SPN: Fire Ant Control: The Two-Step Method and Other Approaches

By: Dr. Paul Nester, Extension Program Specialist – IPM, Houston/Metro area

Fire ant mounds can appear anywhere

When it comes to insect pests, fire ants would probably top everyone’s list! Red and black imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri) are invasive species and their painful bites can injure or kill livestock, wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. Their large mounds (as many as 300 per acre) are unsightly and often damage mowers and other equipment. Fire ants also infest buildings and can damage electrical equipment by chewing on wire insulation.

Fire ants cost Americans $6 billion a year, including the cost of insecticides. The Two-Step Method and other approaches described here can lower that cost while reducing environmental damage and improving fire ant control. Knowing your options will allow you to make better choices to protect your family, pets, and property.

Identifying Fire Ants

There are hundreds of ant species in the southern United States, including some native fire ant species, and most of them are considered beneficial insects. Collectively, ants till more earth than earthworms and some prey on other insect pests to help to reduce their numbers.

Fire ants will build their mounds almost anywhere—in the open or next to a building, tree, sidewalk, or electrical box. A fire ant mound does not have a central opening. Fire ants emerge quickly and begin biting and stinging when the mound is disturbed. They will even run up vertical surfaces.

Worker fire ants are dark reddish-brown with shiny black abdomens, and are about 1/16- to about 1/4-inch long. Fire ants are similar in appearance to many other ants, so make sure you have correctly identified the species before attempting to solve your ant problem. If you are uncertain about the species, call your local extension office for assistance in identifying your ants.

Controlling Fire Ants

Fire ants carrying bait back into the nest to feed the queen and brood.

Most people and school districts (about 80 percent according to one survey) try to control fire ants by treating individual mounds. Mound treatments are expensive, up to $2 or more per mound, and require lots of time and labor if you have much land to treat. You can easily use too much insecticide, which may lead to environmental contamination if rain-washes the insecticide into lakes and streams. To be effective, the mound treatment must kill the queen(s). Otherwise, the colony will survive. Some nests may go undetected. Even an area where every mound has been treated can soon be re-infested by fire ant colonies migrating from untreated areas or floating there on floodwater. In addition, deep-dwelling colonies that escaped mound treatment can quickly form mounds after a soaking rain. It is usually more effective and less expensive for School Districts to treat the entire yard with a product designed for broadcast application.

Fire ants cannot be eliminated because it is not possible to treat all infested areas. There may not be one best method for fire ant control, especially in large areas. Your objective should be to find the method or methods that are most cost-effective, environmentally sound, and fit your tolerance level for fire ants. In areas where these ants do not present problems, doing nothing is one option. For Texas Schools your best option is to implement an integrated pest management program (IPM) that gives everyone an idea about how fire ants will be controlled on district property.

Remember fire ant strings have been associated with student deaths, so designing an effective fire ant management program utilizing broadcast baits or long residual granules may be in the best interest of the school district. 

Types of Control

Organic products: A few products are certified as organic. These include ingredients such as d-limonene, an extract from citrus oil, or spinosad, a chemical complex produced by a soil microbe. This could be your only option for your campus school garden or other areas where you need to be sensitive to the type of insecticide you are using.

Chemical control: The use of insecticides for fire ant control is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Department of Agriculture. Approved products must be used according to label directions. Read the label carefully! An approved product is one that has directions for fire ant control on the label. Be sure it is appropriate for where you intend to use it, particularly if you will be treating a vegetable garden or other food production site. Products for use in electrical utility boxes and indoors are for use only by pest management professionals who are licensed by the TDA.

Control Products

Most active ingredients are marketed under more than one brand or trade name. This article refers to the generic names of the active ingredients in insecticides, which you should see on the product labels. Some sample trade names are given as well.

Products are formulated as dusts, granules, liquid drenches, or baits. They are applied either to individual ant mounds or across the surface of the ground (broadcast). The various active ingredients affect ants in different ways.

Most active ingredients are contact insecticides that affect the nervous system of ants. Contact insecticides include acephate (Orthene®), carbaryl (Sevin®), fipronil (TopChoice®, Taurus® G, Quali-Pro® Fipronil 0.0143G or Taurus® Trio G) broadcast granules, which are restricted use professional products, pyrethrins, pyrethroids (bifenthrin, beta-cyfluthin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, gamma-cyhalothrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin, esfenvalerate, tefluthrin, tralomethrin, or zeta-cypermethrin), and liquid spinosad formulations. These ingredients vary in how quickly they kill ants and how long they remain in the environment. Natural pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroid ingredients kill ants in minutes. Acephate and carbaryl take about one day, while granular fipronil may take four to six weeks to eliminate colonies. Hot water, pyrethrins, and d-limonene treatments have little or no lasting effect. Carbaryl, spinosad, and acephate break down in a matter of days to weeks. Pyrethroids can remain in the environment for weeks to months, while fipronil can persist as long as a year.

Baits contain active ingredients dissolved in a substance ants eat or drink. Some bait ingredients affect the nervous system. These include abamectin (Ascend®, Award® II, or Clinch®), indoxacarb (Advion® or Ortho® Fire Ant Killer Mound Bait), metaflumizone (Altrevin®, or Siesta®), spinosad (Fertilome Come and Get It! or Payback), and fipronil (MaxForce FC). Some affect the digestive system (boric acid) or metabolism (hydramethylnon or Amdro® or Probait®). Other bait ingredients interfere with reproduction or growth. These include methoprene (Extinguish®), and pyriproxyfen (Distance® or Esteem®). A relatively new type of bait combines two active ingredients, hydramethylnon and methoprene (Amdro® Yard Treatment or Extinguish® Plus).

To be effective, baits must be fresh and applied when ants are actively foraging. To determine if the time is right for treatment, place a small amount of bait in the area to be treated and see if foraging ants remove it within an hour. Because ants collect, bait and return it to the colony, very little insecticide is needed. Baits are ruined by water, so do not water baits after application, or apply them when rain is expected.

Control Approaches – The Two-Step Method

Step 1. Broadcast fire ant bait once or twice a year (fall and spring) to reduce fire ant colonies by 80 to 90 percent.

Step 2. Treat nuisance mounds or colonies that move into the bait-treated areas. Step 2 may not be needed.

To control fire ants on school campuses it is recommended that you broadcast bait using an appropriate spreader.

Baiting is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound approach to treating medium to large landscape areas. The bait you apply determines how quickly ants will be controlled and how long the effect will last. Faster acting bait products include indoxacarb (works in 3-7 days), metaflumizone (works in 7-10 days), hydramethylnon (works in 7-14 days for mound treatments and in 2-3 weeks when broadcast), and spinosad (works quickly on foraging ants but may take several weeks for reduction in mound activity).  These baits may need to be reapplied more often than slower acting and longer lasting products such as abamectin, methoprene or pyriproxyfen, which work in 1-2 months when applied in spring and six months when applied in fall. Products that combine fast- and slow-acting ingredients, such as hydramethylnon plus methoprene (Extinguish® Plus or Amdro® Yard Treatment), may control ants better because they act quickly and has a longer effect on the colony. Certified organic products that contain spinosad such as Fertilome® Come and Get It! or Payback® Fire Ant Bait can be used for broadcast bait and mound treatments. Use products such as Amdro® Pro, Esteem®, Extinguish®, or Extinguish® Plus for livestock pastures and hay fields.

