SPN: Summer Tips for IPM

This floor drain is an example of what wax build up can look like and how it can hamper water flow, which allows for cockroaches to move in.

Summer in Texas means high temps and high humidity, it also means schools are busy cleaning, repairing and preparing for the next school year. For many of you this means several projects at once and can be overwhelming. This summer tips are ways you can share with your fellow summer school employees how they can help your IPM/IAQ program while you work this summer.

This floor drain is an example of what wax build up can look like and how it can hamper water flow, which allows for cockroaches to move in.

This floor drain is an example of what wax build up can look like and how it can hamper water flow, which allows for cockroaches to move in.

Floor Drains – These are the nastiest places on school campuses, especially when floor drain covers have been repeatedly waxed and little or no water can go down the drain. In food prep areas, kitchen and culinary art room’s floors are washed down but the food doesn’t make it down the drain and builds up by the drain guards. No matter the problem, floor drains need to be maintained in order to keep American cockroaches, drain flies, and other small pests from moving in. Here are some tips to think about this summer:

  • Install trap guards – these rubberized gaskets slip into the top of the drain, they allow water and debris to go down, but once that has happened there is a flap that doesn’t allow for anything to come back up. The trick here is to make sure that the cover plates for the drains have enough openings to flush water through.
  • Clean the drains – there are a number of drain enzyme cleaners that can help with eliminating organic matter build up. Floor drains can become a harborage for food borne illnesses, flies and roaches can spread these pathogens, just as power washing and splashing that organic matter all over the kitchen. Bleach is not a good alternative as well, you need a substance that will stick to the organic build up and help break down and allow it to go out with other grey water materials.
  • Repair the drains – in our ever shifting soils in Texas (and other places as well) plumbing fixtures move. This movement can be as simple as an escutcheon
    Small places that can lead to pest problems

    Small places that can lead to pest problems

    plate coming loose, to drain pipes sinking and pulling away from toilet fixtures. If you are constantly seeing a specific pest in an area and you are not finding a solution, consider a full plumbing inspection. Drain flies, springtails, American cockroaches can all be indicators of a moisture issue, don’t just assume they will go away without a proper inspection.

Classroom cleaning – the practice of pulling everything out of the classroom and cleaning that area is something not every school system does. Depending on staff and budgets, depends on how much this extra deep cleaning can be done. No matter the staff or location, clutter removal and organization is important to the IPM and IAQ program. Here are some tips while staff is cleaning to be on the lookout for:

Even storing the simplest of products can lead to problems.

Even storing the simplest of products can lead to problems.

  • Large amounts of sawdust, dirt, or shredded paper – when furniture is moved and areas are exposed for cleaning (now easy to inspect) remind staff to be on the lookout for odd signs of pests. Moving a cabinet and finding what appears to be sawdust or lots of black specks could be evidence of ants, termites, cockroaches or even mice. Take pictures to document, have the area cleaned up and monitor for pests. Not reporting this type of evidence can hide a small pest problem that could turn into something major later on.
  • Cardboard and paper – even with technology schools still have a large quantity of paper and cardboard boxes to store that paper. Kitchens, concession stands, staff support rooms, and classrooms all collect a lot of paper, books, teaching supplies and other items that can be used and reused. However, storing in cardboard or keeping large amounts of paper out and on walls can lead to future pest problems. Silverfish, cockroaches (all species), ants, mice, and mold can thrive with a good paper source, just add a little humidity for moisture and you have the perfect conditions for a variety of pests to survive. At the same time, large amounts of clutter can also contribute to dust, dust mites which can trigger asthma and allergy systems. Instead of keeping all this paper and cardboard, encourage reducing, recycling and storing in plastic storage containers. Those plastic bins can be easily moved and classroom items can easily be labeled so that anyone can find items but not have to look at a large mess as well.
    • But what about cost for those containers – check with your local big box stores, hardware stores and others, many companies have grants or scholarships that school districts can apply for that would cover the expense of purchasing the containers. Then use your parent volunteer groups to help campuses get organized – you can DYI it with parents and students to make it more fun.

Outdoors – during the summer, the focus outdoors is keeping lawns mowed, athletic fields maintained and working on landscape projects that can only be done when students are not present. inspectingHowever, when no one is around the campus, this is a chance for wasps, yellowjackets, bees, birds and bats to move in.

  • Take a walk – need to get your steps in? You could start an entire fitness campaign using IPM by just walking the exterior of a campus.
    Outdoor lighting can harbor bird nests, wasp nests and other spiders.

    Outdoor lighting can harbor bird nests, wasp nests and other spiders.

    Don’t rely on your pest control contractor to be the only person walking around the exterior of your school campuses, enlist the help of campus staff during the summer. Each campus has some staff around during the summer, talk to the campus principal about appointing someone to be on the lookout for those nests showing up. The time to react to the pest problem is early not in late August when staff and students are back in session.

  • Bait for ants – with all the spring rains all ant species will be out this summer, not just at your 4th of July picnic. When temperatures go above 90 degrees during the day and the overnight low is low 80’s or high 70’s baiting for ants becomes challenging. However, if you don’t want to spend your fall months answering calls and complaints about ants, work a plan to bait later this summer in the early mornings. Green category baits will take a few weeks to work, so you want to time your applications so that the bait has had time to work before students are back on campus. Depending on your work schedule and where you are located, you can also bait in the evenings after the sun has started to set so the bait is out during the cool of the evening. When it is really hot ants will come out during the night hours to forage for food or cool of the morning.
  • Mosquito management – watch for those areas that water can collect and become stagnant. If you can’t eliminate those areas, then do use Bt Dunks, granules, or mosquito fish (ponds) so that mosquitoes don’t have a chance to breed. Do be sure to stress the importance of the 4 – D’s: Drain, Dress, Dusk, and DEET to all your co-workers. It’s important that all employees understand that you can prevent mosquito bites by taking the right precautions. Share this interactive website with your co-workers so they can learn more about mosquitoes. http://mosquitosafari.tamu.edu/

 

This fine mesh suit will keep you cool, but mosquito free.

This fine mesh suit will keep you cool, but mosquito free.

Want a safe way to be outside and not get bitten? Check out these mosquito suits, its fine mesh netting that fits like a jacket and pants; you can be covered from head to toe. For a grounds person working in a marshy area this would be ideal.

Remember IPM is everyone’s responsibility it takes everyone in the school district to have a successful IPM program. There is no “I” in IPM it’s all about TEAM. Have a wonderful summer. TX School IPM Team.

