SPN: New kissing bug guide published to strengthen the fight against Chagas disease

Cover of the Kissign Bugs and Chagas Disease book
Cover of the Kissign Bugs and Chagas Disease book

This new kissing bug guide is to help Texans be more prepared about this true bug.

A guide to help battle a potentially fatal disease transferred by a blood-sucking insect called the kissing bug has been published by a task force led by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

While it may not make good bedtime reading, the new image-based guide from the Texas Chagas Task Force could keep you from falling victim to a disease caused by a parasite that the kissing bug carries. The parasite is Trypanosoma cruzi (T.cruzi), and the disease it causes is called Chagas disease. It is dubbed the silent killer because its symptoms are so elusive. If caught early, Chagas disease is treatable but if left undetected and untreated, it can eventually lead to problems such as heart failure, an enlarged heart or stroke.

“There’s still a widespread lack of knowledge about the insects that carry the parasite and this neglected disease, which often at first shows no signs whatsoever. Most people aren’t even aware of Chagas, let alone that it exists here in the United States,” said Paula Stigler-Granados, Ph.D., head of the task force and assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health in San Antonio. “We aim to change that by telling people all about it because early diagnosis and treatment are absolutely vital to avoid its potentially debilitating, even deadly, effects.”

Stigler-Granados wants everyone to be able to recognize the kissing bug and know that if they may have been bitten, or have been exposed to one, they need to tell their doctor and get tested.

Three kissing bugs various life stages

Kissing bugs all life stages – image courtesy of Gabe Hamer, Texas A&M University

“Everyone, especially in Texas, should know what these insects look like, how to avoid them and what to do if they happen to find one in or around their homes. It’s a complete myth that they are only found in mud huts. We see them everywhere, including million-dollar homes,” Stigler-Granados said. “This is an important guide, not only for the general public but also for physicians and veterinarians who are often on the frontline of talking with the public about the disease.”

The hot summer months are peak season for kissing bug activity in Texas, she said. Chagas disease is estimated to affect more than 7 million people worldwide. Although most prevalent in Latin America, kissing bugs and Chagas disease can also be found in the Southern United States.

Recent research has shown a high rate of kissing bugs infected with the T.cruzi parasite in Texas, amounting to 64 percent of captured insects in one study and 60 percent in a military study in the San Antonio area.

Kissing bugs often bite victims around the mouth or eyes while they sleep, thus leading to its name. But in reality, kissing bugs can bite anywhere on the body.

The disease is mainly transmitted through the feces of the insect, which gets into the bite wound. It can also be passed from mother to fetus and through contaminated blood products or even contaminated food or beverages.

Kissing bug on the floor of a building

Kissing bug found in camping barracks. PHOTO CREDIT entomologist Walter Roachell

Once people are infected, there may be no indication of contracting the disease for years or even decades. For those who do develop symptoms, the disease can begin to affect the heart or digestive systems, at which point it can become potentially fatal.

“This mysterious disease itself does not present with a lot of symptoms initially, if any at all. You may have a spot or a welt from the bite, or you experience mild flu-like symptoms,” Stigler-Granados said. “Ultimately Chagas can progress to the chronic symptomatic phase, which typically manifests itself as heart disease, although gastrointestinal disease is also possible.

Around 20 to 30 percent of infected persons will enter the chronic symptomatic stage of Chagas disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The majority of sufferers remain undiagnosed until the chronic symptomatic stage, highlighting the need for greater awareness and early intervention.

Physicians can prescribe a medication to treat Chagas disease in adults and children. The CDC can also assist with coordinating treatment using other drug options.

Facts about the disease, maps and pictures of the multiple species of kissing bugs found in the Southern United States are featured in the comprehensive guide. Life-size young and adult insects are shown, pointing out their distinguishing characteristics. It also identifies look-alike insects, which don’t transmit the parasite, to help people rule out possible suspects.

“If in doubt, you should take the necessary precautions and submit the insect for testing, which will not only assist with prevention but also surveillance of the disease,” Stigler-Granados said.

Common kissing bug habitats, such as beneath porches, dog houses and kennels, chicken coops, and rodent nests, are discussed.

Kissing bugs should never be handled with bare hands or crushed, due to the parasite’s presence in its gut. Clear guidance is provided on how to safely collect a suspected kissing bug and how to send it to be tested if suspected of biting someone and/or if found inside the home or if found outside the home.

The guide was funded by a five-year $544,329 cooperative agreement grant from the CDC to conduct outreach and education on Chagas in Texas. More than 20 experts who are part of the task force, along with close collaboration with Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, were involved in its production.

Top tips on how to keep kissing bugs at bay

  • Bring pets, such as dogs and cats, inside at night if possible or keep them in a place where they will not be exposed to insects from the outdoors. Check their bedding.
  • Seal cracks or openings into your home, especially around windows and doors leading outside.
  • Elevate woodpiles and keep them away from your home.
  • Get rid of pests, such as rodents, living under or near your home in consultation with pest management professionals.
  • Remove piles, excess leaves, and animal nests or burrows around your property.
  • Keep chimney flues closed when not in use.

Victoria Tagg, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and School of Public Health, San Antonio.  Media Contact: 1-713-500-3030

Summer Management Considerations for School Sports Fields

Over the summer is the time to prepare this field for the fall.

Summer management for both active and inactive sports fields is critical to maintaining healthy, safe fields year-round. Even just light maintenance can make a huge difference in what is possible when school starts again in the fall.


It’s a good idea to conduct an irrigation audit at least once a year to make sure you are watering the turf correctly.

To prevent surface hardness from creeping up to dangerous levels, regular irrigation is important – even for those fields that remain otherwise inactive during summer months. In many parts of the state where fields are constructed atop our trademark “shrinking and swelling” clays, the lack of irrigation can result in significant cracks in the field surface by the time football season is upon us. It can take a considerable amount of time and water to properly re-saturate the fields and bring them back to a safe surface capable of supporting healthy vegetation. Deep watering even once a week during dry periods can prevent this. Water early in the morning. This will optimize water use and prevent disease on your fields as fall approaches. Monitor and correct any malfunctioning irrigation. Uniform coverage will prevent dry spots where soil will harden and pests will move in. Consider a catch can audit.


Raise the mowing height on fields that are less active in the summer. This will encourage deeper roots, improve water infiltration, and reduce weed encroachment during less active months. It will also reduce the risk of scalping when mowing is less frequent. In preparation for the coming year, mowing heights can be gradually reduced to those more acceptable for play. For shorter mowing heights, mow more frequently to prevent scalping. Never remove more
than 1/3 of the total height at a time.

