Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Termite Swarms in School Buildings

It’s that time of year again – time for termite swarmers to start showing up. You may have already experienced some swarms in some of your buildings. Eastern subterranean termites generally swarm from late-February to May. Swarming usually occurs during the day, particularly on warm days following rain. Swarmers found outdoors near tree stumps, landscape timbers, etc., are not an indication that a structure is infested, but they serve as a reminder that termites live around us. When swarming occurs indoors, it usually means that there is an infestation somewhere in the building.

If you have indoor swarmers, just suck them up in a vacuum cleaner. Place the vacuum bag inside a plastic bag and seal it before disposing of it. There is no real need to spray them, and spraying would require notification. There is also no need to rush treating the building. This situation would not be considered an emergency. Plan the treatment for a teacher workday where that part of the building is or can be vacated. The treatment will vary depending on where the termites were found swarming. A spot treatment may be all that is needed and will not be as expensive as a full treatment of the structure.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

EPA Centralizes Healthy Child Care Training and Curriculum Resources

Child care providers have a lot to do; pest management can be just another thing on an already full plate. To help ease the burden, US EPA launched a resource directory for child care providers. It includes fact sheets, trainings, and assessment tools on asthma, chemical hazards, green cleaning and IPM. Resource directory materials can be used as handouts at meetings, placed in staff lounges, transmitted electronically in newsletters or sent home with students for parents to use.

The directory links to numerous sources including Guidelines for IPM for Pest Management Contracts in Childcare Centers from Penn State University which includes Set Up Your IPM Program in Eight Steps and How Do I Know I'm Receiving IPM Services? Another fact sheet, Pesticides and Their Impact on Children: Key Facts and Talking Points, explains the dangers of pesticide poisoning in young children and gives a brief step-by-step IPM tutorial.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Insect of the Week - Mystery Insect Revealed!

Remember this mystery insect from last week:

Photo by Alex Wild (www.
The only hint given last week was that this little critter was, in fact, an insect (because it has three pairs of legs). No one had any good guesses - and I have to admit - this was a tough one!

So, now to reveal the mystery - drum roll please..... this little critter is a firefly (or lightning bug) larva! Who knew a firefly larva was so strange looking!

We all know that adult fireflies "light up" - they emit light that we enjoy watching on hot summer nights. For many of us, spotting and catching fireflies is one of our favorite summertime memories.

Fireflies use their lights to talk to each other. Adults emit light mostly to attract mates, but they may also use their light to defend their territory and keep predators away. In some firefly species, only one sex lights up. In most, however, both sexes emit light. Male fireflies flash their abdomens in species-specific patterns, hoping to attract the attention of a female hiding in the grass. An interested female will return the pattern, helping guide the male to her in the darkness. Firefly light patterns will vary in frequency and length, and are species-specific. In addition, the height at which they emit their light while in flight will vary depending on the species. Pretty cool, huh? One other interesting fact about fireflies - they are actually beetles!

Firefly larva (Photo by Jasja Dekker)
So, we all know adult fireflies emit lights, but did you know that firefly larvae also light up? But why do the larvae glow? What purpose does it serve? Light emitting serves a different function in larvae than it does in adults. It appears to be a warning signal to predators since many firefly larvae contain chemicals that are distasteful or toxic. 

Firefly larvae live on the ground, under bark, and in other moist places. They eat earthworms, snails and slugs. Larvae may also scavenge on certain small dead animals and other organic material. They have sickle-shaped mandibles with which they can inject a kind of chemical that paralyzes their prey and helps digest it.

Check out this amazing video below to see a firefly larva glowing:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Insect of the Week - What Am I?

Another mystery creature this week! Take a look at the photo below and take a guess at what type of critter this is. Here's a tidbit that might help narrow things down:  insects have just three pair of legs. So, this mystery insect is, in fact, an insect and not a creature closely related to an insect. The answer will be revealed next week!

Photo by Alex Wild,
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