Limit Access to Food to Practice Proactive Pest Management

Smokybrown cockroach nymphs

Practice Proactive Pest Management

Pest Management

Taken from the UGA publication Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home by Daniel R. Suiter, Brian T. Forschler Lisa M. Ames and E. Richard Hoebeke

The origin and extent of a pest infestation is often associated with one or more conditions that promote the survival and reproduction of that particular pest. Those conditions include:

  • Favorable temperatures,
  • Abundant food and water, and
  • Available shelter or harborage

When pest problems occur there is usually one or more of these requirements readily accessible to the pest.

The preferred living environment for most humans also provides the necessities many pests need to satisfy their life support requirements. Therefore, it is important that homeowners limit pest access to potential sources of food, water, and shelter in and around the home in an effort to keep our personal living space inhospitable to unwanted house pests.

Proactive pest management is a process that begins with identifying the pest and using information on the biology of the offending creature to decide upon a plan of action. The action plan should involve interventions aimed at reducing pest population numbers or the chance for future encounters with that pest.

Proactive pest management interventions will vary from one household or business to the next but there are a few overarching themes worthy of comment. (Editors note: We discuss access to food in this article. For information on other proactive pest management refer to the publication Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home)


General rules of cleanliness during food preparation, storage and disposal is the logical starting point for helping to resolve and prevent certain pest problems. Denying pests access to food is an important component of making our living environment less hospitable to pests.

Practice Proactive Pest ManagementImportant practices (habits to establish) that may limit insect access to food include, but are not limited to:

  • Keep food in tightly sealed containers;
  • Keep bird food in feeders, as rodents may use spilled food as a food source (Figure 1);
  • Rotate (use) boxed or packaged foods every 1-2 months;
  • Clean up spills that occur during food preparation or handling;
  • Do not keep soiled dishes in the sink or dishwasher overnight;
  • Empty indoor garbage receptacles twice per week, at a minimum;
  • Clean garbage disposals at least once a week;
  • Keep outdoor garbage in a tightly sealed container and away from any dwelling entrance;
  • Rinse recyclable containers prior to recycling;
  • Store birdseed in a tightly sealed container, preferably outside and away from doors;
  • Ensure that discarded plant waste is removed twice per week, at a minimum, especially during the  summer (Figure 2).

For more information on Proactive Pest Management see Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home

About the Authors

Daniel Suiter ( and Brian Forschler ( are Professors of Entomology, specializing in urban entomology, in the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia; Suiter is located on the university’s campus in Griffin, while Forschler is on the main campus in Athens, Ga.

Lisa Ames ( directs the Homeowner Insect and Weed Diagnostics Laboratory on the UGA Griffin Campus.

Richard Hoebeke, a systematic entomologist, is the associate curator of insects at the Georgia Museum of Natural History on the UGA’s main campus in Athens, Ga (

Home IPM Workshop planned for August 13

UGA Urban Pest Management ProgramHome IPM Workshop planned for August 13

Home IPM Workshop

Thursday, August 13 ~ UGA-Griffin Campus 

Register Now!

Find all info here

Georgia Credit (credit also available in FL, AL, SC, TN)
5 HPC Hours (Cert/Reg)

The registration fee ($75) includes the 1 day workshop, instructional materials, lunch, and refreshments during the course of the workshop.

IPM Workshops are limited to 25 participants, so register early to reserve your spot!

Urban and structural pest management is the protection of property, food, and health from insect and rodent pests commonly found in homes, restaurants, and other businesses. The goal of this workshop is to teach participants how to generate and interpret the information required for effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.

The IPM Workshop Program addresses the development of critical thinking skills required for pest management professionals to develop an IPM mindset. Workshop programming addresses, through classroom lectures and discussion, on-site demonstrations, identification laboratories, and interactive field activities, such topics as:

  • Logical components of IPM programs
  • Inspections: The driving force and cornerstone of the IPM process
  • Inspection tools and techniques
  • Decision making – when to treat, not treat, or do nothing
  • Using trap data in the decision-making process
  • The role of pesticides in IPM

A Unique Training Opportunity. An insect identification laboratory is part of the workshop. During the laboratory session, participants will see dozens of pest species, and/or signs of their presence, commonly found in and around Georgia’s urban environment.

