Monday, September 16, 2019

Bumble Bee or Beetle Swarms??

Have you noticed some large insect swarming around your trees and around the yard?  They may resemble black bumble bees, but they are actually Green June Bugs.

Around this time of year, Green June Bugs tend to have mating swarms.  Some years there are more than others.  Although this is a very common occurrence in September, it isn't unusual for people who have lived in the San Antonio for years and never seen this to see it this year.  Some years you are just lucky!

When flying, they can be pretty loud buzzers and may even knock their bodies against the windows.  Usually you find them at the base of trees or flying around trees to mate in the shade.  During flight, they appear to be black, but the fore wings are green and underside of the body is a pretty iridescent green.  The hind wings are black in color and the exposed body under the wings can also appear black.  In the shade, the matte color of the topside of the beetle makes it appear black.

Green June Bugs can feed on fruit trees and cause damage, but this time of year, they are just concerned with finding a mate and laying eggs.  It's best just to either enjoy or ignore them! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Junior Entomology Camp - Ages 4-6

Due to demand, we are now opening a second session (afternoon) for the Junior Entomology Camp for ages 4-6 years.  Same date and location, just held immediately after our morning camp from 12:30-3:30pm.

Curriculum and activities will be the same.  We will attempt to do some collecting, depending on the heat and how much the kids want to collect.  There are some shaded spots we can search, but there will be plenty of bug hunting and bug experimenting inside in the cool!

Campers will: do some light collecting, using real insect collecting nets, experiment with insects such as crickets, hold and touch live, nonvenemous insects and arthropods, and participate in various insect crafts and activities.  If your child is bug crazy - this is the camp for them!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Junior Beekeeping Camp

Do you know a young wanna be beekeeper?  We are offering our second annual Junior Beekeeping Camp, June 27 & 28 from 9am-1pm and spots are still open!

This is an incredibly unique camp with an experience very few people get the chance to enjoy!  We will be learning about beekeeping, putting on real beekeeper suits, opening real bee hives, and learning about the goings on inside the hive.  Campers will also extract honey from the hives and take home their own jar of honey.

Because we will be inside real bee hives (and bees sting!), we do require campers who are mature and well behaved.  They should not be allergic to bees or honey or have a fear of bees.  Ages 10 and up only!

Register at

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

20 Bugs Every Gardener Should Know - City of Cibolo Garden Program

Getting your garden and landscape ready for spring?  Join me at the City of Cibolo City Hall to learn the top 20 insect you’re likely to see in your yard this season!  Nonresidents and residents of Cibolo welcome!  Free program, please RSVP by emailing

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Emerald Ash Borer Webinar

2019 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar!!

Friday, March 1
2:00 pm EST (1:00 pm Central)
To Join:
Or join the viewing party @ Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 208.  San Antonio, TX 78230.  Please RSVP to Molly at

The Emerald Ash Borer  is responsible for millions of dead ash trees in North America causing homeowners, cities, and nurseries many millions of dollars and heartache. Recently this pest has been found in two counties in Texas and will presumably spread by humans.  This invasive pest attacks healthy and stress ash trees and may cause the extinction of some native ash species.  With Emerald Ash Borer found now in Tarrant County, early detection and understanding your management options is key!
Come learn where this exotic pest came from, its life cycle, and management plans being implemented.   This webinar is presented by Lynne Womack, Georgia Forestry Commission. 
Note: on March 1,  the link to the live webinar opens about 15 minutes before the webinar. If you try to log in earlier, you will get an error message. 

Webinars are brought to you by the following: eXtension Communities of Practice: Ant Pests, and Urban IPM; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension ServiceClemson Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia Extension.

Emerald Ash Borer Damage

Monday, February 4, 2019

Webinar Series - All Bugs Good and Bad 2019

The 2019 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series is BACK!  Please join us for this webinar series for information you can use about good and bad insects.  We used your feedback to bring topics that you suggested.  We will discuss troublesome insects such as fire ants and landscape pests as well as other animals like arachnids and bats! 

Webinars are held the first Friday of each month at 1 p.m. Central.  Click on the link below for the entire schedule and how to attend!

You definitely won't want to miss next month's webinar on the Emerald Ash Borer!  Especially since it has now been found in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area and will certainly, eventually spread by humans to our area.

