SPN: Before you go remember these tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kitchen staff

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





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

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

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



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


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

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

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

Lost & found

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


SPN: How are your records?

How are your records? This isn’t the most exciting of topics, but this is a good time a year to take time to review your IPM program and your recordkeeping procedures.


Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires that prior to any indoor pest control treatment 48 hours in advance. This posting notification must be placed in an area of common access for schools, child care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, motels, food processing plants and warehouses. For those of you who service apartment complexes in 2018 you will need to provide pest control sign to a residential rental property owner or manager at least 48 hours prior to a planned indoor treatment at a residential rental property with five (5) or more rental units. This sign must be on paper that is letter size (8 1/2 inches by 11 inches) and contain the required information with the first line in a minimum of 24-point type (one-fourth inch) and all remaining lines in a minimum of 12-point type (one-eighth inch). One of the items we changed for schools was adding a word to the title. You will notice our sign mentions both treatment and service. To find the TDA approved sign you can visit their website at http://www.TexasAgriculture.gov/spcs  go to the forms link.  Or you can download our School IPM sign PestControlNotificationSign – Schools

While many schools have a contract with a pest management company for school kitchens typically making a pest control treatment at every visit isn’t always needed. However, if when the service technician is checking their monitors and does notice insect activity on the monitoring device they will have the ability to treat if this sign has been posted correctly. During our school IPM training we instruct our coordinators that these signs need to be placed in common areas that the contract covers (school cafeteria, teacher lounges, utility rooms, etc.) if the contract covers the entire district then you might want to post these signs next to doors or another area that staff and teachers can see.

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

Outdoors posting is required at the time of treatment and this is only for public schools. The sign must be placed on a fence that locks if the area you are treating is fenced. If the area is not fenced, like most middle school turf areas, then signs should be placed on all 4 sides of the field area. You can also use caution barrier tape or an individual to occasionally monitor to ensure that students don’t walk on the treated area. For Yellow Category products (herbicides, some fire ant products, pyrethroids) students must be kept off the treated surface for four hours. For Red category products (warning or danger signals word) students must be kept off the treated surface for 8 hours.

Justification Forms

Justification forms or most will know this as Yellow and Red Category approval is still one of the top non-compliance violations for school districts. In most cases this is due to the IPM Coordinator and Certified Applicator not realizing what is considered Yellow Category. The other reason for not getting this document is that some school districts contract out their athletic field maintenance and in some cases those contractors do not realize that they MUST give the IPM Coordinator a copy of their application use records and a justification form. To make this easy for you if your certified applicator is using an herbicide and it has a Caution Signal word – the product is Yellow and requires a justification form. While the justification form is good for 6 months or 6 applications per site listed, I recommend that a form be completed by the applicator and placed with the application use record. By putting these two documents together will make it easier when your district is inspected by TDA. If your applicator is using residual products with pyrethroids or other synthetic products (Talstar, Tempo, Amdro, Advion Fire Ant Bait, to name a few) then they will also need to complete a justification form. This is especially important if they are making an indoor treatment, you want to make sure you have the correct paperwork in the event you receive an inquires from teachers, staff members, or parents.

Here is the correct form to use Justification form

Remember we have our Recognizing Green Category Products for Schools

Application Use Records/Service tickets

Completing the service ticket is one of the most important things we do in pest control, but I’m always amazed when I find these documents missing information. What did you use? Typically, I will see part of the products trade name but it’s not the full name, it’s been abbreviated which is fine when you are making notes to yourself, but on the service ticket it all needs be there. Add the EPA registration number and then anyone can see the exact product you used and can look it up if necessary. For mixed solutions TDA requires you to complete the mixing rate question typically this solution rate is found in the pesticide label. And this number is different than how much you applied. Per TDA rules “the mixing rate and total amount of material applied or the percentage of active ingredient(s) and total amount of material applied for manufacturer’s formulations that are mixed with water or other material, if applicable” is what they want you to complete. At the same time, if you use any type of pest control device (snap traps, glue boards/monitoring cards, rodent bait stations, etc.) you must list how many devices used and what they are. In some cases, you might need to plot this information out on a diagram – remember when you are monitoring and controlling pests everything you do counts towards this, so document it, you never know when you will need to consult that information.

Labels and Safety Data Sheets

All pesticides used by Pest Management Professionals must be registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Department of Agriculture, except for those pesticides that have been exempted from registration by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section 25(b). All pesticides used must also bear a label as required by FIFRA and Chapter 76 of the Texas Agriculture Code. Pesticides intended and labeled for use on humans are exempt from this section, this typically covers products like head lice shampoo and insect repellant.

