Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween costumes for PMPs

Sorry, too late for this year, but this
maggot mask is available
on EBay for next year's office party.
Someone today sent a picture of a coworker who dressed up as a sticky card for Halloween. Granted, her sticky card was more of the greenhouse variety, and the bugs she wore were plant-oriented (thrips, whiteflies, fungus gnats and the like); but the creative costume got me thinking about what sorts of scary costumes a pest management professional might come up with.  I'm sure that many of you are more creative in this area, but here are a few thoughts on what might make appropriately scary dress for the evening's party or for greeting young trick-or-treaters:
  • A sticky card covered with German or American cockroaches.  Cockroaches, of course, are appropriately yucky for Halloween; but in case the kids aren't sufficiently grossed out, you could pass out brochures about the dangers of insect allergens. Who knows, you might even drum up business at the same time?
  • A swarm of Africanized (killer) bees. Everyone loves bees, until you put in the word "killer".  And in case one bee isn't scary enough, get the whole office involved and go as a swarm.
  • A mosquito. By all accounts, the most dangerous insect in the world with more than half a million deaths each year due to malaria alone, not to mention West Nile virus.
  • A spider.  Turns out that the general public aren't the only ones afraid of spiders.  According to a recent article by entomologist Rick Vetter, more than a few entomologists are arachnophobic. I wonder how many PMPs or their staff fall into this category?  And if you don't have time for a costume party tonight, consider renting the classic Spielberg produced movie, Arachnophobia, in between answering the doorbell.
  • What could be more insomnia inducing  than a bed bug? Turns out, recent research shows that more and more people are reported as suffering from suicide, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more, as a result of bed bug problems. Not funny, I know, but certainly scary.
  • Not a costume, but a Halloween decoration that no PMP's home should be without.  I suspect that the Birds Away Attack Spider was first designed as a Halloween decoration, but it has since been appropriated for the pest control industry as a woodpecker deterrent. Activated by sound (like someone knocking at the door), this spider drops from its hiding place making a whirring sound. Besides frightening children and adults, it comes in handy for the rest of the year as a control tool for woodpeckers.  Featured in the 2006 Dave Barry Annual Gift Guide, this baby's been around a while.  So it must work good.
If you have a great idea for a PMP costume, or pictures of your pest-control related costume from this year, I'd like to know.  Submit a comment on this post and share your warped ideas with the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Who's Who of WDIs

Recently I received an inquiry from a Texas pest control company wanting to know if there was a list of official wood destroying insects (WDIs) in Texas. Since there are some specific instructions in state regulations governing WDI inspections, you would be excused for thinking that there might be an official list. But if there is, I can't find it.  If you go to the relevant section of the Texas Administrative Code, the rules say "The purpose of the [WDI] inspection is to provide a report regarding the absence or presence of wood destroying insects and conditions conducive to wood destroying insect infestation."  However, the rules don't specifically define what consists of a WDI.

