Spring is finally here, but unfortunately so are the pests!
While doing your spring cleaning or staying indoors due to our recent rain, you may have noticed some insects and spiders have moved in with you. Many pests are emerging from their winter rest, and taking cover from the cool, wet weather.
If you've found tiny brown, white, and black patterned beetles on windowsills, curtains, or walls near entryways, they may be carpet beetles. Adult beetles are about 1/10 inch and feed on pollen and nectar from flowers like crape myrtle and spirea. They can be brought indoors on cut flowers or they may fly in from nearby plants outside. A few adult beetles inside your home are typically not a problem. However, be on the lookout for their larvae or signs of their damage. Carpet beetle larvae feed on natural fibers such as wool, silk, leather, fur, and pet hair. They can damage rugs and carpets, yarn, clothing, and leather book bindings. Larvae will not feed on synthetic fibers like polyester. You can reduce sources of food for larvae by cleaning up lint, hair, dead insects, or debris. Adults can be relocated to the outdoors, but larvae are more difficult to control. See Pest Notes: Carpet Beetles for management strategies.
Spiders often end up inside while looking for food and if the right conditions are present–dark, dusty, hidden areas–they may stay a while. Some people may not mind the occasional spider, as they feed on other pests like flies, moths, and beetles. It is uncommon for most California spiders to bite you, contrary to what many people think. This includes the brown recluse spider, which does not exist in California. To identify the various spiders you might come across, see the Pest Notes: Spiders.
There are many other household pests you might encounter now and throughout the year. Fortunately, UC IPM has tons of great information on what they are and how to control them! See Pests of homes, structures, people, and pets for more information, or watch UC IPM's webinar recording on Springtime Household Pests.
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we'd like to highlight some festive insects that you'll find wearing green for the holiday!
Also known as June beetles or figeater beetles, these large, metallic green beetles are an occasional pest of ripening fruit. While mating, adult green fruit beetles aggregate and feed on apricots, plums, peaches, and other fruits. Their larvae are large (1-2 inch) white grubs that may be mistaken for other white grubs that can damage lawns. Green fruit beetle larvae feed on decaying organic matter instead and are often found in compost piles.
Adult Say stink bugs and southern green stink bugs feed on a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They can cause significant damage to fruits and sometimes even venture into homes and buildings.
Mantids are among the largest insects (2-5 inches) in California and are usually brown, green, or yellow. The native California mantid can actually be all three colors throughout its life! Mantids are often referred to as beneficial insects, however they are generalist predators. They will eat aphids, but also honeybees, butterflies, and their mates.
Green peach aphids, potato aphids, green apple aphids, and tuliptree aphids all have two things in common: they are green aphids and we hate finding them on our plants! Aphids in low numbers usually won't damage your plants, but their populations can grow rapidly if left unmanaged. Naturally occurring beneficial insects, like ladybugs and parasitic wasps, can help control aphid populations.
Spring into the following free webinars from the UC IPM Urban & Community Program! Held every third Thursday from 12:00-1:00pm PDT, these informative webinars will help you identify, prevent, and control pests in and around the home, garden, and landscape!
April 20, 2023: Aphids, Scales, and Mealybugs, Oh My!
Insects such as aphids, certain scales, mealybugs, and others can produce a sticky substance called honeydew that can create a big mess around gardens and landscapes. Learn how to identify, prevent, and control these honeydew-producing insects and their damage to plants. This presentation will be given by Karey Windbiel-Rojas, UC IPM Associate Director for Urban & Community IPM/Area IPM Advisor. Register for this webinar.
May 18, 2023: Birds: Friends or Foes?
Birds are sometimes considered pests around homes, buildings, and in gardens, but they can also help to control other pests. This webinar will cover pest bird biology, identification, monitoring, and common types of damage; in addition to predatory birds and ways to enhance their control of pests. This presentation will be given by Breanna Martinico, Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor, Napa, Lake, and Solano counties. Register for this webinar.
June 15, 2023: Summertime Household Pests
This webinar will cover identification, prevention, and management of common household pests that can be a problem in the summer months. Dr. Andrew Sutherland, Area Urban IPM Advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area, will present the webinar. Register for this webinar.
July 20, 2023: Natural Enemies & Beneficial Bugs: What are they?
While some insects can be damaging pests, many others are actually useful and keep pest species in check by parasitizing them or preying on them. These beneficial bugs are known as natural enemies and are vital to help keep pests from getting out of control. In this webinar, learn about natural enemies, how to identify them, and how they can help you out in your home and garden. This presentation will be given by Eric Middleton, Area IPM Advisor for San Diego county. Register for this webinar.