Always read and follow the application instructions on the label of the product you are using. Use a hand-held spreader/seeder or a standard push spreader to correctly broadcast bait products. Use the hand-held spreader/seeder for baits that are applied at very low rates such as one to five pounds of product per acre. Use the push-type lawn for baits that are applied at higher volumes per acre (two to five pounds per 5000 – 10,000 square feet for example, Amdro® Yard Treatment).

Use a vehicle-mounted spreader such as the Herd® GT-77 to cover large areas. For home lawns, calculate the area to be treated and use the smallest spreader setting that allows bait to flow. Apply the bait in swaths, crisscrossing swaths if needed, until the specified amount is applied. For larger areas, see How to Calibrate a Fire Ant Bait Spreader located at http://articles.extension.org/pages/12228/how-to-calibrate-a-fire-ant-bait-spreader. The agitators in some spreaders may cause bait to cake up so that it does not flow properly.

Individual Mound Treatments

Although treating ant mounds individually is more labor-intensive and may use more insecticide than other methods, it is a suitable approach for small areas with few fire ant mounds (fewer than 10 per acre) or where you want to preserve native ants. Bait products (hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, metaflumizone, or spinosad) can be used to treat individual ant mounds and are ideal for treating inaccessible colonies like those nesting under sidewalks, in plant beds, and at the bases of tree trunks.  Remember when using single mound treatments you will only treat the mounds you see not the mounds you don’t see.  So using only single mound treatments may allow a population of active foraging fire ants to remain in an area, resulting in frequent re-treats to an area.

Some mound treatment products are available as liquid drenches, injectable aerosols, dusts, or granules that are watered in to the mound. Ants are killed only if the insecticide contacts them, so proper application is essential. These treatments are most effective when ants are nesting close to the mound surface (as they do when the temperature is mild). Colonies should not be disturbed during treatment. If you use a watering can to apply insecticide, do not use the can later for other purposes.

Long-residual Broadcast Contact Insecticide Treatments

Herd Spreader to use with ant baiting

With this approach, a contact insecticide is applied to the lawn and landscape surface. This is more expensive than other control methods but it may be more effective in smaller areas because ants that move into treated areas will be eliminated if the chemical is active. Granular products are best applied with a push-type fertilizer spreader and must be watered in after treatment. Granular fipronil products (TopChoice®, Taurus® G, Quali-Pro® Fipronil 0.0143G) are slower acting but longer lasting and only one treatment is permitted per year. Faster-acting contact insecticides, such as the pyrethroids (listed above), eliminate ants on the surface for months but may not eliminate colonies nesting deeper in the soil.  The product Taurus® Trio G is a fipronil granule with added pyrethroids so you not only get quick knockdown of foraging fire ants with the pyrethroids but the longer lasting control due to the firpronil active ingredient.

(Note: For Texas School IPM Programs, TopChoice®, Taurus® G, Quali-Pro® Fipronil 0.0143G or Taurus® Trio G, are considered Yellow Category per TDA rules for school IPM.)

Make a Management Plan

Chemical control lasts only as long as the effects of the insecticide used, or until new ant colonies move in from untreated areas. You can expect an ant infestation to return to its original level eventually. Thus, keeping fire ants in check requires a commitment of time and money. To reduce the cost and make control easier, consider making a map of your property. Divide the property into treatment areas and designate the most appropriate treatment approach for each area. Make and maintain a schedule for first treatment and any necessary re-treatments.

For example, you might use a long-residual broadcast contact insecticide at regular intervals in high-value or high-traffic areas (near buildings or in play or recreation areas) where maximum control is needed. In other areas, where 80 to 90 percent control of ants is acceptable, you might use the Two-Step Method. Because control lasts longer when large areas are treated, consider participating in a community- or neighborhood-wide treatment program. These have been shown to improve control and reduce cost. If everyone participates by making coordinated treatments, ant colonies will not be able to migrate from property to property.

Fire Ants and the Texas IPM in Schools Program

Broadcast bait basics

KEEP YOUR SCHOOL GARDEN PROGRAMS GREEN!

Funding School Garden Programs for long term success.

By Jeffery Raska, Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Dallas County

Many times, I am asked by school groups at the initial planning meeting, “Can I do this or can we build that’’ and my answer is always the same, sure we can ‘’ it only takes money and knowhow!!”

Jeff working with kids from DISD on building their raised beds.

I am amazed that some of the best initially funded schools obtain funding to start a garden, but do not have an ongoing budget planned to sustain the garden. Gardens do COST money to build and they TAKE money to sustain long term. Initial startup cost obviously varies with the ambition of the school’s Garden Committee but usually annual maintenance budgets do not vary a great deal once a program is in place and the garden is flourishing. This means you can cost out the startup build within your grant or funding sources and then you must plan a funding stream from a variety of sources to maintain yearly maintenance and plantings.

The garden program can only grow and evolve if funding can be secured year to year. Remember the fluidity of a school environment and the garden program may have to be passed to other hands as teachers change, kids and parents move on and Administers are transferred. Nothing will doom a garden transition faster than one set of committee members passing the program to a new set without established sustainable funding. You will need to think about water cost, soil amendments, transplants and seeds and any improvements or fix its(broken stuff due to over excited kiddos) and don’t forget the school garden curriculum (such as Learn Grow Eat Go) and the new lesson enrichments you might want to purchase as the program grows . I know an individual’s ‘well’ can run a little dry at times so I always suggest multiple sources so the garden program won’t wilt out, or you as the individual don’t burn out as well.

Sustainable funding sources can include the Parent Associations, local garden retailers, your local big box stores, anyone that sells a plant or plant supplies and food venders (grocery or markets). I have even had a school I helped build their garden, go to one of their neighborhood restaurants and worked out a deal that the school would provide a little produce and the restaurant would give the school 10% of their Wednesday sales. The restaurant gets advertising for supporting the school and the school has one of their funding partners in place for the future. Funding sources are only limited to the imaginations of the garden committee members and the saying it true “You don’t get if you don’t ask’’.

Schools can cut annual costs by establishing a composting program, rainwater collection systems, seed saving to grow their own transplants and raise funds by selling their excess produce but these take several seasons to establish as the garden grows and matures. The first couple of years are critical to lay down the foundation for a sustainable garden program and the constant burden of always being short of money can frustrate everyone involved to just give up on what could have been a wonderful outdoor classroom for learning.

If you haven’t checked any of these groups out, here are a few funding sources.

The Good Seed: Grow a Youth Garden with a Grant From Home Depot

Community Garden Grant Opportunities

Garden Grants from GardenABCs

Grants | growing safer gardens

SPN: Bat Management – What everyone should know.

The Mexican Free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is one of the most common bats in Texas. It’s proper name is Brazilian Free-tail,but as all things in Texas we have our own name for this species of bats.

