• Welcome to IPM for schools, homes and communities

    This website helps all of us create healthy indoor and outdoor environments in our homes, schools and communities using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in a safe, sustainable and efficient way.

    We will be posting weekly on pests and how to control them, so come back often. For additional information, go to the Center for Integrated Pest Management at Colorado State University.

    You can contact us by following this link and filling out the form.

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Controlling mosquito wrigglers

Cx. tarsalis. Photo by J. Berger, bugwood.org

Cx. tarsalis. Photo by J. Berger, bugwood.org

Mosquitoes are a natural part of the environment we live in, but they can be a health threat because of their ability to transmit several diseases, including West Nile Virus. More than 45 different mosquito species are found in Colorado. The mosquito species Culex tarsalis is the most abundant WNV vector in the state. Peak mosquito season is typically from July through September. Adults of Cx. tarsalis and the other WNV vector, Cx. pipiens overwinter in protected areas.

One of the best ways to control mosquitoes is to eliminate habitat for egg-laying and larvae (also called wrigglers). Watch our new YouTube video for tips from the experts. From spring through summer, keep an eye out for standing water, in birdbaths, tires in play areas, flowerpots, or trashcans and lids. Turn over pails and empty planters or anything that can hold stagnant water. Either empty the water once a week or remove the receptacle. Make sure that rain gutters are clear and flowing; avoid overwatering turf. Maintain the water in ornamental ponds and other receptacles that require water to function.

You can also apply Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (or Bti),a bacterium with insecticidal properties, to aquatic habitats. Commonly known as mosquito dunks, they kill larval mosquitoes and are effective in areas of standing water that can’t be drained. Bti is a pesticide and should be applied according to label directions.

How to have a Green Ribbon School

Watch our interviews from Lesher Middle School and Boulder Valley School District.

flag co• Larkspur Elementary School (Douglas School District)
• Lesher Middle School (Poudre School District)
• Mesa Elementary School (Montezuma – Cortez School District)
• Boulder Valley School District

The U. S. Department of Education is collaborating with other agencies, including the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Departments of Agriculture, Interior and Energy; and other natural resource agencies, to recognize schools and school districts who are working to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and provide effective environmental education.

Weeds and more weeds

There has been lots of rain this spring and summer and weed control is on our minds. One of the most persistent and abundant weeds throughout Colorado is leafy spurge. This noxious weed is problematic because of its nature to dominate plant communities and Colorado law requires its control. Colorado State University is conducting a demonstration at the Environmental Learning Center on control of this invasive species. Check out the You Tube to see more.

Leafy spurge in full bloom

Leafy spurge in full bloom

Leafy spurge is a creeping perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet tall. Leaves are bluish-green with smooth margins and 1 to 4 inches long. Flowers occur in April and May with showy yellow bracts and flower parts in 3’s. Leafy spurge is most aggressive under dry conditions but readily establishes adjacent to water. Seed capsules open explosively and disperse seed up to 15 feet. It also can spread vegetatively several feet per year. Four species of flea beetle are available from Colorado Department of Agriculture insectary for biocontrol of this weed.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a systems approach that uses physical, mechanical, cultural and biological methods first to control weed populations. Tactics include keeping weeds from going to seed, hand-weeding or pulling, use of mulches and biological agents such as insects. Aggressive weeds can crowd out grass and other desirable plants, so proper fertilization and irrigation is important.

How to tell if you have mice

We recently inspected a public building that had a resident mouse population. How can you tell if you have mice? Watch our new YouTube video.

Mice are common problems in and around homes and schools. Rodents cause fires by gnawing on electrical wires, transmit pathogens, and are associated with allergens and asthma triggers. Studies have shown that mice produce powerful allergens that can kick off allergies and asthma. Evidence of one mouse (droppings) justifies setting traps, improving sanitation, and rodent proofing the building.

The easiest way to tell if your house or school has mice is to look for their droppings. Look for dark-colored droppings that are pointed on one or both ends; they are 3 – 6 mm in length. Mouse droppings deposited on floors become hard in a couple of hours. A common characteristic of droppings is the presence of hair that is ingested during grooming. An adult house mouse produces 50 to 75 pellets daily, depending on diet.

The size and number of droppings can tell you how many mice are present. If you see many fresh feces — large and small in size — both young and old mice are present – in other words, a breeding population.  If there are a lot of mouse droppings, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the area is infested. Remove the old feces and then look for any new ones in the next several days.