So in lieu of any official list, here is my list of the important WDIs in Texas.  If you're from another state, the list is likely to be similar, although the relative importance of each of these pests varies from region to region.
Termite wings provide good diagnostic clues to the type of
termites infesting a home. Reticulitermes wings are smooth,
without hairs, and have two heavier veins along the leading
edge of the forewing.
  • Subterranean termites (Reticulitermes species. Note: when the word "species" is written after the genus name, it refers to multiple different species within the genus). Knowing the exact species is not important for a professional doing an inspection, but keep in mind that there may be some differences (e.g., swarming times or potential for destruction) among the different termite species.  The most economically important termite species in Texas, and the U.S., is Reticulitermes flavipes, the eastern subterranean termite. These termites are called "subterranean" because they need contact with the soil, and almost always maintain their nest underground while foraging on both underground and above-ground wood.  Inspections should focus on looking for alates (swarmers) and the presence of mud tubes extending from the soil into the structure.  Alates can be confirmed as Reticulitermes by their forewings, which bear two strong, dark veins along the leading edge.  Wood damage from this and other Reticulitermes species consists of galleries chewed into the spring wood, following the growth rings. Also, because they are subterranean, gallery walls will be covered with specks of "mud", a combination of feces, saliva and soil.  
  • Formosan alate wings are covered with fine hairs, visible
    under magnification.
    Drywood termite wings are often dusky and have at least
    three strong veins along the leading edge of the forewing.
  • Formosan subterranean termites Coptotermes formosanus. This is an exotic termite species that has established in parts of Texas, but is also found in other parts of the South and in parts of California. One of the principal means of its spread appears to be via recycled railroad ties.  The Formosan termite belongs to the same family as Reticulitermes termites, and shares some of the same characteristics, including subterranean nests and mud spattered galleries; hence, it is also technically a "subterranean" termite. Identify Coptotermes by its nighttime swarming habits and its large, yellowish-colored alate.  The wing veination is similar to Reticulitermes, but the wing membranes are covered with fine hairs.  Workers are not easily distinguished from our other subterranean species, but soldiers have a teardrop-shaped head, contrasted with the rectangular head of Reticulitermes workers.  Galleries are similar to other subterranean termites, but Formosan termites produce "carton", a dense, honeycombed structure made from mud and wood pulp cemented together with saliva and feces.  
  • Drywood termites (Cryptotermes and Incistitermes species) The so-called drywood termites are distinguished from subterranean termites by their above-ground nests and lack of contact with the soil. Because they live in wood, which usually has lower moisture content than soil, drywood termites are very efficient conservers of water. The most obvious sign of this skill are the fecal pellets they produce. Unlike the wet, smeared feces of subterranean termites, drywood feces are hard, dry pellets.  In the drywood termite rectum all water is squeezed from the feces by six rectal pads, leaving small (1/32 inch-long), six-sided pellets. Finding these pellets is hard proof of a drywood termite infestation. In addition, drywood termite galleries do not follow the grain of the wood, but may extend across multiple annual rings. Alates fly at night and have three strong, dark veins at the leading edge of the forewing. Drywood termites are most common in warm, high-humidity regions, such as the Gulf coastal areas, and parts of southern California.  They may be found in other parts of the country, however, when brought in on furniture or infested lumber. 
    Lyctid powderpost beetle adults (left) are distinguished from
    the common pantry pest, red flour beetle (right), by their
    round eyes and two-segmented antennae.  
  • Lyctid powderpost beetles (family Bostrichidae, subfamily Lyctinae). These small, cylindrical beetles are usually brought into homes in infested hardwood trim or flooring, or in infested furniture. They are one of the most important WDIs in Texas. If you're not in the habit of looking carefully for signs of these beetles during a WDI inspection, you're opening your business up to a potential legal mess. The presence of these beetles in new homes has become highly litigious, as the owners look for someone to blame for their new, beetle-infested home. It's critical to look carefully at all hardwood trim, including wainscoting, baseboards, windowsills, cabinetry and wood flooring.  On horizontal floors or trim, sawdust usually accumulates in volcano-like piles surrounding the adult beetle emergence hole.  On vertical wood, small piles of very fine, almost silky, frass will accumulate on cabinets, edges or floors underneath the emergence hole. Adults can be distinguished from the similar-appearing red flour beetle by their darker color; globular, protruding eyes; 2-segmented antennal club and enlarged hind coxae.   
  • Carpenter ants are easily identified by their large size, single
    node between abdomen and thorax, and smoothly rounded
    thoracic profile.  Many Texas species are bi-colored, like this
    specimen; but color alone can be misleading.
  • Carpenter ants (Campanotus species). This insect is usually listed as a WDI; however in Texas carpenter ants are not very likely to do structural damage. They are more likely to occur in small colonies in wall voids and in insulation, but rarely as destroyers of sound wood. Some species of carpenter ant, like C. modoc and C. pennsylvanicus, are well-known wood destroyers, especially in the Pacific Northwest and in the northeastern states. They have given all carpenter ants a reputation as wood destroyers. For this reason, and because they are not difficult to report, I would recommend including carpenter ant evidence on a WDI inspection report.  The similarly-colored (but physically very different) acrobat ant, is not reported to eat or damage wood, therefore I would not report it as a WDI.  Carpenter ants are relatively easily identified by their large size, polymorphism (different sized workers in the same colony), single node and smooth curved thoracic profile. Inspectors should also be on the lookout for carpenter ant frass, which is the colony's trash dump.  Frass piles may include wood, insulation, dead insects, and sometimes pupal cases.  Any unusual debris piles that contain insect fragments are likely carpenter ants.
  • The old house borer is a medium-sized beetle (0.6 to 1 inch)
    with two raised bumps and a mustache-shaped ridge on
    the pronotum (shield behind head).
  • Old House borer (Hylotrupes bajulus). The round-headed borer family, to which the old house borer (OHB) belongs, consists mostly of larger beetles with long antennae.  Most infest only dying or recently killed trees, so pose little long-term threat to a structure (although they may emerge from infested wood in the first year or so of a new home).  The OHB is an exception to the low-threat rule because of its ability to re-infest homes after its first emergence. Most infestations occur in homes up to 10 years old, but they can also infest and re-infest older homes.  According to Dr. Harry Moore, retired WDI expert from North Carolina State University, the OHB prefers wood with moisture content between 15 and 25%.  This moisture level is higher than normal in all but the more humid parts of the country.  Adult beetles are distinctive, emergence holes are oval in shape and 1/4 to 1/3 inch maximum diameter. Frass consists of very fine powder and tiny, elongate, blunt-ended pellets.  Infestations of OHB are most common in the humid Piedmont areas of the mid-Atlantic seaboard; however they can be found in homes throughout the eastern U.S.  Infestations are relatively rare in Texas.
  • Bostrichid beetles are mostly a minor WDI pest.  The rasp-like
    pronotum and cylindrical body with abruptly angled wing
    tips are characteristic of this family.
  • Anobiid and other Bostrichid beetles.  Any emergence holes in structural wood or trim, of course, should be reported on a WDI report.  However, when the other pests listed above are ruled out, most of the remaining culprits will belong to miscellaneous species of anobiid (ANN oh BEE id) and bostrichid (boss STRICK id) beetles. Nationwide, anobiid beetles are the more important group.  These beetles feed on sapwood of both hard- and soft-woods.  They leave circular exit holes 1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter, and produce a fine powdery frass with conspicuous pellets.  Adults of these beetles are relatives of the cigarette beetle and have a similar with a oval to cylindrical shape and downward pointing head, hidden from above.  Anobiid beetles thrive in wood with higher moisture content (15-30%) and probably for this reason, infestations in Texas are uncommon except in damp crawl spaces.  Some of the smaller holes bored by anobiid beetles may be confused with Lyctid powderpost beetles, but the frass is distinguished by the presence of rough pellets.
         Bostrichid beetles (with the exception of the Lyctid powderpost beetles) are generally incapable of re-infesting wood. Holes made by emerging adults are round and 3/32 to 9/32 inch in diameter.  Frass is tightly packed inside tunnels and tends to stick together.  Most bostrichid beetles have several rasp-like teeth on the front of the pronotum, presumably to aid in collecting and packing frass in the galleries.  One of the most common ways bostrichid beetles are introduced into homes is via wicker baskets and furniture.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Venerable IPM Practitioner

