Friday, October 5, 2018

Rain and mosquitoes

With all of the rain that we have received lately and more on the way, it's understandable for people to be concerned about mosquitoes.  I'm not going to rehash everything here in this post, but I will direct you to past posts on mosquito topics.

mosquito
I do want to let people know of floodwater mosquitoes which are different from our normal culprits.  I usually get the statement of the "huge mosquito" or a "mosquito that REALLY hurts when it bites" or a "mosquito that tried to carry them away".  These are the floodwater mosquitoes that come out after we have heavy rains.  These mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas that water will reach during flooding conditions (or heavy rainfall).  Fortunately, they can also be repelled with mosquito repellent.  The EPA has a site that can help you choose a mosquito repellent here.

As for other mosquito information, remember the following:
  1. Stay indoors during peak mosquito hours*- dawn & dusk
    1. *please note that some Aedes mosquitoes are day time feeders while some Culex are night time feeders in addition to being active at dusk and dawn, so precaution should be taken whenever outside
  2. Eliminate standing water
    1. Dispose of old tires or cover them with a tarp to keep off rain
    2. Clean out gutters and downspouts
    3. Bird baths, pet water dishes, etc. should be emptied and refilled twice a week
    4. Store containers so they do not hold water
  3. Keep grass mowed to a proper length & vegetation trimmed (mosquitoes like to rest in thick vegetation)
  4. Repair leaky faucets or A/C lines that produce condensate
  5. In permanent standing water areas, use things like mosquito fish or Bt israelensis (dunks)
  6. Keep window screens in good repair
  7. Use repellents when going outside (follow label instructions).
For mosquito & mosquito disease information see this page for more information:
http://urban-ipm.blogspot.com/2016/07/mosquito-and-mosquito-disease.html

For information about heartworms (transmitted to pets by mosquitoes) see this page:
http://urban-ipm.blogspot.com/2017/08/heartworms.html

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fall Armyworms

armywormI have been getting questions on armyworms and consulting with other entomologists, they have been as well.  So, instead of me recreating the wheel, I am going to link you to a publication written by Dr. Allen Knutson.

Also, if you want to learn how to prepare your home to keep unwanted guest- in this case insects, not relatives- from entering your house, check out this month's All Bugs Good and Bad webinar provided by Janet Hurley.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Texas cave scorpion

Most people in Central Texas are well aware of striped bark scorpions as they can be found in the landscape and sometimes will venture indoors.  We have another scorpion that can be found in the area, the Texas cave scorpion.
Texas cave scorpion with babies
Scorpions are arachnids with eight legs and two body regions.   Scorpions have two pincers or claws, called pedipalps, which help them hold their prey as they eat.  They also have a long tail with a stinger on the tip that can be used for defense or to paralyze their prey.  Cave scorpions are dark in color and have thicker pedipalps than the striped bark scorpions.

Texas cave scorpions do not live in the same locations as striped bark scorpions.  They live in....you guessed it!....CAVES!  They can also be found in grottos or other limestone features, so these will be in rockier areas of Central Texas.

Texas cave scorpion with babies UV glowSo why am I rattling on about cave scorpions?  My cave scorpion had babies yesterday!!  They are so incredibly cute!  I was unaware that my scorpion was even pregnant.  Scorpions are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young.  The gestation period can last for 2-18 months. Considering that I did not have a male, this female had to be pregnant when I got her.  Female scorpions exhibit maternal care and will carry the babies around on their bodies until the undergo the first molt.

I have included an image that I took of the momma and babies under a black light so you can see that the babies don't fluoresce or glow like the adults will.




Friday, August 24, 2018

My travelling adventures and the TAMU tick app

I recently returned from a trip to Ohio.  The trip was a bit of an adventure...well, at least the getting there part.  We left here around 7:30AM and were supposed to get to Ohio at 12:35PM with a brief stop in St. Louis.  That did NOT happen.  On our way to St. Louis, there was an announcement about a mechanical issue with the plane, so they decided to land in Dallas to have things checked out.  I am totally fine with that as I would rather be on a plane that they are 100% sure is working properly.  After landing in Dallas, they decided to get us a new plane which meant that we had to wait for a new plane, we had to all get off the plane, and then to reboard the new plane.  Fortunately, this all went off without a hitch and we were soon back on our way to St. Louis.  Unfortunately, it was now about 10:45AM, so there was no way we were going to make our connecting flight.

