SPN: Licensing, monitoring, and deep cleaning- tips for you.

Howdy Readers,

Before I embark on a much-needed vacation I wanted to share a few items with you so you will have some answers while I’m away.

The most common question I get is “how do I get a license”. This newsletter article has all the information you need plus a YouTube video with detailed steps.

But here is the basic information: Step 1 – Contact TDA to register online – don’t send information to Austin, as it might get lost, but if you apply online they will get that information within 24 hours.  Step 2) sign up and take the 8-hour technician training course – this is good information to help you pass the general exam for the AG or SPCS, purchase the category manuals you need and study, study, and study.  Step 3) Once you receive your letter from TDA informing you are now eligible to take your exam from PSI. PSI is a testing site that is open long hours, weekends and are found across the state. You must have the letter from TDA before you can take an exam.

Next question I receive is on how do I keep my IPM program up to date and do I have all the right information? This link will take you to an article on how to keep your program organized. 

Using these small sticky cards in classrooms, kitchens and other areas helps alert the coordinator and PMP what insect pests are in the area.

What confuses many IPM coordinators is what does TDA mean by monitoring and thresholds? Monitoring and thresholds are commonly associated with indoor insect pests but can also be used outdoors to decide specific grounds maintenance routines like fire ant baiting and the use of pre-emergent versus post emergent herbicide treatments. For any integrated pest management program to be effective you must know what you and where it lives. Once that has been determined then it’s the use of the scientific knowledge of the pest’s behavior that will lend itself to an action plan that uses metrics to control or prevent this pest. Thresholds are not meant to be rigid they are designed to be guides to help the coordinator, pest management professional and district administrators understand the steps needed to control pests. Check out this article from 2016 on using glue boards to monitor in your IPM program for more details on this topic. 

Finally, as your campuses close for the summer check out this article from December 2020 for things to look for as you schedule your deep cleaning program.  Remember exclusion is the best way to keep insects, rodents, bats, and birds out of your buildings.

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SPN Spring Updates

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Hello everyone,

I realize that it has been a quiet late winter and early spring from the school IPM team; however, this newsletter is designed to catch you up.

For those of you who are looking for school IPM coordinator training, AgriLife Extension has three two-day events coming this year. Our prices are still the same since 2007, $210 for both days, $135 for one day only. If you attend the first day you will receive a certificate that indicates, you have taken the 6-hour required course. In addition to those 6 hours if you are licensed in the 3A category you will receive 3 CEU credits. If you are licensed in SPCS you will receive 5 hours.

On day two we will cover ants, mosquitoes, weeds, IPM and laws & rules. This will allow participants to obtain 6 hours SPCS CEU credits or school IPM refresher course. If you hold a TDA AG license (3A, 3B, 12) you will receive 5 CEU credits from TDA. If you hold a registered sanitarian license you can also receive credit for each day attended. To see the full agenda, visit our website here

Location                                               Training Date

San Antonio region                         May 11 & 12, 2022                                          

San Antonio ISD Central Office, 514 W. Quincy Street, San Antonio, Texas 78205

Registration direct link  School IPM Coordinator Training (registration)

Houston Area                                    September 14 & 15, 2022                             

Fort Bend County AgriLife Extension, 4332 Highway 36 S, Rosenberg, TX 77471

Registration direct link School IPM Coordinator Training

Central TX Area                                October 12 & 13, 2022                                  

Round Rock ISD: Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, 10211 W Parmer Ln, Austin, TX 78717

Registration direct link  School IPM Coordinator Training

If you wish to be invoiced for event registration, please fill out this AgriLife Events Invoice Request or call 979-321-5005 for assistance.

Class time is 8:30 am to 5:00 pm with lunch typically provider by one of many sponsors. Participants will receive a notebook, packet of IPM posters and additional handouts depending on the topic and supplies.

Applicator Licensing

Many of you have asked about obtaining a license for yourself or an employee. Remember this is a three-step process 1) contacting TDA to sign up a person to receive the license (AG or SPCS); 2) take the 8 hour technician training (this helps with passing the general exam); 3) upon receipt of the letter from TDA to the license applicant (who is getting the license not the district) sign up with PSI to take the exams.  When you take the exams be sure to select the correct license category ag versus structural, then making sure you select the appropriate exams for you license. Everyone must take and pass the general standards exam ($64) and then depending on your license desire you will at least one more category exam ($64). This past newsletter article and YouTube video is designed to assist you get through all these steps  Still not sure then please contact the staff in Dr. Renchie’s office at 979-845-1099 or 979-845-3849, they are there to help get you licensed. 

News From Department State Health Services 

Funding Opportunities
Urban Schools Agricultural Grant Program

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has opened the Urban Schools Agricultural Grant Program. The grant will fund agricultural-related programs for urban elementary and middle public-school pupils enrolled in districts with populations of 49,000 or more. The program helps improve students’ understanding of agriculture through projects such as school vegetable gardens. These projects can provide lessons not only in horticulture, but also in water conservation and nutrition. The program provides up to $2,500 each for the funded elementary and middle schools’ agricultural demonstration projects. Applications must be submitted by May 5, 2022. View the TDA Urban Schools Agricultural Grant description and application.