Want to share this will your school staff – download this flyer and feel free to print and distribute.  SPN_Summercleaningtips

SPN: Online pest risk school IPM tool helps schools locate pest problems

inspecting

A new online pest risk evaluation tool will help school integrated pest management (IPM) coordinators around the country assess what pest problems exist in their school and where they are. The tool is featured in an article in the Journal of Extension.

inspectingAdoption of IPM in a school often happens reluctantly, after IPM practices are mandated or after numerous reports of pests in the school. Many schools contract with pest control companies to do a monthly treatment, but results can be uneven if the source of the pest problem is not addressed.

Some schools have access to expert assessment of pest problems, but not all of them use it, and many don’t have the budget for it if it is not freely available.

To address the accessibility issue, a group of school IPM specialists from Texas created an IPM Calculator to highlight pest problems in a school. The Calculator consists of a survey that can be taken online at http://ipmcalculator.com. Users can evaluate several school buildings and compare them. Questions cover pest issues on the outside as well as the inside of the building.

The Calculator assesses pest risk for 18 key pests within 34 building features and maintenance practices. Once the survey is completed, the calculator produces two scores: one for current pest risk and the other for potential pest risk. Potential pest risk is an estimate of what pests might be problems in the future, based on the building condition, sanitation and maintenance practices, and major pests in that region.

Scores are based on the health and economic risks of pests present in the building, so the presence of German cockroaches—with a high health risk—would yield a higher risk score than the presence of ants.

Evaluations in 43 individual school buildings in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maine and Texas showed that the scores from the IPM Calculator were only 5 percentage points lower than school IPM Extension specialist scores for the same buildings.

“Most IPM Coordinators were already aware of the score that their building was going to receive,” says Janet Hurley, School IPM Extension Program Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife and one of the authors of the article. “However, they were surprised at where the problems were located. The Calculator pointed out areas that they weren’t previously aware of.”

Identifying potential and current problems helps with setting goals for the IPM program.

Identifying potential and current problems helps with setting goals for the IPM program.

Recommendations generated by the Calculator often include repairs that are inexpensive. Often the Calculator identifies human habits that are causing pest problems, such as clutter or poor cleaning practices in a classroom.

“When we used the Calculator on John McDonogh High School in New Orleans, the Calculator identified the areas that needed to be fixed,” says Hurley. “It’s hard to keep rats out of a building when there are no window panes on the windows.”

School IPM experts like Hurley and her colleagues at other land-grant universities love the tool because it gives school facilities managers more independence in assessing their pest problems.
“It helps them identify problems so they can spend their money more wisely,” Hurley says. “Not only does it identify where sources of pest problems are, but it also points out other indoor air quality problems.”

This research was funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a Southern IPM Center IPM Enhancement grant.

Read more:
Bennett, B., Hurley, J., and Merchant, M. (April 2016) An integrated pest management tool for evaluating schools. Journal of Extension, 54:2

Penn State and Philadelphia schools fight pests that trigger asthma

AgriLife Logo
Since 1980, the biggest growth in asthma cases has been in children under 5.

Since 1980, the biggest growth in asthma cases has been in children under 5.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease affecting ten percent of school-aged children in the United States. In Philadelphia, this number jumps to almost 25 percent, and in some neighborhoods, nearly 50 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed. The Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management (PA IPM) program — a collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture — is partnering with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) to reduce asthma triggers in schoolchildren by preventing pests, including mice and cockroaches, from entering schools.

“Asthma can limit physical activity, and is the number one reason for school absenteeism Nationwide,” said Michelle Niedermeier, community IPM coordinator for PA IPM. “While asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled with medication and by avoiding common triggers such as tobacco smoke, mold, cockroaches, and mice. School buildings that can be easily penetrated by mice and other pests might be a contributing factor to this high incidence of asthma.”

According to Niedermeier, an asthma attack can be triggered by a protein found in mouse urine. “Mice are ubiquitous; they pee all the time, so there are urine droplets everywhere they’ve been,” she said. To help alleviate this problem, PA IPM is helping the school district educate staff and students about asthma triggers. They also are assisting with SDP’s rodent reduction campaign via the door sweep initiative, to keep pests out of buildings.

“Cockroaches and mice often come in the same way we do — through the front door,” said Niedermeier. “If there’s a big gap at the bottom of the door, they can just walk in, even though the door is closed.”

Niedermeier and her colleague, Dion Lerman, environmental health programs specialist for PA IPM, assisted with the inspection

Doors with a gap of a 1/4 inch or more can allow mice and cockroaches in.

Doors with a gap of a 1/4 inch or more can allow mice and cockroaches in.

of schools’ exterior doors and helped to develop a strategy for selecting the most appropriate and effective door sweeps. Lerman also created a video  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eozbRdZbKB8&feature=youtube) to teach district facilities staff members how to properly install the door sweeps. So far, SDP has installed about 1,500 new door sweeps in its buildings.

“This initiative already has been preventing pests from entering schools underneath exterior doors,” said Francine Locke, director of environmental services at the School District of Philadelphia.

As a land-grant university, part of Penn State’s role is to help Pennsylvania’s communities to implement research findings and best practices. “The SDP, like many across the U.S., has pest issues and kids with asthma, and by lending our expertise we can help alleviate some of the risk factors. The door sweeps are a good first step in preventing the pest from becoming a problem,” said Niedermeier.

“The School District of Philadelphia has learned from PA IPM that the pest management chemicals used to address pests in schools may sometimes be more harmful in terms of toxicity, carcinogenicity and respiratory irritants than the pests themselves,” said Locke. “Our IPM program is strategic in terms of how we identify pests in schools, how they are entering a building, the environmental conditions in schools that promote pests and the many different district departments and operations that could affect pests in terms of creating conditions that attract pests. The support and technical guidance of PA IPM has been extremely helpful in guiding our district to healthy and safe ways to prevent and address pests in schools.”

In addition to the partnership that PA IPM has built with the SDP, it also works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the American Lung Association via the Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Community Asthma Prevention Program and other organizations and agencies to address asthma-related issues. They aim to carry out the mission of World Asthma Day: to encourage the identification of allergens and irritants that can lead to asthma attacks, and to create asthma action plans for minimizing these irritants as well as other topics, with the goal of improving asthma awareness and care. World Asthma Day is being celebrated this year on May 3rd.

For more information about World Asthma Day, go to http://worldasthmaday.org/. For more information about PAIPM in Philadelphia, go to http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/community

New turfgrass handbook available through AgriLife Extension

Crabgrass from top

Homeowners and professional turfgrass managers now have a new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service publication available to help them when selecting herbicides, insecticides and fungicides to control common turfgrass pests.

Weed, Insect, and Disease Control in Turfgrass was authored by AgriLife Extension turfgrass specialists Dr. Casey Reynolds, College Station; Dr. Matt Elmore, Dallas; and Dr. Young-Ki Jo, College Station; as well as Diane Silcox Reynolds, a postdoctoral research associate.