Once we got to St. Louis, we got off the plane knowing that we had missed our flight to Ohio.  Since numerous other people were also having to figure out new ways to get to where they were going, we headed a couple of gates down to a counter that didn't have a huge line waiting to talk to someone about their flight information.  Ironically, the woman in front of us at the counter was going to the same place we were, so we kind-of heard through her as to what our options were.  The next flight to Ohio left at 2:30PM THE NEXT DAY.  The woman in front of us decided to rent a car and drive the rest of the way, but I wasn't in the mood to jump into a car for 8 hours with a kid who was already grumpy from plane issues.  We opted for the flight the following day and decided to make a mini vacation out of our time in St. Louis and went downtown to see the Arch.  The boy also wanted to visit a military museum that was nearby so we schlepped 15 blocks there, but it ended up being closed for renovations (a fact that their website DID NOT disclose).  We had a mini picnic dinner in the hotel room while watching Spongebob, went swimming the next morning, and headed back to the airport.

So why this long convoluted story?  I'm getting there, I promise.

We FINALLY make it to Ohio the following day.  We hit baggage claim and grab my hubby & the boy's luggage.  We wait for mine.  We still wait for mine.  We start to look around for mine as there is no more luggage coming around the baggage carousel.  I go to the office for lost luggage to check if they grabbed it. Nope.  No luggage for me.  I fill out paperwork with them a
nd they let me know that they will deliver my luggage the following day once it is located.

We drive to my parent's house to crash.  Fortunately, I had a set of comfy clothes in my carry on, so I had something to sleep in.  I get an email from the airline saying they had located my luggage (YAY!), but where I was staying was out of their delivery area, so they would FedEx my luggage instead of deliver it (BOO!).  To provide a timeline, we left Austin on Sunday, it is now Monday night and I was being informed that I would get my luggage on Wednesday "sometime between 10:30AM- 1:30PM".  I'm just rolling with the punches at this point because there really isn't anything I can do other than wait until Wednesday or drive 3 hour round trip the next day to get my luggage. 

American dog tickThe next morning I get up and looking really scruffy head to Wallyworld to get some necessities, you know, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, and yeah....clothes.  As I'm trying to decide which Ohio State t-shirt to buy I feel something tickling my skin on my stomach.  I look and find a tick attached to me under the waistband of my jeans.  I had not even been there for 24 hours and I already had a TICK!  I hate ticks!  They are disgustingly gross.  I put down my basket of toiletries, pluck the tick from my skin, and head to the bathroom to flush it.  Of course, I had to take some photos first. (If you see any photos on a "People of Walmart" site of some strange woman taking photos of a tick in the ladies section it may be me.)

So the tick I found was an American dog tick.  I wasn't really surprised to find it because I usually see a tick or two each time I visit my parents, but how quickly it had found me was surprising.  If you want to know more about ticks, then you should check out the TAMU Tick App.  Also, there is a new tick that we are watching for in Texas, you can read more about that HERE.

Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series- recordings

Have you been keeping up with the All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar series for 2018?  There have been 6 webinars so far this year and we still have 4 more to go.  Webinars are held the first Friday of each month at 1PM CDT.

wasp

If you missed any (or all) of the webinars from this year, you can still watch them!  Webinars are available for free online, so grab the beverage of your choice, throw on some comfy clothes, and sit down to enjoy.  Click on the link below for the topic you are interested in, then click on the "watch recording" button at the top right.
Webinar topics for 2018 (so far)
Upcoming webinar topics:
  • Winterizing your home to keep pests out- September 7, 2018
  • Structural misidentified pests- October 5, 2018
  • Lice, Scabies, and mites- November 2, 2018
  • Pantry pests- December 1, 2018
The 2018 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 Coordinator: Dani Carroll, 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.

Looking for 2017 Webinars?  Click here
Looking for 2016 Webinars? Click here
Looking for 2015 Webinars? Click here
Looking for 2014 Webinars?  Click here!
Looking for 2013 Webinars?  Click here!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Insect Nail Designs

When I was in middle school I was somewhat obsessed with creating various nail designs with a different color and design on each nail.  Obviously, I had way more time on my hands back then as this was before all the fancy things available now like decals, nail wraps, airbrushing, etc.  I would meticulously color each nail a different color, wait for it all to dry and then move on to creating stripes, dots, or whatever my brain could think up.  While I rarely paint my nails anymore, a part of me wants to change that when I saw some of the insect nail art that is out there.

Bee nail art by wonderfulwolf
Honey bee nail art by WonderfulWolf
First there is Wonderful Wolf Nail Designs.  While I have a slight bone to pick with her lumping snails in with arthropods, I can't give her much flak as many people do this.  She has several designs on her blog here.