Nutrition Environment and Services
Grow Your Own Salad Lesson Plan

Kids Gardening offers a free lesson plan to support young people growing their own salad during any season. The lesson plan includes a materials list, description, and specific instructions. The lesson can be used with a wide age range of young people. Download the full lesson plan from Kids Gardening.

Health Education 
Celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week: April 25-29, 2022

Action for Healthy Kids created a wellness themed week to celebrate and encourage kids’ health. Celebrate Every Kid Healthy week at school and at home by planning activities, events, and lessons to promote health and wellness among students and families. Action for Healthy Kids resources and event ideas are free and available for download.

Something a little outside the IPM toolbox.

In a recent edition of the California School & Child Care IPM Program newsletter they posted these resources of using birds of prey as a way to oversee a variety of pest problems. Biological control doesn’t always mean lady beetles feeding on aphids. Using birds of prey to help manage rabbits, rodents, voles, and sparrows is a natural way to keep nature in balance and a way to educate students and staff about the cycle of life. To learn more about raptors for biological IPM? Check out these Department of Pesticide Regulation resources!

 

 

 

 

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Texas bats to emerge soon: Learn more about the risks, benefits of bats.

Tri-color-bat
freetail bats in flight

Mexican Free tail bats emerging from Frio Cave

Bats are beginning to become active in some southern parts of the state, and while cold fronts could reduce activity, it is a good time for the public to be aware of the benefits and risks associated with Texas species.

Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service integrated pest management specialist, Dallas, said Texas residents should expect bat activity to increase as temperatures climb.

Hurley said bats are typically more prevalent in areas with agricultural fields in proximity, but cities like Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Waco, Temple and College Station and the surrounding suburbs have higher bat populations.

Bats will soon be exiting torpor as temperatures allow them to activate and seek food and water, Hurley said.

“Activity will be on the increase over the coming weeks and months. Once evening temperatures are consistently 70 degrees, it will be game on,” she said. “That tells them it is time to be out there feeding on insects.”

Billion-dollar bats

Tri-color-bat

The tri-colored bat is among the 33 species found in Texas. They historically ranged in the eastern half of the state but have been reported as far west as Lubbock County. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research)

Bats consume large amounts of insects, including crop-damaging pests, and are considered a beneficial species, she said. But they can also be a nuisance and pose a public health risk. It is important for people to be mindful of their presence and role in the environment and cautious during encounters.

There are 33 bat species in Texas, representing one of the most diverse bat populations in the U.S. — a population that is growing.

Bats roost in various habitats, including caves, trees and bridges, but they are increasingly found in buildings. They typically roost near food or water sources, but some bats travel miles each night to eat their favored foods.

Texas bats consume some mosquitoes, Hurley said, but their diets consist primarily of moths, including corn earworm and armyworm moths, and beetles. This diet plays a large role in controlling insect pests in agriculture. It is estimated Texas bats eat enough insects to save producers over $1.4 billion annually in pest control costs alone.

“They literally are billion-dollar bats,” she said. “We have resident bats that never leave, but many species migrate into Texas from Mexico, and some migrate from Mexico up to Wisconsin. Many times, their migration will coincide with the migration of the various moths. They can’t consume enough, but they try.”

Take precautions, avoid contact

Roosting sites in buildings can increase the chance of interactions with humans and the annoyances of noise, odor, piles of droppings and the potential danger of rabies.

Only a tiny percentage of bats in colonies carry rabies, but any bat found on the ground is more likely to be sick or injured. Signs of possible rabies infection are flying in the daytime, dirt in the bat’s mouth or teeth, abnormal sounds, cloudy eyes, dehydration, mucous in the nostrils, breathing difficulties and spastic movements or paralysis.

“It’s best to avoid handling bats under any circumstance,” she said. “They may seem cute, but a grounded bat during daylight hours, as with any nocturnal animal out during daylight, there is a greater chance they have rabies or some other zoonotic disease.”

Hurley said a bite, scratch or even saliva transmission could be problematic.

If there is any chance a person may have been bitten or had direct contact with a bat, the animal should be captured and submitted to the local health department for rabies testing. For more information about rabies, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services Infectious Disease Control website.

Bat in the house?

Typically, bats that enter a home do so by accident. If they do not find their way out, they can be safely captured by waiting until the bat lands on the wall or ceiling.

man collecting a bat with a bucket

Use what is handy to gently collect the bat. If no one has touched the bat you can release, if human or pet comes in contact with a bat call your local animal control for more information.

Carefully place a box or coffee can over the bat and slide a piece of cardboard between so that the bat remains inside the container. If there is a reason to believe the bat could be sick and tested for rabies, call your local law enforcement or animal control to have it picked up. If no one comes in contact with the bat, it can be turned over to a wildlife rescue organization or released outside away from people and pets, preferably after sundown.

