Friday, June 24, 2016

House flies

Instead of complaining about all the rain we're getting, should we all switch to complaining about how HOT it is?

Warmer temperatures speed up development time of insects.  This means that they can reproduce and offspring reach adulthood faster allowing them to produce their offspring  which will reach adulthood rapidly and so on.  Do you see how this can cause pest problems?

The insect I'm focusing on today is the house fly. Why this particular insect?  Well, they are the ones that currently drive me crazy when I'm making dinner.  Having them buzzing around while I'm prepping food isn't ideal.  And please don't tell me about hanging bags of doesn't work.  My fly problems are further compounded because my lab chases them around the house without regard to where she is going, so she is jumping around, banging into everything, snapping at them with her jaws.  It's amusing until she plows into you.

So since we all pretty much know what a housefly looks like, I'll skip to the nitty-gritty....what to do about them in your house.  For the adults, it's really best to get a fly swatter or something similar to smack them with (good old fashioned mechanical control!).  I get rather obsessive about stalking flies around my house which is now much more difficult since the dog is trying to "help".  There are also things such as fly strips which can physically trap the adults, but be aware that you will have a strip of dead or struggling flies dangling in your house.

The best way to deal with house flies is to locate possible sources where the maggots (baby flies or larvae) are developing.  This is going to most likely be associated with some sort of organic matter.  I, personally, am going to clean out my garbage and recycling cans of all the funk that has accumulated (not the actual garbage or recyclables, but the stuff that leaks out into the bottom). The other thing that I need to do is get on a more regular schedule of picking up the dog waste in the backyard and throwing it away.  I usually do that once per week, but I need to double up now that it's warmer.  Of course, I'm not going to be able to get rid of ALL the house flies, so I will keep my fly swatter (and dog) nearby.

Friday, June 10, 2016


It seems that the cooler weather and moisture have disappeared and we've moved into sweltering temperatures.  While it will be nice to dry out a bit, expect pest populations to be on the rise.  One to watch for is aphids as their populations can increase rapidly.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with "tailpipes" (better known as cornicles) coming off the tip of the abdomen.  Aphids come in a variety of colors and may or may not have wings.  They have an incomplete life cycle (egg- nymph- adult) with the nymphs looking similar to the adults but smaller.

These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts and will insert them into the plant to suck up plant juices.  Aphid damage can lead to yellowing, curling and/ or stunting of the plant.  Aphids are often found on the underside of leaves or along the stem of the plant.  Sometimes they can be found on the plant roots.

Aphids are also honeydew producers.  Honeydew is a sticky, sweet substance that may look shiny on the foliage of the plant.  Honeydew can also lead to a secondary plant problem called sooty mold.  Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on honeydew areas and if you see it on your plants, then you need to look for and manage the honeydew producing insect.

If you discover aphids, you can try a jet of high pressure water to dislodge them from the plant.  If that doesn't help, then you can try less toxic pesticides such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, pyrethrins or azadirachtin.  They can also be killed with synthetic formulations.  Please be sure to read the label of the product you choose to apply properly.