SPN: Resources We’ve Got Them

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Online Training Now Open

If you need training, you know AgriLife Extension is here for you. However, sometimes our schedules don’t often mesh. Introducing the Texas Department of Agriculture approved online 6-hour school IPM coordinator training course.  This course has been designed to aid anyone wanting to learn more about their school IPM program or need to fulfill the required training for all new school IPM coordinators.

There are six modules that are designed to educate about integrated pest management tactics in school settings as well as the legal requirements associated with the Texas School IPM Rules.  Each section has knowledge based questions at the end, this is designed to aid the participant to take the final exam. While the in-person school IPM training does not require an exam, in order for our course meet TDA approval each online client will need to take a short quiz at the end and pass with a 75% score to receive a certificate of completion.  The certificate will fulfill the requirement of successfully completing a Department-approved IPM Coordinator training course within six months of appointment or obtain at least six hours of Department-approved IPM continuing education units (CEU) every three years.  The cost for this class is $45 and you don’t have to complete it in one day.

Other courses you can find at AgriLife Online Courses is one of great interest to many of our readers IPM for School Gardens 101.  This free course is for school IPM coordinators, principals, teachers, and volunteers who support school gardens.  This module explains the school IPM rules, as well as reminds teachers and volunteers that they cannot make pesticide applications on school property.  Sign up at the Online Courses website to be the first to learn about new CEU classes as we add them.

Management Plans

odorous house ants feeding on liquid ant bait

odorous house ants feeding on liquid ant bait

The Texas School IPM Rules require that each school district as part of their IPM Program have many different requirements.  However two areas that many school IPM coordinators struggle with is having a monitoring program to determine when pests are present and when pest problems are severe enough to justify corrective action and having a set of written guidelines that identify thresholds for when pest control actions are justified.

Over the summer I moved all of the IPM Action Plans to the the School IPM Website.  While doing this I updated the plans and organized them so that coordinators and pest management professionals can use these documents as guides.  Each action plan has the following sections: general information, identification, monitoring methods, suggested thresholds, non-chemical and chemical controls.  Under the non-chemical section there is detail for sanitation, cultural, physical and mechanical controls.  The IPM plans are designed to educate everyone on the best way to control each pest identified in the plan.  For example, there are several ant management plans, since ants do not always react the same to certain control measures, these plans help to identify and manage the most common pests seen around TX schools.


Spiders on the Move

With the changing on the weather many of you will start to notice a spider or two.  It is important to remember that there are many different species of spiders in Texas, but only the recluse and widow spiders have venom that is harmful to humans.

Black Widow spiders like to hide

There are several species capable of inflicting a harmful bite, but relatively few envenomations result in long-term injury. Spiders generally will not bite unless accidentally trapped against the skin or grabbed. Some species actively guard their egg sacs or young. Many spider species are too weak to puncture human skin. When envenomation does occur, mild reactions may include slight swelling, inflammation, burning or itching sensations lasting a few hours. Spiders of medical significance include widow spiders (Latrodectus spp.), recluse spiders (Loxosceles spp.) and yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium spp.).

Spiders are often implicated by medical professionals when patients present skin lesions. However, a US study showed that of 600 cases of suspected spider bites, approximately 80% were not caused by spiders. Very few fatalities occur, usually fewer than three annually. Widow spiders have a neurotoxin in their venom, which is potentially lethal.

Dr. Merchant wrote a post a few years ago about Wolf Spiders: Never more than 5 feet from a (wolf) spider is a short read for everyone living in the south on what spiders to expect if you live in the area.  You can also find the IPM Action Plan for Spiders as well on the website.

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SPN: Back to School Reminders

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As the new school year starts this is a good time to remind your staff about your IPM program.

Education can be conveyed using posters, newsletter, emails or personal communications.

Many of your new teachers may not be aware of the TX school IPM law and rules, it is your job as the District IPM coordinator to inform them of this rule and ensure they know what to do if they have pest problems. One of the best things you can do is send out is an email reminder letting them know if they see a pest or pest activity to let you know. Reminding them about things like doors that don’t seal properly, signs of water leaks, or areas not being cleaned regularly can all lead to potential pest problems. You will also want to make sure all of the school staff is aware that only licensed pest management professionals can make pesticide applications. That they can’t bring pest control products to school, that includes snap traps, glue boards and pesticides.

The School IPM rules require that by the first week of school attendance, ensure that a procedure is in place to provide prior notification of pesticide applications to parents, or guardians of children attending the facility in writing that pesticides are periodically applied indoors and outdoors, and that information on the times and types of applications and prior notification is available upon request.

2 samples of 48 hour posting notification

The sign on the left is the standard 48 posting notification that TDA publishes on their website. The sign on the right is something AgriLife Extension developed with TDA for schools to use.

This is also a good time to remember that for ALL indoor pesticide applications the law still requires that you must post a pest control sign in an area of common access at least 48 hours prior to each planned indoor treatment and make a consumer information sheet available to any individual working or residing in the building upon the request of that individual. This includes using items like roach or ant gel baits, crack and crevice treatments, and other Green Category products. Things that are exempt from 48-hour posting are non-pesticide control measures, non-pesticide monitoring tools and mechanical devices, such as glue boards, snap traps, insect light traps, and live traps.  School 48 hour posting sign

On school district property you are required to post a sign at the time of any pesticide application. This sign will remain in place based on the category of the product and if there any additional label restrictions. For Green Category products the sign must go up prior to the application and can be removed once the application is done. Yellow Category products the sign must go up prior to the application and must remain in place 4 hours AFTER the application is complete. Red Category requires that the sign remain in place 8 hours AFTER the application is complete and you follow the posting like Green and Yellow. Remember for all Yellow and Red Category products the pesticide applicator must complete a Justification form.

