Friday, December 17, 2010

2010: The Year in Review

It's hard to believe that 2010 is almost at a close. We've had a great year with many IPM activities including:
  • Four coalition meetings. Highlights include attendance at the Nebraska Urban Pest Management Conference, Mark Shour speaking about Iowa School IPM, and Tom Green's presentation on IPM Star Certification.

  • IPM In-services for Omaha and Lincoln Public Schools food service staff, cafeteria managers, custodians, and IAQ liaisons.

  • Demonstration visits at OPS (3) and LPS (2)

  • Hosting the North Central Region Pesticide Safety Education and Certification Workshop and North Central IPM Working Group in Nebraska City.

  • IPM Youth Programs at the Earth Wellness Festival, Natural Resource District Nature Nights, and 4-H in Aurora and Central City

  • Healthy Tribal Communities IPM presentations
Thanks to everyone who was involved in these projects!

I'll be heading on Christmas break after today, so look for my next blog, which will feature the IPM projects planned for 2011, in early January.

In the meantime, enjoy this story about Chocolate Cockroaches, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who wants cake?!

One of my favorite blogs is "Cake Wrecks," which features pictures and commentary about cake designs gone horribly wrong. The blogs are usually themed and I recently came across an old post about "creepy crawly" cakes. As much as I love insects, eating a cake full of bed bugs or one that looks like a cockroach or a fly "creature" would not really appeal to me unless I was on Fear Factor. Still, I couldn't resist posting about it here and you gotta love the size differential between the bugs and the bed :-0!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Your Very Own Stuffed Bed Bug!

OK, I couldn't resist. I found this listed as one of the most "unwanted" gifts for 2010. But what good entomologist wouldn't want one? And it's a great way to teach children about bed bugs! Maybe this is one of the items all good IPM teams should add to their kit for teaching schools about pests. ;-)

Third OPS IPM Visit

Clyde and I visited our Omaha Public Schools IPM demonstration school for the third time on Dec 9th. The school has recently employed a new pest management company, and a representative from that company was in attendance. We spent some time initiating him on the project, and also talked with the whole group more about IPM Star Certification. In addition, we provided the head custodian with a box of sticky traps so that he can continue monitoring on his own, and gave recommendations of where to purchase more traps when he needs them.

After a short meeting, we consulted the written recommendations we had provided after the second visit and looked at locations such as the kitchen, staff lounge, custodial closets, boiler room, and home ec room where there had been issues. The school had definitely paid attention. Some highlights included:
  • Wallpaper removal in the staff lounge, which had been a concern because it could harbor cockroaches. Although German roaches have been found in the room before (especially near the pop machine and fridge) and we found new ones on traps, the school is taking measures towards reducing the conducive conditions that attract these pests and will continue to monitor.

  • The kitchen had Oriental roaches, but no Germans! This was great news since in earlier visits we had found Germans in the kitchen. We continue to emphasize the importance of deep cleaning...both floors, under appliances, and in drains, and the reduction of moisture to discourage the Orientals.

  • The boiler room was especially Oriental roaches were seen on traps as they had been in the past. The dirt pile in the corner of the back room had been cleaned up and moisture issues had been addressed.

  • In the main custodial office, all the pesticides had been removed.

With all of these improvements, the school is well on its way to fixing issues mentioned in the recommendations.

Finally, Clyde and I also reminded the group that they are welcome to attend the Urban Pest Management Conference coming up February 7-8. They thought both school reps as well as people from the pest management company would be interested in going. With topics covering various pests, research, and IPM, this conference should provide some good information for the school staff and their pest management company as the move forward in the IPM process.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Final South Dakota Assessment

South Dakota is freezing right now :-) Welcome to winter! And I thought the weather in Nebraska was getting cold. Last Thursday and Friday the South Dakota IPM team bundled up like snowmen (and women!) to do the final visit to our 4 schools. Jerry Jochim from Indiana also joined us, as he had on the first visit.

First we took a look around the perimeter, than visited all the inside areas that we had noted during the previous visits to see how the schools were doing. Although we still found some areas of concern, the school districts had both made progress.

Some things of note in individual schools:
  • a severe moth fly problem in a kitchen was solved
  • wooden pallets had been moved out of another kitchen area
  • outdoor pesticides were locked up in the shed (last time they had been in the open)
  • a school district had created an IPM written policy
We wish our South Dakota colleagues Darrell,Jim, and Jon the best in continuing to work with the schools as they move toward IPM implementation throughout their districts.

In the near future, the team hopes to have a "Demonstration Day" where other SD schools can attend an event where they get a tour of the schools we worked with, some educational information, and encouragement to consider doing IPM themselves.