Image of Dallisgrass from the top

Image of Dallisgrass from the top

“It’s a pretty extensive document that I think will be useful to those managing turf in Texas,” Reynolds said. “In addition to providing information such as the common and trade names, application rates and intervals and mode of action, we’ve included notes and cautions throughout to help you improve control and learn about restricted-use pesticides, use sites, turfgrass tolerance and other issues of importance.”

Reynolds said the 120-page guide will be useful for anyone responsible for maintaining athletic, golf course, landscape, recreational or utility turfgrasses.

The document can be found in the publications section of AggieTurf, the Texas A&M turfgrass program’s website: https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/publications/.

For more information on this publication or other AgriLife Extension turfgrass programs, contact Reynolds at casey.reynolds@tamu.edu.

SPN: How to obtain a pesticide applicator license in Texas

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.

There seems to be a lot of confusion buzzing around schools these days on who can apply pesticides. First only licensed applicators can make ANY type of pesticide application – even “organic” solutions for pest/weed control is considered a pesticide.  The Texas Department of Agriculture has required that only licensed applicators and technicians make applications on schools, childcare centers, or educational institutions since the mid-1980s.

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.

Even if you use the hand held spreader/seeder for baits that are applied at very low rates, you need to have a pesticide license in TX to make these types of applications on all educational properties.

Although certification is not required for IPM Coordinators in Texas and other states, it’s an option that many are choosing. Certification is a decision that must be based on your own circumstances. This School Pest News article and webpage is designed to help you understand the issues involved and find the resources you need.

A certified applicator (CA) is someone who is licensed by the state to apply pesticides. In Texas, only certified applicators and licensed technicians can conduct pest control services on school and child care facilities. In Texas, a school district or child care employee can be licensed as a non-commercial applicator, a less expensive option. A non-commercial applicators license does not require a business license, but does require training.

To learn more about Texas Pesticide Applicator Licensing please follow this link http://schoolipm.tamu.edu/pesticide-applicator-information/how-to-obtain-a-license/ 

Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711
1-800-TELL-TDA or (512) 463-7622 www.TexasAgriculture.gov
For the hearing impaired: Relay Texas 1-800-735-2988 (voice) or 1-800-735-2989 (TDD)
Structural Pest Control Service – 866-918-4481 www.TexasAgriculture.gov/spcs/
Agricultural Pesticide Certification and Compliance – (512) 463-7622

SPN: Mosquitoes and Zika Virus

The larval stage of the mosquito is aquatic. The larvae are legless and spend a majority of time at the surface of the water. The larval stage is commonly referred to as “wriggler” or “wiggler”, due to the lashing movements of the abdomen that move them forward, backward, or sideways in the water.

Mosquitoes  By: Wizzie Brown, Extension Program Specialist III – IPM

The Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito (shown here) is one of the two mosquito species known to commonly transmit chikungunya. The other is Aedes aegypti. Both species are found in Texas. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Mike Merchant

The Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito (shown here) is one of the two mosquito species known to commonly transmit chikungunya. The other is Aedes aegypti. Both species are found in Texas. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Mike Merchant

Mosquitoes are a hot news item currently, especially those transmitting a new virus….Zika. (At the end of this article you will find a handout designed to help you educate others about Zika.) Mosquitoes can transmit various diseases to humans and animals such as heartworm in dogs and cats, as well as encephalitis (including West Nile Virus), Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, malaria and filariasis among humans.

Aedes mosquitoes transmit diseases such as Zika virus, Chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue. These mosquitoes are found in Texas and are active during the day. Most people don’t consider protecting themselves from mosquitoes except at dawn and dusk, so please, protect yourself when outdoors and educate your students/teachers. These mosquitoes are common in backyards and hatch eggs in containers and other areas where small amounts of water are found. (Remember these houses surround your schools.)

The larval stage of the mosquito is aquatic. The larvae are legless and spend a majority of time at the surface of the water. The larval stage is commonly referred to as “wriggler” or “wiggler”, due to the lashing movements of the abdomen that move them forward, backward, or sideways in the water.

The larval stage of the mosquito is aquatic. The larvae are legless and spend a majority of time at the surface of the water. The larval stage is commonly referred to as “wriggler” or “wiggler”, due to the lashing movements of the abdomen that move them forward, backward, or sideways in the water.

Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for egg production; males feed on nectar and do not bite. Eggs can be laid on the surface of water or in dry

locations that are flooded by water. Some eggs are able to remain dormant under dry conditions for several months. Eggs hatch into larvae, or wigglers. Mosquito larvae live in water and feed on organic debris or microscopic plants and animals. Larvae molt into pupae which do not feed. Mosquito pupae spend the majority of their time at the surface of the water, only moving when disturbed.

Work with your District to carry out an integrated mosquito management plan. You will need to eliminate all sources of standing water. Containers such as watering cans, buckets, tire swings, birdbaths, bottles, and other items can turn into mosquito breeding grounds. Standing water should be drained at least once a week. Tree holes should be filled with sand or expanding foam, or drained after each rain. Leaky faucets and pipes located outside should be repaired. Rainwater collection systems should be sealed so mosquitoes cannot enter and lay eggs.

Any temporary body of water that is present for more than a week can be a mosquito breeding habitat.

Any temporary body of water that is present for more than a week can be a mosquito breeding habitat.

Areas that cannot be drained, such as ponds, can be stocked with fish that eat mosquito larvae. Products containing Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis can also be used in these areas. This active ingredient disrupts the life cycle of the mosquito and is non-toxic to humans, amphibians and fish. Dunks are not for use in drinking water sources.

Encourage students, teachers and outdoor workers to wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing with long sleeves & long pants when outside. Also, encourage using mosquito repellents, below are some suggestions about repellents.

Repellent Quick Tips

  • Repellent should only be applied to clothing and ex-posed skin.
  • Do not apply repellent underneath clothing!
  • If you want to apply repellent to your face, spray your hands with repellent and rub it onto your face.
  • Do not spray repellent directly into your face or near eyes or mouth.
  • Make sure to apply repellent outdoors.
  • Do not allow small children to handle repellents.
  • After applying repellent, wash hands before eating, smoking or using the restroom

Mosquito Repellents

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a product registered with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) containing one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some of the products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET, also known N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diemethylbenzamide, was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in insect-infested areas. Pesticides containing DEET have been used by the general public since 1957. Products containing DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age. DEET has a slight odor and may have a greasy feel to some people. It may damage plastic, rubber, vinyl or synthetic fabrics. DEET may be irritating to the eyes and skin for some people. DEET comes in a wide variety of concentrations, so choose the one that will work best for your situation.

Mosquito repellents come in all shapes and sizes.

Mosquito repellents come in all shapes and sizes.