Here's a YouTube video by Ane Li on how to create monarch nail art.

There are stickers with insects that are especially made for applying to nails. 

There are also stamping plates for insect nail art (I'm really out of my bailiwick and have no idea how these things work.....).

spider nail art by deadlydesigns
Spider nail art by Deadlydesigns
And the coup de gras, and what inspired this particular blog post is the nail artist that tops them all by putting real, but dead, bugs into her nail art pieces.  Here's a link to an article.

This article  has nails that remind of insects trapped in amber which I really like.

Anyone have insect nail art?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Seminar on plant pest management- Saturday July 14, 2018

mealybugs on fennelI'm giving a presentation on plant pest identification and management at Round Rock Gardens (901 Sam Bass Road, Round Rock, TX 78681).  If we have enough time, I'll also cover some of the beneficials that can be found in the landscape. Bring your bug questions or samples that you may need help with.

WHAT: plant pest ID & management seminar
WHERE: 901 Sam Bass Road, Round Rock, TX 78681 (@ Round Rock Gardens)
WHEN: Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 10AM

Friday, June 29, 2018

"That Takes the Cake" Cake Show 2018

That takes the cake science of cake

While the event took place way back in February, I've been wanting to write about it and I'm just now getting to it.  So why in the world would I, who blogs about bugs, be writing about a cake show? Those who really know me, know that I love to bake....and I love to eat what I bake.....

I also love watching shows about baking- Great British Baking Show, anyone?  I used to be obsessed with Food Network's Cake Challenge shows and had a deep amazement for Colette Peters, Bronwen Weber, and Mike McCarey.  Another fun diversion I have to indulge all things baking is the annual cake show that happens in Round Rock.  I used to drag my husband along with me, and have taken the boy on a couple of occasions, but decided the past two years that I enjoy the show best when I go by myself.  That provides me with the opportunity to spend as much time as I want ogling items.

Sara Weber's cookie bug bitesSo all this is leading up to the 2018 show which was themed "Science of Cake". Could it possibly be any more perfect for me? The answer would be no, it could not.  So I went and totally geeked out on baked goods with a science theme.  My absolute by far favorite piece was a display by Sara Weber of Sara's Sweets.

Y'all, she did an entomological display.  Let me repeat....chocolate cookie bug bites!!  I fell in love with them instantly.  The display was so great and right on theme as it looked like it was pulled from a museum.  She even had a card that told what the insects displayed were!  So Sara, here's to you and the endless hours you most likely spent crafting your delectable cookie bugs.  This entomologist is forever a fan!

Sara Weber's cookie bug bites display

Friday, June 15, 2018

Webworms (...and bagworms)

Webworms or bagworms...which do you really have?  Many people have been asking me about "bagworms" as of late, but after asking a few questions I discover that they have webworms.  So, what's the difference?


Bagworms:
· Form small cases that hold larvae, pupae, or female adults and eggs
bagworm· Cases are often found on evergreen trees & shrubs such as cedar, juniper, cypress, or pine
· Cases are made from silk and plant material laid down similar to shingles on a house, overlapping in layers
· Newly hatched larvae spin a silken thread & either are carried to a new plant by wind or attach themselves to the plant they are on and begin to build their own silken bag
· Bags remain on plants even if bagworms are dead
· Bags are transportable; larvae carry them along as they move about the plant
 · To manage bagworms, handpick bags off the plant and dispose of them


Webworms:
webworms· Spin webbing over branches of host tree to enclose foliage they feed upon
· Attack over 88 species of plants, including fruit, nut, and ornamental trees and shrubs
· Use web as a protective covering; spin webbing immediately after hatching out of egg
· Webbing remains on tree even if caterpillars are dead/ no longer there
· Webs can be pruned out of the tree or opened with a stick/ spray of water to allow predators to eat caterpillars
· When using a pesticide, webbing still needs to be opened


Friday, June 1, 2018

Attracting pollinators webinar online today!

When: Friday, June 1, 2018 at 1PM CDT
Where: online here https://auburn.zoom.us/j/209793415.

pollinator on flowerLast year in the series, we met our native pollinators. This year, we will learn how to attract them to our own yards and gardens. In this webinar presented by Elizabeth "Wizzie" Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, learn the fundamentals for creating your own pollinator oasis.  Moderated by Marcus Garner and Allyson Shabel, Regional Extension Agents, Alabama Extension. The link to the event is here:  https://auburn.zoom.us/j/209793415.

Note: on June 1, the link to the live webinar opens about 15 minutes before the webinar. If you try to log in earlier, you will get an error message.

