Greening the Apple

A Plug for Trash Free Waters

By Annette Poliwka

Ocean samples collected on board the Mystic found plastic throughout the 3,000 mile journey.

Ocean samples collected on board the Mystic found plastic throughout the 3,000 mile journey.

My love of recycling, or better said, my hatred of trash led me to a research expedition through the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre, a portion of the Atlantic Ocean that traps man-made debris.

My interest in recycling really began in the 7th grade, when I realized how the newspaper my father read stacked up on the porch until I could carry it to my parochial grade school for recycling. Yes, those were the days when we learned about current events by reading the paper, not our tablets. And those were the days prior to curbside recycling in major cities. I knew there had to be a better way, and I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up: protect the environment. I guess you could say, I’m living my dream.

The 5 Gyres Institute sails around the world collecting samples and conducting analysis of plastic pollution in our oceans. My experience began with a flight to Bermuda where I boarded a 172 foot, three-masted schooner named the Mystic. The boat had already sailed from Miami to the Bahamas, and our final destination was back to New York City! I was in the middle of paradise, along with other “Zero Wasters,” researchers and dedicated environmentalists, collecting samples of plastic pollution and figuring out how to prevent them from getting into the water in the first place.

The research included sampling the sea surface for the 3,000 mile journey. Micro-plastics, which are smaller than a grain of rice, were found in each sample. In the middle of paradise, in the middle of the ocean, and in the middle of the New York City harbor, we were consistently finding plastics. What is often described as an “island of trash,” is more of a “plastic smog.” The sun and waves shred larger pieces of plastics into micro-plastics, which can be a variety of colors and sizes. Fish can’t distinguish between a 3mm piece of plankton and a 3mm piece of plastic. We caught a fish and dissected it, finding plastics in its stomach. This is a human health concern, as plastics can transfer toxins into fish and up the food chain.

A water sample taken this summer in the NYC Harbor contains a wide variety of plastic pollution.

A water sample taken this summer in the NYC Harbor contains a wide variety of plastic pollution.

As we sailed to New York City, the samples of plastics we collected were bigger and more easily identifiable than what we found in the open ocean. This makes sense, as 80 percent of the plastics in our oceans are land-based, and it takes time to break down into micro-plastics. The samples also stunk of sewage!

Our use of plastics affects our waterways, the fish we eat and the general health of our oceans. Researchers have found that experiences, rather than material consumption, make people happy. So rather than buying the next new gadget, spend time doing something interesting, with someone you love. Your wallet and our oceans will be happier, too.

We can all help prevent waste by buying less and reusing what we have. If you live in New York City, recycle with the blue and green bins. Compost with the brown bin, or bring food scraps to Green Markets all around the city, year-round.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Improperly Stored Tires Lead to Big Mosquito Problems

By Marcia Anderson

Make sure tires on playgrounds have drainage holes to prevent rainwater from accumulating and causing a mosquito breeding problem.

Make sure tires on playgrounds have drainage holes to prevent rainwater from accumulating and causing a mosquito breeding problem.

I have a vivid memory of visiting a childcare center on Staten Island, NY. When I approached a corner of the backyard, a swarm of mosquitoes must have sensed me and dive-bombed onto every exposed part of my body. I was bitten repeatedly from my head down to my shoes. When I peered over the fence into the neighboring yard, I saw thousands of mosquitoes congregating around a pile of discarded tires.

Although many scrap tires are brought to state approved disposal sites, many also wind up in illegal dump sites. Untold more are thrown along roadways or stored in yards. Tire stockpiles present a threat to human health and the environment for several reasons.

Why are improperly stored tires hazardous to your health?

Each tire in a yard, if improperly stored, can become a breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes which can carry life-threatening diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile virus and various forms of encephalitis.

The design of tires provides an ideal nursery for mosquito larvae. Tires fill with water after a rainstorm and retain the water as some of the inside areas of the tires are shaded continuously, preventing evaporation of the trapped water. Tires are somewhat insulated and retain heat for long periods of time that speeds up mosquito egg hatching and larval growth. They also collect leaf litter and debris that provides nutrition for the larvae.