While we are on the subject of outdoor treatments, I have received calls and emails asking about the using glyphosate on school property. Currently there are no restrictions on using this product or any other pesticide product provided it is registered (licensed) by the U.S. EPA and TDA. In some counties in TX, the Department of Agriculture does have restrictions on certain herbicides so be sure to check with your pesticide distributor before you purchase any new product.  Check out this handout from Dr. Scott Nolte on Glyphosate Info 

Be sure to keep bait stations clean and with fresh bait. Make sure they are secure so that children or non-target animals can open or move.

Finally, the other question I receive a lot has to do with the use of rodenticides on school property. It’s been almost a decade since the EPA implemented the Rodenticide Mitigation Decision which limits how rodenticide formulations are manufactured and sold. This decision was to tighten safety standards to reduce risks to humans, pets, and non-target wildlife. Where a specific product is authorized for use depends upon whether the bait station component of the product has been shown to be resistant to tampering by young children and by dogs as well as whether the unit has been found to be weather-resistant. Read the labels of these products before purchasing any of them to make sure that the product obtained is labeled for use in the place(s) that you intend to apply it. When it comes to rodent management this is one tool in your toolbox, sealing doors, plumbing penetrations and other ways that mice and rats can enter a building is one of the best things you can do to prevent rodents from entering a structure.

For more information on Understanding the EPA Rodenticide Risk Mitigation Decision this link will take you to the National Pest Management Associations document on this topic.  It’s worth the read.

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SPN: Hot Weather Pests and Remember to Monitor

Hot Weather and Pests By Dr. Mike Merchant

It’s summer in Texas and either you saw too much rain this spring, or not enough but no matter where you live the summer pests are out.
Some pests are more troublesome during extreme conditions, while others flourish during more typical conditions. Here are a few observations concerning current weather conditions and pests.

  • Millipede mass migrations commonly occur in the fall, but can also happen in the spring and summer. Above average rainfall is likely to blame for this year’s invasions. But such invasions don’t occur overnight, as it takes millipedes several months to develop. It may be that waterlogged soils are forcing millipedes out of the soil in search of drier spots. For this reason it’s usually unnecessary to spray insecticides indoors for millipedes. Instead use the vacuum indoors and focus your control actions outdoors. Make sure mulch is kept away from building foundations, and that weep holes and other entry points are screened or sealed. In severe cases it may be helpful to apply a pyrethroid insecticide (in the form of granules or sprays) around the perimeter of the building and around windows and doorways. Most of the time, however, millipede infestations go as quickly as they came, and insecticides are not needed.
  • Drought and high temperatures put many trees and shrubs under stress. Stressed plants are more susceptible to some pests, especially borers. Extra care should be directed towards valuable landscape plants during periods of drought. Make sure high value trees receive extra water, look for signs of borers or other stress. At the first sign of borer attack, consider applying a borer preventive spray, such as permethrin.
  • Spider mites are another landscape pest likely to cause more damage during hot weather. Inspect shrubs and plants for the telltale yellow stippling patterns on the tops of leaves. Water mite prone plants regularly, prune the most heavily infested plant parts when practical and consider applying a mite control product to high value plants.

    Fire ants carrying bait back into the nest to feed the queen and brood.

  • Fire ants may appear to disappear during stretches of hot, dry weather. Don’t be fooled; fire ants still flourish underground. They will reappear quickly following rain events. If you have not already treated sensitive areas for fire ants, do it now. Most fire ant baits and residual insecticides require several weeks for control. Apply fire ant baits as late in the day as possible—early evening is best. Fire ants do little foraging during the day in mid-summer, and baits exposed to the baking sun degrade quickly if applied during the heat of the day. Fire Ants and the Texas IPM in Schools Program
  • Rodents are often driven to buildings to seek water and escape extreme temperatures. Summer is an ideal time to ensure that buildings are pest proofed and rodents are under control. Remember they only need the size of 1/4 inch the size of a dime to start to make entry into your building.  This is also a good time to start watching the bats as well, if they have made a home in your building within the next few weeks you can start watching when they leave so you can start to prepare to seal up and exclude them from your campus this fall.
  • As temperatures rise and creeks and ponds dry up, conditions improve for certain species of mosquitoes. Eliminate or treat small bodies of standing water in creek beds, ditches or temporary ponds. Such sites are more likely to breed encephalitis and West Nile virus-bearing mosquitoes. Visit our website Mosquito Safari  for a great watch to and learn about mosquitoes. Great resource for teachers as well!

Monitoring for Insects. When is it necessary?

Nearly every book, leaflet and training course on integrated pest management touts the importance of using traps and sticky cards and monitoring for pests. If you are not monitoring, the sources say, you are not really doing IPM. At the same time, the Texas School IPM Rules also require that you monitor, but how do you do it?

As many IPM coordinators soon learn, monitoring and record-keeping is time-consuming and expensive. And just what do you do with all those numbers and data? Technicians typically have a limited amount of time they can spend in an account or a given school, and time spent checking traps and recording numbers of insects can take away from other more important activities. And yet this is one of the most important steps in pest management – if you don’t know what you have and how much you have then how do you effectively treat?

Monitoring is defined as use of a sampling method to record pest presence or pest abundance over time. Monitoring, then, can have two functions: detecting pest presence and keeping track of pest abundance over time.

If a pest management technician places sticky cards in a kitchen for cockroaches, but does not check them during each service visit, he/she is not really monitoring. Similarly, if they do not record their findings in a service log, spreadsheet or record-book, then they are not really monitoring.

