Right now, invasive species are infesting and destroying trees across New England. Asian long-horned beetles, emerald ash borers and winter moths are three of our state’s biggest culprits. The winter moth has already caused 16,596 acres of complete defoliation across the state and is showing no signs of slowing. This munching moth was introduced to the Massachusetts ecosystem about 20 years ago, causing the most damage in Gloucester and Rockport, but has also killed trees throughout the state’s eastern area. Their defoliation has been sighted in other New England states and they have recently been reported in central Massachusetts. To combat the issue, an entomologist has begun to release thousands of cyzenis albicans, a fly which only feeds on winter moth caterpillars. These flies will remain only as long as the winter moth larva, as the winter moth is their only food source, and they pose no risk of damage to our forests. In the meantime, insecticides are available if you see winter moths on your property. A Noon Turf Care specialist can prescribe the right combination of mulching, insecticide and horticultural oils to eliminate these harmful creatures from your trees.
For the first time since its arrival in Massachusetts, the emerald ash borer has been discovered at the Arnold Arboretum, a popular state park and nature preserve. This unique metallic-green Asian beetle burrows beneath the bark of ash trees, impeding their circulatory system to cause the tree’s death within three to five years. On their own, these small insects cannot travel very far, and therefore do not pose much risk to our landscape. However, the cutting and distribution of firewood has exacerbated their reach. Put simply, humans are the reason that these invasive critters are spreading and causing so much damage, putting three percent of Massachusetts’ trees at risk. The emerald ash borer has already destroyed millions of trees across roughly half of the United States, costing the country billions of dollars to replace them and deal with the infestation. Since eradicating the emerald ash borer is not an option, we are asking residents to avoid moving any ash products. Buy local firewood, instead of leaving and entering a slightly different ecosystem and potentially contaminating a new area with these tree killers. We can all do our part in containing this beetle’s radius of damage by safely removing dead or infested trees and using only local firewood.
Curb appeal is a home care essential. While many homeowners focus on maintaining and upgrading their home’s interior, the exterior is often the victim of the bare-minimum approach. Helping your lawn and greenery reach their full potential is a key part of achieving maximum curb appeal. A lush lawn, bold flowers, trimmed shrubs and a weed-free landscape is the perfect way to welcome visitors into your home. Any real estate agent will tell you that curb appeal is one of the most important determinants of a potential buyer’s first and last impression. Whether they pass over your home or schedule a showing can be as simple as asking, “Does this yard look welcoming and well-loved, or does it look like an unkempt hassle?” Your lawn is one of the most affordable ways to increase your home value. You don’t need a construction crew, building permits or expensive equipment. A quick call to your professionals at Noon Turf Care will give you a to-do list for do-it-yourselfers or a complete lawn makeover for those without a green thumb. Tackle any lawn concerns before putting your house on the market, or increase curb appeal on your forever home.
Check out this photo of Rory L’s lawn in Westwood, MA!
Photo courtesy: James Mello II, their lawn technician
Check out this photo of Barbara and Bill J’s lawn in Acton, MA!
Photo courtesy: Tad Bengston, their lawn technician.
Check out this photo of Avinash & Renu’s Lawn in Sharon, MA!
Photo courtesy: Eric Taylor, their lawn technician
Check out this photo of Roger K’s lawn in Sudbury, MA!
Photo courtesy: Brian Sabine, their lawn technician
Check out this photo of Peter and Linda’s lawn in Reading, MA!
Photo courtesy: Derek Brierly, their lawn manager
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 300,000 Americans are getting Lyme disease every year, and the toll is growing.
“It confirms what we’ve thought for a long time: This is a large problem,” Dr. Paul Mead tells Shots. “The bottom line is that by defining how big the problem is we make it easier for everyone to figure out what kind of resources we have to use to address it.”
Mead, who directs Lyme disease surveillance for the CDC, presented the new “preliminary” estimate at an international conference in Boston on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
The CDC says only a 10th of Lyme disease cases — fewer than 30,000 — are reported. And to make it more complicated, an unknown number of people are being diagnosed with Lyme disease who don’t really have it.