Here in Nebraska, the SD experience has been a great one in helping us as we proceed through our own IPM demonstration projects! We've learned a lot, although I sure will miss Backyard Grille BBQ and Bravos, two of the best restaurants in South Dakota!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

IPM Website updated!

Here at the Pesticide Education Office, we've been working recently on updating our website to fit the style of the new UNL template, and in the process have reorganized the content, including integrating our old IPM website into this new Pesticide Safety Education Program one. Please check out the new site:!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Science Cadre

Clyde and I have been discussing ways to better get the word out about our educational video game, Pest Private Eye, which teaches children and educators who work with them about IPM.

Now that the game is complete and in its final version, we would like to do a small project working with Nebraska elementary/middle school teachers in the classroom, using the game to teach IPM as part of the science curriculum. We would give teachers copies of the game for their students to play, then follow up with an in-classroom activity/survey about what they learned based on the Nebraska/National Science standards.

After contacting some ESU (Educational Service Units) around the state, we were invited yesterday to attend a "Science Cadre" at ESU9 consisting of science teachers in Hastings and surrounding towns. I presented about IPM and then demoed the game, explaining how we'd love to work with them on a project in the classroom. There were several questions about IPM and the game and also interest in doing the project! We look forward to using the game to further educate both children and teachers about IPM! Stay tuned for more info on this project as it progresses.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 6th Coalition Meeting

We had our fourth IPM coalition meeting of 2010 yesterday. We were joined by OPS and LPS, as well as EPA, UNL Extension, tribal, Nebraska Department of Ag, and pest management professional representatives.

Our guest speaker was Tom Green, who is president of the IPM Institute in Madison, WI. He discussed details about the process for a school to become IPM Star Certified, including maintaining records, working with the PMP to use IPM methods rather than routine spray applications, and generally controlling pests such as cockroaches and mice and improving conducive conditions to discourage pests. The IPM Star certification includes an on-site visit from a 3rd party professional who evaluates the school and provides them with a written list of recommendations. The school then addresses any deficiencies the evaluator has noted and contacts the IPM Institute for certification. Schools must score 70% on the evaluation to be certified, and certification lasts for 3 years. It must be renewed with a follow up visit after that time.

Tom also talked about Green Shield certification, which is an IPM Star approach to certifying pest management professionals. For more information about IPM Star and Green Shield, visit and

After Tom's presentation, we discussed the August in-service presentations Clyde, Barb, Stephen and I did for LPS and OPS (custodial and/or food service staff), the second visits (Sept 9 for OPS and Sept 23 for LPS) and the planned third demonstration visits (Dec 9 for OPS and Feb 2, 2011 for LPS) Additional IPM and pest (bed bug) training are slated for November 11 (IAQ group) and November 19 (Infection Control group) for LPS.

Mike Daniels then gave a brief overview of the Healthy Tribal Communities training that was held in Sioux City. He said there were 32 attendees and he felt it was a success.

Coalition meetings for next year have been set: Feb 7/8 (Urban Pest Management conference), April 27, July 27, and Oct 26. There was discussion about possibly having half day educational events rather than the two hour meetings we have been doing. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach, so we'll be evaluating coalition member thoughts and suggestions before making a decision.

Bed bugs were also a topic of discussion (when is it not these days, especially with New York City practically overrun and many other places not far behind!).Barb mentioned that she and Clyde will be giving three bed bug workshops for landlords in October and November. Oct 20 will be in Lincoln, Nov 15 in Grand Island, and November 17 in Omaha. See for sign up information. As part of the training (at the Omaha and Lincoln location), they will be featuring Spots, a bed bug sniffing dog owned by James and Amy Pelowski in Lincoln. To learn more about Spots' services, check out their website, K-9 BedBug Detection at .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Orlando and Lovebugs

I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Orlando...visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and had some Butterbeer (cream soda with butterscotch and vanilla); got soaked on the Popeye river raft ride; and fed the dolphins at SeaWorld!

The weather was warm and humid (about 90 degrees in late September) and I admit that I wondered if I'd find any interesting insects while in FL. I never can stray too far from my entomological fascination :-) I wasn't disappointed! When we landed, my friends and I were immediately struck when we looked out the plane window and saw millions of what looked like some kind of hemiptera flying around and also appearing on all the windows at the airport. It was an invasion! Intrigued (well, at least I was!), my friends and I quizzed the locals, who informed us that these pesky insects were "lovebugs" and that their nuisance expands beyond their large, annoying numbers to actually damaging property...the paint on cars! Motorists are encouraged to wash their cars soon after running through lovebug infested areas as these little pests can literally ruin car paint if left too long.

