Friday, November 21, 2008

Green Lady Bugs???

No, those little green and black spotted insects that look like green lady bugs are NOT lady bugs. They are cucumber beetles and they are foliage feeders. All over town, fall vegetables are suffering from tiny, shotgun sized holes. But you are not alone, many people mistake spotted cucumber beetles for lady bugs because of their similarities in general body shape and spots.

Unfortunately, control of these beetles is difficult. They do not spend much time on the plant, and therefore, do not pick up much pesticide. The best control is mechanical control - place mesh screen or fabric over the affected plants. This may not be aesthetically appealing, but they should only last another month. Once we get a good cold snap, it should knock the population down. Be sure to till up your garden well once your fall garden is harvested, this will help squash any remaining larvae in the roots of your plants and/or eggs in the soil.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crazy Ants, Crazy Ants, Everywhere!

This time of year the Bexar County Extension office is plagued with crazy ants. And from the calls I've been receiving, so are many homes!

Crazy ants are a nuisance ant, but they do not sting, transmit diseases, or feed on wood. Crazy ants start looking for warmth and moisture and accidentally move indoors. They can be found trailing all over the house, including bathrooms, kitchens, and pantries. More than anything, they are extremely annoying - especially when you find them in your food.

Crazy ants get their name from their erratic movements. They do not trail in a straight line, but run in a random pattern. They are small, black ants, with very long legs and antennae. Their legs are so long, they can almost appear like tiny spiders.

Crazy ants love concrete - if you have sidewalks, large driveways, or pavers around your house, you have perfect crazy ant habitat. Unfortunately, these are things you can really remove.

To manage crazy ants, try to some basic integrated pest management practices first - seal and caulk up small cracks and holes around windows and doors. Use sanitation practices such as removing trash daily, and keeping food well sealed and hidden from ants. Its also wise to pick up debris and piles of trash, paper, magazines, cardboard, etc. because these are favorite places for crazy ants to nest. The other option is to ignore them and wait it out. They will eventually leave.

Chemical control is limited - there are few, if any, good organic options. Barrier sprays around foundation of the home and long concrete pathways are recommended. Indoor sprays at entry points may also keep them at bay. These are only temporary fixes, however, it will not permanently control crazy ants.