Completion of the 1-day workshop provides 5 HPC hours (Cert/Reg) and 4 hours credit in Category 35. A “Certificate of Completion” will be awarded at the completion of the workshop.

Find more info here or contact Dr. Daniel Suiter at 770-233-6114.

Pest Management: EPA’s Managing Pests in Schools Website Updated

Pest Management: EPA's Managing Pests in Schools Website UpdatedAs part of EPA’s ongoing effort to build a more user-friendly website, we have transformed our Managing Pests in Schools website into a new, easy-to-use format. Information on school Integrated Pest Management (IPM) should now be easier than ever to access, regardless of the type of electronic device being used, including tablets and smartphones.

Integrated Pest Management

IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach that offers a wide variety of tools to reduce contact with pests and exposure to pesticides. The website focuses on providing vital information in the school setting for parents, school administrators, staff and pest management professionals. Knowledgeable, proactive stakeholders can help a community prevent or significantly reduce risks from pests as well as unnecessary pesticide use.

The website is organized into the following areas:

  • About Integrated Pest Management in Schools
  • Establishing Integrated Pest Management Programs
  • Pests of Concern in Schools
  • IPM Training and Certification

The old Web pages will redirect to the new website, and we encourage visitors to update their bookmarks with the new URLs.

The address for the new website is

Flies: Managing pests in and around homes

For more information see the publication from which this information comes, Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home by Daniel R. Suiter Brian T. Forschler Lisa M. Ames E. Richard Hoebeke

Crane flyCrane flies (Tipulidae):

Crane flies have long legs, a long slender body, and vary in body length from 1/16 to 1 inch. Some crane flies may resemble large mosquitoes. Color will vary depending on species, but one common species is light brown or tan. The larvae are called leatherjackets and can damage lawns by feeding on the roots of grass.

Habits: Crane flies generally rest with their legs spread widely. Adults feed on nectar or do not feed at all; many have vestigial mouthparts. Once they become adults, most crane flies simply mate and die, all within a few days. They do not bite humans.

Interventions: No action recommended.

Might Be Confused With: mosquitoes.

Fruit flies Suiter et alFruit flies (Drosophilidae):

The most common species have red/orange eyes, but not all fruit flies have red/orange eyes. Fruit flies often hover around and just above food (most often decomposing vegetable matter) prior to landing. Flies are 1/8 inch.

Habits: Feed mainly on decaying vegetable matter, compost, rotting fruit, etc. Often found around salad bars and restaurants where vegetable matter and juices collect. Also called vinegar flies, since vinegar (acetic acid) is a decomposition product of some rotting vegetable matter.

Interventions: Find larval fly feeding site(s) and clean or otherwise throw away rotting fruit or vegetable matter. Remove garbage, including the plastic liner, and other refuse at least twice per week.

Might Be Confused With: humpbacked flies, fungus gnats, moth flies.

Fungus gnatFungus gnats (several families represented; mostly Sciaridae):

Small (1/16 inch) fly with smoky black wings. Y-shaped wing venation is characteristic.

Habits: Often found in over watered plants indoors or in otherwise wet conditions.

Interventions: Find larval fly feeding site(s) and clean or otherwise dry out. If desired, apply a soil drench with an appropriately labeled liquid insecticide.

Might Be Confused With: mosquitoes, fruit flies, humpbacked flies, moth flies.

Black soldier fly larvaBlack Soldier flies (larva) (Stratiomyidae):

Strongly-segmented larva, 3/4 to 1 inch, with two 1/16 inch protrusions from one end. Adult flies rarely seen, but are 3/4 inch and appear wasp-like and with two clear spots on upper abdomen.

Habits: In homes, larvae usually found in the bathroom. Presence in bathroom may be indication of sanitary (sewer drain or septic tank) problems because larvae feed in putrid, wet conditions. This insect also lays eggs and larvae develop in piles of damp organic matter such as compost piles. Like many fly species, larvae are known to wander well-away from their breeding site into areas where they pupate.