SDS documents are important to have on site in the event of an accident or if someone complains of side effects.

For schools they must have a copy of the pesticide label and safety data sheet (SDS) that is current and should be kept in a separate notebook or file folder. Pesticide labels contain detailed information on how to use the product correctly and legally. Labels also contain information on potential hazards associated with the product and instructions you should follow in the event of a poisoning or spill. The SDS (formerly known as MSDS) includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical. These documents are important to both the pesticide applicator and the consumer, and must be made available to anyone who requests a copy.

A good tip to remember when you are out in the field and you want to rush through your paperwork, think about this “will what I write stand up in court of law?” If someone was to file a complaint can you justify your work through your pest control records, because if you can’t now is the time to correct your information and make sure all your records are in good order.

Written by: Janet Hurley

The Role of School Nurses in Integrated Pest Management for Public Health

By Meredith Swett Walker is a writer for Entomology Today 

School nurses do more than just apply bandages to scraped knees and administer asthma inhalers. They are also health educators, they help control communicable diseases, and they even do some pest management.

Tick specimens embedded in Lucite can help school nurses distinguish disease carrying ticks like Ixodes scapularis from other species. Nurses are also provided with a tick removal tool with a web address directing them to online IPM resources for schools. (Photo credit: Kathy Murray, Ph.D.

In the past, the dreaded head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) was likely the only pest a school nurse needed to worry about. But, with the rise of arthropod-borne diseases like Lyme disease, West Nile, and Zika, nurses increasingly find themselves thinking about tick and mosquito control as well. Bed bugs, meanwhile, are also cause for concern, and as head lice evolve resistance to traditional insecticidal treatments, even these pests require more sophisticated control methods. But school nurses typically haven’t received training in pest ecology or integrated pest management (IPM.)

At Entomology 2017 in Denver, Kathy Murray, Ph.D., of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry presented her work with the Northeast School Integrated Pest Management Working Group to engage school nurses in IPM for public health pests in schools. This project aims to give school nurses the tools, resources, and training that they need to promote and support IPM policies in schools. The work was endorsed by the National School Nurse Association and supported by the Northeastern IPM Center.

In the last 15 years, many states have started requiring schools to practice IPM. This may seem odd, but a school campus is essentially a large public property, and any property, be it a building or open space, has pests. Usually, IPM efforts in schools focus on facility managers or custodians. But school nurses deal directly with the effects of these pests on students and can be an important addition to the IPM team.

In many public schools, resources are spread thin. Facility managers may not always have the budget for the labor or materials necessary for effective IPM. But when facility managers and nurses come together to ask administrators or school boards for more resources for IPM, their requests have more heft, says Murray.

The Northeast School Integrated Pest Management Working Group has presented its project to engage nurses in IPM at nursing conferences. (Photo credit: Kathy Murray, Ph.D.)

In the Northeast, ticks are a major concern, particularly Ixodes scapularis (also known as the blacklegged tick or the deer tick), which transmits Lyme disease. Students may come in with ticks they picked up at home or can even pick up ticks on the school grounds. The project supplies school nurses with a tick removal tool, as well as actual ticks embedded in Lucite to aid in distinguishing disease-carrying species from non-vectors. When nurses learn more about tick ecology, they can help identify potential tick habitat on campus and work with facility managers to get it removed.

Mosquito bites themselves are not a major concern for school nurses, but arboviruses like Zika or West Nile are. When nurses know more about the behavior and ecology of mosquitoes, they can help identify mosquito breeding sites on campus, such as small pockets of standing water, and work with facility managers to address them. Where arboviruses are a serious concern, nurses may advocate for outdoor sporting events to be scheduled to avoid peak mosquito activity periods like dusk.

Murray found one health-pest relationship that many nurses were unaware of: the connection between cockroaches, mice, and asthma. The fecal material and urine of these pests are potent asthma triggers. Unfortunately, schools are a prime habitat for mice and roaches. There is food present in the cafeteria and often the classroom. In addition, school buildings are typically unoccupied at night, when mice and roaches are most active. Some research has even shown higher levels of pest-related allergens in school buildings than in the average student’s home. If nurses are concerned about asthma attacks at school, managing pests may help.

