Urban IPM

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lygus bugs

I've been getting email and calls about small "stink bugs" on cruciferous crops lately.  I went out to our demonstration garden to see if I could rustle some up on what we have planted out there and I hit the jackpot.  I found Lygus bugs on the cabbage and some other plants (that I have no idea what they are...I went back out to look- they're fava beans).

Lygus bugs have a wide host range and have been found on over 350 plants.  These bugs will commonly begin the year in weedy areas and then move into adjacent areas (leading them into gardens and landscapes) when the weeds begin to decline.

Adults are about 1/4 of an inch long and come in a variety of colors (the ones I've been seeing are brownish-black with red dots on the tip of the hemelytra).  They have whitish markings behind the head and on the wings.  The back half of the front wing is held downward at an angle (so it appears that the bug backed into a wall).  Nymphs look similar to the adults, but are usually a yellow-green in color and lack fully developed wings.

Weed management is very important to help keep populations of tarnished plant bug in check.  Manage weeds to keep the bugs from colonizing areas adjacent to gardens and landscape areas. You can try vacuuming them up with a hand-held vacuum. Pesticides can be used to knock down heavy populations.  Look for active ingredients such as insecticidal soap, azadirachtin, pyrethrins, or pyrethroids.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Survey needs participants!

The Southern Regional Extension Forestry program is conducting a survey about people’s awareness of forest and tree health issues. By answering a few questions about these issues, your firewood use habits, and where you’ve recently learned about the issues, program staff hopes to gain insight as to how to effectively engage with the public and how to improve in the future.

This survey should only take 10 minutes. The first page asks about your firewood purchasing practices. The second page asks about your knowledge of invasive forest insects. All answers will be kept completely confidential. Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Link to survey.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Widow spiders

Information just in time for Halloween where spider webs and spooky spiders are a common sight.

There are four species of widow spiders found in Texas, with the best known being the black widow.  Coloration can vary, but they are typically jet black with two reddish-orange triangles on the underside of the abdomen, forming an hourglass shape.  The triangles sometimes do not touch each other creating a broken hourglass shape.  Males and juveniles are smaller and often are more colorful, with bright markings on their sides or back.

Females lay eggs in an oval sac which can hold from 25 to over 900 eggs.  Depending on temperature and time of year, eggs usually hatch after about 20 days.  Spiderlings stay near the egg sac for several days where they can be seen consuming their brothers and sisters.  The survivors throw a thread of silk to the wind and are carried off in a process called “ballooning”.  They eventually locate a sheltered spot where they build a loosely woven web and remain for the rest of their lives.  As time progresses, the spiders build larger webs to capture larger prey.  Males eventually leave their webs to find females for mating.  In natural settings, most females do not eat males after mating.

Widow spiders do not like being in the open.  They can often be found outside in protected areas such as rainspouts, shrubbery, firewood piles or unused BBQ pits.  It is also possible to find them in garages, cellars, attics, furniture or electric or water meter boxes.  Widows are shy creatures and often people are bitten when a web is accidentally disturbed.

The bite of a black widow sometimes is not noticed, but when it is, it often feels like a pin prick.  The bite location will have two red marks surrounded by redness and swelling.  The bite reaction is systemic and intense pain usually occurs within 1-3 hours and continues for up to 48 hours.  Other symptoms include tremors, nausea, vomiting, leg cramps, abdominal pain, profuse perspiration and rise in blood pressure.  It is also possible for breathing difficulties and unconsciousness to occur.  If bitten by a black widow, immediately seek medical attention.

When working around the house or in the yard, it is best to wear leather gloves to avoid being bitten by venomous arthropods.