“Be calm because the more you get excited, the more they will get excited,” she said. “Put on some good leather gloves, let them land somewhere and then use anything like a shoebox or small trashcan and cardboard or something to scoop them into it. If they just flew in accidentally and seem fine, you can take them outside, but make sure to place them somewhere they can launch from like onto a tree. Bats cannot take off from the ground like birds.”

If a bat is found in a room with an unattended child or someone sleeping or there is a reasonable possibility the person came in contact with the bat, the bat should be captured and submitted to the designated local public health agency for testing. Pets should not be allowed to interact with bats.

Bat colonies that take up residence in attics, in wall spaces or under eaves of occupied buildings can be safely evicted. Using pesticides against bats is illegal and using traps can drive bats to other areas of a structure. The best method is exclusion techniques that allow bats to exit but prevent reentry.

A free online AgriLife Extension “Bats 101” course describes practices related to integrated pest management, IPM, practices and bats as pests, how to perform bat removal and exclusion techniques, and how to solve bat problems by applying IPM techniques.

School IPM Coordinators check out the IPM Management plan for bats

Written by Adam Russell, Communication Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife

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SPN: Pesticides: Proper use key to produce food, protect human health

Before you use any pesticide product read the label first.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, recognizes February as National Pesticide Safety Education Month.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Pesticide Safety Education and Extension faculty encourage the public to take the time this month to better understand the role pesticides play in our daily life and how to properly use them, since pesticides can present potential dangers when misused, mishandled, or incorrectly stored.

“During National Pesticide Safety Education Month, we should reflect upon the vital role that pesticides play in protecting our health and ensuring a stable food supply while also acknowledging that if not used correctly, pesticides can cause harm to people and the environment”, said Mark Matocha, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension agricultural and environmental unit pesticide safety education specialist, Bryan-College Station.

To aid in that effort, the EPA has expanded the scope of information available including new resources and videos in Spanish, said Matocha.

Pesticides are regulated by the EPA and represent a broad category that applies to far more products than the average consumer might imagine. Everything from cleaning products and antimicrobials to herbicides and bug repellents are pesticides.

Pesticides and public perception

“Most often, the public has the perception that pesticides are dangerous with few benefits to society”, said Don Renchie, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension pesticide safety education specialist and program leader and coordinator, Bryan-College Station.

“The truth of the matter is that without the judicious use of pesticides, things we take for granted in daily life would be vastly different”, he said. “The public water supply in the U.S. relies on pesticides to remove biological contaminants; mosquito control programs rely on pesticides to prevent the spread of disease; and pesticides are instrumental in preventing food pest depredation”.

Land-grant university driven pesticide education

The National Stakeholder Team for Pesticide Safety Education Program Funding was formed in 2012 to strengthen and support the land-grant university Pesticide Safety Education Program, PSEP.

“That effort began from the tireless work of the pesticide stakeholder team, which was spearheaded by Dr. Carol Somody”, Renchie said. “She and the team envisioned the need to bring attention to the role pesticides play in everyday life, from protecting the food crops we eat to mitigating viruses such as COVID-19”.

The EPA supports land-grant university programs for the education and training of certified pesticide applicators in all 50 states and U.S. territories. PSEPs provide pesticide applicator training on the safe use of restricted-use pesticides by applicators in agricultural, commercial, and residential setting.

As a land-grant university, Texas A&M plays a key role in educating, informing, and serving all Texans. The PSEP part of that service is achieved through AgriLife Extension faculty’s pesticide safety education outreach activities statewide.

Pesticides: Not just for ‘pests’

Remember to read the label, washing hands after use should be exercised by anyone using these products without gloves.

When many people think of pesticides, they think of their utilization to eliminate unwanted insects and pests. But it’s not just about bugs, said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist, Dallas.

“Most people don’t think pesticide safety is something they need to be concerned with”, she said. “But they don’t realize a lot of the chemicals they use day in and day out for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting — especially since the emergence of COVID-19 — are all pesticides.”

Read the label, then read it again

Consumers have been encouraged to read food labels for years, but pesticide labels haven’t received the same focus on education, Hurley said.

“The label is there to be read”, she stressed. “It will tell you everything you need to know—the active ingredients, if protective gear is needed, how much and how to use it, and potential dangers”.

She also said that it is necessary to read the label every time, as different brands and formulations can have different active ingredients and application instructions. Following directions ensures the product is being used in the safest and most effective manner possible. It also means that you are utilizing it in the most cost-effective manner and not wasting product.

“Take disinfecting wipes for an example, it doesn’t matter who makes them or what brand, you must read the label”, Hurley said. “If you’re going to use one to wipe off a countertop that may be okay, but if you’re going to wipe down a large area you need to wear gloves. People need to read the directions and follow them. They don’t all have the same active ingredient”.

Pesticides: More doesn’t equal better

Using more of a product than its labeled usage isn’t going to make it work more effectively and can even be dangerous to people and pets, she said.

Remember when using insecticides and herbicides you should always protect yourself from exposure.

Some common home-cleaning mistakes are using products in a closed room with poor ventilation. Some products used together can even cause a deadly chemical reaction.

