Healthy Colorado Schools
Risks from pests and pesticide exposure
“Parents send their kids off to school believing that their children will be in a safe learning environment. This academic year, 50 million students are attending public K–12 schools, with an additional five million attending private schools. Including staff, more than 60 million people are in the U.S. school community, which is an equivalent population to that of the UK or Italy. This body of humanity spends a significant por tion of their day in our 98,300 public schools (13,600 school districts), and 30,900 private schools. So it’s not surprising that the quality of the school environment influences the health and well-being of those inhabiting the facilities. Yet children continue to face risks from pests and unnecessary pesticide exposure in schools.”
Read more in this article by Dawn Gouge and Marc Lame, Environmental health professionals work the bugs out — School integrated pest management.
Mosquito season is here
Ordinarily, mosquitoes are little more than a mild irritant, but because they can transmit diseases such as West Nile encephalitis to humans and pets, people should take steps to avoid being bitten and eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Last year, there were 114 human cases of West Nile Virus in the state.
The immature stages of mosquitoes (larvae and pupae) are often found in standing water around the school building. Identifying and eliminating these sites – any water that stays still, lacks predators (like fish), and lasts for more than a few days – is the most effective nonchemical control measure.
Protect yourself with the Four D’s!
1. Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Bird baths, clogged gutters and kiddie pools are common breeding sites.
2. Dress — wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors. Spray clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
3. DEET — apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Use an approved repellent according to its label.
4. Dawn/Dusk — limit time spent outdoors at dusk through dawn, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.
Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, is a relatively rare disease that has been reported in Larimer and Boulder counties. One person in Boulder County contracted tularemia in May and died of medical complications not related to the disease. Another human case has been diagnosed in northern Larimer County.
Tularemia has been confirmed in Larimer County in two rabbits, one prairie dog and one dog so far this year. In 2014, there were 16 human cases of tularemia in Colorado, says the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Take these steps to avoid tularemia:
- Avoid all contact with wild rodents, including squirrels and rabbits.
- Do not feed wildlife.
- Do not handle sick or dead animals. If you must move a carcass, place it in a garbage bag using a long-handled shovel, and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.
- Wear an insect repellent with DEET, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus oil to repel ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes.
- Wear shoes in areas where rabbits have died because the bacteria can live for several months.
- Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation in areas where rabbits have died.
- Do not allow pets to hunt or eat wild rodents or rabbits. Infected pets can transmit the disease to people.
- Avoid ticks. If outdoors with pets, keep them out of heavily wooded areas.
- People and animals should not drink unpurified water from streams or lakes.
- Don’t mow over animal carcasses, and use a dust mask when doing landscape work.
This article is from CSU Source, Kristen Browning-Blas.
Tips for June
Miller moths are now aggregating in the crevices around doors. The best way to remove the moths, once inside the building, is to vacuum them. Insecticides have little or no place in controlling millers.
If pigeons are “loafing” on the building, deterrents such as spikes, coils, sloped surfaces and netting can be useful. Close openings with wood, metal, glass, or rust-proofed iron mesh in buildings that allow access to indoor nesting sites.
Fit all operable windows (crank, slider, flap) with screens with a gasket to prevent pest entry. Screens should be taut, without tears, and 10 mesh or smaller.
Managing Pests in Schools Website Updated – As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to build a more user-friendly website, EPA transformed their Managing Pests in Schools website into a new, easy-to-use format.
Inspect for termites
Facility managers from several school districts across the state have listed termites as a pest problem. While our native species of termite, the arid lands subterranean termite, usually doesn’t cause many problems, the introduced eastern subterranean termite is reported to be increasing along the Front Range, especially in Colorado Springs. There is also a small area in Grand Junction affected by drywood termites that require different management tactics.
Use preventive measures to protect wooden structures against the eastern subterranean termite. These termites usually maintain contact with the soil in which the main nest is found. They construct earthen tubes from the nest to the food source. There should be no contact between wood and the soil.