Another way to tell if you have mice is to use a UV flashlight. Mice urinate hundreds of micro droplets each night along their patrol path. Look for urine stains on the woodwork and a musky odor. Mouse urine (and other kinds of bodily fluids) fluoresces under a black light. Urine glows under a black light primarily because it contains the element phosphorus. Phosphorus glows yellowish-green in the presence of oxygen, with or without black light, but the light imparts additional energy that make the chemiluminescence easier to see.

Is that a hummingbird or a moth?

Hornworm (photo by Whitney Cranshaw)

CSU Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw reported that this spring he has seen more whitelined sphinx (Hyles lineata) – the most common “hummingbird moth” or “hawk moth” of the western states – than he has ever seen this early in the season.

The caterpillars are sometimes called hornworms because of the flexible spine or “horn” on the hind end. Hornworms are among the largest of all caterpillars found in Colorado, some reaching lengths of three inches or more. Although the “tomato hornworm” damages garden plants, most hornworm species cause insignificant plant injury.

Hornworms of the whitelined sphinx can vary in color. Most are predominately green, with some yellow, white, and/or black markings. Less commonly, you will find predominately-black forms, with yellow markings.

Recently the caterpillars have been eating the flowers of evening primrose around the Pawnee National Grassland, as well as purslane. Cranshaw reported that “now the remarkable activity that is underway involves all the larvae of the whitelined sphinx that are eating the plants – and in some places crossing the roads in large numbers as they migrate to new food sources or pupation sites.If even a small fraction of these turn into adults then there could be enormous numbers of the adults in 3-4 weeks.”

Start watching for the adult moths in a few weeks. These large moths have a superficial resemblance to hummingbirds in flight, especially since they feed from deep-lobed flowers. The forewing is generally dark olive brown to gray with a strong white lengthwise band running through the center. Smaller white veins cross the wing. The hind wing is dark gray-black with a central pink area.

Hummingbird moth (photo by Whitney Cranshaw)

Hummingbird moth (photo by Whitney Cranshaw)


School Statewide IPM Meeting is June 30

Want to find out what’s going on in Colorado School IPM? Check out the June 2014 newsletter.

The statewide meeting for school IPM will be held on June 30, 2014, at the Aurora Professional Learning & Conference Center. The meeting will last from 7:30am-3:00pm and will feature speakers from the EPA Center of Excellence for School IPM, Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, and a live demonstration of iPest manager. iPest manager is a software designed to help track the program and manage pest control costs.

The meeting is being hosted by Aurora School District in cooperation with Colorado State University and the Colorado Coalition for School IPM. The Coalition is continuing to promote and expand School IPM to different audiences throughout the state. By expanding perceptions of School IPM and the role it plays in contributing to successful school environments, the Coalition hopes to build new partnerships that will help to expand School IPM’s sphere of influence.

To RSVP or to obtain more information about the meeting, please contact Genevieve Berry at : genevieve.berry@colostate.edu or call 970-491-6408.


Colorado Wildlife – Rattus norvegicus

When you think of Colorado wildlife, you don’t often think of rats. Norway rats, however, were rampant in the alley of a Front Range city this month. As a biologist, I wondered what’s good about rats? Norway Rats disperse seeds when they eat them and poop them out in new places. This helps plants spread. Rats also help plants grow by aerating soil;  they put oxygen into the soil when they dig. Nevertheless, having rats in an urban area is not a good idea.

We visited the site in the middle of the day and saw rats happily playing in a brush pile, scurrying to and from the dumpster, and going in and out of their burrows, which consisted of a network of passageways, runways, and chambers, under a couple of sheds.

Norway rats (originally from Asia, not Norway) are found anywhere there are people. Common places Norway rats live are ditches, basements, sewers, old buildings, barns, dumps, woods, fields, ponds, and marshes. In our situation, not only were there several seldom used storage sheds, but a creek was also close-by.

Norway rats will eat just about anything, but people supply their main food. There were several dumpsters in the alley – overflowing with food and with the lids open. Norway rats are very nimble and can easily climb to get their food.

The IPM team used a coordinated approach. The first step was to clean up the dumpsters and remove their food source. The second step was to use baited snap traps; no rodenticides were used. The third step was biological control; a rat terrier was brought in to catch the rats.

Rat terrior finding the last rat

Rat terrior finding the last rat


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