Despite over 30 years of efforts to address scrap tires, stockpiles continue to be a problem across the U.S. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, over 290 million more tires are scrapped every year, and over 653 million tons of these are land-disposed. Tires in dumps are difficult to clean up due to the sheer numbers and because trees grow through them and trash, leaves, garbage, and water collect in them.

Tires on playgrounds as part of climbing or swinging structures are another potential breeding site. Ensure that the tires, and other children’s outdoor play structures have drainage holes and that the holes are kept unblocked by debris, such as leaves, to maintain water flow.

Mosquito Control: The most effective mosquito control is to keep tires dry. Pesticides applied to tire piles to control larval or adult mosquitoes may not be fully effective. Shredding tires, or otherwise rendering them incapable of holding water, is usually more effective than pesticides. If you must keep tires, store them indoors or stack and cover them with a tarp to prevent them from collecting water. Drill holes in tires in play equipment or other tire sculptures to allow water drainage and prevent future water accumulation. Keep vegetation and grasses around tires short, reducing resting sites for adult mosquitoes.

Tire Recycling:  Over 1.3 million pounds of tires are recycled each year by chopping them into high grade rubber nuggets. Some are reincorporated in the manufacture of new tires while others are converted into a urethane binder to make sidewalks, playground surfaces, and basketball courts. Roads in some areas are resurfaced using tire chips for backfill and insulation, giving asphalt both springiness and longer life. In New Hampshire, Timberland is putting tires back on the road in boots and shoes with soles made of recycled rubber. And as of 2009, 40% of scrap tires are used in energy generation due to their high BTU content.

When Buying New Tires, Recycle Your Old Tires: Businesses that sell or install tires must take back tires of approximately the same size that they sell. The fee for the collection of old tires is included in the cost of new tires.

In New York City, the Department of Sanitation will accept up to four tires from passenger cars at any of its garages or at one of the department’s household special waste drop-off sites. For more information go to New York City Department of Sanitation’s website or dial 3-1-1.  There are similar programs across the country; contact your local Department of Public Works for drop sites.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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2015 Long Island Fish Passage Workshop

By Victoria O’Neill, Amy Mandelbaum, Julie Nace, and Mark Tedesco

Workshop attendees inspect a newly installed fishway at Argyle Lake in Babylon, NY.

Workshop attendees inspect a newly installed fishway at Argyle Lake in Babylon, NY.

For hundreds of years, humans have manipulated New York’s waterways for their own interests and needs. The establishment of dams, weirs, and culverts have allowed humans to harness water power for mills, create ponds for recreation, and establish essential infrastructure such as roadways. While these changes have benefited people, they have had a negative impact on wildlife, in particular fish like river herring and American eel. These ocean-going fish require access to rivers to complete their life cycles, such as spawning and juvenile development. Impediments on rivers have severely impacted river herring and American eel populations in New York State.

Luckily, there are solutions to moving fish up, over, and through these impassable structures. Fishways, which consist of ladders, lifts, bypasses, and ramps, can be designed and installed at barriers like dams, weirs, and culverts to enable fish to move from one section of river to another. To date, a handful of fishways have been installed throughout New York and the region, but there are still many rivers and creeks containing barriers. Recognizing this need, several partners, including the Long Island Sound Study, Peconic Estuary Program, and Seatuck Environmental Association, decided to organize a workshop to educate those interested in fish passage.

Fishway installed at the 182nd St Dam on the Bronx River in Bronx, NY.

Fishway installed at the 182nd St Dam on the Bronx River in Bronx, NY.

Last month, 45 engineers, biologists, hydrologists, environmental scientists and other practitioners from New York and New England took part in the Fish Passage Workshop at Hofstra University. The workshop was run by Brett Towler and Bryan Sojkowski from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast office. During Day 1 of the workshop, attendees learned about the design, operation, andoversight of fish passage projects. During Day 2 of the workshop, attendees visited a newly installed fishway at Argyle Lake and a future fish passage site at Southards Pond in Babylon, NY.

Workshop attendees visit a future fish passage site at Southards Pond in Babylon, NY.

Workshop attendees visit a future fish passage site at Southards Pond in Babylon, NY.

