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NYS IPM 2003
Excellence-in-IPM Award Winners:
Carolyn Klass

Don Rutz & Carolyn Klass
Donald Rutz and Carolyn Klass receive their
Excellence-in-IPM Awards on February 13, 2004

Klass is the person who makes the diagnosis when people send weird or scary bugs to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s diagnostic labs at Cornell University, to find out what they are and whether to worry about them.

Klass doesn’t just look at bugs through a microscope all day. She has also created a wealth of fact sheets and other publications that help people understand how to deal with insect pests in ways that pose minimal economic, environmental, and health risks—which is what “integrated pest management” is all about.

“We provide Carolyn’s fact sheets to our clients on a daily basis,” says Kelly Fallone, a Cooperative Extension educator in Cayuga County. “Our Master Gardener volunteers rely heavily on the huge amount of outreach information she has developed.”

Klass takes her expertise to the field, working to learn new ways to deal with pests. Take yellow jackets and hornets, for instance. These insects are beneficial to gardeners because they eat lots of the bad bugs, but no one wants them near an entryway or in a schoolyard.

“I’m part of a team that is looking at least-toxic approaches to managing stinging insects,” says Klass. Super-soaker squirt guns and vacuum cleaners are among the tools that work when used properly, and lately they’ve experimented with painting the undersides of eaves sky-blue to confuse the critters and convince them to nest elsewhere.

What’s Klass’s first piece of advice for someone who finds something new and freaky, bugwise, in their house?

“Your local Cooperative Extension is often a good starting point,” she says. “A good photograph could be helpful, with something like a penny in the photo for a size scale.”

Klass was 12 years old when she joined a 4-H “bug club” in Rockland County. The insect collection she made then formed the nucleus of a collection—much larger now—that she still has.

“I’m not squeamish about insects,” Klass says. “But coming upon a snake always makes my breath catch.”

Klass received her award on February 13 at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

written by by Mary Woodsen