Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What is Flying in the Rain - Termites!

If its raining in your area, you've probably noticed small, very delicate little insects flying around.  These are desert termites, also called agriculture or agricultural termites.  And this is a very normal occurrence and nothing to stress over.

Some people are seeing hundreds, if not thousands of desert termites outside.  Me? I only saw a couple in my yard.  Desert termite swarmers (also called alates) are what we are seeing.  They are winged with brown bodies and brown/tan wings.  Different species may be different sizes, but their wings are nearly twice the length of their body.  The photo shown is only one species of desert termite, others can be smaller.

Desert termites will swarm or fly up in the air to mate during hot, humid times like this.  This is especially common after we've had a long period without rain and seems more common when its been exceptionally hot and the rain lasts a while, leaving the air extremely humid for the majority of the day.

Mud tubes formed by Desert Termites above ground.
Desert termites are not termites to be concerned about.  They do not feed on wood, so they are not a structural pest.  I always say, if you have to have termites, you want these guys!  Desert termites do feed on forbes, native grasses, turf and mainly the roots of those plants.  When its dry, the roots get shorter, the termites follow and they sometimes end up above ground. When more plants are dying in the drought, they're food sources are everywhere, which is why we seem to see more of them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ticks? We Have an App for That!

Yes, you can get phone applications for just about everything these days. Including an app all about ticks.

The summer heat seems to have brought the ticks out in droves. People who had never had a tick problem before are overrun by them, those have usually have ticks are finding the infestations to be unbearable. And ticks aren't just gross, they can carry diseases and they can be extremely difficult the manage.

Texas A&M's tick expert, Dr. Pete Teel, developed a Tick Application for your phone (also viewable online), with information about tick biology, identification, management, and removal. What's nice about this app, is that you can choose the specific location you need ticks controlled - on dogs, on livestock, urban landscape, etc.  This is an EXCELLENT tool for tick management.  Check it out for active ingredients of pesticides if you are having a hard time.

Check out the tick app at: http://tickapp.tamu.edu/identification.php

Another couple of tick management tips: (1)don't over-apply pesticides or apply more often than the label recommends or every 2 weeks (whichever is longer).  This will only result in resistance and you'll have a much harder time controlling ticks.  Fight the urge to use more pesticide that you need - give it some time to actually do its job. (2) After you treat the yard, do a second application about 2 weeks after the first.  This will help get that second generation that hatched from the eggs that you didn't get with your first application of pesticides.