by admin | 05/13/2015 | 5:05 PM

Guest Post: Organic products are not always what they seem. Education is key

With so much information circulating on the Internet, it’s hard to discern between facts and opinions and credible and non-credible sources, especially when it comes to pesticide products and their use. And sometimes, seemingly credible sources and studies aren’t always that.  On top of that, it seems fashionable to label lawn care operators – once touted as stewards of the environment –as polluters of the earth.

Lawn care operators support the continued development and use of new products and solutions – organic or synthetic. But a lot of current conversation points to organic product methods as the best for the environment, applicators, and public health, and it’s important to realize organics aren’t always what they seem.

Myth #1: Organic or natural equals safe or good for the environment.

Organic pesticides are not always safer or better for the environment. They can be used safely, with the right training and education—but used in high concentrations needed to be effective for pest or weed control, they can be toxic. For example- Acetic acid (better known as vinegar) in a high enough concentration can draw the moisture out weeds, killing the plants. It’s non-selective, which means it could kill any plants that it comes in contact with – even your desirable flowers. More importantly, in such high concentrations, acetic acid can cause burns or could even be fatal if swallowed.

Myth #2: Applicators who use organic products care more for the environment.

There’s a public disconnect in understanding what applicators do regardless of whether they follow organic or conventional application methods. There’s not so much of a difference in what we do as to what tools we choose to use. Lawn care professionals, whether we use a combination of pesticide products or choose only organic options, all have the same goal in mind – to positively impact how we grow and maintain healthy lawns in environmentally-friendly ways.  Most of us practice an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, which means we use the best treatment or prevention solution available – organic, conventional, or a solution that doesn’t require any products at all.

Myth #3: Pesticides are used extensively in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.

With a plan for identifying, monitoring and as much as possible, preventing problems, IPM is our first line of defense in protecting against plant disease, insects, rodents, and noxious weeds. Controlling these hazards –grubs, ticks, mosquitos, poison ivy, etc. – and preventing them from reaching hazardous levels is important to the health of families, pets, and communities. Pesticides are just one tool within the IPM toolbox.  At times we have to combine multiple methods – mechanical, biological, etc. to control a particular problem, but we are trained to evaluate the problem and determine the best treatment option prior to application.

Myth #4: Pesticide applicators only care about their bottom line.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s our job as lawn care operators to be solution providers for our customers. Keeping them satisfied, safe, and healthy keeps us in business. It’s in our best interest (and better for our bottom line) to use products efficiently and effectively.  We are trained to evaluate problems and use spot applications that target specific problems and reduce exposure to off-target organizations. Today, EPA-approved pesticides are more technologically advanced and are safer than past product iterations, when applied according to label.

At the end of the day, safety is our top priority. Regardless of what type of product you choose to use—synthetic or natural—applying according to the label is key.

As a homeowner, try your best understand the pest or weed problems you face and the information that’s available. Ask questions and consult your local lawn care operator or extension agency on ways to safely and effectively treat the issues.

This is a guest post written by Eric Wegner, president and co-owner of Complete Lawn Care, Inc.

As President and Co-owner of Complete Lawn Care, Inc., Eric Wenger has worked in the lawn care and landscaping industry for more than three decades and is an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist, a Montgomery County Master Gardener, and a member of The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).

Posted in Pest Management, Turf Management | No Comments »

by admin | 05/07/2015 | 12:12 PM

Bite Back: Learn to Prevent Tick Bites

(c) Lezh - iStockphoto.com

(c) Lezh - iStockphoto.com

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the perfect time to revisit the cause, prevalence and prevention steps of the devastating disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US.

As the warmer months coax us outside, reducing the risk of tick bites is essential to protecting your family from Lyme disease and its potential long-term, devastating effects.

Lyme disease can cause facial or Bell’s palsy, severe headaches, neck stiffness, and pain and swelling in large joints. However, it’s difficult to diagnose, as symptoms can be attributed to other health problems. Left untreated, approximately 60 percent of Lyme disease sufferers experience arthritis, while five percent develop chronic neurological challenges months or years after the infection.

“Prevention starts with awareness,” says Karen Reardon, vice president, public affairs for Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). “Being proactive and careful during time spent outside and with pets can have a significant impact on avoiding encounters with an infected tick.”

Enjoy the outdoors this summer, tick-free, by taking these simple steps to reduce your exposure:

For People

  • Avoid wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Apply repellent to exposed skin and clothing before outdoor activities.
  • Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check. Use a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, scalp, and behind the knees.
  • Look for a red, expanding rash that may result in a “bulls-eye” appearance.

For Pets

  • Check pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet.
  • Watch pets closely for changes in behavior or appetite. This may indicate Lyme disease infection.