Monitoring is best done with a specific goal in mind. For example, suppose your district has a kitchen with cockroaches—one of the best-suited pests for monitoring. As the pest management decision maker you want to know if your treatment program is eliminating cockroaches. That is your goal. The technician should record fresh cockroach numbers in a notebook each service visit and those numbers should be averaged and (preferably) charted out to see whether control measures are working.

This sort of monitoring can be a powerful tool. Similarly, traps might be used in a roach-free kitchen to detect problems before they get out of hand. When monitoring for detection fewer traps are usually needed. Detection traps should be placed in areas of previous trouble or where roaches are most likely to enter the building (such as receiving docks and storage rooms).

Do school districts need to maintain sticky traps in all areas of school buildings? Probably not. A monitoring program without a

Depending on your pest, choose the right monitoring device, each one of these devices work for different pests.

cause eventually runs out of steam, stranding lonely and neglected monitoring stations throughout the school. The thousands of dusty and forgotten sticky cards and glue boards found in schools throughout the state serve as a testament to monitoring programs with no goal in mind.

The average school district probably has only one or a handful of locations where intensive population monitoring is necessary. Otherwise, monitoring station use should be kept to a minimum to give pest control technicians more time to focus their inspections on more productive activities. However, this is a good time of year to meet with your pest management professionals and determine what areas need additional monitoring and which areas should be revisited during fall break.

The district written IPM program is designed to help the coordinator, pest management staff and school administrators understand their roles in monitoring for pests and preparing for them before they appear.

Monitoring method

Pests Targeted


Sticky cards Cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, general small crawling insects Keep out of sight and in contact with wall edges. Note where placed so they can be retrieved
Pheromone traps Clothes moths, stored product moths, carpet beetles Very powerful sex attractants make excellent detectors even of small populations
Food traps Rodent (non-toxic) monitoring stations, stored product beetles, fruit fly traps, yellow-jacket wasp traps, termite monitoring stations. Stations or traps that hold a small amount of attractive food. Some stations can be switched to hold toxic bait once feeding or visiting is detected.
Light traps House flies, night-flying insects Should be placed out of view from doorways to avoid attracting pests from outdoors.
Glue boards Snakes, crawling insects, spiders A heavier duty version of the sticky card. You must develop a procedure for what to do with captured animals. Messy.


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Daycare & School Poison Safety

While the end of summer is an exciting time for kids, parents, and educators, it is also a time for an increased risk of illness or injury as students head back to school. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than half of students (ages 5-17) miss 1-5 school days each year due to illness or injury. Studies show that students with more absences have lower scores on national standardized tests. In short, attendance is a key indicator of student academic achievement.

To reduce illness, schools may use cleaning products called “antimicrobials” to kill germs like bacteria and viruses. Antimicrobials play an important role in protecting public health by helping to keep people well enough to work, lowering school absences, and reducing indoor allergens. However, antimicrobials also contain chemicals that may cause serious health problems if used in the wrong way or in the wrong amounts. There are two types of commonly used antimicrobials:

Sanitizers are the weakest antimicrobials available to the public. Some are used to reduce bacteria on surfaces that touch food, while others should only be used for non-food contact surfaces. Always read the label to find out how to safely and properly use any sanitizer.

Disinfectants kill or prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Some also target specific viruses. They are the most commonly used antimicrobial in medical settings and are also used in residential settings to disinfect household surfaces. Disinfectants should never be used on surfaces that come into contact with food.

Children are especially sensitive to cleaning chemicals like antimicrobials. Just because using a particular cleaning substance doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it won’t cause harm to your students. Unsafe behaviors coupled with natural curiosity increase the chances of a child coming into contact with hazardous chemicals. Exposure can happen in multiple ways, including:

  • Swallowing by licking surfaces or placing hands or objects in their mouth,
  • Breathing in toxic vapors or fumes,
  • Chemical residues being absorbed through the skin, and/or
  • Rubbing eyes after touching treated surfaces.

Does your classroom pass the test? Use the checklist on page 3 to help prevent poisonings in the classroom.

Disinfectants in Schools Infographic Read the Label Infographic Disinfecting Wipes Infographic

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) offer a few simple steps to help prevent poisonings at daycare and school:

1. Store cleaning products and chemicals up, away, and out of sight of children, and in their original containers. Keep the following substances in cabinets secured with child-resistant locks:

    • Common cleaners and disinfectants
    • Disinfecting wipes
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers
    • Bug sprays and insect repellents

It is also important to remember that some cleaning products, like bleach and ammonia, can create highly toxic fumes when combined. NEVER mix cleaning chemicals!

2. Read and follow label instructions. Make a habit of reviewing the label on any chemical or product before each use. Follow usage directions, and the directions provided for safe storage and disposal. For antimicrobials to be effective, the surface must stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label. Call NPIC at (800) 858-7378 if you have any questions about the product and the directions.

3.  Apply insect repellents properly. Insect repellents should always be applied by an adult and according to the label instructions. Because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths, the EPA recommends that all repellent products have the following precautionary statements related to children on their labels:

  • Do not allow children to handle this product, and do not apply to children’s hands. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
  • After returning indoors, wash the child’s treated skin and clothes with soap and water or bathe.

For general questions about selecting, storing, using, or disposing of insect repellents, antimicrobials, and other pesticides, call NPIC at (800) 858-7378.

4.  Be prepared for an emergency. Contact poison control immediately at (800) 222-1222 if you suspect that a student or staff has been accidentally exposed to a dangerous substance, or is showing symptoms. Seeking the medical expertise of a poison center specialist could be lifesaving.