For more webinars in this series, see 2018 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series.  The webinars are brought to you by the following eXtension Communities of Practice: Ant Pests, and Urban IPM; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Clemson Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia Extension.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Harlequin bugs

harlequin bugPEST: Harlequin bug (adults about 1/2" long, red & black in color)

WHERE: cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, collards, etc.

DAMAGE: piercing-sucking mouthparts suck plant juices leading to browning, wilting, & death of plant

OPTIONS: pull out heavily infested plants; hand pick or vacuum insects off plants; pesticides (insecticidal soap, azadirachtin, permethrin, etc.)


Friday, April 20, 2018

Ant or termite swarmer?

With the warm(ish) temperatures- I know, it's been all over the thermometer in Central Texas the past few weeks!- and the rain, both ant and termite swarmers have been spotted around town.  So if these insects emerge around the same time, do you know how to tell the difference?

Ants will have the following:

    ant versus termite
  1. Antennae are elbowed
  2. Front wings are larger than hind wings
  3. No wing scale (they chew off their wings after the land on the ground)
  4. Middle part of the body is narrowed/ constricted


Termites will have the following:

  1. Antennae are straight
  2. Wings are of equal size & shape
  3. If wings are shed, a wing scale (the base part that attaches wings to thorax) is left behind
  4. Middle part of the body is not narrowed/ constricted


Friday, April 6, 2018

Buzz Pollination a.k.a. sonication

Buzz pollination is a method used by some bees- NOT honeybees- to release pollen from flower anthers.  The bees want pollen because it is a great source of protein and they use it developing offspring.

Here's a really cool (and short video) that explains and shows in detail how it works.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lucas the Spider

Please, please, please tell me that y'all know about Lucas the Spider!  If you don't, where have you been?!?!  Lucas is the cutest spider on Youtube and he has various fan club pages on Facebook.

Lucas was created by Joshua Slice and is voiced by his nephew.  Lucas was created after Slice saw a photo of a spider online and he has created a character that is adorable, hoping to challenge fear of all things creepy-crawly.



You can find the videos of Lucas here.

The Dodo has a great clip about the creator of Lucas the spider.


I love Lucas!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

It's officially spring....crane flies are out

crane flyWhat goes hand in hand with spring in Central Texas? ....well.... the smell of grape sweet tarts from mountain laurels blooming, pink buds on Red bud trees, and the sight of my dog jumping around trying to capture crane flies in the backyard.

Crane flies are a harmless insect that can sometimes become a nuisance when they come into the house.  Crane flies spend the majority of their life as larvae in damp locations- think edges of ponds, streams, wet logs, etc.  They only live a few days as adults, long enough to emerge, mate, lay eggs (females of course), and then die.

Some people think that crane flies are giant mosquitoes.  They're not.  Others think that crane flies are predators of mosquitoes. Again, they're not.  Crane flies often don't a eat a whole lot, but may sometimes feed on nectar or honeydew.

So if you see what appears to be a giant mosquito clumsily flitting towards you, don't panic, it's just a crane fly looking for love (possibly in all the wrong places....).

Friday, February 9, 2018

hissing cockroachWhat do you get a beau who loves cockroaches?  Why, you name a cockroach for them!

The Bronx Zoo has various packages available staring at $15 for a basic naming of a cockroach and going up to $75 for a package that includes naming a roach, a cockroach pin, cockroach chocolate candies, and cockroach socks!  For those of you who do not know me well, a fun fact is that I LOVE weird socks (today I'm wearing Tacosaurus socks) and when I saw the cockroach socks it was love at first sight!  While I think the price for the deluxe package is a bit steep at $75 (or if you just get the socks, $35 is still pricey), I still really hope that my husband tracks down some cheaper cockroach socks for me.....

Friday, January 26, 2018

2018 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series- FREE!

The 2018 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series kicks off Friday, February 2nd  at 1 pm CST! 


Our speaker, Norm Haley,  from Alabama Extension, will be will be discussing “Feral Hogs, Ecology, and Control”.  The webinar will be recorded, so you can watch it any time.  To watch a webinar, just log in as a guest 15 minutes before the webinar begins. Please share this with anyone who might be interested. You can find the login information below. Thank you for supporting our program and we hope you listen in on February 2nd!

Event starts: Friday, February 2 at 2:00 pm EST
Event ends: Friday, February 2 at 3:00 pm EST

As the numbers of feral hogs continue to rise in the United States, so do the problems that they create. Get a plan! Learn about their biology, distribution, and management strategies in this webinar presented by Norm HaleyAlabama Extension. Moderated by Mallory Kelley and David Koon, Regional Extension Agents, Alabama Extension. The link to the event will be https://auburn.zoom.us/j/209793415. Note: on February 2, the link to the live webinar opens about 15 minutes before the webinar. If you try to log in earlier, you will get an error message. 