In Your Yard

  • Place a wood chip or gravel barrier between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Keep playground equipment and patios away from yard edges and trees. Place them in sunny locations, if possible.
  • Pest control products can help protect your family from tick bites and should be applied carefully and according to the label. Consult a professional if you have questions.

This season, take charge of your backyard and learn how to protect your family from ticks and other hazardous pests and weeds. Get more tips to become a “backyard boss” by visiting  http://blog.debugthemyth.com.

Posted in Pest Management, Pets, health, outdoor | No Comments »

by admin | 04/10/2015 | 2:02 PM

Harsh Winter Offers No Relief from Ticks

If the record snow and cold this winter ‘tick’ed you off, we have more bad news for you. The freezing temperatures and constant snow didn’t put a dent in the population of ticks – or the diseases they carry.

In fact, as you’re starting to get out-and-about to enjoy the warmer weather, ticks are waking up too. And they’re hungry – very hungry – and eager to attach themselves to you or your pets.

Spread to humans via a bite from an infected tick, Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can masquerade as those of the flu or be hardly noticeable at all, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US.

Even celebrities aren’t immune to tick bites. Here are a few of the famous names that have been touched by Lyme disease:

  • Avril Lavigne: The singer recently announced she was infected with Lyme after being bitten by a tick last spring.  “It felt like having all your life sucked out of you,” the pop star said in her recent interview with People Magazine.
  • George W. Bush: Many diagnosed with Lyme realize it after developing a rash in the shape of a bulls-eye — which is how former President George W. Bush realized he was infected in 2007.
  • Alec Baldwin: The actor hasn’t been especially public about his having Lyme disease, but he did tell The New York Times in 2011 that he has had chronic Lyme disease: “At the same time of year, I get really tired.”
  • Yolanda Foster: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 and uses her fame to raise awareness for the illness. In a recent Instagram photo, she included a heartfelt caption to her followers: “I am going to find my way out of this maze and find a cure for not only myself but for all my fellow Lymies.”

Prevention of Lyme disease starts by reducing your exposure, follow these helpful tips on how to prevent contact with ticks:

  • Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, behind the knees and on the scalp.
  • Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and apply repellent before participating in outdoor activities.
  • Check your pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible if you see one.
  • Protect your pets by reaching out to your local veterinarian. They usually offer a variety of products for protecting animals from tick-borne diseases. Pets can carry ticks inside homes as they hide in their fur.
  • Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Consult a professional to spray your yard perimeter to reduce tick populations.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

by admin | 03/04/2015 | 3:03 PM

Create a Healthy Ecosystem in Your Own Yard

This spring season, help promote a healthy ecosystem by learning to identify and control damaging plants and insects in your yard. Information about common invasive species and backyard invaders is now being offered by Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE):

Invasive Plants

Invasive weeds can out-compete native species, changing the local ecosystem. Many varieties, first introduced as flora to plant in gardens, can be confused with similar, native varieties. Here are two common damaging ones to watch out for:

  • Purple Loosestrife, native to Europe and Asia, is found in most states. One plant can produce more than two million seeds annually.
  • Native to China, the Tree-of-Heaven was widely planted as an ornamental plant for many years and is often confused with other trees having similar leaves, such as black walnut, butternut, and most sumac.

Invasive Insects

Invasive insects can also have a severe negative impact on native species by out-competing them for food and resources. Many also cause and carry disease and prey on native species. Two common ones to look out for include:

  • Emerald Ash Borer, native to Asia, is prominently found across the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeastern United States. The larvae do the most damage, killing ash trees by feeding on the inner bark.
  • Zebra Mussel, native to lakes in southern Russia, is found in hundreds of waterways throughout the United States. The species commonly clog water intakes, damage boats, and can cause cuts and scrapes if they grow on rocks, swim rafts, and ladders.

Backyard Pests

Did you know native plants and insects can cause damage too?

  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Left untreated, Lyme disease infects the joints, heart, and nervous system. After time spent outdoors, check for ticks, especially in and around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, around your waist, on your scalp, and in your hair.
  • Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus. While most people may show few symptoms, 20 percent of people develop a fever along with headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Follow the “five Ds” to protect yourself: Drain standing water; Stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn; Dress in long sleeves and pants; and use DEET-based mosquito repellent.
  • Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can lurk in backyards. Almost 85 percent of people develop a rash when they come into contact with these weeds. Control poisonous weeds long-term by carefully digging out the plants while wearing waterproof gloves or treating with a pesticide.

Defend your local ecosystem by identifying exotic plants in your garden or yard. Spot invasive weeds and insects in your area? Let your county extension office know, which may have a monitoring and management program in place.