Bats, which consume huge quantities of insects, including many that damage crops, are important to our local economies and Texans protect them as valuable allies. However, bats sometimes create a nuisance when they roost in buildings in large numbers. Why do bats roost in buildings anyway? Are they dangerous? Moreover, what is the best way to handle bat nuisance problems?

There are approximately 1,100 bat species in the world. Texas is home to 33 species, with 10 species that most are familiar with.

“Texas has one of the most diverse bat populations in the United States,” said Dianne Odegard, Education & Public Outreach Manager at Bat Conservation International.

Texas’ most common species is the Mexican Free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), probably followed by the Cave myotis (Myotis velifer), both of which often occupy buildings, Odegard explains. Texas bats occupy a variety of habitats including caves, trees, bridges and, increasingly, buildings. They prefer to roost close to an abundant food source, but Mexican Free-tailed bats have been known to travel many miles in a night to feed on their favorite foods. Texas bats consume some mosquitoes, but their diets consist primarily of moths, including corn earworm and armyworm moths, and beetles. This diet plays a large role in controlling pests for the agricultural community.

Most of us become concerned about bats when they come in close contact with humans. Bats are creatures of habit and will frequently return to the same roosting area year after year. Some bats move into buildings because they have lost their natural habitats in caves and trees. They usually cause no problems, but when large colonies roost in buildings, they can become an annoyance because of noise, odor, or piles of droppings. Like other wild mammals, some bats contract rabies. Although only very small percentage is infected, a bat that is found on the ground is more likely than other bats to be sick or injured. Therefore, the first thing to remember is that neither adults nor children should handle bats, or for that matter, any other wild animal they can approach. If there is any possibility that a child or other individual may have been bitten or had direct contact with a bat, the animal should be captured and submitted to the local health department for rabies testing (see Rabies Prevention and Bat Precaution Tips article at Dept. of State Health Services website).

Most bats that end up in living quarters get there by accident, and then cannot find their way out. These bats can be safely captured by simply waiting until the bat lands on a wall or ceiling, then carefully placing a box or coffee can over it. Slide a piece of cardboard between the box (or can) and the wall (or ceiling) so the bat is scooted inside. YouTube has several videos on how to capture a bat, but this one by the New York Dept of Health is good. If it is determined that the bat should be tested for rabies, call animal control or your local law enforcement agency to have it picked up. If no one has had direct contact with the bat, it can be turned over to a wildlife-rescue organization in your area or simply released outside away from people and pets, preferably after sundown

Texas state law requires that a school district take specific actions after bats are found in a school facility: The bat and colony (if present) must be excluded; repairs must be made so that any future bats are excluded; and the areas where bats roosted must be disinfected.

If a bat is found in a room with an unattended child, a sleeping person, an intoxicated or mentally impaired person, or if there is a reasonable possibility that a person has had direct contact with a bat, the bat must be captured (if possible) and submitted to the laboratory designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services that is closest to your community.

Bats in buildings occupied by people can be legally removed or evicted, and a person may transport a bat to have it tested by a laboratory if rabies is suspected.

Entry point where bats were entering this school campus.

Bat colonies may roost in attics, under eaves, under shingles or siding or in the wall spaces of buildings. These bats can be safely evicted. First, identify areas in and around buildings where bats can enter. This step is vital for effective placement of bat-eviction tubes and nets.

To witness bats entering or exiting the building, monitor it during early evening (dusk) and just before dawn. Note all locations where bats leave and enter the building. During cooler months, you may need to inspect several nights in a row to establish exit/entry points, because bats may not leave the roost on nights that are cooler than 50 degrees F.

When inspecting the exterior of the building, look along rooflines and behind gutter placement for rub marks, which are stains left by the oils and dirt rubbing off the bats’ hair. Like rodents, bats will leave some evidence of staining; however, bat stains are harder to see. In addition, look at ground level for guano—in most cases, the bat-entry points will have some guano buildup if the colony is large enough.

Inside, identify all parts of the building where they may have established roosts. These areas can include chimneys, attic spaces, wall spaces, ceiling spaces, expansion joints, and roof overhangs. Bats also roost behind gutters, in sports stadiums, and beneath or behind signs and fixtures.

Without disturbing active access areas, seal all potential but inactive entry points using caulk, weather-stripping, flashing, or hardware cloth (heavy-duty, 1/6-inch polyethylene mesh). This is called “bat exclusion.” Bats fly out on their own and are unable to reenter. It is the only safe and effective method for permanently evicting bats from buildings. It is not legal to use pesticides against bats, which often results in sick bats, which then end up on the ground or inside buildings where they are more likely to be found by children or pets. Bat traps are also inappropriate, since they usually result in exits blocked by trapped bats, again causing bats to find their way into places where they could have contact with people.

Only proper bat exclusion techniques help to ensure the health and safety of people, while ridding buildings of nuisance bat colonies. Help protect both human and environmental health and use proper bat exclusion methods.

  1. Install bat eviction devices.

    Sample of a bat eviction tube that can be made from clean caulk tubes

    1. Buy one-way chutes or make them from 2-inch-diameter PVC pipe, clear sheets of plastic, and empty, clean caulking tubes with the ends cut off. Netting also may be used, if it is smaller than 1/6” mesh and is made of flexible plastic. Specific directions on how to make or where to buy bat eviction devices are posted at Bat Conservation International
    2. If using tubes, place the tubes over the holes in the roof or soffit used by the bats. These tubes will allow them to leave but not reenter the building. If bats are roosting in a long horizontal crevice, place a tube roughly every 4 to 6 feet along the entire distance to make sure all the bats can get out. Be sure the tubes are angled down at a steep angle to ensure that bats cannot climb back inside.
    3. To ensure that all the bats exit the building, leave these one-way devices in place for at least 1 week during warm weather and 2 weeks in cool weather (less than 50 degrees F).
  1. Remove the one-way devices and permanently seal the entry points.
    1. Make sure that there are no new signs of bats leaving the building. If you remove the one-way devices too early, you could permanently seal bats inside, killing them and causing odor and sanitation problems for the school.
  1. Clean up.
    1. Once the bats have left the building, begin remediation procedures. Remove the guano from interior structures to avoid attracting other pests such as cockroaches or flies.Guano can pose two risks: excessive weight on structures, and disease transmission from contaminated materials. A naturally occurring soil fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, is sometimes found in bird and bat droppings. A person inhaling the fungal spores can develop histoplasmosis, a flulike respiratory disease http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-146/

To prevent illness, employees should take precautions when cleaning up guano in a confined area:

  1. Wear personal protective equipment, including leather gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, approved eye protection, and a respirator that can filter particles smaller than 2 microns in diameter.
  2. Before removing the guano, lightly dampen it with a disinfectant to minimize the amount of dust and spores dispersing into the air. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommend using a 10 percent bleach solution (9-part water to 1-parts of bleach) as a wetting agent.
  3. If the guano buildup is more than 2 inches deep, follow CDC procedures http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2005-109/ to remove it from the building.
  4. Bag the affected material or use a professional vacuum (high-efficiency particulate absorbing, or HEPA) that exhausts to the outside.
  5. Check with the local landfill or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the appropriate place to send this material, and send it there.