The new estimate comes from three different ways of looking at the problem. CDC scientists analyzed insurance claims for 22 million people over six years. They surveyed labs that test for Lyme disease, and they did surveys asking people if they’d had the disease.
The result adds up to a vexing public health problem, all caused by a tick that’s about the size of the period on the end of this sentence.
A generation ago there was no such thing called Lyme disease, though it may have been lurking undetected in nature. Scientists first reported it in 1977 and named it after the location of the first cases, in Lyme, Conn.
Now it’s the most prevalent tick-borne infection — concentrated in 13 states in the Northeast and upper Midwest, but expanding both northward (to upper New York state and Maine) and southward (to Virginia).
In many areas where Lyme disease is entrenched, Mead says, up to 30 percent of black-legged or deer ticks carry the Lyme disease spirochete. That translates to a substantial risk of infection for humans who venture outdoors, especially in grassy and woodsy areas.
Getting Lyme disease is no picnic. Symptoms resemble the flu — fatigue, headache, mildly stiff neck, joint and muscle aches, and fever. But if not treated with an antibiotic within about 72 hours, the infection can disseminate throughout the body, causing neurologic, cardiac and joint disease for weeks or months.
In the current New Yorker, Michael Specter explores the conflict among some people who suffer from Lyme disease, and the doctors who study it.
An unknown proportion of Lyme disease patients become chronically ill with fatigue that can be debilitating. Mead says the CDC recognizes chronic Lyme disease as a real problem. “The question is whether it’s due to persistent infection or some immunologic effect, and what’s the best way of treating it,” he says.
People often don’t know when they have gotten Lyme disease. One tell-tale sign is a bulls-eye rash around the tick bite. But Mead says 20 or 30 percent of people don’t get the rash — or don’t recognize it because it’s on their scalp or somewhere they can’t see.
“So it’s important for physicians to have a high level of suspicion” when they see someone with flu-like symptoms in summer, when there’s not much real flu around, Mead says.
It’s mainly up to residents of Lyme disease hot spots to avoid getting it — by using insect repellents, covering up when going outdoors and checking themselves for ticks when they get back inside.
Before 2002, humans could get vaccinated against Lyme disease (dogs still can). But the manufacturer discontinued it for lack of demand.
Mead acknowledges it’s pretty hard to spot an insect that’s no bigger than a poppy seed — much smaller than the common dog tick. “That’s one of the reasons we encourage people to shower after being in a tick-infested area,” he says. Studies show that showering within two hours after being outside sharply reduces the risk of infection.
One thing in humans’ favor: The deer tick has to suck your blood for around 36 hours before the Lyme disease organism is transmitted. So gently removing the tick with tweezers, or — better yet — washing it off before it sinks its tiny fangs into your skin is the best way to win this game.
by RICHARD KNOX
August 19, 2013 5:27 PM
Reposted By Matthew Noon Google+
Tick-borne Lyme disease is epidemic in New England, but prevention efforts are scattershot, lagging far behind need
Laurie Bent (left) dressed in light clothing to avoid tick bites during a walk with Emily Hutcheson and Bent’s dog.
Should we kill all the deer?
That was the question facing residents of Maine’s Monhegan Island in the mid-1990s. Lyme disease caused by deer tick bites afflicted 13 percent of the year-round inhabitants. The parasites often feed on deer before laying eggs, the argument went, so wipe out the herd and we might be rid of the ticks.
After fierce debate, islanders made the wrenching decision: Hire sharpshooters.
“Everyone was sort of fond of the deer . . . but we considered this an epidemic,” said Doug Boynton, a longtime resident. More than 100 deer were shot, and today, he said, “Lyme disease is virtually nil here.”
Few other communities have followed Monhegan’s example, however. Blame the Bambi effect, as well as doubts about whether herd culling can work in places where there are dramatically more deer and people. Most other efforts to keep ticks and people apart have also foundered, even as Lyme has emerged as the second most commonly reported infectious disease in New England.
