Tag Archives: Child Safe Playing Fields Act

Poison Ivy – Don’t scratch

“Lewis Ziska, one of the lead scientists on the six-year study in a forest at Duke University, found that with increased atmospheric CO2 we get bigger, stronger, leafier poison ivy.” – Mary Woodsen, Poison ivy (like the Rolling Stones said …)

Just what we needed. Bigger, healthier, more toxic poison ivy.

New leaves on an old vine. Note the root-like structures gripping to the tree trunk.

New leaves on an old vine. Note the root-like structures gripping the tree trunk.

Poison ivy has a wide variety of habits – it’s often a climber with thick, woody vines. The vines are covered with rootlike hairs that help it cling to tree trunks or fences, which is a great way to distinguish it from other vines such as Virginia creeper. You will likely see this form most often on school grounds as it climbs fences, trees, and buildings.

It can also be standalone plants with a groundcover quality to them. And it can present in a shrub-like manner – most commonly seen along woodland edges.

The famous saying, “Leaves of three, let it be” is the one feature common to all growth forms. Those leaves, however, can range from ½” on new plants to over 5 inches long on older plants. They are usually smooth, but they can be toothed and sometimes lobed. Young leaves are usually reddish, older leaves can be a deep green, turning red or yellow in the fall. Shinyness is an option, therefore you can’t count on it to confirm your identification.

It's in there, and a quick inspection could have saved me a lot of itching.

Poison ivy is in there, and a quick inspection could have saved me a lot of itching.

And sometimes, it’s just hidden. As I type this blog, my fingers are pink with calamine lotion and I am trying desperately not to rub them against my pants. After a trying day, I vented my frustration on a neglected mulched area under a tree. I noticed the small poison ivy plants tucked into the other weeds only after I had ripped them out with my bare hands. I washed my hands with soap and water to remove the offending urushiol, the toxic oil that causes the dermatitis. But I wasn’t fast enough. A few days later, here come the blisters.

So, the motivation to check the NYS IPM resources on poison ivy management was strong. Here’s what I found on the School IPM Best Practices website:

Give it a trim. Often

Take a closer look. The leaves of three are less obvious when poison ivy gets bushy.

Poison ivy does not like to be trimmed. Mowing or cutting back young growth will deplete the energy in the roots. Plant stems, aerial vines and underground creeping stems are all capable of producing new nodes and leaves, so continue to monitor and trim. For best results, cut back new growth at the base of the plant.

Using a weed whacker is not recommended without full protective gear as plant material can be kicked back and land on exposed skin. Or in your eyes (shudder).

DO NOT BURN! The oils can be distributed through the smoke. It’s bad enough in between your fingers. You do not want to experience that kind of rash in your lungs.

Spot applications of a nonselective herbicide can be helpful for hard to reach locations or if you are extremely sensitive, but you need to follow the regulations laid out in the Child Safe Playing Fields Act and other state regulations. And remember, plants killed by herbicides will still have urushiol and can cause a rash.

In fact, the longlasting oils are present on all parts of the plant whether the plant is actively growing, dormant, or dead. So…

Wash your equipment!

Once on skin, tools, clothes, boots, and gloves, the oils need to be removed with soap and water. If you mowed poison ivy, urushiol may still be present on the mower blades the next time you remove them to sharpen them. If you used goats (yes, goats have been used to remove poison ivy), it could be in their hair. Take precautions.

And, for goodness sake, give a quick visual check before plunging into handweeding.

One last thought – according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, poison ivy “produces just the kind of fat-rich berries that are essential for sustaining migrating birds during fall and year-round residents in the winter”. So if you have poison ivy in an out-of-the-way area, consider leaving it behind for its wildlife value.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to take another benadryl.

 

 

What we’re pondering

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –  Benjamin Franklin

We at the New York State IPM Program work to ensure we are up on the latest information that is important to help you protect students and staff from pests. Here are some resources that have recently crossed our desk.

Educating Staff

IPM in any setting is not an one-person job. In schools, without help from staff and students, IPM is nearly impossible. P also stands for people! Janet Hurley Extension Program Specialist III – School IPM from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service discusses The Importance of Educating Staff about Your IPM Program.

Stop School Pests has changed its name to the Pest Defense for Healthy Schools to emphasize its dedication to creating healthy, safe spaces for students and school staff by preventing pest problems such as mice, cockroaches, bed bugs, ants, and lice. The online professional training is targeted for specific school audiences including custodial staff, school nurses, grounds managers, school administrators, maintenance professionals, teachers, food services professionals, and pest management professionals.

 

School Safety

Cornell University turf specialist Frank Rossi talks about how to manage athletic fields to reduce injuries.

This isn’t new, but it’s a must see for all school administrators, athletic, and grounds department staff. Safe sports field management will help to reduce the risk of injuries.