Of course upon my return from FL I read a bit about lovebugs and found out they are actually flies rather than true bugs and that they have mating flights twice a year, one being...ta da...August and September. Luckily they do not bite or sting, but definitely cause a mess for cars, planes, and people who may be in their way. Read more about these pests at and Apparently there are a lot of predators that eat the larvae and help keep the population down. The larvae don't actually cause much of a problem (and in fact can aid in some plant growth), but the less larvae there are, the less adults that can cause a mess! A little bit of biological control IPM going on there!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

LPS Second Visit

On Sept 23, Clyde, Barb and I began our second visit to the Lincoln demonstration school by meeting with the staff, which included the principal, operations manager, head custodian, director of food services, and two PMPs, including the technician who services the school. We discussed that we'd be checking traps set last time and visiting vulnerable areas. We also talked about the recordkeeping process they have in place. Currently, this school keeps a pest log in the custodial office, but they are likely going to make a second set of pest sighting sheets available in the main office to simplify the pest reporting process for staff.

After the short discussion, we made our way to visit the food storage and kitchen areas, home ec, staff lounge, boiler room, and custodial closets/offices.

Food storage was good about primarily using open metal shelves! They did have a few wooden pallets and lots of cardboard boxes, but the area was clean, neat, and dry. We recommended they just discard the pallets and reduce the cardboard.

The kitchen is a pest vulnerable area, as we have seen in visits to many other schools, and we did find traps with Orientals and Germans, as well as a German cockroach hiding behind a bulletin board! We gave them similar recommendations as OPS of deep cleaning everything (behind and beneath equipment, floors, drains, etc.), caulking around the bulletin boards, and setting out more traps to continue monitoring.

The staff lounge was in overall good shape...the traps primarily had incidentals but we had found some mouse droppings under a sink last time, so encouraged them to put out snap traps.

The Home ec room looked good...sinks were clean underneath with no storage of pesticide, and stoves, sinks, etc. were clean overall.

In the boiler room, we saw two live wolf big as half my thumb! I got this great picture of one before Clyde started telling me it would jump on me. I wasn't sure whether to believe him, but I wasn't taking any chances :-) so I moved back and let someone perform some "mechanical" IPM on the spider with his shoe! We also saw some dead Orientals on the floor, a bag with pop cans, and various areas with debris and dirt. We encouraged the school to address an area of standing water near the water softener, especially since Orientals love and thrive on lots of moisture.

We looked at several custodial closets and with the exception of some clutter/debris and some cans of pesticide that we recommended they remove, they were in good shape. Mops were hung, trash bags were changed daily, and most buckets were dry.

The LPS school, like OPS, is well on its way to implementing their IPM program. Both schools have or will be receiving recommendations after this second visit that will help guide them in the process.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Healthy Tribal Communities Training

September 14th brought Clyde, Barb, and myself from UNL, Mark from IA State, Jim and Jon from South Dakota State, and Sue Ratcliffe from Illinois to Sioux City, IA to provide training on IPM to tribes in EPA region 7. Mike Daniels, who has joined us in both our South Dakota and Nebraska IPM in Schools projects, organized the training with the help of Dick Wiechman from EPA.

The agenda included talks on general IPM, pest ID, pest species (cockroaches, ants, flies, bed bugs, rodents, and head lice), pesticides and pesticide labels, and recordkeeping.

Following the presentations, we took the group of about 35 people, representing tribes from several states, to a local high school, where we did a walkthrough of the kitchen, home ec room, special ed room, custodial area, and perimeter. It was a great educational opportunity to teach the participants about IPM and what process we have followed when visiting schools. We showed them particular conducive conditions and vulnerable areas and what pests might be common in those situations. We hope they are able to take what they learned into their own school systems and practice IPM!

Second IPM Visit to Omaha Public Schools

On Sept 9, we visited our OPS demonstration school for the second time. Clyde, Barb, Stephen and I met with administration and staff to discuss how they were progressing on developing a recordkeeping book. They are going to create a print notebook that will either be housed with the IPM coordinator or in the main office that both the staff and the pest management professional can access. The principal mentioned that she will also send information about it out on a school listserv to make staff aware that they can report pest sightings.

After these discussions we visited the kitchen, staff lounge, food storage area, custodial closets and other areas we had seen during the first visit. There is still a roach problem (primarily German in the kitchen and primarily Oriental in the boiler room) and we gave recommendations on how to approach this issue. We were very pleased to see that the Roach prufe that had been applied under Home Ec sinks had been removed. We encouraged the head custodian (IPM Coordinator) to also remove other pesticides, such as Raid, from the facility. We also checked sticky traps and noted what pests were found and replaced with new traps in the same areas to continue monitoring.