The best way for teachers and caregivers to be prepared in the event of any poisoning emergency is to save the contact information for poison control into their smartphones simply by texting“POISON” to 797979. Also, make sure to display the contact information for poison control throughout your daycare or school, in case of emergency.

Additional Resources:

If you have questions any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am – 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

This document was created through a collaboration between NPIC and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Want to share this with your staff, you can print this article out or check out this PDF file from NPIC School Poison Safety_NPIC_2019 


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Fall School IPM Coordinator Training’s

people standing in school kitchen
Becky Grubbs and Mike Merchant looking at grass

Part of our second day is turfgrass management. We spend time outside discussing real world scenarios so you can manage your districts program.

For Texas Public Schools, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been around for over twenty years. And for 20 years Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has been the leader in offering educational programs to assist school IPM coordinators and their school districts have award winning school IPM and IAQ programs.  While Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 4, Part 1, Chapter 7, Subchapter H, Division 7 School IPM Rules require that every ISD appoint and train a school IPM coordinator, we realize that more than 6 hours of training is what is needed to have a superior school IPM program. Our program has in-person trainings for required School IPM Coordinator training, Advanced School IPM (refresher CEUs), pest management training courses, and soon online training modules.


Day One – Required New Coordinator Training

This course is for any school personnel who need to learn about what is required for a school IPM program under the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 4, Part 1, Chapter 7, Subchapter H, Division 7 School IPM Rules.  This class fulfills Texas state requirements for new IPM Coordinators who need the six-hour class to be classified as the designated IPM coordinator.  At the same time, this class fulfills the requirements for the three-year re-certification (refresher course), an introduction to office staff or other school administration in how to adopt and manage an IPM program, and for pest management professionals this course will allow you to understand what is required by the Texas Department of Agriculture Structural Pest Control Service rules. The course will cover legal requirements for schools, an introduction to IPM, how to monitor your schools under TDA requirements, and a hands-on exercise to understand the difference between Green, Yellow and Red Category pesticides.

Day Two – Advanced Coordinator Training

This advanced integrated pest management course allows anyone who needs CEU credit AG and Structural to receive that, along with in-depth training on outdoor management of turf and outdoor area.  This course is a good refresher for school IPM coordinators but is a great course for ground maintenance personnel in charge of managing the outdoor environment.  Common insect pests, diseases, weeds and management practices will be covered in this day long course.  For school IPM coordinators the top ten most common mistakes made by IPM coordinators will also be covered.

To register for one of our in-person courses visit our conference services website at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/   Keyword:  IPM or call 979-845-2604

Two-Day 2019 School IPM Coordinator Training Schedule Cost $210 for both days

  • Instructors Day 1: Dr. Don Renchie, Dr. Mike Merchant, and Ms. Janet Hurley
  • Instructors Day 2: Dr. Mike Merchant, Dr. Chrissie Segars or Dr. Becky Grubbs-Bowling, and Ms. Janet Hurley


Training Dates

Waco ISD: Waco ISD Maintenance, 4315 Beverly Drive, Waco, Texas 76711 October 2 & 3, 2019
Clear Creek ISD: Clear Creek Challenger Stadium Field House, 1955 W. NASA Blvd., Webster, TX 77598 October 16 & 17, 2019

One Day 2019 School IPM Coordinator Training’s Cost is $135 for one day

  • Instructor: Janet Hurley


Training Date

La Pryor ISD, Multi-purpose Building, 311 US-57, La Pryor, TX 78872 August 1, 2019
Region Three Education Service Center, 1905 Leary Ln. Victoria, TX 77901 September 12, 2019
Overton Hotel 2322 Mac Davis Ln., Lubbock, TX 79401 (Note: this is part of the Texas Pest Control Association meeting) September 18, 2019


To register for one of our in-person courses visit our conference services website at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/   Keyword:  IPM or call 979-845-2604

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SPN: The Science of Drainology

phorid fly

“Drainology,” to quote the indefatigable rodent and entomology consultant Bobby Corrigan, “is the study of drains.” And who except a plumber would care to study drains? An IPM specialist of course!

floor drain dirtyDrains provide one of the most important breeding and harborage sites for pests in schools. In order to do a complete IPM inspection and treatment, therefore, you should know something about drains.

Cockroaches and flies are the two most common pests associated with drains. Cockroaches often live in sewers and can easily enter a kitchen or school facility through floor drains. Contrary to what you might think, infrequently used floor drains are more susceptible to cockroach entry. This is because when the water-holding traps that normally seal floor drains from entry of sewer odors dry out, cockroaches can enter more easily from sewage lines. This occurs most frequently with the large American cockroach.

american cockroach

The American cockroach is one of the more frequent visitors to school floor drains in TX.

Infrequently used drains should be screened to eliminate cockroach access, or flushed weekly with a gallon or so of water to maintain water in the trap. Screens may not be practical in areas where food waste and other particles may need to be washed down the drains. In such locations baits applied to the inside of the drain may be used without interfering with drainage.

Another problem occurs when food waste and debris builds up in and around floor drains. This is often overlooked during a sanitation inspection because such buildup may occur in the cracks around the edge of the drain. A butter knife or putty knife can be an invaluable tool for probing and cleaning crevices around floor drains. In addition to grooves around the floor drain be sure to check around and under any cracked or damaged floor tiles next to the drain.

When it comes to drains, sanitation is fly control. The only way to eliminate a chronic drain fly, phorid fly or fruit fly infestation from a room is to locate and eliminate the breeding site. In kitchens, the floor drain is often the site of fly breeding.

fruit fly phorid fly

drain/moth flyFruit flies (left) are identified by their stocky bodies and reddish eyes.  Phorid flies (middle) are humpbacked in profile and have heavy veins in the front of the wings.  Moth/Drain flies (right) have broad, scaly, spear shaped wings that fold flat and form a V-shape when at rest.

