Thank you for your interest in our Healthy Communities website. We will be deleting this website in a couple of weeks. Much of the information has been moved to the Colorado IPM Center website at http://ipm.agsci.colostate.edu. If you are interested in following posts by the author of this website, check out http://sputnikconsulting.wordpress.com.
Over the past few years a new weevil has become established in parts of Colorado that attracts attention when it enters homes this time of year. It is a small, gray weevil, scientific name Trachyphloeus asperatus. We have records presently from Larimer and Jefferson Counties. Have you seen it? According to Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, the larvae may be feeding on roots of some plant as a “root weevil”.
Another “pest” to watch for are springtails moving into homes and schools. Springtails are extremely common arthropods (technically a type of six legged close kin to insects.) They occasionally become a nuisance pest. This is especially true when they build up their numbers during wet spring conditions. When the spring rains stop and the hot summer begins, they migrate indoors looking for a cool, moist environment. Springtails are not a health concern, but people often become anxious over their presence. Springtails are harmless to humans and larger animals; they cannot bite.
Inspect and monitor areas that are conducive springtail habitat, such as moist areas with plenty of organic material and near water sources such as sinks, bathrooms, boilers and potted plants.
– Eliminate “moist” areas and leaks, especially in bathrooms, kitchens and storage closets.
– Provide an alternative moisture point, distant from the buidling to divert the migration.
– Remove debris and organic material that can harbor springtails.
– Potted plants can be left to dry out between waterings to discourage springtail growth.
– Reduce clutter and clean under sinks and around areas with a water source.
– Throughly clean the baseboards, cracks and crevices around problem areas.
– Keep windows closed and use weather stripping to seal windows.
– Seal cracks, crevices and areas around plumbing in problem areas on the
building interior and exterior, with an appropriate sealant or caulk.
– Vacuum large aggregations of springtails and discard the bag; repeat until gone.
– Springtails are resistant to many pesticides and hemical control of springtails is not recommended.
We have had twice the average rainfall this spring and the stinkhorns are making their abrupt appearance in the landscape. These amazing mushrooms arise from an “egg”, quickly breaking the “shell” and thrusting themselves up to heights of nearly 10 inches in a matter of hours! You can see a time lapse of this mushroom growing on YouTube.
One of the most common mushrooms in my landscape is called Phallus impudicus, named by a French mycological pioneer with a French sense of humor. Like the other stinkhorns, Phallus impudicus covers its tip with a spore-laden slime; flies are attracted to it, and carry the spores away, so we can enjoy more mushrooms in seasons to come.
I was glad to see the sun shine this weekend here in “sunny Colorado”. The average precipitation for the Front Range, from January through May, is 5 and ½ inches. To date, we have had about 9 inches. All that rain means there are plenty of puddles and standing water. And standing water means an opportunity for mosquitoes to breed.
Last year, there were 114 human cases of West Nile Virus in the state.
You can protect yourself with the Four D’s!
Mosquitoes breed in water! Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Bird baths, clogged gutters and kiddie pools are common breeding sites.
Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors. Spray clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Use an approved repellent according to its label.
Limit time spent outdoors at dusk through dawn, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.
You can participate in collecting weather data through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.
Several recent research articles have described the importance of human microbiota – all those organisms that live in and on humans. Although we emphasize sanitation in Integrated Pest Management, I remember the advice of my grandfather, who said “You gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die”. (For those of you under 50, a peck is a dry measure of 8 quarts or 1/4th of a bushel.) So, as the planting season is upon us, don’t hesitate to get your hands dirty. The soil contains thousands of species of bacteria and actinomycetes, as well as fungi, insects, mites, nematodes and earthworms. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published this infographic on soils and how important they are.
Seeing bats flying in my backyard is a welcome sight — a single bat eats up to 4,500 insects, the equivalent of its body weight, each night. One of the most common bats throughout Colorado is the big brown bat.
The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) can be found just about everywhere, especially in towns and cities. Large groups of big brown bats may take up temporary residence in an attic in the summer. They also use rock crevices for roosting. Big brown bats have a preference for beetles and other large, flying insects. They are year-round residents, hibernating in mines, caves, and a variety of other places.
White-nose syndrome (caused by a fungus) has not been found in Colorado, although, in less than 10 years, the disease has spread to 26 states and five provinces in Canada, killing almost all of the bats in some locations. Scientists say it represents one of the steepest declines in North American wildlife of the last century.
Bats and humans can live near each other in harmony. More information on bats can be found at the Colorado Bat Working Group. Installing a bat house is one way to attract bats or provide an alternative roost for evicted bats. An organization call Bat Conservation International, Inc. is another good resource for information about bats.
Charles Lindbergh said, “… if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.”
The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory provides practical information and habitat conservation in the inter mountain west, the Great Plains and Mexico. The four criteria needed to create a bird-friendly habitat are food, cover, water and a place to nest. They recommend high-fat, high-protein foods in feeders, especially oil sunflower seed and white proso millet. Juncos, sparrows, towhees, doves and others will feed on millet. Safflower is great for doves, chickadees and finches. If you want to discourage squirrels, grackles and starlings, try using safflower seed. Flickers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches eat both seed and insects; they will feed on peanut kernels and suet. Jays, magpies and other corvids prefer to pick over peanuts in the shell. Raisins, cranberries and cherries are attractive to robins and other fruit eaters. You can provide orange halves from May through September for Bullocks Orioles and Western Tanagers.