Like other mammals, bats can attract pests such as mites, ticks, and fleas.  Depending on the roosting location, you may need to apply a desiccant or insecticide dust after eviction to kill any ectoparasites that may have entered the structure.

Check out our Bats in Schools website  http://agrilife.org/batsinschools/  

Need a handout to educate staff about this topic  Bat Control In Schools_English  and  ENTO-038S_Bats_schools_Spanish

 

SPN: Rodenticides How do they fit into your IPM program?

By Janet Hurley, Extension Program Specialist III

Rodent control is a multi-layer process and baiting for rats is just one part of the IPM process. However, using rodent baits is a question most School IPM Coordinators have concern over since they do work around children, food handling areas and non-target animal populations. The information below is some general information on rodenticides for use with the house mouse, roof rat, and Norway rats.

Pelletized bait should never be used around children or pets, even in a bait station as these pellets could be dropped in transit to the nest and could be picked up by human or pet.

Pelletized bait should never be used around children or pets, even in a bait station as these pellets could be dropped in transit to the nest and could be picked up by human or pet.

So what’s the difference between a rodenticide and rodent bait? A rodenticide is a pesticide or other agent used to kill rats and other rodents or to prevent them from damaging food, crops, or forage. The term ‘rodent bait’ is something pest management technicians refer to as the product they place into the rodent bait stations. However for further clarification, this bait can be toxic (rodenticide) or non-toxic in which it is bait that tells the PMP if the rodents are in the area and should be fed toxic bait.

Both U.S. EPA and U.S. FDA both have regulations that require the use of tamper-resistant containers when using rodenticides around food handling areas, children, pets, and other non-target wildlife.  Specifically EPA requires that rodent baits must be in block, paste, or pelleted forms and require use of tamper-resistant bait stations:

  • If bait is to be placed in any indoor or outdoor location to which children under six years-of-age, pets or non-target wildlife have access.
  • For all applications made outdoors and above ground. (citation)
  • Baiting of burrows outdoors is permitted only for pelleted baits that are placed at least six inches down active rat burrows.

In 2008, EPA reviewed rodenticides and in 2010 they released changes that restricted the use of certain types of rodenticides for consumers (buy at the local store) and also how pest management professionals and agricultural operations can purchase and use these products as well.  As such, there has been confusion over what products are still ‘legal’ and ‘how do I service this school account’.

Most everyone is familiar with warfarin. My mother takes Coumadin which is the human equivalent and they are both blood thinners.  For rodenticides this class of product is referred to as the first generation of anticoagulants.  They kill by preventing blood from clotting and it does take multiple feedings to gain success.  The problem with this class of product is that when it was on the market for the public (consumer), children and animals could pick up the poison and ingest it, resulting in injury or death.  Now the only way first generation anticoagulants can be used in the consumer market are ready-to-use bait stations that contain and/or are packaged with rodenticide bait that is in block or paste form.  This means if you were to go to your local hardware store, you would find this product in one large container and there is no easy way for children or pets to tamper with it.  For PMPs to use this product they must place inside tamper resistant container within 100 feet of buildings and other structure and must purchase the rodenticide in containers of 4 pounds or more.

Whereas the first generation anticoagulants take multiple feedings, the second generation of anticoagulants was created so that rodents who had become resistant to the first gen products would have an alternative permanent solution. Second generation anticoagulants are much faster acting; in some cases a single night feeding can result in death.  However, this is dangerous when it comes to children and pets under the Risk Mitigation Decision. EPA took this class of rodenticide off the consumer market and these products can only be purchased for commercial pest control and structural pest control markets.  Products containing second generation anticoagulants must be sold in containers holding at least 16 pounds of bait if they are labeled for use by professional applicators and at least 8 pounds of bait if labeled for use in or near agricultural structures. In TX, you must have a license with the TX Dept of Ag in the SPCS Pest category or 1D vertebrate pest control for agricultural pest control in order for you to use this category of rodenticides. These registered baits are for use by professional applicators to control rats and/or mice in or within 100 feet of buildings and other structures or for use in and near agricultural buildings and man-made agricultural structures.  One item of note is that Vitamin K is considered to be an effective antidote to this type of rodenticide.

There are a couple of non-anticoagulants that require mentioning.  Bromethalin is a single dose rodenticide that stops the cells in the nervous system from producing energy. You must be licensed to purchase this product. Cholecalciferol works at producing too much vitamin D; rats must eat several doses to kill them but this can be dangerous to humans and non-target animals if they are exposed as well.  Zinc phosphide is an inorganic compound that combines phosphorus with zinc. When an animal eats the bait, the acid in the animal’s stomach turns the zinc phosphide into phosphine. Phosphine gas blocks cells from making energy which means the heart, brain, kidney and liver fail to work.  Products with cholecalciferol and zinc phosphide are classified as restricted-use by U.S. EPA. Restricted-use products have the potential to cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment and injury to applicators or bystanders without added restrictions. The “Restricted Use” classification restricts a product, or its uses, to use by a certified applicator or someone under the certified applicator’s direct supervision.  Simply put these products are dangerous; in TX they are considered Red Category on school campuses and should be considered as a last resort.

This handy chart will help you begin to understand active ingredient and mode of action.

This handy chart will help you begin to understand active ingredient and mode of action.

Understanding how rodenticides work is just as essential as bait station placement. Too often when I’m conducting IPM inspections I see some common mistakes made by all of us.  The rest of this article is an effort to explain some of practices that should be adopted according to my lessons from Dr. Bobby Corrigan.  First and foremost, exclude for all rodents. If they can’t gain access into the structure then the battle is half won.  Even if they are inside, close up the building so you don’t leave them a one-way access point, however, they will hide and evade in order to survive.

Ed Freytag, City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite & Rodent Control Board.

Above image of House Mouse on a penny. Taken by Ed Freytag, City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite & Rodent Control Board.

Mice (Mus musculus): typically with this species using snap traps, repeating/catchall traps, and other mechanical devices can capture the smallest to largest of populations.  Mice are curious according to Dr. Corrigan, they will explore and if you use enough devices you can eradicate the population.  But You the PMP must seal up areas, ensure that any clutter and food is cleaned up and make sure they don’t have any choice but go to these devices.

Roof Rats (Rattus rattus): at my house these are public enemy number one, this population of rodents thrive in suburban areas where there is a lot of vegetative cover. Since schools are often near residential neighborhoods, these rats can get into school buildings when the school or neighborhood undergoes construction, school administrators need to be aware of this so they can report activity immediately.  These rodents can climb trees, chew through metal and dig under areas to survive; therefore exclusion is essential to keep these rats out of the building. Depending on the area rodent baiting can be done; however, where you place the stations and types of baits you use is important.  Too often on my inspections I see the same type of rodenticide and bait stations placed in the same place as ‘routine’.  In my experience you have to think like the roof rat and place those stations in areas where they ‘run’ and bait. For instance, the roof rats at my house seem to like the soft packs better than grains.  And if it’s been dry, they will go to the liquid baits, which you set up in a specific feeding tube. These rodents will travel 500 feet or more; if you can set up stations 100 feet away from the building along a fence or block wall in a dumpster area, you can draw the rats away from the building. You will also want to think about using bait stations on roofs if that is where they are gaining access.  In the meantime, seal up any holes in the structure.