By being aware of invasive species and other pests in your area, you can help support native species and a healthy ecosystem in your own backyard and neighborhood.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

by admin | 02/05/2015 | 9:09 PM

Aaron Hobbs, Diane Rehm and Pesticide Resistance

Well-respected radio host Diane Rehm tackled the issue of pesticide resistance on her Feb. 3 program, inviting RISE president Aaron Hobbs to participate in the panel discussion.  “Environmental Outlook: The Race Against Pests and Weeds,” featured multiple debate-worthy topics related to the subject matter, discussed by the following panel members:

Rehm opened the show by discussing the challenges of weed resistance management and whether there is a need for new solutions. This set the stage for an extensive conversation on pest control and pesticide use, including:

  • Pesticides’ role as a solution to pest problems that should be used in combination with other pest control tools – essentially, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. Hobbs pointed out the importance of education, proper use and continued evolution of pesticide technology.
  • The advancement of pesticide technology, which results in more targeted products. Hobbs said, “The innovation cycle brings a product to market that is more targeted to be more specific to the pest problem we’re trying to solve, as well as softer and friendlier to those beneficials in the field.”
  • The role of invasive species in habitat challenges. Invasives compete with plants, like milkweed, that offer butterfly habitat.
  • The length of time (10 years) it takes for the Environmental Protection Agency to review new pesticide products to ensure they can be used safely.

While multiple viewpoints were represented and debated throughout the show, Hobbs found one perspective with which he thought everyone could agree.

“Whenever you’re approaching a pest problem, whether it’s a weed or an insect, you have to take an integrated approach. I think that’s something we can all agree is the way to go,” he said. “You have to take that thoughtful, integrated approach to address that problem. Fortunately we have those solutions that help us deal with those problems now.”

Listen to the complete show on The Diane Rehm Show website or track Aaron’s online conversation at www.twitter.com/DebugTheMyths.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

by admin | 01/12/2015 | 4:04 PM

Montgomery County Pesticide Legislation: UPDATE

The Montgomery County Council has set a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 15 and Feb. 12 to discuss Bill 52-14. The proposed bill, introduced by Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal in October 2014, will ban the use of select EPA-approved pesticides on public and private property in the county.

The legislation would affect personal property rights by taking away EPA- approved products from professionals and homeowners, limiting their ability to maintain safe and healthy outdoor spaces. These products help control pests such as mosquitoes and ticks, which can carry West Nile Virus and Lyme disease, poison ivy and poison oak, ragweed, and weeds that reduce the health of lawns, parks and playing fields.

Montgomery County  industry stakeholders and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® support an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to the use of pesticides to control weeds, pests, and disease and recognize the importance of maintaining access to all the tools in the pest control toolbox for lawn care operators and homeowners.

We need your help! Please attend the bill hearing at 100 Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD. 20850, or email your councilmembers today to have your voice heard.

For more information, contact us at info@safelawns.org. The complete bill language can be reviewed here.

Posted in Legislation, Pest Management, Turf Management | No Comments »

by admin | 10/30/2014 | 5:05 PM

Legislation Banning Pesticides Introduced in Montgomery County

County Councilmember George Leventhal introduced legislation this week in Montgomery County, Md., that aims to ban the use of select pesticides on public and private property in the county, limiting professionals’ and homeowners’ ability to maintain safe and healthy outdoor spaces.

The proposed Bill 52-14 overlooks the benefits these products provide and increases the community’s safety and health risks from pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks, which can carry diseases like West Nile and Lyme. The complete bill language can be found on the city council website.

Montgomery County  industry stakeholders and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)®, support an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to the use of pesticides to control weeds, pests and disease and recognize the importance of maintaining access to all the tools in the pest control toolbox for lawn care operators and homeowners.

The legislation would affect personal property rights by taking away EPA- approved products from professionals and homeowners. These products help maintain home property value by controlling weeds and helping lawns and landscapes thrive. And they protect my family and our neighbors from poison ivy, poison oak, ragweed, and mosquitoes and ticks, which can carry West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.  If the bill passes, homeowners won’t be able to purchase common products like Weed N Feed from local retail locations.

We need your help to share the importance of access to properly used pesticide products. To voice your opinion with the Montgomery County Council, contact us at info@saveourlawns.org for further information.

Posted in Legislation, Pest Management, health | 14 Comments »

by admin | 10/08/2014 | 10:10 AM

Local Boys & Girls Club Members Become Ecosystem Defenders

Boys & Girls Club members participating in beautification efforts.

Boys & Girls Club members participating in beautification efforts.

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® teamed up with the Knudson Boys & Girls Club of Salem and the Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club of Portland to provide club members with the opportunity to learn more about the delicate balance of the ecosystem in which they live, and the impact that insects, particularly pollinators, and invasive weeds have on that balance.

