Friday, May 27, 2016

Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Texas

In late April 2016, four emerald ash beetle adults were located in a trap by the Texas A&M Forest Service in Harrison County (near the Louisiana & Arkansas borders).  Currently, there are no confirmed trees infested with emerald ask borer.

Emerald ash borer, often shortened to EAB, are invasive beetles that attack stressed and healthy ash trees.  These beetles are native to Asia and were discovered for the first time in the U.S. in Michigan back in 2002.  The beetle has now spread to 26 states and killed millions of ash trees.  The beetles are aggressive and can kill an infested ash tree within 2-3 years.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, there are 16 species of ash in the U.S. and 7 of those can be found in Texas.  

A statewide plan involves monitoring of beetle movement; educational programming; providing technical assistance in prevention, preparation and recovery; and working with regulatory agencies in regards to quarantines.  The Texas A&M Forest Service is also working to slow the movement of the beetle.

“Proper planning can reduce the impact of EAB in our communities,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator Paul Johnson. “Removal of poor quality ash, planting trees that aren’t susceptible to EAB, and protecting high value ash by treating them will help us weather this attack. Work with a forester or an ISA-certified arborist to help you assess your EAB risk and care for your trees.”

For everything you needed to know about emerald ash borers in Texas, see the Texas A&M Forest Service's site here (really, you should read this!!):

For general emerald ash borer information see this site:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fire Ants are Swarming! Treatment options

There are numerous ways to manage fire ants, but they are often broken into two categories- broadcast treatments and individual mound treatments.  Individual mound treatments are used to treat one mound at a time and can be labor intensive and may result in more pesticide being spread into the environment.  Broadcast treatments spread product (granular or bait) over a large area.

Individual mound treatments include pouring boiling water onto the mound, using insecticide mound drenches, spreading insecticide granules onto the mound and watering them in, sprinkling insecticidal dusts on top of the mound or using bait-formulated insecticides around the perimeter of the mound.  There are also many “home remedies”, but be advised that many of these do not kill fire ants.  Many home remedies make the fire ants move to a new location (often 1-2 feet away), but do not kill the ants.

Bait-formulated insecticides most often consist of a de-fatted corn cob grit coated with soybean oil; the soybean oil is where the active ingredient (what kills the pest) is dissolved. Worker ants collect bait as a food source and take it back to the colony to share with other ants, including the queen.  Depending on the active ingredient, the bait may cause the queen to die or be unable to produce viable eggs, which gradually kills off the colony.  When using baits, results are often slower to observe when compared to individual mound treatments, but can provide 80-90% suppression for 12-18 months.  A bonus to broadcasting baits is that the amount of active ingredient is generally very small, which places less chemical into the environment.

With any pesticide treatment, read and follow all label instructions.  Make sure to water in the pesticide if the label instructs to do so.  Failure to water in chemicals when recommended by the label does an inadequate job of killing the ants.  Baits should not be watered in or used before a rainfall event; baits will not be picked up by ants if they get wet.