This regional epidemic has yet to trigger a broad public health response on par with prevention blitzes aimed at some other pervasive maladies. That is partly because ticks are a devious foe. Vacation spots are often loath to publicize the threat for fear of scaring off business, and the public and politicians often do not perceive Lyme as a serious malady. The result is a lopsided spending gap between prevention efforts for tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses.
“Lyme disease in Massachusetts has been an epidemic for years. However, it has not received the attention that it deserves,’’ said Representative David P. Linsky, a Natick Democrat who spearheaded a special state commission on Lyme disease that released a report this year urging the state to combat the illness more aggressively.
Ticks have stealth on their side. Often as small as a pinhead, they don’t buzz in warning and their bite is painless. At home in our backyards, soccer fields, and hiking trails, they are far more challenging to eliminate than mosquitoes. And they are ubiquitous in the very places New Englanders flock in the summer — from mountain paths to stream-side camping grounds.
Even in winter, ticks can bite on warm days, and climate change is lengthening the seasons when ticks are most active.
Yet people often don’t take simple precautions. Constant tick vigilance can be wearying — and besides, it’s geeky to pull your socks over your pants.
“It’s frustrating — we haven’t hit upon the right message yet to reach a lot of people,’’ said Tom Mather, a University of Rhode Island professor who runs tickencounter.org, a prevention-based website. Mather has spent years trying to come up with innovative ways to get people to spray tick repellent on clothes or tuck their pants inside socks when going for hikes. He even tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Rhode Island legislature to introduce a lottery scratch ticket dotted with ticks to raise awareness.
If Lyme is caught early, most people recover quickly with antibiotics, but up to 25 percent of people report feeling unwell after treatment — sometimes for months or years. There is enormous controversy among some doctors and members of the publicabout why these patients are sick and how long symptoms can last. But there is no doubt that Lyme is a significant health threat. Untreated, the disease can cause a range of symptoms, from facial paralysis to arthritis and heart problems, to more common complaints of fatigue and headaches. Deer ticks can also transmit four other diseases to humans.
“One bite can really change your life,” said Mather, who rarely travels without a pair of pointy tick-plucking tweezers in his pants pocket. “It seems like prevention is such a hard sell … and it shouldn’t be.”
Tick prevention has a big problem: Us. People are slow to adopt new habits, even when they protect us from harm. Think sunscreen. Or flossing. Or exercise.
It can seem a real bother to perform daily tick checks or follow the recommended long-pants dress code while in the garden or on a hike. Others are simply oblivious, lulled into a false sense of security because, unlike a mosquito’s buzz and bite, the tiny ticks are often imperceptible. It’s hard to remain vigilant about something you cannot see or feel.
Nowhere has that response been more apparent than on Cape Cod and the Islands, which long have had some of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the Northeast. Last year, state officials said the region had 438 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease — although cases statewide are believed to be five to 10 times greater than reported because so many patients go undiagnosed or do not fit reporting criteria.
One 1990s-era survey of ferry passengers to Martha’s Vineyard found that while 73 percent of people had a good understanding of Lyme disease, only 22 percent performed tick checks.
“Even for those of us who preach prevention, it can be hard,’’ said Brenda Boleyn, volunteer chairwoman of the Barnstable County Lyme/Tick-borne Diseases Task Force.
And a surprising number of Vineyard tourists are not even aware of the Lyme risk. A recent survey found that 63 percent of visitors were unaware that tick-borne illnesses are a health threat on the island.
Now, a number of local agencies are working to turn the tables on ticks and disease. The Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick-Borne Illness Initiative is working to reduce severe tick-borne illnesses 75 percent by 2015.
The initiative recently provided parents of every grade-school child — one of the highest-risk populations — a brochure and DVD on how to protect against tick-borne diseases. The group, armed with a $250,000 grant from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, is focusing on bite prevention and early symptoms recognition and treatment.
The coalition has also surveyed pharmacies that dispensed antibiotics to treat Lyme to get a clearer picture of the disease’s prevalence.
