Ticks: Protect Yourself While Working Outside

Protect yourself from ticks while working outside
Use tweezers to remove ticks. Pinch the tick close to the mouthparts to remove as much as possible. If the tick head is left behind, don’t worry. Having a tick attach itself to your skin is like having a thorn. Your body will expel it over time. Image credit: Nancy Hinkle.

Adapted from an article by Merritt Melancon, news editor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Ticks in Georgia

Ticks are in every part of Georgia. The most common ticks in Georgia are lone star ticks, carriers of uncommon diseases called “ehrlichiosis.” However, the American dog tick is also present in the state, and it is known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever—a flu-like illness that can cause complications for young children and those with suppressed immune systems.

The best course of action to prevent disease is to avoid tick bites altogether, said Nancy Hinkle, a UGA Extension veterinary entomologist.

She advocates:

  • Wear long pants tucked into your socks or boots when walking or working in heavy brush. “It does look dorky, but it’s the most effective way to protect yourself from ticks,” she said. “The ticks have to crawl all the way up your boot and up your pants leg before they get to you, and that’s more of a chance for them to fall off or for you to find them before they attach.”
  • Bug repellents that contain DEET to repel mosquitoes will work somewhat, but they are far from bulletproof.
  • Repellents containing the pyrethroid, permethrin, work best to repel ticks, Hinkle said. The key is to apply it to clothes early and to let it dry completely before an outing. The permethrin will stay on clothes through multiple washes, but the solvent can also deteriorate plastic and some synthetic fibers.
  • If you find that you’re picking up ticks in a yard, it may be time to mow the grass and trim the hedges. Keeping things tidy will help knock down tick populations or at least convince them to move.

Even if you’re diligent with your permethrin and you tuck your pant legs all the way into your boots, it’s important to check yourself for ticks when you get home.

For parents, Hinkle recommends a once-a-day tick check for kids if they’ve been playing in the woods or near the woods. If you find a tick within 24 hours of it attaching itself, there is little chance of it transmitting anything that could hurt you, Hinkle said.

That being said, sometimes they are tricky to remove. The best method is use tweezers or your fingers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull. Be careful not to squeeze the body of the tick during the process because that can empty the tick’s stomach contents into your bloodstream, Hinkle said.

“Fortunately the old, urban myth about not removing the mouthparts is meaningless,” Hinkle said. “If portions of the mouthparts are left behind, the body will eventually work them out—just as when we get a thorn or splinter under our skin.”

Tick bites will cause an itchy, sometimes-raised spot to appear after the tick is removed. These can be uncomfortable, Hinkle said, but that’s normal.

“The (lone star tick) is the most common tick in Georgia, and it is also the tick that makes us itch the most,” she said. “When I get a lone star tick attached to me, I’ll itch for four or five weeks, with a pruritic, indurated lesion (an itchy, hard sore) at the bite site.” “Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about the itch, other than anti-itch creams; it’s our immune system’s way of removing the tick’s salivary secretions over time.”

The time to watch for symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is about a week to two weeks after exposure to the tick. If you’ve been exposed to a tick and experience body aches or headaches, a fever, fatigue or have a spotty rash on your hands or feet, you should visit the doctor and tell them about your tick bite. The disease can be cured with antibiotics, but left untreated, it can be dangerous, especially for children under 5 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information on Rocky Mountain spotted fever, visit www.cdc.gov/rmsf. For more information about preventing ticks, see UGA Extension Circular “Protect Yourself From Ticks.”

Problems Your Extension Agents Are Seeing

Problems Your Extension Agents Are Seeing

Insect Problems

Ambrosia Beetles

Box elder bugs

Soft Scales & Aphids

Scale on holly

Sawfly Larvae (on rose)

Pecan Phylloxera

Carpenter bees

Galls on oak leaves

Black sooty mold on shrubs

Cellar Spiders in homes

Lots of honey bee calls

Disease Problems

Dogwood spot anthracnose

Large Patch – Turfgrass Diseases: Identification and Control

Leyland Cypress browning

Azalea leaf gall

Oak Leaf Blister

Other Problems

Herbicide damage to tomatoes

Squirrels digging lots of holes in lawns


  • Neil Tarver
  • Brian Maddy
  • Louise Estabrook
  • Paula Burke
  • Nathaniel Paul Eason
  • Steve Pettis
  • Michael Wheeler
  • Brenda Jackson
  • Steve Morgan
  • Dr. Elizabeth Little

Fire Ants: What Happens to Them in a Flood?

Fire Ants: What Happens to Them in a Flood?
CT Scanning Shows how Fire Ants Interlock to Form Floating Rafts – Entomology Today, June 12, 2014

Flooding has been a problem in central Texas and occasionally in parts of Georgia. Floods impact fire ants, but perhaps not like we would wish or think!

Following info from Urban IPM blog by Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M Entomologist.

Red imported fire ants live in the soil.  What happens to them when we have flooding?  Many people may think that they will drown in the flood water.  Unfortunately this isn’t true.