Fertilization and Soil Amendments

Conduct a soil test by compiling multiple samples from across the entire field. Soil testing can be performed by the Texas A&M Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory . Use this as a guide for applying fertilizers or soil amendments over the summer when growth is more vigorous. Your goal should be to maintain the healthiest grass you can with the healthiest roots possible. A dense root system in the summer can make all the difference in the fall. Typically, between 2 and 6 lbs of N per 1000 ft2 is recommended per year for bermudagrass. These can be applied in 0.5 to 1 lb N per 1000 ft2 rates every 6 – 8 weeks during the growing season (May – Sept/Oct).


Vigorous aeration will improve water infiltration, air flow, and stimulate root growth. Consider site-specific aeration of sports fields, where areas that are more likely to be compacted are aerated more aggressively. These are areas where foot traffic is heavier. Often, these areas can be identified by thinning turfgrass as well as poor water infiltration (pooling). Take care not to aerate too soon after a heavy rainfall event (can cause more compaction), or when conditions
are particularly hot and dry (can dry out the root zone).

Shallow or Deep?

Shallow-tine aeration can provide some nice short-term amelioration of soil compaction, and creates a sort of “direct line” to the root zone. This can be beneficial when coupling aeration with other maintenance such as fertilization or top-dressing. However, to truly stimulate deeper, denser roots, consider a more aggressive deep-tine aeration. Research has found that in more compacted systems (like sports fields), the roots will go as deep as the aeration. So, the deeper you go, the more benefits you will see for your root system. If core aeration is a regular part of your field maintenance (multiple times per year), consider varying tine depth to prevent the accumulation of a hardpan layer in the soil profile.

Solid or Hollow-Tine?

This is a solid-tine aerator.

For sports turf fields, the physical removal of soil cores is most likely to be advantageous in alleviating soil compaction and improving soil conditions. However, cleaning up extracted cores from the field can be tedious. Again, when aeration is a more frequent practice, consider alternating between different kinds of tines.

Follow the Texas Turf Program @AggieTurf (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for more turf tips.

Written By: Dr. Becky Grubbs,  Turfgrass Extension Specialist & Assistant Professor

Come visit the AggieTurf website for more information.

SPN: Preparing for Summer

The school year is rapidly coming to an end and that means cleaning, repairing, and reviewing your IPM records. This newsletter is to help you prepare for the summer and help your IPM program grow.

This room is ready for summer, the teacher has placed all their supplies in storage containers. The room can have it’s deep cleaning and if custodial or the teacher finds evidence of pests in August, then you know where to start.

Before school ends be sure to send out an email to your teachers and principals reminding them to take home classroom pets, food items (even the macaroni art), and other personal items you would like out of their classroom. At the same time, you might need to remind them to store those items they want to keep in the rubber storage containers, so that your custodial staff can easily move these in and out of the classroom to clean.

As your staff cleans each campus, remind them to be on the lookout for evidence of pests. As they move items away from walls and expose the room for deep cleaning, workers need to make note of cockroach droppings, shed skins, wings, and other indicators that mice or cockroaches are living undetected most of the year, and report these findings to you the IPM Coordinator.

While the dead roaches in this cabinet is important. What I see is openings behind the wall where they can enter and live (focus at the end of blue lines). Everything needs to come out, cleaned, and monitor for activity. If activity is found then baiting is best for this area.

Have them look for small openings along baseboards, bookcases, ceiling tiles and especially in storage rooms. Are they sweeping up a lot of spilled items like beans, sawdust, dust bunnies, etc. that could be an indication of insect or mammal activity?

Before the food service group leaves for the summer it’s critical that they place as much of their food items like condiments into rubberized sealed containers, so that those items are not subject to contamination. At the same time, food service staff should ensure that all food processing equipment is cleaned inside and out. Too often the inside doesn’t get cleaned and this food debris can become a food source for a hidden cockroach. Monitoring devices should also be placed in areas that have floor drains, several cockroach species can use these sewer pipes as highways to find food and shelter. Remind food service that the IPM coordinator and pest control applicator will need to access the food storage rooms during summer. Too often I see this left unnoticed for six weeks because ‘no one has the key’ and the kitchen manger comes back to a cockroach or mouse problem, because no one could inspect this critical area.

This kitchen was cleaned up for summer. What is not obvious in this image is the coldbase that is missing and broken along the ledge and walls. There was evidence of German cockroaches in the equipment, in the ceiling tiles, and other areas.

This is one of the monitors from the kitchen (left). With a pest problem like German cockroaches this requires frequent inspections to ensure control measures are working. Look closely notice the floors and wall behind.










Finally, taking time during the summer to organize your IPM paperwork can help you identify unknown pest problems. If you haven’t filed all those service tickets that your pest control contractor has dropped off, now is the time to do it. As you file these away, hopefully by campus, look to see if there is evidence of pests. What comments were made by the service technician, do you have work orders that correlate information for those service tickets? Most often as I inspect schools for their compliance with the TDA school IPM rules, it’s looking at the service tickets that I find the small mistakes.

When you are asked by the TDA inspector “what is your monitoring program” they really want to know what you the IPM coordinator and the pest management professional are doing to prevent pests in your schools.

Monitoring can lead to making a pesticide application, but this simple statement is one of the most confusing aspects of the school IPM rules. Because monitoring and pesticide application may not go hand and glove. Depending on where your school campus is located, how old the building is, how has it been managed, and how active is the custodial service at that location can all play a role in pest activity. We have all heard the slogan, location, location, location, except when it comes to schools it is all about the location. If you have a campus that is located on low land that is prone to a lot of moisture, you are going to have a variety of problems. Does the campus have water standing under the building or in the building (basement areas)? These areas need to be monitored to make sure that insects, vertebrates, and mammals aren’t finding a place to live as well.

Areas located on school buildings can become the perfect place for pests to thrive. Make sure these areas are maintained annually.

Age of the structure is important, from the time a school campus is built until it is no longer part of the district can play a key role in how the public and students perceive the District. If the campus looks worn down, not cared for: vegetation left unmanaged, lawns unmowed, soffits and eaves with missing pieces, anything that can be fixed needs to be fixed or the public thinks “we don’t care”. If a mouse can use ¼ inch (size of index finger) to enter a building, think what else can gain entrance. Birds can make nests in several openings, birds can lead to bird mites later in the year. How about that paper wasp nest that is small now, what will that look like in August? Monitoring is visually inspecting.