In her presentation at the Entomological Society of America’s 2017 annual meeting, Murray made the case that school nurses are often at the front lines of pest-related public health challenges. They can also be essential bridges to the wider community. When confronted with a pest problem, “nurses would like to have some solid, research-based, concise information—in multiple languages” that they can share with students’ families. The IPM project is working to provide that. While some school nurses may have never envisioned IPM as part of their job description, Murray says she has found the school nurses she works with to be interested in IPM and “very passionate about protecting student’s health.”

If your district is interested in learning more about this program feel free to contact AgriLife Extension we would be happy to help educate your nurses about this information.


SPN: Fall Pests on the Move

Over the past month it seems that everyone I have heard from has discussed a large outbreak of one type of insect pest or the other. For this newsletter rather than discuss pest control record keeping, I am going to refer to several common pests and then give you links to past newsletter stories where you can find Action Plans or additional educational information you can use.

Asps – Aka Puss Caterpillars

Even as a moth these furry critters can cause some pain, anything with a spines that can flare up is a defense mechanism to keep predators away. Remember don’t touch them.

Asps and other stinging insects are part of the nature in Texas, their frequency is dependent on environmental factors.  Stinging caterpillars are commonly found in the live oak trees. However, any hardwood tree can be a source. On occasion they may be found on, in, or around shrubbery. They may also be found crawling on benches and playground equipment.

Asp infestations, typically, are a short-term problem lasting roughly 3-4 weeks twice each year. One exposure in mid-spring and one in mid-October are typical. In most years infestations are minimal and little to no action is required when it comes to pesticide applications. Time, education, and patience for the weather to change.

Stinging by these caterpillars is normally a short-term irritation and may require first aid administered by the school nurse. Dead caterpillars can cause the same irritation as live ones, as their spines are still prickly.

First Aid: Carefully apply cellophane tape over the site and strip it off to remove as many poison spines as possible. Apply ice pack to reduce itching/ burning. Topical or oral antihistamines may be beneficial. If an allergic reaction occurs consult a physician immediately.

For more information check out this newsletter from Oct. 2016 https://schoolipm.tamu.edu/2016/10/30/halloween-pests-on-the-move/


Fleas can be a problem in all parts of the country except in very dry areas. The most common species in school buildings is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). This flea feeds on cats, dogs, and humans, as well as rodents, chickens, opossums, raccoons, and other animals. The dog flea (C. canis), rabbit flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi) and the human flea (Pulex irritans) are less commonly encountered. Another flea of concern is the rodent flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) who are known carriers of a variety of diseases. This flea can act as a vector for plague, Yersinia pestis, Rickettsia typhi and also act as a host for tapeworms Hymenolepis diminuta and Hymenolepis nana.

However, with the recent flooding in south Texas, areas may be seeing an increase in flea activity due to habitat changes in the area.  Several of the flea species can be found on wild animals as they move from their displaced home areas.

There are a variety of flea traps you can use to help with monitoring in schools. Check out the fact sheets for more information.

Unlike most fleas, adult cat fleas remain on the host where feeding, mating, and egg laying occur. Females lay about 20 to 50 eggs per day. The eggs are smooth and readily fall from the pet and land on surfaces such as bedding and carpeting in the animal’s environment. They hatch in about 2 to 5 days. The flea larvae will feed on dried blood and adult flea excrement that they produce while they are feeding on the live animal. When inspecting for flea larvae it’s important to remember that larval development is restricted to protected places where there is at least 75% relative humidity. The larvae feed and crawl around for 8 to 15 days before building small, silken cocoons in which they pupate and develop into adults. Debris, such as pet hair or skin or carpet fibers, usually covers the pupae, providing visual camouflage. Outdoors ground cover makes this hard to notice.

Flea larvae develop more quickly at higher temperatures, preferring areas that are 70° to 90°F. At cool temperatures, fully formed fleas can remain in their cocoons for up to 12 months. Warm temperatures and mechanical pressure caused by walking on or vacuuming carpet stimulate emergence from the cocoon. At normal room temperatures, the entire life cycle can occur in about 18 days.

Developing an integrated flea management program requires understanding flea biology, population assessment techniques, mechanical control systems, biological control, IGRs and traditional insecticide treatments.  The first priority is to identify the pest, because suppression strategies differ among flea species according to Dr. Sonja Swiger, Met/Vet Entomologist with AgriLife Extension.  Collect specimens, then get them to one of our local county extension offices or regional district offices so that one of our entomologists can identify the fleas, this will aid in your management and educational needs.

This past spring Dr. Merchant wrote about fleas and ticks for more information,check out this link https://schoolipm.tamu.edu/2017/04/25/spn-fleas-and-ticks/

The IPM Action plan comes from University of Florida School IPM program IPM Action Plan for Fleas


SPN: Educational Materials for Your School IPM Program

Three new infographics and two detailed publications from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service help demystify the best practices for controlling pests in schools, universities and other areas where humans occupy close quarters.