Floating Fire Ants

When fire ant colonies are flooded, the ants form living rafts by clinging together.  They float along the water surface until they hit dry ground, a tree, rock or other dry object.  Once they come into contact with a dry area, they emerge from the flood waters and take shelter anywhere possible until they can re-create a colony in the soil.  Living rafts of fire ants can take on different shapes from long ribbons to mats to a ball of ants.

Any floating mats of fire ants that are encountered should not be touched or disturbed.  Do not touch them with sticks or other objects as the fire ants will quickly grab onto the object. If working in flooded areas, make sure to wear appropriate clothing.  Long sleeves, pants and gloves will create more of a barrier against fire ants reaching skin where they will bite and sting.  Be aware that fire ants could be hiding anywhere that was flooded.  Wear gloves when picking up debris or other objects.  You may want to spray insect repellent containing DEET on your shoes and pants.

If you encounter fire ants in debris, use a fast-acting contact pesticide labeled for ants, but make sure the products are not sprayed into water as they can be toxic to aquatic organisms.  Fire ant baits should not be used after flooding because many of them are slow acting and colonies will be disorganized and not foraging for food.

Also be aware that fire ants may be showing up in areas that may have not had them previously or areas that were treated.

Gloomy Scale Crawlers are Active and Vulnerable

Gloomy scale crawlers are active and vulnerable
Adult gloomy scale, Photo – SD Frank, EcoIPM

Info taken from the EcoIPM website and the SE Ornamental Horticulture & IPM website

Gloomy scale

Gloomy scale, Melanaspis tenebricosa, is an armored scale that feeds on maples and other tree species. It becomes very abundant on red maples on streets and in landscapes and can cause branch dieback and tree death in some cases. It is not unusual to find trees with nearly 100% of their trunk covered in scale. Street trees are particularly prone to gloomy scale. Crawlers of this scale are active now and can be seen on bark and under scale covers. One of the reasons we have found this to be such a pest is that female gloomy scales produce about 3 times as many eggs when they live on relatively warm trees (like in a parking lot) than when they live on cooler trees (like in a shady yard). This amazing work is outlined in a recent paper by Adam Dale.

Control of this scale is complicated because crawlers emerge over 6-8 weeks so it is impossible to treat all the crawlers at once with horticultural oil or other contact insecticide. This is different than in other scales, such as euonymus scale, in which all crawlers are produced within a narrow window of 2 weeks or so. Adam Dale took a video of some gloomy scale crawlers so you can get an idea of how tiny and nondescript they are. This may also give you an idea of why scales are so vulnerable at this stage to the environment, predators, and insecticides like horticultural oil. Once they produce their thick waxy cover they are much less vulnerable to all these factors.

See video of gloomy scale crawlers (immatures).

Read the original article.

Water is the condition allowing many household pests to persist

Do you recognize this cockroach and know how to control it?

Info taken from Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home


Excessive, persistent moisture is the most important condition allowing many types of pest infestations to establish and persist.

Not only is water critical to the health and normal metabolism of all forms of life, its abundance leads to the growth of various molds, fungi, and other microorganisms which are the primary food source for numerous insect species.

Water is the condition allowing many household pests to persistHomeowners should limit the occurrence of persistent moisture in and around their home. Moisture problems can only be remedied by correcting the underlying cause(s). Some common sources of excessive, or persistent, moisture that may lead to a pest problem include but are not limited to:

  • Leaking faucets or water lines;
  • Condensation, for example on pipes, in walls and under insulation;
  • Improper ventilation of walls, attics, crawlspaces, or basements;
  • Roof leaks, especially those that are the result of improperly installed flashing around pipe penetrations, sky lights, and chimneys (Figure 8A);
  • Improper landscape grade resulting in poor surface water drainage patterns;
  • Misdirected sprinkler heads;
  • Gaps around windows (especially bay windows) and doors that allow water behind the structure’s exterior sheathing (Figure 8B);
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts (Figure 8C);
  • Downspout and air conditioner drain lines that deposit water within five feet of the structure (Figure 8D).

Property owners should ensure that:

  • Rainwater flows away from their home by examining the grade or slope of the landscape to make certain it is appropriate;
  • Gutters, downspouts, roof, and air conditioner condensate drainage patterns are operating properly and depositing water away from the foundation;
  • Attics, crawlspaces, and basements are properly ventilated;
  • A vapor barrier is in place in the crawlspace;
  • Sprinklers are positioned properly;
  • There is no standing water or persistent wet spots next to the foundation or in the crawlspace.

For more information see Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home

Pest Management: EPA’s Managing Pests in Schools Website Updated

Pest Management: EPA's Managing Pests in Schools Website UpdatedAs part of EPA’s ongoing effort to build a more user-friendly website, we have transformed our Managing Pests in Schools website into a new, easy-to-use format. Information on school Integrated Pest Management (IPM) should now be easier than ever to access, regardless of the type of electronic device being used, including tablets and smartphones.