Having fresh fruit can bring in fruit flies, so it’s something to train employees on what to recognize.

As you can see monitoring is more than setting out glue boards in the kitchen. Monitoring is a 360-degree process, it’s an assessment of what is going on in that setting, at that time. If you have kitchens that serve food, but not prepare food, that requires a different level of monitoring. If your kitchens are preparing food, then food service staff need to be aware of a variety of pests and pest signs. IPM technicians, need to know where to place monitors and remember to chart them and check them monthly. In some of the large high school kitchens I have seen as much as 30 monitoring devices strategically placed so that the IPM team could keep an “eye” on different areas that had potential to have problems. One American cockroach on a glue board may not be problematic if it’s early August and you have dry sewer lines; however, that same cockroach found later in the year and it’s on a counter, then you might need to inspect even more.

When monitoring in high pest areas, PMPs should document insect counts to help show pest reduction.

When you monitor, and you have evidence of a nuisance pest, jumping spiders don’t count, then based on your management plan your pest management professional should be able to make an application. With so many baits on the market, the most common first step is identifying your pest, it’s not just an ant or roach, and then choosing an insecticide bait that works the best for that specific pest. As the IPM coordinator you need to look at the service tickets, if you contract out, to see what your company is using. When I conduct those compliance audits, this is when I notice that the first product of choice isn’t a bait, but a spray. The spray that is used typically has an active ingredient that ends in “thrin” which means it’s a yellow category product and requires a form as well.

Here are the things the TDA inspector will look for 1) what type of monitoring on you and the pest management company doing? Can you document it? 2) are you posting as required by law? 48 hours in advance of any indoor treatment? 3) does the service ticket have all the information completed that is required by TDA for any pesticide application? Things that are missing, target pest (not just an ant), applicator name and license number, and justification form; 4) not a green category product then a justification form signed by the certified applicator is on file with the IPM coordinator. This last item is the number one violation for Texas School IPM programs. This seems so simple and in some cases like a bunch of red tape, but what this document is designed for is to remind the applicator and IPM Coordinator that there are green solutions, and have you explored those options? In some cases, the product you are using is the best solution, if you can explain that on the form, TDA will be pleased.

Remember we have our fact sheet Recognizing Green Category Products to learn more about Green category products.

Still need to train your employees about IPM, then visit our Training Modules page we have training for everyone from teachers, custodians, grounds, and food service.

SPN: Texas IPM Stars; Head Lice and Bats

AgriLife Extension program bolsters Texas schools’ pest management approach

Writer: Gabe Saldana

More than a decade of work alongside Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts in integrated pest management, or IPM, has culminated in the national certification of four Texas school districts as “IPM Stars,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension school IPM specialist in Dallas.

IPM Star certification from the IPM Institute of North America was awarded in April to Plano, Conroe, East Central and Killeen independent school districts for consistent exemplary marks on the institute’s 37-point evaluation.

IPM is the practice of combining pest control strategies for minimal or zero pesticide use, Hurley said. “Instead of reliance on regularly scheduled pesticide applications, schools using IPM approaches employ proactive pest exclusion practices,” she said. “They emphasize sanitation to eliminate food, water, and harborage for pests, regularly monitoring for pest presence. They use insecticides only when populations are present, and even then, use the least toxic pesticides whenever possible, resulting in cleaner, safer, healthier schools.”

The four districts join Spring ISD, the only other Texas school district to have achieved the national certification. Plano ISD renews its existing IPM Star standing from 2007.

“We have worked with these districts on their IPM programs since about 2001,” Hurley said. “Schools have been required to follow Texas IPM standards since 1995, but those receiving IPM Star certifications have shown themselves to be exemplary in low-human-risk pest management on a national scale.”

The 37-point IPM evaluation that determines an IPM Star certification includes markers like cleanliness for preempting infestation, pest reporting protocols, and pest-control/staff preparedness.

“Maintaining excellence in all these areas is a big undertaking,” Hurley said. “But the certification really shows how Texas school IPM standards stack up nationwide.”

She said the Texas school districts awarded this year were also participants in a 2015 study where AgriLife Extension IPM specialists joined extension programs from across the country to develop a means for standard evaluation of school district pest management programs.

“The evaluation measures we used in that study paralleled those of the IPM Star certification closely enough that we thought our districts could compete successfully for IPM Star recognition, and they have,” Hurley said.

She urged any Texas school district looking to bulk up its IPM approach to reach out to the AgriLife Extension school IPM program by visiting the website, attending one of the two-day workshops, or by contacting directly.

“We want to see Texas schools leading the nation in safe pest control practices,” she said. “This year’s IPM Stars are a sure sign that we’re on the right path.”

Head Lice an old foe

Head lice infest 10 to 12 million people each year in the U.S., making “lousiness” one of the most common communicable conditions in this country. Children transmit lice to one another through the sharing of common items like headphones, ball caps, helmets, and other items that come in close contact with humans and others.  It only takes one adult female louse to begin an infestation. Severe infestations may cause irritation, scratching and the subsequent invasion of secondary infection. Head lice are not considered serious vectors of disease. They are normally found on children, but they can spread to adults, too. Household pets do not carry head lice and lice cannot move in from outside.

Last fall, Blayne Reed, Extension Agent-IPM for Hale, Swisher, & Floyd counties and I worked on updating our department head lice document.  Download it now so the next time the nurse or teacher ask you to spray you can have this handy for them to read.



Download the full PDF file HumanLice_final






Bat Management

It’s that time of year – bats are on the move and before the summer comes here are a few tips to remember.

Once bats have their pups you should not plan on doing any exclusion work, in some states, it’s illegal to exclude bats.  In Texas, we want to protect the bats, but also protect humans and companion animals from rabies.

For more information on bat management check out this past School Pest News article – What everyone should know about bat management

Need to train your staff on how to properly capture a bat, check out this presentation I developed for you to use.


Bat Control In Schools_English



SPN: Are You Ready for Those Spring Pests?

As the rain falls, so does our chances to bring a wide variety of pests into our homes and schools. Two of the most common for spring are termites and ants.

As April approaches so does the emergence of termites. Termites that swarm are actually doing building maintenance a favor. While you may find the idea crazy that termite swarming is doing you a favor, understanding termite biology will make the idea more acceptable.

Native subterranean termite soldier

Termites can damage buildings undetected for a long time because of their secretive, underground habits. The one time of year that termites are most likely to alert people to their presence is swarming season. Termites would do a lot more damage to buildings without evidence of the swarms because problems would go undetected and untreated for longer periods of time.