Follow-up surveys will be conducted to see if the workshop attendees used the knowledge that they gained from the workshop to identify fish passage projects in their communities and/or to see if they are in the process of designing, installing, and overseeing fishways on their local creeks and rivers.

About the Authors: 

Victoria O’Neill is the New York Habitat Restoration Coordinator for the Long Island Sound Study. She works for the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and is housed in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Habitat Protection in East Setauket, NY. 

Amy Mandelbaum is the New York Outreach Coordinator for the Long Island Sound Study. She works for New York Sea Grant in Stony Brook, NY.  

Julie Nace is the New York State Coordinator for the Peconic Estuary Program. She specializes in the implementation of habitat restoration projects, non-point source water pollution control, and education and outreach. 

Mark Tedesco is director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Office. The office coordinates the Long Island Sound Study. Mr. Tedesco is responsible for supporting implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Long Island Sound in cooperation with federal, state, and local government, private organizations, and the public.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Make the Most of Summer

Make sure that you have made the most of this summer! As the end of the season approaches, check out some of these fun, free, and eco-friendly events this weekend.  There are all sorts of things for you to do – from drumming circles on the Hudson to a summer concert series in Jersey City, we’ve got you covered. Some of the events have been reoccurring all season long but for some, this will be the last weekend the event is available! You won’t want to miss this line-up. Be sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ #WTWEPA hashtag on twitter so we can share your adventures!

Friday – August 14, 2015

Sunset Jam on the Hudson
Manhattan
Wagner Park
6:30 – 8 p.m.

Grab your friends this Friday night for the ultimate jam session. This drumming circle is led by master drummers that will bring you rhythms from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. At the event you’ll be taught traditional drumming patterns. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be invited to contribute your own rhythmic patterns. Instruments are provided but you may also bring your own. You won’t want to miss this!

*This event repeats 8/21 and 8/28. Catch it before the summer ends!

RiverFlicks in Hudson River Park
Manhattan
Hudson River Park
Pier 46 Cross at Charles Street
8:30 p.m.

Bring the kids to this free showing of Paddington Bear. Watch a movie guilt free knowing you’re all still spending part of your weekend outside. Be sure to catch this week’s showing as next Friday, August 21 will be the last of movies shown in the Hudson River Park for the summer!

Brooklyn
Greenspace NYC Civic Art Lab
456B Nostrand Avenue
6 – 9:30 p.m.

Check out this presentation that gives an in-depth look at issues regarding social justice and sustainability. Topics like climate change, inequality, and social rest in regards to sustainability will be discussed. Stop by for a very intriguing conversation and presentation.

Saturday – August 15, 2015

Natural Dyes and Herb Sachets
Manhattan
Castle Clinton in Battery Park
10 a.m. – noon

Join our friends at the Batter Conservancy for their free workshop this Saturday! You’ll learn how to take your kitchen scraps and transform them into dyes using natural ingredients. Afterwards, you can dye your own herb sachet and once it’s done drying you can fill it with a blend of custom herbs. RSVPs are appreciated. Send an email to info@thebattery.org

GreenThumb Workshop: Container Gardening
Bronx
Hornaday Community Garden
Mohegan Ave and Crotona Parkway
11 a.m.2 p.m.

Learn how to make the most of your window boxes or containers this Saturday at the GreenThumb Workshop on container gardening. They’ll share how to properly design your contained garden, which soil mixtures are most effective, and tips for keeping your gardens growing all year ‘round.

Paper Shredding Event
Queens
Rochdale Village Mall #2
165-65 137th Avenue
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (or until truck is filled)

Do you have a bunch of random, useless, old bundles of paperwork floating around your apartment? Head over to Jamaica Queens to properly and responsibly shred any documents with personal or sensitive information. There is a limit of three boxes per household and this event is free.

Sunday – August 16, 2015

Ecofest 27th Anniversary
Manhattan
Times Square
Broadway and 42nd-44th Street
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This eco-friendly festival promises to be the largest environmental celebration event in New York City! Be sure to spend your Sunday outdoors at this day-long, free festival, which features an eco-friendly fashion show, a showcase of green products, and workshops on sustainability and energy efficiency!

Summerfest Concert Series
Jersey City, NJ
Liberty State Park
North Field (Near 9/11 Memorial)
5 – 7 p.m.