“We want this to be data-driven and sustainable,’’ said Michael Loberg, a Tisbury Board of Health commissioner and a member of the coalition.
On the Cape, the five-year-old volunteer group Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod regularly blankets the region with pamphlets and holds awareness events. A federally funded four-year experiment has placed 42 deer feeding stations on the Cape and Islands, where the animals’ heads and necks — common hiding places for ticks — rub against a pesticide applicator as they get food. The project is in its final year before being evaluated to see whether it should continue or be expanded, said Larry Dapsis, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension entomologist and deer tick project coordinator.
Dapsis, meanwhile, is intent on increasing the number of garden stores that carry permethrin, an effective tick repellent that can be sprayed on clothing, from two to 15. The chemical is not meant to be sprayed on skin.
Store managers “just need a little tick boot camp, a little education,’’ he said.
These efforts, and others across the state, often rely on shoestring funding and volunteers: Unlike the more than $10 million spent statewide on prevention of mosquito-borne diseases, the state allocates only a few tens of thousands of dollars for tick-disease education. Last year, there were 33 human cases of West Nile virus and seven cases of Eastern equine encephalitis reported in Massachusetts; both are spread by mosquitoes. There were more than 5,000 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme.
In the State House
There are signs that Lyme and ticks may soon get more attention. The Lyme special commission’s report called for the state to launch a range of prevention efforts, from aggressive public education to clearing brush from trails to exploring expanded bow hunting for deer in more parts of the state. The report called for an increase in state funding, but the Legislature and governor so far have not acted on the suggestions.
Still, a hearing is expected in coming months for a bill reintroduced in the State House this year by Representative Carolyn C. Dykema, a Holliston Democrat, that would expand the authority of the state’s mosquito control districts to include controlling the tick population.
Other headway is being made by the federal government. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Environmental Protection Agency have convened meetings in recent years to discuss possible community-wide tick control measures that might be effective.
Disease-carrying mosquitoes are readily killed by spraying because they breed in standing water and wetlands, “but ticks are everywhere,’’ said Kirby Stafford III of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, who has written extensively on tick prevention. Ticks live under leaf litter and brush. “It’s not easy to reach them,” he said.
Yet federal officials say it is clear that more coordinated action by public health agencies is needed.
“For some reason, tick control has fallen largely on the shoulders of individual homeowners,’’ said C. Ben Beard, chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch of the CDC. “It needs to be thought of as a community-based responsibility.”
Deer ticks got their name because so many feed on the serene mammals. Deer populations have steadily increased over the last century in the Northeast, and a Rhode Island study by Mather found that five engorged ticks, each able to lay 2,500 or more eggs, can drop off a single deer every day during October and November.
“Reduce deer and you significantly reduce risk,” said Sam R. Telford III, a professor at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
In Massachusetts, some communities — including Framingham, Sudbury, Andover, and Dover — allow bow-hunting on town property to reduce deer populations to prevent Lyme. But as the practice gains traction, so does controversy. A group of Weston residents this year unsuccessfully attempted to repeal a year-old bow-hunting program that killed 18 deer last year.
“The group against hunting is not just people who are deer lovers,’’ said Diane Anderson, co-founder of Weston Deer Friends. “There is a spectrum — people concerned about the safety of dogs and children; others who feel very strongly that town lands are for townspeople to enjoy. . . . Plus there was nothing showing it was going to work.”
Some scientists are on the opponents’ side, saying it is not clear that culling deer will reduce ticks, because adult ticks may find other hosts to latch on to for a needed meal of blood before they lay eggs.
“The only real evidence there is a relationship between deer numbers and Lyme disease risk took place on islands,’’ where there were no other large animal hosts for adult ticks, said Richard S. Ostfeld, disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Some research suggests more needs to be done to control mice, which often pass the Lyme bacteria to young ticks, perhaps by increasing populations of predators, such as fox.
