My sincere apologies for the delay in posts of-late! Next week I’ll get out a long-overdue sample newsletter article.
In the past month the StopPests folks and I:
- Ran eight IPM in Multifamily Housing trainings at housing authorities across the US;
- Presented at two conferences;
- Designed our upcoming webinars (a new page on stoppests.org...check it out and register for our upcoming free webinars); and
- Worked on the development of more exciting resources I hope to share in the near future.
At the recent 7th International IPM Symposium in Memphis, the Regional IPM Centers pooled their exhibition spaces and let me have fun with it. We put together a mock bedroom where people learned about bed bugs and what they should do if they find the signs. I had a great time seeing the town as I gathered goods for the booth. I practiced what we preach as I picked up used furniture from some not entirely reputable establishments. (As a sidenote, I'd like to thank my friend Lilian for driving me around and putting up with my pest-focused adventures.)
Does this make me a hypocrite? I don’t think so. Telling residents to never get used furniture is not realistic. I'd rather give them the knowledge they need to make good choices…and a flashlight. Before buying my bed frame, I inspected it. Before bringing the mattress inside, I encased it. And when I set up the bed and recliner, (even though I had inspected them) I put insect interceptors under the legs of the furniture items to catch any bed bugs that abandoned ship. Give a man a mattress and he will sleep bed-bug-free for a night. Teach a man to inspect and monitor for bed bugs, and he shall rest easy for a lifetime. Or something like that…
Teaching was actually a major topic at the IPM Symposium. IPM in Schools is a well-established national movement. As with IPM in housing, university-based experts are training schools to adopt IPM policies and procedures to limit harmful exposure to pests and pesticides. They have wonderful resources and success stories that apply to any multi-use structure.
In addition to schools adopting an IPM approach to pest management, some teachers are using IPM lessons in the classroom. There are great curricula out there, but I learned of one award-winning example in Memphis. The University of Florida teamed up with the Jacksonville Bed Bug Task Force to create the “Bed Bugs and Book Bags” curriculum for grades 3-5 (the kids that seem to bring the most bed bugs to school).
The curriculum follows learning standards for science and health educators, but many housing authorities have on-site after school programs that could use the activities. Any organization that works with kids should know about these lessons. Check out the curriculum at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/bug_club/Bed_bugs.html. After watching a presentation (meant to give teachers the facts they need to teach their students) and passing a quick quiz, you can download all the lessons. If you’re already a bed bug pro, you can fast forward through the presentation and should still pass the test with flying colors.
One of our PHAs just told us a success story relating to IPM in Schools
This particular Maine site has an after school program. Maine has an active School IPM program. It was logical to invite someone from the School IPM Program to the IPM in Multifamily Housing Training. Following our training, the School IPM folks ran a class in the after school program. The photo below shows the cockroach race they had...the cockroach that reaches an orange first is the winner. Kids who attended were fascinated—some had never realized that cockroaches would eat their food.
Kids are great pest inspectors.
Four of the kids who had learned about bugs in after school came back to the PHA staff member saying they thought they had bed bugs! Records showed that these four units (at four separate sites) had no history of bed bugs. But sure enough, the pests were present. Turns out, the four families speak a unique dialect and thus don’t comprehend all the PHA communications. Their shared language also explained why they all had bed bugs—they visit each other. The PHA can now focus on all the homes at the same time and gain control. And the staff member has started to make note of language and dialect spoken on her bed bug tracking forms.
To learn more about school IPM programs and bed bug resources for kids, explore eXtension’s links at: http://www.extension.org/pages/20395/school-ipm-programs-and-information-resources. eXtension provides objective and research-based information and learning opportunities that help people improve their lives. eXtension is an educational partnership of 74 universities in the United States.