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

SPN: Summer Tips for IPM

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

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