Frank Rossi, Cornell Turfgrass Extension Specialist, describes basic level of care of athletic fields in the video, Duty of Care.

Ticks

With the funding of the Don’t Get Ticked New York campaign, we have been pretty dedicated to (read: obsessed with) keeping up-to date on tick information. Here is some of the latest news.

The Public Tick IPM Working Group has created a document, Tick Management Options, showing some of the most effective control strategies. A number of these options would require an emergency exemption and application by a certified pesticide applicator.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati looked into the behavior of hungry ticks. The metabolism of ticks that had not fed for more than 36 weeks increased by as much as 100% and remained high for weeks. This has implications for adult ticks that failed to find a host in the fall. They can not only be active when the temperatures are above freezing, but will be more active in searching for a new host during the winter when the public is least likely to be thinking of tick protection. Hungry ticks are also more likely to venture into less desirable habitat – like your athletic fields. Hungry ticks work harder to find you

An Asian longhorned tick showed up in a sample of lone star ticks collected in Rockland County. The one with the short, stubby mouthparts is the longhorned tick.

Asian longhorned ticks are a troublesome new addition to an already difficult issue. First discovered on a farm in New Jersey in August 2017, we now know that they have been in the United States since at least 2010 and has been identified in nine states, including New York. So far they don’t find humans to be a particularly attractive host and tested ticks have had any disease pathogens. Which is great news. But, there is a lot we still don’t know about this tick. A recent webinar Discussions on the Invasive Longhorned Tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis organized by the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases provides a lot of information

 

Need more information on school and childcare IPM? Visit our Schools and Daycare Centers page.

Vengeful veggies – contributed by Paul Hetzler

I know that vegetables are not really vindictive, but it sounds crazy to talk about them as a burning hazard. There are a number of plants whose sap can cause serious chemical burns, and one of them is a common and widespread invasive species, the wild parsnip.

Wild parsnip provides an opportunity to expand our vocabulary. It is phytophototoxic.

A member of the same family as Queen Anne’s lace, wild parsnip generally reaches a height of between three and seven feet. From late June through mid-July, it is topped by pale greenish-yellow, umbrella-like flower clusters, which form seeds around the end of July. Wild parsnip can be found in vacant lots as well as in yards and gardens, but because it’s so effectively spread by mowing equipment, mile upon mile of it can be seen along northern NY State roadsides.

The root of this weed is in fact edible. It’s genetically identical to the parsnip we might plant in our garden. So what exactly is bad about wild parsnip?

Giant hogweed gets a lot of press due to the fact that, well, it’s giant. A flower that grows 15 to 20 feet in one season is impressive. And hogweed is scary, too, because its sap is phytophototoxic. The tongue-twister word means if its sap gets on your skin, it reacts with sunlight to cause second- and third-degree burns. Such burns often take months to heal and may actually leave a permanent scar. If sap gets in one’s eyes, it can even cause blindness.

Well guess what—wild parsnip sap does the same thing. It’s a small consolation, but you can’t get burned by merely brushing up against wild parsnip—a stem or leaf must be broken to expose the sap. And after the plant dries it is safe to handle, unlike poison ivy, which can cause a severe rash even if you dried it for a couple years (which is unlikely, but if you were considering it, be warned). All the same, it’s probably a good idea to wear gloves and long sleeves when handling 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. It has a taproot That’s tough to pull out, but it is easily cut with a shovel. It’s not necessary to get the whole root—just dig as deep as you can to sever the taproot, pry up until the plant tips over, and it will die. You don’t even have to touch it.

If you’re hopelessly outnumbered by wild parsnips, at least mow them—wearing protective clothing and eyewear of course—to keep them from making seeds. But unless you have a Level-A Hazmat suit, don’t use a string trimmer on it. Mowing will buy you some time to muster shovel-wielding townsfolk (pitchforks and torches are optional) to help you.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in herbicides like Roundup, is effective against wild parsnip. Herbicide is most effective when used on first-year plants (“rosettes”), ones which have no flower stalk, in late summer or early fall. Spraying early in the season will kill the top but not the root, so the plant may come back if treated in spring or early summer. (EDITORIAL NOTE: New York’s Child Safe Playing Field Act requires that most pesticide applications, including glyphosate, made on the portions of school or childcare facility grounds frequented by children may only be done when approved as an emergency exemption. For more information: https://blogs.cornell.edu/schoolchildcareipm/tag/child-safe-playing-fields-act/page/3/ )

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer, and that the only scorching you encounter is that walk across the hot beach sand.

For more information on wild parsnip, giant hogweed or other invasive species, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

–Paul Hetzler
Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County

Keeping the Pests Out on a Budget: IPM workshops for safe playing fields

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –  Benjamin Franklin

Calling all school, parks, and sports turf managers and lawn care providers! You have two chances to join the Cornell Turf Team as we look at the latest information on providing safe playing surfaces on sports fields.

