Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pest Prevention by Design - A New Resource for Builders and Architects

The Western IPM Center promotes integrated pest management practices not only in agriculture, but also for managing pests in natural lands as well as homes, schools and communities. One principle of IPM is prevention - keeping pests from taking hold to begin with. Now there's a new reference devoted to pest prevention in buildings.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment, working with builders, designers and IPM experts from around the country, recently published building design guidelines for builders and architects to keep pests out of structures. The 89-page document shows proven designs and materials that keep pests out, from foundations to eaves. It's a must-have reference for new construction and renovation, and it can be accessed and downloaded for free.

Visit SF Environment here, or download the guide directly here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

EPA Adds Label Warnings on Neonicotinoids to Protect Bees

In an effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. 

“Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides," said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts.” 

The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The announcement affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so that they will meet the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standard.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA released a report on honey bee health, showing that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. 

The agency continues to work with beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, pesticide and seed companies, and federal and state agencies to reduce pesticide drift dust and advance best management practices. The EPA recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents. 

Read more on the EPA’s label changes and pollinator protection efforts here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Visit Missoula County through its Extension Newsletter - Healthy Acres

The summer edition of Healthy Acres, the Missoula County Extension newsletter, is now out and chock full of good information (and outstanding photos, like the one to the left.)

With stories about bio-control field days and invasive species control (of Yellowflag iris), Healthy Acres is good reading for an IPM audience. And with recipes for salsa and summer vegetables, you don't even need to be an IPM practitioner to appreciate it as well. Read it here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Western IPM Center Speaks for Growers during Pesticide Reviews

When the Environmental Protection Agency reviews a pesticide for reregistration, having accurate, up-to-date information on how it’s actually used by growers across different cropping systems can be critical to keeping a chemical in growers’ toolboxes.

Gathering that information is exactly what the Western Integrated Pest Management Center does, although next to no one knows it.

“People know the Western IPM Center funds new IPM research and promotes the adoption of IPM practices in agricultural and urban settings,” said Center Director Jim Farrar. “Few people know we employee three comment coordinators throughout the West to respond to these kinds of requests for information from federal and state agencies.”

Each comment coordinator maintains an active network of growers, commodity organizations, Extension advisors, pesticide applicators and state IPM coordinators who can provide on-the-ground information about how a pesticide is used, applied and rotated.

“We archive all of the replies to information requests our comment coordinators have written on our website,” Farrar said. “There are more than 300 dating back to a 2002 comment on methyl parathion and going up to a May 29 comment on fenbutatin oxide.”

See them all under “Info Request Replies” at

David Epstein, an entomologist at the USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy, said the comments from the Western IPM Center and other regional centers become the growers’ voice in Washington, D.C.

“What we do here is represent growers at the federal level where policy and regulation collide,” he said. “We need data to be able to argue for them. If we don’t have data, then the agency charged with regulating a product may assume far greater usage and use patterns than actually exists in the field.”

Knowing how and where a product is used – and that there are regional differences in how the same crop may be grown in different parts of the country – can help the regulatory agency get a more accurate picture of the actual risk a specific product poses.

“Understanding the differences between the label allowances and actual use can help identify potential ways of mitigating risk as a chemical undergoes review,” Epstein said. “If a product is labeled for aerial application in a crop but the product is only ever applied with ground rigs, for example, that can have a significant impact on the risk evaluation because of the reduced drift potential.” 

With that kind of specific information, Epstein and his colleagues at of the Office of Pest Management Policy can argue against new restrictions on the product, or go to the company that registered it and suggest they update the label by removing crops or application methods that aren’t being used. Some companies do, he said, and some don’t. 

“The information we get from the regional centers helps educate the process, and without information on how the chemical is actually used and applied, we don’t have much to argue with,” Epstein said. 

Continuing to provide that information is a priority for the Western IPM Center.

“Like most federally funded operations, we’ve had to cut our budget,” Farrar said. “In making those cuts, we protected the comment coordination roles because it is so important to agriculture in the West.”

To provide even better information to Washington, Farrar would like to recruit more growers and commodity organizations in the comment network, where they would occasionally be contacted by the Center’s comment coordinators.

“By becoming a resource for the Center, you help all growers,” Farrar said. “It’s likely you’ll only be contacted once or twice a year, and your small investment of time can have a big impact on pest management regulations.”

If you are interested in joining the comment coordination network, email Jim Farrar at with your name, location and a brief description of your crop or pest experience.

The Western Integrated Pest Management Center promotes IPM practices to solve pest problems in agriculture, urban areas and natural lands throughout the West. We encourage a science-based approach to pest management using pest biology, environmental information and all available technology to reduce pest damage to acceptable levels by the most economical means, while reducing the risk to people, property and the environment. The Western Integrated Pest Management Center is one of four regional centers funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to promote IPM practices, and serves 13 Western states and Pacific island territories.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Have Unwelcome Guests in your House? Stop Pests in Housing Has Great Pest Control Information

Stop Pests in Housing is a program by our sister IPM Center in the Northeast.

Its website provides good information on how to stop common household pests, like the bald-faced hornet lurking here, using integrated pest management strategies. IPM practices focus on preventative measures and pest control methods that are safer for humans and the environment than many conventional pesticides. From bats to bedbugs, spiders to stinging pests, and fleas to flies, check out these Pest Solutions.

In our region, the Western IPM Center also provides a number of "Urban IPM" programs aimed at controlling mice in school and pests in public housing. Look for an overview of these programs in our upcoming newsletter.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Desert Monsoons Mean Insects Are on the Move

Red velvet mite
The latest edition of Arizona's "Pest Press" has a feature story on monsoon season in Arizona, when the desert's limiting factor, water, becomes abundant. 

That brings a lot of activity to the insect world, as it is a time for reproduction and dissemination. Desert-goes may encounter some amazing beetles, such as Palo Verde Root Borer beetles and fig beetles; see the winged, reproductive forms of ants and termites swarm or congregate for mating following rains; notice red velvet mites making their annual return; see and hear a lot of cricket activity indoors and outside; and observe male tarantulas are on the move.

Read the full story in Pest Press.