Category Archives: Child Care Centers

Of concern to parents and staff of child care facilities

Ticks and Schoolyard Edges

The time of the falling leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept. – John Burroughs, The Falling Leaves

image of a man in long pants and sleeves, a baseball cap, and ear coverings using a leaf blower. In front of himn leaves are being blown towards the camera.

Leaf blowing leaves is a common practice, but does it cause a risk for more ticks?

A recent study, Artificial Accumulation of Leaf Litter in Forest Edges on Residential Properties via Leaf Blowing Is Associated with Increased Numbers of Host-Seeking Ixodes scapularis Nymphs published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, showed that areas where leaves were raked or blown into forest margins tripled the number of blacklegged tick nymphs compared to areas where leaves were not artificially accumulated. (There was no observed impact on lone star ticks.)

chart showing that 14 ticks were found within the woods, 51 along the wood edge, 12 3 meters into the field,1 found 6 m into the field, and 3 on the technician.

Most ticks were found along the woodland edge.

Combine this with the findings of a Cornell study, Active surveillance of pathogens from ticks collected in New York State suburban parks and schoolyards, and it is clear that woodland edges are the areas of highest risk for students to encounter ticks. Fortunately, most students don’t spend much time in these areas. Unfortunately, students will chase stray balls into these areas when ticks are furthest from their minds.

What can you do to protect students from these tick risky areas? Step one would be to monitor your school grounds for ticks. This low tech monitoring technique can easily be accomplished by a coach, playground monitor, or even students. Knowing that ticks are active can allow for some adjustment of play, like putting up cones to let students know areas are off limits.

Is there an area with consistently high tick activity? Installing fences or netting can prevent stray balls from entering wooded edges. Think of it as reverse exclusion – in this case, we’re keeping the students out of the pest areas.

Keep in mind that blacklegged ticks prefer high humidity, so look to reduce shady and damp areas where students spend time. We can modify parts of the school grounds to make them less hospitable to ticks by:

  • Removing leaf litter from wooded edges in high traffic areas
  • Removing trees shading play areas if monitoring shows those areas have tick activity
  • Replacing wood mulch, which can store moisture, if monitoring shows tick activity,  with a different, drier option
  • Widening trails to reduce the risk of students brushing against vegetation
  • Eradicating invasive plants, such as Japanese barberry, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose, that easily establish along wooded edges, and have been associated with higher concentrations of ticks carrying disease-causing pathogens

For more information on ticks and schools, check out our updated fact sheet Understanding and Managing Ticks – A Guide for Schools, Child Care and Camps. Additional information can be found on our website Don’t Get Ticked NY.

Back to School – Keeping the Rodents Outside

We should have little trouble with vermin if builders would hear and understand the ‘language’ of vermin and do a better job in eliminating their entrances and hiding place.” – Hugo Hartnak, 1939

photo of Bobby Corrigan wearing a hard hat, holding a clipboard in one hand and a flashlight in the other pointing out a rusted wall grid plate with a hole large enough for a rat to fit through.

For Bobby Corrigan, pest management is a passion. Called upon for his expertise across the country, we are honored to include him in our conference.

Pests enter school buildings in one of two ways: they are transported in by students, staff, or delivery truck or they make their way in from the outside. The School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next virtual conference will focus on the first mode, but we will also include information on the second with tips, and a tool, to help with exclusion – or keeping pests out of buildings. Dr. Bobby Corrigan, co-founder of the first Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion, will join us to discuss rodent vulnerable areas.

All conference participants that complete the pre- and post-tests and evaluation will be mailed a Frye Inspection Tool (FIT tool). This simple probe can be used to demonstrate if a rodent can squeeze under a gap or through a round opening. By design, if the probe ‘FITs,’ so too can the specified rodent. This tool can be used to educate decision makers about rodent entry points and help justify pest exclusion.

picture of a F.I.T. tool, a probe with two different sized ends and demarcations to measure gnaw mark and dropping size.

A F.I.T. tool allows you to assess potential rodent entryways and identify whether gnaw marks and droppings were caused by rats or mice.

The measurement specs for the FIT are based on the size of adult rodent skulls. If a rodent can fit its head under a gap or through an opening, they are able to wiggle their body through (watch video Mouse Entry Points to see a mouse in action). The FIT can also be used to help differentiate rodent evidence (both gnaw marks and droppings) between rats and mice.

Signing up as a school district? We will mail enough FIT tools to cover all the participants from your district, so be sure to provide information for them all.A picture of a school with a banner that says "School is Open Humans Only" with a bedbug, cockroach, tick looking at the sign. The tick is holding a mouse pull toy and the cockroach is holding a coronavirus shaped balloon.

For the full agenda, registration, and pesticide recertification credit information, please visit https://nysipm.cornell.edu/resources/nys-ipm-conferences/school-ipm-2020-where-weve-been-and-whats-next/.

 

Back to School – Humans Only!

