Urban IPM

Friday, July 14, 2017

Harvestmen, Daddy-longlegs or that weird, pulsing blob on the front porch

I received a wonderful photo this past week and was thrilled when I was told that I could use it on my blog- thanks Jackie!  The photo is the inspiration of today's post.

clumped harvestmen
Clumped harvestmen.  Photo by Jackie Johnson.
Harvestmen, also sometimes called Daddy-longlegs, are arachnids but are NOT spiders.  Harvestmen are actually in their own order, Opiliones, whereas spiders are in the order Araneae.  Harvestmen have one basic body section, two eyes, and eight legs.  They live in moist habitats and usually are found under rocks or logs.

The two questions I get in regards to harvestmen typically are:
1.  Why do they clump together?
2. Is it really true that they are the most venomous spider, but their fangs cannot penetrate our skin?

Sit down everyone, because your wish is coming true....the TRUTH ABOUT HARVESTMEN.....

Harvestmen on branch.
Let's begin with #1- Harvestmen clump together for multiple reasons.  First off, a clump of harvestmen looks a lot larger and scarier than a single harvestmen, so can help to cause predators to think twice about wanting to have them as a meal.  Secondly, harvestmen release a smell that is somewhat stinky (I was going to say smelly, but aren't all smells smelly?).  Again, with the smell, there is a benefit to larger numbers....the smell is more pronounced to help repel predators.  So, it basically comes down to what we teach our kids....there is safety in numbers.

Moving on to #2- We can begin with the most obvious point that was covered already....harvestmen are NOT spiders.  Next, I need to say that harvestmen do not have venom glands or fangs.  They typically feed on decomposing plant and animal matter.

So, there you have it.  You're burning questions about harvestmen are now answered.  I think this would be a great topic to discuss this weekend around the dinner table.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer is here....and so are cicadas!

Cicada adult and exuviaeHave you been hearing loud noises in trees when you go outside lately? Male cicadas are well known for their "song".  They rest on trees and produce a whining sound that is attractive to females (cicada females, that is...). The sound is produced by two vibrating membranes on the side of the cicada abdomen.  Fortunately, for those who do not enjoy the "music", female cicadas do not "sing".

Cicadas are fairly large insects with some growing over 1 1/2 inches. Color can vary depending upon the species, but many are browns and greens.  All cicadas have bulging eyes and, on adults, wings that are held roof-like over the body.  The wings are semi-transparent with thick veins.

Cicadas have a 2-5 year life cycle, the majority of which is spent underground.  After mating, females insert egg clusters into branches of trees using their saw-like ovipositor (egg laying structure).  Eggs hatch after about 6 weeks and small nymphs drop to the ground where they burrow into the soil. Nymphs feed on the sap of tree roots with their piercing-sucking mouthparts.  After nymphs have fully developed, they emerge from the ground at night and climb up nearby objects like tree trunks, plants, fences, etc.  Adult cicadas emerge from the last nymphal stage, leaving behind the exuviae (cast skin/ exoskeleton).  Adults can live 5-6 weeks.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mid-year check on bug webinar series watching

Have you been tuning in the first Friday of each month to the All Bugs Good and Bad webinar series? If you have no idea what I'm writing about or you possibly missed one or more along the way, FEAR NOT....we've got you covered!

American dog tickEach webinar has been taped for your viewing convenience (yes, you can watch in your PJs at home if you want).  All you have to do is click on the link of the webinar you want to view below and then click the green circle with the white arrow button next to "watch recording" in the upper right corner of the webpage that pulls up.

Webinars that have been completed so far in 2017:

Don't Let Tramp Ants Take Over Your Home

Protect Your Veggie Harvest From Hungry Insects

Mosquitoes and Insect Borne Diseases


Aphids, Scales and, Whiteflies

We also have more webinars scheduled for the rest of the year beginning August 4th with me talking about various flies.  Webinars are the first Friday of each month at 2 PM Eastern time (that's 1 PM here in Texas).

The rest of 2017's schedule:

Drain flies, house flies, and fungus gnats- August 4th

Meet our native pollinators- September 1st

New invasive ants to know about- October 6th

Pantry pests, carpet beetles, and clothes moths- November 3rd

Don't let bed bugs hamper your vacation plans- December 1st (this one is my hubby speaking!).

The 2017 Webinars are brought to you by the Ant Pests and Urban IPM eXtension Communities of Practice; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the University of Georgia ExtensionTexas A&M AgriLife Extension and Clemson Cooperative Extension.  Series Coordinators: Dani Carroll and Kathy Flanders, Auburn University.  Marketing: Amanda Tedrow, University of Georgia Extension.  Webinar Text Chat Moderators: Tim Davis, University of Georgia Extension, and Vicky Bertagnolli-Heller, Clemson Cooperative Extension.