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.


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.


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.


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.

SPN: Linking IPM to School Health!

How Tyler ISD transformed their environmental health program

by Janet Hurley, Extension Program Specialist III

Jones-Boshears Campus

Jones-Boshears Campus

Tyler ISD is a typical mid-sized school district in a suburban area; they are experiencing population growth. With that growth means new campuses and some unique problems. Like all public schools in Texas, Tyler adopted integrated pest management (IPM) in 1995 when the TX Legislature mandated all public schools to use better practices to managing pests, rather than spraying baseboards for perceived pests.

In 2014 Robert Grant was appointed Supervisor of Maintenance for Facilities Services. One of the best things that happened was that Robert Grant received training before he began to run a growing district. During the transition time, Tyler built a couple of new schools. In September 2013 AgriLife Extension hosted a school IPM workshop and toured the Elementary campus as part of school IPM training, at TISD when we first met Robert. At that time, we had noticed that the door sweeps were in place but not the best of the line. They also had vegetation growing near the building, but the school was only three years old, so pests weren’t yet a problem.

As time moved forward this campus had an increase of students and the surrounding neighborhood also under went improvements as well. At the same time, the weather changed from drought to flooding. When the campus was built in 2010, it was built on a hill that required a storm drain that ran under the structure to a creek 1000 feet behind the campus. The sudden increase in moisture brought about an increase in slithering and crawling critters.

As the district was working out a solution for their ongoing IPM problems in the fall of 2015, a local

This is what the sweeps look like when they are installed on an exterior door.

This is what the sweeps look like when they are installed on an exterior door.

inventor named Brandon Johnston stopped by to talk to Robert Grant and Mark Manning, non-commercial pesticide applicator for Tyler ISD, about the products he invented for pest and disease prevention, called SEAL-N-KILL and FASST SEAL. Johnston lives in Gilmer, TX and recently was interviewed by a local TV station KETK about this “new” product that can help keep germs and ants away.  SEAL-N-Kill is an antimicrobial copper that is impregnated onto a film that can cover push plate door handles and can be cut to accommodate other types of door surfaces where people touch and transfer microorganisms.  FASST SEAL is door sweep seal, but instead of just being made of plastic, this product is made with terpenes, geraniol and polymers to keep the “plastic seal” in tack. Terpenes and geraniol, allow the seal to be infused with green repellants making this something new and unique in the marketplace.

Robert and Mark decided to pilot the products on their Jones-Boshears Campus. The Jones-Boshears school integrates two unique programs into one modern facility, allowing for shared use, cross-pollination and reduced infrastructure costs.  The Wayne D. Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs specializes in providing services to students who have unique challenges due to severe and profound disabilities. Jones Elementary School campus was combined with Boshears when they built this new campus to accommodate the growing student population in the area.  Since these are two separate campuses on one piece of property, the maintenance and operations department still had about 80,000 sq. ft. per campus to clean, keep pests out and ensure student safety.

The FASST SEAL door sweep attaches to any door. The repellent strip can be replaced as needed.

The FASST SEAL door sweep attaches to any door. The repellent strip can be replaced as needed.

In October 2015, Tyler ISD implemented the SEAL-N-KILL and FASST SEAL products to see if the products would reduce sightings of ants and snakes.  Robert and Mark also wanted to see if the anti-microbial film would reduce germs on the campus.  In July 2016, I made a trip to Tyler to review the campus and to see what I could learn about these products as well.

During the fall of 2015, Mark Manning worked with Brandon Johnston to install door sweeps and the film transfer on all the exterior doors. The chief complaint for both campuses was small snakes and ants. Snakes are never a good mix with students and staff; even the garden variety snake typically makes most people feel queasy. As for the door handles, Robert wasn’t sure about the reducing the germs, but he wanted to see if it helped.

This is one example of how the Seal-N-Kill film can be applied to a door handle.

This is one example of how the Seal-N-Kill film can be applied to a door handle.

After 6 months in the field using the Seal-N-Kill Push Plate Covers, Johnston removed push plate covers from push plates on an active main corridor swinging door. The samples were tested for Staphylococcus aureus 6538 reduction over the standard 24-hour incubation test period to confirm antimicrobial activity. When the film was installed, it was rated at 99.9999% effective against S. aureus. After 6 months the test results came back at 99.9998% effective against the same bacteria. In other words, after 6 months the film was still killing bacteria. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really track student absence reduction, but Robert and Mark said that they are happy that both principals have been very happy with the “pest” reduction.