Interventions: Find the larval food source and address the problem by sanitation or moisture management.

Might Be Confused With: adults look like wasps.

House flyHouse flies (Muscidae: Musca domestica):

The most recognizable of all fly species. Black, drab, 1/4 inch, fast-flying, often numerous around garbage cans and related refuse areas.

Habits: Breeds in garbage, trash, animal waste, and other organic refuse. Like most flies, found most frequently breeding in overly liquid or wet conditions. Often associated with unsanitary, unkempt conditions, such as areas abundant in animal waste or human garbage/landfills. The term maggot is most commonly used in reference to this fly’s larval stages. Because flies are pushed by prevailing, local winds, their source may be from some distance away.

Interventions: Proper sanitation and exclusion is an effective means of reducing fly numbers. Indoors deploy and maintain sticky traps associated with attractive lights (commercial insect light traps) and/or the chemical attractant Z-9-tricosene. Be sure that indoor light traps are situated so that they cannot be seen by flies from the outside. There is no scientific evidence to support claims that a hanging bag full of water serves as a deterrent to house flies. Remove garbage and other refuse at least twice per week.

Might Be Confused With: blow flies.

Humpbacked flyHumpbacked flies (Phoridae):

Also referred to as scuttle flies or coffin flies. Often scuttle about on the surface around and on infested materials. Humpbacked flies are about 1/8 inch.

Habits: Often associated with dead and decaying animal or plant matter (e.g., dead insects, rotting potatoes), bacterial buildup in drains (drain and sewer scum) in bathrooms and kitchens, and in/around garbage cans.

Interventions: Find and clean fly breeding sites and/or clean out drains. Make certain that the water trap in the drain line (especially common in less frequently used sinks) is filled – if the water trap dries out, flies and other pests that live in the drain lines will be able to enter the building. Remove garbage and other refuse at least twice per week.

Might Be Confused With: fruit flies, moth flies, fungus gnats.

Blow fliesBlow flies (Calliphoridae: many species):

Also referred to as bluebottles and greenbottles. Large, robust, fast-flying flies, 1/4 to 3/8 inch, commonly shiny and with metallic blue, green, copper, or gray coloration. Some species strongly bristled, some with stripes on their pronotum (upper thorax), and some with large, reddish-brown eyes. Resemble house flies in their flying behavior.

Habits: Flies attracted to and breed in recently dead and decaying animals and animal waste. When suddenly present in large numbers, and when present indoors (typically at windows sills), is highly suggestive of a dead animal indoors (e.g., attic, crawlspace, wall void, fireplace, etc.).

Interventions: Find dead animal and remove it. Maintain window and door screens to prevent entry into the house. Remove garbage and other refuse at least twice per week.

Might Be Confused With: house flies (especially the maggots).

Drain fly with nameDrain flies (Psychodidae: Psychoda spp.):

Also referred to as moth flies. Oblong or oval, appears moth-like, and is about 3/16 inch, wings fuzzy. Larvae up to 3/8 inch.

Habits: Commonly found in bathrooms (breeds in scum in drains, showers, overflows, toilet bowls, etc.). Adults rest motionless on walls until disturbed, and then fly well. Need wet conditions to breed. When toilets have gone un-flushed for an extended period, moth flies may lay eggs in the toilet tank, and larvae can be found there. When the toilet is finally flushed, larvae can make their way into the toilet bowl, where they are discovered.

Interventions: Clean the inside of the drain of all scum and detritus using a mild cleanser and a bristled brush. Never pour insecticides into drain. Pouring bleach into drains is not effective. Make certain that the water trap in the drain line (especially common in less frequently used sinks) is filled – if the water trap dries out, flies and other pests that live in the drain lines will be able to enter the building. To help determine whether a particular drain is infested, place a clear cup, inverted, over the drain. If flies emerge from the drain, they will be trapped by the cup, and can be seen.

