Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where Have All the Honey Bees Gone? Hope for the Future.


Why do we have fewer honeybees these days?  What caused the decline?  What can we do to help?  These questions and more will be answered in this webinar presented by Dr. John Skinner, a Professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Tennessee. Moderated by Sallie Lee, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  

November 7th at 1pm central.

For more information and for the link to the webinar, visit https://learn.extension.org/events/1375#.VDa15PldW0I


Monday, October 6, 2014

Late News on Desert Termites

Desert termite alates
I may be a day late and a dollar short on this one, but its still something I'm getting a few calls and emails about.  Last week, desert termites (or agricultural termites) swarmed in massive numbers.  I was lucky enough to have them swarm at my house, although no one else around me had any.  They were swarming to the porch lights and light colored portions of the house by the thousands.  It was pretty exciting!

Desert termites attracted to lights
Desert termites swarm around the fall - September, October, sometimes November.  And do so after a good rain.  Friday night, as soon as the rain stopped, they emerged!  It was definitely an exciting time for me.  They are large termites, honey or brown in color, with brown colored wings.  The species that swarmed last week have wings more than twice the length of the body.


Desert termites are not a structural pest at all, so if you are going to get excited about termites, these are the ones to get excited about.  They feed on forbes and grasses.  They aren't uncommon in a turf landscape and can cause some damage to turf, hay fields, and alfalfa.  But, not much can be done, other than watering to increase the length of the roots and breaking open the mud tubes they build on top of the soil to force them to move away.

Desert Termite mud tubes
If desert termites swarmed at your house this past weekend, don't panic.  No need to call the pest control company.  If you aren't convinced they were harmless termites and still have some wings laying around the garage, you are more than welcome to scoop them up and bring them to the Bexar County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office and I will identify them for you and put your mind at ease.
Desert termites outside my backdoor in the morning - a great treat for my chickens!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beekeeping Basics

If you are thinking of starting a bee hive, fall is the absolute best time to get ready.  Fall is time for you to order bees, equipment, hives, and get your site ready for your bees.

To help you get ready for your first bee hives, we are hosting a Beekeeping Basics Program, October 17th with a field day October 18th in Adkins, TX or October 19th in Leon Springs, TX (your choice).

This program always fills up with a waiting list, so be sure to get your registration in early!

Registration can be found at: https://agrilife.org/bexarcounty/wp-login.php


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

30 Bugs Every Gardener Should Know

Join me for my annual Fall Education Program: 30 Bugs Every Gardener Should Know.  Held at the Bexar County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 208, SATX.

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014.

As you get geared up for fall gardening, come learn what bugs you can expect to encounter and what to do to manage them!  We'll cover the good guys, bad guys, ugly guys and learn how to identify them, their damage and best practices for management. See actual specimens along with pictures and bring your own insects to be identified! 

Cost $10, checks made payable to Texas A&M AgriLife at the door.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Need Help with Mosquito Control?

This Friday, August 1st @ 1pm CT.  I will be presenting a webinar on Mosquitoes and their Management.  We are heavy into the mosquito season right now and with our first case of the new mosquito borne virus, chikingunya now being reported in Bexar, Harris, Williamson and Travis counties, we have yet another reason to need to avoid these pesky pests.

If you are interested in attending, this is a FREE webinar, provided by eXtension, an internet based collaborative of Land Grant University content providers who supply research based knowledge on various topics.  This particular webinar is provided by the fire ant eXtension group, of which I am a part of.  We are providing various topics throughout the year not just on fire ants, but other insect pests.


Please visit https://learn.extension.org/events/1373#.U9gJTvldVu0 for the link to this and other webinars.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bee Removal Options

It's that time of year again, when bee hives are growing, relocating, or just becoming noticeable in trees, walls, eves and other not-so-desirable locations.

I get about one call a day on who to call to remove a bee hive - hopefully this is a sign that this is a good year for bees and our feral bees are thriving!  Most people want to remove the hive without killing it, but often don't know where to go to get help.

I finally have a good answer for you!  I stumbled across this website from the Texas Apiary Inspection Service with a list of individuals from counties all across Texas who do bee removal. The link to the site is:
http://tais.tamu.edu/bee-removal/index.html

Please note that the site does not provide information on whether these individuals charge for their services, but since most cases involve some intense labor and even wall removal and replacement, expect a fee to be involved.  There are no city or county programs in San Antonio or Bexar County that will do free removal or reduced cost removal.  When bees are found on private property, the county and city deem that it is the responsibility of the property owner. The city and/or county will do removal only when they are found on city or county property.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chikungunya Virus Now in Texas

You may have heard of a new viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes called Chikungunya (pronounced like chicken - goon - ya).  Chikungunya has been found in countries like Africa, Asia, and Europe but recently in the Americas and Caribbean.

We had our first confirmed case of the disease in Texas in Williamson County.  The individual had traveled to the Caribbean where they picked up the disease.

The bad news is that the species that common transmit Chikungunya are found here (in the US and Texas), which means it can become endemic to this area and spread within the state could occur.  These are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes - usually day time feeders and container water breeders.

Chikungunya is thankfully rarely fatal, but extremely painful.  The common symptoms are extreme joint pain, headache, muscle pain, and joint swelling.  There is no cure or treatment for the virus, other than pain relievers for the symptoms.

If you are travelling to the Caribbean this summer or in the future, be sure to pack some insect repellent to reduce your risk of contracting the disease.  Now that we know we have a confirmed case just down the road, it would also be a wise decision to avoid mosquitoes at home and apply insect repellent when you step outdoors.

For more information about Chikungunya, visit the Center for Disease Control's website at www.cdc.gov