While I was visiting with Robert in July, he decided that he was going to expand this program throughout the district.  As door sweeps need replacing, his goal is to switch to the FASST SEAL sweeps.  Grant stated, “This just gives one more layer of insurance to not have ants, snakes, crickets or anything else crawling under a door. As the district grows we are striving to keep up with the campuses, the new pests and everything else you have to do just to keep school campuses safe, this is just another tool in our toolbox.”

Integrated pest management (IPM) is managing pests at acceptable level, using multiple control tactics.  Each and every tactic has its place in the IPM toolbox; Tyler just found a new tool to use.  Over the next year AgriLife Extension will be keeping track of the schools that use these two products to see if we learn more about student health and teacher satisfaction.

Want to share this story with others, download a copy here. Linking IPM to School Health

School IPM Trainings and 6-Hour Refresher Course Listings Fall 2016

Staff TrainingWith the new school year comes requests for trainings and where do I get my 6 hour refresher CEUs for my IPM Coordinator certificate. To help everyone out is a list of events that upcoming over the next few months that should help you out.

The Texas Association School Boards (TASB) put out their 2016-2017 schedules their IPM dates and locations are as follows:

Date Location
October 5, 2016 Mount Pleasant ISD (Region 8 ESC)
November 2, 2016 Fort Davis ISD (Region 18)
December 7, 2016 Region 1 ESC (Edinburg)
January 25, 2017 TASB Campus (Austin)
February 8, 2017 Region 5 ESC (Beaumont)
March 1, 2017 Lufkin ISD (Region 7)
March 22, 2017 Region 11 ESC (White Settlement)
April 19, 2017 Region 18 ESC (Midland)
July 19, 2017 TASB Campus (Austin)

Contact TASB Facility Services at 1-800-580-8272 or email: facilities@tasb.org or you can visit their website at https://www.tasb.org/Services/Facility-Services/Environmental-Services/Training.aspx 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will be offering these two-day workshops

Houston Area October 5 & 6, 2016 September 30, 2016
Columbia-Brazoria ISD, Steve Edwards Support Services 121 Roustabout Dr, Brazoria 77422

San Antonio Area October 19 & 20, 2016 October 14, 2016
East Central ISD, 9787 New Sulphur Springs Road, San Antonio Texas 78263

To register for one of these courses visit our conference services website at
https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/ or call 979-845-2604 Keyword: School IPM

Class time is 8:30 am to 5:00 pm with an hour for lunch. Advanced Cost: $210 for both days, $135 for one day only. Late Registration and Day of Event Fee $240 for both days, $155 for one day. All participants will receive a 3 ring notebook with necessary forms and paperwork regarding school IPM program implementation.

October 11, 2016 Region 10 Education Service Center and AgriLife Extension to host a one-day School IPM training at Region 10 ESC, Richardson, TX Go to the Region 10 website http://www.region10.org/workshop-registration/ or contact John Roberts 972-348-1056 (Note: if you want to attend this class and you are outside of Region 10 ESC, please call 972-952-9204 and talk with Sharon Harris to learn how to register)

Finally, there will NOT be a Statewide School IPM Coordinator conference (aka TIPMAPS) this year. Instead, AgriLife Extension is working with Winfield Solutions to speak and attend all of the CEU Winfield Academy events in Texas. To register for these events visit the Winfield website at www.winfieldacademy.com you will find the registration link on this page. Simply complete the registration form. For IPM coordinators there will be a place to list “Other License (i.e. New Mexico)” – in this spot put School IPM Coordinator this will help the Winfield staff know which certificate they will need to provide you after the event is over. At the same time, this should allow everyone in the state a chance to attend a refresher course close to home, rather than traveling across the state. If you have questions please contact your local Winfield Branch or call your local Winfield Rep for more information or registration form. You can also use this website to find a Rep close to you, just type in your zip code into the location finder it will do the rest. http://www.winfieldpro.com/rep-finder.aspx#