Research also shows that deer herds need to get down to about 8 to 10 per square miles to have a significant effect on human disease — Martha’s Vineyard has 40 to 50 per square mile, according to a just completed census — and most towns’ programs have not met that goal. Even if they do, neighboring communities may not reduce herds, which cross town boundaries.
“It has to be a regional effort,” said Laurie Bent, Weston Conservation Commission chairwoman. An avid walker on town lands, she dresses in light-colored clothes, long pants, and a long-sleeve shirt — and she even bought a white standard poodle in part because ticks would be more visible on her pet. “This is a start,” she said of Weston’s bow-hunting program.
Mather is in the deer-culling camp, saying the evidence is overwhelming that it helps to limit disease spread. But he urges multiple approaches to prevention. He spearheaded development of tiny tubes filled with tick-repellent cotton balls that residents can leave in backyards. Mice take the balls back to their nests so ticks do not latch onto them to feed. There is also ongoing work by Telford and others to vaccinate mice, to keep them from infecting ticks with Lyme. And in New York, an experiment is testing contraceptive injections to reduce deer-herd growth.
Mather continues to find new ways to reach the public. Recently, he’s tried to buttress his case by gluing seed-sized deer ticks onto the surface of a poppy seed bagel.
“A lot of people say they will never eat a poppy seed bagel again,” Mather said. “But they get the message how small these ticks are. We are trying to get out a prevention message that sticks.”
By Beth Daley | GLOBE STAFF | JULY 14, 2013
Reposted By Matthew Noon Google+
On putting green turf, dollar spot appears as small spots, approximately the size of a dollar coin, that are bleached-white or light tan in color. On turf mowed at heights greater than 0.5”, the spots may expand in size up to 6” or more in diameter. The affected leaves typically remain upright and are characterized by having white or light-tan lesions with light reddish-brown margins. As the lesions expand, the leaves are girdled and the upper part of the leaves dies slowly. Distinct lesions are sometimes not evident on close-cut turfgrasses; instead, the leaves die back from the tip and turn white or light tan in color. The grass in the spots may be killed to the soil surface if the disease continues to develop, and many spots may merge to produce large blighted areas. Short, fuzzy white mycelium is often observed on affected turf in the morning when dew is present.
- Host Grass Species ALL
- Month(s) with symptoms February to November
- Stand Symptoms spots, patches (4 to 12 inches)
- Foliar Symptoms – Location/Shape round leaf spots, leaf lesions
- Foliar Symptoms – Color tan or white
- Root/Crown Symptoms none
- Fungal Signs mycelium or none
FACTORS AFFECTING DISEASE DEVELOPMENT
The dollar spot fungus begins to grow and infect susceptible grasses in the spring when night temperatures exceed 50°F, even though symptoms of the disease may not appear until later in the spring or early summer. In addition, the pathogen requires extended periods of leaf wetness, 10 to 12 continuous hours. Heavy dews that often form during cool nights in the late spring or early summer are most conducive to the disease. Extended periods of wet, overcast weather can also lead to severe dollar spot epidemics on susceptible grasses. Dollar spot remains active throughout the summer in many areas, but disease activity typically slows when high temperatures consistently exceed 90°F.
Turfgrasses that are deficient in nutrients, especially nitrogen, are more prone to dollar spot and also recover from the damage more slowly than well-fertilized turf. The disease is also encouraged by drought stress, low mowing, excessive thatch accumulation, frequent irrigation, and low air movement. Certain cultivars of creeping bentgrass, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass are very susceptible to dollar spot, while others are fairly tolerant.
Use of resistant cultivars is one of the most effective means of dollar spot management. This is particularly important for creeping bentgrass, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass, as cultivars vary widely in their susceptibility to the disease. Base turfgrass selection on University recommendations or regional cultivar trials operated by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program or local universities. When planting cool-season grasses, use blends and mixtures of multiple species and varieties whenever possible.
