Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale- watch for this new pest and report sightings

There is a  new insect pest that is spreading to crape myrtle trees throughout Texas.  This insect was first detected in 2004 here in Dallas, but it wasn’t until last year that this scale was positively identified as an exotic scale, Eriococcus lagerstroemiae.  In 2014 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension published information about this scale  and most recently, AgriLife employees have worked with the Southern Region IPM Center to create an information clearinghouse and citizen science database for this pest.

Here’s where we especially need your help.  We are asking people in Texas who think they have encountered this pest to report it. The Early Detection and Distribution Mapping (EDDMaps) site makes this process fairly simple.  A person can register on the site and click on this the REPORT SIGHTINGS tab and report a new location for this pest.  A report is verified by pictures, so we encourage folks to take a digital picture of the suspect infested tree. The site allows the inputter to pinpoint down to the precise block or backyard where the infested tree is located. It’s actually kind of fun.

We know that the scale is already present in Houston and College Station; but we have very few reports from east and Central Texas sites.

BTW, control information for this pest is available both on our Texas fact sheet and on the EDDMaps site.  AgriLife employees are also planning research this summer to screen new treatments for this pest that do not involve neonicotinoid insecticides.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Crane flies- Spring is here!

I saw my first crane fly of the year before the cold hit this week.  In my mind, that means spring is officially here.  Crane flies have a bunch of different names that are mostly regional. Around here I hear people call them crane flies or mosquito hawks.   Many people think they eat mosquitoes, but the adults either do not feed at all or feed on nectar. Some people think crane flies are a giant form of mosquito.

Adult flies are tan with very long legs. They are pretty delicate, and often you find them missing legs (see photo). Adults also have a V-shaped suture on their thorax. Larvae are a grayish-brown color and may be found in compost piles, in the soil or other moist environments. Larvae feed on decaying organic matter, but sometimes feed on the roots of plants.

Crane flies can be a nuisance pest indoors when they are attracted to porch lights and move inside when the door is opened. You can either capture the crane fly and move it back outside or try swatting it with a flyswatter or sucking it up with a vacuum hose attachment. Try using yellow bug bulbs in porch lights outside so the lights are less attractive to insects. You can also get a cat...mine loves to hunt and eat crane flies.