Outside, Stephen gave advice on how to better "insulate" portable classrooms from wildlife and rodents, including using hardcloth, sealing holes, and putting crushed gravel or other appropriate materials around foundations where there are gaps.

We will be sending out written recommendations soon...some of them are general practices we have told other schools...remove pesticides such as Raid, check entryways and replace doorsweeps where necessary, reduce moisture and clutter, and increase sanitation in vulnerable areas.

At the tail end of our visit, we also found a great biological control, a Chinese praying mantis, who was in the landscape. I took him home for a few days, then let him go on some bushes at UNL :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Week of IPM in Schools in-services

With school about to go back in session, the Omaha and Lincoln Public schools held in-service training for their custodial and food service staff this week and we were invited to speak. On Monday, Clyde, Stephen Vantassel, Barb Ogg, and I spoke at the LPS custodial in-service with about 300 people in attendance. We gave them information about general IPM and the demonstration project going on in the district,as well as presentations on specific pests--flies, rodents, and cockroaches. We also got questions on ants and head lice!

On Wednesday we met at a school in Omaha to train about 100 food service managers. In addition to doing the IPM, roach, and rodent presentations again, we did a talk focused on head lice and bed bugs. Although these wouldn't be probable pests in a kitchen setting, we discussed them at the request of the school. We certainly had their rapt attention, but also saw many shivers and scratching heads during the talk :-)

Finally, today I did a 45 minute presentation on IPM for around 325 LPS food service staff.

We hope that through these in-services and demonstration projects we are doing in the districts that Lincoln and Omaha Public Schools will embrace IPM and encourage its use in all their schools. Cooperation between the pest management company and the school is also of great importance in order to make a good IPM program work. We have emphasized both in the in-services and the visits that a good recordkeeping practice should be put in place to keep the PMP and the school informed of pest sightings and what IPM methods are being used to control pest problems.

We look forward to moving the schools in the direction of IPM with a goal of district adoption.

Pesticide Education and IPM at Nebraska City

Last week the Pesticide Education Office here at UNL hosted the North Central Region Pesticide Education and Certification Workshop (NCRPECW) at the Lied Lodge in beautiful Nebraska City, home of Arbor Day. We had great presentations about stormwater runoff, phosphine, atrazine and keeping pesticides off nontarget sites, NPDES, online Pesticide Safety Education Program training, social media, Camtasia, Sensitive crop locator, IPM in Iowa schools, and many other relevant and interesting topics to North Central Region university extension and state lead agency colleagues.

On Wednesday we did a tour of the Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard, where we saw a variety of Nebraska alternative agriculture such as hazelnuts, woody florals, grapes, peaches, and apples. Some also visited the Whiskey Run Creek winery where there is an old cave that has been refurbished from the days of prohibition!

We received many compliments about the location, the food, and the conference and we thank everyone for coming!

After the NCRPECW, Clyde and I remained at the Lied Lodge and attended the annual North Central Region IPM Working group meeting, which included a walkthrough of NE City schools, with whom we may do a future demonstration project.

Overall a very productive and informative week!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 7th IPM Coalition

We had our third IPM coalition meeting of the year yesterday. We were joined by OPS and LPS, as well as EPA, UNL Extension, tribal, and pest management professional representatives.

Our guest speaker was Mark Shour, who works in the Pesticide Safety Education Program and IPM at IA State University, and with whom Clyde and I have been working in South Dakota. He came to talk about his work with IPM in Iowa Schools. He covered survey data taken from polling Iowa schools about their pesticide practices, and IPM pilot programs he conducted for the interior (4 districts) and turf and landscape (5 districts) areas of the schools. He also discussed a Midwest IPM workshop that was conducted in 2004 by and for Extension individuals from Midwestern states. Participants were individuals who were already doing IPM in their states (who gave presentations), and people who were interested in starting IPM programs. Finally, Mark explained that he did IPM training for districts that requested it.

We also discussed an overview of the first demonstrations at Lincoln and Omaha, with both districts expressing that they felt they learned a lot and will be following through on suggestions made for things found during the walkthrough. We also reported on the upcoming in-services that we'll be doing at LPS (Custodial and Food Service) and OPS (food service) in August. We'll be doing presentations about general IPM, as well as specific pests such as cockroaches and mice.

