This month’s newsletter is aimed at helping you out with a few resources you can use, plus some news stories you might be interested in that you can share.
Understanding how to obtain a commercial or noncommercial pesticide license in Texas can be very confusing. Over the years I have devoted newsletter space to this topic. Last month for the joint TASB/AgriLife Coronavirus Confusion Abounds Webinar Series we covered Pesticide Licensing in TX. This session was recorded and can be found on YouTube. The video is an hour long and covers the steps you need to take to obtain study materials, how to apply to the Texas Department of Agriculture and how to set up your exams with PSI.
In February, the TASB Risk Management Fund wrote on article on IPM. In this article it reviews what it takes to sustain an IPM program for publics schools and colleges. As we all know fighting off annoying critters without negatively impacting the health of your community and the environment requires a delicate balancing act of responsible pesticide use, staff training, and an effective school integrated pest management program. Check out this article on the TASB Risk Management page.
Another resource is the Spring 2021 issue of freshAAIR™ Magazine from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America which has several articles that are worthy of reviewing. Air Ventilation and COVID-19, Helping Schools Manage COVID-19 and Asthma, Improve Your Indoor Air Quality to Improve Your Health, and Humidity’s Role in Asthma and Allergy Management are just a few of the topics covered in this magazine.
Let’s talk insects that are showing up around the state.
Depending on where you live in the state you might have seen flying worms, floating worms, or just worms in trees. Molly Keck, our entomologist in San Antonio posted a blog article on Worms in Trees, and Wizzie Brown, our entomologist in Austin was interviewed on TV about this phenomenon. Most of the caterpillars you are seeing don’t need much treatment; however, there are a few that you should be aware of regarding student health. Check out this IPM Action plan for stinging caterpillars for what to know, look for and control measures.
Recognizing Termite Swarmers vs Swarming Ants
When spring comes to Texas often, we see swarming insects and it can be alarming to people. Termites are secretive in their habits and are rarely seen. However, at certain times of year termites belonging to the reproductive caste emerge from their underground nests and wooden feeding galleries to seek mates and form new nests (these “reproductive” stage termites are dark colored and do not resemble the whitish workers that many people associate with termites).
The swarming period, when reproductive termites emerge, provides the best chance for identifying structures with termite infestations. When swarming does occur indoors, it is a good indication that the building has become termite infested.
Termites can swarm at any time of year in Texas, but by far the busiest season occurs in April and May. Because swarms may occur in isolated locations, it’s important that all school staff be trained in how to identify these insects.
Termites are most likely to be confused with swarming ants, but can easily be distinguished by three characteristics: (1) ants have distinctly pinched waists–termites do not; (2) termites have antennae that are flexible throughout their length–ant antennae are straight for approximately half their length, and then “elbowed” (see diagram); (3) in ants, the front pair of wings slightly exceeds the length of the second pair of wings, but in termites all wings are approximately the same length. Note that both termite and ant swarmers may lose their wings completely after emerging from their swarming tube.
Use this diagram to train school maintenance staff in how to recognize and report termites.
For more information on controlling and recognizing termites or other wood destroying insects check out Dr. Merchant’s old website.
Finally, as the school season comes to close maybe this press release on spring cleaning will help you educate your school staff on how to prevent pests at school and at home.
Check out this slideshow of termite images