“Most of these things people just store under their kitchen or bathroom sink and don’t really think about having these things in the reach of children or pets either”, Hurley said.

She said that just as we want to be aware of what we expose our bodies to when it comes to the food we ingest and the water we drink, the same is true for the chemicals we are exposing ourselves to when using pesticides for cleaning, addressing pest issues, or working in the garden.

“This isn’t a case where more is better”, Hurley said. “In order to protect ourselves and our environment, we have to be aware, and that requires some level of self-education to know what you are using and how to use it”.

A helpful educational website both Hurley and the EPA recommend is the National Pesticide Information Center.

Safety indoors and out

As the weather warms and people start looking forward to being outdoors more, Hurley said it is important to keep best practices in mind inside and outside.

EPA assesses the risks and benefits of all pesticides sold and distributed in the U.S. and requires instructions on each pesticide label for safe use.

The EPA’s best pesticide awareness practices include:

  • Storing pesticides in their original containers with proper labels.
  • Storing pesticides out of the reach of children and pets, preferably locked up.
  • Using the amount specified on the label.
  • Washing hands with soap and water after using a pesticide.
  • Keeping children and pets from entering sprayed areas until they dry.
  • Keeping pesticides away from food and dishes.
  • Washing clothes that have been in contact with pesticides immediately and separately from other items.

Renchie said he wanted to remind the public to remember that it “is important that pesticides be used in strict accordance with their label directions, but it is equally important that the public realize that when used properly, pesticides enhance both the quality and quantity of life”.

Written By Susan Himes, Communication Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife

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Rabies Awareness & Prevention Poster Contest for K-12th Grade

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Mark your calendars! The Texas DSHS Zoonosis Control Branch annual Rabies Awareness & Prevention Poster Contest is accepting submissions until April 8, 2022. Parents and teachers of children in grades K-12, this is a fun way for them to learn about the risks of rabies and much more.

Students will learn:

🦇The importance of rabies vaccinations for pets

🦇Respecting wildlife from a distance

🦇Notifying adults of exposure to an infected animal

A sample of a past submission

The Zach Jones Memorial Fund provides generous prizes for winners in each age group (K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12). Deadline for poster submissions is April 8, 2022. Contest information and instructions for teachers, students and parents can be found on the DSHS Zoonosis Control website.

Rabies is a viral disease that kills over 59,000 people every year around the world. Fortunately, human deaths from rabies in the United States are very rare (approximately one to three deaths per year, almost exclusively due to rabies associated with bats). This is due to strict animal control laws, widespread pet vaccinations, and public health intervention in identified rabies-exposure cases. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is 100% effective when administered properly. However, the treatment is very expensive and requires multiple shots over a period of time.

Skunks and bats are the most commonly affected species in Texas. Private residences and school grounds are the most common locations in Texas for exposure to rabid bats. Bat bites are not always noticeable and many people are unaware that exposure to bats poses a risk. Most of these rabies exposures are preventable through education.

For the last twelve years, the TX Department of State Health Services Zoonosis Control Branch has facilitated an educational “Rabies Awareness & Prevention Poster Contest” for school kids. Students throughout Texas can participate by designing posters that promote rabies awareness and the respect of bats and other wildlife from a distance. Winners of the contest are awarded prizes provided by the Zach Jones Memorial Fund (ZJMF) www.zachjonesmemorial.org/. The fund was founded in remembrance of Zachary Ross Jones after he died of rabies at the age of sixteen. The ZJMF strives to raise funds in order to assist with educational awareness, early detection, and ultimately the cure for rabies.

Please help us spread the word about this fun, educational outreach project. Share this information with school administrators, teachers and nurses! The link to contest documents and winners can be found here

This poster was designed by a student almost a decade ago.

Rabies Awareness Full color poster 11 x 17 in PDF so you can print now.

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Integrated pest management coordinator training 2022 dates set

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The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has announced the 2022 schedule for integrated pest management, IPM, coordinator training. Both one and two-day course options are offered.

The first one-day school IPM coordinator training is Jan. 27 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Lubbock. This course is for new and veteran school IPM coordinators who need the 6-hour class to qualify as their institution’s responsible IPM coordinator.

The cost in $135 per person with advance registration, the fee includes training materials and lunch. Register in advance at https://tx.ag/LubbockIPMJan. Credit cards, checks and purchase orders are accepted.

Janet Hurley

Part of what IPM training covers is what to look for when searching for pests.

The training is designed for integrated pest management coordinators, grounds managers, pest management professionals, and school administrators but is open to anyone. All class participants will receive a notebook with necessary forms and paperwork regarding school IPM program implementation.

“This training helps new and established IPM coordinators maintain their program but also ensure they are ready for a Texas Department of Agriculture inspection,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management program specialist, Dallas. “As per law and rule, each school district has to have an IPM coordinator that is trained.  At the same time, TDA is required to inspect schools to ensure they are complying with the rules, our staff including the other urban IPM specialists are well versed in what schools need to do to stay in compliance.”

Hurley will be instructing the one-day trainings; she and Don Renchie, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension pesticide safety program coordinator, Bryan-College Station, will both teach at the two-day trainings. Hurley said regional experts will also be invited to speak.

