Monday, November 4, 2013

Proper Use and Maintenance of Insect Light Traps

If maintained and used properly, insect light traps (ILTs) can be very effective at both capturing and monitoring for flies. ILTs allow for easy identification, because generally, intact flies are preserved in the sticky traps. The following maintenance and use tips will help ensure your ILTs are working to the best of their ability:

Light Trap Location. Location and proper positioning are main factors in successful light trap usage: 

Install light traps on the same wall as entryways, 
if possible (Photo: Mike Waldvogel, NCSU)
  • Install traps either on the same wall as the entryway (see photo at left), or on a nearby perpendicular wall. The attractant light should not be seen from the outside to avoid attracting outdoor flies.
  • Avoid other light sources that could potentially compete with the trap. Try to avoid placing ILTs in brightly lit areas, if possible.
  • Insects need to be able to see the light, so make sure that there is nothing placed in front of the ILT that would substantially block the light.
  • For day-flying insects like house flies, install wall-mount or corner-mount light traps low.
  • Ceiling-hung traps work better for night fliers like stored product moths.
  • Install ILTs along the path to stored or processed food. Narrow hallways are good installation sites. ILTs are most effective where flying insects are funneled into narrow spaces.
  • In food-processing areas, place ILTs so as to draw insects away from the food. Do not install ILTs over exposed food or near food prep surfaces.
  • Place open tube electrocuting traps near back doors that lead to garbage areas and dumpsters but are not near food or customers. 
  • To capture Drosophila (fruit flies), place an ILT that contains a sticky board low behind counters or behind beverage or salad bars.
  • Place ILTs in drop ceilings or attics to trap overwintering flies, such as cluster flies.
  • Don’t place ILTs near air blowers or in areas where there are strong air currents. 

Light Trap Maintenance. Be sure to dust off the lamps and the guard door on a regular basis. Use a wire brush to remove insects from the grid. The lamps, reflector and grid should be periodically washed with warm, soapy water. Inspect the trap for signs of electrical problems like damaged wires, cracked insulators, scorched transformers or loose electrical connections. Most ILTs will automatically turn off the electricity when the trap is opened for inspection or maintenance. However, it may be necessary to unplug the unit before cleaning.

Many ILTs use glue boards rather than a collection tray. Glue boards that are dusty or full of debris and insects will not be ineffective and should be changed. Even if the glue boards are clean and empty, they can dry out over time. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement of the glue board.

Most manufacturers recommend that lamps be replaced at least annually. The effective life of a lamp is about 7,000 hours or 9½ months of use. Even if the light appears alright, it may no longer attract insects. It’s good practice to replace the lamp in the spring to ensure they are most effective during peak season. 

Collection trays should be emptied and cleaned regularly. Dead insects left in the collection tray may attract dermestid beetles, so don’t wait until it’s full of insects to empty the tray. A small paint brush can be used to brush insect parts out of the catch tray and other parts of the trap. 

Examine the catch. Examine traps regularly. An increase in trap catch or the appearance of a new pest may indicate a developing pest problem somewhere in the building.

Use and promote IPM. Fly management will get an extra boost if other pest control strategies, such as exclusion and sanitation, are integrated with ILTs. Discuss with and educate your customers about the issues that may be contributing to a fly problem. Provide recommendations for minimizing these conditions. In addition, take advantage of any opportunities for some up-selling. For example, you might recommend the use of fly fans (air curtains) and/or vinyl strips at exterior doors and loading docks.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kudzu Bugs on the Move Again

Kudzu bugs aggregating on structure searching for 
overwintering sites (Photo:  Dan Suiter, Univ. of Georgia)
Kudzu bugs will soon be moving out of soybean fields, which means you may begin seeing them aggregating on or inside structures, including homes and schools. The kudzu bug's fall movementindoors is very similar to what we've experienced since the 1990’s with the Asian lady beetle. The major difference between the two insects is that the Asian lady beetle is actually beneficial as a biological control agent because it feeds on aphids and other plant-feeding insects. By contrast, the kudzu bug's primary food source (aside from kudzu) happens to be field crops, such as soybeans, where they can significantly impact yield. The kudzu bugs fondness for soybeans is one reason why we could see significant numbers of them invading homes and other buildings, even in rural areas. In more urban areas, there are plenty of other hosts, such as wisteria and privet. The insects are quite mobile; they are able to catch rides on wind currents, as well as automobiles, trucks, trains, and planes. This helps explain why this pest has managed to spread in about 4 years from the north-central Georgia to most of South Carolina, North Carolina, and on into Virginia (plus west into Mississippi).

At this point, we still do not have anything new to report in terms of recommendations as to how to address this problem. Kudzu bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces but that certainly doesn't mean that brick buildings or those with dark-colored siding will escape the bug invasion. While shortcuts and easy solutions would be nice, there simply aren't any.

