- Author: Saoimanu Sope
Living with pests, or “unwanted guests” as some put it, can take a physical, mental and economic toll. For people living in multi-family unit housing, like an apartment complex where everyone lives under one roof, a single infestation of insects or rodents can expose all residents.
Using integrated pest management, or IPM, residents and property managers can detect infestations early and control severe ones and protect people. IPM programs can also save money. IPM saved a 75-unit complex in Contra Costa County $11,121 annually. Similarly, in Santa Clara County, a 59-unit complex saved $1,321 on pest control annually after implementing a proactive IPM program.
This summer, regional directors, property managers, residential service coordinators, maintenance managers and groundskeepers of Mercy Housing – a nonprofit organization that provides affordable, low-income housing – gathered in Long Beach to learn about in-home IPM. The session was led by Siavash Taravati, University of California Cooperative Extension area IPM advisor for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and
Josh Shoemaker, an entomologist and private consultant.
Taravati and Shoemaker collaborated with StopPests in Housing, a national program out of Cornell University's Northeastern IPM Center, which seeks to improve pest control in affordable housing and teach management practices for cockroaches, bed bugs and rodents within and around the home.
During their presentation, Taravati introduced participants to the IPM principles and emphasized the importance of monitoring pests.
“IPM is all about making informed decisions which requires knowing the latest status of an infestation,” explained Taravati. “That's where monitoring comes into play. It can help us to identify the exact species we are dealing with as well as telling us if an infestation is growing or shrinking.”
“Monitoring is foundational,” agreed Shoemaker. “If a program does not include monitoring, it's not an IPM program.”
According to Shoemaker, the benefit of partnering with UC IPM is their sharp focus on general IPM, which includes monitoring. “It's real IPM, that prioritizes the well-being of the public,” said Shoemaker, who's eager to continue working with Cooperative Extension and Taravati to ensure that children are growing up in safe environments.
Pest control treatments commonly take place following a serious infestation or several complaints, but IPM promotes constant monitoring to prevent heavy infestations from ever happening. It's a proactive approach rather than a reactive or emergency-response. For many attendees, the training revealed a need to engage with pest management operators more closely.
Training prompts changes that improve safety for residents
Pest management operators commonly use pesticide sprays to control pests. Besides inconveniencing residents, forcing them to do extensive preparations and evacuate their unit until it's safe to return, sprays increase exposure risk to pesticides since the aerosols can linger and land on surfaces.
Instead, Taravati and Shoemaker recommend using gel baits, which are much safer to apply and can target a specific area of a home, including crevices, instead of along all the walls.
“Now that I'm more informed, I'll be speaking to my contractor to discuss how we can switch their approach from a bug spray to a gel,” said Leonardo Pinuelas, a maintenance manager for Mercy Housing.
Pinuelas is not the only one wanting to modify their program, however. According to feedback from staff members at the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles who experienced the same training earlier this year, they prompted their team to amend their pest extermination to include dusting, or applying insecticidal dusts, against roaches, and to review and update their existing IPM plan and practices where appropriate.
Cindy Wise, area director of operations for Mercy Housing, said that in her 35 years, this was one of the few trainings that engaged her staff so actively. “I couldn't help but text my regional vice president to say that our managers were actively participating and asking questions. That doesn't happen often, not even in our own meetings,” said Wise.
Many of the attendees, with their new understanding of how cockroaches move through a structure, shared that they are eager to return to work to meet with residents and support them.
“If you've got roaches in one unit, you've got them in the entire building,” Wise said.
Shoemaker recalls the words of Judy Black, senior technical entomologist for Orkin, and Dini Miller, entomologist at Virginia Tech, who urge the importance of inspections and documentation as IPM best practices.
Although reporting pests in the home can make one feel embarrassed, Wise said she is more interested in making residents feel empowered to not only report signs of infestation to the staff, but to their neighbors.
Training residents is certainly beneficial, but as experts such as Black and Miller have pointed out, housing managers must do their part, instead of scapegoating tenants for their cleaning habits.
StopPests provides free IPM training and technical assistance to Housing and Urban Development assisted properties. If you are interested in the training provided by Taravati and Shoemaker, in collaboration with StopPests, visit StopPests.org for more information.
- Author: Konrad Mathesius
Growers are said to be one of the most surveyed groups in the US. This is understandable as only around 2% of Americans work in agriculture and there is an intrinsic lack of understanding of what is needed to help growers develop their operations. I frequently hear growers express concerns about issues that need to be addressed, whether those stem from government agencies, local weather patterns, or regional markets. However, quantifying the significance of these issues without data can be challenging.
Surveys conducted by Cooperative Extension and local organizations give growers a voice and serve as the first step in collaboration between growers and researchers in addressing the issues at hand.
If you have found yourself losing sleep over labor concerns, new farming techniques, goose damage to crops, or navigating climate programs, take a moment to let us know your thoughts via these surveys. Your insight is extremely valuable, and these surveys are linked directly to local ag-related organizations working in your area.
Note: I acknowledge that this is a busy time for growers. To streamline the process, I've consolidated multiple surveys into this post, which you can revisit when you schedule suits you.
Yolo County is in the process of trying to get a better understanding of what practices grower are implementing and which ones they aren't and why. This survey examines other types of sustainability practices such as no-till, deficit irrigation, and manure applications in the county and will be used to help the county prioritize its funding, research, and outreach programs in the years to come.
- Author: Anne Schellman
Who are the UC Master Gardeners?
