School Pest News Volume 11, Issue 2, April 2012

Learning Opportunities Abound
By Janet Hurley

Over the past ten years, we have watched school IPM information become more frequent. In addition to school IPM, we have seen IPM in public housing also increase. Rather than duplicate, AgriLife Extension will either be forwarding more emails or announcing more online training resources. Below is just a sample of what we have seen so far:

During the month of March, the University of Florida released its Bed Bugs and Book Bags curriculum.  The curriculum is designed for third through fifth grade students, although it can be adapted to any age group.  There are three lessons with a total of ten activities and a teacher’s guide that focus on bed bug biology, feeding, and prevention and is appropriate for classrooms, day cares, camps, and meetings.  You can find all the information you need at the Duval County Extension Website

During the month of May you can catch two webinars on ant control.  The first one is on fire ants and it will be held Thursday, May 10 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT (10 to 11 a.m. CDT or 8 to 9 a.m. PDT.  Killing fire ants is actually easier than you think—if you understand how they live.  This seminar will help you learn how to apply integrated pest management tactics that are as economical and environmentally friendly as possible. You’ll also learn about fire ant biological control agents such as the Pseudacteon phorid flies.  To participate, log in as “guest” (YOU DO NOT NEED TO PREREGISTER) at  If you have specific questions that you want us to address during the webinar, post them to the Imported Fire Ant eXtension Facebook page (Fire Ant Info).

The second webinar will be on other nuisance ant species Ant Management on Thursday, May 17 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT (10 to 11 a.m. CDT or 8 to 9 a.m. PDT) and brought to you by the Urban Integrated Pest Management eXtension Community of Practice.  Managing ants is actually easier than you think—if you understand how they live.  This seminar will help you learn how to apply integrated pest management tactics that are as economical and environmentally friendly as possible.

– How Can You Tell if You Have Odorous House Ants?  Dr. Karen Vail, University of Tennessee
– Understanding the Biology and Behavior of Carpenter Ants, Dr. Dan Suiter, University of Georgia
– Managing Problems with Pharaoh Ants, Dr. Michael Merchant, Texas A&M University

Participation link has not been released – I will send this out later in the week with the final details.


National Healthy Schools Day Provides Opportunities for IPM Education

Spring is a great time to take on new challenges and with National Healthy Schools Day  on April 24, 2012.  Now  is a perfect opportunity to both prepare for the inevitable increase in pest activity that comes with warmer weather, and take your IPM program to another level.

School officials, staff and parents can use materials like Kick the Pesticide Habit: Children, Learning and Poisons Don’t Mix, The Business Case for Integrated Pest Management in Schools: Cutting Costs and Increasing Benefits and IPM Standards for Schools: Tactics and Resources for Reducing Pest and Pesticide Risks in Schools and Other Sensitive Environments to look for opportunities for improvement.

Districts looking to implement a new IPM program can start with developing an IPM policy to formally state their commitment to IPM.  Next steps can include designating an IPM coordinator, providing training for the coordinator and key custodial, maintenance and food service staff, and beginning to assemble an IPM plan.  Districts with existing programs can evaluate schools using an audit checklist.  Particular attention should be paid to potential sources of food, water, harborage and access for pests.

The most cost-effective measures you can take include installing door sweeps under exterior doors, sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, and trimming vegetation back to reduce pest access and leave a clear inspection path around buildings.  Our Building Out Pests article series, published in October, November and December 2011, gives more tips for structural pest management.

National Healthy Schools Day graphics, flyers and posters are available to download and print.  Contact Healthy Schools Network, Inc. for more information.

IPM Coordinators Vital to IPM Program Success  By: Jodi Schmitz, IPM Institute of North America

An IPM coordinator is an essential piece of the school IPM puzzle.  They provide the leadership and networking to achieve pest complaint and pesticide risk reduction by working hand-in-hand with parents, students, teachers, staff members and pest management professionals.

CG Cezeaux and David Henderson

C.G Cezeaux and David Henderson, Co-IPM coordinators for Spring ISD discuss their outdoor IPM program with Dr. Tom Green and their contractor

According to Janet Hurley, extension program specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, “The ideal coordinator is someone who is a key, influential person within the district who can motivate teachers, administrators, food service, custodial and maintenance staff.”  The coordinator should have the power to make decisions and effect change quickly.  “If the coordinator doesn’t have that power,” says Hurley, “it can be a little like a Mario game.  The issue has to jump up a level to the coordinator’s boss for resolution, and then back down to the coordinator level.  It’s just not efficient.”

IPM coordinators can be responsible for tasks including interpreting the district’s IPM policy, maintaining the IPM plan, ensuring notifications of pesticide applications go out to the right people, conducting facility inspections and maintaining records of pest complaints and pesticide applications.  Depending on the size of the district, the IPM coordinator may also be the pesticide applicator, facilities director and/or superintendent.  Coordinators often wear many hats, so it is important for them to enlist strong support and cooperation of key staff.

Spring Independent School District (ISD), located in Texas, has worked hard to obtain cooperation with other departments like risk management, child nutrition and student health to implement IPM practices.  David Henderson, IPM coordinator and lead certified applicator at Spring ISD, says it’s incredibly important to build a rapport with key school departments so the entire IPM program is a success.

In addition to knowing key pests and appropriate solutions, Hurley suggests coordinators should also be trained on how to change human behaviors.  “IPM is no different than any other behavioral science.  Coordinators need to know how to change a teacher’s belief that all bugs are evil and must be dealt with immediately using pesticides,” says Hurley.  IPM coordinators function as educators to teach staff their role in the IPM process.

Cecil Fueston, IPM coordinator with McKinney ISD in Texas, also stresses the importance of communication and education.  When he became the IPM coordinator, Fueston made it a priority to stop by the schools regularly to introduce himself and explain his role.  “Now I’m known as ‘the bug man,’” Fueston says.  Chris Mills, IPM specialist at Union County Public Schools in North Carolina, says it’s important for him to make periodic visits to the schools because, “I’m constantly talking with the students and staff to train them on how they can help with pest management,” says Mills.

State or regional workshops put on by organizations like Texas AgriLife Extension, California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), University of Minnesota IPM3 and Rutgers can be a great source of information and often include continuing education credits for IPM coordinators.  The Facility Masters Webcast Series hosts informative webinars, and professional listservs such as Schoolbugs provide an avenue for school IPM professionals to ask questions and get answers.  “We attend trainings every year, despite the Texas requirement that training only needs to happen every three years,” says Henderson, “because we want to learn new things right when they happen.”

Mills comments that it would be useful to have more regional training opportunities strictly for IPM coordinators, like that handled by Texas Integrated Pest Management Affiliate for Public Schools (TIPMAPS).  Fueston describes TIPMAPS as an avenue for training, networking, and problem solving.  “It’s really helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of others and talk about pest management techniques that work in a school system,” says Mills.

Need a position description for an IPM coordinator for your district?  Samples are available from the California DPR, Guilford County Schools and Texas AgriLife Extension

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