Category Archives: Uncategorized

Revenge of the (cricket) nerds






One of the great mysteries of my career as a Texas urban entomologist has been understanding the clouds of crickets that descend on lights and businesses nearly every year.  So I was intrigued last summer when I got an email from a PhD student at Cornell University interested in coming down to study our swarming crickets. Jay Falk is actually a native Texan, who grew up in the Austin area and got his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas.  That’s where he got his first introduction to… Read More →




My rabies story






[Note: This is not a story about insects, though it does relate to pest control.  As an urban extension entomologist I get to train and work with pest control professionals.  These good folks often find themselves called upon to handle and remove a variety of pests, including bats, raccoons and other urban wildlife that can be carriers of rabies.  So the following post is adapted from one I recently wrote for the pest management industry, with possible relevance to the readers of this blog.] Last August I was out… Read More →




Possible impact of Emerald Ash Borer in Texas






Last summer the Arkansas Agriculture Department and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that emerald ash borer (EAB) had been discovered in five counties in southwest Arkansas, bringing this pest only one county away from Texas.  Despite the fact that it feeds only on ash (trees in the genus Fraxinus), the EAB is considered to be the most destructive forest pest ever seen in north America. Because it is getting so close to Texas, I thought I would speculate a little about what impact EAB might… Read More →




Mosquito juice and science






Have you ever heard some scientific claim on radio or TV say something that made you stop and ask: “How do they do that?” Apparently this question bugged someone enough this week to call their extension agent and ask “How do you guys really know if a mosquito has west Nile virus?”  I thought that was a pretty good question; and given the level of WNV testing going on right now in many Texas cities, it was one that deserved a public answer. You might wonder… Do they have veterinarians waiting… Read More →




Caution in the Caribbean






I had an inquiry today about the safety of travel to Caribbean destinations on cruises.  The person was concerned about Chikungunya and whether a spouse with health problems should risk taking a Caribbean cruise.  The answer is that Chikungunya is a risk if you decide to go ashore on most of the Caribbean islands.  If you are planning a trip to warm Caribbean waters, don’t necessarily cancel your plans; but you should arm yourself with the information to know the risks. The Centers for Disease Control still rate travel to the… Read More →




Ladybug ladybug






Certainly one of the most beloved of all insects is the ladybug, or more correctly, lady beetle.  And a new citizen science web project may be just the thing for adults and kids with an interest in lady beetles or cameras or both. The Lost Ladybug project started because of concerns about dwindling numbers of one kind of lady beetle, the nine-spotted lady beetle, in New York state.  It appears to have evolved into a bigger project where people from any part of the country can participate.  Find… Read More →




Texas A&M’s Inspiring Latina






Juliana Rangel Posada is a relatively new Assistant Professor at Texas A&M specializing in honey bees.  Last week she was named “Inspiring Latina of the Week” by Latina Magazine.  The magazine printed an interview with her that might be of interest, especially to aspiring Latina entomologists. Congratulations to Julia for this honor.  Her arrival at Texas A&M was highly anticipated, as our department had been missing a honey bee biologist for an extended period of time. And bees are an important part of our agricultural economy in Texas…. Read More →




Waiting for the bees






As the season tilts toward spring in Texas I begin to look forward to the increase in insect activity. Not the pest activity, like mosquitoes and fire ants, but the vast majority of insects that are either harmless or who actively benefit us in one or more ways. Bumble bees are among those creatures which are mostly beneficial to people, though many of us have little appreciation for the gifts they give. In fact, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Michael Warriner, it’s been 100 years since… Read More →




Mosquito-proof your yard






The year 2012 is turning out to be one of the worst years in north Texas for West Nile virus since the disease crept into the state in the late 1990s.  As of last Friday, there were 115 total human cases of West Nile virus (fever and neuroinvasive forms included) in Dallas County alone.  And the summer, and peak WNV season, is far from over. Do-it-yourself Options There are several simple things everyone can do to fight back against mosquitoes. When going outdoors, using a personal repellent remains… Read More →




A Texas bee with strange bathroom habits






Every now and then I learn about a new quirky insect so interesting that I have to pass it on.  This week’s curiosity comes courtesy of Ken Steigman, entomologist and Director of the Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area in Lewisville, TX.  Ken sent the accompanying image taken by a friend.  What caught his eye were the distinct white pellets so neatly placed around the entrance to the mound. According to Dr. John Neff, with the Central Texas Melittological Institute in Austin, the builder of this neat little nest is… Read More →