Date Location Registration Fee
11/1/16 Rose Garden Center 420 S. Rose Park Drive Tyler, Texas $92: includes Lunch & Breakfast
11/2/16 Hurst Conference Center, 1601 Campus Drive Hurst, TX $120: includes Lunch & Breakfast
11/8/16 Overton Hotel & Conference Center

2322 MacDavis Lane,  Lubbock, TX

$120: includes Lunch & Breakfast
11/9/16 MPEC Center, 1000 Fifth Street, Wichita Falls, TX $92: includes Lunch & Breakfast
11/29/16 Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade,

9821 Colonnade Blvd, San Antonio, TX

$120: includes Lunch & Breakfast
11/30/16 Waco Convention Center,

100 Washington Ave, Waco, TX

$92: includes Lunch & Breakfast
12/1/16 Sheraton North Hotel at George Bush Intercontinental

15700 John F Kennedy Blvd, Houston, TX 77032

$120 includes Lunch & Breakfast

And if this isn’t enough or doesn’t fit your schedule the 71st Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop will be held January 11 – 13, 2017 at the Brazos Center, Bryan, TX. Cost is $200 but that covers two full days of CEU courses, plus lunch and breakfast both days. http://pcoconference.tamu.edu/registration/

I will announce the 2017 school IPM schedule later in the year once I have all the dates firmed up. In the meantime, while you can’t much CEU credit you can always take one of our online courses http://ipm.tamu.edu/online-course-library/ for additional learning. Even the School IPM Coordinator Crash Course can help you remember what you need for a TDA school IPM inspection.

Timely back to school updates from Dept of Health Services

AgriLife Logo

I thought I would share some of the information I have received from the Texas School Health Program. To learn more about the School Health Program and Department of State Health services visit their website http://www.dshs.texas.gov/schoolhealth/ you can sign up for their Friday Beat newsletters as well.

Physical Environment

Towards Healthy Schools Report

The Healthy Schools Network, Inc. coordinated the creation of Towards Healthy Schools: Reducing Risks to Children. This report begins with a summary of national data and is followed by news clips/photos relating to individual states, as no state or national data bases exist to track school environmental problems. Healthy Schools Network, Inc. also compiled a set of Back to School Tools for educators.

Students with Food Allergies

Section 25.002 of the Texas Education Code (TEC) requires public school districts to inquire of parents whether a student has a food allergy upon the student’s enrollment. Parents should provide this information so that the district can implement safety precautions.

Section 38.0151 of the TEC requires the Boards of Trustees of school districts and the governing bodies of open-enrollment charter schools to adopt and administer a policy for the care of students with diagnosed food allergies at risk for anaphylaxis. The guidelines for developing such policy may be downloaded from the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Food Allergies webpage. These guidelines include sample documents and are meant to serve as a reference for districts as they develop and administer policies for students with food allergies. An Emergency Care Plan for students at risk for anaphylaxis is available on this same webpage.

Unlicensed Diabetes Care Assistant (UDCA)

As required by Texas law, every school must have one UDCA, or three if a full-time school nurse is not assigned to the campus. School principals are responsible for identifying UDCAs. The Texas Diabetes Council developed guidelines for training school employees who are not licensed healthcare professionals to assist with caring for students during the school day or at school activities. These guidelines are available for download on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, along with Frequently Asked Questions related to implementing House Bill (HB) 984 and other diabetes resources.



Zika Guidelines for Schools

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) developed a resource specifically for facilities that care for children. The document addresses protecting children from the Zika virus through the prevention of mosquito bites and mosquito breeding. Schools may need to update their policies and procedures to sufficiently account for these two factors. Current information about the Zika virus in Texas, as well as other resources, are available on the DSHS Zika website.

Best Practice-Based Programs

Texas Health and Safety Code 161.325 requires the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to provide and update annually a recommended list of best practice-based programs for public schools in the following areas: early mental health intervention, mental health promotion and positive youth development, substance abuse prevention and intervention, and suicide prevention. This requirement is explained on the Texas Education Agency website, alongside many health education resources, and the recommended list is on the DSHS website.


Funding Opportunities

Awards for Excellence (AFE) in Texas School Health

This is a final reminder that AFE applications are due by August 31, 2016. These can be downloaded from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website by clicking on the hyperlinked name of each award. You may also request an application by contacting the DSHS at schoolhealth@dshs.state.tx.us.

