School IPM Training Opportunities Abound


There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

One of the key tenants of IPM is knowing your pests, or potential pests, and risks. Learning opportunities become a valuable tool in helping to prepare for and prevent pest issues from arising. Happily, we live in a time when School IPM training events are easily accessible.

The annual Turf & Grounds Exposition has an informative Sports Turf and Schools track. This year will highlight some back to basics presentations, a focus on regulations pertaining to schools, ongoing research on alternatives to pesticides for sports turf management, and irrigation and water management. The Exposition will be Nov. 16 and 17 in downtown Rochester. This and other events are listed on our Facebook page at

Throughout the year, the EPA Center of Expertise for School IPM hosts a webinar series featuring national experts from across the country. Upcoming webinars include:

Ants - The #1 Pest in Schools is one of many webinars offered by the EPA Center of Expertise for School IPM.

Ants – The #1 Pest in Schools is one of many webinars offered by the EPA Center of Expertise for School IPM.

  • October 18, 2016 — Pest Control Should Not Drive You Batty: How to Manage Bats Effectively in Your School
  • November 15, 2016 — Developing an IPM Plan for Your School
  • December 13, 2016 — Managing Cockroaches in Schools
  • January 24, 2017 — Pests of Public Health Importance in Schools
  • February 21, 2017 — Contracting for IPM-Based Pest Control Services for Schools
  • March 14, 2017 — Preventing Pests in School Cafeterias and Kitchens
  • April 11, 2017 — Contending with Invasive Plants on School Grounds
  • May 9, 2017 — Managing Bed Bugs in Schools, Childcare Centers, and Boarding Schools
  • May 23, 2017 — Managing Yellow Jackets and Other Wasps on School Grounds

Previous events cover a variety of topics including mosquitoes and Zika, ants, rodents, Stop School Pests and iPestManager – School IPM Educational Programs, turfgrass IPM, designing for pest prevention, and more. Webinar PDFs are available for all presentations and the recorded webinar is available for many.

And for information at any time, do not hesitate to visit NYS IPM’s Schools and Daycare Centers and the Safe Sports Field Management websites.



Ticks: Assessing the risk at schools and child care centers

“I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.” – Jeff Foxworthy

‘Tis the season for requests for emergency pesticide sprays on school and child care grounds to get rid of ticks. The request is often prompted by an irate parent who found a tick on their child.

Problem #1: IPM requires evidence, not complaints, to determine when management should take place. When looking for an exemption to apply pesticides under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act, confirmation that ticks are on the property is essential.

Problem #2: playgrounds and ball fields are lousy tick habitat. As Jeff Foxworthy discovered, golfers who  stay on fairways are in little danger of picking up ticks. While it’s always possible a tick dropped off a wandering deer, mouse, or bird, it’s not likely to survive in a dry place for long. Mowed lawn and mulched playgrounds don’t typically have the 85% relative humidity level ticks need to survive.

It can be difficult to tell if a tick has been feed up to two days after it starts.

It’s not easy to tell if a tick has been feeding for up to two days after it starts. But — be aware. This is only an estimate.

Problem #3: ticks are sneaky. Very sneaky. Their entire livelihood depends on being attached to another living being for up to a week without being discovered. A tick found today provides little information about where it was picked up.

But guidance is available. The TickEncounter Resource Center has growth charts showing how a tick’s appearance changes the longer it is able to feed. If you send them a picture, they can determine how long the tick has been feeding.

Dragging for ticks assesses tick presence and helps determine next steps for management.

Dragging for ticks can help assess tick risk and help determine next steps for management.

Still, be aware: this is only an estimate.

The upshot is that ticks found on students shouldn’t trigger pesticide applications on playgrounds. But they should trigger the IPM practice of tick monitoring. The easiest way to look for ticks? Dragging.

Tick drags are easy and inexpensive to make. Attach dowels on the ends of a 3’x3’ white flannel cloth and tie a string to each end of one of the dowels. Drag the cloth over grass for 30 seconds. Identify and count the number of ticks clinging to the sheet. Repeat over the entire area. Woods and shrubby areas are easier to scout with a tick flag, which is simply a tick drag with only one dowel attached. Instead of dragging, swipe the bushes and understory with the flag. Everything else remains the same. Done often wherever kids play, you can assess the risk of picking up ticks year-round. According to School Integrated Pest Management Thresholds, the recommended threshold for action for ticks is three ticks.

Did tick monitoring indicate that the tick population is above threshold on portions or all of your grounds? You can find management practices and more in our fact sheet, Understanding and Managing Ticks – A Guide for Schools, Child Care and Camps.

Looking for more information? Visit What’s Bugging You: Ticks. And stay tuned for upcoming posts about protecting our children from tick bites.

Partner with the EPA to assess Economics of School IPM

Health Resources in Action has partnered with the EPA to assess the economics of Implementing an IPM program in schools. To do so, they are looking for partners like you, and will provide funding as well.


The EPA’s “Keeping the Pests Out” needs schools that now use an IPM program after switching from a more traditional pest extermination strategy.

Why apply?

