Barn Bugs: Insects in the Outbuildings Can Still Be a Problem

Barn Bugs: Insects in the Outbuildings Can Still Be a Problem

Paper wasps are one of several species of wasp which will inhabit the quiet recesses of barns. Disturbed, they will inflict immediate pain. Photo by Les Harrison.

By August’s languid days, farmers and farm workers in north Florida have done battle with an almost endless array of destructive bugs in fields and pastures. Thrips, aphids, mites, nematodes and many more have all marshaled against successful agricultural production.

Hopefully all have been repelled. While the focus has been on the defense of productive acreage, there are problematic insects establishing a foothold in barns, sheds and other ag-related structures.  Let’s take a look at one of these insects: the wasp.

Wasps are known for their foul nature and dreadful retaliation, if provoked. Whether the provocation was innocent or malicious, as many wasps as available will strike back at the offender.

Wasps fall into one of two general categories: social or solitary.

Social wasps live in colonies much like honeybees, and may have up to several thousand members. Depending on the species (such as yellow jackets or hornets), they build nests in protected places above the ground or below the soil’s surface.

Some social wasps are omnivorous, feeding on overripe fruit and carrion. Some of these social wasps, such as yellow jackets, may scavenge for dead insects to provide for their young.

Like honeybees, social wasp colonies consist of mostly female workers. Another similarity is only the females have stingers, and know how to effectively apply them. Unlike honeybees, the wasp queens live only one year.

A majority of the wasp colony dies away in autumn, leaving only the young mated queens alive. During this period they leave the nest and find a suitable area to hibernate for the winter.

There are also solitary wasps which live and operate alone most of their lives. They do not construct nests, instead depositing their eggs on host insects which serve as a sort of mobile nursery/café.

When the eggs hatch, the host becomes the first meal for the wasp larva. Mature wasps commonly feed on nectar and pollen.

Among these loners is a wingless wasp native to Florida. It is commonly known as the Velvet Ant or the Cow Killer. While it will deliver a painful sting, as other wasps will, there are no verifiable reports of livestock lethality.

Over-the-counter treatments can be effectively use on small nests which are usually found on ceilings and roof beams, and occasionally in idled equipment. Larger nests will require a pest control operator who has the necessary protective gear.

If the wasps are not a threat and left in place, just be sure to give them the space to work and live. Everyone will be better off for it.

For more information on this subject use the following University of Florida/IFAS and Alabama Extension publication links:

Yellowjackets and Hornets

Yellow Jackets, Wasps, and Hornets

 

Friday Feature: The Ride Over Gate

Friday Feature: The Ride Over Gate

Every livestock producer has daydreamed about automatic gates to make travel around ranches faster and easier.  But, it is too expensive to provide power and hydraulic cylinders for each pasture gate.  This week’s featured video was produced by the Wrangler Company in New Zealand to introduce their Ride Over GateThe ride over gate is a small, spring loaded gate that allows four wheelers, utility vehicles, and center pivot irrigation wheels to pass through fences to access pastures without ever having to stop to open and close the gate, with no electricity needed.  With their gate system, checking livestock on a utility vehicle can be much more convenient. 

*******************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

 

 

Friday Feature:  John Deere Round Bale Accumulator Attachment

Friday Feature: John Deere Round Bale Accumulator Attachment

Last year at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA, several farmers shared with me that they saw an interesting innovation from John Deere, an attachment to round balers that allows more control of where bales are place in the hay field after baling.  This week’s featured video was produced by John Deere to showcase their Plus 2 Round Bale Accumulators.  With this attachment on a baler, hay farmers can carry two round bales while building another, so you can decide where to drop the bales for more efficient transportation from the field once baling is complete.

*******************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

Friday Feature:  Peterson Brother’s Tractor Stuck Parody

Friday Feature: Peterson Brother’s Tractor Stuck Parody

This week’s featured video is a brand new video by the, now famous, Peterson Brothers farm family in Kansas.  Their humorous video called “Tractor Stuck” is parody of AC/DC’s song Thunderstruck.  Over the past several years this trio has created a variety of agricultural awareness videos by taking popular songs and changing the lyrics to share something about farm life in Kansas.  Following Alberto and all of the rain that hit during planting season, I thought it might help to laugh a little at these young farmers who are struggling with their wet ground this year too.

*******************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

 

Friday Feature:  Melon Planting Equipment Demonstration

Friday Feature: Melon Planting Equipment Demonstration

This week’s featured video was produced by a member of the Panhandle Ag Extension Team, Matt Lollar, now located in Santa Rosa County.  Locally grown cantaloupes are being harvested now and are available at your local farmer’s market or grocery store.  See how they got their start in this video.  The video was filmed at Forrester Farms, in Jackson County.

********************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

Water Source Recommendations for Food Safety

Water Source Recommendations for Food Safety

Supplemental water is necessary for good crop yields in fruit and vegetable production. Water quality is equally as important as water quantity when it comes to fruit and vegetable production. Unfortunately, water can transport harmful microorganisms from adjacent lands or other areas of the farm. The water source and how the water is applied influence the risk for crop contamination to occur.

Water is used for various purposes during production: harvesting, and handling fresh produce, irrigation, cooling, frost protection, as a carrier for fertilizers and pesticides, and for washing tools and harvest containers, hand washing, and drinking.

Washing lettuce. Photo Credit: Cornell University Extension

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed water compliance date is not until 2022, but it will be here before you know it. Water quality is an important component of a Food Safety Plan. A good first step in ensuring compliance with FSMA water quality standards is to evaluate the water sources on the farm.  For more information on compliance dates, please visit the Produce Safety Alliance’s Website.

Water Source

The three common sources of water used on farms are surface water, well water, and municipal water.

Surface water includes ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. It is at the highest risk for contamination because there is limited control on what flows downstream or from adjacent land. Wild and domestic animals, manure piles, and sewage discharges are all potential sources of contamination in surface waters.

The most common water source for North Florida farms is well water. Well water used for farming is at a moderate risk of becoming contaminated, when compared to surface water (highest risk) and municipal water (lowest risk). Wells are at a higher risk of becoming contaminated when located near flood zones, septic tanks, drainage fields, and manure/compost storage areas. The risk of contamination is further heightened if the well was not constructed properly, or if the casing is cracked. Wells should be properly sited, constructed, and maintained to keep contamination risks lower.

a well pump

A recently installed well pump on a North Florida watermelon farm. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Well Design and Construction

  • Preliminary Investigation – A preliminary investigation helps determine the design of a well. Existing wells in the area should be checked out to help determine depth and potential capacity. If records for the area aren’t available, then test holes should be drilled to determine the best location for water production.
  • Casing – Casing material should be determined based on site characteristics. The casing needs to extend above the surface water level to reduce contamination risks. The casing is sealed in place with grout. A poor grouting job can also promote contamination. Casing diameter is selected based on well capacity.
  • Well Screen – A commercially designed well screen should be installed to minimize hydraulic head loss. Screen diameter and material should be determined based on the preliminary investigation results. Gravel packing is recommended in some areas.

For more recommendations on well design and construction, please visit the University of Florida/IFAS publication: Design and Construction of Screened Wells for Agricultural Irrigation Systems

Please note that it is important to monitor your well water quality at least twice during each growing season.  A list of FSMA approved water testing methods can be found at Cornell University’s Law School Website.