Termite swarming can start in January and February in South Texas and be as late as April and May up in the Panhandle.

IPM Coordinators must be familiar with the appearance and behavior of termite swarmers, and should encourage maintenance and custodial staff to report termite swarmers immediately. Because swarmers disappear as quickly as they appear, it is too easy to assume the problem is also gone. The presence of swarmers indoors is a sure sign of an active termite infestation.

In most parts of Texas termite swarming activity starts with the construction of a swarm tube in late March or early April. A swarm tube looks innocent enough at initial formation – a small dab of mud or dirt appearing mysteriously on an indoor wall.  Within a week or two, however, when the weather conditions are right, the tiny hole becomes a doorway for dozens to thousands of termite swarmers.

Fortunately, the thousands of termite swarmers emerging into a school office or classroom do not contribute to the indoor spread of termites.  Subterranean termite swarmers that emerge indoors are unlikely to actually start a new colony.  Because they cannot reach soil, any swarmers that emerge indoors quickly die.  However, the IPM coordinator or building manager needs to investigate and inspect the area where the termites swarmed to determine if an active termite colony is in the building.  The inspection can wait until classes end for the day or for thorough inspection you may wait until the school year ends.   You should call in a pest professional to conduct a thorough inspection and treatment.  There are several treatment options, for more information about termites, check out our Urban Entomology website.

The following diagram may be used to train school maintenance staff in how to distinguish between ants and termites.

Remember termites have equal shaped wings, whereas, ants have shorter hind wings

Winged Ants Winged Termites
two pairs of wings, hind wings shorter two pairs of wings of equal size and shape
elbowed antennae hair-like antennae
narrow “waist” between abdomen and thorax no narrow waist


Spring is also the time for many of our nuisance ant species to swarm as well.   Carpenter ants are bicolored ants that are among the largest ants found in Texas, making their swarms dramatic. There are fourteen species of carpenter ants that occur in Texas.

Common indoor species, Camponotus rasilis Wheeler and Csayi Emery, have workers that are dull red bodied with black abdomens. Worker ants range in size from 1/4 to 1/2-inch. They can be distinguished from most other large ant species because the top of the thorax is evenly rounded and bears no spines.

Male (left) and female carpenter ant swarmers. Note the pinched waist that distinguishes these insects from termites.

These ants usually nest in dead wood, either outdoors in old stumps and dead parts of trees and around homes (in fences, fire wood, etc.) or indoors (between wood shingles, in siding, beams, joists, fascia boards, etc.). Ant colonies are often located in cracks and crevices between structural timbers, but the ants can also tunnel into structural wood to form nesting galleries. They often appear to prefer moist, decaying wood, wood with dry rot or old termite galleries.  Sometimes teachers and school administrators are concerned about damage to the structural integrity of the building because they think they might be dealing with a termite swarm. However, damage is often limited because these ants tunnel into wood only to form nests and do not eat wood. Galleries (nesting tunnels) produced by carpenter ants usually follow the grain of the wood and around the annual rings. Tunnel walls are clean and smooth. Nests can be located by searching for piles of sawdust-like wood scrapings (frass) underneath exit holes.

Odorous house ants have a distinct odor when crushed.

The odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile, is considered a pest when it enters structures searching for food, water or nest sites. It cannot sting because it lacks a stinger and will likely only bite if you stick a hand into its nest and vigorously disturb the colony. Occasionally winged reproductives ants found at lights concern people as well. Odorous house ant is common throughout the United States and is the second most common pest ant managed by professionals!  This ant is about 1/8-inch long, dark brown to black and smells like rotten coconut with a hint of other odors when crushed, which gives it some other names like “piss ant”.

In addition to their smell, odorous house ants are accurately named as they are often found foraging along the outside base of a home. Increased indoor activity is often associated with rain. Odorous house ant activity can be observed during the day and night and will be found foraging outdoors in greatest numbers when temperatures are between 70 and 86 degrees F. Odorous house ants use edges, ridges or other guidelines to move from one place to another. Natural (vines, trees and shrubs) and man-made (siding, ground/foundation wall interface, wires, pipes, conduits, baseboards, counters and others) objects may serve as guidelines.

This ant will respond to baits for more information check out this fact sheet from University of Tennessee by Karen Vail and Jennifer Chandler.

To control fire ants on school campuses it is recommended that you broadcast bait using an appropriate spreader.

Another common foe is the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) which is common in all southern states.  As the weather continues to warm up, fire ant activity will also warm up.  Initial imported fire ant mounds are usually found near sidewalks or slabs.  This is especially true in the cool spring because these areas presumably warm up sooner. These ants are aggressive and once encountered can result in stings, equipment failure and unsightly fields.

Despite the warm days with air temperatures in the 80s and 90s, soil temperatures are just climbing to levels where fire ants are foraging for food.  This means that in some areas it may still be a little early for applying fire ant bait.  Currently the soil temperatures ranged from mid-60s to the mid-70s here at the Dallas office.  Research indicates that fire ant foraging doesn’t begin in earnest until soil temperatures reach the 70 degree mark.  Our standard recommendation is to hold off bait applications until May.

While baits are still the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive option for area-wide fire ant control, mound treatments are effective for controlling visible mounds and can be applied any time of year.  Mound treatments are ideally used against fire ant nests that need quick control, like mounds next to the school or in other inconvenient locations.   For more information about fire ants and fire ant control, you can go to the Fire ant website or check out fire ant management plan.

Finally if you would like to confirm if your pest management professional is using a Green or Yellow category product, you can go to our Fact Sheet Recognizing Green Category Pesticides – a fact sheet for how to ID Green products to learn more about Green Category choices.

This article is a combination of documents and information from eXtension, Mike Merchant, Wizzie Brown, Molly Keck, Paul Nester and Janet Hurley.

Are bed bugs worse than we thought?

Written By: Dr. Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist and Professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Bed bugs are trouble. They drink our blood. They soil our homes with their feces and cast skins. They keep us awake at night and add stress to our already stressed out lives. And they’re revolting to most people.

Bed bugs produce an allergenic chemical called histamine to help them aggregate in sites like this mattress welt. Researchers worry that histamine may be adding another environmental allergen to our homes, like dust mites and cockroaches.

Until now, if there was one positive thing that could be said about bed bugs, it might be that they haven’t been found to carry communicable disease. The impact of bed bugs seemed mainly to come down to sleepless nights and the economic sting of pest control expenses.

