Posts Tagged: control
No assassinations today! But an "assassination attempt." There it was, a leafhopper assassin bug, Zelus renardii, waiting for prey...
An assassin bug, Zelus renardii,waits to ambush prey on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A longhorned bee arrives for some nectar while the assassin bug watches in apparent anticipation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The longhorned bee leaves only its shadow behind. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This assassin bug had more luck--or better ambushing skills. It nails a pest, a spotted cucumber beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A “neighborly” project by entomologist Jeff Smith, the volunteer curator of the worldwide Lepidoptera collection at the Bohart Museum of...
Entomologist Jeff Smith talks to visitors at a summer open house, pre-COVID precautions, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Smith curates the collection. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
James "Jim" Steed, president and owner of the Neighborly Pest Management, Roseville, with some of the framed insect displays, the work of Jeff Smith. (Photo by Jeff Smith)
This is one of the framed displays of insect specimens by Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera collection at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. He created 10 framed displays for the Neighborly Pest Management, Roseville. Jeff Smith donated the funds to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Jeff Smith)
Spotting ants in the home or yard is no reason to reach for insecticide sprays or call an exterminator. UC Cooperative Extension experts say the insects can be managed by residents in ways that are effective, inexpensive, safe and environmentally kind.
“Ants are probably the No. 1 most common pests of our homes and gardens,” said Carolyn Kinnon, an environmental horticulturist and instructional associate at Mira Costa Community College. “Scientists find chemicals in our waterways that include pesticides commonly used to kill ants.”
Kinnon teamed up with UCCE community education specialist Scott Parker to present a Healthy Garden-Healthy Home online ant workshop during the COVID-19 pandemic to take the place of a planned in-person event. Healthy Garden-Healthy Home was initiated in 2005 with a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board and continues with funding from San Diego County. With the move online, the workshop attracted four times more participants that usual.
“A silver lining of the COVID disaster has been our ability to reach out to many more individuals,” Parker said.
Healthy Gardens-Healthy Homes aims to cut residents' use of chemicals and reduce soil erosion that can wash into gutters with irrigation or rain water, course through storm drains and into streams, reservoirs and the Pacific Ocean. During the recent UCCE webinar on healthy ant control, Kinnon introduced science-based solutions that can be combined to keep ants at bay.
Use ant biology to battle ants
Ants are always looking for food and will forage any accessible source. Short circuiting this biological need is the first approach to controlling the pest. Outside, ants are often attracted to a sticky, sweet honeydew that pests like aphids leave behind when they feed on plants. Washing off aphids and honeydew with a sharp stream of water from the hose reduces the food source.
In spring, Kinnon said, ants like to feed on proteins, like seeds, nuts, dog food and other fatty substances. Fallen nuts, bird seed and leftover pet food should be discarded to reduce ant activity.
“When honeydew production from sap-sucking insects declines in the hot summer, and there is an absence of food sources outdoors, ants may come indoors,” she said. “Ants will travel several hundred feet in search for food.”
Removing inside food sources – like spills on counters and floors – and blocking access – by filling in holes and cracks – is the first defense against an indoor ant invasion. Kinnon recommends keeping food containers clean and sealed, rinsing empty recyclables – particularly sugar-sweetened beverages – and wiping up grease on barbecues and stove tops.
Wipe up ants and their chemical trails with an all-purpose cleaner, and fill tiny gaps, cracks and holes with caulk to make their entry difficult.
Another way to achieve environmentally friendly ant management is coming to terms with the fact that they can't be eliminated from outdoor areas.
“Our goal is to focus on reducing population numbers,” Kinnon said. “We have to tolerate a certain number.”
Spraying a pesticide on an ant trail or sprinkling granular pesticides will only kill a fraction of the ants in the yard. Those materials can run off and pollute watersheds.
If cleaning up food sources, exclusionary measures and increased tolerance aren't enough, pesticide baits are an additional integrated pest management tool.
“This works because female worker ants take the bait back to the nest and feed it to other ants in the colony,” Kinnon said.
The bait must be slow acting so it doesn't kill the worker before she gets back to the colony. Kinnon recommended baits with no more than .5% active ingredient. For best bait placement, follow trails to find the nest and place the bait close by in a safe bait station. If the nest can't be found, the bait station can be placed along the trail.
They ticked me off. Ticks can do that to you. I never think about ticks during the holiday season, but a news release from the University of...
Two Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast ticks) "collected" during a Sonoma outing: male on the left and female on right, as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. They are about the size of a sesame seed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"George Compere." Non-entomologists may not recall his name, but entomologists--especially those who study biological control--definitely do. And...
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).