Eat.Learn.Live.and Grow Grant

Chartwells K12 and KidsGardening.org created the eat.learn.live.School Garden Program, which offers free nutrition education resources, including Garden 1,2,3 Quick Start. Public and private K-12 schools may apply for the eat.learn.live.and Grow Grant through August 31, 2016. All but one of the grant packages are designated for schools that have existing gardens.



Family Engagement

National Farmers Market Directory

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Directory lists markets that feature two of more farm vendors who sell products directly to customers at a recurrent location. The directory provides the website, directions, products, and other details for each market. There are more than 200 listings for Texas! Visiting these markets and choosing agricultural products could be fun adventures


SPN: Landscape Management Tips Before School Starts

School Gardens

100_2766As August approaches and teachers come back from summer break, the neglected gardens might need some attention and maintenance in preparation for fall planting.  If the area is over grown and herbicides need to be applied, remember that you will need time between making the application and planting.  More importantly under the School IPM rules, you will need to post the area and keep students out of the area for at least 4 hours.

If the gardens plants have been damaged from heat or bugs, it’s important to dispose of them immediately. While heat-damaged plants can be added to compost piles, bug or disease-damaged plants should be pulled from the ground, wrapped in plastic, and disposed of separately to avoid transferring the problem to other plants.   This is especially true if some of your garden plants are rose bushes. Rose rosette disease has recently begun to make resurgence. Botanists have identified the pathogen that infects rose bushes and that it is spread by a tiny, wingless mite. The mites feed on a plant’s sap, transmitting the virus to the bush. Roses die within two to three years. The best solution that has been recommended so far is the removal and complete destruction of an infected rose plant.  I can personally attest that once you have it the best thing to do is remove the infected plants.

Planting fall foods, remember the mulch,  mulch is your friend. Use generous amounts to insulate your fall starters., but also help keep those tender roots cool during the warm days.  Make sure you mulch isn’t too ‘new’, one of the most common mistakes people do with home made compost is placing ‘hot compost’ on the garden plants.  Make sure your compost is on the cool down process so that it doesn’t leach nutrients from the plants.

Many of these plants can be grown in containers that can move as time goes by.

Many of these plants can be grown in containers that can move as time goes by.

Pot herbs, rather than planting them into the ground.  Herbs can survive the winter comfortably from an indoor environment or with greenhouse or in some locations with row covers.  When putting your garden to bed for the winter, pot your herb plants. Place these pots in a sunny, warm window location and consider this an alternative to keep herbs alive all year round.  In Texas our weather can turn soon and suddenly.  While you don’t want your herb plants to experience a freeze, it’s more than okay to keep the potted plants outside until the first frost. This gives them every possible opportunity for direct sunlight and fresh air prior to moving indoors for winter.  You may want to think about a location at the campus where you would want to transition potted plants. Moving plants from outdoors to indoors can also mean bringing in some other invaders like cockroaches, ants, spiders,  or other unwanted visitors who can hid in potted plants.  Be sure to remind teachers and staff about this tip so that you don’t inadvertently bring a pest problem indoors.

Finally, if you have not visited the USDA Community Food Systems web site, I recommend you do! I was recently asked if there were any guidelines on location of school gardens, how can you work with other programs like National School Lunch Program.  Everything you need to know about community gardens can be found here. Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms, and Communities is a great fact sheet for school administrators and IPM Coordinators to review and plan for having a garden now and in the future.

Scouting for turf pests

During the summer Texas Turfgrass Association meeting I heard Dr. Matt Elmore and Dr. Casey Reynolds talk about herbicides and turf pests.  Some of the turf pests they were discussing have some interest to those of you who manage athletic fields but also open areas.

Fall armyworm on bermudagrass, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo

Fall armyworm on bermudagrass, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo

Fall armyworms are on the move! The armyworm moth flies and mates at night, they migrate like other caterpillar type species.  What typically gives most athletic directors heartburn is when you see a mass of caterpillars covering their turf. Check out this fact sheet from Dr. Reynolds Armyworm gives you good information about this pest and what to do.