Top: Norway Rat Bottom: Roof Rat Thanks to Ed Freytag for sharing this well captured image.

Top: Norway Rat
Bottom: Roof Rat
Thanks to Ed Freytag for sharing this well captured image.

Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus): Bobby Corrigan refers to this species as the diabolical rat; this is the species that is seen in news stories from coast to coast. In cities, this is the rat most of us see in and around garbage. When I was working with the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite, & Rodent Control Board on their school IPM project, I saw what a large population of these rats can do. As with all rodent species exclusion and sanitation is tantamount. At the same time, experts really stress types of baits, bait station location and exclusion as the best way to reduce this population.  In some of Dr. Corrigan’s research these rodents can travel far and wide, they range like wild animals, which mean that they may not come to the same location night after night.  Again if you can bait within 100 feet of a building structure, check around vegetation areas, as these rodents love to burrow.  These rodents do need water, so ask your pest control distributor about baits that could be used during drought conditions.

For more information about rodent control check out this IPM Action Plan   http://articles.extension.org/pages/63911/ipm-action-plan-for-rodents

For more information about rodenticides check out the NPIC website http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/rodenticide.html

Handout on Rodenticides for use with trainings. [PDF]

 

Getting a school garden blooming (The Garden Committee)

By:   Jeff Raska, Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development,  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension  Dallas County Texas                jwraska@ag.tamu.edu

100_2766A school vegetable garden can be a wonderful outdoor classroom for studying natural science or just hanging out writing a story. Having worked on and off with school gardens for 25 years I have seen many great school garden programs bloom and fade as time passes and school priorities change. For the last 7 years, I have had the privilege of working with school gardens as a 4-H Program Assistant for Dallas County and have had the benefit of seeing the wide-ranging needs and challenges that schools face when trying to start a garden. Of the more successful long term programs a few common threads seem to have been in place.

One of the first common elements is a dedicated garden committee. The committee can be made up of teachers, parents, community members or school support staff and have certain duties assigned to each member. There needs to be a point person at the school that reaches out for help when needed and maintains accountability. Remember, if funded from outside sources such as grants or corporate sponsors, certain benchmarks must and should be met.   The committee needs to determine why to invest the time and resources in a school garden program and how it will benefit their students.  I have honestly tried to talk some schools out of pursuing a school garden after it was evident that they didn’t have a committee structure in place for success. The committee should write a list of goals they hope to accomplish and the expected benefits the school garden will bring. They then need to balance those benefits with the costs involved (start up and yearly maintenance), the time it will take out someone’s daily school duties, the team it will take to schedule and carry out a garden program and how they will incorporate the garden into the school’s lesson plans.  The committee can be responsible for startup funding, long-term maintenance costs as well as material procurement and maintenance schedules. The committee should research and recommend a school garden curriculum that best fits the schools lesson plans and goals. I recommend the Learn Grow Eat Go Curriculum developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Junior Master Gardener team through a USDA research grant that not only incorporates the horticultural aspects but also teaches nutrition, cooking and a classroom exercise plan for a complete healthy living model. I incorporate a nutrition element in all school programs I teach (being primarily Title 1 schools) because nutrition is such needed education for communities of need.

The people that make up the committee will change as the year’s pass (kids and parents move up, teachers move schools, Principals change) so a good foundation (Committee) needs to be established and put in place to keep the garden blooming for years to come. I never use the word sustainable in horticultural systems as no natural eco system just sustains itself.  In the same way that an ecosystem evolves to climatic changes, understand that school garden programs must also plan to evolve to be able to enjoy long-term success.

3rd Graders building and planting vegetable gardens in Dallas Texas

3rd Graders building and planting vegetable gardens in Dallas Texas

 

 

Related article:  Seeds for a healthier future: Mesquite ISD students create, learn in campus garden

Once upon a time, Jeff worked as an IPM coordinator for a local Dallas County school district and began pursuing is love of gardening and youth with AgriLife Extension.  Remember we have County Agents in all 254 counties in Texas that can help your school with building and maintaining a youth garden.

Why people resort to the silver bullet: using psychology to teach IPM

Written By: Rosemary Hallberg, Communication Director, Southern IPM Center

I’ve had many discussions with my colleagues about the best way to sell integrated pest management, or IPM, to the public. Although I don’t usually work with people directly on their pest management practices, I have heard some of our IPM Coordinators say, and have read in several news articles, that IPM is easier to sell to some people than to others. Why is that? Why is the organic community so successful at selling organic goods to the general public, while most people I know outside of my job don’t know what “IPM” stands for?

The answer may lie in an article that appeared in Perspectives on Psychological Sciencein 2015, titled “Improving Public Engagement With Climate Change: Five ‘Best Practice’ Insights from Psychological Science.” Although the article focuses on climate change policymaking, we can use similar principles in IPM to assist our “integrated people management,” as some of my school IPM colleagues call it.

The authors assert that most people make decisions about a social issue based on five psychological principles:

  1. The human brain privileges experience over analysis
  2. People are social beings who respond to group norms
  3. Out of sight, out of mind: the nature of psychological distance
  4. Framing the big picture: nobody likes losing (but everyone likes gaining)
  5. Playing the long game: tapping the potential of human motivation

While I’m not going to make any policy suggestions—as I have many colleagues who have much more experience in the IPM policymaking world than I do—I am going to try drawing some parallels between the author’s explanations of each of the 5 principles and how they might relate to our rhetoric about integrated pest management.

  1. The human brain privileges experience over analysis

The human brain relies on two processing systems, says the Perspectives article. One system involves the emotions and the second system involves the intellect. Most of the decisions that we make that affect our lives emanate from the emotional system, while we use the intellectual system to defend them.

BabyPeople tend to prioritize things based on strong feelings. In campaigns, discussions about terrorism and children typically win over voters because they are top priorities for people. People want to feel safe and they want to protect the helpless. Many of our disinfectants are advertised next to babies or young children because the message is that they’re “safe” for the most vulnerable. Growers clamor for new herbicides after years of battling weeds like Palmer amaranth and losing money. People may buy organic products because they feel they are “safe” and “healthy,” grown “with no pesticides,” not realizing that many organic growers have to use some kind of chemical to protect their crop. How can we generate emotions about IPM products or practices? Or override the fear that without a pesticide that the crop or setting will be overrun with insects, diseases or weeds?

  1. People are social beings who respond to group norms

When consumers see an issue as a global problem (such as climate change), they tend not to feel that their actions can make a difference. When a practice such as integrated pest management is presented as “good for the environment,” if an individual doesn’t see their neighbors following the practice, he or she tends not to pick up the practice.

However, people tend to follow the example of others that they trust or respect. I’ve talked to several Extension specialists who said that growers adopted a practice or variety after talking to their neighbors at the local hangout. Teachers talk to each other in the teacher lounge. How can we promote community acceptance and practice of IPM, whether in a farming community, school or neighborhood?