To test whether a particular drain is the source of a fly problem, try covering the drain with a piece of duct tape or other sticky tape. Flies will adhere to a piece of tape left overnight and reveal the source of an infestation.

clogged drain

Bacterial deposits in drains are habitats for moth and drain flies. Using microbial scum digesters to clean them can reduce a population.

A bucket of bleach water is NOT an adequate treatment for a floor drain with flies. Physical scrubbing with a brush and bleach solution can work. Or you can use one of the excellent bacterial gel products to eat away slime buildup on the insides of drains. Drain flies, in particular, breed in accumulations of slime that often coat drain walls.

The presence of phorid flies coming from a drain area may indicate a more serious problem. Phorid flies often serve as an indicator of a broken sewage line. As organic-rich wastewater passes through a damaged line, some of the solution seeps into surrounding soil. This can provide the perfect breeding ground for phorid flies. If you have an ongoing phorid fly problem, consider having the sewage lines inspected for leaks and repaired as needed.

One way you can prevent these types of pests from occurring is installing one-way trap guards that allows for water to go down the drain, but closes up when not in use.  This upfront expense on a new or remodeled kitchen may seem steep at first, but as time goes on it can reduce problems in an area prone to multiple pest problems.

Plumbing devices that allow for water to go down, but keeps pests from coming up can be installed in a variety of locations.

plastic device that blocks insects in drains


roof vent Finally one more area you might want to check is roofs.  As the roof ages water can build up, this can allow for moisture to move in that can lead to mold and mildew.  This problem can go undetected until the flying insects are so numerous that everyone is complaining.  This is a good time to make sure that moisture is not collecting on surfaces that support mold/mildew growth.

Written by Mike Merchant and Janet Hurley

Feeling overrun by Millipedes check out this post by Dr. Merchant on his CityBugs website 

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SPN: End of school activities what you should be thinking about this month

standing water around wood building

As the school year comes to end, most of our readers are preparing for the mad rush of numerous maintenance projects that come when students and teachers leave. However, before they go here are some tips to get you through the next month and help you prepare for summer as well.

Moisture Monitoring

standing water around wood building

Poor drainage can allow mosquitoes to breed, and make the building susceptible to other pests. Look for ways to reduce this in your area.

This spring has been extremely wet. With the increased moisture in the air and the soil, there are a lot of pests that will be showing up. This is a good time to remind staff as they have their end of year festivities to be on the lookout for any areas that are showing water spots. Does an area smell musty that didn’t before? Are they seeing new insect pests showing up in restrooms, classrooms on exterior walls, little differences that might not seem like a lot now, could present themselves later this fall as bigger problems. Reminding everyone their role in the IPM and IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) programs at a time like this will make them appreciate your efforts in the fall.

Clutter Removal

This lost and found pile of clothing along with excess cardboard is a great place for bed bugs, cockroaches and mice to thrive.

Be sure to encourage teachers, staff, and students to discard items that they will not need next year. End of the school year is a good time to remind PTA/PTO groups to clean out the closets and toss those old items. Teachers should help students to clean out desks, lockers or other areas where they are known to ‘store’ items, so they go home. Have a bunch of stuff to clean out – think about another group within your community you could donate to. I have often seen the ‘pile’ of lost and found at schools become a mountain, if no one is willing to claim, then why not donate to a homeless shelter instead? Remember this clutter can become a home to mice, cockroaches, ants and mold so keeping everything tidy is good for all.

Outdoor awareness

This is the time of year for picnics, BBQs, and graduations, which also means mosquitoes, ants, and ticks to name a few of our favorite pests. Personal protection and awareness to areas means being prepared to face certain problems. For outdoor events schools can determine a policy that allows for parents to provide mosquito and tick repellent to their children. For certain classes that require outdoor exposure it might be wise to work with teachers and administrators to ensure student safety is considered. Remember the 4 D’s

  • DUSK/DAWN – Stay indoors at Dusk/Dawn. This is the time of day that mosquitoes are most active, so if you can’t stay inside then DO cover up.
  • DEET- Use insect repellents that contain DEET when going outside, especially at times closer to dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If you are not a fan of DEET, there are other repellents you can use, so use one!
  • DRAIN – Remove all areas of standing water. Examples are pet dishes, empty soda cans, and water trays under potted plants. Repair faulty French drains, so the water doesn’t stand. Remove debris from rain gutters. Mosquitoes will breed in this debris since it is normally damp under the debris. Remove all piles of dead leaf material from under trees and shrubs; this also is a breeding site.
  • DRESS – Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going outside. You can also purchase mosquito suits which is a fine mesh netting that can be worn over your clothes.
    Another pest to be aware of outdoors is snakes. Remind everyone to watch for those that slither in tall grassy areas, or where there could be a large wildflower population. The small mammals and birds that use those areas for nesting and eating (food & harborage) are also places for larger prey to lurk as well.

For more information on ways to help your IPM program check out these links:

Mosquito Control Methods and other information pertaining to repellents and mosquito diseases as well.

Integrated Mosquito Management Plan – basic information to help you and others prevent mosquitoes in your area.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has a great website on Venomous Snake Safety and what are the 15 snakes you should know.  Another good resource is the Herps of Texas website herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles and this website has a full list of the snakes you will find in TX.

tickapp.tamu.edu imageHere is a past newsletter article from Dr. Merchant on Fleas and Ticks that will help you learn more about management and control of these pests.  In this article from 2016 Ticks to look out for – by southern states can help you determine what tick species you have.  And remember you can visit our TickApp site to answer all your questions about ticks.

