I attended the national entomology meeting in Austin a couple of weeks ago. One of the talks, by Changlu Wang at Rutgers University, reported on the effectiveness of do-it-yourself products to control bed bugs. The short story is that rubbing alcohol, mothballs, essential oils and ultrasonic devices do not work! Spraying a group of bed bugs with rubbing alcohol left about half alive four days later, Wang reported. His research team also found that mothballs failed to wipe out bed bugs after 17 days in a plastic bag full of infested clothes. Eggs and immature bedbugs survived the mothball treatment well, and only 44 to 60 percent of the adult males died. They also tried a commercial blend of essential oils. In a lab where bugs had no chance to bite anybody, treatment with the product Bed Bug Fix had killed 92 percent of bugs by the end of two weeks. But when researchers sprayed bugs and then allowed them to feed, as they might in a home, the insects survived. Ultrasonic bedbug-repelling devices are popular, but they don’t work, Wang said. In a survey of 24 places infested with bedbugs, seven had an ultrasonic repeller.
The carpet beetle was named when carpets were made of animal products such as wool, which these beetles would readily consume. Look for small beetles (about 1/8 inch in length and various colors). Carpet beetles are commonly found in Colorado, but rarely on carpets because carpets today are largely synthetic.
Carpet beetles eat lots of things, including stored food, food-based art projects, other dead insects, dead animals, rodent baits, shed hair, leather, fur, feathers, museum specimens, textiles, and occasionally cotton or linen.
Carpet beetles are usually brought into the house from outside, sometimes on flowers. Because beetles live naturally outdoors, don’t get too excited if you find these pests indoors. If carpet beetles are infesting food in food storage areas, however, there is zero tolerance. Act immediately to eliminate food infestations. And throw-out carpet beetle-infested food items.
To prevent carpet beetles, use sticky traps to monitor windowsills and food storage areas. Keep doors and windows closed (unless screened) during spring, summer, and fall when adult beetles can readily fly into buildings. Store all food and susceptible animal-based products (wool throw rugs, etc.) in pest-proof containers. Thoroughly vacuum and clean areas where hair and dead insects can build up, such as baseboards, couches, behind shelves/furniture, near window sills, in AC/Heating vents, and lighting covers.
The November School IPM newsletter has been posted. This month’s newsletter features articles about developing a template policy for School IPM, preventative practices used in School IPM, EPA’s “Green and Healthy Schools” program, signs of mice returning after a natural disaster, a new website “Greening Colorado Schools” presented by the Colorado Dept. of Ed BEST program, and more.
We would also like to take a moment to thank the many people who have worked with the Colorado Coalition for School IPM this past year, and wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s because of your efforts that we have such a great program.
Gun violence this fall at schools and colleges across the nation helps keep a contemporary legend alive. One version tells of a church receptionist working in a high risk area who kept a can of wasp spray on her desk for self-defense. This urban legend suggests wasp spray draws less attention than a can of pepper spray and is effective against violence. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED! It is a violation of Federal law to use a pesticide product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.
“These emails may have initially begun as a hoax or simply a bad idea shared among an increasing number of people,” said Catherine Daniels, Pesticide Coordinator at Washington State Pest Management Resource Service.
Janet Hurley, an Extension Specialist with the School Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, got many questions from school districts at the beginning of this school year. Hurley provided one example: “A school district in north Texas was inspecting its campuses at the beginning of the school year. The IPM Coordinators kept noticing cans of wasp killer in the offices of the school secretaries. Since the school follows IPM and has a policy about only licensed applicators making pesticide applications, the coordinators began to ask questions. Apparently, the secretaries had heard from a law enforcement person who said a can of wasp killer could injure an attacker at 10 feet and therefore would be a way to keep an intruder from school.”
The prize for the most unusual nuisance pest this month goes to Boulder, where salamanders were found in schools. The Western Tiger Salamander is found in burrows in the ground, under damp leaf litter, sand dunes or logs. You may have seen them in window wells, landscaped areas, sprinkler control boxes and under porches. The recent floods may have washed them out of their shelters. They will be entering their winter hibernation now. These salamanders are nocturnal, hunting at night, for earthworms, insects, spiders, snails, small mice and other amphibians (including their own species). They live for 15 – 20 years and have lived in Colorado since prehistoric times. They live in all 64 Colorado counties, from alpine tundra to the eastern prairies.
Pests can be fun to study and understand, especially if you’re a 3rd grader. Through a grant from the Western Region Integrated Pest Management Center, we developed a science curriculum for 3rd to 5th grade students. Kids can help get adults interested too. We want everyone to manage pests, indoors and outdoors, in homes, gardens, landscapes, fields, forests and schools, in ways that protect human and environmental health — using Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
There are five, 50-minute lessons that emphasize critical thinking and investigation — just what you need to figure out a pest problem. The teaching materials use Colorado and Washington State and Next Generation Science standards.
In the first lesson, students consider what a pest is and why it may be a problem. They study the properties of living things and the key features of insects and plants as they work to accurately identify and organize common pests in their school. In the last lesson, students “inPESTigate” their classroom and develop a plan to keep their classroom pest free.
IPM presents an opportunity to apply a scientific way of thinking to a real- world problem.
Farm to school programs are a great way to get healthy and local foods to our nation’s students. How do schools find local sources? Food hubs!
- Financially viable — 66% of food hubs operate independently from outside funding sources.
- Contribute significantly to local economies — the average food hub’s sales exceeded $3.7 million in 2012.
- Create jobs — the average food hub houses 19 paid positions.
- Support regional produces — the average food hub worked with 80 producers, the majority of which are small or mid-sized.
- Contribute to food access — nearly half of all food hubs have operational commitments to equity, increasing food access, and/or community development.
A full report of the survey findings can be found here.