Adequate nitrogen fertilization will help to prevent dollar spot, and will also encourage plants to recover quickly from the disease if it occurs. Select nitrogen sources, rates, and timings based on local University recommendations for your turfgrass species and climate. In general, golf course putting greens established with creeping bentgrass or annual bluegrass should be fertilized with 0.5 lb N/1000 ft2 per growing month. More or less nitrogen may be required for your location depending on soil type, rainfall amounts, traffic intensity, and other management practices. Deficiencies in other nutrients that limit foliar growth may also exacerbate dollar spot problems. Use soil test results to apply the recommended amounts of phosphorus, potassium, lime, and micronutrients.
Dollar spot is encouraged by drought stress and leaf wetness. Proper irrigation timing is needed to balance these factors. Irrigate based on the moisture status of the soil, not on a calendar schedule. Use the Turf Irrigation Management System available on TurfFiles to schedule irrigation based on weather conditions and turf needs. When irrigation is necessary, it should be applied early in the morning, between midnight and 6 AM, to keep leaf wetness periods as short as possible. Mowing, dragging, or whipping the turf in the morning to remove dew can help to prevent dollar spot, but these practices can spread the disease if it is actively developing. Improve air movement and reduce humidity by pruning trees, clearing unwanted vegetation, or relocating desirable plants.
Excessive thatch accumulations greatly encourage dollar spot activity. Remove excess thatch by vertical mowing or power raking. Golf course putting greens should be aerified regularly and topdressed with sand to reduce thatch buildup.
Dollar spot is readily spread in leaf tissue or clippings from infected areas. Avoid spreading the disease by washing equipment before entering an uninfected area, by encouraging golfers to clean their shoes between rounds, and by removing and disposing of clippings taken from infected areas.
Many fungicides control dollar spot, but preventative applications are most effective. A preventative program should be implemented in the early spring when night temperatures consistently exceed 50°F. When applied on a curative basis, fungicides must be applied at high rates and short application intervals.
Uniform spray coverage is important for maximizing fungicide performance; even small gaps in coverage may allow dollar spot to develop. Nozzle type, nozzle pressure, and dilution rate have the greatest impact on the uniformity of fungicide applications. Nozzles that produce coarse to extremely coarse droplets, such as TurfJet or Raindrop nozzles, dramatically reduce the performance of fungicides for dollar spot control. Air-induction or flat fan nozzles that produce fine to medium droplets are recommended. In order to provide thorough coverage of the turfgrass foliage, fungicides should be applied in 2 gallons of water per 1000 ft2; lower carrier volumes reduce the performance of fungicides for foliar disease control.
The fungus that causes dollar spot develops resistance to fungicides very quickly. To prevent or delay the onset of fungicide resistance, use integrated management to minimize fungicide use, rotate among fungicide classes after each application, and tank-mix systemic fungicides with a contact fungicide.
As always it is preferred that a licensed professional apply chemicals to your lawn. For more information on this type of service, click here or call 978-838-3100
The map and list linked below show towns and cities in Massachusetts with Public Water Supply (PWS) systems that have notified MassDEP that they have implemented outdoor water use restrictions in 2013.
The restrictions may be Voluntary, Mandatory, Emergency or Total Ban on nonessential water use, and may include limitations on outside water use such as odd/even days, hours of the day, hand-held hose, no automatic sprinklers, or total bans on outside watering. Contact your local PWS for updated outdoor water use restriction information.
If you have any questions regarding this map, or if you represent a PWS and would like to add your community to the map, please contact Jen D’Urso at MassDEP, Jen.DUrso@state.ma.us or 617-654-6591. PWSs that implement mandatory restrictions are required to notify MassDEP by submitting the Notification of Water Use Restriction form to the Water Management Act Program in MassDEP’s Boston office.
NOTE: The data presented may not be current. Contact your municipal public water supplier for updated restriction information.
Lyme disease incidences are higher in New England states. The chart below, shows detail of these statistics.Note that Massaschusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are all in the Top 13 states.
Reported cased of Lyme disease by state or locality, 2002-2011†
- Page last reviewed: September 10, 2012
- Page last updated: October 29, 2012
- Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)
Reposted and Highlighted By Matthew Noon Google+