(Note in some cases when you go to open the website in your web browser you might be asked to verify a certificate – DON’T hit Cancel and the site will load.  We have a quirk that we are trying to work out.)  


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SPN: Program, Policy and Plans how can terms help your IPM program.

german cockroach on surface

Since the inception of the Texas School IPM Law and Rules, school districts, IPM coordinators, pest management professionals and regulators have struggled with three words associated with IPM: program, policy, and plan. What are they and why are they important to the success of your program is what we will focus on in this issue of school pest news.

According to the School IPM Law adopted in 1991 and amended in 2001, 2007, and in 2009 each independent school district shall adopt an integrated pest management program that is outlined by the regulating agency (Texas Department of Agriculture/TDA). Within the School IPM rules, TDA requires school districts to have an IPM program. An IPM program is a set of related measures or activities with a long-term aim. The aim for schools is typically no pests inside the buildings and limited pesticide use in and around campuses. The IPM program recognizes that maintenance of a safe, clean, and healthful environment for student and staff is essential to learning.

The key components of an IPM program are:

  • Pest Identification
  • Prevention
  • Recordkeeping
  • Monitoring
  • Notification
  • Evaluation
  • Education of staff
  • Regulations and policies
  • Written IPM plans with thresholds that trigger responses

If you review Rule §7.201, Responsibility of School Districts to Adopt an IPM Program you will notice that the Department of Agriculture outlines several key points of IPM in the written rules.  These rules state that each school districts IPM program will have:

  • school board approved IPM policy
  • monitoring program
  • use lower risk pesticides
  • use of non-chemical management strategies
  • system for keeping records
  • education program to inform school district employees about their roles in the IPM program
  • written guidelines that identify thresholds for when pest control actions are justified

If you compare the bullet items that describe what are the key components of an IPM program versus what TDA requires schools to have as part of their IPM program you will notice several similarities.  And each bullet item is critical to a cohesive IPM program, but the next two “P’s” are critical for guiding the IPM program.

The next “P” in IPM is Policy – TDA and anyone recommending IPM will often mention having a policy statement.  A policy is a course of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business or individual.  The School IPM Policy is written by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and sent to public schools in TX.  TASB has 100 percent membership among 1,023 Texas school districts and works with school administrators to ensure that you have copies of your School IPM policies.

Something we recommend at every one of our school IPM trainings and prior to any TDA inspection is to go find your district IPM policy.  To do this open your favorite internet browser (Chrome, Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) and in the search box type your district name and policy on line, the search should come up with a link to your district page. The webpage view should look like the image below. It will have your district name on the top (notice this example is Manor) and there are two search boxes.  Go to the “policy code” search box and in that box type “CLB”.

Once you do the search you should have a page that looks like the image below.  You should have a CLB local and legal in Word, PDF, and HTML – pick a version of the legal and local, open them, save to your computer and then print for your IPM notebook/files.

This District Policy is one of the most important documents for your IPM program.  The CLB local is the locally approved school board policy for IPM. Within this document you will notice it states only licensed applicators can make pesticide applications on school property, this statement alone can help you explain to teachers and staff on why they can’t make pest control applications themselves.  Secondly, this statement also refers to the full set of school IPM laws which is also referenced in CLB legal.  With these two documents you the IPM Coordinator can use the documents to educate staff, teachers, and administrators about your IPM program. Having a clear and concise IPM policy helps everyone who is part of your organization understand their roles.

The third “P” is plan. Plans are detailed instructions on how key pests will be managed, with detailed monitoring plans with thresholds that determine when treatments are necessary. These plans have preferred tactics and strategies that are typically specific to the pest and contain prevention and management options that are essential to your area of the state.  Plans are written or documented, but don’t need to be approved by a school board as they may need to be flexible enough to manage unexpected situations.  Plans should have basic information about a given pest (fire ants, outdoor cockroaches, mice, weeds, etc.) and then preventative or routine maintenance to keep aware of these common pests you experience in your district.  The plan should also have non-chemical and chemical controls as well.  For some pests like ants and roaches you may have different thresholds depending on species and location, since kitchens are typically more critical than a warehouse, plans will vary by location.

One of plans you should have on hand is for German cockroaches since they tend to hitch rides in back packs.

One of the resources we offer through a collaborative effort of Extension Professionals across the country is IPM Action plans for twenty-four of the most common pests, along with a document on basic IPM practices that you could use with staff when you are training them about their role in the IPM program.  You can find these management plans here – you can download and use with your IPM program.

The final item Texas Schools should consider is a written document like our “Sample Written IPM Program with thresholds” document that you can find on our website under the School IPM Coordinator Notebook page.  This is a Word document so it will download in that format so that you can edit this document to suit YOUR districts needs.   With 1,023 school districts in our state it is hard to customize everything, this document is designed to help you customize your IPM program. This is critical depending on where you are located and where your pest pressure comes from: nature, students, teachers, or staff.   The written program that complements the IPM Policy and pest management plans can seek input from teachers, School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) members, school board members and even administrative staff like risk management and the school nurse.  Using the opportunity to update your written IPM program is also a great way to remind everyone in the district about your IPM program and ensure you are keeping students and staff safe from pests and pesticide use.

Finally, if you are unsure if you are ready for TDA to come visit your school IPM program; check out the school IPM compliance audit I developed it to help prepare for TDA visits.  This two-page checklist allows you to review the items you would need to present to a TDA inspector when they visit for their routine inspection. For those who are not familiar with the Texas School IPM rules the Department of Ag is required to visit 20% of the schools each fiscal year, which allows for schools to be audited every five years provided they are following the rules.  One of services is to assist schools with compliance assistance through site visits. If you are struggling with your IPM program call or email today.