Mike Daniels from the Winnebago tribe spoke about a tribal nations conference being held in September. As part of that, Barb, Clyde, Stephen, Mark and I will be doing presentations on various IPM issues. Other parts of the conference will include information about healthy homes, including topics such as lead and asbestos. Mike also mentioned that he had bought 500 lice combs in bulk that he is going to distribute to school nurses on the reservation as well as other places that would be conducive to head to head contact among children, such as daycares and swimming pools. Giving out these combs will help reduce embarrassment children and parents may experience when they have to go and buy them in the store. Also, he received the combs for about $1.10 apiece, as opposed to drugstore costs of around $10-15 for a comb.

Our next coalition meeting will be on October 6 and we'll be welcoming Tom Green from the IPM Institute to talk about IPM Star Certification.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Turf Assessment in Lincoln

Yesterday we visited our Lincoln school again and examined the turf. Clyde and I were joined by the head school custodian, Roch Gaussoin, turf specialist at UNL, and one of the school's groundskeepers. There was a lot of white clover growth, which can be both good and bad!

Roch said that until the 1950's, clover was actually included in part of the seed mix for lawns because it helps release nitrogen. He mentioned that if the school wanted to, they could actually allow the clover to be the primary groundcover. The only concern might be potential liability issues with bees (student and staff allergic reactions)

Increasing fertility (using more fertilizers, such as one application in the fall) would greatly cut down the amount of clover. However, this would encourage grass growth and result in the need for mowing more often. The school has limited manpower to address the turf at all the Lincoln schools, so this might not be the preferable option.

Another thing of note was that mulch was compounded around the trees. The trees were planted well, at the proper depth. Roch suggested that the mulch just be spread out a bit away from the tree rather than mounded so tightly against it. This will help reduce mower hits against the tree as well.

The groundskeeper also mentioned that sports turf areas in LPS are the only places where herbicides are used because these areas have a higher priority to be maintained. He mentioned otherwise they just mow, and they don't fertilize the general turf.

Overall, we offered the school a variety of options in addressing their turf health and our recommendations take into consideration that their decisions have to be based on time and personnel.

Finally, Clyde also suggested that the sports turf groundskeeper as well as any other interested district groundskeepers attend the Green Expo in January. This is great for both pesticide applicator recertification as well as updated information about landscape and turf issues.

Friday, June 25, 2010

IPM in Schools: First Demonstration Visit

On June 22nd and 23rd, our Nebraska IPM team conducted the first assessment at the two demonstration schools in Omaha and Lincoln. In addition to the UNL team members (Clyde and Barb Ogg, Stephen Vantassel, and myself) we had great attendance by school administration, custodial supervisors, and nutrition and environmental specialists. Also joining us were PMPs who service the schools and Mike Daniels, the tribal representative who wants to implement IPM for the Winnebago and Omaha tribes in Nebraska.

We began the day by giving an introductory presentation about IPM and explaining a bit about how the demonstration process would work at each of the schools. We covered topics such as what IPM is, the move away from the "traditional" approach of preventative spraying, children and pesticides, specific pests, conducive pest areas within schools, and what responsibilities each school staff member (administration, food service, teachers, school nurse, custodians, and contracted PMPs) have in helping to implement and maintain IPM in their schools. Upon concluding this, we asked what pests had been seen around the school and then set out to do our walkthroughs.

The kitchen was probably the biggest area of concern in the schools. Both schools had problems with German and Oriental cockroaches. Live cockroaches were found in drains and even running around on the floor--mainly in the kitchen, but also in the home ec room and near entrance ways. Sanitation was definitely an issue in both cases...drains, floors (especially under appliances), and surfaces need to be deep cleaned in each kitchen. Because school is currently not in session, this would be a good time to address these issues.

Staff lounges and the home ec room were also of concern. Again, this is due to all the food that is eaten, cooked, or stored in these areas. One school had had problems with a pop machine in the staff lounge being infested with German roaches. Obviously, with sweet pop residue and a warm, dark place to live, it was the ideal place for a roach party! The PMP stated that the machine had been treated with gel bait and sure enough, many dead roaches were seen around the area of the pop machine.
The same staff lounge had a leafed wooden table. When we separated the table, we could see lots of debris had built up in between the leaf---again, cleaning this could go a long way in reducing the number of roaches. Any place where food residues can be removed will help.

The other staff lounge had an open bag of peanuts. Staff lounges are going to undoubtedly have food throughout the year, but it's best that long-term items such as the peanuts, chips, candy, cookies, etc. be put in sealed containers, and plates with treats such as donuts or cake be covered tightly when no one is in the lounge.

The home ec room, like the kitchen, needs a good deep cleaning. Dead and live roaches were found several places, plus an old sticky trap that had been placed was full of them. The stoves (in, around, and behind) need to be cleaned, as well as the floors and drains. Doing this will go a long way in reducing food sources for pests.