June 27, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Lakeview Elementary School, Mahopac, NY
Full program | Pre-registration required by June 20
Contact: Jennifer Stengle js95@cornell.edu

August 3, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Coxsackie-Athens High School, Coxsackie, N.Y.
Full program | Pre-registration required by July 28
Contact: Joellen Lampman jkz6@cornell.edu

Topics will include the basics (fertility, irrigation, mowing); advanced techniques (overseeding, seed selection, and turf repair); pest prevention, identification and management; and more.

Coffee and lunch are included. The workshop is free for schools and parks personnel. All other turf managers, please bring $25.

NYS DEC Pesticide Credits: 4.25 in Categories 3a, 3b, 10; STMA CEUs: .375

For more information and to register, visit http://turf.cals.cornell.edu/news/safe-playing-fields-ipm-workshops/.

What now? Early spring sports field management

 

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.” – Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

Spring is slowly unfurling. And in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of… turf maintenance. Photo: Joellen Lampman

The first athletic field question of the year has arrived – and it has to do with the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. (Since its full implementation in 2011, there are still many questions about the law. We tried to address some of the more common ones in a previous blog post.) This week’s question was in regards to fertilizer and if there were any restriction under the law.

The answer is no, although a combined fertilizer and pesticide product (often referred to as weed and feed) is covered under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. Fertilizer use, however, does fall under the NYS Nutrient Runoff Law, which prohibits:

  • Applying fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium between December 1 and April 1 (Nassau and Suffolk County have their own local laws restricting application dates)
  • Applying fertilizer containing phosphorus unless you are establishing a new lawn or a soil test shows the need for phosphorus
  • Applying fertilizer within 20 feet of a water body (there are some caveats – see DEC website)
  • Leaving fertilizer on impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, parking lots, or driveways (fertilizer must be swept up, not washed off with water)

Thus ends the legal part of the blog.

And now on to why we would talk about fertilizer on a pest management blog. Healthy turfgrass is the best preventive against turf pests. Dense stands leave little room for weed seeds to germinate. Extensive roots can withstand some insect feeding without impacting turf quality. Proper fertilization provides your grass with the proper nutrients for growth and recovery.

 So what is the minimum that should be done now to produce pest resistant turfgrass on fields that are used year round?

Heavy spring fertilizer applications lead to excessive shoot and leaf growth and poor root growth. This leaves turf less likely to handle harsh summer conditions.

  • Fertilizing – After the turf greens up and ensuring that you are able to apply fertilizer legally (April 1st for most of NY), apply ½ pound of 50% water soluble nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in April and ½ pound of 50% water soluble nitrogen or 100% organic nitrogen source in mid to late May. Note that spring applications are lighter than late summer and fall fertilization rates.
  • Mowing – If you haven’t already, sharpen those blades. Sharp blades reduces both injury to the turf blades as they are being cut and fuel usage. Once the grass is growing, mow as frequently as your schedule allows and as high as the sport allows. Mowing increases shoot density by increasing tillering (stems that develop from the crown of the parent plant). Dense turf leaves less room for weeds to propagate.
  • Overseeding -Seed perennial rye at 2 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. weekly in high-use areas. With snow in the forecast, you may want to consider dormant overseeding now.

What if I can do more than the minimum?

  • Watering – According to the Northeast Drought Update, “27% of the Northeast in a drought and 20% of the region is abnormally dry”. Once it starts growing, turf needs about 1” of water per week. You can help determine irrigation need by referring to ForeCast: Weather for the Turf Industry Irrigation Information.
  • Fertilizing – Conduct a soil test to see if other nutrients are needed in addition to the nitrogen.
  • Cultivating – Concentrating on high-use areas, solid tine cultivate in multiple directions to maintain infiltration of air and water.

    The official Cornell Turfgrass twitter account will provide you with timely turf care information.

For more information on maintaining safe, functional athletic fields, visit http://safesportsfields.cals.cornell.edu. You will find different maintenance schedules based on number of seasons used and resources available, detailed information on different management practices, and information on “Duty of Care”, a legal obligation to a standard of reasonable care. For the most up-to-date information, follow the Cornell Turfgrass twitter account.


Managing Nuisance Geese Webinar – March 30th

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harassing them (such as with dogs or lasers) does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest — such as addling their eggs — does. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Although beautiful in flight and valued as a symbol of the wild, Canada Geese frequenting school grounds, including athletic fields, are a growing concern. Please join us for a discussion about goose biology and behavior, the legal framework for dealing with goose problems, alleviation techniques available to schools, and the long-term management of geese and goose problems. For more information and to register for this New York State School Facilities Association event, visit http://nyssfa.com/sfmi-trainingevents/webinars.

Speakers:
♦ Lynn Braband, Sr. Extension Associate, NYS IPM Program
♦ Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist, NYS IPM Program