“The average person, while not a pest control expert, is definitely affected when an infestation occurs,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension specialist in school integrated pest management, Dallas. “That means the average person is integral to controlling pests, especially where large groups of people converge.”

Hurley, co-author of the new educational materials, called the infographics and publications “a few quick resources that anyone can use to learn simple practices for deterring pests and infestation.”

Each of the new offerings includes science-backed tips for integrated pest management, or IPM — the strategy of managing pests with multiple control tactics, emphasizing lower costs and lower environmental impact.

One infographic in the poster series, “How Students and Teachers Can Stop School Pests,” is a double-sided checklist on measures for pre-empting pest infestation in schools. Another, “How Kitchen Staff can Stop School Pests,” features graphic illustrations on staying ahead of pest problems with regular maintenance and cleanliness habits. The third, “Don’t let the Bedbugs Bite,” is an illustration on four steps for monitoring and controlling bedbugs.

Meanwhile, the seven-page publication “Green Category Pesticides for Use in Texas Schools” is a detailed document on the most current “green category” pest control products for schools and other environments where control measures must account for human safety, Hurley said.

“The publication is a great resource for anyone who works with a pollinator protection or LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program,” she said. “It can really help determine what low-impact products to use in specific settings.”
Finally, “An Introduction to IPM in Schools: A Manual for Facilities Maintenance Professionals” is an in-depth manual on the steps to successful IPM. It covers how to implement an IPM program in a school or business. The manual is available at the Texas A&M AgriLife Bookstore webpage http://www.agrilifebookstore.org/Intro-to-IPM-in-Schools-p/b-6015.htm for purchase.

Go to http://bit.ly/2hiPgvb for electronic files of the poster series and the seven-page “Green Category Pesticides for Use in Texas Schools.”

Go to https://www.agrilifebookstore.org/category-s/1999.htm to purchase hard copies of the infographic poster series.

Written By Gabe Saldana

Bed Bugs Bite Poster

Stop School Pests Teachers Poster

Stop School Pests Kitchen Staff Poster English/Spanish


Special Edition: Resources after a flood

As they learned during Hurricane Sandy, rats can swim and drown. Be aware of both and remember to protect yourself as well.

During the recovery effort after a flood there are many pests that everyone needs to think about. Not just pests but there are several health aspects everyone needs to consider. This special edition of School Pest News is full of resources for you to use at work and home.

Remember there are a variety to consider over the next few weeks as you clean up after Hurricane Harvey. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an enormous amount of information on cleaning  up safely after a disaster that I wanted to share with you.

Worker Protection After a Flood 

Flood Water After a Disaster or Emergency

Protect Yourself from Animal- and Insect-Related Hazards After a Disaster

Rodent Control After a Disaster

Rodent pest proofing fact sheet from City of New Orleans

The CDC also offers these two online courses to help you and others with your response

Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER) https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/elearn/ehter.htm

Vector Control for Environmental Health Professionals (VCEHP) http://lms.southcentralpartnership.org/vcehp.php

Most Texas snakes, like this Texas rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta), are not venomous and try to avoid people. (AgriLife Extension)

Finally, snakes are a real issue as well in Texas.  Dr. Maureen Frank, Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension developed this fact sheet on Snake and Flooding to help all of us out.

Snakes and Flooding


Texas A&M AgriLife entomologists: Floating fire ants, insect pests among flood hazards

Fire Ant Raft that can form after a major storm Photo by Sandwedge

Fire ants, as their colonies begin to flood, can join feet or tarsi to form water rafts, and they are more aggressive once in the floating formation, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists. But other insect pests can also pose human threats in flood conditions, they said.

Check out this Facebook Post from WFAA Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus

Dr. Paul Nester, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Houston, and Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist, Dallas, encourage those affected by flooding to stay prepared and aware of pests, especially when it comes to mosquitoes, floating fire ant colonies and bedbugs.

After Hurricane Harvey drenched much of southeastern Texas, dropping more than 50 inches of rain in some places and flooding significant portions of metropolitan Houston, everyone needs to be aware of a variety of pests.

Any temporary body of water that is present for more than a week can be a mosquito breeding habitat.

In Texas, the biggest human threat from mosquitoes continues to be West Nile virus from night-flying pests, Merchant said. He pointed out that Zika virus also remains a risk, though a minor one. But nuisance mosquitoes, like the saltmarsh mosquito, not considered especially important for carrying human disease, will be most noticeable in the weeks after water subsides.

