School Pest News VOLUME 10, ISSUE 7

By Steve Byrns
Students aren’t the only ones in class this fall; unwanted insect and animal pests of all shapes and sizes also “attend school” at times, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist II.

Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension school integrated pest management specialist in Dallas, said school districts across the state face a constant invasion of pests to the degree that since 1995 every independent school district in the state is required to have an integrated pest management coordinator.
Hurley said three school districts in the Houston area, Katy, Klein and Spring independent school districts, all recently earned the IPM Star certification after passing a rigorous 37-point inspection.

“The IPM Star evaluates school systems and childcare centers for integrated pest management or IPM, which is a common-sense approach to solving pest problems with a minimum amount of pesticide use,” Hurley said.

“All three school districts will be receiving national recognition for their work during the 2011 Statewide School IPM Coordinators Conference set for Nov.
16-17 in San Marcos,” she said. “Dr. Tom Green, the conference keynote speaker and president of the IPM Institute of North America, will present the awards.
“Winning this honor is no easy feat, because it really takes commitment on the part of the whole school district to make this achievement happen. It’s quite an honor.” Hurley said Spring ISD started their integrated pest management program in 1995.

Prior to that, they were essentially in a reactive mode when it came to dealing with unwanted critters. Since then they have all but eliminated the use of harsh pesticides in favor of only the safest products which, when applied correctly and only as needed, have provided effective and longer-lasting control than the methods used previously.
Klein ISD has a similar story, she said. Their school district looks at ways to solve pest problems without chemicals whenever possible. This includes sealing insect entry ways and using individual control methods which allows them to seldom resort to broad spectrum approaches.

Katy ISD is one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas and the nation and since it is located in a relatively rural setting, pests of many types are a constant concern, Hurley said.

“Katy ISD uses tactics similar to the other two winning school districts by employing a proactive approach to IPM that relies on proper sanitation, pest exclusion and monitoring as their first line of defense before resorting to any chemical use. They also have an active mentoring and educational program that provides opportunities for teaching other school districts similar successful tactics.”

To learn more about the three winning school districts’ programs or about integrated pest management in schools see, .

To find out more on the 2011 Statewide School IPM Coordinators Conference we are offering 6 CE credits for school IPM coordinators. Walk-ins welcome – $125 payment made to TASBO

EPA recently launched an improved version of the Pesticide Product Label system (PPLS). Below is an excerpt from an email from the director of the OPP IT division. A link is at the top of the OPP homepage.  PPLS was first created as a CD-based tool in the late 1990’s and moved to the internet around 2001. As you know, the old PPLS provided access to EPA approved labels via the EPA registration number. These files were TIFF images — an older technology which is really only an image or picture of a document. These files were increasingly difficult to access as computer technology evolved. You may recall that many of us had problems accessing these TIFF files using our new CTS computers.

Since then PPLS has become an essential part of our historical record and a resource and is heavily used by us and outside groups, particularly our state regulatory partners. Many users, both internal and external, have expressed interest in modernizing PPLS and we drew from everyone’s ideas and
suggestions in our design for this new version. Particularly, I want to thank those who have participated in demo sessions over the last several months and provided very useful input to our design.

New Features

As you explore this new version, you will find some new enhancements, including the following:
All 170,00+ labels have upgraded from TIFF images to text searchable PDFs. You can now use the search feature in Adobe Acrobat to search the text of an individual label. New options for finding labels. On the front page of PPLS, we have added the ability to search by product name and company name, in addition to the traditional search by registration number.

Google-like interface. Start typing in a product or company name and the new PPLS will start suggesting options for your search. Information on transfers. This new version of PPLS has information on when and to whom a product has been transferred. When a product has been transferred, a tab will appear with the details of its transfer history.
New flexible format. We are using a new web technology that allows you to easily refine your results, resort columns, reorganize the results, and download to a spreadsheet, if you like.

Recluse spiders by Wizzie Brown, Extension Program Specialist II
With the holidays quickly approaching (holy crikey Thanksgiving is only two weeks away!), many people will begin to venture into garages, attics and storage areas to get out decorations. My husband and I generally have a heated discussion as to when all the stuff will come out- hubby likes it right after Thanksgiving (possibly even right after we get finished eating) while I prefer to wait until December rolls around. Only time will tell who will triumph this year….
Anyway, back to y’all taking out decorations. I really recommend that you wear leather gloves to avoid spider bites when venturing into those little-disturbed areas to dig out those once a year decorations. There are numerous spiders that may lurk in areas that are seldom disturbed, but recluse spiders are ones that could cause concern. I don’t want to make you panic or be paranoid, I just want you to take precautions.

Recluse spiders are also known as fiddle-back or violin spiders. While many people use the violin shaped marking on the cephalothorax (the front part of the spider’s body) as a key characteristic, there are other spiders that have similar markings that may be mistaken for recluse spiders. The key characteristic is the eye pattern which is three pairs of eyes, called dyads. There is one dyad in the front center and then a dyad on each side in the front (see image).

Recluse spider. Image courtesy of Mike Merchant.
Recluse spiders come by their name because they do not like to be out in the open and are reclusive. They hunt at night and during the day hide in dark areas. They may be found in cracks and crevices, under plywood, tarps or in boxes among other places. Recluse spiders do not occur everywhere, so here is a distribution map to see if they’re in your part of the US.

The venom causes necrotic skin lesions that usually heal fine as long as they are tended to in a proper manner. If you are bitten by a spider, it is recommended that you capture the spider to have it identified. If you are concerned about any reaction to a spider bite, see a physician.

So when you’re digging out those holiday decorations (whether it’s right after Thanksgiving or in December), take care and wear some gloves for protection.

66th Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop
Date: January 11 -13, 2012
Location: Brazos Center, Bryan, TX

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