  1. Out of sight, out of mind: the nature of psychological distance

The APS article states that the promotion of climate change as a future consequence removes it from the public eye as something that needs to be addressed now. In fact, “immediate day-to-day concerns take precedence over planning for the future” (van der Linden et al.). The authors show this principle at work in the public belief that climate change is a distant threat that doesn’t need to be addressed now.

RAID adOne of the main motivations behind IPM practices is resistance management. This rationale, however, is an example of something that can be perceived as a distant threat. I have lost count of the number of articles in agricultural media such as Farm Press and Growing Produce that include warnings and pleas by weed scientists and entomologists not to rely on a new chemistry once an old one has been rendered useless. However,eager to reclaim income lost the previous year, growers ignore the warnings and do what they think will rid them of the problem. In the same vein, teachers and homeowners reach for the canned insecticide when they see an ant or cockroach because they feel it will give them immediate satisfaction of the insect’s death, while neglecting to realize that a good cleaning is needed to get rid of the rest of the colony that is nesting in closet clutter or in an unmaintained windowsill. To convince people to use IPM, resistance and clutter must be seen as issues that are immediate rather than in the future.

  1. Framing the big picture: nobody likes losing (but everyone likes gaining)

Whether it’s climate change, pest management, pollinator protection or world peace, conversations around change involve the idea of “loss.” In fact, often the loss is the part of the discourse that’s heard when experts present the actions to take to prevent the future problem. To slow down or reverse climate change, people hear that they need to give up their automobiles. To maintain use of a pesticide, growers hear that they need to spend more time on insect or weed management. To ensure pollinator survival, growers and homeowners hear that they’re going to lose a pesticide that has always worked. So in response, many people feel that the status quo is better than having to give up something.

When used effectively, IPM can ultimately save money and time. However, those promises fly in the face of principle #3 (out of sight, out of mind). Many people aren’t willing to lose something today to gain something tomorrow. Growers will use an herbicide again and again until the weeds don’t respond. Homeowners will use a canned insecticide again and again until they realize that they’re not ending the infestation. How can IPM professionals present IPM as a win-win that gives an immediate return?

  1. Playing the long game: tapping the potential of human motivation

honey beePeople respond to one of two different sources of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic incentives include external rewards such as cost savings, time or profits. Intrinsic incentives include values and morals. Farmers who participate in pollinator protection collaborations do so because the reward appeals to their extrinsic—they need pollinators for fruit set—and intrinsic—they care about the environment and want to protect it—values. Some home gardeners refrain from using commercial pesticides because they think it is safer for their family (an extrinsic appeal) and good for the environment (an intrinsic appeal). IPM specialists focus on both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations when appealing to audiences to use IPM.

I’m sure that many IPM specialists can think of examples where all of these psychological principles have been at work, but the one that has been weighing on my mind the most since I read the tragic story in Delta Farm Press is the situation over dicamba in Arkansas. Soybean growers suddenly had a new technology that seemed to give them access to a new use for a powerful herbicide. Although weed scientists, consultants and industry representatives gave strong warnings that growers were not to spray dicamba on top of the new soybean variety, memories of weeds crowding out the previous year’s crop, in addition to the promise of new profits, made the temptation to ignore warnings and spray the crop too hard to resist. Growers who were on the fence about whether or not to spray heard from other growers who decided to use the product illegally and decided to join the group. Some growers focused on their own gains or losses and didn’t consider that their illegal dicamba use might cause drift that would destroy their neighbors’ non-GMO crop. Ultimately, tensions between both sides reached a head and resulted in the death of one grower and stricter regulations assigned by the Arkansas Plant Board.

Many of my colleagues have told me that their specialty is science, not psychology or sociology. As someone whose specialty is writing and not science, I understand the reasoning. However, sometimes science isn’t enough to convince a farmer who fears for his or her crop and is battling several other environmental challenges like drought or temperature shifts. Science may not convince a schoolteacher who is worn out by the end of the day that he or she needs to take extra time to clean out the closet. Convincing the public that IPM is worthwhile to support will involve more than simply integrated pest management principles. It will take an understanding of the emotional motivations that lead people to act as they do. It will involve Integrated Psychology Management.

Source: van der Linden, S., Maibach, E., and Leiserowitz, A. (2015). Improving public engagement with climate change: Five “best practice” insights from psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10:6, 758-763, doi: 10.1177/1745691615598516

SPN: Mid-year Clutter Control – Keeping it Clean at your school campus

This area is in need of some decluttering. Start small, use storage containers to sort and place keep items in them.

This area is in need of some decluttering. Start small, use storage containers to sort and place keep items in them.

As November comes to an end, and the weather starts to cool, teachers and staff start thinking about the holidays. However, what they probably don’t think about is their role in the IPM program. As parties are planned, decorations brought out of storage and cooler temperatures invite open windows it’s also a good time to remind everyone that mice, ants, and other critters are on the move. This time of year also brings out the clutter bug in all of us, it’s best to keep on top of this behavior then let it take over one’s life.

De-cluttering has the immediate effect of eliminating pest harborage. When clutter is reduced, there is increased access to floor spaces, allowing for more thorough cleaning by custodial staff. The same is true for shelves and inside cupboards. When there are nooks and crannies – created by “stuff” – for pests to hide and breed among, there will be allergens and lots of bugs.

Clutter control also helps improve overall school hygiene. It’s easier for custodial staff to sweep, mop, and dust when things are generally organized. Minimizing clutter also helps teachers stay organized. It’s much easier to keep your room tidy when your cupboards and bookshelves are not overflowing with stuff!

HOW do you de-clutter a school?

Kitchen staff

While food preparation and cooking lends itself to keeping areas clean.  Kitchens often harbor some of the worst pest problems

Don't keep empty cardboard boxes for storage.

Don’t keep empty cardboard boxes for storage.

simply due to the fact that food, water, and harborage are in high demand.  Keeping an eye out for potential pest problems is essential to a sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) program.

  • Do not use corrugated cardboard for long term storage. German cockroaches are actually brought inside our schools hiding in the corrugations. They actually feed on the glue starch that holds the boxes together. Rotate out all corrugated cardboard if possible.
  • Keep pantry shelving free of needless debris. Emptied supply boxes should be broken down and recycled rapidly.
  • Clutter is also a problem around and in drains: debris blocking and clogging up drains can not only lead to maintenance issues, but drain flies love to breed in the scum that accumulates around the edges (and bleach won’t help!). Make sure all drains have covers, especially sink drains. Those heavy duty metal sink-drain baskets that can be washed in the dishwasher or sink to help eliminate organic matter.
This is what a new floor drain looks like.

This is what a new floor drain looks like.

This floor drain is several years old, but still fairly clean.

This floor drain is several years old, but still fairly clean.

Custodians

Though you are the sanitarians of your schools, in general you are not responsible for de-cluttering areas other than your own. Custodians can set a great president by maintaining well organized custodial closets.

In this closet cockroaches, spiders, and ants could go undetected for long time without anyone noticing.

In this closet cockroaches, spiders, and ants could go undetected for long time without anyone noticing.

  • Hang brooms and mops on a wall rack so that mops can drain of moisture; brooms & mops are pest havens as they contain food, moisture, and a protected
    Mops are hung up off the floor on against a hard surface to prevent mold and mildew.