Continuing education units available

Continuing education units are offered for individuals that hold a Texas Department of Agriculture structural pest control license. The one-day course offers five total units are available for these license holders, two general laws and regulations, one general IPM, one general safety and one pest.

Participants with TDA pesticide applicator license can receive three continuing education units, one in laws and regulations, one integrated pest management and one general for the one-day course. The type and quantity of CEUs for the two-day trainings are still pending.

One-day IPM coordinator training

In addition to the Lubbock event, another one-day training will be held March 10 for the East Texas area. Registration and additional information for this event can be found at Region 8 School Education Center website or by calling 903-572-8551.

“This class is also open to anyone wanting to learn more about integrated pest management, the laws and rules pertaining to pesticide licensing, a better understanding of pesticide classes and what you can use in and around school property, plus information on cockroaches,” Hurley said.

Two-day IPM coordinator training

The two-day classes run from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day with an hour lunch break. The prepaid cost is $210 for both days, $135 for a single day. The cost at the door is $240 or $155 respectively. The 2022 schedule, regions and locations for two-day workshops are as follows:

  • March 30-31, DFW Area, Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road, Water Education Building, Dallas.
  • May 11-12, San Antonio area, San Antonio ISD Central Office, 514 W. Quincy St., San Antonio.
  • Sept. 14-15, Houston area, Fort Bend County AgriLife Extension, 4332 Highway 36 S., Rosenberg.
  • Oct. 12-13, Central Texas area, Round Rock ISD: Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, 10211 W. Parmer Lane, Austin

Day one of the two-day trainings is required new coordinator training. The all-day course meets the requirements that TDA requires for all new IPM coordinators. For IPM Coordinators who have been in their positions for more than three years, the course offers 6 hours of CEU credit to maintain IPM Coordinator certification. For pest management professionals and ground personnel, this course offers a good foundation about integrated pest management, the laws and rules associated with pesticide licensing, school IPM and pesticide safety.

“Once is never enough that is the most common statement made by veteran IPM coordinators,” Hurley said. “The first time they attend one of these classes it’s hard for them to process all the steps needed to have an organized sustainable program.  I am told that it takes up to three times to attend the class to fully understand their role as the IPM coordinator, as it’s not just about eliminating pests, it has a lot to do with people management. 

Day two offers advanced coordinator training for both experienced and new school IPM Coordinators. This second day is ideal for those school IPM coordinators and pest management professionals wanting to understand specifics about insect pests and rule interpretation.

For 2022, participants will learn more about pesticide safety as it pertains to labels and safety data sheets, as well as what is required when training unlicensed personnel, Hurley said.

“IPM inspections are the backbone of every pest management program, this class will have a hands-on section where participants will be taught how to inspect and where to inspect,” she said. “Ants and mosquitoes are some of that hardest insect pests to prevent around school campuses and our plans are to have the local entomologist in each area to cover these pests.

“Finally, weed management is becoming more challenging participants will learn about the most common products being used on the market, and what they need to know to use them on school property.”

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Announcing the 2022 School IPM Coordinator Training

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Howdy Everyone,

AgriLife Extension is pleased to announce the 2022 school IPM coordinator training schedule.  Make your plans to attend one of these trainings so that you can stay in compliance with TDA.  Remember new IPM Coordinators must attend a 6-hour school IPM Coordinator training class within 6 months of appointment.  And ALL school IPM coordinators need 6 hours of refresher training every three years.

men talking

David Evans, IPM Coordinator at Humble ISD explains on the IPM tour how they monitor for pests in kitchen.

All public schools in TX are required under Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 4, Part 1, Chapter 7, Subchapter H, Division 7 School IPM to adopt, implement and maintain a school integrated pest management program. Part of these requirements is for all Independent School Districts to appoint an IPM Coordinator by the Superintendent, and then attend an approved school IPM Coordinator training. AgriLife Extension is here to help with those trainings and assisting schools to implement and maintain their IPM programs.

Our Two Day workshops will offer the 6 hour course on the first day, with the second day focusing on topics that are designed to help learn more about pesticide safety as it pertains to labels and safety data sheets, as well as what is required when training unlicensed personnel. IPM inspections are the backbone of every pest management program, this class will have a hands-on section where participants will be taught how to inspect and where to inspect. Ants and mosquitoes are some of that hardest insect pests to prevent around school campuses our plans are to have the local entomologist in the area cover these two insect pests. Finally, weed management is becoming more challenging participants will learn about the most common products being used on the market, and what they need to know to use them on school property.

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

Class time is 8:30 am to 5:00 pm with lunch provided by one of our many supporters. Advanced Cost: $210 for both days, $135 for one day only. Note we have not changed our prices in over a decade because we do understand schools have limited budgets.  This course also offers a workbook with all the forms you need to maintain your program.

Dr. Renchie and I look forward to seeing you at one of our events next year.