A picture of a school with a banner that says "School is Open Humans Only" with a bedbug, cockroach, tick looking at the sign. The tick is holding a mouse pull toy and the cockroach is holding a coronavirus shaped balloon.Schools across the world are having conversations about safely sending teachers, students, and the rest of the school staff back for face-to-face education during a global pandemic. These are vitally important discussions and plans need to adapt to new information. And this focus on school health and safety also provides an ideal, if unanticipated, backdrop for our rescheduled annual conference – School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next.

Covid-19 is an excellent example of a community issue that cannot be handled by school personnel alone. We have all been called to support the health of the community through social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing. Our conference will focus on community-wide pest issues such as German cockroaches and bedbugs. There is simply no way for schools to prevent these insects from being reintroduced by students, school staff, and delivery trucks. How then, as a community, can we address these issues before they breach the school walls? And avoid the subsequent calls by some to close the building for pesticide applications?

photo of flat, wide, reddish bug on a finger tip

The penultimate hitchhiker, bed bugs need to be dealt with at a community level.

Please join us on the mornings of August 11 and 18 as we hear from community and agency leaders – and you! – about efforts to provide healthy learning and work environments. We welcome your experiences and ideas as we use this momentum to address school pest issues now and into the future.

For the full agenda, registration, and pesticide recertification credit information, please visit https://nysipm.cornell.edu/resources/nys-ipm-conferences/school-ipm-2020-where-weve-been-and-whats-next/.

 

Managing Wild Parsnip

“As everyone knows, when fighting a zombie, you grab a shovel and aim for its head. The same with wild parsnip, except you aim for its feet.” – Paul Hetzler

picture of yellow umbrella-like flower on a large green stalk

The bright yellow flowers of wild parsnip can be noticeable from a distance. The sap in this widely spreading invasive plant can cause severe burns.

There is no lack of invasive species in New York – but some do raise more of a concern than others. One such is the wild parsnip. Commonly spotted along roadsides with its bright yellow flowers, it can cause a problem on low maintenance areas on school grounds.

According to the New York Invasive Species Information Clearinghouse, wild parsnip produces furanocoumarin, “a compound in its leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, that causes intense, localized burning, rash, severe blistering, and discoloration on contact with the skin on sunny days”. Avoid the sap and avoid the chemical burns.

In order to avoid those burns, the NYS DEC recommends:

  • Do not touch any parts of the plant with bare skin.
  • Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots and eye protection if working near wild parsnip to prevent skin contact with the sap. Synthetic, water-resistant materials are recommended.
  • If contact with sap occurs, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water, and keep it covered for at least 48 hours to prevent a reaction.
  • If a reaction occurs, keep the affected area out of sunlight to prevent further burning or discoloration, and see a physician.
yellow flowers with some seed formation

Wild parsnip going to seed. The seeds become browner as they get ready to drop.

Digging out the root, cutting the root an inch or two below the soil, mowing, and herbicides can all be effective in managing wild parsnip. It is unlikely, however, that an emergency exemption for herbicide use would be approved before seed drop. Mechanical methods will have more long-term benefits.

And wild parsnip is going to seed, so make sure you don’t ensure a new crop next year by spreading seeds around! Before conducting any management, carefully cut the seed heads off with clippers and put them in a plastic bag. The bag can then be left in the sun to rot the seeds before disposal. And don’t forget to wear protective clothing to prevent any sap from reaching exposed skin or eyes.

If you want to learn more about wild parsnip and its management, our favorite guest blogger Paul Hetzler covered it well and humorously in his blog, Vengeful Veggies.

For more pictures of wild parsnip, visit the Turfgrass and Landscape Weed ID website. For information on other  invasive species, visit the New York State IPM Program’s Invasive Species page.

And, just in case we didn’t quite get the message across – wear protective clothing and eye wear to prevent sap from causing severe burns.

Pesticide Use Guidance During COVID-19

Our friends over at Cornell’s Pesticide Management Education Program (psep.cce.cornell.edu) has asked us to help spread information on disinfectants and sanitizers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in adverse health effects from the misuse of these products. There have also been several fraudulent products produced during this time that potential applicators should be made aware of. Please read and share the following:

Beware of fraudulent pesticide claims related to SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 coronavirus):

It has come to our attention that unregistered disinfectants claiming to protect against the virus are being marketed in the US. The efficacy and safety of these products is unsubstantiated and their use is illegal.

Regulators are taking steps to prevent such products from reaching the market, but it is your responsibility to use only those products designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for use against SARS-CoV-2, listed at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/covid19.pdf. Please check this list frequently, as content is subject to change.

Be safe disinfecting your home:

Disinfectants are pesticides and you can only use them as directed by the label. Therefore:

  • Never mix different disinfectant products together because doing so is dangerous. For example, mixing bleach with acids (such as vinegar) or ammonia releases life-threatening toxic fumes.
  • Never use disinfectants or disinfectant wipes on your skin. Instead, wash with soap and water; you can also use hand sanitizer on your hands.
  • Never wash fruits and vegetables with soap, sanitizers, or disinfectants as this could also result in poisoning. Wash produce only in clean water.

For more information on disinfecting your home and how to handle food during this crisis, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/disinfecting-your-home.pdf and  https://instituteforfoodsafety.cornell.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/food-safety-recommendation-consumer/.