The IPM Practitioner is one of those almost venerable institutions of pest control. I just checked their website and it says they've been publishing for 33 years, which I guess is why they seem venerable--they've been publishing as long I've been associated with pest control. And I've followed their writing and their natural take on pest control for at least the last 24 years.

The magazine and its associated publications are from a group called the Bio-Integral Resource Center out of Berkeley, California. So yes, they're from the place Texans wryly refer to as the "Left Coast". BIRC does have a point of view, but I've always appreciated their science-based, if alternative, approach to pest management.

Some of you may have been introduced to the group through the book Common Sense Pest Control, a product of former BIRC staff. While I don't always agree with the practicality of some of the least toxic pest control solutions offered, there's a lot of good information in the book. I recommend it as a reference, especially for PMPs looking for non-chemical or low-risk alternatives for pest problems. And it provides a source of interesting notes on the biology and behavior of pests that are sometimes missed by other references.

The reason for mentioning BIRC today is that IPM Practitioner just published their 2013 Directory of Least-Toxic Pest Control Products.  As usual, they generously make available free a pdf copy of this catalog online. While not all of the products and information that the Directory deals with relates to structural pest control--much of it is agriculture-oriented--there is quite a bit of household and commercial pest control-related stuff to be found.

There's something almost anachronistic about a printed catalog these days when just about everything can be Bing'ed or Google'ed. But by taking a bunch of stuff that the Internet would have a hard time finding, and putting it in one odd place, this publication somehow finds its niche.  Basically what the directory does is list alternative pest control products and tells you where they can be purchased.