Location For Two Day School IPM Coordinator Trainings 

Training Dates 
DFW Area: Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road, Water Ed Bldg., Dallas, TX March 30 & 31, 2022
San Antonio Area:  San Antonio ISD Central Office, 514 W. Quincy Street, San Antonio, Texas May 11 & 12, 2022
Houston West: Fort Bend County AgriLife Extension, 4332 Highway 36 S, Rosenberg, TX September 14 & 15, 2022
Austin Area:  still working on location October 12 & 13, 2022

Check out the Agendas for 2022  2022_Day1Agenda  and 2022AgendaSchoolIPMDay2 CEUs will be offered as well for SPCS and TDA Ag.

Can’t make one of the two day workshops I will be in Lubbock in January.  Plus there is the the class I offer with Region 8 Education Service Center in Pittsburg, TX

Lubbock Area:  Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center, 1102 East FM 1294, Lubbock, TX 79403      January 27, 2022

East TX Area                                       March 10, 2022                  

Region 8 Educational Service Center, Pittsburg, TX  – Registration is through Region 8 ESC please visit their workshop website to register https://txr8.escworks.net/catalog/session.aspx?session_id=275261 or call 903-572-8551

Can’t make an in-person course then check out our AgriLife Learn website where you can take the 6-hour school IPM course, 1 hour school IPM refresher course or search our CEU courses on ants, bed bugs, bats, and much more.

Finally, not sure if your school IPM program is up to a TDA inspection, then check out this audit checklist school IPM compliance audit or give our office a call so we can schedule an in person site audit or video conference call.

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SPN: A Bird’s Eye View of Integrated Pest Management Compliance

This article was first published by TASB Risk Management Fund on February 23, 2021 by Campbell Gill.  I am using this as a way for you to take time to review your IPM program and see what needs to be updated at your district. 

Controlling the pest population at your school district or community college isn’t as simple as spraying pesticides. Fighting off annoying critters without negatively impacting the health of your community and the environment requires a delicate balancing act of responsible pesticide use, staff training, and an effective school integrated pest management (IPM) program.

IPM can be a complex subject rife with specific regulations to comply with and licenses to obtain. Taking time to look at some of the high points of IPM compliance will make your administrative duties that much easier.

What is school IPM?

Traditional pest management leans heavily, if not exclusively, on pesticides to keep pests in check. IPM combines pesticides with safer prevention and control strategies. For example, if you want to keep rodents out of your facilities, you could cut clutter, maintain dining and food storage areas, and remove trash and overgrown vegetation. If rodents manage to get inside, you could control their population by applying pesticides and/or trapping and removing them.

Under the Texas Administrative Code, your organization must designate a trained IPM coordinator to manage your program, which should have these core elements:

  • Board-approved policy: Your IPM actions should be outlined in a policy approved by your school board and applied across the organization.
  • Monitoring: Your IPM program should define unacceptable pest populations that justify corrective action. Monitor populations on your property, and prepare to manage the risk if they exceed thresholds. For example, your guidelines might call for stricter control measures after you discover four mounds of fire ants.
  • Safer strategies: When control measures are deemed necessary, you should choose non-chemical tactics or lower-risk pesticides whenever possible.
  • Recordkeeping: Document everything you do for your IPM program, including your work orders, pest control use records, application history, third-party service records, and any pesticide complaints you receive.
  • Education: Your staff needs to be consistently educated and informed about their roles in the IPM program.


Go deeper

IPM is a dynamic process with numerous rules and regulations you’ll need to keep in mind. Below are some of the important overarching elements.

Licensing

School staff, vendors, and anyone else applying pesticides, including pesticide devices, on school property must be properly licensed. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires different licenses depending on where and how you use pesticides. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension School IPM website breaks down licenses and their requirements.

Incidental use

IPM incidental use regulations allow your coordinator to train another employee to treat occasional pest issues considered emergencies. Examples include fire ants in a classroom or wasps next to an exit door. Your IPM coordinator will have to follow many steps to comply with incidental use regulation. Steps include, for example, training designated employees on the incidental use fact sheet and teaching them to safely apply pesticides according to their labels and safety data sheets. You also need to complete a post-application form to notify TDA see this document for an example Pesticide Application Record for Incidental Use

Documentation

TDA requires you to keep thorough records of all your pesticide uses. Everything needs to be documented, including location, time of chemical application, amount used, specific mixing rate, target pest, and the license numbers of anyone who used the chemicals. For outdoor pests, you will need to document environmental factors such as wind velocity and outdoor temperatures. You’ll also need to provide documented justification whenever you use certain powerful pesticides. Failing to maintain consistent documentation is a common issue in TDA school inspections, so make sure you keep up with your paperwork.

Integrated Pest Management guidance, education, and training

IPM is a comprehensive process that comes with a lot of paperwork to complete and regulations to follow. Information and resources are available through the Texas Department of Agriculture,
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

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Be on the lookout for armyworms

fall armyworms

Pest management professionals who care for lawns should be on the alert for fall armyworms this fall. Higher-than-normal populations of this lawn-eating insect have been reported from many areas in Texas this past summer and we have started to see them in San Antonio and Austin areas.