Finish off your weekend on the waterfront Liberty State Park. There are only two more Sunday’s after the 16th where free concerts will be occurring! Bring your family and friends to Jersey City for a live performance by the Cintron Band.

Family Affair: Summer on the Streets
Bronx
Bronx Museum
1040 Grand Concourse
noon – 4 p.m.

Enjoy family-friendly art activities all day on the Grand Concourse this Sunday!  Join the Bronx Museum and its partners for the last ‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ of the year, which includes car-free streets and chances to enhance your artistic creativity.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Enjoy Summer Camp Free of Head Lice

By Marcia Anderson

Head lice magnified.

Head lice magnified.

Summer camp season always reminds me of swimming, camp fires, s’mores and head lice. Head lice? Yes, my daughter was 8 years old that memorable year and attending a day camp. One evening she was furiously scratching her head and behind her ears. After bathing, I helped comb her hair and, to my horror, discovered head lice. I ran to the pharmacy that evening and picked up an over-the-counter head lice kit. My next few days were filled with washing everything in the bedroom, intense vacuuming and a frenzy of cleaning every corner in the bedroom. Within a few days, the problem was over.

A repeat performance occurred eight years later. My daughter was 16 and attending a series of week-long overnight sports camps. At this age, all girls play with their hair, imitate each other’s hair dos, and regrettably, share hair ornaments. That’s just what girls do. She should have known better! We had a repeat of washing all of her clothing and bedding and vacuuming. I helped her comb the nits (lice eggs) out of her hair. I notified the camp director and her teammates’ moms. Some of the other moms had found their daughters had the same problem.

Head lice are very contagious. You can get them by sharing clothes, hairbrushes, combs, pillows, hair decorations and hats with somebody who has them, or even being near someone who has lice.

The early symptoms of head lice are little red bumps appearing on the scalp, neck, shoulders and behind the ears. A scratchy head is also a symptom, as well as little white eggs found within the hair and scalp.

There are many ways to treat head lice. The EPA recommends a multi-faceted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. IPM is a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to pest control. Smart because IPM creates a safer environment by managing pests and reducing human exposure to pests and pesticides. Sensible since practical strategies are used to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests. Sustainable because the emphasis is on prevention that makes it an advantageous approach.

The first step is identification – determine whether the problem is with lice or some other pest. Second, focus on sanitation by washing and drying (on high heat) all of your belongings that may have been exposed to kill all the lice and their eggs. Third, monitor for remaining lice and their eggs by frequently checking the scalp and combing the hair with a nit comb.

And please, forget the old home remedy of turning your children’s heads into salad by slathering them with mayonnaise, lime, garlic lotion, or olive oil to kill the lice. These little critters are not easily suffocated. These remedies, along with dishwashing detergent, however, may be useful in softening up the nits to make it easier for the nit combs to remove them.

Pesticidal head lice shampoo may be a necessary treatment.

Pesticidal head lice shampoo may be a necessary treatment.

Finally, the use of pesticidal head lice shampoos may be necessary. The bad news is that today’s lice are tougher to kill than they were 20 years ago when I had to treat my daughter’s head lice. This is because some have developed resistance to permethrin and pyrethrum, the active ingredients in many of the over-the-counter lice products. Read the National Institute of Health publication on resistance in head lice to the over-the-counter pediculocides and the blog on persistent and possibly resistant head lice.

Learn more about head lice management from the BioIntegral Resource Center’s IPM manual and the National Pediculosis Association.

If you continue to be infested with live lice after treatment, discontinue use of the products and consult with your pediatrician. If you are diligent and comb out the nits on a daily basis (such as every night during bath time) you should be able to remove most of the nits.

There are ways to reduce your exposure to head lice. Tell your children not to share combs, brushes, hats or clothing with anyone. Vacuum frequently. Finally, wash and dry (on high heat) any clothing they may have shared.

These tips can help you better enjoy the summer camp season!

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Explore and Appreciate Summer in the City!

Continue enjoying your summer with these environmentally-friendly events. While it’s still hot enough to wear shorts and tank tops, indulge in these fresh and affordable outdoor activities. Whether you want to enjoy the waterfront, or discover new ways to help the city’s environment, make sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ #WTWEPA hashtag on twitter so we can share your adventures!