The emphasis still has to be on exclusion because chemical control is only partially effective and relies primarily on targeting the insects that are aggregating on surfaces. Preventive sprays are not recommended because they simply won't be durable enough to last the weeks during which these insects will be actively seeking overwintering sites. If you feel a treatment is required, stick with targeted treatments of critical areas: windows and doorframes, soffits, and eaves. If you choose to treat using a pyrethroid insecticide, remember to follow new label requirements. For the latest label changes, visit:

For more information about the kudzu bug, please visit our website:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cockroaches Quickly Lose Sweet Tooth To Survive

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Paper Wasps Showing Up

Paper wasps (Polistes sp.) are long-legged, reddish brown to black insects with slender spindle-shaped abdomens. They may have differing degrees of yellowish or brown striping. Paper wasps can become a problem in the fall as the inseminated queens invade homes in search of overwintering sites. But paper wasps can also become a problem in the spring. As temperatures begin to climb, queens that spent the winter in structures become active and fly about. If they have been resting in an attic, wall void or crawlspace, the wasps may be attracted to light coming through a gap in the baseboard or a wall fixture, or around an AC vent and emerge inside the building. Since there are no nests or young to defend, the only real danger of being stung is from accidentally stepping on or pressing against one.

Figure 1. Use an aerosol insecticide 
to destroy a paper wasp nest
(Photo: Patty Alder)
Control. Queens that are found indoors may simply be swatted or vacuumed. If a queen does manage to get outdoors and start a nest, a broom may be all that is needed to knock it down. If a wasp nest has had some time to grow and is considered to be a hazard, they are most easily destroyed in the evening with an aerosol insecticide that is labeled for "hornets or wasps" (see Figure 1). This type of treatment may be considered an emergency (especially if the nest is located in place likely to be encountered) which means application to the nest can be made as long as notification occurs within 72 hours of application.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Asian Needle Ants Push Into The Carolinas

Ground Nesting Bees, by Mike Waldvogel

You may start getting complaints from folks at some of your schools where people see either small mounds of soil in the ground or report "swarms" of bees showing up. People often panic because they think these are swarms that pose a health risk to the children. However, they are most likely the solitary bees, such as the "colletids" and "andrenids," that often emerge at this time of year.

The bees begin foraging for food and seeking out new nesting sites. This activity will continue for about the next two months depending on the area of the state and the species of bees. They dig vertical tunnels in the soil on which they make small side chambers where they provision pollen for their offspring. These bees are "solitary," which means there is not a true colony. A lot of the "swarming" that you see are males and females attempting to pair up and mate. The bees frequently make small mounds in the soil, often where the soil is loose and vegetation may be sparse. It is not uncommon to see clusters of these nests but each mound is made by an individual queen which does the work without the help of workers as occurs in a honey bee nest.

Although the damage can be unsightly with large numbers of mounds in the ground, it is mostly a cosmetic issue. The bigger problem is usually that people walking by panic because they assume that these are swarms of honey bees (or a similar bee) that will likely attack them if they venture too close to "the nest." Turf-nesting bees can sting but rarely do so, since they are not "social" and there is no nest that a large number of worker bees are trying to protect. There is no "mass attack" as might occasionally occur with a close encounter of the yellowjacket kind (and it's still early in the year for us to see any yellowjacket colonies out there).

These bees are beneficial and should be left alone if possible. If one of your schools wants something done, you can apply almost anything that you typically use outdoors for perimeter treatments (be sure to follow proper notification procedures). One problem is that the bees often try to dig into the sand in play areas at schools. Of course, parents and teachers are concerned about stinging incidents particularly if a child (or teacher) is hypersensitive to bee stings. In those instances, I still strongly discourage any chemical treatment, particularly in sandy play areas where kids come into direct contact with the soil (and which they might get in their mouths as well). However, facility managers have to weigh the safety of children (and staff) and the misinterpretation by the public of ignoring the problem as meaning they lack concern about the children.

If the bees try to nest in a sandbox, a simple solution is to cover it during the day, but it will take a few weeks for you to deter most of the bees that show up over time. While the tarping approach isn't
always successful, wider areas can be saturated with plain or soapy water which will bring the bees out. Since soap will work as an insecticide to some extent, it may kill some of the bees in the process but I still consider this preferable over the use of conventional insecticides IF people are unwilling to simply ignore the problem. The water-logged soils will hopefully deter the bees but again we're looking at activity that can take place over a few weeks.

Information, including pictures, of these bees and the "damage" that they cause can be found at:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Structural Pest Workshops - Week of March 4th

The NC Pest Management Association is offering structural pest workshops during the week of March 4th. One CCU in P-Phase and one CCU in W-Phase will be offered. The cost for the workshop is $5 for NCPMA members and $25 for non-members. The workshop schedule can be found by visiting the NCPMA website: Click on the link for "Spring Workshops".
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