• 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.

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Love bats — but leave them alone!

This bat is common throughout the western United States.

This bat is common throughout the western United States.

I just heard from an environmental health professional about an incident where some young people (who should have known better) were handling a live bat. Bats are valuable and fascinating creatures and need to be protected – but if you find a bat, don’t handle it! Bats host virulent diseases that afflict humans, although the bats may not have any symptoms of disease.

In Colorado and throughout North America, bats are the main predators of night-flying insects, consuming thousands of insect pests of crops and forests. The Colorado Bat Working Group has a newly revised key to help identify bats. All 19 species of bats in the state are classified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as non-game mammals and are protected by law. National Bat Week is October 26 to November 1, 2014!

In schools and home, exclusion is the soundest long-term solution. For the common bats along the Front Range, proper exclusion techniques can only be used between the months of October through March when bats are hibernating elsewhere. Do not use exclusions during the summer breeding season, as mothers cannot get back to feed their infants in the roost and they will die. Seal openings with sealant, hardware cloth, or wood after all bats have exited.

We have some really big “pests”!

black bearBears are sometimes considered a ‘pest species’ in the foothills and forests of Colorado. Today black bears are trying to share space with an ever-growing human population. In Colorado, most bears are active from mid-March through early November. Black bears are curious, smart and very adaptable. They’re not fussy and will eat just about anything with calories. Bears want to get the most energy they can with the least amount of effort. Every bear’s goal is to get fat enough to live through the winter. Using bear resistant containers for trash is essential. For more information, see the Colorado Parks & Wildlife brochure on bear proofing your home or school.

How big is your cat-faced spider?

This is the sixth year of our annual “how big is your cat-faced spider contest”.  Araneus gemmoides is one of the most common spiders people encounter in the fall. Look for concentric webs (with spiraling sticky coils) near porch lights, just outside windows, or in areas that are likely to attract flying insects.

Photo by W. Cranshaw

Photo by W. Cranshaw

The female cat-faced spider is straw-colored to dark grayish brown, can be quite large (5-7 mm long and 4.5-5.5 wide), with a bulbous abdomen and a pair of projections on the front that look like the ears of a cat. A faint white line runs down the mid-line of the front of the abdomen and it is usually crossed with small V-shaped markings.

The heaviest cat-faced spider received before contest deadline — October 17 — will win! Only the cat-faced spider is eligible; no other spiders need apply. Please note that no external decorations are allowed; spiders must be in the buff during weighing. For further contest details and entry information, contact Dr. Whitney Cranshaw (whitney.cranshaw@colostate.edu)

If handled, a mature cat-faced spider may give a sharp pinch of a bite, although they cannot normally pierce the skin. They are not a dangerous species and do not have venom that produces any serious effects on humans.

Females produce a silk-covered egg sac in the fall. At the end of the season, all the spiders die and the only surviving stage between growing seasons are eggs. Eggs hatch in spring and tiny spiderlings disperse, usually by ballooning.

See the CSU fact sheet about this spider.

The real cost of bed bugs

In the 2013 “Bugs without Borders” survey, pest management professionals reported that the majority of bed bugs are found in homes — but they are also in hotels, dorms, nursing homes, schools and office buildings. The number of instances of bed bugs in libraries, retail stores and airplanes has gone up! Bed bugs plague cities, both large and small. There is some evidence that bed bug infestations are a seasonal problem occurring most often in the summer and least often in the winter. The pest control company Orkin ranks cities by the number of bed bug treatments Orkin performed per year; Denver was number nine (right after Washington, DC) in 2013.

bed bugs on mattressThe first step in controlling any pest problem is to accurately identify the pest. Here in Colorado, we also have bat bugs and swallow bugs. See the fact sheet Bat Bugs, Bed Bugs and Relatives.

Control measures are expensive, including the costs of replacing furniture and bedding. However, these are not the only costs. What is the real cost of bed bugs and their control?

There are costs to mental and physical health. Infestations of bed bugs can cause emotional distress, anxiety, paranoia and sleeplessness. In a recent study conducted by the University of Arizona, 89% of respondents indicated that bed bug infestations led to extreme stress and 100 % indicated some level of anxiety. The bites associated with bed bugs can result in secondary infections (even though bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases). Another health risk is associated with misuse of chemicals to control bed bugs. People have treated their beds and mattresses with “alternative treatments” – everything from Listerine to lighter fluid.

There are costs to the environment – repeated applications of certain pesticides may lead to populations of bed bugs that are resistant. Bed bugs all but disappeared in the 1940s and 1950s, with the widespread use of DDT, which had long-lasting insecticidal activity as a dry residue. Reports began to circulate with 3 years of its introduction that some bed bug populations had become DDT-resistant. By the 1960s, bed bugs resistant to DDT were found worldwide.

Being vigilant is the best way to prevent infestations from spreading. Regularly inspect for signs of bed bugs. Pay close attention to sheets and to the seams of furniture and upholstery for telltale brownish or reddish spots. These pests have been known to inhabit electrical sockets, surge protectors and behind picture frames. Vacuum and clean all areas – including offices, hallways, lobbies, kitchens, bathrooms on a daily basis. Eliminate clutter as best as possible.

September Healthy Schools Newsletter

The September newsletter is out. Learn more about bed bugs, weed killers, unused pesticides and mosquitoes in this month’s edition.

School district personnel may want to mark their calendars to attend the National Environmental Health Association workshop “Biology and Control of Vectors and Public Health Pests: The Importance of Integrated Pest Management” November 5 – 7 in Denver.

The workshop features presentations from top entomologists and IPM experts in the U.S. and includes interactive group activities and discussion on a variety of important topics including:
• Integrated pest management (IPM)
• Vector-borne diseases of public health importance
• Rodent management
• Bed bug biology, control and interactive inspection
• Mosquito management
• Tick management
• Pests in the housing
• Pests in the food environment and interactive inspection

To register online please visit: http://www.neha.org/public-health-pests-conference.html.

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.


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