Drab Gray Moth adult of fall armyworm

Drab Gray Moth adult of fall armyworm

While fall armyworms are nothing new, according to Wizzie Brown, Extension Program Specialist for IPM in Austin, these worms started appearing in home lawns in late July to early August. Usually, infestations take place in late summer or early fall, but the weather can play a big part. The amount of rain we have had this year helped with egg survival and it can also delay predators from feeding on the eggs.

Fall armyworm (FAW) is the caterpillar stage of a drab gray moth, known scientifically as Spodoptera frugiperda. It feeds primarily on grasses, though it has been reported feeding on dozens of non-grass plants and weeds. It earns the name “armyworm” from its habit, during times of major outbreaks, of marching, army-like, across fields, roads, and yards, consuming everything in its path.

Fall armyworm on bermudagrass, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo

Fall armyworm on bermudagrass

The armyworm caterpillar is identified by three thin white or yellow stripes on the shield behind the head (pronotum), an inverted white Y on the face between the eyes, and by four dark hair-bearing bumps (tubercles) on the top of the 8th abdominal segment. It takes three to four weeks of feeding to reach its full length of about 1.25 inches (34 mm). For a video that will help you recognize this worm check out this episode of Backyard Bug Hunt.

The adult FAW moth has a wingspan of about 1.5 in. The hind wings are white; the front wings are dark gray, mottled with lighter and darker splotches. On male moths each forewing has a noticeable whitish spot near the extreme tip.

 

Damage and Control

fall armyworm damage on sports field

Fall armyworm damage on sports field

Damage often appears to occur overnight, though armyworms need at least three to four weeks to complete their six larval stages (instars). The last week or two of the larval stage is when most of the feeding, and damage, occurs.

Fall armyworms feed on most common lawn grasses like bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass. But because armyworms feed on the leaves, and not on the critical roots and stolons, a little irrigation or a rain should restore lawns to their original condition within a week or two.

If this is unacceptable to your customer or school district, FAW is relatively easy to control with any pyrethroid insecticide. Organic customer lawns can be treated with products containing spinosad, a naturally occurring microbial toxin. Be sure to avoid treating areas with flowering weeds or clovers that might attract bees, or else mow the lawn (and flowerheads) prior to treating. This will help protect pollinators that might otherwise be attracted to freshly sprayed lawns.

Fall armyworm adult are strong fliers, travelling hundreds of miles from overwintering sites in south Florida, south Texas, and Mexico each spring. In a strange, apparent case of migration suicide, offspring of these northern migrants cannot survive freezing winter weather. And unlike monarch butterflies which return to Mexico each winter, FAWs never return south. Therefore, they and all their offspring perish in the cold weather. The evolutionary advantage of this unusual behavior, if any, is not well understood.

For more information on our Aggie Turf website, click here.

 

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SPN: Welcome Back to Campus: let’s not bring in unwanted guests

Where has the year gone? Our campuses are bracing for full student and staff occupation, but are you ready for the pest invasion as well?? Did you know that schools have four more times occupants than office buildings for the same amount of floor space? (Schools for Health.org) And yet we don’t always think about how to manage these areas to keep pests like ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, ticks, fleas, mice, rats, and a whole lot more out of our buildings. In this newsletter are some tips everyone at the school campus can do to help ensure that those indoor allergen triggers are managed to keep everyone healthy.

If you see something say something. 

Too often we will notice a flaw or a problem and assume that the facilities person knows about it. While in a very small district this might be the truth, most often small problems go unreported until they become a big problem.

Here are some things everyone can do to protect the school interiors from pests:

  • All food storage areas should have products stored on industrial grade, stainless steel wire shelving, at least 6 inches from walls and 12 inches from floor. These same shelves should be at least 18 inches from the ceiling as well.
  • No foods should be stored in classrooms without being stored in re-sealable containers (i.e., plastic storage containers, metal tins, etc.). Teachers limit this to small amounts, don’t invite unwanted guests to your classroom.
  • If you see cracks and crevices around windows, doors, bathroom fixtures, moldings, water

    How much extra stuff do you have stored around you that you don’t need?

    fountains, utility lines, bulletin boards and blackboards attached to the walls, let your district IPM coordinator know about them. Doors, ceilings, soffits under the eaves of buildings are all areas where most pests enter, so help the district keep an eye on these areas.
  • Keep clutter in classrooms and custodial closets to a minimum. Cardboard is great harborage for cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and mice. Add a little water to the cardboard and it can also create a mold that can impact lung health. If you must store items use closed plastic containers.
  • Eating in classrooms should be kept to a minimum and classrooms should be cleaned thoroughly after food consumption to prevent insect and mice activity.
    • Breakfast in classroom is understandable in the elementary campuses, but there needs to be a plan in place to help custodial understand if there has been a food spillage or special attention needs to be made to classroom after the students have left for the day. Cleaning up after small spills should be handled as soon as possible. If the room has carpet ensure that custodial is aware of liquid spills like milk, juice, and other non-water products to address the carpeting immediately.
  • Student’s backpacks, coats, hats, and other personal belongings. Be on the look out for items coming from home that could potentially bring insects to the classroom. Be discreet talk to the IPM Coordinator, school nurse and principal about what you are seeing. Certain insect pests can transmit allergens or can become a problem in the school environment, letting the district coordinator know just helps with future prevention.
  • All food prep areas should be cleaned and disinfected daily; this includes moping of floors and cleaning of floor drains on a regular basis. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) now requires all food preparation facilities to follow additional rules that require them to also repair any areas that could lead to a future pest problem.
    • Doors should be correctly sealed, no gaps more than 1/8 inch {Mice ¼ inch and rats ½ inch, cockroaches and crickets a credit card thickness can allow them in}.
    • Air curtains should be installed correctly – air blowing out away from inside building.
    • Insect light traps (ILTs) if used should be installed away from doors and windows, placed on a wall around 6 feet from the floor.