“Heavy rains actually reduce some mosquito breeding sites, especially those of the southern house mosquito, which is our primary carrier of West Nile virus,” Merchant said. “But as waters subside and puddles dry up and stagnate, these mosquitoes will return after a few weeks.”

Merchant recommends anyone conducting hurricane cleanup and repairs keep mosquito repellent handy at all times, especially at night.

Meanwhile, Nester said fire ant colonies floating through floodwaters are dangerous, as they are alive and will “explode” upon contact with an object or person, engulfing the subject and stinging it relentlessly in an effort to protect their queen at the center of the formation. He said people should take precautions to avoid run-ins with floating colony “mats” and should remain aware of what objects are floating near and toward them in floodwaters.

“Dress appropriately when working in floodwater,” he said. “Cuffed gloves, rain gear, and rubber boots help prevent the ants from reaching the skin. If they do, they will bite and sting. Remove the ants by rubbing them off.”

Follow this link to see Nester’s short guide on fire ant protection in flood conditions.

Image of a fed bed bug, by Gary Alpert Harvard

While some face challenges from the rising water, Merchant has other advice for displaced Texans living in temporary shelters: be on alert for bedbugs. The pest, while not a major problem in most evacuation centers, has a way of showing up when many people converge in close quarters, Merchant said.

“The most important thing is that shelters are aware of the potential for bedbug problems and have a plan for how to respond,” he said.

He said shelter managers should prepare by knowing what bedbugs look like, inspecting sleeping quarters regularly and employing a reputable pest control company to deal with infestations as necessary.

By: Gabe Saldana

If need you information about mosquitoes check out these links for more information:

Managing Mosquitoes after a Flood

Mosquito Safari 


Here is some helpful information about bed bugs

Advice for Staff About Bed Bugs After a Flood

Using Freezing Methods to Treat for bed bugs

For Additional Resources check out Dr. Merchants website Insects in the City 


SPN: IPM Training Materials, Hurricane Harvey Storm Information

2010 rains, flood waters submerged a Cheatham County school bus, vehicles, and Kingston Springs Elementary School

It’s late August and this this is the newsletter that we (AgriLife Extension School IPM Team) welcomes everyone back to school.  As I write this newsletter the weather advisory for Texas isn’t just hot, but hurricane preparedness.  When I look at the map of Texas being covered I realized almost half of the schools in the state could be impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  So, for this newsletter I will share some educational materials you can use with staff not just for IPM, but also for storm safety.

As Harvey strengthens in the Gulf of Mexico, experts predict widespread flooding and wind damage will occur.


From Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Press Release by Paul Schattenberg

2010 rains, flood waters submerged a Cheatham County school bus, vehicles, and Kingston Springs Elementary School

Image from creative commons on what a school flood can look like.

“We’re expecting Harvey to bring a lot of rain and flooding over a large area of the state and as he intensifies, some strong winds as well,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension specialist in emergency management, College Station. “The storm system may also spur tornadic activity.”

Vestal said people in both urban and rural areas of the state should take steps to prepare for what may come from this storm system to minimize damage and reduce the impact of its aftermath.

He said the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network, Texas EDEN, at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/ has a variety of materials on disaster preparation and recovery.

Vestal reminds everyone to avoid being trapped by a flood, it’s best to evacuate before flooding starts. “Listen to the radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio and follow directions from local officials regarding evacuation or seek high ground if you experience localized flooding in your area,” he said. “Be prepared to evacuate quickly… know your routes and destinations and where there’s an emergency shelter. If you’re trapped by a flash flood, keep out of flooded areas and away from moving water, whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle. Always remember to turn around, don’t drown.”

Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension family development and resource management specialist, College Station, said one of the best things Texans can do to prepare for an emergency is map out a family evacuation plan ahead of time and practice it. The plan should include establishing escape routes and making sure to include all members of the household in a practice session.

“People should also have an emergency kit for their home, office and each vehicle,” Cavanagh said. “The kit should contain enough supplies to take care of immediate family members for at least three days.”

She said some essential kit contents include bottled water, non-perishable foods, a hand-operated can opener, mouth/nose protection masks, extra clothing, first-aid kit, gloves, blankets, toiletries, battery- or hand-powered flashlight, weather radio, spare batteries, garbage bags, medications and anti-bacterial cleaners or wipes.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has a series of Public Service Announcements available for media use to help people learn how to clean up and stay safe after the storm. School Personnel, some of these items can help you organize your schools and community if disaster strikes.