  1. Economic assessment is free to the selected schools
  2. $6000 to the selected schools
  3. Includes a detailed cost analysis of their IPM program
  4. This will help increase adoption of IPM in schools

The Deadline is May 6th, so we’re here to give you a push… Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Have your superintendent write a letter of commitment. Example: your district  is interested, feels it would be an asset to the research, and agrees to work with (HRIA) Health Resources in Action from Jun 2016-March 2018
  2. Provide the name of your IPM Coordinator
  3. Be contracted with a licensed IPM Provider (Pest Control company that follows IPM procedures)
  4. Show that you’ve implemented IPM
  5. Share 24 months of pest management records from when you used traditional pest treatments and 24 months of records after transitioning to IPM  **see note below
  6. Provide records that may help track incidences of asthma problems with students and staff in your district
  7. Fill out the application online  and hit send! See the link below which shows the application you’d need to fill out.

**IPM means recordkeeping after all, so here’s what they hope you can provide:

 -Records for at least 24 consecutive months of a traditional exterminator model, and at least 24 consecutive months of IPM model.

-Those records should include: pest management contractor invoices, work orders, IPM logs (pest sightings), IPM work plan, IPM contract reports, IPM materials (if purchased by the district), custodian annual cost per square foot, training cost for staff training on IPM, custodian overtime (for addressing pests if they are doing additional IPM work),energy cost, Average Daily Attendance
/Average Daily Membership and annual Occupational Safety and Health Act reports.

They may also collect stories from school personnel regarding changes in pest problems in the schools. Since some of these records may be held by the pest contractor, we assume that each school with request the specific data elements directly

Here is the link!

We’d love to see you be part of this important work.


IPM for Turf on School Grounds

The EPA has another great webinar coming up on Tuesday, March 15th.


You must have Adobe Connect to watch and listen to this free online webinar. A “Quick Start” link is included on the EPA website.

Whether school turf management has been part of your job for years or you’re just starting out, this webinar will describe how you can implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices into your turf management program. This webinar will provide insight for improving the quality and playability of your athletic and recreational fields. You will leave with an increased understanding of the importance of IPM in turf maintenance, cultural and physical control options, record keeping and key turf issues that can be addressed and applied to your program.


Join in to learn how you can incorporate IPM into your school district’s turf management program.

Featured presenters will be:

  • Kim Pope Brown, Pesticide Safety Education Coordinator, Louisiana State University
  • Alec Kowalewski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Turf Specialist, Oregon State University

Register now and you’ll receive an email confirmation with information on how to join in the webinar. Tuesday March 15 — 2  to 3:30pm

Pesticide Misapplications? The Costs Are High

A chemical smell wafting through an upstate middle-school classroom last fall ended up sending six students to the hospital. What happened?

A member of the custodial staff sprayed wasp killer by a fresh-air intake. Some of that spray ended up in a second floor classroom. Fourteen students and two staff members felt ill, according to a newspaper account; in fact, the school was evacuated for more than a half hour.

Need help identifying a pest and what to do about it? What's Bugging You? has the information you need.

Need help identifying a pest and what to do about it? What’s Bugging You? has the information you need.

The school was fined $5,500 for violating three pesticide regulations. But incidents like this are preventable by practicing integrated pest management.

The NYS IPM Program offers resources such as this video about stinging insects and IPM strategies that reduce the risk of stings.

Many state regulations pertain to pesticide use in and around schools. You can find a synopsis here. But first and foremost — anyone who applies pesticides on school property must meet pesticide application certification requirements. (The same applies to child care centers, office buildings, or any other commercial or public property.) If the certified applicator is a school employee, then the school itself must be registered and appropriately insured.

Neither the school’s pesticide-application notification requirements nor the Child Safe Playing Fields Act were violated, since each provides exemptions for the use of small containers of aerosol products in an imminent threat from stinging and biting insects. Regardless, a certified pesticide applicator must apply them, and, if applied by a school staffer, the school must be registered.

School staffers can obtain and maintain commercial pesticide licenses after getting the right education credits and passing their exams. You can find information about pesticide certification on the Pesticide Safety Education Program website, including information about upcoming classes.

Organizations such as BOCES and CASDA often ask NYS IPMers to present at their conferences.

Organizations such as BOCES and CASDA often ask NYS IPMers to present at their conferences, such as this upcoming workshop on ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Consider: without the basic knowledge inherent in getting a license, how can you be sure that staff are aware of the laws that keep incidents such as this from occurring? Who will be qualified to choose a pest management contractor when the need to protect students from the threat of pests — whether increased risk of asthma from mice or cockroaches, rashes from poison ivy, or anaphylactic shock from a wasp sting — relies on an expert’s help? And how will school personnel know what steps they can take to not only deal with existing (and potentially costly) pest issues, but also prevent new ones from taking place?

Answer: Be sure your maintenance staff gets the education needed to stay up to date with the latest pest management information.

The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program has resources to help schools with their pest issues. Visit the NYS IPM Program’s school webpage. Learn about specific pests, including stinging insects. Sign up for our blog, The ABCs of School and Childcare Pest Management. Send staff to classes offered by our experts.

We are here to help address your pest management needs.