School exteriors are another way for pests to enter the building, keeping an eye on these areas is important to everyone on the school campus. These tips will help everyone understand what they should be looking for.

  • Any openings larger than ¼ inch should be sealed. This means that door sweeps, kick plates, and doorsills should be maintained and regularly repaired to prevent rodent entry.
  • Holes around all pipes and soffits must be sealed using a durable sealant. If you see these areas, please make a note of them, and let facilities know about them.
  • Cracks in walls and foundations are a common occurrence in Texas. Since they can happen

    What does the vegetation look like around your school?

    frequently without much notice, if you notice a new opening, crack, exposure from the outside that could lead to a problem inside do let your Coordinator, building manager, or facilities department know about this. Similarly, if you see holes or burrows around the foundation let your coordinator know, rodents, rabbits, skunks, and other mammals can use that to establish a nest.
  • All exterior doors must be kept closed, and not used for added ventilation. An open door can invite mosquitoes, flies, mice, wasps, and few other pests to come in uninvited.
  • Garbage cans and exterior dumpsters should not be maintained too close to the school. It is recommended that dumpsters be at least 10 feet from the entryways and when possible 50 feet away.
    • All trash receptacles should have a lid, door, or other top to ensure they are closed in between each use. Bees, wasps, hornets, birds, rats, ants, and other small mammals will use these devices for meals, if you don’t want them around you, use trash knowledge – close it up.
  • Shrubs and trees must be trimmed so they are not in contact to exterior walls or rooflines. Recommended distance from buildings is one (1) foot. Vegetation can be used for nesting, food source, travel highways for a variety of common pests to enter building structures. Having the ability to see roof lines, along the foundation, and walls can aid in making sure rodents, ants, termites, and other pests can’t move in.
  • Exterior lighting must be non-attractant. Replace halogen bulbs with low-pressure sodium vapor or LED lights over entry areas. Lighting plays a role is drawing night flying insects to your doors and windows that allows other insects to follow.
    • At the same time seal those crack & crevices around doors, windows, and walls with an appropriate sealant.
  • All metal overhangs and roof edges must be tight and sealed to avoid nesting of wasps, hornets, other stinging insects, bats, and/or birds. Rats and squirrels will use those small openings to gnaw or pull open to store food or move in.

Everyone within the school district has a role in IPM.

  • Custodial staff, food service personnel, and maintenance personnel you are on the frontline of seeing several of the potential areas for pest problems. Get to know your district IPM coordinator, know how to report pest sightings either through a log book or work order system.
  • Teachers, principals, and coaches recognize too much clutter, don’t bring in unsanctioned furniture or other items without alerting district leadership. Nothing says happiness like a mouse or bed bug infestation in that couch that you got for ‘free’.
  • Everyone needs to understand that only the IPM Coordinator or the licensed pesticide applicator can apply insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, or any other pesticide

    Don’t bring pesticides from home.

    used to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pests on school campuses.                
  • Everyone should follow the Districts IPM Policy and know who your District IPM Coordinator is.
    • Want to find this for your TX district – use your internet search option, type in your district name and online policy, you should have a link that states “Index – Policy On Line – District” you can search the policy code by typing “CLB” in the box. From there you should be able to read your districts approved IPM Legal and Local policies. Or contact your district IPM Coordinator for a copy. 
  • Posting prior to pesticide applications is a Texas school IPM rule as well. Indoor treatments are to be posted 48 hours in advance, whereas outdoors the applicator must post at the time of application and then adhere to the reentry guidelines based on the Green, Yellow and Red Category requirements.
    • Green Category products can be applied if the students are not present and can renter after the application.
    • Yellow Category products can be applied when students are not present at the time of application and must remain outside the posted area for 4 (four) hours after reentry.
    • Red Category products can be applied when students are not present at the time of application and must remain outside the posted area for 8 (eight) hours after reentry.
  • Keep parents informed! Every year parents should be notified, via a student handbook, handout, and/or placed on the district’s website about the IPM program. Provide a number to the IPM Coordinator to call if they have questions, and post notices in the entryways and offices before any pest control service.

These tips are here to help everyone keep pests at a minimum, reduce pesticide use, and keep buildings healthy so that all the building occupants can teach and learn. 

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