Entomologists to holiday travelers: Don’t let the bedbugs bite

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists say a few simple practices can help holiday travelers deal with bedbug infestations and avoid spreading the pest.

“All it takes is one traveler with bedbugs in their luggage to stay at a hotel and that hotel can become infested,” said Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist in Dallas. “Unless the problem is noticed and dealt with right away, the next hotel visitor may end up bitten or bringing home some unwanted hitchhikers.” Continue reading

National pest control pros scurry to Texas Rodent Academy

by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife

Pest control professionals from companies in Utah, Georgia, New York and across Texas converged in Dallas for three days to train alongside Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologists on controlling rodent infestations.

“We were especially pleased to get Dr. Bobby Corrigan, one of the top rodentologists in the country, to reinvent his New York City Rodent Academy training here in Texas,” said Janet Hurley, training organizer and AgriLife Extension integrated pest management program specialist in Dallas. Continue reading

Floating fire ants, insect pests among flood hazards

by Gabriel Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife

Fire ants, as their colonies begin to flood, can join feet or tarsi to form water rafts, and they are more aggressive once in the floating formation, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists. But other insect pests can also pose human threats in flood conditions, they said.

Dr. Paul Nester, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Houston, and Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist, Dallas, encourage those affected by flooding to stay prepared and aware of pests, especially when it comes to mosquitoes, floating fire ant colonies and bedbugs. Continue reading

New Texas A&M AgriLife facility trains pest control pros

by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife

A new training facility for pest management professionals has opened its doors at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Dallas, where entomologists converted a graduate student dormitory into what they now call “ground zero for pest control training in Texas.”

The facility is called IPM Experience House after the science-based approach to pest control known as integrated pest management. Continue reading

AgriLife Extension entomologists provide advice for women regarding Zika virus

By: Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife

Initially, the Zika virus was considered a “mild” disease, but public health officials have become increasingly concerned that pregnant women who contract Zika can pass the virus to their unborn babies, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists.

“The main cause for concern is the possibility the Zika virus may cause microcephaly, a condition where the fetal brain and head do not fully develop and reach normal size,” said Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist, Dallas. “Currently, there is no vaccine or preventive treatment for Zika, nor is there a cure for microcephaly.” Continue reading

Texas Extension expert warns to watch for home value-reducing insects

by Paul Schattenberg, Texas AgrLife

With arthropods being the most diverse and successful organisms on the planet, it shouldn’t be a surprise that insects and their relatives have been highly successful at invading our homes, said Dr. Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist in Dallas.

“Insects have evolved along with humans, actually becoming specialists at living among us and off our scraps and cast-offs,” Merchant said “Unfortunately, their invasion of our homes often leads to structural and other damage that can negatively impact the home’s value.” Continue reading

AgriLife Extension experts: Fewer reported Lyme disease cases may not tell whole story

by Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife

Though Texas had almost 300 cases of Lyme disease reported in 2009, the number of reported cases since then has gone down considerably, leading experts to wonder if the disease is truly on the decline in the Lone Star State.

“Typically we see dozens of cases every year, mostly within the triangular region between Houston, Dallas and Austin,” said Dr. Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist based in Dallas. “Some of these cases occur in individuals who have been bitten by ticks outside the state, but many infections occur when people come in contact with a tick here in Texas.” Continue reading