Might Be Confused With: fungus gnats, humpbacked flies, fruit flies, and small moths.

UGA Urban Pest Management Certificate Program runs through June 11

UGA Urban Pest Management Certificate Program

Thursdays through June 11 – Griffin

Credit (24 hours total) 18 HPC & 6 WDO Cert/Reg Hrs

See agenda for details.

Registration Form

Certificate programThe Urban Pest Management Program on the UGA Griffin campus has established a 10-week lecture series resulting in the awarding of a Certificate in Urban and Structural Pest Management. The goal of the program is to provide Georgia’s pest management companies new service technicians exposed to various aspects of the industry, and to award current pest management professionals a University of Georgia-sponsored credential. Georgia Department of Agriculture-approved credit (Certificate Program) will be granted to currently registered and certified employees.

What is Urban and Structural Pest Management?

Urban and structural pest management is the protection of our property, food, and health from insect and rodent pests commonly found in homes, restaurants, and other businesses. The service technician is the front line of this defense, and thus the backbone of the pest management industry.

Who is this Certificate For?

This Certificate is appropriate for:

  1. individuals with no experience in the pest management industry, but who are looking to enter a stable and exciting field;
  2. individuals who, even though they might have extensive pest management experience, would like to energize their career by acquiring a professional credential, and;
  3. owners and managers of pest management companies looking to improve the skills of current and future employees.

The Certificate’s Lecture Series

Classes are held once per week, in the evening, on the UGA Griffin Campus. The Certificate’s curriculum is designed to expose students to various aspects of the pest management industry, including sales, customer service, and legal affairs. More than half of the Certificate’s 10 lectures are about the identification, biology, and management of the most common urban insect pests found in Georgia.

A Unique Training Opportunity

Certificate program 2Because a laboratory session is part of each technical lecture, the Certificate provides a unique training opportunity even for the most experienced technician. Over the course of the Certificate’s various laboratory sessions, students are shown specimens of the 100 or so most common insect pests most likely to be encountered in and around Georgia’s urban environment.

Program Fee

The Certificate fee is $195. Individual lectures can be taken for $20 each. Military veterans with a valid DD Form 214 attend free of charge.

For more information, contact Dr. Daniel Suiter at 770-233-6114.

To register for an upcoming Certificate Lecture Series, print the registration (PDF), fill it out, and return the bottom section with your payment to the address listed on the form. Faxed registrations are also accepted at 770-228-7287.

Directions to the training facility and a list of local hotels are available.

For more information see

Get updated on fire ant baiting

Get updated on fire ant baiting

Article written by Mike Merchant, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Entomologist, in his blog Insects in the City

Fire ants remain the most prevalent outdoor ant pest in most areas of the southern U.S.  Throughout the U.S. we estimate the annual cost of fire ant control at over $6 billion.  But the cost of this pest goes far beyond measurable dollars.  Fire ants reduce the recreational value of our parks and backyards, disrupt wildlife populations, and send thousands to emergency rooms each year from their painful stings.

So as we get ready to enter fire ant season, it may be a good time to bring yourself and your staff up to speed on fire ant control. Many people are surprised to learn that fire ants are not an especially difficult pest to manage, once the biology and control tools are understood.

One of the best places to learn about fire ant management is the eXtension fire ant website, a place where the best information about fire ant is assembled by Extension agencies throughout the South. This information was recently summarized and presented in an informative webinar by Dr. Fudd Graham, fire ant specialist with Auburn University.   Dr. Graham focuses on fire ant biology and use of baits for fire ant control.

It’s worth knowing something about how fire ant baits work because they are the most economical, ecologically friendly, and effective control methods for fire ants. The webinar will provide you or your technician with an hour of training that should pay for itself many times over.


Mike Merchant is an entomology specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension. He works with pest management professionals, school facilities managers, extension volunteers, researchers and other extension professionals. His areas of specialty center on research on insects affecting man including spiders, scorpions, fire ants, termites and others. His program also focuses on training school maintenance professionals in principles of integrated pest management (IPM). His goal is to make schools healthier, cleaner places to study and live.