But newer studies seem to point to a darker side of these blood sucking pests. In 2011 Mississippi researchers Jerome Goddard and Richard deShazo scored postings from three popular bed bug websites. They determined that nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, personal dysfunction and other psychological problems were common among online visitors. Some visitors to the sites were so severely shaken by their bed bug experiences that they scored high on a scale for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition to mental health impacts, in 2014 bed bugs were implicated as potential carriers of the Chagas disease pathogen, Trypansoma cruzi. Michael Levy, one of the senior authors of the study, said “we’ve now shown that the bed bug can acquire and transmit the parasite [in mice].” But it remains to be seen whether bed bugs can pass the parasite to humans. Currently Chagas disease is only known to be transmitted by kissing bugs–large blood sucking parasites most common in Central and South America. If enough people with Chagas disease are exposed to, and fed on by bed bugs, it’s theoretically possible that bed bugs could become a more important vector of the disease in the U.S. than kissing bugs.

Also, we now know that the causative agent for trench fever and several other diseases, Bartonella quintana, can be acquired and passed on in bed bug feces. The effects of trench fever range from mild to severe, even fatal. The disease has dogged soldiers in wartime for centuries, but until now doctors believed the pathogen was solely transmitted by body lice, insects prevalent among refugees, the homeless, and soldiers in camps and trenches. In a series of studies over the past six years researchers have been finding the bacteria in unexpected places. Traces of Bartonella DNA have been detected in head lice (like bed bugs, not common disease carriers), ticks, mites, and even cat flea feces. Now the focus is on bed bugs. In 2015 French scientists found the bacterium could survive in bed bug feces for up to 18 days. As with Chagas disease, the evidence falls short of proof that bed bugs do or can carry this disease to humans; but in light of the ongoing bed bug epidemic, the data are worrisome.

Finally, thanks to a paper published this month by entomologists at the University of North Carolina, we now know that bed bugs are a major indoor source of the allergy-provoking chemical, histamine. Histamine was recently found to be one of the chemicals bed bugs use to attract other bed bugs into aggregations. In this study researchers collected house dust from homes both with- and without-bed bugs, and tested the dust for histamines.

“Histamine levels in bed bug infested homes were at least 20 times higher than histamine levels in homes without bed bugs,” said Zachary DeVries, lead author of the paper. Even worse, histamine levels remained high, even three months after homes were treated with heat treatments.

“Histamines are used in skin and respiratory allergy tests… they cause a bump in skin tests and restrict breathing in respiratory tests,” DeVries said. In addition, he notes in the paper that histamine exposure can result in thinning of the epidermis, possibly posing significant skin effects.

While this study didn’t look at health effects among people living with bed bugs, they speculate that risks posed by bed bug-produced histamine could rival the allergy- and asthma-causing effects of cockroaches and dust mites. They worry that because bed bugs live in bedrooms, where we spend the most amount of time indoors, the impacts might be multiplied.

This should remind us of our history with cockroach allergens. Not until the mid-1990s did public health experts and entomologists prove that cockroach allergens have a major impact on human health, especially in big cities. We’ve never looked at cockroaches in quite the same way since this discovery.

We may eventually have to rethink the way we think about bed bugs. Until then, keep tuned into bed bug news and continue to hone your bed bug fighting skills. After all, who more than your customers deserves a good night’s sleep?

A Few Resources

Advice for parents about bed bugs

Bed Bugs go to School

Bed Bugs Bite Poster  (great for nurses offices) Visit our Bookstore to purchase printed packets 

SPN: Licensing Requirements, Posting, and CEUs

Winter is almost over, and spring is heading our way, and it’s a good time to remind everyone of what the licensing and training requirements are for all employees.  Texas has two sets of laws pertaining to pesticide applicators there is the Occupations Code and Agriculture Code.  The Occupations Code covers the structural pest control applicators; Agriculture Code covers private applicators (Ag) and others like landscape management, greenhouses, right of way, vector, forest, and a few others.


If you are an employee of a governmental entity, apartment building, day care center, hospital, nursing home, hotel, motel, lodge, warehouse, food-processing establishment, school (K-12) or educational institution (University/College), and other noncommercial entity then you are required to obtain a noncommercial pesticide applicator license under structural pest control if want to do conduct any pest control indoors.  On the outdoor grounds public schools require licensed applicators for all pesticide applications.  If you choose not to conduct pest control yourself, you can hire a licensed pest control contractor who can make these applications.

What you need to know when you see a TDA pesticide license

There are a couple of terms that need to be explained before I continue with this article.  General Use Pesticides refer to insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides, etc. that is sold in a container that is less than or equal to one quart for liquid products or less than or equal to two pounds for dry or solid product.  Or is ready for use, requires no further mixing or dilution before use, and is packaged in a container of one gallon or less for liquid products or four pounds or less for dry or solid products. Typically, these products are considered for consumer use and can be purchased at any local hardware store.  However, if you plan to apply some of these products around children, animals, or high public use areas, you still need to have a license in many cases.

In Texas, under the Texas Administrative Code requires anyone who is going to purchase, apply, or supervise the use of restricted use pesticides, state limited use pesticides or regulated herbicides must have either a private applicator license or most commonly most fall under one of these categories landscape maintenance(3A) nursery plant production(3B), vegetation management(5), and/or public health pest control (12) {see the end of the article for what each of these license categories covers}. At the same time, no matter the chemical applied outdoors; applicators should remember to apply by using the appropriate ground application equipment and when winds do not exceed 10 miles per hour.

The reason for the above explanation comes from questions I receive about the ability to purchase weed killer or fire ant baits at a local store and the need to have a pesticide license.  If you are a governmental entity, apartment building, day care center, hospital, nursing home, hotel, motel, lodge, warehouse, food-processing establishment, school (K-12) or educational institution (University/College), or some other group that has public exposure not only are you required to have a pesticide license to apply, it’s a good idea because you want our clients to know you are doing everything you can do to protect them.

Continuing Education Credits

One of the updates coming from EPA is additional certification and training for pesticide applicators, except in Texas we have required certification and training since 1997.  The Texas Department of Agriculture has updated their rules to reflect the changing times, but overall, we have always been ahead of the curve with our requirements.  If you are licensed under SPCS (like I am) then you must receive at least two general CEU credits each calendar year, then 1 credit in every category you are licensed in.  For me I have Pest (P), Lawn & Ornamental (L) and Weed (W), so I must obtain 5 credit each year (January – December) so I can renew my license the next year.