Can't make a webinar? Don't worry, all presentations are recorded and posted on the UC IPM YouTube channel! More webinars will be announced in the late summer. Follow us on social media @ucipmurban for the latest IPM content and news.
Webinars from the IPM Institute of North America
From April 10-14, Midwest Grows Green and Green Shield Certified will host Green Shield Week, a series of webinars discussing sustainable landscaping and pest management practices, strategies and policies. The webinars include:
- Monday, April 10th – Barry Draycott from Tech Terra Environmental discusses how to protect our water resources while maintaining a healthy and resilient lawn. Register for free at bit.ly/GreenLawns23.
- Tuesday, April 11th – Bradley Herrick from the University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum focuses on best management practices, control methods and latest research of jumping worms. Register for $10 at bit.ly/InvasiveJumpingWormsWebinar.
- Thursday, April 13th– Dr. Doug Richmond from Purdue University's Soil Insect Ecology Laboratory presents a systems approach for integrating cultural, biological and low impact chemical tools to reduce the ecological footprint of managing turf pests. Register for $10 at bit.ly/SustainablePest23.
Termite Awareness Week is a campaign created by the National Pest Management Association to call attention to the damage termites can cause to structures and to make sure residents and professional pest managers understand how to prevent and deal with termite infestations.
Did you know?
- Of the 23 species of termites in California, only 3 are considered pests. The three pest species are dampwood, drywood, and subterranean termites.
- Subterranean termites are the most common in California. They live in underground nests and can be found infesting wood that is in contact with the soil, including structural lumber in homes and landscapes, as well as fallen trees, tree stumps, or other dead wood.
- If you come across groups of insects on the ground that appear to be winged termites, they may actually be winged ants. For help distinguishing ants from termites, see the UC IPM Ant Key.
- Dampwood termites are larger than subterranean and drywood termites. They are most common in cool, humid areas along the coast and are attracted to lights at dark.
- Termites play a very important role in California forests, woodlands and deserts by helping to break down woody organic matter which helps return nutrients to the soil. And contrary to popular belief, termites rarely injure or kill healthy trees.
If you suspect you might have a termite infestation in your home, contact a professional. Do-it-yourself insecticide treatments are not recommended and are often not effective. To learn more about termites and available management strategies for professionals, read the Pest Notes: Subterranean and Other Termites and the Pest Notes: Drywood Termites.
Pest issues are much easier to deal with when you know what they are and have the right tools to address them. The UC Statewide IPM Program has several free, online tools to help you diagnose plant problems, determine if an animal pest is present, or get a monthly checklist of landscape tasks. These easy to access online tools will allow you to reach your IPM goals!
Wildlife Pest Identification Tool
Animals can be pests in gardens and landscapes but often, you won't see them. Instead, you might see damage to plants or the ground, animal tracks, or droppings. UC IPM has a tool that can help you figure out what animal pest you have. The Wildlife Pest Identification Tool is a photo-based gallery of animal damage, tracks, and droppings. Once you've determined what animal is causing your problem, you'll be directed to information about biology and management for that specific pest. Access this tool here.
Plant Problem Diagnostic Tool
Plant problems caused by insects, mites, environmental conditions, and diseases can be hard to tell apart. Use UC IPM's Plant Problem Diagnostic Tool when you have unhealthy-looking plants in your landscape or garden. This tool allows you to find out what is the cause of damage to specific trees, shrubs, and other flowering ornamentals. Simply choose the plant type, species, affected plant part, and observed damage to get a list of potential causes. You'll see information about the pest or disease with photographs and links to more information. To use this tool, go here.
Seasonal Landscape IPM Checklist
It can be overwhelming to schedule all the varied tasks that need to be done to manage pests in the landscape throughout the year. The Seasonal Landscape IPM Checklist is a monthly guide that can help landscape professionals, gardeners, and others use integrated pest management (IPM) solutions at the right time of year. This tool can help you manage or even avoid common landscape plant problems. The checklist includes tasks like monitoring for specific pests, implementing disease and insect control for fruit trees or applying mulch. The tool is specific to certain regions or counties in California as well as elevation. You'll see a monthly list of actions to keep landscapes healthy, common pest problems to look out for, and links to more information. Subscribe to this free resource to receive an automated email for that month's checklist in your region. Don't see your region listed? We are working hard to add more regions to the checklist that cover more areas in California. You can print out the month's checklist to share with others or as a record of planned or completed tasks. Find this tool here./h2>/h2>/h2>