For more webinars in this series, see 2018 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series. The webinars are brought to you by the following eXtension Communities of Practice: Ant Pests, and Urban IPM; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension ServiceClemson Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia Extension.

Here's the skinny on the full line up for 2018:

February 2 Feral Hogs, Ecology, and Control by Norm Haley

March 2 Misidentified Pests in the Landscape by Erfan Vafaie

April 6 Argentine Ants and Others by Dr. Eric Benson

May 4 What Everyone Must Know About Fleas by TBA

June 1 Attracting Pollinators to Our Yards by Molly Keck

August 3 Bees, Wasps, and Hornets, Oh My! byLynn Braband

September 7 Winterizing Your Home to Keep Out Pests byJanet Hurley

October 5 Structural Misidentified Pests by Wizzie Brown

November 2 Lice, Scabies, and Mites by Dr. Nancy Hinkle

December 1 Pantry Pests by Dr. Dan Suiter


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Austin 7th Annual Beekeeping Seminar

When:        Jan. 27, 2018 
Who:           Austin Area Beekeepers Association
Where:       Norris Conference Centers, 2525 W Anderson Ln #365, Austin, TX 78757
Cost:          $60


Why:
The mission of this daylong seminar is to educate people of all experience levels in sustainable science-based bee husbandry and to provide support to worthy bee charities. The lion’s share of the proceeds are donated to the Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab, the Texas Beekeepers Association Queen’s Program, the Texas Master Beekeeping Program and other bee charities. 
honey bee on passion flower



Description:

This is a daylong seminar offering 5 different educational presentations running concurrently every hour throughout the day. This will provide many beginning and advanced subjects to choose from. A separate beginner track has been formatted covering a variety of startup topics for soon-to-be or very-new beekeepers. A beginner beekeeper will learn the fundamentals of honey bee biology and behavior, how to select the equipment you will need, where to buy bees, how to set up your apiary, how to light a smoker, feeding, the fundamentals of honey extraction, queen finding, requeening and annual management.

For additional information you can email Lance Wilson at lance@beekeepinghelp.com

This organization is non-profit and 100% of the proceeds of this event will be used to promote sustainable beekeeping practices and provide support to bee charities.

Other Sessions will include:
-Honey Bee Management 1 and 2
-Nutrition Management
-Honey Bee Biology and Behavior
-Top Bar Management 1 and 2
-Effective Varroa Management for Robust Populations
-Brood Disease and Pest Control
-Swarm Capture Techniques
-Raising Queens
-Simple Queen Cell Production
-Learn Honey Extraction Techniques
-How to Grow Your Apiary Business
-Successful Sales and Marketing
-How to plant Beescapes
-Bees as an Ag. Exemption
-Queen Finding and Requeening
-Honey Bee Reproductive Biology
-Making Splits
-Cut-Outs
-Equipment Building Workshop
-Smoker Lighting Demo
-What Every Beekeeper Should Know About Foraging
-Impact of Miticides on QMP
-Varroa Monitoring Workshop
-Honey Bee Health and Nutrition
-Preparing for a Honey Show

Presenters:
Professor Juliana Rangel – Entomology at Texas A&M
Mary Reed - Texas Apiary Inspector
Mark Hedley - Owner of Spiral Horn Apiary
Dan Aurell - Texas A&M Tech Transfer Team
Ryan Giesecke - Trinity Valley Beekeepers President
James & Chari Elam - Owners of Bluebonnet Beekeeping Supplies
Dodie Stillman - Certified Texas Master Beekeeper
Elizabeth Walsh - Ph.D. Student of Entomology at Texas A&M
Tanya Phillips - Certified Texas Master Beekeeper
Karl Acuri - Austin Area Beekeepers Assoc. (Co-Organizer)
Becky Bender - Texas Master Naturalist
Brandon Fehrenkamp - Owner of Austin Bees
Pamela Yeamans – Certified Advanced Level Beekeeper (TMBP)
Chuck Reburn - Certified Texas Master Beekeeper
Ashley Ralph - Area Director Texas Beekeepers Assoc.
Steve Butler - Owner of Company Bee
John Swan - Owner of Wicked Bee Apiary
Dennis Herbert - Past Pres. of the Bell-Coryell Beekeeping Assoc.
Lance Wilson - Certified Master Craftsman Beekeeper (GMBP)