Picaridin was first made in the 1980’s and resembles a natural compound called piperine (which is found in plants used to produce black pepper). Picardin has been used in Europe and Australia for many years, but has only been in the U.S. since 2005. Picaridin is non-greasy and odorless.

IR3535, or 3-[N-Butyl-N- acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester, was developed in the mid- 1970’s and became registered for use in the U.S. in 1999. It is registered as a biopesticide by the EPA because it is function-ally identical to a naturally occurring substance (an amino-acid). It may dissolve or damage plastics and may be irritating to the eyes.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (para-menthane-3, 8-diol) are essentially the same thing; PMD is the synthesized (lab created) version of oil of lemon eucalyptus. “Pure” or “essential” oil of lemon eucalyptus is not labeled as a repellent and has not undergone testing and should not be used as a repellent product. OLE/PMD has been on the market in the U.S. since 2002. OLE/PMD should not be used on children younger than 3 years of age. The natural product (OLE) has known allergens within it while the synthetic version (PMD) has less of a risk to allergens. This product is classified as a biopesticide. OLE/PMD has a varying range of residual, some offering about 20 minutes of protection while other products may last up to two hours.

  • Many factors play into how long a repellent will last for a person. Some of these are:
    The concentration (or percent of active ingredient) of the product. You can find the percentage on the product label.
  • Person’s attractiveness. Some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others (and no scientific research has proven that it is because of eating garlic, taking vitamin B, using tobacco products, etc.). A person’s genetic code plays a large part on what makes a person so attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Frequency and uniformity of application. In other words, how often is the repellent applied and how good of coverage did you get? Activity level of the person. The more active the person is, the more sweat they produce which can cause the repellent to wash off the surface of the skin.

For More Information on the Zika Virus and mosquito management, fire ants and the upcoming programs in Bexar County Extension follow this link for Bexar County Extension newsletter:  HERE

What Texans need to know about Zika virus (PDF Flyer to help educate all Texans)

WHO_ZikaVirus_SituationReportMarch2016 (PDF)

Mosquitoes and Diseases They Transmit (PDF)

Crabgrass Germination Advice for Homeowners

These small sprigs is crabgrass sprouting in early spring
These small sprigs is crabgrass sprouting in early spring

These small sprigs are crabgrass sprouting in early spring

Given the warm temperatures in North Texas, Dr. Matt Elmore, sent out a note today alerting us that NOW is the time to treat for crabgrass! I thought this was good information for all our readers, even for those of you who are not in north TX. I have heard about forsythia bush being a guide to planting but never, thought of it as a guide for herbicide applications, great tip from Matt!

With soil temperatures rising to the upper 50s and low 60s this week and we may see crabgrass germination very soon, especially if we get rain this weekend. Now is a great time to apply pre-emergent herbicides. Chad Gulley, Smith County Extension Agent – Agriculture and Natural Resource sent Dr. Elmore a photo of a forsythia plant starting to bloom. Matt recommends homeowners and other turf personnel apply pre-emergent herbicides soon. See the aggieturf link and this image (upper left) to see what germinating crabgrass looks like. When looking for seedlings, scout (walk) south-facing slopes, bare areas, and areas along sidewalks for crabgrass. I personally will say, check your bare spots and weak areas in your lawn that is typically where I start to see the growth.

General Information

Crabgrass germination typically occurs in late winter (February to mid-March), but varies from year to year, based on temperature, rainfall, and location. Crabgrass germination usually begins when the soil temperature at a 2-inch depth reaches 55°F for at least 3 days. Since crabgrass is the first summer annual grassy weed to germinate we apply pre-emergence herbicides based on its germination.

Forsythia Lynwood Gold shrub,

Forsythia Lynwood Gold shrub,

The forsythia (Forsythia spp.) plant can be used to time preemergence herbicide application. Make pre-emergence applications when forsythia is in full bloom (their yellow flowers are usually among the first plants to bloom). Forsythia plants are more prevalent in East Texas—they are rare in West Texas.

Sometimes referred to as “pre” herbicides, preemergence herbicides must be applied before the target weed geminates or emerges, or they will not control it. Although these herbicides are commonly used to control annual weeds that germinate at predictable times of year, and will not control perennial weeds. A couple tips for pre-emergence herbicides.

Selecting a Product

A pre-emergence herbicide is the most effective way to control crabgrass. They are especially recommended for lawns with a history of crabgrass problems.

Common active ingredients found on products available to homeowners include pendimethalin, dithiopyr, and prodiamine. Trade names for these products include but are not limited to: Pre-M, Bonide Crabgrass Preventer and Halts Crabgrass Preventer. Pre-emergence herbicides that contain these active ingredients will usually provide suitable crabgrass control when applied before crabgrass germination and according to the product label. These products mostly control grassy weeds, although they may control some broadleaf weeds. Always check to ensure that the product can be safely used on the turfgrass species in your lawn.  To see what is recommended for athletic fields and commercial uses check out this Pre_emergement_handout (PDF File).  It highlights preemergence herbicides labeled for control of grassy (crabgrass, goosegrass, annual bluegrass, etc.) and small-seeded broadleaf weeds (such as purslane, spurge, chickweed).

Many pre-emergence products that contain dithiopyr are labeled for early post-emergence control of small (seedling) crabgrass plants. This includes products such as Bonide Crabgrass and Weed Preventer.

Consider using these products if you cannot make the application before germination and check the label to ensure it contains dithiopyr and is labeled for early post-emergence control.

Corn gluten meal is an organic option for crabgrass control. Research has demonstrated that crabgrass control with this product is inconsistent but it may be effective in some situations.

It is best to select a pre-emergence product that does not contain nitrogen fertilizer. Companies that distribute products nationally as crabgrass preventers have products that come with nitrogen. While these products may be suitable for northern regions of the U.S. they should not be used in Texas. Warm-season grasses are still mostly dormant when crabgrass germinate and nitrogen fertilizer should not be applied until the lawn is mostly green.

Unlike “Weed and Feed” products that will control broadleaf weeds and should not be applied around tree drip lines, pre-emergence herbicides are usually safe for use around trees and ornamentals. Products that contain atrazine are one exception. Some are labeled for use over the top of ornamentals.

Reading the Pesticide LabelAlways read the product label thoroughly for use restrictions.

Pre-emergence herbicides are effective only if they are applied uniformly and are watered into the soil by rainfall or irrigation before the crabgrass or other target weed emerges. See the product label for information on the amount of irrigation or rainwater needed.

Recent or upcoming renovations and severely damaged lawns.

After they are watered in, the herbicide molecules remain in the upper layer of soil and control and weeds or desirable grasses that germinate from seed for several weeks. If you plan to seed or sod, do not apply a pre-emergence herbicide without first checking the label for the appropriate reseeding/sodding interval.

