• 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 regularly on pests and how to control them, so come back often. Also check out the Colorado Center for Integrated Pest Management, http://ipm.agsci.colostate.edu.

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

  • Flickr Photos

    rabbit hole under module

    air freshener

    closet by childcare

    More Photos

Termination Dust

Borreas PassI was at 12,000 feet elevation in the Rockies this past week and fall is definitely on the way – a few aspen have turned golden and there was “termination dust” (snow indicating the end of the summer!) on the trees. Are you, your house, and your landscape ready for winter?

Preventing pests from getting into your house or workspace is a lot easier than trying to remove them once they have set up house. To learn more, come to the Sustainable Living Fair here in Fort Collins on Saturday, September 20, and learn more about “healthy homes”.

Here are a few things to do before the termination dust hits where you live:

  • Walk the perimeter of the house and check for any cracks or crevices where mice, spiders and other unwanted critters may enter. Seal these with a caulk that is appropriate for the climate. You may need to fill larger holes.
  • Rake back any mulch, leaves or debris that may have piled up next to the building.
  • Check the seals inside. Look at the pipes under the sink – do the escutcheons fit tightly between the wall and the pipe? If not, fill the cracks with copper mesh. Check the weather stripping and door sweeps. Remember that mice can enter a hole as small as your little finger.


Teaching science through Integrated Pest Management

Using science – and careful inquiry — to look at the world around us means we are prepared to promote and maintain a healthier workplace, home, school and world. This five-lesson curriculum was designed for 3 – 5th graders, but everyone can use it. The core scientific ideas covered include the structure and function of living things, features of habitats, and the interdependent relationship of living things within ecosystems. Students practice the scientific skills of gathering, sorting, and interpreting data as evidence to test claims. They consider how evidence is important for making sound decisions about pests.

rat and chocolateCheck it out on eXtension’s Urban IPM page.

Daddy longlegs, harvestmen, grandfather greybeard

Have you ever had a creature with eight long and seven-jointed legs walk delicately up your arm? I imagine that the painter Salvador Dali was also fascinated by these creatures if you look at his painting, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening – Hope (1940).

Daddy Longlegs are also known as harvestmen. The name comes from their being seen in late summer and fall at harvest time. These arachnids are often mistaken for spiders. True spiders have two body segments — the cephalothorax (fused head and thorax regions) and the abdomen. Harvestmen essentially have an oval body without the separation. Another way to tell the difference between a true spider and a daddy longlegs is that daddy longlegs have two eyes versus the spiders’ six or eight. Harvestmen do not produce silk (or a web) and do not produce venom. They eat a wide variety of food, preferring insects and other arthropods (dead or alive), as well as vegetable matter and juices. For protection, harvestmen can produce defensive chemicals that taste and smell bad. They can also detach a leg to get away from a predator.

daddy long legsHarvestmen have been around for at least 400 million years! Whether you know them as harvestmen or daddy longlegs, they are not pests, but beneficial and fascinating animals.

This spider is not aggressive or poisonous!

My neighbors called yesterday for me to come and get a couple of spiders from their house. Fear and fascination of spiders is alive and well. If you prefer to not share your living space, you can remove the occasional spider by hand (wear gloves or trap the spider in a container) or with a vacuum. You can place sticky traps (the kind used to control cockroaches) along baseboards or under beds to capture spiders. The most common spiders found in homes in Colorado this time of year are the funnel weavers.

Hobo spiderHobo spiders, which are a type of funnel weaver, occur in the state and may thrive in some settings. They used to be called the “aggressive house spider”. Have you heard that the bite of this spider, Eratigena (=Tegenaria) agrestis can leave a necrotic wound that progresses over several days? The definitive truth is lacking! According to Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, there is only one scientific paper (Akre and Myhre, 1991) to support this claim, which extrapolates from venom experiments with rabbits. In its native European habitat, the hobo spider venom is not considered poisonous to humans.

As Dr. Cranshaw says, “(hobo spiders) are just another spider, nothing you need to worry about any more than you wish to worry about any of the other 100’s of harmless spiders that occur in Colorado.”

Inspecting for pests

You never know what you will find until you start looking.

Regularly inspecting the facility and grounds – whether it’s your school, place of business, or home – is a good policy. Part of Integrated Pest Management is examining and documenting what organisms are sharing your space. You might just find something you weren’t looking for.

lantern stinkhornLast weekend I found this organism growing between flagstones. It’s a Lantern Stinkhorn (Lysurus mokusin) – a saprophytic fungus that grows in moist soil and wood debris. It is not a pest – but is attractive to flies. The green bottle fly (in the photo) helps spread the fungal spores.

Focus your inspection on what we call “pest vulnerable areas” (PVAs). These are places where basic needs come together: food, water (or moisture) and living space (shelter or harborage). Every organism has unique needs. By understanding the basic biology of pests, you can reduce things that may attract pests as well as exclude pest access to buildings. PVAs in your home or school might include kitchens, lounges, concession or vending machine areas, pools, locker rooms. Outside the facility, look in areas that attract moisture, that provide shelter (vines, rubbish piles), and that provide food (fallen fruit, dumpsters).

You can also place pest monitors such as sticky traps in the area for early detection of and rapid response to emerging pest issues. Certain insects, spiders, and rodents become problems in our schools, homes, and businesses because they are allowed entry and are unknowingly supplied with food, water, and shelter. Human habits are often the cause of pest presence.

Regular inspections will help prevent pest infestations – and you might find something interesting!

A systems approach to managing turf

Stazio softball field, Boulder

Stazio softball field, Boulder

Yesterday, Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics met with grounds professionals from school districts, landscape companies and CSU Extension to discuss a system approach to turf management. As a horticulturalist with 40 years of experience, Chip emphasized what the grass needs to grow and thrive as part of a system. See our YouTube video. His approach focuses on soil biology and cultural practices. He recommends soil testing — for nutrients, pH and cation exchange capacity; tests may also include bioassays of soil organisms. Cultural practices include aerating the soil up to five times a year on commercial and sports fields and the use of products such as compost, compost tea, humic acid products, horticultural black-strap molasses and kelp.

The workshop was followed by a tour by City of Boulder landscape staff. Several properties in the city of Boulder manage turf organically. In particular, we viewed the Gerald Stazio softball fields and saw first-hand that turf can thrive with both hard play and management without synthetic chemicals.


Thanks to the City of Boulder IPM Program for sponsoring this workshop.

Start the school year with IPM

The beginning of the school year is a great time to begin implementing IPM practices. Whether your school is just getting started with IPM or has been using IPM for a while, here are some strategies that you can do before the students arrive:

  • Schedule IPM training for your staff.
  • Inspect all doors leading outdoors and submit work orders for new or repaired door sweeps.
  • Remind teachers and support staff that keeping food stored in plastic containers can significantly reduce pest problems.
  • Let your school administrators know that IPM is an important component in keeping your school green and healthy.

Learn about snails, earwigs and more in our August Healthy Colorado Schools newsletter (August 2014).



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