Friday, July 31, 2015

Inaugural IPM Experience House Class

Tim Madere, Janet Hurley and I (center, front) taught the very first course
to be offered at the IPM Experience House.  The house (background) is
in the process of being remodeled as a pest control training facility.
Yesterday marked a milestone for the development of IPM Experience House. Fourteen pest management professionals attended the very first hands-on class to be held at the facility. The class focused on rodent and pest exclusion.

Principal trainer for this week's class was Tim Madere with the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Rodent and Termite Control Board.

Have you ever met someone who lives and breathes pest control? Who when traveling to a strange town spends their free evenings scouting rodent activity?  Who doesn't complain to the hotel manager about cockroaches in the room because, well, it's another chance to observe cockroaches?  Well, Tim's that kind of guy.

Tim is heavily involved in the New Orleans Rat Project.  The Rat Project is a National Science Foundation-funded, multi-disciplinary project looking at ongoing impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans human and rodent community.  Based on the stories and lessons Tim taught this week, there is no shortage of furry subjects to study in The Big Easy and other places in Louisiana. If you don't believe me, check out this video.

Tim Madere discusses rodent-proofing options in the
field. Can you spot the roof rat rub mark in this picture?
(Hint: Follow the wires from the meter to the soffit)
The course was designed to provide 8 hours of verifiable training for pest control apprentices and technicians, but many of the participants this time were pest control veterans.  According to Jackie Thornton and his technician Ryan Reichert, the reason they traveled all the way from Alvin, Texas was to share what they called a "unique opportunity to experience both classroom and hands-on field training" in one class.

In addition to some classroom time, the class went on two field trips.  First stop was the home of Janet Hurley, instructor for the class and lead school IPM educator for Texas.  Janet recently acquired a home with multiple pest control challenges, including roof rats.  Class members diagnosed the problem(s) and provided Janet with both lots of advice and free pest proofing with Xcluder stuffing material.  Later the class visited the IPM Experience House to learn about best ways to solarize household items for bed bugs as well as selecting the best insecticides for outdoor ant control.  If it hadn't been 100 degrees in the sun we might have stayed out even longer.

As I taught and learned from the group I was struck by how hands-on training easily becomes a two way process.  Not only do students learn from instructors, but teachers learn a lot too.  I never fail to pick up valuable information when I get to spend quality time with each of you. The business of pest control is complex, and each of our experiences are unique--so we all have something to teach.  As I listened to students share information and tips with each other I'm reminded that that's what IPM Experience House is all about, and what we want it to be in the future.

Thanks to all of you who attended the pest proofing class, and for being willing guinea pigs for our hands-on efforts.  There will be lots more about future training opportunities in this blog and on the Experience House website.  Let's keep in touch.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loss for entomology in Texas

The entomology department at Texas A&M University lost a good friend and colleague this week.  Dr. Jim Olson, long-time entomology faculty member and former faculty serving with the Center for Urban and Public Health Entomology (now the Urban and Structural Entomology Program), passed away Thursday, July 2, 2015 in St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan.   

Dr. Olson was for many years the department's professor for medical entomology, with a special emphasis on mosquito biology and control.  He was actively engaged with the Texas Mosquito Control Association, and a mentor to many mosquito control professionals around the state.  While perhaps less known to PMPs, Olson was nevertheless influential in the pest control industry through his many graduate students and the knowledge he so readily passed on to the rest of us extension entomologists.  

If you had known Jim, you would immediately recognize someone who was highly intelligent, but the opposite of stuffy.  On the contrary, he was completely approachable and friendly.  Everyone who knew him would tell you that he was quick to share his opinion on many subjects. Even if you disagreed, you loved him for his passion and entertaining way of expressing ideas. Perhaps the strongest testimony to Dr. Olson's impact is the loyalty and devotion of former students and those who came under his wings--there are many examples.  

Dr. Olson was instrumental in tutoring me about Texas mosquitoes, and had an entertaining way of getting his points across.  One I especially remember was his pronouncement that "prime time television" (because it kept people indoors at dusk) had done as much to combat mosquito-borne disease in Texas as all our other public health efforts combined (probably true).  He did not hold a high opinion of those who fought the use of effective pesticides, having long seen the benefits of insecticides to human health in mosquito control.

A memorial service for Dr. Olson will be held at 10am, Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at Lone Oak Baptist Church, located four miles West of Snook, Texas on Highway FM 60. Memorial services are in the care of Callaway-Jones and Crematory.  His obituary and remembrances/condolences can be passed on to the family through this link at Callaway-Jones Funeral Home

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

All hands-on deck training

Entomology faculty at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas will be conducting hands-on rodent and pest exclusion training July 30.  If you or your technicians need an introduction to residential exclusion work, this workshop is for you.

The day-long training will begin at 8 am in Building C at the Center at 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252.  It will include both classroom and field visits to two sites to discuss pest exclusion. 

“This is the first time the center will be hosting such a program that includes demonstrations of residential exclusion practices,” said Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban IPM specialist. “Hands-on instruction will include showing how to seal a house to keep pests from moving in.”

Presentations and instruction will be provided by AgriLife Extension experts from the Dallas center and from guest trainer Timmy Madere, of the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Rodent and Termite Control Board. See a copy of the program by clicking here.  According to Hurley, "Timmy has trained with the best, and has a unique understanding of rodents.  He has worked on exclusion related activities for ten years with the City of New Orleans." 

Six continuing education credits will be offered for commercial applicators. For apprentices and technicians, a course certificate for six hours of attendance will be provided.

After a quick review of IPM principles behind exclusion work, the morning agenda will include a field trip to residence for instruction on best ways to seal a home, including how to pest proof siding, gutters, soffits and flashing.  

Afternoon presentations will address how to evict and keep out rats, bats, birds and squirrels, and a brief overview of home inspections for termites and ants.  The afternoon will include a walking tour of the IPM Experience House training facility.  

The cost of the program is $75, lunch not included. Space is limited, so attendees are encouraged to register as soon as possible.  To register and for payment information, go to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Conference Services at or call 979-845-2604.