Managing Pesticide Resistance

Super bug
More than 500 species of insects & mites are now resistant to the pesticides that once controlled them.

Rosmarie Kelly, Public Health Entomologist, Georgia Department of Public Health

A pesticide is a chemical or biological agent (such as a virus, bacterium, antimicrobial, or disinfectant) that deters, incapacitates, kills, or otherwise discourages pests.  Pesticides have been grouped into classes according to how they work (mode of action or MOA).  Repeated use of pesticides with the same MOA to control a pest can cause a form of artificial selection that can develop into pesticide resistance.   This means that there may be some pests in the population that will not be killed by the pesticide.  When those pests that survive breed, some of their young will inherit the pesticide resistance.

What is pesticide resistance?

  • It is the ability of a pest to develop a tolerance to a pesticide.
  • It results in the repeated failure of an insecticide product to provide the intended level of control when used as recommended.

Why are insects likely to develop resistance?

  • Many pest species, including insects, have short life cycles and lots of offspring
    1. Increasing the probability of random mutations
    2. Ensuring the rapid build-up in numbers of resistant mutants once such mutations have occurred
  • Pest species have been exposed to natural toxins for a long time before the onset of human civilization
  • Humans often rely almost exclusively on insecticides for pest control. This increases selection pressure towards resistance.  Pesticides causing the most problem are those that are:
    1. Highly persistent
    2. Highly specific
  • Long term exposure to pesticides with the same MOA
  • Low migration of the insects

However, other factors can prevent insecticides from providing satisfactory control in the field. They can also ultimately lead to an increase in resistance.  These include:

  • Improper equipment calibration
  • Improper dilution
  • Timing issues
  • Off-specification product use –
    1. Using the wrong product for the pest species
    2. Using the product incorrectly based on label directions
  • Climatic factors

In addition, it is important to properly identify the pest you are treating since pest behavior can cause failure of control as well.

Why should you be concerned? Pesticide resistance is a big problem.  It has been determined that, with every new insecticide introduction, resistance will occur within 2 – 20 years.

  • Currently resistance is found in:
    • More than 500 species of insects and mites
    • Over 270 weed species
    • More than 150 plant pathogens
    • About a half dozen species of rats
  • Additionally,
    • There are > 1,000 insect/insecticide multiple resistance combinations
    • At least 17 species of insects are resistant to all major classes of insecticides

How do I how to prevent resistance or deal with existing resistance?

  • Ensure all spray applicators are well trained
  • Follow product labels
    1. Do not use any product not labeled for the equipment being used
    2. Calibrate equipment at least yearly
  • Rotate pesticides between MOA classes. See the info on Resistance Action Codes (IRAC, FRAC, etc.) at the end of this article for more information on rotating pesticide MOA.
  • Avoid unnecessary pesticide applications
  • Use non-chemical control techniques
  • Leave untreated refuges where susceptible pests can survive
  • Adopt an integrated pest management (IPM) approach

Sources for more info

Argentine ants may move inside in the winter!

This is an excerpt from the UGA publication Argentine Ants by Dan Suiter and Brian Forschler, Department of Entomology

Argentine ant from pub
Argentine ants form strong foraging trails.

To survive the winter, Argentine ants commonly move into protected environments where temperatures are warmer and environmental conditions more stable. In structures, for example, ants commonly move into voids and other elements of construction that provide a warm, stable environment.

As spring temperatures return, Argentine ants move back into their preferred, outdoor nest sites where colonies grow steadily throughout the warm season. In the Southeast, populations typically peak in late summer. By early winter, declining temperatures once again trigger ants to begin searching for protected overwintering sites, and the cycle repeats.

To prevent large, late-season ant populations, and the resulting problems associated with winter infestations, management practices (especially outdoor baiting) should be started in the spring and continued through the warm season.

There are a number of approaches that can be utilized for the treatment of existing Argentine ant infestations, but no single insecticide-based approach is completely effective. An integrated approach, therefore, that incorporates both chemical and nonchemical techniques is best suited for the management of this ant species. If chemical controls are utilized, read and follow all pesticide label instructions, and never do more than what the label permits.

