problems?

The insect I'm focusing on today is the house fly. Why this particular insect?  Well, they are the ones that currently drive me crazy when I'm making dinner.  Having them buzzing around while I'm prepping food isn't ideal.  And please don't tell me about hanging bags of water....it doesn't work.  My fly problems are further compounded because my lab chases them around the house without regard to where she is going, so she is jumping around, banging into everything, snapping at them with her jaws.  It's amusing until she plows into you.

So since we all pretty much know what a housefly looks like, I'll skip to the nitty-gritty....what to do about them in your house.  For the adults, it's really best to get a fly swatter or something similar to smack them with (good old fashioned mechanical control!).  I get rather obsessive about stalking flies around my house which is now much more difficult since the dog is trying to "help".  There are also things such as fly strips which can physically trap the adults, but be aware that you will have a strip of dead or struggling flies dangling in your house.

The best way to deal with house flies is to locate possible sources where the maggots (baby flies or larvae) are developing.  This is going to most likely be associated with some sort of organic matter.  I, personally, am going to clean out my garbage and recycling cans of all the funk that has accumulated (not the actual garbage or recyclables, but the stuff that leaks out into the bottom). The other thing that I need to do is get on a more regular schedule of picking up the dog waste in the backyard and throwing it away.  I usually do that once per week, but I need to double up now that it's warmer.  Of course, I'm not going to be able to get rid of ALL the house flies, so I will keep my fly swatter (and dog) nearby.

Friday, June 10, 2016


It seems that the cooler weather and moisture have disappeared and we've moved into sweltering temperatures.  While it will be nice to dry out a bit, expect pest populations to be on the rise.  One to watch for is aphids as their populations can increase rapidly.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with "tailpipes" (better known as cornicles) coming off the tip of the abdomen.  Aphids come in a variety of colors and may or may not have wings.  They have an incomplete life cycle (egg- nymph- adult) with the nymphs looking similar to the adults but smaller.

These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts and will insert them into the plant to suck up plant juices.  Aphid damage can lead to yellowing, curling and/ or stunting of the plant.  Aphids are often found on the underside of leaves or along the stem of the plant.  Sometimes they can be found on the plant roots.

Aphids are also honeydew producers.  Honeydew is a sticky, sweet substance that may look shiny on the foliage of the plant.  Honeydew can also lead to a secondary plant problem called sooty mold.  Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on honeydew areas and if you see it on your plants, then you need to look for and manage the honeydew producing insect.

If you discover aphids, you can try a jet of high pressure water to dislodge them from the plant.  If that doesn't help, then you can try less toxic pesticides such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, pyrethrins or azadirachtin.  They can also be killed with synthetic formulations.  Please be sure to read the label of the product you choose to apply properly.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Texas

In late April 2016, four emerald ash beetle adults were located in a trap by the Texas A&M Forest Service in Harrison County (near the Louisiana & Arkansas borders).  Currently, there are no confirmed trees infested with emerald ask borer.

Emerald ash borer, often shortened to EAB, are invasive beetles that attack stressed and healthy ash trees.  These beetles are native to Asia and were discovered for the first time in the U.S. in Michigan back in 2002.  The beetle has now spread to 26 states and killed millions of ash trees.  The beetles are aggressive and can kill an infested ash tree within 2-3 years.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, there are 16 species of ash in the U.S. and 7 of those can be found in Texas.  

A statewide plan involves monitoring of beetle movement; educational programming; providing technical assistance in prevention, preparation and recovery; and working with regulatory agencies in regards to quarantines.  The Texas A&M Forest Service is also working to slow the movement of the beetle.

“Proper planning can reduce the impact of EAB in our communities,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator Paul Johnson. “Removal of poor quality ash, planting trees that aren’t susceptible to EAB, and protecting high value ash by treating them will help us weather this attack. Work with a forester or an ISA-certified arborist to help you assess your EAB risk and care for your trees.”

For everything you needed to know about emerald ash borers in Texas, see the Texas A&M Forest Service's site here (really, you should read this!!): https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/eab/

For general emerald ash borer information see this site: http://www.emeraldashborer.info/