Mole crickets if you live  in the piney woods of east Texas this pest could be coming to a field near you.  Mole crickets tend to spend their time underground but adults have wings and disperse in the breeding season.  They mainly feed on roots, but can also each grubs as well. The Aggieturf website has another good fact sheet on this pest.

With all the wet weather we have had this year, you will want to think about getting your Green Category fire ant baits out this August.  Insect growth regulator bait needs time to get out, be picked up by the ants, and taken back into the colony. There are many options for managing various kinds of fire ant problems. When using pesticides, use only products labeled for the location or “site” you want to treat. For instance, DO NOT use a product in your vegetable garden unless that site is listed on the label. Many combinations of control options are available, and there may be no single best method.  Fire Ants and the Texas IPM in Schools Program is a comprehensive document outlining a solid fire ant management program for all school settings.

Ticks to look out for – by southern states

Written by: Rosemary Hallberg, Communication Specialist, Southern IPM Center

Even though nearly all media attention is on mosquitoes this summer, most people fear ticks more. At A Bug Day in Gastonia in May, I talked to several people who weren’t as worried about mosquitoes as they were about ticks. Perhaps that’s because ticks attach to a person and hang on for a while.

If a tick bites you or someone in your family, you’re probably going to go to the doctor’s office. And what is the doctor going to ask? Probably what kind of tick bit you! Each tick transmits a different pathogen, so it’s important to know which species of tick bit you. That will help the doctor determine what to treat you for.

However, that’s sometimes easier said than done! Ticks are very small, and most times they look alike. If they’re engorged, they look very different from the pictures of flat ticks. You could also be spending a lot of time trying to identify the tick, and your health care provider may not have any better luck identifying it.

There are about 20 different tick species in the US; however, many of them do not attack humans. Many of them, such as the American dog tick, have a wide geographic range. Others, like the western blacklegged tick, live in a very specific area.
If you knew what ticks you might be dealing with, wouldn’t that speed up your chances for identification? For instance, if you live in Virginia, what are your chances of being bitten by a Gulf Coast tick? If you live in Florida, do you have to worry about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

The CDC has several maps that give a general idea of the range of the seven most common ticks. To make things even clearer, I’m going to list the tick species by state, along with the diseases that they transmit, at least for the southern United States. The links on the states will bring you to a page with more information from that state about the ticks and the diseases they transmit.

The list below contains the most common ticks in each state, not every single tick species in the state. Be sure to take a sample of the tick that you find when you go to the doctor.

For large pictures of many of these ticks, go to identify.us.com . That web site also has more detailed information about the life stages of each tick species as well.

North Carolina

American Dog Tick_TAMUtickapp



American dog tick
Credit: TAMU Tickapp

American dog tick: Most common in the Piedmont area. Transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever but NOT Lyme disease.



Brown dog tick, photo credit University of Florida

Brown dog tick: Rarely attacks people but is common on dogs. They like to climb up draperies and walls. They’re found throughout the country, so you’ll encounter them wherever you go. Transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever.






Lonestartick_OSULone star tick, male and female
Credit: Oklahoma State University

Lone Star tick: These attack people, deer and dogs. Adults and nymphs are around in the spring and summer; the larvae are out in the fall. It can be found mostly in the coastal plain but is also found in the piedmont. The larvae, called seed ticks, prefer humans. These ticks cause Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection, or STARI. The Lone Star tick also causes erhlichiosis.

blacklegged tick_CDC

blacklegged tick, female, male and previous life stages
Credit: Centers for Disease Control

Blacklegged tick: Adults attack dogs and deer. Also known as the deer tick. Adults are active in late fall, spring and early winter. Transmits Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan disease.


South Carolina

Same species as in North Carolina.


Lone Star tick: This is the most common tick species in Georgia, according to entomologists.

American dog tick: Feeds on humans only in the adult stage. For more on this and the blacklegged tick, see the web page on ticks at Georgia.edu.

Blacklegged tick


Same species as in North and South Carolina.

gulf coast tick_tickinfo

Gulf coast tick

Gulf Coast tick: This tick is also present in the Southeast closer to the coast but is more widely prevalent in Alabama. Adult ticks feed on deer. This tick transmits Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever.



