Category Archives: Other pests

Fire ants make water rescue… interesting

What’s reddish-brown, rides the water like an air mattress, changes shape like an amoeba, and stings like the devil?  If you answered fire ants floating in floodwater, you’ve probably been in Texas high water before. Floods bring all sorts of wildlife into close and sometimes uncomfortable contact with people, but none perhaps so uncomfortable as fire ants. When their mounds are flooded, fires ants survive by riding air bubbles to the surface, joining feet (tarsi) with nest mates, and floating.  The ingenious behavior that allows ants to float… Read More →

New infographic on biting and stinging pests

Every now and then we get the opportunity to get a little creative with a partner who shares some of our mission. This month our partner is the Methodist Health System, and MHS Publication Specialist, Sarah Cohen.  Sarah posed a challenge to a few of us subject matter experts, and her creative team, to come up with an infographic that would help inform you about the different kinds of pests in Texas that bite, sting and sometimes infect us. Here’s the final product and a link to the… Read More →

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 →

A berry bad pest

As if we needed more insect pests!  Now there is a new pest of berries that is spreading rapidly around the U.S.  The spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is a native of Japan and was first discovered in California in 2008.  It has spread quickly to berry growing areas on the west and east coasts, as well as Canada, Michigan and the northeast.  It showed up in Colorado last year, and the first specimen in Texas was found by a faculty member in the entomology department at Texas… Read More →

Baaaad boy! Bad snails.

Seems like every month brings a new horror story in the land of exotic pests.  This one is fascinating and illustrates how a seemingly innocuous action like bringing some soil, seeds, plants or other critter home from vacation can have unforeseen and disastrous consequences. Giant African land snails have been found for the second time in the Miami, Florida area.  According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Science, the last time this happened was in 1966 when a boy smuggled a few snails into Miami as pets.  After… Read More →

Icky ticks

What could be more icky than finding a tick on yourself, your child or your pet?  Now there’s a new web application called “TickApp” that provides quick information about everything you need to know about ticks. Researchers and extension specialists at Texas A&M University developed TickApp as a smart-phone friendly website to provide information about ticks.  Anyone with access to the Internet at home or on their smart phone can access it at “Ticks  are blood-feeding parasites capable of causing irritation, inflammation and infection in animals and… Read More →

Ah, for the midgy days of summer

After the past few weeks of cold weather, it’s natural to day dream a little about the warm, pleasant days of late spring and summer.  At least that’s how we think of them when it’s cold enough to freeze a catfish.  We want to remember cool lemonades in the shade, evening baseball games and fireworks.  We tend to forget the 100 degree days, weeds and lawns that won’t stop growing, chiggers, mosquitoes and midges.  Well, if you’re lucky enough to live next to a lake or pond, you… Read More →