PSAs with their scripts, can be found at https://today.agrilife.org/issues/hurricane-information/, then click on English or Spanish. These PSAs are free for broadcasters and also may be used on print or broadcast media and emergency assistance websites. Free educational materials about preparedness and recovery can be found at http://bit.ly/2vsJrQT.

For School IPM Coordinators and Pest Management Professionals: 

Fire Ant Raft that can form after a major storm Photo by Sandwedge

After the storm insects, vertebrates, and reptiles will be on the move.  If you need materials to assist you with controlling a variety of pests visit our Pest Management Plans section on the School IPM Website or contact any of us with AgriLife Extension to assist you.

U.S. EPA Announces New on-Demand School Integrated Pest Management Videos Now Available

Access EPA’s new on-demand webinar series about a variety of integrated pest management (IPM) topics. You can increase your knowledge about IPM as time permits during the day and school year. Help make their environments (and yours) pest free using IPM strategies. Learn about pest management strategies you can implement now.

You can also find these training modules and more at the iSchoolPestManager website under Training in the document toolbox.

Let the Binge Watching Begin!

Webinar Topic  
Yellow Jackets & Wasps Watch On-Demand!
Bed Bugs Watch On-Demand!
Weed Control Watch On-Demand!
Ticks Watch On-Demand!
Rodents Watch On-Demand!
Developing an IPM Plan Watch On-Demand!
Bats Watch On-Demand!
Mosquitos & Zika Virus Watch On-Demand!
Lice Watch On-Demand!

Recently the U.S. EPA also released Pest Control in the School Environment: Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The publication is an update to its popular 1993 publication, Pest Control in the School Environment: Adopting Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The updated version reflects recent innovations in school IPM, provides links to new information, and has been redesigned into an easily printable format. It provides an overview of IPM and details the steps a school can follow to establish an IPM program.

As a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control, IPM reduces the need for routine pesticide use by utilizing sanitation, maintenance, monitoring, pest exclusion, habitat modification, human activity modification, and the judicious use of pesticides.

Throughout the nation, schools that have adopted IPM report long-term, sustainable pest mitigation that both reduces the use of pesticides and is cost effective. Because protecting the health of children is important, EPA recommends that all school districts implement programs that promote integrated pest management and the safe use of pesticides. In May 2016, a diverse group of stakeholders endorsed EPA’s approach to school IPM, and agreed to work to implement IPM in schools over the next three years. This publication and other materials provided by EPA are designed to support this effort.

For more information on school IPM, please visit our website at: https://www.epa.gov/managing-pests-schools



Fall 2017 School IPM Training

people sitting at tables with a person speaking
Several people standing in a school kitchen serving area

Dr. Mike Merchant educates one of our school IPM coordinator classes about the importance of the kitchen inspection.

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 to help when time is tight.

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 recertification (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 course is for School IPM Coordinators who need a 6-hour refresher course or anyone licensed by TDA in the Structural Pest Control Categories, TDA Landscape Management, and Private applicators who want to learn about IPM and obtain 6 hours of CEU credit. This course is aimed to provided additional information on how to manage and sustain an IPM program.  Topics are aimed at school IPM coordinators in general; however, many of the topics aren’t just limited to schools.  For 2017, this course covers the Ag Science/Garden programs many schools face, the pests they encounter and what the rules are associated with these programs.  This course is also covering rodent management, with some additional information on rodenticides use on school property. Dr. Merchant will cover cockroach control as well, learn what works best for the most common cockroaches in Texas.


IPM Experience House Trainings

Our IPM Experience House is a former dormitory building that has been converted into a series of small, rooms that simulate actual work sites–ideal settings for hands-on training. We have attempted to design IPM House to provide a realistic, controlled environment where it is safe to practice the skills and craft of IPM.  Courses use a mix of classroom and field training to provide new and experienced PMPs with the skills they need to excel in their profession.  These classes are designed to assist new apprentices, technicians, and non-commercial applicators understand their role in the IPM process but also how to control pests using IPM techniques and practices.


Dr. Don Renchie educates class participants about the Texas School IPM rules

Educational training for school staff (In-service modules)

Training of school staff about IPM is time consuming and AgriLife Extension realizes that you don’t have time to develop your own powerpoint to conduct training.  Over the past couple of years, we have been working with University of Arizona and the IPM Institute of North America to develop training materials that can be used by IPM program administrators (anywhere) to deliver in-house training for school staff.  Of the 18 Stop School Pests modules on this website  all are designed to allow you the end user to either view the module on your PC/tablet/phone or download and use in person to train a group of custodians, maintenance or grounds workers, or food service personnel.


