Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Pest Management Training 2013

Skunk and armadillo control is one of the topics covered in
this spring's pest management training.
I thought I would share an upcoming training opportunity that might be of interest to Insects in the City readers around north Texas. Next week, March 7, is the Spring Pest Management Seminar at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center at Dallas. This year's program should be a good one, and (if you need it) will provide you with all the CEUs you need for another year, whether you are a certified non-commercial applicator through TDA, or licensed through the Structural Pest Control Service with categories in pest control, turf and ornamental, and weed control.

This year's speakers include Janet Hurley, providing an update on the new pyrethroid rules, Charles Adams with Sherman ISD speaking on skunk and armadillo control, Ross Eckstein from Syngenta covering weed control, Dr. John Rowland with Bayer Environmental Science talking about insects of urban landscapes, and me, talking about mosquito control.  Three of our speakers are new to the seminar series, so this will be a great opportunity to get fresh insights and new IPM information.  I'm especially interested in the skunk and armadillo talk from Charles Adams.  Charles has many years of experience in school IPM and running his own wildlife control business. I've listened to Charles teach, and he really knows his wildlife.

Registration is online and can be accessed here--type in keywords "Spring IPM".  For a copy of the program brochure, click here.  Cost is $70 if you get your application in by March 4, otherwise it's $85 at the door.  Lunch (brisquet and chicken BBQ) is provided.  Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tawny crazy ant name proposal hits streets

Tom Rasberry points out one of the early known
infestation sites of Nylanderia fulva close to the
Houston ship channel in Houston, TX (2004)
The crazy ant first discovered in Texas by PMP Tom Rasberry, may be getting a new common name.  As I reported in an earlier post, the way for a new name was opened with the recent publication of research firmly identifying the ant variously known as the Rasberry crazy ant, hairy crazy ant or Caribbean crazy ant (depending on what state you are from).  As it turned out, the ant was decidedly NOT the Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia pubens, but another species originally described from Brazil, Nylanderia fulva.

This week the Entomological Society of America's (ESA) committee on common names approved a new common name which has received lukewarm support.  The last step before formal acceptance of the official common name (which I and most entomologists will likely start using) is for the proposal to go before ESA membership for comment.  The proposal is located at, and does a pretty good job of detailing the background of the controversy and listing authorities who both support and oppose the new name.

If you are an ESA member, this is your last chance to let your voice be known. Please submit any comments by March 13, 2013 to Greg Dahlem, the committee chair, at

Interestingly, there are colleagues of mine from Texas A&M who both support and oppose the new name.  Dr. Bart Drees (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension) supports the name change, and Dr. Roger Gold (Texas A&M University) opposes it, along with (not surprisingly) the Rasberry family.  Dr. Gold thinks "tawny" a little dull, and argues that a more descriptive name is needed.  He suggests "Brazilian crazy ant," to commemorate where the ant was first discovered.  I think I like Brazilian crazy ant better than tawny crazy ant; but I have another name to propose.  I suggest we call it the "troublesome crazy ant".  I'm sure that's one name most of the people who encounter this tiny invader could agree on.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pyrethroid label requirements tweaked again

Last year I posted a story about the new pyrethroid insecticide label requirements being sent to pesticide manufacturers by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The requirements were designed in 2009 to reduce the risk of drift (wind carried contamination) and runoff (stormwater-carried contamination) of these commonly used insecticides. Since last spring, when pesticide manufacturers were officially informed of the new standards, the EPA has continued to dialog with both regulators and the pest control industry.  The results of this dialog are now out, and the final product is a big improvement, in my opinion.

The new EPA label requirements will
continue to allow pyrethroid applications
to eaves and protected sites around homes
where mosquitoes and other pests
may be resting.
At issue were applications needed to control certain overwintering insects like brown marmorated stink bug and kudzu bug, both of which aggregate on the sides and eaves of structures prior to entering the home or other building.  Under the 2009 rules, outdoor applications to the sides of structures were limited to crack and crevice applications or building foundations up to a height of three feet only.  In addition, all outdoor applications to impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, porches and structural surfaces (such as windows, doors, and eaves) were to be limited to spot and crack-and-crevice applications, only.

After consultation with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) and the State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (an EPA advisory group also comprised of regulatory officials), the EPA agreed to make further changes to the original label requirements to allow for better control of overwintering insects.

While restrictions on insecticide applications to impervious surfaces and prior to expected rainfall have not changed, there are some big changes on applications to structures, as published in a January 10 letter to pesticide manufacturers.  The three changes are summarized as follows:

  • Now applications of pyrethroids may be made to the exterior of buildings where the treated surfaces are underneath eaves, soffits, windows or doors that are protected by coverings, overhangs, awnings or other structures that protect the residues from rainfall;
  • application bands up to one inch-wide may be applied to cracks or other potential pest entry points;
  • and applications may be made using a coarse, low-pressure spray to portions of surfaces that are directly above bare soil, lawn, mulch or other vegetation.
The purpose of these requirements is to prevent pyrethroid pesticides from entering storm water and getting into streams, something that is most likely when pyrethroid sprays land on impervious surfaces like asphalt or concrete.

In addition to giving back to PMPs the ability to use pyrethroids against overwintering pests these new regulations should help applicators control nuisance and public health mosquitoes that frequently rest on the sides of buildings and around doorways.  This was, in my view, a potentially serious public health issue with the 2009 rules.

So what will be the big change to the way your company applies pyrethroids after the dust is all settled? The new labels will prohibit power spraying driveways and over sidewalks, garage doors and any vertical building surfaces over pavement. Assuming the manufacturers follow these guidelines closely, labels should allow low-pressure sprays to the sides of structures over vegetation or soil and in sites protected from the rain, in addition to cracks and crevices.

Congratulations to the EPA and to those regulators and NPMA experts who took the time to look for ways to keep the pyrethroid label requirements reasonable while continuing to protect the environment. This is one of those examples of how the system sometimes works in everyone's favor--except, in this case, the pests'.