UC Master Gardeners are trained volunteers that help the public by teaching classes, attending outreach events, working in our demonstration gardens, answering our help line, and more!
How are UC Master Gardeners Trained?
Classes are taught by University experts on water management, soils and fertilizers, ornamental and drought tolerant plants, landscape tree care, vegetable and fruit tree care, integrated pest management, to name a few.
Program requirements include weekly reading and quizzes, and a final exam. All “tests” are open book, and collaboration on assignments is encouraged. Trainees are provided any needed assistance by Master Gardener mentors.
When does the Program start?
The weekly training program starts in January and ends in May of 2024. The training is held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. once a week for 18 weeks. (Trainees must complete 50 hours of instructional time to graduate.)
How Can I Apply and what is the Deadline?
Visit Become a UCCE Master Gardener website page for answers to frequently asked questions, and to download an online application. The application deadline is August 18, 2023. If you miss the deadline, please apply to be put on a waiting list.
Last week I sent an email to people that signed up for our interest list. If you did not receive it, your email could not be delivered, bounced back, or was incorrect. (I received several of these notifications.) Please first check your spam, and then contact me if you believe your email may have been problematic.
*You must be a Stanislaus County resident to apply to this local program. For other county programs, visit http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/
photos by Anne Schellman
- Author: Ben Faber
'Herbicide Injury" tutorial builds on popular website
A cartoon character that looks suspiciously like a Department of Plant Sciences professor leads an animated, online tutorial that recently won a 2022 Gold Award from the Association for Communication Excellence. UC Davis weed experts Kassim Al-Khatib and Brad Hanson worked with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program to create “Diagnosing Herbicide Injury,” which debuted in October 2021 on Extension Foundation Campus.
The free, self-guided course explains how herbicides may – or may not – be the culprits behind plant maladies. The cartoon guide walks viewers through interactive slides describing common herbicide-related problems, their diagnoses and solutions; short quizzes solidify the viewer's knowledge at the end of each module. The course fulfills continuing education credits for several institutions; those who complete the course can get a certificate for a small fee.
“This project builds on previous work in which I developed an interactive website to help people investigating herbicide injury symptoms,” said Al-Khatib, the Melvin D. Androus Endowed Professor for Weed Science. The website, built in 2015 by programmer Chinh Lam of UC's Integrated Pest Management program, offers 1,500 photographs showing herbicide injuries in more than 150 crop and ornamental plants. Such problems often are caused by incorrect application, drift and carry-over from a previous crop. Visitors can look for information by crop, herbicide, chemistry, mode of action and how symptoms appear. Each year, Al-Khatib adds hundreds of new images.
“As Extension weed scientists, we often get questions about herbicide injury,” added Hanson, a professor of UC Cooperative Extension. “If you suspect an herbicide and want to find out what the injury symptoms look like, this is a really useful website.”
Al-Khatib's site proved widely popular in the agricultural community. That lead to a handful of in-person short courses the two professors offered through the UC Weed Research and Information Center, focusing on symptoms that appear in the field.
Separately, beginning in 2016, the information technology people at UC IPM were starting to put their collection of in-person courses online. They were experimenting with different formats to make online learning more attractive, said team member Petr Kosina, who developed the award-winning video. “My vision was, we needed to make the online courses more interactive, more entertaining and more engaging,” said Kosina, a plant biologist with a degree in instructional design.
Video course has ‘thousands' of potential viewers
The gold-winning video is among more than two dozen courses the UC IPM team has put online in recent years. Other team members involved in the course's development were Kimberly Steinmann, Cheryl Reynolds and Tunyalee Martin.
Programmer Chinh Lam, left, of UC's Integrated Pest Management program, built the original website about herbicide injuries. Petr Kosina, center, and Tunyalee Martin are part of the UC IPM technology team that created the gold-winning video, based on the website's information.
The video's purpose is to help people distinguish herbicide-caused injuries from those caused by dozens of other potential factors, including insects, diseases, fertilizers, poor nutrition and environmental stressors such as drought. The course describes common patterns of herbicide injury and how to use laboratory analysis to confirm potential culprits. Its audience: growers, pest control advisers, sales representatives for chemical companies, field investigators and insurance adjusters who need guidance gathering information. Nearly 170 people finished the course in 2021, and more than 80 had enrolled by mid-2022, Kosina said. "There are several thousand potential learners in California alone," Martin wrote in the award application.
The animated, cartoon guide is a stock image that Kosina doctored to riff off of Hanson's beard and rectangular glasses; Hanson also narrates. The character brings a human element to the video and puts viewers at ease. Research shows that a cartoonish approach to a topic can improve adult viewers' response when they might see the material as intimidating or dry.
Viewers, indeed, have become fans. Here are a few comments from people who have taken the online course:
- “The avatar is a kick.”
- “I do not care for cartoons, but Brad's ‘character' was great! And his manner of speaking was great – grade A+.”
- “The use of several different types of multi-media concepts combined with the methodical and well-thought-out delivery of technical information really helps keep the online participant engaged.”
The course has been approved for continuing education units by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Certified Crop Adviser program of the American Society of Agronomy, and the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
RELATED LINKS: Watch a short video by the UC IPM team that describes the course, how they approached the design and addressed accessibility and diversity.
Media Resources: Trina Kleist, firstname.lastname@example.org, (530) 754-6148 or (530) 601-6846.
Original source: UCD Department of Plant Sciences News. July 26, 2022