For those of you who are licensed by TDA Ag then each commercial or noncommercial applicator must obtain at least five CEUs prior to the expiration of the license. A minimum of one hour each must be obtained from two of the following categories: integrated pest management, laws and regulations or drift minimization, then the rest can be considered general knowledge credits.  Under the TDA CEU requirement those credits must be obtained from the time your license renews to expiration.  So, if your license renews on March 1, 2018 and expires Feb. 28, 2019 then you will need to obtain 5 CEUs for your license renewal between those dates.

School IPM Coordinators, since 2009, TDA has required that you receive 6 hours of TDA approved IPM continuing education units (CEU) every three years.  Superintendents are required to appoint a school IPM Coordinator or Responsible IPM Coordinator for districts that have more than one person trained in IPM and inform the Department of Agriculture within 90 Days of that appointment.  Once appointed the School IPM Coordinator has six months to successfully complete a Department-approved IPM Coordinator training class. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension offers regionally to obtain some background on what is an IPM program and how it relates to school district operations.

It is also the requirement school IPM Coordinator and the license commercial or noncommercial applicators to maintain copies of YOUR CEU certificates for two years, but in some cases, you may need to hang on to these for five years; especially if you are tied to a school IPM program that only gets inspected every five years, for example.


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.

This is a good time to remind everyone about posting and notification requirements.  For schools, this might be a good time to remind teachers and parent groups about not using their own chemicals at the school garden.  For public schools, remember that outdoor applications for Yellow and Red Category products require a sign, locked fence area, barrier tape or person to monitor for 4 hours after Yellow Category products and 8 hours after Red Category products.

For all indoor insecticide applications Texas requires that the licensee must provide a pest control sign to:

  • a residential rental property owner or manager at least 48 hours prior to a planned indoor treatment at a residential rental property with five (5) or more rental units.
  • the employer or building manager at least 48 hours prior to a planned indoor treatment at a workplace.
  • the chief administrator, IPM Coordinator, or building manager at least 48 hours prior to a planned indoor treatment at a hospital, nursing home, hotel, motel, lodge, warehouse, food-processing establishment, school or educational institution, or day care center.


The Texas School IPM rules have required each public-school district prior to or by the first week of school attendance, ensure that a procedure is in place to provide prior notification of pesticide applications in accordance with the School IPM rules to parents and students.  However, one of the things I’m asked about is how do schools who are close to an agricultural producer ensure their students and staff are not exposed to pesticides from neighboring properties.

Under the TAC Rule §7.37 TDA does have some additional Prior Notification Requirements for individuals that can request prior notification of a pesticide application:

  1. any person who works or resides in a building, house, or other structure located on land adjoining and within 1/4 mile of a field on which pesticides may be applied
  2. persons in charge of licensed day-care centers, primary and secondary schools, hospitals, inpatient clinics, or nursing homes within 1/4 mile of the field on which pesticides are to be applied.
    1. The parent of a primary or secondary school student may for good cause request notification from the department if the person in charge of the school has refused to request notification. (This is above the school IPM requirements)
    2. If the department determines that notification should be given, the department shall notify the farm operator to give notification to the person in charge of the school
  3. any person with chemical hypersensitivities, allergies, or other medical conditions which may be aggravated by pesticide exposure and whose residence or place of employment is within 1/4 mile of the field on which pesticides are to be applied.

Worker Protection Standards (WPS)

Worker Protection Standards applies to those who work in the Agricultural or Greenhouse Industries; however, these standards are good for anyone who is licensed and works with pesticides.  The Texas Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided this information. The requirements in the current WPS are intended to inform workers and handlers about pesticide safety, provide protections from potential exposure to pesticides, and mitigate exposures that do occur.  http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/worker.htm

What Is:

Landscape maintenance(3A): to control pests in the establishment or maintenance of lawns or ornamental plants grown for function or aesthetic purposes in landscapes, such as athletic fields, residential properties, industrial sites, golf courses, parks, and cemeteries.

Nursery plant production(3B): to control pests in the production of ornamental plants or other nursery stock and commercial turf. This category includes plants in field production, greenhouses, shade houses, or similar structures.

Vegetation management (5): to control unwanted plant growth in rights-of-way, in the maintenance of roads, parking lots, utility lines, wind generator sites, pipelines, railways, airports, public surface drainways and ditches, industrial sites including oil field sites, adjacent riparian or natural areas and includes public sewer root control

Public health pest control (vector control)(12): for pesticide applications made for the purpose of treating, repelling, mitigating, or otherwise controlling any non-human organism that is, or may be, a vector of human disease by a pesticide applicator who is an employee of, or an independent contractor for, a federal, state, county, city, mosquito or vector control district or other political subdivision, or a person working under the direct supervision of a pesticide applicator who is an employee of, or an independent contractor for, a federal, state, county, city, mosquito or vector control district or other political subdivision.

Written by: Janet A. Hurley, Extension Program Specialist III

SPN: Flu how the cleaning fits with your IPM program

Between the news, my social media feeds, email, and phone calls I know it’s flu season, how about you? Many who work in the IPM program are also involved in the school environmental health program as well, and there are lots of questions. The three big questions I get asked is what can we use, can we use disinfecting wipes, and do we need to post? Below are some of the best guidelines I can give you, along with some tips and documents to print and post.

Full disclosure this newsletter is more about cleaning and prevention, than what is the flu. And the prevention is more on school hygiene keeping the building safe, which is part of IPM, not what products you need to use.

Man cleaning a desk

Custodian Carl Crossman wipes down classroom tables as he makes his daily rounds. Cleaning in public areas is essential to keep the spread of cold and flu from happening.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have a lot of information on the flu, what to do if you get the flu, and how to clean to help with the spread of the flu. At times like this, knowing how to use cleaning products is key to success.  To kill the bacteria or virus on a surface the cleaning agent must remain on that surface for up to 10 minutes (depending on disinfection/antimicrobial product).   To be safe follow Federal regulations, read the label before you use any pesticide product, yes cleaning products are pesticides.  DSHS has two good websites on How To Clean and Disinfect Schools To Help Slow the Spread of Flu and Information for Schools & Childcare Providers as they state on their website knowing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing.

The Department of Family and Protective Services and Department of State Health Services define sanitizing. They recommend for the sanitizing process to be effective, you must follow these four steps in order:

  1. Washing with water and soap
  2. Rinsing with clear water
  3. Soaking in or spraying on a disinfecting solution (at least two minutes). Rinsing with cool water only those items that children are likely to place in their mouths; and
  4. Allowing the surface or article to air-dry.