In all of these areas we placed many sticky traps...some were specifically pheromone traps for roaches. It is our hope that this will help us monitor and determine the extent of the problem. We will check these at an upcoming visit.

We also looked at custodial rooms in both schools...both had pesticides stored, although one had them on open shelves, the other in locked cabinets. Things like Roach Prufe (boric acid) and Raid were some of the more commonly found products. We recommended to the schools that they remove these from the shelves. We'd rather see them implement good old mechanical controls like fly swatters (or a shoe!) than spraying Raid at a pest. Both require direct contact to kill the pest, so why not use the non-toxic approach if possible? Additionally, we talked about how the PMP has the tools and low-toxic products like gels that could be placed in cracks and crevices, thus reducing human exposure.

Finally, we took a look at the perimeter. Overall, both schools looked good but had a few problems with grading and water pooling that could cause excessive moisture problems and attract pests. Also, weed free zones should be in place around both schools. Stephen indicated that the schools should watch out for gaps in the roof, foundation, or walls that could encourage bat, wildlife, or rodent entry. Portable classrooms were one particular problem as they had many gaps, broken vents, or other problems that could encourage animal entry. One school had courtyards that were overgrown with weeds, had grading problems, and had trees touching the roof or walls. These will need to be updated and maintained to discourage pest activity.

This first visit was very productive! Everyone involved seemed very enthusiastic about fixing any problems and working hard to implement IPM over the next year! We'll be providing a report with recommendations to each school, and working with them over the course of the next four visits. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Week

Well, this is the week we start our first IPM demonstration visits to the Omaha and Lincoln public schools! Tomorrow we'll be in Omaha and Wednesday in Lincoln.

We'll be conducting a walkthrough at each school as well as providing the school administration and staff with a presentation about IPM and how the process will work over the next year. We plan to document pests and pest conducive conditions by taking photos and notes, and from these we'll be able to provide recommendations for the schools. We'll also be placing traps in conducive areas.

Stay tuned for a detailed report after the completion of this initial assessment.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Upcoming NE IPM Events

It is going to be an exciting year for Nebraska IPM! June 22, 23 and 29 we'll be conducting our first IPM assessments at the Omaha and Lincoln schools.

July 7 Mark Shour from IA state will be with us at our Nebraska IPM coalition to speak about his experiences with IPM in schools in Iowa.

The first week of August, as part of the North Central IPM Working group meeting, we'll be doing a walkthrough at a Nebraska City school.

Oct 6 Tom Green from the IPM Institute is joining our coalition meeting to talk about IPM Star Certification.

Stay tuned for more details about these important and educational IPM events!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nacho Cheese, Anyone?

Last week Clyde and I joined Mark Shour from IA State, and Darrell Deneke, Jim Wilson, and Jon Kieckhefer from South Dakota State to visit four South Dakota schools in two school districts where we are working to implement IPM. Some other participants in one or more of our SD visits have included Mike Daniels, the pesticide circuit rider for the Nebraska Winnebago tribe, Stephen Vantassel, UNL wildlife expert, Ruth O'Neill from Montana, and Jerry Jochim from Indiana, all of whom have either been involved or are interested in IPM for schools in their states.

We began this process May of 2009 and will do a total of 5 visits. Our hope is to educate the SD schools about pests and how to address any current pest problems as well as prevent future ones by implementing good sanitation, exclusion, trapping, and other IPM practices. We have provided sticky traps and placed these in pest conducive areas around the school during each visit. On our next visit, we check and record numbers and types of pests found on the old traps and replace with new ones to monitor progress. PMPs in both school districts we have been working with have been involved in both walkthroughs and assisting with pest monitoring. They are an integral part of the team and will be very important in maintaining and coordinating IPM with the SD schools after this project is completed.

On previous visits, we have conducted in-services/training for custodial and other staff, and teachers to introduce common pests and explain what IPM is and what we are trying to accomplish with this project. We have encouraged the participation of SD school superintendents, pest management professionals (PMPs), custodians and facility managers, teachers, and other school staff.

Overall the SD schools have shown very good efforts! One school had a pretty severe moth fly problem due to a dirty drain and during this last visit we were very impressed to find that the drain had been deep cleaned and there were very few moth flies on the trap we had set out. One school had dead mice in traps and mouse droppings under a sink. They have since removed the mouse, cleaned thoroughly, and freshly painted this area. Other general observations we've made is that the schools need to seal around all their pipes, install doorsweeps under all doors (they are on the way to fulfilling this) and improve general cleanliness under appliances.