Beautification efforts were one of the many core activities that took place last month in Oregon. The beautification project included planting pollinator-friendly flowers, provided by RISE, at both clubs in order to give each outdoor space a fresh look. The activity gave club members the opportunity to learn more about maintaining outdoor spaces and the relationship between native and invasive species. Boys & Girls Club members took ownership of the maintenance and beautification of their club by participating in the landscaping efforts.

In addition to learning about ecosystems and planting, a special appearance was made by the “Super Bee” mascot, who taught members how to promote pollinator health and understand the important role pollinators play in an ecosystem by pollinating plants that produce food and keep gardens growing.

RISE offers the following ways anyone can help contribute to pollinator health:

  • Plant native flora. Growing native flowers and plants will adapt better to where you live and provide a familiar food source to local pollinators.
  • Include diverse flower colors and fragrances in your garden. Bees are especially attracted to flowers in shades of purple, blue, white and yellow, while butterflies like red and purple.
  • Provide water and sun. Pollinators love visiting a sunny location with a source of fresh water nearby.
  • Read and follow label instructions. “Bee” responsible by always reading and following all label instructions when using any pesticide product. Make sure to choose the right product for your problem, and apply it correctly.
  • Plant generously. A large amount of flowers is more attractive to pollinators than single plants.

For more information, visit www.debugthemyths.com/backyardboss and join in the conversation on Twitter @DebugtheMyths or on Facebook at facebook.com/DebugtheMyths.

About RISE

Located in Washington, D.C., RISE is the national association representing the manufacturers, formulators, distributors and other industry leaders involved with pesticide and fertilizer products used in vector control, turf, ornamental, pest control, aquatic and terrestrial vegetation and other non-food/fiber applications.  Learn more about RISE at www.debugthemyths.com.

Posted in Schools/Education, gardening, outdoor | 14 Comments »

by admin | 08/13/2014 | 5:05 PM

Doctors Warn About Lone Star Ticks

When we think of ticks we mostly think about the dangers of Lyme disease, but there’s one tick whose bite may leave you with another unwanted side effect: a severe allergy to pork, lamb, and beef. The lone star tick is much larger than the deer tick and is found throughout the South all the way up to Maine.

Recently reported by The Washington Post in an article entitled, “This bug’s bit could turn you into a vegetarian,” the tick’s bite incites an immune reaction to sugars in meat products that then cause allergic reactions in humans whenever they eat red meat. Symptoms include hives, redness, and swelling of the face, tongue, and lips and usually occur three to six hours after pork, lamb, or beef is consumed.  According to doctors, the allergy can be permanent in some cases, so it is important to protect you and your family.

Prevention of tick bites starts by reducing your exposure, so be sure to check out these helpful tips on how to prevent contact with all ticks:

  • Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, behind the knees and on the scalp.
  • Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and apply repellent before participating in outdoor activities.
  • Check your pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible if you see one.
  • Protect your pets by reaching out to your local veterinarian. They usually offer a variety of products for protecting animals from tick-borne diseases. Pets can carry ticks inside homes as they hide in their fur.
  • Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Consult a professional to spray your yard perimeter to reduce tick populations.

To learn more about keeping your family and community healthy and safe from ticks and other vector-borne illnesses, visit DebugTheMyths.com. You can also follow Debug the Myths on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/debugthemyths and Twitter @DebugTheMyths.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

by admin | 08/08/2014 | 9:09 AM

Educating Residents About Creating Safe Outdoor Spaces for the Entire Family

Plant Science Day attendees visit our booth

This week, we teamed up with Lyme Connection, a community-based organization offering BLAST tick-borne disease prevention programming, to talk with residents in Connecticut about creating a safe, pest-free outdoor environment at Plant Science Day. The free, public event, hosted by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) at Lockwood Farm in Hamden, Conn., supports awareness around the importance of maintaining healthy outdoor spaces.

We handed out educational materials, including a flier about the importance of safely eradicating unwanted insects and plants such as ticks, mosquitoes, and poison ivy, and taught visitors to our booth how to identify these pests as the first defense against Lyme disease and West Nile virus.  Our team members also talked to them about choosing the right product for the problem, and using it correctly by reading and following all label instructions.

In addition, we passed out posters with the latest information on identifying common invasive species found in the Northeastern United States. For the youngsters in attendance, we shared a children’s book titled “What’s Bugging You?” by Raymond Bial that teaches kids about identifying common pests around their homes.

The CAES is a non-profit organization that provides education, prevention, and support for plant science. It offers soil testing, plant and insect information, tick testing, mosquito surveillance, invasive aquatic plant information, and inspections and regulations.

Join us in the conversation on Twitter @DebugtheMyths or on Facebook at facebook.com/DebugtheMyths using #BackyardBoss.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »