Urban IPM

Friday, August 15, 2014

Where did the time go?

My monkey is off to school!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Asp caterpillars

I've been hearing reports of people being stung by asps (puss caterpillars).  The larva is the problematic stage for this insect as the caterpillars often fall out of trees and land on unsuspecting people below.  When this happens, the person may get stung.

Image from hortipm.tamu.edu
The caterpillar has venomous spines which can cause a varying reaction.  There are some people who react more severely to the toxin than others.  The severity of the sting can also depend upon the thickness of the skin where the sting occurs.  Often stings will cause localized burning and redness (usually in the shape of the caterpillar) sometimes paired with swelling.  More severe reactions may cause fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms.  If you are stung by a caterpillar and are concerned with your symptoms, seek medical attention.

Smaller instars are yellow in color while later instars turn pale green to white.  The spines containing venom are concealed in later instars by long, soft-looking setae (hairs).

Asps are know to feed on foliage of over 40 genera of plants.  They will often wander to nearby plants when the are preparing to pupate.

If you have large populations of these caterpillars and would like to manage them, you can try Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (this targets caterpillars only, but will also kill "good" caterpillars).  You may also look for active ingredients such as spinosad or azadirachtin (both naturally-derived products).  These products tend to work best on smaller instars.  Another option would be a residual pesticide labeled for caterpillars that is okay to use on plants.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The flies are everywhere!

Blow fly.
Have you been dealing with as many flies at your house this month as I have?  Whenever I'm cooking there seems to be that ONE FLY that is buzzing around driving me crazy.  I grab the flyswatter and slowly stalk around the kitchen trying to hunt it down.  Sometimes I'm fortunate enough to smack it down out of the air and smash it on the floor.  Most times I whizz the swatter through the air and completely miss which, after about 15 minutes of obsessing over the ONE FLY, really enrages me.

I've been dealing mostly with blow flies, but I've also seen some house flies and this week I had two outbreaks of fruit flies- one in the kitchen and one in the boy's bathroom (we'll come back to this).  I also had the pleasure of discovering maggots all over the garbage can last week when I took out the garbage one morning.  Apparently, something yummy was thrown out and the flies went crazy. The garbage can was sprayed with some pesticide and when I checked on the maggots that evening they were dead.  The fruit flies in the kitchen were coming from and over-ripe pineapple that I had left on the counter; it's now in the refrigerator until I can cut it up.  The fruit flies in the boy's bathroom were a bit perplexing until he told me he threw away an apple core in his garbage.
A glueboard from a fly light I have by the backdoor.

Yes, it's that time of year when fly populations go crazy.  With hot weather, fly life cycles speed up and the population can grow very quickly.  Adults can be killed fairly easy with things like fly swatters.  Some people like to use fly paper or water traps (the fly traps need to be the actual traps that have the stinky pheromone lure, not just a ziptop baggie filled with water), but if you choose to use them place away from doors or areas where you spend your time.

The best way to manage fly populations is to manage the source- where they are coming from.  Some ideas to help reduce flies at your house:
  • take garbage & recycling out on a regular basis
  • clean garbage & recycling bins every few weeks
  • pick up any animal waste and dispose of it several times per week
  • remove any dead/ decaying animals from the area
  • place fruit in a paper bag to ripen