Also, do not apply some pre-emergence herbicides before sprigging or sodding. If you are planning this type of turf renovation, use other weed-control options. In general, apply these herbicides only to well-established turfgrass. See the product label if you have established turf from sod, seed, or sprigs within the previous year. Many pre-emergence herbicides will impede encroachment of existing turfgrass into areas damaged by winterkill, traffic, or diseases. Do not use pre-emergence herbicides if your lawn has been severely damaged.

Finally, here is a video that explains some of what is discussed above.

Need specific help, feel free to contact our turfgrass specialists you can find them at the Aggie Turf page https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/turfgrass-faculty/

A special thank you to Dr. Matt Elmore,  Assistant Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, AgriLife Extension for this information.

SPN: Glue boards

sampling

Monitoring versus control, what you need to know when servicing food areas

One of the key components of an IPM program is monitoring. Using some type of glue device that captures pests as they move around an indoor environment is essential.

IMG_5224In most building settings, the building envelop is not sealed adequately to keep pests like ants, crickets, spiders, and occasionally mice out. At the same time, in certain areas, monitoring is the only way to know if you have a pest problem.

 

Monitoring is using visual and manual observations to observe trends and changes in pest activity inspectionover time (sampling).  Visual observations include inspections which goes beyond looking at a pest log, visual observations require you to look high and low to see if there are evidence of pests.

pesttriangleAll pests need food, water and harborage to survive.

Sampling is observing sticky cards and recording pest presence or numbers to see if  they meet your action thresholds that trigger a physical, mechanical, biological or chemical treatment. Thresholds are boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable pest levels. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires each school district to have written thresholds for important insects, weeds as part of their IPM program.   TDA has updated the TX School IPM Rules  to allow  the use of non-pesticide tools and devices by unlicensed school district personnel, for monitoring purposes, shall be permitted. Monitoring by unlicensed school district personnel shall be done only as directed, under the supervision of the IPM Coordinator.  This allowance by TDA helps the IPM program by allowing the coordinator to use sticky traps to determine if there is a pest problem or not.  Only licensed applicators can make the decision to treat.

Sampling is observing sticky cards and recording pest presence or numbers to see if  they meet your action thresholds that trigger a physical, mechanical, biological or chemical treatment. Thresholds are boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable pest levels. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires each school district to have written thresholds for important insects, weeds as part of their IPM program.   Recently TDA , updated the TX School IPM Rules  to allow  the use of non-pesticide tools and devices by unlicensed school district personnel, for monitoring purposes, shall be permitted. Monitoring by unlicensed school district personnel shall be done only as directed, under the supervision of the IPM Coordinator.  This allowance by TDA helps the IPM program by allowing the coordinator to use sticky traps to determine if there is a pest problem or not.  Only licensed applicators can make the decision to treat.

Proper placement of these devices ensure insects are captured, rather than escaping.

Proper placement of these devices ensure insects are captured, rather than escaping.

Per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code, insects and other pests are capable of transmitting disease to humans by contaminating food and food-contact surfaces. Effective measures must be taken to eliminate their presence in food establishments.

Insect fly lights are most effective when they are placed between 4 to 6 feet high.

Insect fly lights are most effective when they are placed between 4 to 6 feet high.

Insect electrocution devices are considered supplemental to good sanitation practices in meeting the Code requirement for controlling the presence of flies and other insects in a food establishment.

Improper design of the device and dead insect collection tray could allow dead insect parts and injured insects to escape, rendering the device itself a source of contamination.

Light traps are good provided you change the boards frequently, using the information to make decisions about treatment.

Light traps are good provided you change the boards frequently, using the information to make decisions about treatment.

Exposed food and food-contact surfaces must be protected from contamination by insects or insect parts. Installation of the device over food preparation areas or in close proximity to exposed food and/or food-contact surfaces could allow dead insects and/or insect parts to be impelled by the electric charge, fall, or be blown from the device onto food or food-contact surfaces.

One of the most confusing aspects of the FDA code is that most pest management professionals are unaware that these rules apply to them and how they control pests in kitchens.

Sampling for pests helps applicators an idea of what to use and how much to use to solve pest problem.

Sampling for pests helps applicators an idea of what to use and how much to use to solve pest problem.

Placing a monitor behind a wet area helps determine if there is a pest problem

Placing a monitor behind a wet area helps determine if there is a pest problem

This kitchen was having a fly issue. Using a device like the glue board shown does allow an IPM coordinator the ability to safely say “the kitchen has pests”. And the PMP was able to establish a treatment plan based on their thresholds.  However, for the kitchen manager who will be inspected by the Dept. of Health, to allow this glue device to used in “her” kitchen can put her at odds with the Dept. of Health inspector.

In wet areas and around food prep areas, using a closed device like this can do many things at once.

In wet areas and around food prep areas, using a closed device like this can do many things at once.

Instead, using a closed receptacle like the image seen here, allows pests to crawl in, but not necessarily crawl out.  In one case, a PMP used the Trapper Device to not only catch possible insects, but he used a cockroach bait to help control a German cockroach problem happening in a school principal’s office.

 

monitoringandbaiting

Placing out a sticky card as seen here in the image to the left, with a bait station sends the wrong message and may not gain the results you want as well.

Depending on your pest, choose the right monitoring device, each one of these devices work for different pests.

Depending on your pest, choose the right monitoring device, each one of these devices work for different pests.

 

 

Using glue boards and sticky cards are the best way for TX schools to stay in compliance with the TX school IPM rules. Which require a monitoring program to determine when pests are present and when pest problems are severe enough to justify corrective action.  Routine pesticide applications (insecticide, herbicide, rodenticide, etc.) are not considered part of an IPM program.  However, monitoring for a pest problem and then taking proper action for that problem is IPM.

 

For more information about the updated Food Code check out this link. 

 

SPN:Glue Boards Handout for IPM coordinators to use with school staff and others about this topic.

 

School Pest News, Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2015

Janet Hurley, foreground, and Hoa Phan, Spring ISD, IPM coordinator investigate building for ants, image courtesy of Tom Green, IPM Institute of North America

Spring ISD earns recertification for integrated pest management practices By: Paul Schattenberg

Spring Independent School District has once again earned IPM Star certification for its sustainable pest management practices.

Janet Hurley, foreground, and Hoa Phan, Spring ISD, IPM coordinator investigate building for ants, image courtesy of Tom Green, IPM Institute of North America

Janet Hurley, foreground, and Hoa Phan, Spring ISD, IPM coordinator investigate building for ants, image courtesy of Tom Green, IPM Institute of North America

The school district was given an intense inspection of its sustainable pest control practices by experienced integrated pest management professionals, said Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service school integrated pest management specialist who served as one of the evaluators.

