Friday, November 22, 2013

Hackberry psyllids

Have you seen the small insects that have been gathering on windows, cars, sides of buildings around Central Texas?  I've been getting calls and emails about what these "gnat-like" critters are.  Well, they are not gnats but hackberry psyllids.  We typically get them each fall when the weather grows cooler and they try to move indoors where it is nice and cozy.

They are more of a nuisance than anything else and I would recommend that you work on excluding them from the house.  For tips on exclusion, see this post.

You can also find more information on other critters that may try to move indoors at Mike Merchant's blog.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Millipedes have a head with one pair of antennae connected to a long segmented body.  They have two pair of legs per body segment and cylindrical bodies.  Millipedes in Texas are typically brownish in color, but can vary in color from red to yellow to orange.  Millipedes often curl into a spiral to protect themselves when disturbed. 

Not a millipede found in Texas!  This one is from Africa.
Millipedes do not transmit diseases to plants, animals or man and are more of a nuisance than a destructive pest. They occasionally damage seedling plants by feeding on stems and leaves.  They are not poisonous, but have glands that produce a smelly fluid that can be irritating, especially if rubbed in the eyes.

Millipedes feed primarily on decaying organic matter, though some are carnivorous.  Homeowners may experience large numbers of millipedes moving into their home after heavy rainfall or during periods of drought. 

To prevent millipedes from moving indoors, move objects such as compost piles, firewood and stones away from the structure.  If there are mulched flower beds against the home, occasionally turn the mulch to allow it to dry out.  Seal any accessible areas that may allow millipedes to move into the home.  Check seals around doors and windows as well as pipe penetrations.  Make sure that crawl spaces are properly ventilated.

Perimeter sprays around a building’s foundation may help keep millipedes from moving indoors.  Look for products with such active ingredients as deltamethrin, permethrin, bifenthrin or cypermethrin.  Inside the home, treat crack and crevice areas as wells as baseboards.   Products available include active ingredients such as lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, permethrin or bifenthrin.  Wall voids may be treated with boric acid or diatomaceous earth.  There are also plant-derived pesticide formulations with active ingredients such as d-limonene (citrus extract), rosemary oil, clove oil, thyme oil or sesame oil.