Friday – August 7, 2015

Elle | e-Waste Jewelry
BROOKLYN – The Gowanus eWaste Warehouse
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Elle | e-Waste JewelryElle | e-Waste Jewelry Elle | e-Waste Jewelry
On the evening of Friday August 7th, join an Open House party at the Gowanus eWaste Warehouse to celebrate Marcela Godoy’s jewelry line made entirely from electronic waste: Elle.eWaste. There is a great event lined up, including a runway show, warehouse tours, DJs, and more!

Waterfront Activities: Fishing
NEW YORK – East River Park Fire Boat House at Grand Street
5 – 7 p.m.

Join us this summer for the catch-and-release fishing clinics! Bait and tackle will be provided, (or bring your own), plus basic fishing instruction and other activities to explore the estuary. Kids under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

Fantastic Friday: Make a Hummingbird Feeder
STATEN ISLAND – Greenbelt Nature Center
11 a.m. – noon
Fantastic Friday: Make a Hummingbird Feeder
Search for these colorful fast flyers, then make a hummingbird feeder to take home. Ages 7+.

Saturday – August 8, 2015

2015 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
QUEENS – Flushing Meadows Corona Park
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
2015 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
This much anticipated multicultural event features two exciting days of dragon boat racing, wonderful performances, and an ethnic food court.

Summer Streets
MANHATTAN – Foley Square & Paine Park
7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s streets, presented by the New York City Department of Transportation. On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation.

NYC Parks Beach Volleyball Tournament 2015
BROOKLYN – Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk
8 a.m.
5 p.m.
NYC Parks Beach Volleyball Tournament 2015
Face off in NYC’s ultimate summer competition!  NYC Parks invites you to join a volleyball tournament on beautiful Coney Island Beach.

Kayaking
BROOKLYN – Brooklyn Bridge Park
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Kayaking - BROOKLYN - Brooklyn Bridge Park
Paddle in the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.

Children under 18 must have an adult guardian present. All levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. For more information, please visit Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy‘s website.

Sunday – August 9, 2015

Basic Canoeing
Manhattan – Lasker Pool & Rink (in Central Park)
noon – 3 p.m.

Few experiences compare with being on the open water in New York City. Basic canoe programs are great for all skill levels. Children aged 8 and older are welcome.

Canine Ice Cream
QUEENS – Rockaway Freeway Dog Park
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Canine Ice Cream
Enjoy music, games, dog-friendly ice cream treats, and more! Giveaway bag for the first 25 people.

GreenThumb Workshop: Feed the Soil, Not the Plants
STATEN ISLAND – Joe Hozlka Community Garden
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
GreenThumb Workshop: Feed the Soil, Not the Plants
Learn how to use compost to improve your plants’ soil. This workshop is given in partnership with NYC Compost Project.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Excavation Experts: Are Moles or Voles Ruining your Lawn? (Part 2)

By Marcia Anderson

These paddle-like paws can do serious damage to your landscaping.  Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University

These paddle-like paws can do serious damage to your landscaping.
Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University

We hoped you learned about the differences between moles and voles in Part 1. Now that you know how to tell them apart, how do you discourage them from living in your yard and convince them to take up residence elsewhere?

To deter these landscape pests, be prepared to alter their environment. Preventing pest problems through foresight, is the #1 rule of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is beneficial to both your health and the environment. IPM is smart, sensible and sustainable – addressing the root causes of pest problems to provide a sustainable solution.

Mole Control

Regulating some of a mole’s food supply may help. Since moles are fond of beetle grubs in the lawn, you can begin by controlling the grubs. The three primary natural solutions are milky spore, beneficial nematodes and neem oil products. An annual lawn-grub treatment application of bacterial-based milky spore disease granules can definitely help, but it takes two-three years to become established in the soil and it doesn’t work in cold climates (colder than Zone 5).

Beneficial nematodes can be applied and will move through the soil to infect and kill the grubs. Neem has been used as an insecticide for centuries and acts as a repellent for grubs. However, as long as there are plenty of worms or ants in your lawn, you may still have a mole problem and may wish to resort to “Plan B.”

