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Low impact insecticides

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061922 low impact insecticidesTo ensure that you are selecting a product that will be effective for your insect pests, always read and follow the label.

By Matthew R. March, MNRD

Polk County Extension Agent

Managing insect pests in your garden, landscape or around the house can be very frustrating. What is more frustrating than a garden full of vegetables nearing harvest just to be destroyed in a matter of days by a pesky little insect? Insecticides should be your last option for control, and you should rely on non-chemical methods such as crop rotation. However, sometimes insect pest numbers grow to unmanageable levels and use of insecticides is justified.  Any insecticide you can purchase has been proven safe if you handle and apply the insecticide in accordance with the label. However, as good environmental stewards we should always resort to using insecticides only when it is necessary and if insecticides must be utilized first selecting a low impact (least toxic) insecticide that will control your pest. Lastly, some homeowners prefer organic insecticides, but it should be noted that not all low impact insecticides are classified as organic.

Insecticide soaps and horticultural oils kill small soft-bodied arthropods like mites, aphids and scales. Horticultural oils may be called dormant oil, volck oil, summer oil or ultrafine spray oils. These products are classified as being one of the safest insecticides, however it is recommended you apply store-bought products as they are generally safer to plants than homemade versions.

Microbes such as bacteria are everywhere in the landscape from the soil to the leaves. Many of these bacteria can be harmful to insects such as Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, and spinosad. When Bt is consumed by insects a toxin is released that destroy cells in the gut. Spinosad is a natural toxin made by soil borne bacterium that affects the nervous system of insects. Both products are generally safe for people, however spinosad can be harmful to bees and other pollinators.

Insect growth regulators are copies of natural hormones that affect the growth of insects and such, affecting growth or preventing egg-laying. They are considered harmless to people and pets and can be very effective in stopping the life cycle of certain insect pests. Insect growth regulators can be found in products to control fleas, fire ants, mosquitos and caterpillars.

Cockroach bait stations, fire ant baits, and some slug and rodent baits are considered low impact because the pest feed directly on the bait requiring very little insecticide. Plus, baits can reduce the need to use potentially more hazardous sprays.

Boric acid is good for cockroach control and can be found in some cockroach control products. Boric acid is not toxic to the touch but can be toxic in high doses if swallowed by kids or pets.

Diatomaceous earth is a very popular low impact insecticide. Diatomaceous earth is fossilized diatoms that are abrasive. Diatoms are microscopic aquatic algae. The abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth cuts the exoskeleton of insects causing insects to dry out. Diatomaceous earth works best in dry conditions.

Botanical insecticides are derived from plants that make their own insecticides. Not all botanical insecticides are low impact and some can be very toxic. Popular products include pyrethrins, neem extract, mint oils and citrus oils. Botanical insecticides break down quickly after application so they are relatively safe for many beneficial insects that are not being targeted.

Selecting an insecticide can be very confusing. To ensure that you are selecting a product that will be effective for your insect pests, always read and follow the label. And when in doubt about what insecticide to apply or its toxicity, don’t hesitate to call the extension office.