Sanitizing should be done on those surfaces everyone touches. The obvious are doors, door handles, and facet handles.  The not so obvious, door handles in bathrooms, computers (screens, keyboards, headphones), shared devices like microscopes, keypads to enter a door, refrigerator doors in the breakroom, and the list goes on, the key sanitize those areas that most people touch frequently.

When it comes to cleaning materials the next big question I’m asked is about disinfecting wipes.  While these are convenient cleaning wipes, some common sense needs to be used if you choose to use these in your school district.  First, they are pesticides under the U.S. EPA Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Under FIFRA pesticides must have two statements; 1) signal word (Caution, Warning, Danger) and 2) child hazard statement (keep out of reach of children), these requirements are to alert the user that these products require personal protective equipment and cautionary use around children.  Second, using these cleaning wipes for a quick clean up is great, but to keep things like door handles, common use items (fridge handles, faucet handles), and in food preparation areas use the sanitation steps above.  Should you wear gloves when using these wipes?  If I personally were cleaning up a small mess in my kitchen, nope not worth it to me.  However, if I’m going to use these wipes every afternoon to wipe down the headphones, keyboards, desktops, paint brushes, microscopes, etc. (items the kids touched) then yes, I would probably wear a pair of disposable gloves that way I’m doubly protected.  Our hands are very porous, hence why it’s so easy to transfer the cold and flu, but we also must protect ourselves from cleaning solutions entering our system as well. Remember after using these wipes wash your hands with soap and water.

Do I need to post?  No, not unless one of the products you use require you to do so.  If you are doing deep cleaning, using a misting type device, or some other type of cleaning that requires the employees to be protected, then you might want to think about notifying employees of these efforts. Again read that pesticide label, the label is the law.

Making sure employees are aware.

Recently the U.S. EPA updated their rules regarding the protection of agricultural workers for additional training, but with these updates it’s a good time to remind you about some of those training requirements for your school when it comes to using respirators while cleaning or applying herbicides.

face respirator

An example of a respirator that would require a medical evaluation before using.

If you have employees who need to wear a respirator to clean or repair an area, since 2015 employers are required to conduct medical evaluations of each employee.  Wearing a respirator can put an extra burden on the body. People with underlying medical conditions may put themselves at risk if they work while wearing a respirator. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires medical evaluation before any employee can even be fit-tested for a respirator.

If respirators aren’t required in your workplace but employees wear them voluntarily, OSHA says you still must perform a medical evaluation. The sole exception is if the only type of respirator voluntarily worn is a filtering facepiece respirator (the paper mask type), then OSHA doesn’t require the medical evaluation.  This means schools and all other employers still must make sure that their employees are medically fit to wear one of these devices.

The eight-page medical evaluation has portions for the employer and employee to complete.  Upon completion the employer must select a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, such as a registered nurse or physician’s assistant, to perform the medical evaluation. The evaluation must consider the individuals health, specific job description, respirator type, and workplace conditions.  To learn more about medical evaluations please visit the OSHA website to view the Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire Check out this link.  This is one of many areas that you will be learning more about over the next year as we discuss all the changes for pesticide applicators.

bathroom door handle

Seal_N-kill film placed on bathroom door handle.

Finally, if you are interested in something new, check out this website  Seal-N-Kill is a durable, flexible polymeric film that has antimicrobial features.  It was something that caught my eye in 2016, but I haven’t seen much use, yet.  This film is for places like door handles, push plates, and other common surfaces that you can apply this film material on.  The research I have seen shows that after a year the film shows no growth of staphylococcus aureus, how it works on the flu virus has not been tested.  However, this is something to consider, especially if you have certain areas that are heavily used by the public.  I would be interested to learn of your results.

Below are a variety of links for handouts and more information.  Make sure everyone in the district understands their role in this process, the cold and flu are spread by humans so changing behavior is essential.  Make sure everyone washes their hands often, don’t touch your nose and mouth if possible (germ transfer), if you sneeze use a tissue or sleeve (not your hands – germ transfer), and if you are sick stay at home you will get better faster if you do.

Stay Healthy,  Janet

AgriLife Extension Links to be Prepared for the Flu https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/blog/2018/01/11/flu-reported-widely-across-texas-prepared/

Excellent Handout to post Avoid the Flu at School and Work http://texashelp.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Avoid-Flu.pdf

Visit TexasFlu.org  to obtain additional posters and handouts to use with staff and students

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website resources for Schools and Child Care Centers associated with flu https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-schools-childcare.htm

This is a nice flyer to post on the best ways to clean to prevent the flu.  Cleaning to Prevent the Flu

You can also find this handout in additional languages on the CDC website listed above.

DYI- disinfecting solution:

(A) One tablespoon of regular strength liquid household bleach to each gallon of water used for disinfecting such items as toys and eating utensils

(B) One-fourth cup of regular strength liquid household bleach to each gallon of water used for disinfecting surfaces

A Safer Way to Keep Schools Pest Free; Stop School Pests Launches Free Online Courses

New Online Courses Help K12 School Employees Make Schools Healthier Places to Learn

Stop School Pests, a new online training program, is now available to school employees across the United States and beyond at www.StopSchoolPests.com. The training will help schools reduce pest complaints, pesticide use, and pest-related costs, and improve food and fire safety by teaching staff how to prevent pest problems before they occur.

Students spend a major part of each day in school – on average 30 hours each week. Exposure to pests and pesticides can create an unhealthy school environment. Mice and cockroaches can cause or trigger asthma attacks and allergies. Similarly, an over-reliance on pesticides can lead school employees and children to be exposed unnecessarily to dangerous chemicals.

“Schools must be safe, healthy spaces for students and staff. It’s important to manage pests with smart, common-sense approaches that minimize exposure to pests and chemicals,” said Dr. Dawn Gouge who was involved in the project from its beginning and is a Professor and Public Health IPM Specialist at University of Arizona’s Entomology Department. “These training modules will make that possible for any school district, no matter the size or budget.”

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a long-term approach to preventing pests utilizing the least-hazardous, most effective, sustainable and cost-effective methods. Stop School Pests new online training program will provide important tools to help school staff implement more effective pest-control programs.
Teachers, school nurses, administrators, food service personnel, facility managers, landscape and ground managers, maintenance and custodial staff – every staff member plays a role in making sure food sources for pests are minimized and making sure that surfaces and outdoor areas are safe for children to touch.