“Plan B” for moles utilizes their keen sense of smell that finds some plants offensive. You can use this knowledge as a natural way to control moles. Several bulb plants are known to repel moles such as daffodils, Siberian squill, and crown imperial, whose flowers give off a fox-like scent. Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots and giant allium are living mole repellents as are the mole plant, or caper spurge and Mexican marigold.

Vole Controls

 Here are some helpful cultural controls you can use to prevent voles.

  • Do not apply mulch too close to trees and shrubs. It provides voles with an easily tunneled, insulated pathway under snow, ice and frozen ground in the winter.
  • Get rid of autumn leaves, twigs and debris that can make inviting pathways and remove ground cover that can hide voles. Bare soil makes them more vulnerable to predators.
  • Place wire cages around individual plants: While impractical on a large-scale it is very effective for your favorite plants.
  • Use ¼-inch hardware cloth or plastic cylinders to protect individual young trees and shrubs. Bury them slightly and extend at least two feet plus 18 inches above the snow depth to deter other gnawing pests
  • Keep your garden weeded and avoid planting dense ground covers.
  • Keep your lawn mowed short.

Repellents

Castor oil is the most widely used mole and gopher repellent. Whether homemade treatment or a commercial product, it is made from ground-up corn cobs and castor oil. Other commercial vole repellents, are formulated with capsacian (the ingredient that makes peppers hot), repulsive smelling predator (coyote, fox or wolf) urine, or bitter testing chemicals. While these repellants are effective at keeping voles from eating live plants and bulbs, they need to be re-applied frequently because most dissipate with the rain. Voles may also become acclimated. Therefore, a varied approach works best with repellants. Fumigants, ultrasonic devices, and noise or vibration makers are not effective in repelling voles or moles.

Final Actions

Trapping moles or voles is an effective long-term control. Snap traps manufactured for mice are also effective at catching voles. Several EPA registered pesticides are also available for mole and vole control. Remember to read and follow the label directions on all pesticides carefully.

Visit the University of Nebraska website for more information on moles and voles. 

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Summer’s in Full Swing – Get in on the Fun!

Hit the reset button as the beginning of August approaches on Saturday! Spend your weekend outdoors with family and friends at one of these fresh, “green”, and affordable events we’ve got featured here for you. Whether you’re fashion forward and attending the Eco-Fashion Show or practicing Yoga on the Beach, make sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ #WTWEPA hashtag on twitter so we can share your adventures!

Friday – July 31, 2015

Hip Hop Dance Aerobics
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman Street
Friday, July 31, 2015
7 p.m.

Get your groove on this Friday night at the Brooklyn Bridge Park! This cardio workout in disguise features hip hop music and teachers that break down each movement for participants of all levels. Be sure to get there by 6:30pm to complete registration and note that you must fill out a waiver upon sign-in!

Downtown Sounds
Glen Cove
Glen Cove Village Square
Intersection of Glen and Bridge Streets
Friday, July 31, 2015
7 – 10 p.m.

Get away from the hustle of the city and head out to Glen Cove for their “Downtown Sounds” event! There will be live music and a chance to check out some great restaurants near Village Square.

Manhattan
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Friday, July 31, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Spend your Friday with the kids at the exhibition ‘Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks’. This interactive activity allows for kids to be an architect for the day!  They can draw their own New York City while you explore the museum on a self-guided tour.

Saturday – August 1, 2015

Fundamentals of Composting Workshop
Manhattan
Pleasant Village Community Garden
Saturday, August 1, 2015
10 a.m. – noon

Did you know that a third of our food waste ends up in landfills? If you’re interested in composting and would like to learn how to turn your food scraps into feed for gardens or household plants, this free workshop is right up your alley. Keep in mind that composting can eliminate up to 30 percent of your household food waste from your garbage can! RSVP by emailing pleasantvillagegarden@gmail.com

Open House at Flagship Farm in LIC
Queens
Flagship Farm
37-18 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City
Saturday, August 1, 2015
11 a.m.4 p.m.

Come check out Queens’ very own gigantic rooftop farm this Saturday. Whether you choose to browse the layout, buy some farm-fresh produce, or just enjoy the view – be sure to take it all in! There is no registration necessary for your visit and the open house is free!