Brown dog tick, American dog tick, Lone Star tick, Gulf coast tick and blacklegged tick


Blacklegged tick: In Louisiana, this tick feeds on reptiles, so it does not transmit Lyme disease.

Gulf Coast tick: Larvae and nymphs feed on birds and small rodents, while adults feed on deer and other wildlife.

Lone star tick

American dog tick

Brown dog tick


The Mississippi tick publication has detailed descriptions of the common diseases transmitted by ticks. It contains descriptions of symptoms as well as the ticks that these diseases are associated with.

Blacklegged tick: They will appear as adults in fall, winter and early spring.

Lone star tick: Appear as adults in early spring and summer, nymphs in spring and late summer and larvae in fall.

Gulf Coast tick: Appear as adults in late spring and summer.

American dog tick: Appear as adults in late spring, summer and fall.

Brown dog tick: Appear in summer but bite dogs but not people.


In addition to the tick species in the rest of the South, watch for (all images from TAMU tick app):


Cayenne tick

Cayenne tick: This tick is cold-sensitive but can sometimes be found in southern Florida. They have very long mouthparts, so a bite can be painful and can cause tissue damage. Transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and rickettsia south of the US border.


tropical horse tick_tickappTropical horse tick

Tropical horse tick: Found only in the southernmost edges of Texas and Florida. Primary host is equine but they also feed on deer and other farm animals. Transmits equine proplasmosis to horses.



cattletick_tickappCattle tick

Cattle tick: Found in a few counties along the Rio Grande Valley and in Mexico. Its primary host is cattle, to which it can transmit Texas cattle fever. It does not usually attack humans. It is a regulated species.



southerncattletickSouthern cattle tick

Southern cattle tick: Found only in the southernmost tip of Texas and in northern Mexico. Primary host is cattle, but it will also feed on other mammals. It is a regulated species.



wintertickWinter tick

Winter tick: Commonly called the “moose tick” because moose are its primary host. However, it will also feed on domestic animals and people if given the opportunity. It is a one host tick, completing its entire life cycle on a single host. Causes anaplasmosis in cattle.


spinoseeartickSpinose ear tick

Spinose ear tick: A soft tick, this species is distributed throughout the US. Farm and wild animals are its primary hosts, but it will also feed on people. It is found in the ear canals of its host, hence the name. There are no known pathogens associated with this tick.





The link above goes to a publication with detailed descriptions of each tick species and about the diseases that are common from ticks in Oklahoma.

Class Aracnida, Order Acarina, fowl tick dorsal side  Class Aracnida, Order Acarina, fowl tick dorsal side Class Aracnida, Order Acarina, fowl tick dorsal side, AgriLife Extension

Fowl tick: Feeds on chickens. Feeds primarily during the day, and can live for years without feeding. This is a soft tick.

Spinose ear tick: More common in cattle, horses and other animals in Oklahoma, but sometimes feeds on humans.

Blacklegged tick: Does not transmit Lyme disease in Oklahoma because it doesn’t feed on mice.

Winter tick: An important pest of cattle, deer, horses and elk in Oklahoma. It is the only one-host tick in the state. It becomes very large when engorged, so it’s easily seen on animals.

American dog tick: Are a serious pest in wooded areas. It is the only known vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted fever in Oklahoma. It also transmits bovine anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.

Lone star tick: This tick is the most commonly encountered tick recreationally in the state. It transmits several diseases, including ehrlichiosis, STARI, Heartland virus and Rickettsia.

Gulf coast tick: has become more of a problem in Oklahoma in the past several years. Its primary host is cattle and can cause tick paralysis in cattle and humans.


American dog tick: One of the primary tick species in Kentucky, not a vector of Lyme disease.

Lone star tick: can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted fever.

NOTE: despite the fact that the two most common tick species in Kentucky do not transmit Lyme disease, there have been cases of Lyme disease in the state.


American dog tick: This and the Lone star tick are the two most common ticks in the state.

Lone star tick: This and the American dog tick are the two most common ticks in the state.

Brown dog tick: Usually found in places where dogs live in spring and summer months.


American dog tick: Transmits Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia on the east coast.

Lone star tick: This is the most common tick in the state.

Blacklegged tick: Primary host is white-tailed deer.

Brown dog tick