    Mops are hung up off the floor on against a hard surface to prevent mold and mildew.

    area in which to feed & breed.

  • Get good shelving! Too often, custodians have no shelving or organizational features in their closets. However, this is a “pest vulnerable area” and without organization it can lead to a rapid decline toward bugs, dirt and filth. Shelves should be wire (not wood), with the bottom shelf a minimum of 6” off the ground to allow for cleaning under. Use the IPM program you are part of as leverage for good quality shelving that will get your school on the right track.
  • Make sure your storage closets are not reservoirs for cans of illicit pesticide sprays, from classrooms or elsewhere. Remember only licensed applicators should make pesticide applications in your schools and should also consult with the IPM coordinator.

Teachers

As the educators in your school, you have a great opportunity to set an example for students and staff. Get the kids to help out with the following suggestions, too!

Remember storing on shelves should be 24 inches from the ceiling.

Remember storing on shelves should be 24 inches from the ceiling.

Storage space is limited but beware that when bed bugs or lice are a problem - space is a better option.

Storage space is limited but beware that when bed bugs or lice are a problem – space is a better option.

  • Art supplies – Cockroaches dine on glue, and crickets, termites, booklice and silverfish (among others) will readily consume paper. Just think about what the can do with macaroni noodles and rice! Keep glue containers clean and capped. Store art supplies in plastic pest-proof containers, such as Tupperware or Rubbermaid, with tight-fitting lids.

 

  • Storage closets – have you ever seen a well-organized teacher’s closet? We have and generally they belong to the best of the best teachers we know. We appreciate that it’s tough for teachers to create projects and educate on a budget; of course you want to keep all that stuff! But ask yourself one question: have you used it in the last 2 years? If the answer is no, then toss (or recycle) it. This goes for the rest of your classroom, too. No cheating by stuffing storage bins full of things you plan to get to “one day”. Benefit from the extra space and let the clutter go!
  • For everything that’s left, organize it and store it in plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids. No boxes – you’re importing cockroaches AND feeding them when you use corrugated cardboard!
  • End-of-week 15 minute desk clean off. Think “file not pile”. Documents go in one of 3 places: the file cabinet, recycle bin, or trash. Have students do this with their desks as well! You will thank yourself at the end of the year, as your overall clean up time will not be measured in days, but hours.

IPM coordinators to help with your education program – download and share this handout with all of your staff Clutter in the Classroom Handout

This image is almost perfect, all items are stored properly, but there is an extra item not needed in the classroom. Can you find it?

This image is almost perfect, all items are stored properly, but there is an extra item not needed in the classroom. Can you find it?

SPN: Online IPM Resources to assist IPM Professionals with their Programs

In 2014, a number of collaborating institutions led by Dawn Gouge, University of Arizona and Janet Hurley , Texas A&M AgriLife Extension received two separate grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide online resources on integrated pest management (IPM) for school personnel. The Stop School Pests team used their grant to focus on education and training for personnel, while Hurley and collaborating scientists created a one-stop online “big box store” of IPM resources, including documents, training, pest ID pamphlets, state legislation and more.

The training website, Stop School Pests (stopschoolpests.org), resulted from a collaboration of 42 people from federal and state agencies, universities, school districts, tribes, advocacy organizations and industry. Together they proposed to build a resource that would increase IPM adoption in K-12 schools and reduce the risks from pests and repeated pesticide use.

stopschoolpestsfornews

Stop School Pests provides modifiable PowerPoint presentations for in-class teaching and self-guided online courses. Lessons are specific to different roles within a school, so that facility staff will have access to materials specific to them.

While some groups, such as facility managers and maintenance personnel, were eager to delve into the materials, others such as nurses and teachers initially did not think the subject matter pertained to them. However, several who participated in some of the in-class lessons said that they did not realize how much they did not know about pest management and were glad that they took the lessons.

“I have been a school nurse for 25 years, and I cannot believe I learned so much helpful information in just one hour,” said Mary Griffin, a nurse in Arizona, after attending a training session piloting the Stop School Pests School Nurse Module.

A softball coach said that she did not realize that spraying pesticides without a license was illegal in her state until she went through the training.
For personnel who need specific information or don’t know where to turn once a pest problem starts, the iSchoolPestManager website provides over 1,000 resources, including the educational materials from the Stop School Pests project.

The iSchoolPestManager site was built as a searchable online mine of school IPM resources from every state. Staff from Texas A&M AgriLife spent several months collecting materials; then volunteers from throughout the country, even one from Israel, painstakingly combed through them to eradicate duplicates, outdated materials or references to materials that no longer existed. The initial 1,315 resources were pared down to 1,045 entries. Staff at the Pesticide Information Center in Oregon helped design and build the website. The website currently has 1,065 documents to assist everyone with adopting, maintaining, and sustaining their IPM program.

Search for all sorts of documents by going to the show me everything tab.

Search for all sorts of documents by going to the show me everything tab.

The site is formatted for a standalone computer, with a separate link that will bring up special formatting for a smart phone or tablet. Resources are divided into four areas: geographically specific, professional trainings and other materials, insect-specific information, and groups of documents such as fact sheets, regulations, checklists and more.

Rather than duplicate information already provided at other websites, Hurley decided to link to them. For instance, self-paced instruction under “Training Modules” links to pages hosted by eXtension. Some of the PowerPoint presentations are located at Bugwood. Some of the educational links go to videos at university websites.

While the amount of information in iSchoolPestManager might seem overwhelming at first, users looking for specific information will be able to use the headings and sections to locate what they need more easily.

Additional information

Stop School Pests Training Modules ready for immediate use! http://articles.extension.org/pages/73468/self-paced-learning-page-for-urban-ipm

Stop School Pests site (stopschoolpests.org) http://cals.arizona.edu/apmc/StopSchoolPests.html

iSchoolPestManager site: http://ischoolpestmanager.org

 

Halloween Pests on the Move

AgriLife Logo

Be on the Watch for Asps!

Close up of puss caterpillar aka ASP. Image by Martha Cray

Close up of puss caterpillar aka ASP. Image by Martha Cray

Puss caterpillars, AKA Asps have been spotted this season in south TX! Be on the lookout and be careful if you encounter them.

These fuzzy, almost cute, little caterpillars can inflict a nasty sting without provocation. Hidden inside the fuzzy façade, are venomous spines that result in a painful rash or “burn”. They are not aggressive caterpillars, and stings often occur when individuals accidentally brush up against them, or curious children pick one up to check it out.

The moth they will become is generally called a flannel moth. They get their name because they are also fuzzy, although they are not venomous like their immature form.

Fall is often a common time to see Asps and they can be found in large numbers, congregating in shrubbery and/or trees.

If you have a population of asps, you may consider treating the plant with Spinosad or permethrin to avoid the risk of being stung. To help educate your staff about this pest:

Asps and other Stinging Caterpillars (Insects in the City Blog: Dr. Mike Merchant)
IPM Action Plan for Stinging Caterpillars 
Stinging Caterpillars (Bug Biz: Pest Management and Insect ID Series, LSU)

Ground vegetation with Asps - a great place for them to hide . Image by Martha Cray

Ground vegetation with Asps – a great place for them to hide . Image by Martha Cray

Finally I would like to share some information from one of our Emeritus Professor and Extension Entomologist Dr. Roy D. Parker, who recently helped out with a school that has been fighting these pesky creatures.

