Texas entomologists warn residents about new tick species

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife University

Confirmed reports of the longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, in six states have prompted a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist to alert Texans to its possible arrival.

Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension veterinary/medical entomologist at Stephenville, said the longhorned tick isn’t named for the iconic bovine symbol of the Lone Star State, but rather for the distinctive, but underrated “horns” sprouting from a portion of its head. Continue reading

Texas flooded with mosquitoes now that Harvey is over

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Among the inevitable fallout stemming from the ocean of water dumped on South Texas by Hurricane Harvey will be a hoard of bloodsucking mosquitoes, but  state-level entomologists predict the first onslaught won’t be the disease vectors many fear.

“For the past several years we’ve been educating people about disease-transmitting mosquitoes, but we are about to witness a huge emergence of other kinds of mosquitoes,” said Dr. Charles Allen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist and Texas A&M University department of entomology associate department head at San Angelo. “Due to the big rain event associated with Hurricane Harvey, in a few short days and over the next few weeks we’ll be expecting a large outbreak of what are called floodwater mosquitoes.” Continue reading

Pest populations rising in Texas

in Southwest Farm Press

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife

Crop pest populations are on the rise around Texas.

Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension veterinary entomologist, Stephenville, said many pests emerged earlier than usual this year due to the weather, but populations and how long they stay will depend on the weather to come. Continue reading

Texas cattle fever ticks are back with a vengeance

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas cattle fever ticks, which made Texas longhorns the pariah of the plains in the late 1800s, are once again expanding their range with infestations detected in Live Oak, Willacy and Kleberg counties, said Texas A&M AgriLife experts.  

As of Feb. 1, more than 500,000 acres in Texas are under various quarantines outside of the permanent quarantine zone. Continue reading

New tool provides fun, easy way to protect herd from horn flies

Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife recently gave a “thumbs up” to a product that claims to control horn flies without the hassle of corralling the herd. Sonja Swiger, veterinary entomologist at Texas A&M AgriLife, tested the VetGunTM, an insecticide delivery system that premiered in 2014.

Developed by SmartVet, the VetGunTM “shoots” a ball of insecticide at an animal’s hide like a paintball gun shoots a ball of paint. The rancher can apply the insecticide without having to gather the animals into a chute, so it saves time, anxiety for the animals and extra money to hire additional people to corral the cattle. The VetGun does not need not need to be used with ear tags. It is a replacement option but should be coupled with other integrated pest management options such as a larval control and sanitation. Continue reading

Mosquito abatement and mitigation workshops in Texas

These workshops are designed to train personnel in cities and municipalities that are in the field of mosquito abatement. Each workshop will educate personnel on mosquito identification, biology, ecology, control tactics, trap usage, surveillance, and mosquito control. In addition, there will be an overview of vector-borne diseases affecting Texas and other biting insects.

Continue reading