School Pest News, Volume 12, Issue 1, February 2013

Kitchen Shelving and Pests: What’s the Connection?

School kitchens have all of the essentials for pests including food, water, and harborage.  Pest proofing for kitchens includes reducing clutter to reduce harborage, cleaning thoroughly to eliminate food sources, repairing leaks and conducting regular inspections for signs of pests.  Storage shelving in kitchens and food storage also plays a role.

The ideal shelving includes wire racks. Solid wood, metal or plastic shelves allow crumbs and other food debris to collect; wire racks allow spills to fall through to the floor where they can be swept up during regular cleaning.  Any shelving should be on lockable wheels to ease moving for cleaning and inspection.  Place shelving perpendicular to the wall, not parallel, to facilitate cleaning and minimize obstructed view of the seams where walls meet floors, which are the most common travel corridor for pests.

The lowest rack should be at least 12 inches off the floor.  “At the very minimum the IPM person will need to be able to inspect under the racks and behind the items at least 16 to 18 inches—this way you can see if mice are nibbling on items or if there are droppings,” suggests Janet Hurley, school IPM extension specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

California 032Food items should be removed from corrugated cardboard shipping boxes before shelving.  Cardboard should be immediately removed to recycling containers outside the building.  Leaving items in cardboard containers can create a primary means of transport for pests into the building, limit ability to inspect, and provide a favored hiding place for many pests, including mice and cockroaches.  “Watch out for cardboard,” says Hurley.  “The more you have, the harder it is to inspect.”

Specially designed canned food racks are also available which can be loaded from the back, so older cans move to the front and get used first.  These racks also help reduce potential for worker injury from lifting heavy boxes of cans onto shelves.

The American Institute of Baking (AIB) Consolidated Standards for Retail Establishments includes food storage design and food safety measures to help kitchens pass inspections.  Many tips that are useful for food safety are also a part of IPM, such as cleaning up spills promptly, emptying trash containers regularly, cleaning drains and fixing leaks.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment published Pest Prevention by Design, which details building design tips to facilitate easier pest prevention and management.  Included in the document is a section on institutional kitchen design beginning on page 67.  (Written by Jodi Schmitz, IPM Institute of North America)


Tawny crazy ant name proposal hits streets

The crazy ant first discovered in Texas by PMP Tom Rasberry, may be getting a new common name.  As Dr. Merchant  reported in an earlier blog  post, the way for a new name was opened with the recent publication of research firmly identifying the ant variously known as the Rasberry crazy ant, hairy crazy ant or Caribbean crazy ant (depending on what state you are from).  As it turned out, the ant was decidedly NOT the Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia pubens, but another species originally described from Brazil, Nylanderia fulva.

Entomological Society of America’s (ESA) committee on common names approved a new common on February 15, 2013, name that has received lukewarm support.  The last step before formal acceptance of the official common name (which Dr. Merchant and most entomologists will likely start using) is for the proposal to go before ESA membership for comment.  The proposal is located at, and does a pretty good job of detailing the background of the controversy and listing authorities who both support and oppose the new name.

If you are an ESA member, this is your last chance to let your voice be known. Please submit any comments by March 13, 2013 to Greg Dahlem, the committee chair, at

Ants crawling up Tom Rasberry's arm

Rasberry Crazy Ant aka Tawney Crazy Ant

Interestingly, there are colleagues of ours from Texas A&M who both support and oppose the new name.  Dr. Bart Drees (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension) supports the name change, and Dr. Roger Gold (Texas A&M University) opposes it, along with (not surprisingly) the Rasberry family.  Dr. Gold thinks “tawny” a little dull, and argues that a more descriptive name is needed.  He suggests “Brazilian crazy ant,” to commemorate where the ant was first discovered.  I think I like Brazilian crazy ant better than tawny crazy ant; but Dr. Merchant and I have another name to propose.  We suggest we call it the “troublesome crazy ant.”  I’m sure that’s one name most of the people who encounter this tiny invader could agree on.  (Written by Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – adapted by Janet Hurley)

Pyrethroid label requirements tweaked again

Last year Dr. Merchant  posted a story about the new pyrethroid insecticide label requirements being sent to pesticide manufacturers by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (We also had a story in the Dec. School Pest News). The requirements were designed in 2009 to reduce the risk of drift (wind carried contamination) and runoff (stormwater-carried contamination) of these commonly used insecticides. Since last spring, when pesticide manufacturers were officially informed of the new standards, the EPA has continued to dialog with both regulators and the pest control industry.  The results of this dialog are now out, and the final product is a big improvement, in my opinion.

At issue were applications needed to control certain overwintering insects like brown marmorated stink bug and kudzu bug, both of which aggregate on the sides and eaves of structures prior to entering the home or other building.  Under the 2009 rules, outdoor applications to the sides of structures were limited to crack and crevice applications or building foundations up to a height of three feet only.  In addition, all outdoor applications to impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, porches and structural surfaces (such as windows, doors, and eaves) were to be limited to spot and crack-and-crevice applications, only.

After consultation with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) and the State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (an EPA advisory group also comprised of regulatory officials), the EPA agreed to make further changes to the original label requirements to allow for better control of overwintering insects.

While restrictions on insecticide applications to impervious surfaces and prior to expected rainfall have not changed, there are some big changes on applications to structures, as published in a January 10 letter to pesticide manufacturers.  The three changes are summarized as follows:

  • Now applications of pyrethroids may be made to the exterior of buildings where the treated surfaces are underneath eaves, soffits, windows or doors that are protected by coverings, overhangs, awnings or other structures that protect the residues from rainfall;
  • application bands up to one inch-wide may be applied to cracks or other potential pest entry points;
  • and applications may be made using a coarse, low-pressure spray to portions of surfaces that are directly above bare soil, lawn, mulch or other vegetation.

The purpose of these requirements is to prevent pyrethroid pesticides from entering storm water and getting into streams, something that is most likely when pyrethroid sprays land on impervious surfaces like asphalt or concrete.

In addition to giving back to PMPs, the ability to use pyrethroids against overwintering pests these new regulations should help applicators control nuisance and public health mosquitoes that frequently rest on the sides of buildings and around doorways.  This was, in my view, a potentially serious public health issue with the 2009 rules.

So what will be the big change to the way your company applies pyrethroids after the dust is all settled?  The new labels will prohibit power spraying driveways and over sidewalks, garage doors and any vertical building surfaces over pavement.  Assuming the manufacturers follow these guidelines closely, labels should allow low-pressure sprays to the sides of structures over vegetation or soil and in sites protected from the rain, in addition to cracks and crevices.

Congratulations to the EPA and to those regulators and NPMA experts who took the time to look for ways to keep the pyrethroid label requirements reasonable while continuing to protect the environment.  This is one of those examples of how the system sometimes works in everyone’s favor. (Written by Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension)


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