Online Training for CEU Credit

In 2018, we plan to launch interactive online modules that earn you CEU credit.  These courses will help you learn about school IPM, general household pests, and other information that you can learn on your own time and pace.  In the meantime, you can check out this website for some of our educational courses you can use for more information.


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


2017 Fall School IPM Coordinator Training Schedule Two-Day Courses

Instructors Day 1: Dr. Don Renchie, Dr. Mike Merchant, and Ms. Janet Hurley
Instructors Day 2: Dr. Mike Merchant, and Ms. Janet Hurley

Location Training Date Registration Deadline
Houston Area: Humble ISD/Summer Creek High School 14000 Weckford Blvd, Houston, TX 77044  September 27 & 28, 2017 September 24, 2017
Concho Valley Area: Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 7887 U.S. Highway 87 North, San Angelo, TX 76901 October 18 & 19, 2017 October 13, 2016

2017 Fall School IPM Coordinator Trainings One Day

Instructor: Janet Hurley

Location Training Date Registration Deadline
Panhandle Area: Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo, TX 79106 September 19, 2017 September 15, 2017
Beaumont Area: Bill Clark Pest Control, 2975 N 11th Street, Beaumont, TX 77703 November 14, 2017 November 10, 2017





SPN: Updated Green List publication, Summer Bugs that make you Itch

Recognizing Green Category Pesticides for Texas School IPM

Recognizing Green Category Products

By Janet Hurley

Introducing our “Recognizing Green Category Products” handout as a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension numbered publication. Forever known as the ‘green list’ this document has morphed over the past fifteen years to help us (Don Renchie, Mike Merchant and Janet Hurley) to train Texas School IPM coordinators about our three colored category pesticide ranking system. When the ranking was first developed in the mid-1990’s organophosphates were being phased out, pyrethroids were coming on, but also a variety of other insecticides were being introduced. Over the past twenty years we have used this handout in conjunction with our School IPM training to help educate participants what are the active ingredients that comprise our Green category.

In training we are always asked why isn’t this on the label and we respond that this is a Texas requirement, not a Federal requirement so no pesticide label needs to have that designation. However, with programs like LEEDs and Pollinator Protection Programs using more “green” products, this list has now become even more relevant.

In Texas, the following classes of insecticides make up the Green Category Products  Title 4, Part 1, Chapter 7, Subchapter H, Division 7, Section §7.204 of the Texas Structural Pest Control Regulations:

  • Biological (living) control agents
  • Boric acid, disodium octoborate tetrahydrate, or related boron compounds
  • Botanical insecticides containing no more than 5 percent synergist (does not include synthetic pyrethroids)
  • Insect and rodent baits in tamper-resistant containers or for crack-and-crevice use only (not broadcast)
  • Insect growth regulators (IGR)
  • Microbe-based insecticides
  • Pesticidal soap, natural or synthetic horticultural oils
  • Silica gel, diatomaceous earth

These products based on how they are applied (targeted to infestation area) and in most cases low-toxicity of their active ingredients (IGRs, botanical) allowed them to be included into the Green Category. Under the botanical insecticide group the list of active ingredients has doubled in the past 10 years, making this “list” hard to keep up with. Hence, AgriLife Extension has always maintained this is more about a teaching tool than a list for people to use to purchase pesticides or an endorsement of products. When we developed this document, I wanted to learn what all the products were so I could help train better, not realizing that this would be a long-term pursuit. At the same time, it is a good reference tool so that as an IPM Coordinator, Pest Management Professional, or anyone else interested in green products to see what is currently available.

A few things to remember when using this document; when looking at the baits section remember this section is for baits used in tamper-resistant containers or for crack & crevice use; the botanical section is constantly changing our rule just requires the products in this category have no more than a 5% synergist. Synergists are chemicals that make insecticide ingredients more effective at killing pests. Finally, the product names listed are not recommendations, endorsements, or a full list as products change as well.

For more information about pesticide classes and detailed information check out the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) website  they have some great information you can use as well.

To obtain your own copy you can check out the AgriLife Extension Bookstore where you can download a PDF copy and soon order a hard copy of this document as well.

Summer Insects that will make you Itch!

By Paul Schattenberg, featuring Wizzie Brown and Molly Keck.

As people become more active in summer, so do a few familiar pests that keep Texans itching – and scratching — for relief, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists.