March 1, 2019 - Emerald Ash Borer, Lynne Womack
April 5, 2019 - Snakes!  Identification and Environmental Importance
May 3, 2019 - Ins and Outs of Termite Treatments
June 7, 2019 - Batty for Bats!
August 2, 2019 - GMOs and Their Effect on Insect Populations
September 6, 2019 - Ouch!  Red Imported Fire Ants in the Landscape
October 4, 2019 - Scale Insects on Ornamental Plants
November 2, 2019 - Spiders Commonly Found in Houses
December 6, 2019 - Reintroduction of Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An Entomologist's Perspective on Lice

We've all probably dealt with it at least one time or another.  I certainly have with my children.  Yes, it's a little bit of nightmare, but no, it isn't the end of the world.  The dreaded letter comes home from school or a the gossipy mother shares the news... there's lice in the classroom!!!!

I hear all sorts of remedies and false information being spread around about lice.  What amazes me, is that rarely does anyone imagine an entomologist might have some perspective on how to get rid of them.  The internet and mom blogs are always the go-to for most parents dealing with lice on their children.  But I have news!  They aren't always (and are usually rarely) right.

Here are some tips from me to you on how to handle a lice situation....

Looking for Lice:
Photo by B. Brewer
Lice are insects, they have a lifecycle, they lay eggs and they use human hair as their host.  They are spread by close head to head contact, sharing brushes or other hair accessories, or sleeping together on the same pillows.  Children often get lice more than adults because they touch each other more often, have sleepovers, and generally share more items than adults do.  Girls often get lice more than boys - they have longer hair, hug each other, play with each other's hair etc.

When a louse is transferred from one person to another, it takes about 21 days for that one "mother louse" to lay eggs and those eggs to hatch and grow and get to a point where the lice are noticeable.  Really vigilant lice pickers, may catch it sooner, but in general, 21 days after you get that letter from the school, you should really start to look closely.  At that time you should see adult lice and eggs (nits) on the hair.  Don't look for a few days, see nothing, and assume you are safe.  That's when you have a really bad infestation on your hands about a month later.

Photo by Bart Drees
Nits will appear different from dry flakes and sand in the hair because, if a louse is inside, they are darker when pulled off the hair, not totally white.  You can see an unhatched and hatched nits in the picture above. 

Lice combs are a great way to look for lice and nits.  The nits are glued to the hair and no amount of shampooing or brushing will remove them.  There is also not scientific research that says lice prefer clean hair over dirty hair.  I think this was an urban legend started by parents and teachers to make kids who get lice feel better.  Lice could care less how much product you use or how many times you shampoo your hair.

I like to have a cup of alcohol next to me when I'm using a nit comb, so I can clean the brush off and the nits will dry out and die in the alcohol.  It will also kill the adults and nymphs that you get from the comb.

Treating for Lice:

When you detect lice, call your pediatrician or primary doctor.  Don't go to the store and buy products over the counter.  Lice are now known to be resistant to permethrin, which is what most over the counter products are.  You are wasting your time and money and exposing your family to pesticides unnecessarily.  Call and get a prescription instead.  It is more expensive, but at least you get results and I'd rather spend money on something that works than throw money away.

Be sure you ask a doctor, like a pediatrician, who sees this regularly.  They are more likely to be up to date on what products work best.  Don't call you neighbor anesthesiologist, friend cardiologist, cousin urologist and ask them what to do.  That isn't their specialty!

What to do about the house:
I've heard of people spending a lot of money to call a company to come out and do a major cleaning to kill all the lice in the house. If you don't mind spending money, do it.  If you don't want to spend that kind of money, there is absolutely no reason you need to.  Just take the sheets, bed spreads, pillows and stuffed animals you sleep with and put it in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes.  Heat treatment will kill the eggs, nymphs and adults.  Do the same with hoodies, jackets, or other clothes that have been previously worn.  Washing is fine as well, but if you don't want to wash everything, just stick it in the dryer.

Do NOT use a fogger.  Lice aren't in the air, they are on the human.  Foggers are a waste of time, money, and unnecessary exposure to pesticides.

Preventing Lice:
The only real way to prevent lice is avoid people with lice.  Easier said that done!  Tea tree oil doesn't repel lice or make it so they don't want to be on your hair.  It may be great for the health of your hair, but don't fool yourself that it will keep lice away.  So far, no studies have shown it to be very effective.

Bottom line - don't use over the counter products, really check the child 21 days after the first notice of lice gets to you, stick bedding in the dryer, and call your pediatrician for a prescription if you spot lice or nits (you can't have nits without a momma louse!).

All this should really only take a day to complete.  No need to sell the house and kids!  Lice are manageable and actually pretty easy to manage.  They just invoke panic in a normally calm person for some reason.