Written By: Janet Hurley, ACE, MPA, Extension Program Specialist

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SPN: Meet the Ladies of AgriLife Extension Turfgrass

brown spot on lawn area

With our spring two-day school IPM trainings just around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to introduce our Extension Turfgrass Specialists.  Dr. Becky Grubbs-Bowling and Dr. Chrissie Segars can’t wait to meet you at our second day of trainings this spring and later in October.

Meet the Scientist: Rebecca Grubbs-Bowling
By Bianca Calderon

Becky is a Texas native and she can’t wait to share her knowledge with you.

From Lubbock to Athens, and now College Station, Dr. Rebecca Grubbs-Bowling, Texas A&M University assistant professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service turfgrass specialist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, helps Texans better understand their turfgrass.

Grubbs-Bowling began her educational journey at Texas Tech University where she gained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture. She later received her doctorate in crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia (UGA) where she researched environmental turfgrass science including precision turfgrass management and improved resource-use efficiency.

Her UGA research also had a social component in which she worked directly with homeowners to better understand the priorities that drove their lawn care decisions.

Since starting at Texas A&M last April, Grubbs-Bowling has worked on various projects that provide research-based education and outreach for homeowners as well as professional turfgrass managers and producers.

AgriLife Extension education and outreach projects include the program “Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters,” geared particularly toward homeowners and AggieTurf which is more for the professional and school market.

The program provides educational workshops and outreach tools needed for homeowners to use the best management practices for residential landscapes. It focuses on protecting water quality by reducing runoff through rainwater capture and providing information on ecologically appropriate quantities and timing of inputs to residential lawns in the watersheds.

Grubbs-Bowling also coordinates the Texas A&M Turfgrass Ecology and Management Short Course, a professional development tool for turfgrass managers throughout the state. She said the four-

brown spot on lawn area

Brown spots in turf can be hard to diagnose. This dynamic duo can help you out.

day short course allows an in-depth understanding of turfgrass systems, with the course’s main goal being to improve resource-use efficiency.

Resource-use efficiency is research or outreach designed to improve how efficiently resources are being used in management, Grubbs-Bowling said. It can refer to any resource inputs: water, nutrients, fossil fuels and more.

“Our objective is to empower turfgrass managers to make confident, well-informed decisions through a combination of applied and theoretical knowledge,” she said. “There’s a desire on our end as turfgrass researchers throughout the country to not only improve the management practices that are being done but also improve the quality of the grasses as a whole so that fewer inputs can go into them.”

With the turf industry contributing about $6 billion annually to Texas’ economy, Grubbs-Bowling said everyone is involved in some way or another with turfgrass, whether it is a homeowner or golf course superintendent.

She said it is important to communicate to landscapers, home builders and communities that the key to a more water-conscious landscape is to focus on growing a healthy, vigorous root system. Deep, well-developed turfgrass roots are known to offer a number of water-related benefits including improved water infiltration and stress response. With a healthy root system, turfgrass will often be able to better withstand drought or flooding.

“No matter how small your little piece of Texas is, you have the power to have an impact on our resources and environment,” she said.

New turfgrass specialist educates on sustainable management, safety
By Gabe Saldana

The newest state turfgrass specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service aims to inspire sustainable management of safe sports fields and other turfgrass applications.

Chrissie hails from SC, but she is a southerner and enjoys the outdoors.

Dr. Chrissie Segars’ office is at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.

Her focus is coaching field managers on a system of approaches where primary goals are user safety and healthy turfgrass. Segars’ extension outreach efforts cover aeration, fertilization, irrigation, variety selection, pests, weeds and a wide array of other practices.

“It’s so important to educate about how all these disciplines work together to cultivate safe playing surfaces and healthy fields,” she said.

Focus on safety

Segars cited several field characteristics that determine safety, which are affected by proper management. They include surface hardness and foot traction among others.

The South Carolina native, in addition to her outreach initiatives, aims to find solutions that support better sports fields across the socioeconomic spectrum. As such, Segars will conduct research at the nexus of best management practices for turfgrass health and field safety.

“My research in Dallas will give me a great opportunity to take the science right to the public and to industry,” she said. “I’m excited to see how this work can improve the field.”

Segars holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and masters’ degrees in kinesiology and horticulture from Louisiana State and Oklahoma State universities, respectively. She earned her doctorate in crop science from Oklahoma State.

Segars joins Dr. Becky Grubbs as AgriLife Extension’s second turfgrass specialist for Texas.

“I’m excited to begin working with all the people involved in the turfgrass industry across the state,” Segars said. “I want to make a strong impact in Texas, keeping turfgrass sustainable, starting with Dallas-Fort Worth.”

Check out our School IPM and IPM Experience House training schedule on our Conference Service Website https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/

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SPN: Reporting for Yellow, Red and Incidental Use treatments.

Next to urban wildlife what readers wanted more information on is staying in compliance or understanding how some of the school IPM rules are interpreted by the Texas Department of Agriculture Structural Pest Control Service Division. So the next couple of issues will pertain to this topic.

Several of the top ten non-compliant problems for Texas schools boil down to paperwork.  Top of the list is failing to have the Yellow Category Justification form.  This failure comes from pesticide applicators not understanding what is considered Yellow category products.