We have found some major problems with cleaning small appliances used in concessions and other least 3 popcorn machines are encrusted with grease and have left over popcorn long after use, a nacho cheese machine looks like it has never been cleaned, and a small fryer and some ovens/microwaves in home ec rooms or teacher lounges have a lot of food debris and grease that should be deep cleaned. All of these things are not only unpleasant to look at, but would be a feast for pests!

During our first visit we found several cans of pesticides in non-locked cabinets, some of which were really outdated. We recommended to the schools that these be discarded. Since then, we have found a can here or there, but the schools have been pretty cooperative in either discarding the pesticides themselves or letting us remove them. We did find some lawn pesticides in outdoor sheds as well, which should be removed or stored in locked cabinets.

With one visit left to go, we have been pleased with the progress that the schools have made. One school is even using pest logs, a recordkeeping tool we have encouraged to help schools keep track of pest sightings. Although there are still some areas that need improvement, the SD schools are doing a good job of addressing many issues that the IPM team has found and seem enthusiastic about making the changes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Give a Daily Dose of IPM

I have been amazed recently about how many times I talk to family and friends and they will casually mention "We have these little bugs coming into the house" or "Something is eating my garden plants," or "What do you do about ants in the house? They are driving me crazy!" I look at these as educational IPM opportunities! So many consumers still go to the Raid as their first line of defense, and the more we can convince them there are other, safer alternatives, the more IPM will become a household word :-)

I've especially been inundated with ant questions recently. These little invaders tend to show up in the spring quite often, and many times will go away given a little time. However, some problems persist, and yesterday a friend of mine expressed concern with putting ant baits down because of her pet dog. The ants have migrated from the bathroom to the kitchen and show no signs of stopping. I recommended to her that she collect some ants, bring them to the Extension office and get them identified. That way she'd know what the species is and can get some advice from the Extension Educators on what to do for that particular kind of ant. In the meantime, I told her some general IPM tips: vacuum up the ants she finds, try to watch where the trail is coming from and seal any cracks or crevices where they might hide, and be sure to keep her dog food in a sealed container.

Another regular story I receive occurs every September. Some of my family members get a barn spider "infestation" all around the outside of their home. Good old Charlotte shows up in the awnings, on the clothesline, and other places that are not acceptable. Granted, these spiders are beneficial in eating other pests around the area, but they are large and to some people a bit intimidating. My family's first response is to grab a can of bug spray and attack Charlotte with it. While this will work as long as the spider gets sprayed directly, I encourage my family to go with a more "mechanical" approach and use a broom to swipe spider and web down. No sense exposing you or the clothes to unnecessary pesticide! The broom method also assures that you actually physically remove the spider too, either killing or "relocating" (my preference :-)!) her to a place where she won't bother you.

So next time your family and friends come to you with a pest problem, take the opportunity to teach them about IPM, education is the first step!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions

After a lot of reading about RSS feeds and blog email subscriptions, I finally have figured out how to put these options on this site! This should make it much easier for those interested in the Nebraska IPM blog to actually get updates when I post something new. The links to these can be found on the right hand side of the blog and below:

Subscribe to IPM in Schools: The Nebraska Experience by Email

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nebraska Kids Learn about Pests At Nature Nights

Last night was "Nature Nights" at a local Lincoln elementary school. This program, put on by the Nebraska Natural Resources District, encourages parents to bring their children to participate in various stations that focus on environmental and scientific areas. This was a perfect opportunity to introduce kids (and adults!) to pests and how to identify them! (trivia: did you know Nebraska even has scorpions ?!)

My station included two pest display cases, a microscope that projected onto a flatscreen, live Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and some "pest evidence," such as termite damage, frass, and sticky traps full of insects. The kids were very intrigued and were asking all sorts of questions! Of course they loved the Madagascar roaches and wanted to hold them. It was a great way to introduce how they differ from their pest cousins, the American, German, and Oriental cockroaches, for which I had pinned specimens to show.

Kids were also sent home with Pest Private Eye comic books to teach them more about pests and IPM! It's never too early to learn about this concept, and my hope is that such youth programs will provide children with a take home message they can use and also pass along to their parents and peers.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The First In-service

On May 3, four UNL Extension IPM team members (Barb and Clyde Ogg, Stephen Vantassel, and myself) visited the selected demonstration school in Omaha, where we will be starting our IPM assessment June 22. We met with the head of nutrition services, Tammy Yarmon, who had asked us to do an in-service for the food service staff.

During this hour and a half training, we did presentations on general IPM and gave specific information about how the demonstration would work. We also explained what strategies we recommended to the food service staff in particular to help in IPM efforts. These included good cleaning of drains, floors, appliances and surfaces, keeping items stored on metal shelves and in sealed containers, and discarding cardboard boxes as soon as reasonably possible. We explained this is because cockroaches like to hide in the corrugated areas of cardboard (and will also eat it if hungry enough!)

