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 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:

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Case of West Nile in Texas Confirmed, 2014

The Texas Department of Health State Services has confirmed the first case of West Nile in Texas this 2014 summer, and its not too far down the road - Travis County (Austin area).

For the complete media release see:

Here's a quick recap of the article and some precautions you should take:

West Nile "Season" runs from June through October, so we are only in the beginning.  We had a large outbreak a couple of summers ago, so hopefully its fresh on your mind.  West Nile Virus is a virus transmitted by the bite of a mosquito.  I don't know about you, but I have had a heck of a summer dealing with mosquitoes.  I have multiple bites all over my arms and legs at all times, it seems!  So, I'm going to be more careful about being outdoors when mosquitoes are active, and wearing insect repellent when I am outdoors.

Tom Sidwa, State Public Health Veterinarian and manager of Zoonosis Control Branch says it best when he warns us that "The best way to protect yourself is by using insect repellent every time you go outside."

I know many people do not like using insect repellent for various reasons, but the three best options recommended by the EPA and CDC are DEET, Picaradin and Lemon of Oil Eucalyptus.  This is based on extensive research to supports its safety for use on human skin and length of time for repellency.  Remember that all repellents will wear off after a period of time and each individual is different.  Some formulations may need to be reapplied more often than others.

While we can't easily control adult mosquitoes, we can reduce breeding sites by dumping standing water often or using Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis.  We can also do what we can to prevent the bite, by wearing repellent!