Eastern subterranean termites (USDA, ARS)
If an infestation is discovered, don’t panic. In addition to conventional chemical barrier treatments, existing infestations can be eliminated using a combination of bait stations and low toxicity termiticides. Locate the point of entry and contact a reliable pest control operator. Once an existing infestation has been treated and eliminated, identify and correct conditions in the structure that may have contributed to the problem.
New Pesticide Information Search Tool
A new pesticide search tool will be introduced on June 25 at the to the National Pesticide Information Center website.
Called NPIC Pesticide Research Online, the tool allows users to search for federally registered pesticide products by several criteria. Dynamic searching allows users to narrow search results, which include links to the most recent federal product label. State registration data are not included, but distributor labels, restricted-use products and canceled products are. The data are updated weekly.
Say something good about rats
People sometimes struggle to find something positive to say about organisms such as bedbugs and rats. A recent article in the New York Times described the value of rats.
Gambian pouched rats have been trained to detect land mines. According to the article, “Rats are abundant, cheap and easily transported. At three pounds, they are too light to detonate mines accidentally. They can sift the bouquet of land-mine aromas far better than any machine. Unlike even the best mine-detecting dog or human, they are relentlessly single-minded.” Dr. Alan Poling (Western Michigan University) says he likes Gambian pouched rats. “They’re handsome animals, they follow you around, come when you call them,” he said. “If they didn’t have those long, scaly tails,” he added wistfully, “they’d be lovable.”
Bats are back
Seeing bats flying is a welcome sight — except in a school building. A single bat eats up to 4,500 insects, the equivalent of its body weight, each night. One of the most common bats throughout Colorado is the big brown bat.
The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) can be found just about everywhere, especially in towns and cities. Large groups of big brown bats may take up temporary residence in an attic in the summer. They also use rock crevices for roosting.
White-nose syndrome (caused by a fungus) has not been found in Colorado, although, in less than 10 years, the disease has spread to 26 states and five provinces in Canada, killing almost all of the bats in some locations.
Bats and humans can live near each other in harmony. More information on bats can be found at the Colorado Bat Working Group. Installing a bat house is one way to attract bats or provide an alternative roost for evicted bats. An organization call Bat Conservation International, Inc. is another good resource for information about bats.
Protect yourself against rabies
A bat flying erratically during daylight hours, a raccoon slowly wandering down the middle of a road, a fox that does not run away when you approach, a dead skunk in your horse’s corral.
What do these four wild animals have in common?
The animals in these scenarios are acting abnormally and could have rabies, a neurologic disease that is most likely fatal to unvaccinated humans and animals. With rabies clearly present in wild animals that are common in rural, suburban and urban areas, it is important that pet owners:
- Check vaccination records for their pets.
- Vaccinate any pets that lack current rabies vaccinations.
- Also vaccinate horses and frequently handled livestock, such as 4-H animals.
- Keep dogs leashed during walks.
- Notice critters in the environment, and watch for animals that seem sickly or act abnormally.
- Never approach or touch a wild animal that seems sick or acts strangely. Call a local animal control office immediately to report the time and location of such a sighting.
This article is from CSU Source, Ragan Adams
The latest federal effort to protect pollinators (and respond to the public pressure to protect pollinators) is an EPA proposal now open for public comment.
The proposal creates mandatory pesticide label restrictions to protect managed bees under pollination-service contracts from foliar application of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees through contact exposure. The restrictions would prohibit applications of pesticides the EPA has identified as acutely toxic to bees – a list of about 75 products – during bloom when bees are present under contract. from Western Region IPM Center
The Colorado Coalition for School IPM is a collaborative effort by Colorado State University, U.S. Environmental Protection, USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Education, school districts, National Environmental Health Association and private pest control professionals, committed to implementing IPM principles in schools throughout Colorado.
This newsletter is designed for faculty, staff, students and parents in Colorado schools. Our goal is to help schools maintain a safe and healthy environment for students and staff using Integrated Pest Management. IPM emphasizes long-term prevention of pest problems and reduces exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.