Like any good catalog there's a lot of interesting stuff to discover, like lists of beneficial insects for pests and where to find them. Did you know you can purchase a parasitoid for the brown-banded cockroach called Anastatus tenuipes?  How cool is that? The Directory does not necessarily comment on the effectiveness of these products.  And it's definitely buyer-beware.  But if you have a customer looking for a source of green lacewings for the garden, you can be "THE Man" (or THE Woman) if you use your Directory to locate a seller of green lacewings. You might even find sources for fancy tech toys, like borescopes for termite inspections, that you didn't know existed.

So let gardeners pour over their seed catalogs this winter. We PMPs have the Directory of Least-Toxic Pest Control Products.  Take it from a venerable entomologist, gardeners' got nothing on us.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Austin Event Reminder

Austin is this year's site of the largest gathering of
insect geeks in the world. 
Got the pesticide applicator CEU blahs?  Are you looking for training that keeps you awake, and introduces you to new people and perspectives?  An upcoming A&M AgriLife Extension-sponsored event, "Under the Lens" may be just the thing. The day-long program runs from 7 am to 5 pm at the Austin Convention Center on November 13.  Cost is $100 and includes a continental breakfast, and lunch.  More importantly, it features national speakers talking about some diverse topics including delusory parasitosis, bed bugs, pest control in public housing, rodent control, mosquitoes and changes in pyrethroid label requirements.  Each of the speakers are experts in their field and sure to provide new and useful information.

For full information and links to the conference, see the AgriLife Today Press Release.  
Under the Lens will also features the annual business meeting of the Texas Integrated Pest Management Association for Public Schools (TIPMAPS) during the lunch break.  This event is the association’s annual meeting, but anyone with an interest in schools will have the chance to share ideas and issues and catch up on the latest developments within our field of school-related pest control.

The entire program is being held in association with the Entomological Society of America's 2013 Annual Meeting.  It's the largest gathering of entomologists in the world, if that excites you.  To learn more, check out my May blog post.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Registration for Fall IPM Seminar now open

Environmental issues are a frequent
topic at Fall IPM Seminar events.
If you're a structural pest management professional (PMP) or carry a pesticide applicator's license for landscape pest management, the Fall IPM Seminar is an excellent opportunity to get your annual continuing education credits.  This is approximately the 24th year that I've been involved with the program and it's always a good day for learning.

This year's seminar will be held at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas on Tuesday, November 26.  We have an excellent lineup of speakers covering some useful and timely topics. Besides myself (speaking on Neonicotinoid insecticides and the environment), the lineup includes Dr. Don Renchie (Pesticide Regulatory Updates), Mike Swan (Honey bee biology and control), Sam Hill (Tree Pest Control), and Dr. Casey Reynolds (Sprayer calibration to maximize your weed control).  Talks will provide CEUs for both Structural and TDA in General (Pest, L&O, Weed), Laws and Regs, and General (IPM).

Early registration, before November 22 is $70, which includes lunch.  Registration at the door is $85.  For a brochure, click here.  Early registration is available online only, by clicking here. Payment can be made via check, money order, credit card or invoice (must have a purchase order number).  Questions should be directed to Sharon Harris at the number listed on the brochure.

We work very hard to make these programs relevant and interesting, always with something new and delivered by people who know their subjects. So join us in November.  It will be worth your time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bats and disease

Wild bats, like this one hanging from a doorway,
should never be touched or handled without leather
gloves. There is a significant risk that any bat acting
unnaturally may be rabid.
Surely bats are one of the most interesting and important wildlife pests we encounter in pest control.  Bats become pests when they roost in or around human buildings.  They can create a major odor problem with their guano, but even more importantly, can carry and transmit human disease. Bat carried diseases are known as zoonoses.

A zoonosis is a disease that is normally harbored within an animal host, but given the right conditions can jump from animal to human. Rabies is a zoonosis, as is West Nile virus. Like all true zoonoses, both diseases normally infect and complete their development within a non-human, animal host.  Some zoonoses depend on a vector, a carrier species that transmits a disease between hosts.  This is the case with West Nile virus, which is normally transmitted by mosquitoes from bird to bird, but occasionally to humans.  It's estimated that about 60% of all known human pathogens are zoonoses.

Sometimes zoonoses are spread directly from the animal host to human without a vector. Rabies is an example of a zoonosis without a vector. Humans get rabies from certain animals, including bats, when the virus is transmitted via a bite or through direct contact with the infected animal's saliva or blood.

Last week six Albuquerque middle school boys learned about zoonoses the hard way.  The boys were on the playground when they found a sick bat and carried it to their biology teacher.  The teacher immediately put the bat in a box and reported it.  The New Mexico Department of Health tested the bat immediately and confirmed that it had rabies.