“The IPM STAR program of the IPM Institute of North America evaluates school systems and childcare centers for their adherence to sustainable and environmentally responsible pest management practices,” Hurley said.

Dr. Thomas Green of Madison, Wisconsin, an entomologist who directs the institute, served as the other evaluator.

“We did a careful on-site evaluation of Spring ISD’s integrated pest management program using a quantitative, practical evaluation specific to the organization for measuring performance,” Hurley said. “We found that they met or exceeded the high standards for sustainable IPM practices.”

Hurley said proper integrated pest management reduces liability and risks from both pests and pesticides and that IPM Star certification is a voluntary action that shows an organization’s pest management practices are highly competent and efficient.

“Among other things, to achieve this certification Spring ISD had to establish a formal schedule for IPM evaluation, planning and training as well as develop an ongoing focus on pest and pesticide risk reduction to ensure they met these high standards,” she said.

Hurley said integrated pest management focuses on non-chemical methods of control such as sealing, sanitation and monitoring.

“Pesticides are categorized by the state as red, yellow and green products, with green being the lowest-risk category,” she explained. “Prior to implementing the IPM program, Spring ISD employed a combination of these three groups of products, but used less than 50 percent green products. However, since the 2011-2012 school year, they have been using 100 percent green products.”

“Spring is a great example of how trained individuals, focusing on eliminating pests’ access to food and shelter, can achieve excellent pest control,” added Green. “Everyone at Spring understands their roles in keeping pests out – from the custodians to the maintenance and food service professionals who all work hard to eliminate pest-friendly conditions with proper cleaning and maintenance.”

Dr. Frederick Walker, director of operations for Spring ISD, said achieving recertification was a team effort.

“We get great support from our staff and administrators,” Walker said. “We let them know what we’re doing and that we’re following a process and monitoring and recording the results on a regular basis. We also meet with parent groups to explain our process and the use of green chemicals for pest management, especially if they will be using them in the concession areas.

“And although we could use more people to help, the two applicators we have currently are doing an excellent job of covering every one of the schools in the district. But I guess what we’re most proud of is that, in the several years we’ve been implementing these IPM practices, we have not disrupted the educational experience of a single child in the district.”

Hurley will attend a Spring ISD school board meeting to make a presentation acknowledging the district’s recertification.

Changes in the rules of the game for Texas PMPs – By Mike Merchant

New rules governing the pest control industry in Texas were published last week and are now in effect. While none of the changes in the “rules of the game” are major, there may be a few things that affect your business or school district.

Dr. Merchant, examining a glue board for insect pests.

Dr. Merchant, examining a glue board for insect pests.

The rules governing pesticide use in Texas can be complicated, and are passed down to us through two sets of documents. First, the Texas Occupations Code (TOC) contains the official list of laws as passed by the legislature pertaining to different occupations, including structural pest control. If you go to this code online, the chapter having to do with pest control is Chapter 1951. Chapter 1951 lists all the state law as passed over the decades that relate to the business of structural pest control.

The second and probably most relevant set of rules to our industry is the Texas Administrative Code (TAC). The TAC records how the various state agencies choose to interpret and administer the laws. For example, Section 1951.212 of the TOC directs the Texas Department of Agriculture to establish standards for an IPM program for public school districts. The TAC Sections 7.201-7.205 spell out what the standards are, including requirements for IPM coordinators, pesticide categories, posting requirements, etc.

But wait a minute. How can non-elected bureaucrats in a state agency write rules outside the legislative process? The answer is that legislators don’t have the time or the expertise to write detailed regulations, so they pass their rule-making authority on to Executive branch agencies like the Department of Agriculture. Of course the rules have to fairly interpret the law, and they must be published ahead of time in the Texas Register so that all of us can review and comment.

Publication of several new or revised sections of Subchapter H of the TAC (Texas Department of Agriculture) marks the end of this process for pest control rules this year. On December 18 the Texas Register published the results of public comment and listed the final versions of proposed rules originally published on September 18. With this final version, the rules are now considered to be in effect.

Most of the changes were made simply to clarify wording of the old rules. There was also some reorganization of section numbering, so that old rule citations may no longer apply. Here are the essential changes:

  • Sec. 7.122 Changes in wording that include giving power to the Department to deny a license to anyone who holds a similar license that has been revoked, suspended, probated or denied within the last five years by another state or by the federal government.
  • Sec. 17.127 There are no more fees for providing a continuing education course.
  •  Sec. 7.141 Rewording of rules pertaining to ID that must be carried at all times by license holders. Basically, if you have a license you must carry it on your person at all times and show it to any customer or relevant government employee who asks. If it’s not legible, then its not a legal ID. Also, language on vehicle signage has slightly changed to require all marked or unmarked vehicles being used for customer contact or service must have the business license number prominently displayed (magnetic signs are not OK).
  • New Sec. 7.150 requires all pesticides be used consistent with the pesticide labeling, and prohibits use of any pesticide missing a complete label when the identity of that pesticide is unknown.
  • New Sec. 7.151 prohibits anyone from hurting people or the environment, and making the pesticide owner, the applicator and/or the mixer equally responsible for proper storage and disposal of pesticide containers and contents. It also requires all pesticide containers to be labeled with the name of the pesticide. And it specifies that hard copies of all pesticides being stored shall be available for inspectors visiting the storage site.
  • Sec. 7.152 states that no one may advertise to perform structural pest control services without a license, and that all advertising must include the same business name as is on the license. This rule was rewritten to ensure that companies not use multiple business names under the same business license, and to clarify that pest control advertising includes online ads such as might appear on sites like Facebook, Craigslist and Angie’s List.
  • Sec. 7.193 is a new section number which clarifies who may qualify as a member of the Structural Pest Control Advisory Committee from an institution of higher learning (the position I formerly held, and now is being held by Dr. Robert Puckett).
  • Sections rules for the IPM program for public school districts have been moved to a new Division (7) and renumbered from Sec. 7.150-7.154 to 7.201-7.205. The biggest changes in this section relate to CEU requirements for IPM Coordinators.
  • Sec. 7.202 School IPM coordinators no longer are specifically required by rule to personally conduct periodic inspections of their school district. While this remains desirable, taking away this rule frees the coordinator to rely on other trained inspectors to provide inspection reports.
  • Sec. 7.204 includes slight wording changes to clarify that outdoor areas treated with a pesticide may be posted
    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.

    at all entry points with a sign in lieu of a lock, fence or barrier tape until the reentry time is over. This section also allows IPM Coordinators, or their supervised employees, to use non-pesticide containing monitoring devices like sticky traps, to monitor pests without a license.