  1. It does not seem practical to spray large numbers of trees due to cost and other difficulties involved. It may be practical to treat small shrubs if the caterpillars are found feeding on that type plant. (See the IPM Action plan or Dr. Merchant’s blog for control measures)
  2. My suggestion would be for the younger children to avoid the area, if practical, for the next month so as to cut down on potential exposure.
  3. These caterpillars show up nearly every year in fairly high numbers and create concern at schools as you indicated.
  4. Finally, I suggest some of the caterpillars be captured and placed in classrooms (feed them host plant leaves) so the students can learn about their life cycle and the adults. This could actually help in the future if everyone knows what they are (Asps) they will learn to appreciate them.

Spooky Spiders

Brown Recluse Spider Image by John Jackman

Brown Recluse Spider Image by John Jackman

Spiders may be on the mind with Halloween around the corner. But spiders are most likely to be spotted during the fall, in my opinion.

It is important to remember that there are many different species of spiders in Texas, but only the recluse and widow spiders have venom that is harmful to humans.

Every spider has fangs and can bite, and while it may be painful, your reaction should be minor.
Common, harmless spiders, you will likely encounter this fall are wolf spiders, kite spiders, green lynx spiders and

Argiope or zipper spider notice the zipper type weave

Argiope or zipper spider notice the zipper type weave

Argiope or zipper spiders the most photographed spider!

Recluse spiders are small brown spiders with a fiddle on the back. They are no larger than a quarter with the legs stretched out. Recluse spiders are found in cluttered, undisturbed areas such as attics, storage closets, and sheds. They are also commonly brought down into the home from the attic when holiday decorations are moved in, so be careful when handling wreaths and artificial Christmas trees if you know you have had a recluse problem in the past. In schools we commonly see these spiders in bus barns, athletic storage rooms, and other dark undisturbed places.

Widow spiders are black, shiny, and have an orange to red hour glass on their abdomen. They are also found in undisturbed areas or under debris such as rocks and firewood. Often in schools, we see these spiders located around awnings, brick ledges, and other areas cluttered undisturbed areas.

To help educate your staff about spiders check out these links

• IPM for Spiders in Schools, University of Florida School IPM website
Bug Proof Your Home from Venomous Spiders
• Want to see a variety of images of Texas Spiders visit this website

Where’s the List?

read-the-labelFor over twenty years the Texas School IPM rules have confused IPM Coordinators and Pest Management Professionals due to our classification of pesticides.  For some, there is a belief that no pesticides can be used, for others; they are just not sure what is the difference between Green, Yellow, or Red Category products?

School districts are allowed to apply a wide variety of pesticides to control pests like, rodents, insects and weeds at school buildings, grounds or other facilities in accordance with the approval for use and restrictions listed for each category.  These categories are not based on signal words, but on active ingredients and its understanding these active ingredients that will assist you in establishing a good IPM program, but this will also assist those of you who service LEED buildings.

For Texas School IPM rules and LEEDs Buildings products fall into three types of restrictions.

  • Least Restricted
    • These products are generally the least hazardous pesticides on the list. In some cases may be called “exempt” in some state school IPM rules.
    • Under Texas School IPM rules they are considered Green Category
  • More Restricted
    • These products include specific restrictions on allowable situations. For instance they may have a residual effect or can be hazardous to certain insect species like bees.
    • Texas School IPM rules consider these products to be in the Yellow Category
  • Most Restricted
    • These are pesticide products pose the greatest health or environmental concerns, but which are nevertheless considered the least-hazardous chemical alternative for a particular purpose.
    • Under Texas School IPM rules Red Category products carry a Danger or Warning Signal Word or are considered Restricted Use, State Limited Use or a Regulated Herbicide.

Under the Green Category the following types of insecticides or active ingredients are considered least restrictive type products.

  • boric acid; disodium octoborate tetrahydrate or related boron compounds; silica gel; diatomaceous earth; (considered inorganic types products)
  • insect growth regulators (IGRs)
  • microbe-based insecticides;
  • botanical insecticides containing no more than 5% synergist (and does not include synthetic pyrethroids);
  • biological (living) control agents;
  • pesticidal soaps; natural or synthetic horticultural oils;
  • insect and rodent baits in tamper-resistant containers, or for crack-and-crevice use only

 

Green Category pesticides do not require prior written approval from the IPM coordinator. These pesticides may be applied at the licensee’s discretion under the guidelines of the school district IPM program; however, there are a few items you do need to consider.  First, when used indoors the area must be posted 48 hours in advance, this follows the SPCS rules for Pest Control Signs §7.146, if applying outdoors the area must be posted at the time of application, but sign can be removed after the application is complete.  For both indoors and outside, no students can be present at the time of application, but should be able to reenter the area after application is made, unless the product or district requires a different reentry interval.

Remember TX school IPM rules require that you post at the time of treatment and keep in place until the specified reentry has been reached.

Remember TX school IPM rules require that you post at the time of treatment and keep in place until the specified reentry has been reached.

Yellow Category pesticides do require approval by the certified applicator and a copy must be provided to the IPM Coordinator.  Yellow Category pesticides may be applied indoors if students are not present or not expected to be present in the room or treated area within the next four (4) hours following the application, or until the reentry interval specified on the pesticide label has expired, whichever interval is longer. This also requires the 48 hour posting notification prior to treatment. These products may be applied outdoors if students are not present or not expected to be present within ten (10) feet of application site and the area is secured and reentry is in accordance with this section for no less than four (4) hours, or until the reentry interval specified on the pesticide label has expired, whichever interval is longer. Yellow category products have a Caution Signal Word; they don’t fit into the Green Category.  Typically these products are herbicides with a Caution signal word, residual products like Talstar® P Professional Insecticide, Suspend® SC,  and Termidor® SC termiticide/insecticide to name a few.

Red Category pesticides prior to the application the licensee must provide written justification to the IPM Coordinator for the use of the Red Category pesticide and must obtain signed approval for the application from the IPM Coordinator. Red Category pesticides may be applied indoors if students are not present and are not expected to be present in the room or treated area within eight (8) hours following the application, or until the reentry interval specified on the pesticide label has expired, whichever interval is longer. Red Category pesticides may be applied outdoors if students are not present within twenty-five (25) feet of the application site, the area is secured in accordance with this section, and reentry by students is prohibited for no less than eight (8) hours, or until the reentry interval specified on the pesticide label has expired, whichever interval is longer. Again Red Category products have a Warning or Danger Signal Word, or it contains an active ingredient that has been designated as a restricted use pesticide, a state-limited-use pesticide or a regulated herbicide in the state of Texas.

To help you out, we have updated our Recognizing Green List Products for Texas Schools in Texas Schools this is not a product endorsement, but a guide to help you learn and understand what is considered Green versus Yellow or Red.  Feel free to pass this on to your pest control provider or certified applicators who work with schools or LEEDs buildings.