Even though none of the boys reported being bitten they will all have to undergo four rabies vaccinations over a two week period. Bat bites are not always evident as bat teeth are very fine and may not leave noticeable wounds.  Also should even small amounts of saliva from the bat contact the skin, virus particles may be taken into the body through a small cut or by rubbed into the eyes or mouth.

All this should serve as a reminder for anyone who encounters rabies susceptible wildlife (bats, skunks, coyotes and foxes are the most important carriers) to take precautions and avoid handling live or dead animals.  Rats and mice, by the way, are not known rabies carriers.

For National Geographic fans, I found an exceptionally interesting article on zoonotic diseases by David Quammen in the October 2007 issue. Also, Quammen has written a recent book (part basic infectious disease, part history, part travelogue) on the subject called Spillover, the term used for the phenomenon when a disease agent undergoes a change, or series of changes, that causes it to jump from a reservoir host into an other species for the first time.

For more information on bats in schools or any other site, see the Bats in Schools webpage hosted by Janet Hurley.  For information about rabies and its treatment see the Texas Department of State Health Services webpage on rabies.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Resources for fire ant control

Because fire ants have been such an economically important pest in this country, it's not surprising that a lot of research and extension resources have been developed to help manage these insects. In light of last month's tragic fire ant death, I thought it might be of interest to survey some of the different research-based information resources that are out there.

One of the best places to go for fire ant management information is's (pronounced EE-extension) fire ant management page.  Most states with fire ant experts now contribute to the resources on this site, making it a one-stop source for fire ant fighters.  If you prefer video training to lots of reading, eXtension has recorded webinars presented by fire ant experts from all over the country.  Subjects include fire ant control made easy, how to kill fire ants in sensitive locations, evaluations of different home remedies for fire ants, and protecting loved ones from fire ants.

In addition, the website serves as a collecting point for research proceedings from all the Annual Imported Fire Ant Conferences since 1984.  While this information is certainly for the dedicated reader, it's very interesting to see the original research on which most of today's fire ant control recommendations are based.

For many years one of the premier sites for fire ant control information has been the Texas A&M fire ant website. This site was developed largely under the leadership of now retired extension entomologist, Dr. Bart Drees, and has more information about fire ants than you ever thought to ask.

This site has been a repository for information from Texas' Red Imported Fire Ant Management Program, and has progress reports from this project dating back to 1998 as well as result demonstration reports from Extension researchers since 1986.  There is information about fire ant control for specific sites like organic gardens, homes and buildings, compost piles and health care facilities.

One of the most useful and comprehensive guides to fire ant control is the multistate publication on Managing Imported Fire Ants in Urban Areas.  Or if you like it simple, one of the most popular Extension publications ever is the Texas Two Step Method: Do-it-Yourself Fire Ant Control.  Need an hour of verified training for one of your technicians who needs to know about fire ant control?  Check out the Fire Ant Control Made Easy video series. Or have them sit down and learn all they need to know about fire ant baits--one of the most useful and cost-effective tactics for fire ant management--from the AgriLife Bookstore. And school districts needing to polish up their fire ant management plans might want to check out the Action Plan for Fire Ants.

Maybe you have your own favorite online fire ant control resource.  If so, tell us about it with the comment feature on this page.  There's really no excuse for not knowing a lot about fire ants with all the information out there.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When it comes to fire ants, pay attention to detail

Because they are so common throughout the South, fire ant
risks are often underestimated.
Copyrighted photo courtesy Alex Wild.
In case you missed it, last month a 13-year old middle school student died  as a result of fire ant stings he suffered during half-time on a Corpus Christi, Texas football field.  The student, Cameron Espinosa, was on the sidelines when he complained of difficulty breathing after receiving fire ant stings on the field.  He collapsed and died several days later from complications due to an apparent anaphylactic reaction to fire ant venom.

The incident reminds me of how important good pest control is to everyone's health and well-being. It also gets me thinking about all the things necessary to doing a good job when it comes to fire ants.