Before chemically-based Argentine ant control measures are undertaken, a thorough inspection of the indoor and outdoor premises should be conducted to determine the extent and origin of the infestation. The inspection should identify those areas where chemical control approaches should be directed.


The Argentine Ants publication discusses management techniques used to control these ants.

How do you know if someone has head lice and what should you do?

The return to school can mean an increase in cases of head lice. Children are more likely to get them than adults because children play and live so close together, especially at school and daycare. Dr. Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark, UGA Entomology Department, share valuable information in two publications on understanding and controlling head lice.

Head Lice 101: The Basics

Head lice signsDo not panic! Head lice are not an emergency and, in most cases, do not pose any health risk. Misuse of pesticides, however, and use of unlabeled treatments (ex., kerosene) can pose a health risk.

Head lice CANNOT live off a human host for more than 24-48 hours. Head lice CANNOT live on pets. Head lice CANNOT reproduce in carpets, furniture or other household furnishings.

PESTICIDE SPRAYS DO LITTLE OR NOTHING TO CONTROL LICE. NEVER treat homes, cars, furniture, beds, pillows or clothing with pesticides (e.g., ‘lice bombs,’ flea bombs, sprays, etc.) in an attempt to control head lice. You will expose yourself and others to unnecessary pesticide risk.

If your school sprays rooms, buses, furniture, etc., to control head lice, ask them to stop immediately. Refer your school to the Cooperative Extension Service brochure called A School’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice.

Head lice are very common among all classes of people. More than 12 million people, mostly children and school personnel, get head lice each year.

Direct head-to-head contact with an infested person is the main way head lice are transmitted, but they may also be transmitted by sharing hats, scarves, headphones, combs and other hair accessories. Lice cannot hop, jump or fly, but they can crawl rapidly.

The best treatment for head lice is manual removal (see ’10 Tips for Manual Removal’ in A Parent’s Guide to the ‘Nitty Gritty’ about Head Lice ).

If a lice shampoo is warranted, ask your doctor or pharmacist for specifics on the product and follow all label instructions exactly. Misapplications can be ineffective and dangerous as well.

See these UGA publications for more information on controlling head lice safely and effectively

A School’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice, Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark

A Parent’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice, Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark

Mosquitofish help Richmond County control mosquitoes in abandoned pools

Edited from the PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT section of the November 2013 issue of Dideebycha, the Georgia Mosquito Control Association newsletter.

Western mosquitofish - Robert McDowell,
Western mosquitofish – Robert McDowell,

The mosquitofish program is a new venture for Richmond County Mosquito Control. Since there are always some pools that have to be in control maintenance due to an inability to determine who owns the pool, or other reasons, a means of reducing the cost of maintaining these pools was sought. Tiny fish could be the answer to some of the county’s biggest mosquito problems.

Mosquitofish fill Phinizy Swamp and now they also fill some abandoned swimming pools. It’s a new project with Richmond County Mosquito Control and the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy and it could save residents a few bug bites.

Dr. Oscar Flite is the Vice President for Research at the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp. They’ve teamed up with Richmond County mosquito control for an experiment with mosquito fish placing them in abandoned pools to stop mosquito’s from breeding there.

Earlier in the summer they added about 30 mosquito fish to 4 pools in the county. In two weeks they went back to check and see how the programs working. The fish had survived and were reproducing, and preliminary surveillance data show a decrease in numbers of mosquitoes being caught in traps set in the vicinity of the pools.

The mosquito fish will save both time and money. “It’s going to save us a lot of money because treating a pool three times a year costs us about 150 bucks,” explained Koehle.

“The guys spent about 5 minutes going out and catching more than a 150 mosquito fish, so in terms of economics I think it works out pretty well,” added Dr. Flite. An easy fix and easy to get rid of when someone wants to swim.

“When a new homeowner moves in, they dump the water out the fish go with it no big deal,” said Koehle

“Nobody loses, everybody wins in this.”

Well, everyone except the mosquitoes.