Typically, Yellow category products are herbicides with a Caution signal word, insecticides that are broad spectrum or fungicides.   Active ingredients like bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, fipronil, metaflumizone are all insecticides that can be used indoors and/or outdoors in baits, contact sprays and other methods.  If the active ingredients are in a tamper resistant container than these active ingredients can be considered Green, but if they are applied via granules, spraying, or another broadcast method then they typically are considered Yellow and require a justification for use form. For more information on Green products check out this resource  Recognizing Green Category Products

The Justification form is to be completed by the pesticide applicator, this includes anyone doing grounds applications as well as indoor applications or incidental use.  The critical parts to this form are “description of pest problem” and “justification for use”.  These statements are designed to inform the IPM coordinator and anyone else who asks, “why are you using this product”.  Sometimes the true answer is it’s the only one that works, but that doesn’t cover the regulatory factor. To help illustrate the rule I am including a few examples from past experience for better understanding.

 Example 1: There are multiple fire ant mounds that appeared after a spring or fall rain on an athletic field or playground.  The IPM coordinator contacts the pesticide applicator and requests a treatment ASAP.  The applicator responds that the product they can use is Advion* and they can be out tomorrow to make the treatment, but the fire ants won’t be eliminated for another 2 days.  The coordinator agrees, then the applicator needs to complete the form.  They will also need to post the

This is a sample of what your outdoor posting sign could look like.

outdoor area at the time of application with a sign, or secured using a locking device, a fence or other practical barrier such as commercially available barrier caution tape, or periodically monitored to keep students out of the treated area until the allowed reentry time of 4 hours after application is completed.  Remember the time for reentry starts once the application is completed.  And remember they need to submit your application use record within two business days as well.

Description of pest problem: Heavy rains and varying temperatures have caused fire ant mounds to appear on elementary playground.  Fire ants can sting children which can cause an adverse reaction.

Justification for use: Advion* is a fast-acting fire ant bait that can help reduce and control fire ants.

Example 2:  There is a complaint about ‘roaches’ in several classrooms.  Your pest control contractor determined that both American and German cockroaches were present and chose to use Tempo Ultra WP*.  Since this will be an indoor treatment remember no students can be present and a notice must be posted 48 hours in advance, and it’s up to the coordinator that this is done.  The applicator needs to complete the justification form and present that with the service ticket.  The coordinator needs to ensure no students can enter the treated area 4 hours after the application has occurred.

Description of pest problem:  Wing of school campus has had water leaks, cardboard storage and other problems that have led to a heavy infestation of German and American Cockroaches.

Justification for use: Tempo Ultra WP* is a fast-acting insect control measure that will knock down the current population so that IPM measures can be implemented after this high presence of cockroaches is reduced.

Red Category justification forms are also in the top ten in noncompliance with TDA School IPM inspections.  The following example is designed to help you understand documenting a Red category product.


Chickweed is a cool season weed that can appear in turf, ornamental beds, or other areas where it’s not wanted.

Example 3:  Your school district has built or renovated a school campus and during construction the turf area was not maintained.  It’s early March and the area is covered in henbit, chickweed, and dandelions.  Your grounds manager comes to you and requests to use Trimec 992 Broadleaf Herbicide* so that he can “kill” everything so we can sod for turf this spring.  This product has a Danger Signal word making it Red Category.

Description of pest problem:  Broad-leaf weeds are covering a large turf area that needs to be eliminated prior to installing replacement turf.

Justification for use: Trimec 992* is a fast-acting herbicide that control a variety of broadleaf weeds.  This product will also allow us to re-establish a turf area within three to four weeks.

As this is a Red category product you will also need to post the outdoor area at the time of application with a sign, or secured using a locking device, a fence or other practical barrier such as commercially available barrier caution tape, or periodically monitored to keep students out of the treated area until the allowed reentry time of 8 hours after application is completed.  Remember the time for reentry starts once the application is completed, so you might want to do an application like this when you know you can restrict student use for a full day.

Another frequent item that schools make mistakes is who can be trained for incidental use and what types of pests can be treated under this heading.  Incidental Use allows the IPM Coordinator the ability to train someone within the district, whose primary responsibility, is NOT to respond to pest complaints or calls, but to treat an occasional pest problem.

For this to happen, the pest problem must be considered an emergency like fire ants in a classroom, bees, wasps, or hornets next to an exit door, or some other stinging or venomous insect.   The rule allows the coordinator to train an individual on a specific insecticide for use in a specific location or area. The coordinator must train the employee on the Incidental Fact Sheet English   or  Incidental use for fact sheet schools Spanish prior to any application.

Example 4: The district has an A/C tech that travels the district replacing filters and other A/C related repairs.  When this individual gets to a site and it has a hornet’s nest in close proximity of

This is an example of a Green category wasp killer.

the A/C unit, this individual under Incidental Use could use their supplied can of hornet killer to help reduce the insect population.  This same individual would need to complete a Pesticide Application Record for Incidental Use and return that form to the school IPM coordinator.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) also requires the IPM Coordinator to train this individual on incidental use fact sheet, basic information about the product they are using like proper usage, PPE, and other things they need to consider before and during use.  If you or this person finds themselves constantly treating for pests, then TDA would want that person to become licensed.  Incidental use means occasionally dealing with a pest problem, not a weekly remediation.

One of the questions I receive during our school IPM training is how you really handle incidental use.  My answer is simple, train an individual you trust and document it.  Give them a can of wasp killer along with 10 of the application use records they need to complete.  When they have used the can up and you have received all their documentation, then you can issue another can and paperwork.  If you have to make yourself a reminder in your calendar or hand-written note, just be sure to check in on that individual to make sure they haven’t used up the product but didn’t complete paperwork.   It’s on you the coordinator to ensure that everyone is following the IPM program and if they are not, report that to your supervisor or superintendent.

Written by: Janet A. Hurley, ACE, MPA, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Extension Program Specialist III

(* The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the AgriLife Extension Service is implied.)

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