Stephen presented on mice and rats, and Barb talked about cockroaches. There were some definite "Ah ha!" moments, such as how the dark colored, moisture loving Oriental roaches are often called "Waterbugs" but are indeed roaches!

Following the presentations, the food staff took us to the kitchen to show us areas in which they had seen or captured pests. We also looked at the teacher's lounge, where one staff member explained that last time the vending machine had been serviced, she had seen roaches scurry out of it!

We look forward to working with OPS and LPS this summer!

Be an IPM Detective!!

Following is a reprint of an article that was published in various newsletters to let people know about our IPM youth project, Pest Private Eye!

The University of Nebraska--Lincoln Extension has developed an educational first person role playing video game, Pest Private Eye and the Case of IPM in Schools to teach children and the educators who work with them about pests and how to control them using Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The purpose of IPM is to try other methods first and use pesticides only after these other methods have been tried. IPM includes sanitation, exclusion, moisture reduction, mechanical controls, habitat modification, biological controls, and low toxic chemical controls. IPM reduces exposure to pesticides, increases human health and safety, and protects the environment.

With a primary audience of 4th-6th graders, the game teaches about pests and IPM through the virtual investigation of Eureka Elementary, a school invaded by pests such as flies, roaches, rodents, ants, and spiders. By learning about and identifying pests, exploring rooms, picking up and using tools, and interacting with school personnel, the player, as Pest Private Eye, helps to solve the school’s pest problems. Pest Private Eye’s assistant, Penny Poe, helps players navigate through the game and presents summaries of important concepts.

During gameplay, students learn about and implement various IPM strategies, including reducing clutter or cleaning up trash (sanitation), screening windows (exclusion), sealing holes (habitat modification), fixing leaks (moisture reduction), trapping (mechanical controls), and using low toxic baits (chemical controls). By using a magnifying glass when they see a pest, players learn about the importance of identifying a pest before controlling it. Players have access to a “Pest ID” book as a reference when they need help in identification, and can also gain clues by speaking with the principal and other school staff about what pests have been noticed around the school. Students learn about what tools are useful when implementing IPM, such as gloves and HEPA masks when working with droppings, flashlights, sticky traps, snap traps, bait, and trash bags. If players need a hint, that is available too! During the game players meet a pest management professional (PMP) working for Eureka Elementary, who gives Pest Private Eye his cell phone number, enabling players to “call” for help throughout the game. In the real world, this interaction with school administration, staff, and the PMP represents the teamwork required for establishing an IPM policy for a school, and how combined efforts make IPM a success.

The game has been piloted in libraries, summer 4-H camps, and after school programs, and UNL Extension received valuable survey feedback from pilot participants. Through an EPA grant we created a newly revised game, integrating suggestions from survey data, which includes more challenges and complexity. In addition, we developed a Teacher’s guide with activities that can be used to teach IPM in the classroom, and a Pest Private Eye comic book.

For more information about Pest Private Eye and the Case of IPM in Schools, including links to a demo, the Teacher's Guide, comic book, and other IPM resources, please visit

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Our Way

With increasing public concern about pesticide use, it has never been more important for us to reevaluate pesticide use in and around our schools. Keeping our children safe should always be our first priority. Pests in schools also cause concern because they can cause allergies and have been found to be asthma triggers. Others carry bacteria and transmit diseases. A concept called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, can help you manage pests while improving human health and safety and protect the environment. IPM uses a variety of methods, such as sanitation (keeping things clean), exclusion (keeping pests out), habitat modification (sealing holes), moisture control, biological controls (natural predators), mechanical controls (fly swatters or trapping) and low-toxic chemical controls to get rid of pests.

As part of an effort called School IPM 2015, we here in Nebraska began a coalition consisting of representatives from University Extension, pest control companies, School districts, PTA, Nebraska Department of Ag, Winnebago tribe, EPA, NHHS, and child care organizations. We meet quarterly to discuss current "hot topics" such as bed bugs as well as how to implement IPM in the state of Nebraska.

Our most recent meeting was April 7th at a middle school here in Lincoln, NE. We are going to be doing demonstration projects in Omaha and Lincoln Public schools, where we will do pest assessments in the school and help the school implement IPM principles to control and prevent pests. This is an educational experience that we hope will benefit everyone districts, the pest management professionals who work with the schools, and of course we here in Extension!

Our official demonstration begins June 22 and June 23 at each of the two schools. We'll be doing some in-service training in May and August.

This blog will take you through the process of our Nebraska IPM effort. We hope you enjoy and find concepts here that you can apply in your own home or school to manage pests!