Monday, May 16, 2011

Wood Boring Beetles

A common question I get is "what do you foresee being the insect problem this time of year?" Well, if we are in a drought, there is no doubt I will have calls about wood boring beetles. This is simply because our trees and shrubs are stressed from the drought. We have had VERY little rain for a year now, in the south central Texas area. And the one plant we usually forget about are our trees. We think to water our flowers, grass and gardens, but our trees get neglected.

Any tree that is stressed (drought, disease, mechanical damage, etc) will emit pheromones that wood boring beetles can pick up on. They find the source of stress and lay their eggs. The larvae hatches and bores into the plant. They grow and emerge, and you see the hole they leave behind.

If you find boring beetles in your trees, the first thing you need to realize is that your tree is stressed! Try to alleviate the stress, otherwise you will never be able to manage the borers. Often times, the damage you see has already been done and there isn't much you can do at that point. Unless you are a tree grower, I really don't see much need in managing wood boring beetles. Most of the time they are not re-infesting, which means they won't come back. The damage you see, is the damage done. You an't reverse it and it if you get that tree healthy, you probably won't see any further damage.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bees in Unwanted Places

As the weather warms up, you may start to notice bees getting a little more active. In fact, you may start to find bee nests in places you would prefer them not to be (a tree in your backyard, under your deck, eave of your home).

We all know that bees are beneficial, but they become a pest when they take up residence in our own residence. Many of us would prefer to have them removed and relocated than killed. In many cases, however, this isn't always possible.

Call your local beekeepers association or check the phone book for a bee removal service. Explain where you are finding the nest, you may luck out and they'll be able to remove and relocate the nest or suggest someone who can.

In most cases, this isn't possible. Especially if the bees are hidden behind a wall, under the eaves of your home, or inside a tree. If it isn't easy to open up the wall and expose the entire nest, it probably isn't possible to remove the colony. Just plugging up the entrance hole is not the solution either. The bees will find a way to get out, and many times this is by chewing a hole in your sheet rock and entering the home. You won't put bees in the beneficial category very long after that!

There has also been a lot of talk about bees disappearing. While this is a serious issue, it has not become a huge issue in Texas, and is most noticeable with beekeeper's bees ("domesticated" bees, if you will) as opposed to wild bees.

As a side note, the second most common question I get is how to determine if the colony is Africanized. In Texas, we just assume that all wild honey bees have the Africanized gene and can be as aggressive. Be careful around bees, you never know how aggressive they may be or what can irritate them.