• 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

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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).


Natural Turf Management

beeonsunflowerChip Osborne  of Osborne Organics will be in Boulder August 9 – 11. On August 9, from noon to 3 pm, the City of Boulder is sponsoring a free Bee and Child Safe Lawns and Gardens Event, at the First Presbyterian Church, 1820 15th St. A panel of experts will discuss how to create beautiful and healthy lawns and gardens without the use of toxic chemicals. A series of brief presentations will begin at noon, followed by a panel discussion at approximately 1 p.m. The public is encouraged to participate, share ideas and ask questions.

On August 11, he will present a three hour training for school grounds turf managers. Chip will present an overview of the basic concepts and protocols of the program and will cover in detail the core practices that one must follow. This is a half-day course. The premise of the course is that a healthy, naturally maintained turf is more resilient, more drought-tolerant and more resistant to pest infestations than chemically managed turf. For details on attending, see Systems Approach to Natural Turf Management.

Even a rat …

Norway rats can cause considerable havoc when they show up around people and their dwellings.”By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation”. This quote is from Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797). Although he was pleading the cause of the American colonists in British Parliament, his statement demonstrates how the actions of one small creature can affect many. This video shows how one town used Integrated Pest Management to control Norway rats.

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.


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