Yoga on the Beach
Rockaway Beach
Beach off 108th Street, Off Shorefront Parkway
Saturday, August 1, 2015
8 – 9 a.m.

Grab your friends and join yoga instructor Helen Kilgallen for this free, beginner’s Hatha Yoga class. This early morning class will be a wonderful way to unwind after a busy Friday night. Be sure to bring a mat, large towel, or blanket for your practice.

Sunday – August 2, 2015

Eco Fashion in the Park
Bronx to Manhattan
Highbridge Park (Bridge Area)
Enter by 172nd Street and Amsterdam Ave.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
3:30 – 5 p.m.

This event will guarantee you a very busy Sunday!  Get everyone together and head over to Highbridge Park to witness this first-ever fashion show with a runway that spans over the High Bridge. These eco-friendly fashions will be the star of the day but be sure to check out the clothing swap boutique with drop off beginning at 1 p.m. and the actual swap starting at 5 p.m. as well.

Birds of Prey
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Sunday, August 2, 2015
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Bring the kiddies to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sunday for a fun few hours of learning!  Join Volunteers for Wildlife as they speak about raptors from 11 a.m. to noon and then join Private Picassos for an outdoor pop-up reading room and art activities.

Bark in the Park
Brooklyn
Municipal Credit Union Park
1904 Surf Ave
Sunday, August 2, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the Brooklyn Cyclones host this awesome, fun-filled event for you and your dog! Watch as the Cyclones take on the Batavia Muckdogs at MCU Park (tickets for one person and up to two dogs are $10). If you’d rather play in the park with your pup, don’t fret. Activities outside the stadium begin at noon, which include free photo-ops and free personalized pet tag give-aways.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Excavation Experts: Are Moles or Voles Ruining your Lawn? (Part 1)

By Marcia Anderson

It’s Summertime! Time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

Imagine you are strolling across your lawn on a beautiful day assessing your maintenance routines, when you notice something amiss. It appears as if someone – something! – has created a maze of tunnels under your once-beautiful turf. Voles and moles are the most common culprits. But which is which and how do you tell the difference?

Moles are not the only animal pests responsible for tunneling lawn and garden areas. In reality, it’s really voles causing much of the damage chalked up to moles. Other than names that rhyme, voles and moles are entirely different pests with little in common. Once you understand their differences, it becomes rather easy to tell them apart and to develop a control strategy. The biggest differences between moles and voles is their diet and the damage they cause.

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles

Voles are rodents, as are mice, rats, gophers and squirrels. They look much like mice, only with shorter tails. Voles, of which there are 23 species, usually do not invade homes and should not be confused with the common house mouse. Voles are plant-eaters, feeding on the stems and blades of grass, and the roots, seeds and bulbs of flowering and garden crops. If that is not enough, in winter when other foods are scarce, they’ll even chew the bark off trees and shrubs.

When voles make tunnels while searching for roots to eat, they do not create raised ridges. Voles create golf-ball-sized entry holes into their tunnels along walls and in mulched beds. Their above ground grassy runways connect to multiple, clustered burrow openings. Their surface tunnels are most noticeable in early spring, just after the snow melts.

Moles

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo (a-z-animals.com)

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo
(a-z-animals.com)

Unlike voles, moles are not rodents, and they don’t eat plants. Their primary diet is earthworms with a few insects – beetle larvae and adults, ants, wasps, and flies tossed in as appetizers. According to Ohio State University, a five-ounce mole will consume 45-50 pounds of worms and insects each year.

Landscape demolition from moles comes in the form of tunnels, runways and raised burrows in your lawn, ground cover, and shrub areas while on their never-ending search for food. Moles, are built for tunneling, with paddle-like paws that make quick work of moving even the most dense clay soils. Moles can dig surface tunnels at a rate of 18 feet/hour.  The word “mole” is from the Middle English molle which is derived from mold-warpe, meaning “earth-thrower.”

Moles prefer well-drained, loose, sandy soil, and they avoid heavy clay, gravelly soils, and very dry or very wet soils. Because moles prefer moist soil, human environs such as manicured suburban lawns, parks and golf courses often provide beneficial habitat due to higher quality soils and adequate moisture.