The Stop School Pests portal offers specific training modules for each role that address the basics of smart pest management, identifies common pests found in schools, and the health risks associated with pesticides and pests. The training is free and open to anyone and is administered by the non-profit organization IPM Institute of North America. Presentation files can be requested at no cost.

The training content was developed by the School IPM Working Group and through a multi-year, nationwide project with funding by the US EPA, the USDA, the North Central IPM Center, and the National Education Association.

Stop School Pests aims to make affordable, accessible training available to all involved in making sure schools are healthy spaces for every child and employee in every community.

All training courses are available at no cost at www.StopSchoolPests.com. After a short quiz, users can download a certificate.




For More Information contact:

Alina Eva Freund, Project Manager
IPM Institute of North America
608 232 1410 x 1007

SPN: Before you go remember these tips

As we come to the end of December and before you leave for the holidays please remember these tips so when you return you won’t be returning to unexpected guests.

This buffet of food left out overnight, or worse over a weekend or extended break can lead to pest infestation no one wants to face.

Tis the season for parties with cookies, pizza, gingerbread houses, drinks, and lots of sweet stuff. All of this left out when you go on break means when you get back you can enter your classroom or work space to find ants, cockroaches, mice and even rats.  Don’t assume that custodial will make it to your area, be a good steward and clean it up, seal it up and make sure that when you get back you don’t have any unexpected visitors.

Storage of holiday decorations, school supplies, and other miscellaneous items usually ends up in cardboard boxes.  Cardboard is great for temporary packaging, but not long term.  Cardboard can harbor roaches, silverfish, mice, and mold.

It’s a fact that we may not want to hear, but clutter does not inspire, it creates chaos!  And of course, nice nesting habitat for mice, roaches, silverfish, and ants which often follow.  No true clutter connoisseur lives or works alone.

A cluttered workspace, be it a classroom or kitchen, creates barriers to efficiency and many (including students) may feel stressed with the informational and visual overload of a cluttered environment.  Clutter also contributes to the accumulation of dust and provides harborage for insects such as cockroaches.  In this way, clutter is more than a stress inducer; it can be a health concern.

De-cluttering has the immediate effect of eliminating pest harborage.  When clutter is reduced, there is increased access to floor spaces, allowing for more thorough cleaning by custodial staff.  The same is true for shelves and inside cupboards.  Where there are nooks and crannies – created by “stuff” – pests will hide and breed among the clutter, there will be allergens and lots of bugs.

Clutter control also helps improve overall school hygiene.  It’s easier for custodial staff to sweep, mop, and dust when things are generally organized.  Minimizing clutter also helps teachers stay organized. It’s much easier to keep your room tidy when your cupboards and bookshelves are not overflowing with stuff!

Here are some tips to keep the clutter down and your area ready for your to work and learn.

This storage room has the potential to harbor roaches, ants, mice and other insect pests that most food service workers don’t want to see. Empty the boxes out or use durable plastic storage containers to store items like holiday decorations.

Kitchen staff

  • Do not use corrugated cardboard for long term storage.  German cockroaches are brought inside our schools hiding in the corrugations.  They feed on the glue starch that holds the boxes together.  Rotate out all corrugated cardboard if possible.
  • Keep pantry shelving free of needless debris. Emptied supply boxes should be broken down and recycled rapidly.
  • Clutter is also a problem around and in drains: debris blocking and clogging up drains can not only lead to maintenance issues, but drain flies love to breed in the scum that accumulates around the edges (and bleach won’t help!).  Make sure all drains have covers, especially sink drains.  There are heavy duty metal sink-drain baskets that can be dish washed.





Leaving mops in the buckets can help cockroaches thrive, it also doesn’t help with mold and mildew. The mops should be hung just like the broom.

Though you are the sanitarians of your schools, in general you are not responsible for de-cluttering areas other than your own.  Custodians can set a great president by maintaining well organized custodial closets.

  • Hang brooms and mops (head end up) on a wall rack; brooms & mops are pest havens as they contain food, moisture, and a protected area in which to feed & breed.  Keep these items hung up.
  • Get good shelving!  Too often, custodians have no shelving or organizational features in their closets.  However, this is a “pest vulnerable area” and without organization it can lead to a rapid decline toward bugs, dirt and filth.  Shelves should be wire (not wood), with the bottom shelf a minimum of 6” off the ground to allow for cleaning under.  Use the IPM program you are part of as leverage for good quality shelving that will get your school on the right track.
  • Custodians: make sure your closets are not reservoirs for cans of illicit pesticide sprays, from classrooms or elsewhere.



This campus decided to store all the art supplies in one room, the problem with this was the cardboard and placing items in front of the windows. It allowed for ants and mice to enter.


As the educators in your school, you have a great opportunity to set an example for students and staff.  Get the kids to help with the following suggestions, too!

  • Art supplies – Cockroaches dine on glue, and crickets, termites, booklice, and silverfish (among others) will readily consume paper.  One guess as to what they do with macaroni noodles and rice!  Keep glue containers clean and capped.  Store art supplies in plastic pest-proof containers, such as Tupperware or Rubbermaid, with tight-fitting lids.
  • Storage closets – have you ever seen a well-organized teacher’s closet?  We have and generally they belong to the best of the best teachers we know.  We appreciate that it’s tough for teachers to create projects and educate on a budget; of course, you want to keep all that stuff!  But ask yourself one question: have you used it in the last 2 years?  If the answer is no, then toss (or recycle) it.  This goes for the rest of your classroom, too.  No cheating by stuffing storage bins full of things you plan to get to “one day”.  Benefit from the extra space and let the clutter go!
  • For everything that’s left, organize it, and store it in plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids.  No boxes – you’re importing cockroaches AND feeding them when you use corrugated cardboard!
  • End-of-week 15-minute desk clean off.  Think “file not pile”.  Documents go in one of 3 places: the file cabinet, recycle bin, or trash.  Have students do this with their desks as well!

At this campus the lost and found pile of clothing kept growing over the school year. Piles like this can harbor roaches, ants and bed bugs.

Lost & found

  • Principals – make sure there is a designated person responsible for maintaining this area.  Pest inspections almost always reveal a neglected lost & found area, with clothes lying on the floor in heaps.  This is wonderful pest harborage, and you can expect to find cockroaches, mice, ants, and crickets. In this age of bed bugs you could also be harboring these unwanted guests by neglecting the pile of clothes you keep.