“This time of year there’s usually a significant increase in chigger and flea activity,” said Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Travis County. “With people and their pets spending more time outdoors, the likelihood of getting bitten by chiggers or fleas also increases.”

Brown explained chiggers are mites in the immature stage. Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Bexar County, said chiggers develop in fields and weedy areas, especially areas with tall grasses.

Red welts on ankle showing what chigger bites look like

Chigger bites cause red, irritated marks on the skin. Chiggers prefer biting areas where skin is the thinnest or where clothing fits tightly, like places around the ankles and waist. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service photo by Dr. Mike Merchant)

“While chiggers are active from spring through fall, they are most noticeable in the summer, especially early summer when there’s a good amount of vegetation,” Keck said. “The larvae gather on the tips of plants and other locations where they crawl onto hosts.”

She said chiggers typically live in edge habitats or zones – areas of denser vegetation next to areas more open or lacking in vegetation.

“This might be a thick garden along a fence line next to a well-manicured lawn or in the tall grass that borders a walking trail,” she said. “These are good locations to avoid.”

Brown said chiggers climb onto people walking through infested areas, crawl upwards and wander around the body seeking a good site to settle down and feed. The preferred feeding locations are areas where skin is thinnest or where clothing fits tightly, such as around the ankles or waist or behind the knees.

Brown said when chiggers feed, they inject a digestive enzyme that breaks down skin cells, which are then eaten.

“Itching and redness are caused by our body reacting to the enzymes injected into our skin,” she said. “It typically begins 3-6 hours after being bitten, peaks at 24 hours and can last up to two weeks.”

She said the best way to avoid chiggers is to keep away from areas likely to be infested, but if that is not possible, some other ways to protect from them include:

  • Use an insect repellent with DEET or picaridin.
  • If wearing boots, tuck the pant legs into them.
  • Avoid sitting on the ground.
  • Remove and launder clothing as soon as possible after being in infested areas.

Shower or bathe soon after being in an infested area. Scrub vigorously with a washcloth.
She said some ways to reduce the possibility of chigger infestations around the home include keeping the lawn mowed, not allowing weeds to grow, keeping brush cleared and targeted use of residual pesticide sprays.

“Sprays with pyrethroids have proven to be effective,” Brown said. “But if you do get bitten, avoid scratching any pustules caused by the bite as opening them may lead to infection. Use oral antihistamines or topical anti-itch creams to relieve the discomfort.”

Welts from fleas biting an arm (creative commons image)

Fleas too are pests that reappear persistently during summertime, the entomologists said.
“Fleas are small, wingless insects with flattened bodies and all body spines pointed to the rear for easier movement through the fur or hair of an animal,” Keck said. “Their mouthparts are formed for piercing and sucking.”

Flea larvae are found in the nests of various animals, in rugs or carpets in the home or in the soil in areas where animals frequent. They feed on organic debris and as adults are blood-feeders.

“Fleas are ectoparasites and females require a blood meal to produce eggs,” Brown said. “After feeding on a host, females can produce about 30-50 eggs per day that fall off the host animal and into carpeting or other areas inside and outside the home. After fleas pupate, they hatch out of the cocoon in about two weeks, but pupae can remain dormant for up to five months.”

She said proper flea management has multiple parts.

“Fleas should be managed on the pets as well as in the environment,” she said. “Grooming the animal with a flea comb and/or bathing it regularly can help reduce flea numbers. Wash pet bedding in hot water and avoid walking pets in known flea-infested areas.”

Brown said a veterinarian should be consulted about flea control products for pets.
“There are numerous products on the market that work well when used according to label instructions,” she said. “When you find fleas on a pet, you need to not only treat the pet but also any areas the pet frequents — both inside and outside the home.”

Image of a cat flea up close

Brown noted fleas found around or in homes without pets may be coming from wildlife.
“Attic and crawl spaces should be inspected for wildlife activity,” she said. “Wildlife should be removed, and after removal the area should be treated with an insecticide labeled for fleas. Then the area should be sealed so wildlife cannot re-enter.”

Brown also advised that new homeowners may have problems with fleas shortly after moving in if the previous owners had pets with fleas.

“You should vacuum thoroughly and regularly under furniture and along baseboards to reduce flea eggs, larvae and pupae. Then place the used vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag and throw it into an outdoor garbage can so fleas do not hatch out and re-infest the home.”
She said outdoor flea treatments targeted to areas where pets frequent should be done at least twice.

“The second treatment should occur 10-14 days after the initial treatment,” she noted.