Perhaps the most significant change heralded by these rules is that expanded CEU requirements for school IPM Coordinators (IPMCs) are now officially in place. Over four years ago, as a result of Sunset Commission recommendations, the legislature decided that ongoing CEUs would be required for school IPMCs. Until now, the only CEU requirement was that IPMCs have six hours of department-approved training at the beginning of their appointment. Under the new rule IPMCs must have six hours of verified, approved training every three years. While most of these CEU requirements can come from any approved, relevant pesticide CEU class, at least one of the hours must be related to school IPM rules and regulations. The countdown for existing IPMC’s three years will start this January, or for new IPMCs at the date whenever their initial training is completed. Pesticide CEUs obtained in support of a pesticide applicator’s license can be double-counted toward the CEU requirements for IPMCs.

Turfgrass short course to be offered in College Station Jan. 19-22  By: Kay Ledbetter

A four-day Turfgrass Ecology and Management Short Course presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be held Jan. 19-22 on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

Dr. Casey Reynolds, AgriLife Extension turfgrass specialist in College Station, will present the educational workshop for anyone interested in the fundamentals of turfgrass physiology and management.

Managing turfgrass can be a fulltime job, our experts can help you with this task.

Managing turfgrass can be a fulltime job, our experts can help you with this task.

“This course is designed for professional turfgrass managers as well as anyone else in the green industry with a desire to learn the basics of how to properly manage turfgrasses with respect to growth, fertility, pest control, water use and water quality,” Reynolds said.

During the training, attendees are exposed to the fundamentals of proper turfgrass selection, growth and maintenance, as well as the latest up-to-date information from a variety of Texas A&M University faculty.

In addition, athletic field and golf course education tours will be offered.
To register, go to https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/Turf. Early registration through Jan. 8 is $450 and $495 thereafter.

Topics to be covered include: turfgrass physiology; identification, selection and establishment; mowing, fertility and other cultural practices; water use and proper irrigation practices; soil physical and chemical properties; water analysis, interpretation and implementation; pesticide labeling and Texas Department of Agriculture regulations; pest management;

Dr. Casey Reynolds has been named the new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state turf specialist.

Dr. Casey Reynolds Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state turf specialist.

and spreader and sprayer calibration.

Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be offered – four general, one laws and regulation, and one drift management. For more information, contact Reynolds at 979-845-0603 or at casey.reynolds@ag.tamu.edu.

School Pest News, Volume 15, Issue 11, November 2015

Kissing bugs all life stages - image courtesy of Gabe Hamer, Texas A&M University

Kissing bugs and Chagas disease. By Wizzie Brown, Extension Program Specialist III

Kissing bugs all life stages - image courtesy of Gabe Hamer, Texas A&M University

Kissing bugs all life stages – image courtesy of Gabe Hamer, Texas A&M University

Triatomine bugs, also known as kissing bugs, reduviid bugs and cone-nose bugs, are almost an inch long with elongated cone-shaped heads. The body is grayish-brown with a wide abdomen that has flattened sides. The flattened sides of the abdomen stick out beyond the wing margins and are marked with red, orange or yellow stripes. Nymphs (immatures) look similar to adults, but lack fully developed wings.

There are other insects in Texas that look similar and can be mistaken for kissing bugs. Many of these insects do NOT bite and do NOT transmit disease organisms. You can find some common insects that are mistaken for kissing bugs here.

Adults are capable of flying and are attracted to lights at night. The insects can be drawn towards the house by leaving outside lights on at night. Once inside, they will find a host and feed at night. After engorging themselves, they move away from the host to hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Outside, the bugs can be found in

Assassin bugs on a mesquite bush. Image courtesy of Texas A&M University

Assassin bugs on a mesquite bush. Image courtesy of Texas A&M University

animal bedding or nests such as doghouses, chicken coops or rodent nests.

Some Triatomine bugs carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi which can cause Chagas disease in humans, dogs and other small mammals. T. cruzi, a protozoan, is transmitted via the insect’s feces when it is scratched into a wound or rubbed into a mucous membrane. Immediate (acute) symptoms of Chagas may be swelling of the face (especially the area around the eye), swelling of other areas of the body, moderate to high fever, but sometimes acute symptoms never occur. Treatment is available during the acute phase, so see a physician as soon as possible if you suspect Chagas.

This large milkweed bug is often confused for the kissing bug. Image courtesy of Pat Porter, AgriLIfe Extension

This large milkweed bug is often confused for the kissing bug. Image courtesy of Pat Porter, AgriLIfe Extension

To reduce the chance of Triatomine bugs entering the home, work on excluding them. Some of the following may help to seal the home to keep the bugs outside.

  • Prune trees and shrubs so they do not touch or overhang the house
  • Do not stack firewood or other items against the house
  • Install weather stripping around loose fitting doors and windows- if you can see daylight around a door during the day, then the weather stripping should be replaced
  • Block weep holes in brick or stone façade homes with copper mesh
  • Use stainless steel mesh wire to block access points in the attic (i.e. vents)
  • Sealing holes and cracks leading to the attic, crawl spaces below the house, and to the outside
  • Keep window screens in good repair
  • Turn off outside lights at night. If that is not possible, use “bug bulbs” or try LED bulbs that have a wavelength less attractive to insects
  • Have pets sleep indoors, especially at night, away from areas where insects can gather.
  • Keeping your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs

You can find more detailed information on kissing bugs, Chagas, and where to submit samples on this TAMU website.

Also, media outlets in Dallas recently ran a story on Kissing bugs and Chagas. You can find footage of that here.

More information about triatomine bugs, including bugs that are often mistaken for triatomine bugs and maps of the distribution of U.S. triatomine bugs as of 2011, can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas/gen_info/vectors/.

More information about Chagas disease can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas/index.html.

There’s more to picking a good grass than just green: AgriLife Extension turfgrass trials match purpose to environment     By: Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Extension

Not every grass is a good fit for home lawns, golf courses or athletic playing fields, so turfgrass researcher Dr. Casey Reynolds is testing varieties and comparing them side by side under Texas conditions as a part of the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program.

Reynolds, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service turfgrass specialist in College Station, is joined by Dr. Matt Elmore, an AgriLife Extension turfgrass specialist who is growing additional trials at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.

“The primary objective of these NTEP trials is to evaluate new and emerging varieties for their performance in southern and southeastern transition zone environments,” he said. “So, what that means is we plant grasses such as zoysiagrass, Bermuda grass, seashore paspalum and St. Augustine, because we know these species persist and do well in the southern United States and we evaluate them on an equal level.”

Reynolds said the AgriLife Extension trials at both locations include approximately 100 grass varieties, and the College Station trials were recently featured at the Texas A&M AgriLife Turfgrass and Landscape Field Day.