I know this school district considered fire ant control important and took steps to control them, but a lot of factors go into controlling fire ants effectively on a football field, or in any sensitive site.  So I thought I would share some things that come to mind when I think about good fire ant control:

  • Know your fire ant insecticides.  Fire ant control insecticides include slow-acting baits (IGRs), faster-acting baits (spinosad, indoxacarb, hydramethylnon), slow-acting residual granulars (fipronil), faster-acting residual granulars (bifenthrin).  You also have a wide variety of products for mound treatments, most requiring water for activation. Each of these products has advantages and disadvantages.  Do you know them? If not, check with your state extension entomologist or a knowledgeable pesticide distributor.
  • Plan ahead.  Baits are less costly than most other treatments and fit in well with goal of using safer materials, especially at a school district.  But baits are slow, most requiring 1-2 months for peak control. Even non-bait, residual granular insecticides require time for control.  The popular Top Choice® granular insecticide (fipronil), requires 1-2 months to eliminate fire ant mounds in the treatment zone. These products are not designed to give good control two days before the first Friday night football game.
  • Know when and how to inspect a field for fire ants.  Fire ants are present in fields all year round, but they are most visible during cool weather, or just after a rain or heavy irrigation.  Inspecting the field at the wrong time could lead to a false sense of security regarding fire ant activity.  In some cases, especially during hot, dry weather, use of hot dog slices (possibly at night) can be the best way to measure fire ant activity.  Also, in the case of athletic fields it's a good idea to do a final inspection just before a game or practice. Fire ant mounds can appear within just a few hours, especially after a rain.
  • Know how to apply insecticides accurately.  Fire ant baits require specialized equipment designed to put product out at very low rates (generally 1- 1.5 lbs/acre). For large areas a Herd GT-77 spreader is a standard application tool.  Spyker rotary spreaders, or handheld seed spreaders are good for smaller areas. All spreaders should be carefully calibrated to make sure the correct amount is going over the field.  Too much bait and you will overspend on product, too little and you might not get the desired control.  The same is even more true for the more expensive granular residual products.
  • Know when to apply.  Fire ant baits are most effective if applied when ants are actively foraging. When soil temperatures are above 95 degrees F, fire ants stop foraging and retreat deep in the soil.  Baits applied during midday will degrade and lose their attraction before the ants return to the surface at night, when temperatures have dropped.  This means that in the heat of summer fire ant baits should be applied later in the day, just before evening.  Baits are also not effective during the cooler season, so baits applied between October and April, say, may not give you satisfactory control.
  • With baits it's also important to know the age of the product.  Fire ant baits don't have an especially long shelf life. So buying fire ant bait when its on sale late in the season for the following year may not be the bargain you think it is.  Buy your bait just before you need it, and only as much as you need.  Saving bait, especially opened containers, from one season to the next, is not recommended. If you are unsure of the quality of a bait, find an active nest and sprinkle some around the base of the mound.  If the bait is fresh the ants should quickly (within 5-15 minutes) pick it up and carry it underground.  
  • Don't rely on just treating mounds to manage fire ant problems.  Mound treatments can effectively kill fire ant colonies, but they do a terrible job of managing fire ant populations in an account.  That's because it is so difficult to find and treat fire ant mounds. A new fire ant colony may take 6 months to even produce a visible mound.  Broadcast residual treatments or broadcast applications of baits are much more effective because they treat all mounds, visible and invisible.  And they are generally less expensive than mound treatments.
  • Water, water, water. Water is a necessary part of treating individual mounds.  Without it you cannot effectively reach the lower parts of a fire ant nest.  One to two gallons of mixed insecticide, or 1-2 gallons of water to wash in a granular application, are mandatory for good control.  And don't expect immediate control with all mound treatments.  Aerosols and liquid drenches are fastest, but allow at least an hour with these treatments to ensure that ants in a nest are neutralized.
These are just a few of the details necessary to ensure that you've done the best you can to keep your accounts mostly fire ant free.  And remember that schools with athletic fields aren't the only sensitive sites. Playgrounds, nursing homes and other medical facilities, parks, event grounds servicing thousands of concert goers--all are places where fire ant control needs to be done right.

If you're a PMP servicing a school or park or a residential lawn, you can't do this all on your own. Communicate and enlist the help of your customers: coaches, park maintenance staff, or homeowners. Let them know about how to report problems and to know what to do in case of need for an emergency treatment.  And let your customer know about the importance of taking stings--any arthropod sting--seriously.  Anyone who experiences difficulty breathing, tightness in chest or throat, hives or rashes after a sting should seek medical assistance immediately.  

Fire ants, like all pests, are an inevitable part of life in Texas.  But that doesn't mean we have to live with them.