Urban IPM

Friday, July 25, 2014

The flies are everywhere!

Blow fly.
Have you been dealing with as many flies at your house this month as I have?  Whenever I'm cooking there seems to be that ONE FLY that is buzzing around driving me crazy.  I grab the flyswatter and slowly stalk around the kitchen trying to hunt it down.  Sometimes I'm fortunate enough to smack it down out of the air and smash it on the floor.  Most times I whizz the swatter through the air and completely miss which, after about 15 minutes of obsessing over the ONE FLY, really enrages me.

I've been dealing mostly with blow flies, but I've also seen some house flies and this week I had two outbreaks of fruit flies- one in the kitchen and one in the boy's bathroom (we'll come back to this).  I also had the pleasure of discovering maggots all over the garbage can last week when I took out the garbage one morning.  Apparently, something yummy was thrown out and the flies went crazy. The garbage can was sprayed with some pesticide and when I checked on the maggots that evening they were dead.  The fruit flies in the kitchen were coming from and over-ripe pineapple that I had left on the counter; it's now in the refrigerator until I can cut it up.  The fruit flies in the boy's bathroom were a bit perplexing until he told me he threw away an apple core in his garbage.
A glueboard from a fly light I have by the backdoor.

Yes, it's that time of year when fly populations go crazy.  With hot weather, fly life cycles speed up and the population can grow very quickly.  Adults can be killed fairly easy with things like fly swatters.  Some people like to use fly paper or water traps (the fly traps need to be the actual traps that have the stinky pheromone lure, not just a ziptop baggie filled with water), but if you choose to use them place away from doors or areas where you spend your time.

The best way to manage fly populations is to manage the source- where they are coming from.  Some ideas to help reduce flies at your house:
  • take garbage & recycling out on a regular basis
  • clean garbage & recycling bins every few weeks
  • pick up any animal waste and dispose of it several times per week
  • remove any dead/ decaying animals from the area
  • place fruit in a paper bag to ripen

Friday, July 11, 2014

What to do when bees move in

I know that many people are concerned about honey bees and the decline in their population.  I don't want to get into a dissertation on that topic, but instead provide information on what should be done when the turn into a pest.  What?  Did she just say honey bees and pest in the same sentence?  How is that possible?  Well, a "pest" is something that is considered to be out of place, so when honey bees move into an unwanted area (under sheds, water meter boxes, wall voids, etc.) they need to go somewhere else.  Honey bees are capable of stinging and some people are very allergic to the venom, so stinging incidences can be of medical importance.  Taking all of this into account, there are times when bees need to be removed from certain places.

Removing honey comb from a wall void.
Honey bees are a non-native species.  Yes, both the ones that everyone adores and the Africanized bees that are villainized.  These are the same species of bee that are different subspecies.  Many times people talk to me as if Africanized bees are somehow separate and don't do the "good things" like produce honey, wax and other products; they do produce those items but they have the unfortunate nature of often being more aggressive.

So, what should you do if bees move in to an unwanted location?  First, check if it's a swarm or a hive/ colony.  You can find out more about the difference between the two here.  Once you have that down, you will know if you need to wait for the bees to move along on their own or if you need to call someone.  Yes, I said call someone.  This is not something that you should try to do yourself because of the dangerous stinging incidences that can occur.  Options would be beekeepers or pest management companies.  Now before everyone gets into a tizzy, I am not saying kill all bees.  This may have to happen in some cases, but there are times when honey bees can be removed and relocated.  There are beekeepers that provide both services and there are pest management companies that provide both services.  Your job is to contact someone who will provide you with the service that you want at a price point that you are okay with.  And yes, it will cost you to have them removed (with either method).  I know of no one who offers this service for free.  You should be able to look for companies or beekeepers in the phone book or by utilizing an online search.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Webworms invading Austin

I've been receiving calls on webworms that are in trees surrounding Ladybird Lake.  we also have webworms in a tree at the Demonstration Garden.  Since it's a demonstration garden, I'm using the webworms as a....you guessed it!....demonstration.

I'm sure that you have been told (even possibly by me) that you can manage webworms by removing webs and knocking them out the tree with a stick.  I decided to see how well it actually works.  So far, it's going pretty well.  I started two weeks ago when we had a pretty good covering of webs on the tree.  I took a metal pole (actually the handle of an insect net which I had in my office) and removed as much of the webbing as I could from the branches.  I made a pile of webbing and caterpillars on the ground while removing the webs and that got taken to the garbage when I was finished.  I also whacked on the tree branches a few times after removing as much of the webbing as I could to dislodge any caterpillars.  I repeated the process every Monday and Friday.  Today when I checked on the webworms, there was only one small new web spun very close to a small branch.  The rest of the area has dead leaves and some loose webbing clinging to the branches, but the webworms aren't actively there anymore.  I removed the small section of webbing I found today and whacked the branch.  I'll check the situation again on Monday.  While I'm not completely done with the demonstration, so far it is looking pretty good.
 

Webworms on 6/13/14

Webworms on 6/20/14

Webworms on 6/27/14