Category Archives: Uncategorized

Newsletter – AgriLife Today | Texas tarantula tango: Understanding their annual hunt for food, love

If you see tarantulas moving in greater numbers around Texas, don’t fear … they’re just looking for love. There are 15 tarantula species that can be found around Texas like this one at Big Bend National Park. (Sam Craft/Texas A&M AgriLife) Some folks equate this annual movement of these large, fuzzy arthropods to seasonal migration. But Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomology specialist in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology, Travis County, said the mass movement of tarantulas between May and August is not a true migratory event. The… Read More →

Spring Pests: What to Expect as Temperatures Rise

As the chill of winter fades and temperatures begin to rise, a variety of insect pests start to make their presence known. Environmental factors such as an increase in temperature and the moisture we often see during the spring season will signal over-wintering arthropods to emerge during these favorable times. Here’s a look at some of the common pests you might encounter in and around your home during spring. Ants: Arguably the most notable ant pest in the Texas landscape is the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA). The… Read More →

Cleaning insect poop off trees

Never estimate how low this blog can go in the search for article ideas. After listening to some internet chatter today on the subject of cleaning black mold off of trees, I thought someone else might be interested in the dark side of insect poop. Feel free to close your browser now if I was wrong. Before anything else, let’s clear the air about insect poop.  Most insect poop is inconsequential, harmless and rarely noticed by the home gardener. The exception might be those caterpillars that leave poop… Read More →

Avoiding the “I-Got-the-Hotel-Bed-Bug Blues”

As the holiday season approaches and travel volume increases, the chance for traveler  encounters with blood-sucking bed bugs goes up. And while waking up with bed bugs in a hotel room is bad, waking up at home and finding that you’ve brought bed bugs home is even worse.  Bed bugs are one of the few insects that are adept at hitchhiking in personal belongings, so knowing how to minimize the risk of bringing unwanted guests home is an essential skill for the frequent traveler. Fortunately it’s relatively easy… 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 →

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 →