Moles are constantly tunneling in search of meals, pushing up mini mountain ranges all over lawns, and creating volcanoes of soil in random spots. Moles produce two types of elaborate tunnels. The tunnels just beneath the surface, are feeding tunnels and appear as raised ridges running across your lawn. The second type of runway runs deeper and enables the moles to unite the feeding tunnels in a network. As the weather cools, moles will retreat into their deeper tunnels, often up to five feet beneath the surface. It is the soil excavated from the deep tunnels that resemble little volcanoes.

Management

Pest identification is a fundamental step in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. IPM is a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to controlling pests. IPM is smart because it addresses the root causes of pest problems. It is sensible because it provides a healthier environment, and it is a sustainable approach that provides effective, long-term pest control. Specific knowledge about your pest will give you key clues for their management.

Preventing pest problems through foresight, is the first rule of IPM. Taking preventive steps to preclude a pest problem is preferable to waiting for pests to arrive, then having to eradicate them. To deter these landscape pests, be prepared to alter their environment.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Excavation Experts to learn how to prevent and control moles and voles. In the meantime visit the University of Nebraska website for more information on moles and voles.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Welcome to the Weekend!

Looking for more ways to appreciate the summer around NYC? Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA!

Friday – July 24, 2015

Land_Slide Art Gallery
Brooklyn
6 – 9 p.m.

Land __ Slide features Caroline Voagen Nelson’s and Rebecca Sherman’s dynamic representations of moving environments in a sustainable, eco-conscious era. Both artists used sustainable products and materials (including sustainable inks and wood) and no harmful chemicals during the process and production of the artworks in this exhibit.

Observing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
Manhattan
7 – 10 p.m.

See Jupiter, Venus and the Moon through members’ telescopes which will be set up on the plaza just north of the fountain at Lincoln Center.

Billopp Shores: The Ebb and Flow of Man and Nature
Staten Island
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This retrospective exhibition offers a glimpse of man and nature’s impact on the development of the waterfront in Conference House Park.

Saturday – July 25, 2015

Being Green at Home
Hillsborough Township, NJ
9 a.m. – Noon

Have you ever wondered what you could be doing at home to be more sustainable? Join Duke Farms staff member, Clifford Berek, and discuss three main areas where small changes make a big impact. During this program, we will discuss the four “R”s, your options when it comes to power and your impact on your local water resources.

Yoga on the Green with New York Sports Club
Queens
9:30 10:30 a.m.

Summer’s here so join us for some yoga on the Center Green in Glendale. Classes are free. If the weather is questionable or rainy the class will be moved inside NYSC. You don’t need to be a member of NYSC to participate.

Coffee & Tea | Bed-Stuy Community Forum
Brooklyn
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This environmental, arts, and educational initiative calls on citizens to co-produce creative and open ways to share skills and showcase recent cultural and environmental initiatives happening locally in order to amplify the diverse voices and encourage future civic engagement.

NYC Poetry Festival
Governors Island
Saturday – Sunday
11 a.m.

The Poetry Society of New York will once again invite New Yorkers to come together for this two day festival to celebrate NYC’s vibrant poetry community. The event will include over 60 poetry organizations and 250 poets on its three stages; a Vendor’s Village where local booksellers, artists and craft makers will sell their wares; a beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery; healthy and delicious food options; poetic installation art throughout, the Ring of Daisies open mic; and last but not least, the Children’s Poetry Festival, complete with writing games and its own fourth, all-kids stage.

Sunday – July 26, 2015

6th Annual Butterfly Day
Lyndhurst, NJ
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The highly-anticipated butterfly festival is back!  Join us for a fun-filled day of butterfly walks and FREE kids activities. Kids activities include a scavenger hunt, face painting, a butterfly costume contest (12 and under), and butterfly crafts. Onsite experts to help identify the various butterflies and provide gardening tips.

Family Art Project: Butterfly Habitat Hats
Bronx 
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

See them and sketch them, flying and sipping the nectar of their favorite shrub or flowering bush. Then learn about local butterfly species and make a butterfly habitat hat.

Wave Hill Garden Highlights Walk
Bronx
2 – 3 p.m.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.