Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Give a Daily Dose of IPM

I have been amazed recently about how many times I talk to family and friends and they will casually mention "We have these little bugs coming into the house" or "Something is eating my garden plants," or "What do you do about ants in the house? They are driving me crazy!" I look at these as educational IPM opportunities! So many consumers still go to the Raid as their first line of defense, and the more we can convince them there are other, safer alternatives, the more IPM will become a household word :-)

I've especially been inundated with ant questions recently. These little invaders tend to show up in the spring quite often, and many times will go away given a little time. However, some problems persist, and yesterday a friend of mine expressed concern with putting ant baits down because of her pet dog. The ants have migrated from the bathroom to the kitchen and show no signs of stopping. I recommended to her that she collect some ants, bring them to the Extension office and get them identified. That way she'd know what the species is and can get some advice from the Extension Educators on what to do for that particular kind of ant. In the meantime, I told her some general IPM tips: vacuum up the ants she finds, try to watch where the trail is coming from and seal any cracks or crevices where they might hide, and be sure to keep her dog food in a sealed container.

Another regular story I receive occurs every September. Some of my family members get a barn spider "infestation" all around the outside of their home. Good old Charlotte shows up in the awnings, on the clothesline, and other places that are not acceptable. Granted, these spiders are beneficial in eating other pests around the area, but they are large and to some people a bit intimidating. My family's first response is to grab a can of bug spray and attack Charlotte with it. While this will work as long as the spider gets sprayed directly, I encourage my family to go with a more "mechanical" approach and use a broom to swipe spider and web down. No sense exposing you or the clothes to unnecessary pesticide! The broom method also assures that you actually physically remove the spider too, either killing or "relocating" (my preference :-)!) her to a place where she won't bother you.

So next time your family and friends come to you with a pest problem, take the opportunity to teach them about IPM, education is the first step!

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