“We’ll take, for example, the NTEP zoysiagrass trial comprised of 30 or so different varieties and compare them to each other based on quality, color, leaf texture, density, drought hardiness, performance and pest incidence,” he said.

The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program then takes that data from this location and data from throughout the U.S. at other cooperating universities and compiles it.

Turfgrass experimental plots in College Station. Image by Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Extension

Turfgrass experimental plots in College Station. Image by Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Extension

“This way a producer or a customer or anyone who is interested in planting a new variety can look and see an independent source of data and use it to evaluate whether or not that grass is a good fit for their needs,” Reynolds said.

“For instance, we may have a zoysia grass that may do great in terms of how it performs under drought, and next to it one that may look a little better, but the data tells us it may not perform as well under drought,” he said.

NTEP is a great way to organize all that data and compare varieties.

That’s an important thing to understand when selecting a grass variety, Reynolds said, “because we all know in the southern United States drought is always an issue and will continue to be an issue. We certainly want to breed and select grasses that do well in hot, dry climates.

During the turfgrass field day, Reynolds asked the clients attending to place a flag in the plots that they thought looked the best.

“It was interesting to see that a lot of the flags were placed in the same plots,” he said. “I personally like a grass that has dark color, that has

Textured zoysiagrass an alternative to Bermuda and St. Augustine Image by Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Extension

Textured zoysiagrass an alternative to Bermuda and St. Augustine Image by Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Extension

finer leaf texture and that has good density.”

Reynolds stood near two plots of grass with a big difference in texture, one rated four on texture and the other an eight. Looking at the data, he said, the eight is going to be a much nicer grass, “especially if you are on a golf course tee box, where texture is probably a bigger deal than if you are on a home lawn.

“But if you are a landscaper comparing the two species and you look at the drought data, you might say, ‘I don’t care how fine the texture is if I can’t keep it alive, texture doesn’t matter.’ So your selection may change.”

Reynolds said it is important not to get hung up on having the latest new variety – sometimes if it is not broke, why try to fix it?

“With the data we collect, we try to do it in a manner that is going to be reflective upon how people are going to view these grasses when they get to their home or their golf course or athletic field and whether it is going to fit into their environmental conditions.”

Results of the NTEP trials at College Station and Dallas can be found at http://www.ntep.org/. Other information on turfgrass species and variety selection for Texas can be found at https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/texas-turfgrasses.

Expect invaders as weather gets colder   By Paul Schattenberg, AgriLife Extension

Signs of active rats or mice, is the accumulation of droppings, if you see them, you know it's time to trap for them.

Signs of active rats or mice, is the accumulation of droppings, if you see them, you know it’s time to trap for them.

With temperatures dropping, many Texas residents likely will be getting some unwanted guests in their homes around the holidays, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service pest management experts.

“This time of year, squirrels, as well as racoons, will try to make nests in attics,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension program specialist in integrated pest management, Dallas. “Also several species of ants will nest in the walls of homes for warmth and protection.”

Hurley said another unwelcome guest people can expect to see more of as the weather turns colder is mice.

“Rodents can infest homes, threaten public health and destroy property,” Hurley said.

She said the common house mouse, for example, can eat or contaminate household foods, cause structural damage by building nests and gnawing on furniture and electrical wires, and can spread disease.

Hurley said exclusion is an effective means of reducing the threat of rodent-borne diseases, allergens and other health threats. To help exclude mice and other rodents

Sealing up openings larger than a dime are important to keep all types of crawling pests out. Ants, cockroaches, mice, rats, squirrels and even birds can be sealed out. Image by Janet Hurley, AgriLIfe Extension

Sealing up openings larger than a dime are important to keep all types of crawling pests out. Ants, cockroaches, mice, rats, squirrels and even birds can be sealed out. Image by Janet Hurley, AgriLIfe Extension

from the home, she recommended:

  • Seal gaps of 1⁄4 inch or more with steel wool or a foam sealant that expands. Fill large holes or cracks with concrete or stuff with an excluder cloth and seal them.
  • Seal around water, gas, electrical and other pipes and conduits.
  • Install brush-type or baffle-style door sweeps to seal exterior doors.
  • Seal gaps around eaves and the frames of screens and louvers.
  • Do not let trash, weeds or wood accumulate near or along exterior walls or doorways.
  • Keep garbage cans covered and lids tightly closed.
  • Store pet food off the floor and in airtight containers.

Snap trapTo control mice that have already entered the homes, schools or businesses, Hurley suggests using traps as opposed to poison baits. Snap traps and some of the new

Victor new trap and seal for House mice

Victor new trap and seal for House mice

enclosed snap traps will capture the mice and keep them in one spot for easier disposal.

“If there are young children or pets in the home, consider placing the traps inside locked box stations to avoid accidents,” Hurley said. “The use of poison baits should be a last resort and is best left to the professionals since there could be risk to children and pets.”

Anyone traveling during the holidays should be aware of the potential for picking up bed bugs, according to Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, oval-shaped insects that feed on human blood and are becoming more common in hotels and homes.

Image of a fed bed bug

Image of a fed bed bug

“Bed bugs are great at hitchhiking in luggage, and savvy travelers should know how to minimize their risk of bringing an unwelcome guest home from the holidays,” Merchant said.

He noted that while the risk of encountering these pests in your travels is relatively low, bringing a bed bug home is definitely not a good idea.

“Suffering a few bed bug bites while travelling is not pleasant, but it’s much worse to bring them home where they can proliferate,” he said.

Experts recommend avoiding setting luggage on or next to a bed or other upholstered furniture where bed bugs can easily stow away after feeding.

“This practice is an open invitation for bed bugs,” he said. “Instead, put your stuff on the luggage rack away from the bed.”

“It’s just now starting to get close to freezing in the South Central Texas area, but in the next few weeks I expect to start getting calls about more insects coming indoors,” said Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension entomologist for Travis County. “The ones I’m most likely to be getting calls about will be cockroaches, spiders and scorpions.”

Brown said the most effective means of control is to exclude these and other critters from the home by way of sealing exterior holes or cracks as well as eaves and frames around doors and windows.

Keeping trees and shrubs from touching the house, or hanging over help keep pests away. Image by Janet Hurley, AgriLIfe Extension

Keeping trees and shrubs from touching the house, or hanging over help keep pests away. Image by Janet Hurley, AgriLIfe Extension

“And if you have any tall grass or weeds around your house, or any wood, compost or leaves near your exterior walls, now would be a good time to remove those so they don’t provide a warm nesting area from which they might then enter your home,” she said.

Brown said now might also be a good time to prune any trees or shrubs that touch or overhang the house.

“That way animals can’t use those as a bridge to enter the house,” she said.

For more information on insect identification, exclusion and control, go to visit our homeowner websites http://communityipm.tamu.edu/ or national website.