Integrated Pest Management

IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach that offers a wide variety of tools to reduce contact with pests and exposure to pesticides. The website focuses on providing vital information in the school setting for parents, school administrators, staff and pest management professionals. Knowledgeable, proactive stakeholders can help a community prevent or significantly reduce risks from pests as well as unnecessary pesticide use.

The website is organized into the following areas:

  • About Integrated Pest Management in Schools
  • Establishing Integrated Pest Management Programs
  • Pests of Concern in Schools
  • IPM Training and Certification

The old Web pages will redirect to the new website, and we encourage visitors to update their bookmarks with the new URLs.

The address for the new website is www2.epa.gov/managing-pests-schools

UGA mobile app helps control roadside weeds

Patrick McCullough, a weed scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, decided to create the Georgia Roadside Management app after Georgia DOT officials approached him for help.

“The biggest problem they have is fighting invasive weed species, like broomsedge, vaseygrass and Johnsongrass. They are major species, and they are spreading, increasing maintenance costs and, more importantly, reducing safety for motorists,” said McCullough, a UGA researcher based on the campus in Griffin, Georgia.

Ray Dorsey, Georgia DOT agronomist manager, says tall weeds, like Johnsongrass, and invasive weeds, like kudzu, create “sight and distance problems,” especially at driveways and intersections.

“When we do road building, the contractors are required to replace the grass. Our permanent grasses of choice are bahiagrass and bermudagrass because they can help choke out weeds,” he said.

Using a partial research grant from Georgia DOT, McCullough designed the app using DOT terminology to make the tool user-friendly for workers. “All the information they need to make the best management decisions for controlling roadside weeds and vegetation is now literally at their fingertips,” he said.

The app debuted last fall, and Georgia DOT agronomists have now used it for six months.

“Everyone who’s downloaded it thinks it’s great,” Dorsey said. “We are one of the first DOTs to have an app for vegetative management,” he said.

Like all recommendations involving pesticides, the guidelines are frequently changed and updated. “Before, we had to make revisions, make paper copies and update all the training notebooks,” he said. “Now, we just ask Patrick to update the app.”

Unlike the paper notebooks, the app includes images of plant material. “It was too expensive to print color photos in the manual before. Now, we can look at a picture of the weeds and match them with what we see. (This app) is really a great tool,” he said.

The app covers much more than how to control vegetation. It also includes information on growth regulators, first aid, personal protection, equipment maintenance and mowing procedures.

Created for use on iPhones, the app can be downloaded for free on iTunes. “It’s specific to Georgia DOT and uses their codes, but DOTs in other states would benefit from it, too,” McCullough said.

Download the app for free on iTunes.

Video on horticulture’s essential role in pollinator stewardship

Info courtesy of the UGA Nursery Production Facebook page by Matthew Chappell, UGA  Original article published in Greenhouse Grower magazine.

A newly released educational video provides valuable information on horticulture’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship.

“Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment, including the use of pesticides, and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

The seven-minute video was produced as part of the horticulture industry’s Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, a collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists (SAF) and the American Floral Endowment.

Oak leaf blister: What is this problem on oak leaves?

Oak leaf blister

Compiled by: Dr. Jean L. Williams-Woodward, UGA Extension Plant Pathology

Oak leaf blister: What is this problem on oak leaves?

Disease Symptoms:
Bulging, blister-like spots on leaves, may cause leaf distortion. Underside of leaf turns brown following spore production. Can be confused with eriophyid mite or midge damage. Affected leaves drop prematurely.

Disease Management:
Disease seldom causes significant damage. Apply fungicide spray when leaf buds swell in the spring and reapply at 7-10 day intervals until the leaf fully expands to reduce disease.

Bagworms: What are these things hanging in my trees?

Bagworms: What are these things hanging in my trees?

Bagworms: What are these things hanging in my trees?


Info taken from the publication Control of Common Pests of Landscape Plants by Tim Daly, Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension Agent and Beverly Sparks & Will Hudson, Extension Entomologists.

Bagworms construct and live inside a 1- to 2-inch long tough, tear-shaped portable silken case. These bags are the insect’s most easily seen and identifiable feature. Outside, the silken texture of the bag is somewhat concealed with layers of leaf, twig and bark fragments. The bag has an opening at the larger end that allows the worm to partially crawl out to make repairs to its bag and eat.

Bagworms attack broadleaf and coniferous trees and shrubs. Here are some control measures.

  1. Follow proper watering, fertilizing and pruning practices.
  2. Remove other stress factors from trees when possible.
  3. Infested plant material cannot be treated and should be removed and disposed of.
  4. Protect trees from infestation or reinfestation by using products containing bifenthrin or permethrin. Make first application in April and subsequent applications in late May, mid-July and late August.

To find more ID and control information on this or other landscape insects read the UGA publication Control of Common Pests of Landscape Plants 

To find pesticide recommendations and use information visit the Georgia Pest Management Handbook.