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061922 student recognizedAlicia Coburn, a second grade homeschool student from Goodrich, was recently recognized by members of the Polk County Garden Club for her winning entry in a youth poetry contest sponsored by the local club. Coburn’s poem, entitled “Hours of the Daytime Choir,” placed first in the local club’s contest; placed first in the South Central Garden Club contest which includes Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; and received honorable mention in the National Garden Clubs Inc. contest. Polk County Garden Club members Sharon Pollard and Andee Shaffer present certificates of achievement to Alicia as other club members watch – Heidi Newton, Patti Meyer, Paulette Stinson, Mary Ingram and Sherry Everitt. Also there were Alicia’s mother, Sarah Coburn, and her brothers, John, Lewis and Zeke. Alicia’s poem, “Hours of the Daytime Choir,” reads, As the morning dew drops fall, Birds sing a song of praise, I listen and listen till I see the sun, Going, going gone, And there right in front of me, Is the night black. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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061922 summer library program“Bugs on Wheels,” a program from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, was recently presented at the Livingston Municipal Library and children were able to touch each of the specimens if they wanted to. Nehemiah, Analeigh and Noah Herridge look at one of the bugs that was brought. Penelope Jones enjoys petting one of the bugs. The children also got to see a beetle and a tarantula. This was one of six programs that will be presented at the library this summer. The next program will be June 20 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will feature Sue Kuentz, a storyteller. Another storyteller, Bernadette Nason, will be there at 11 a.m. on June 21. A third storyteller, Kim Lehman, will be there at 10:30 a.m. on July 6. The Museum of Natural Science will return on July 13 with docents and “Go with the Oceans” will be the topic. The Houston Museum of Natural Science on Wheels will return at 1:30 p.m. on July 15 and present a program called “Dinosaur Discovery.” All children are welcome to participate in the summer programs. Several weekly events are offered at the library. These include baby time on Tuesdays, story time for older children on Wednesdays and toddler time on Thursdays. The events begin at 10:30 a.m. The library is located at 707 N. Tyler Ave. in Livingston. Courtesy photos

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Resolutions, ordinances approved

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061922 onalaska city councilThe Onlaska City Council approved ordiance #425 which will prohibit shipping/storage containers as residential dwelling.

The Onalaska City Council reviewed and approved several resolutions and ordinances during its regular meeting June 14.

The resolutions approved include: a resolution to apply for a 2022 TxCDBG-FAST grant through the Texas Department of Agriculture; an interlocal agreement with the SPCA; an addendum to the agreement with Local Government Solutions for municipal court software obtaining required licensing; the establishment of homestead property, over 65 and/or disabled exemption rates within the city; an agreement with Innovative Solutions to contract for IT services; and an amendment to the city’s personnel policy.

The ordinances approved include: 423, which will establish maximum speeds for motor vehicles on Hodge Bottom Road as designated; 424, which will require all manufactured homes be installed on concrete runners at a minimum with specifications and permit requirements; 425, which will prohibit shipping/storage containers as residential dwellings; and 426, which will amend the fee schedule.

Reports were presented on behalf of the police department, fire department, fire marshal/building inspector, library and city office.

Other business included approval of the minutes, payment of vouchers and financial reports.

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HCA Houston AIRLife holds grand opening

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061922 HICA houston airflightThe Bell 47 helicopter is a single-engine aircraft. Photo by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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HCA Houston AIRLife celebrated the grand opening of their new base in Livingston Friday with an open house. The site is the Allegiance Mobile Health facility located at 201 East 4th Street.

On display for visitors was a Bell 47 helicopter, which is a single-engine aircraft.

“She is our smallest and fastest of our fleet,” said Jennifer Castillo, a flight nurse with Houston AIRLife. “She was originally based out of Conroe, but about 80% of our calls were coming out of Polk and Tyler County. We found a need and wanted to go ahead and fill it and provide this community with care in the air.”

The Bell 47 is staffed with a pilot, nurse and paramedic at all times, picking up anyone from infants to those aged over 100.

“We can take care of anything in the air – heart attack, strokes or if anybody needs blood products in the air,” Castillo said. “What we found is while coming out here, we're able to the decrease the time to our patients, which ultimately means we get to our patients faster and can save a lot more lives. That's what it is all about for us, just taking care of those people that need it most. We are really happy to be here in the community. We are also able to extend the branch all the way to Tyler County, because they really don't have anything up there either. That's cut down our ETAs there as well, so it has been really great so far.”

If patients are able to request a hospital, they can, but Castillo said many in the community have requested St. Elizabeth's in Beaumont. However, if patients are not able to request, they are taken to the most appropriate facility. Many burns are lifted to Galveston and Memorial Hermann in downtown Houston. The two closest HCA facilities are located in Conroe and Kingwood for trauma, neuro and cardiac. Anything that they cannot handle is taken to downtown Houston, which is around 15 to 16 minutes longer. For a critical patient, the quicker trip can mean life or death.

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