Welcome to our Blog!!

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

Sitting: Chris, Julie, Kerry, and Garo. Standing: Nick, Mike, Kelly, Bill, Kathy, and Sharon. (Taken 12/2010)

Welcome to the Penn State Pesticide Education Program blog. This is our first attempt at something like this so bear with us. We hope to have a new blog post at least once a week with topics such as: upcoming meetings/events, category specific topics, core topics, highlight someone we work with, promote a great resource, and maybe even have a few guest bloggers.

September Means Back To School: Educator Resources and The Great Insect Fair

Posted on September 8th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

This blog is written by Kelly Lowery, our education program associate.

September typically means back to school for many students. Last year, our Back to School blog focused on safety around the home with a busier fall schedule. This year, we want to focus a Back to School blog for educators as we share some of our new Pest Management and Pesticide Safety resources. We encourage you to view these resources can be downloaded and used


This summer, we facilitated several comprehensive programs for students in which we:

  • Introduced the definition and examples of pests,
  • Explained the steps of integrated pest management, and
  • Taught the importance of poison safety.

When instructing on the definition and examples of pests, we developed posters for Insect Mouthpieces, Insect Diagram, and Insect Metamorphosis.

The Insect Mouthpieces’ poster shows the chewing, piercing, siphoning, and sponging mouthpieces, which can help students understand that different pests can cause different damage and that different mouthpieces merit different control measures.

Our insect mouthparts poster.

Our insect mouthparts poster.

The Insect Diagram poster, displaying a bee’s anatomy, overviews the different characteristics of the insect including three body parts, eyes, mouthpieces, and other features.

Our insect diagram poster.

Our insect diagram poster.

Our Insect Metamorphosis poster displays examples of simple, incomplete, and complete metamorphosis, which can be used to show insect life stages and invoke discussion on different damage and control measures depending on life stages.

Our insect metamorphosis poster.

Our insect metamorphosis poster.

Our Pests and Pesticide poster offer definitions of each term for a visual supplement to the lessons. When teaching poison safety, we also have printable student worksheets for Signal Words and Mr. Yuk (in both English and Spanish.)

Pesticide Education Bingo

Our interactive Pesticide Education Bingo game is great inclusion to a pest management and poison safety lesson or perfect to use as a review once completing a pesticide education unit. The all-inclusive game includes the thirty different bingo cards for learners, as well as caller cards for the instructor. The instructor reads a question on the caller card, which prompts learners to share the appropriate answer and then respectfully mark their cards. Pesticide Education Bingo is geared more towards high school students, but has been used with adult audiences as well.

Here is a sample BINGO caller card.

Here is a sample BINGO caller card.

Sample bingo card. Can you find the Beneficial Creatures in one of the spots?

Sample bingo card. Can you find the Beneficial Creatures in one of the spots?


Our Soybean Field Pest Walk enables learners to go “to the field” to the identify soybean pests. Our videos on calibration, including for boom, backpack, rotary, and air blast sprayers, provide an overview on the calibration process. Other videos include pheromone traps, groundwater, and several pesticide formulation videos. All videos can be found on the Pesticide Education YouTube channel; Pesticide Education videos are also on SchoolTube.

YouTube video of a Pest Walk in a soybean field by John Tooker.

YouTube video of a Pest Walk in a soybean field by John Tooker.

The Great Insect Fair – PollenNation

The Great Insect Fair Poster

The Great Insect Fair Poster

To conclude our Back To School Blog, here’s something for educators, parents, and youth! The Great Insect Fair is Saturday, September 13th, from 10 AM – 4 PM, at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Great Insect Fair is an extraordinary educational event which enables participants to learn all about insects while participating in hands-on activities. Admission is FREE; the theme for this year’s fair is PollenNation.

Be sure to check the Educators portion of our web site for other resources. Best wishes to educators, parents, and students for the start of the school year!

Until next time,
Be Safe!

Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

Posted on August 18th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Applicators, Consumers

2014 Statistics to Date

It’s that time of year again when we start hearing about positive test results for West Nile virus. In Pennsylvania, the West Nile Virus Control Program is the agency that tracts this information. The first mosquito sample that tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) was reported on May 16 in Dauphin County. Now, over 500 mosquito samples have tested positive for WNV in 34 counties. In July, the first bird tested positive for WNV and in total, six birds in four counties have had positive detections. Finally, Pennsylvania has had 2 West Nile virus detections in humans in Philadelphia and Dauphin counties.

Counties with positive WNV detections as of August 17, 2014.

Reduce Standing Water

Usually August and September brings the most detections, and so we all need to be diligent in our efforts to protect ourselves from mosquitoes. We have had previous blog articles about simple things you can do around your home to reduce standing water, which is where mosquitoes breed. Click back on these articles to find more information.

Use Repellents Properly

We also need to protect ourselves , especially when you know mosquitoes are hanging around outside. Because it is not always practical to completely cover up, we have also had several blogs on repellents that can help make us unattractive to mosquitoes.

New EPA Repellent Graphic for Next Year

In mid-July 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a new graphic that is available to appear on insect repellent labels. (EPA Press Release) This graphic will clearly show consumers how many hours a product will repel mosquitoes and ticks when used as directed on the label. This information is similar to the SPF numbers on sunscreen labeling.

Graphic could have only Mosquitoes or only Ticks or both as in this example. (Image from EPA.)

However, the use of the Repellency Awareness graphic is voluntary and manufacturers who want to use it must submit an application that includes test results proving how long their product works. The graphic is limited to skin-applied products and could start appearing on insect repellents early next year.

This is how the graphic would look on a product. (Image from EPA.)

For More Information

Insect Repellents: Reducing Insect Bites, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

West Nile Virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

West Nile Virus, National Pesticide Information Center

West Nile Virus, Penn State Pesticide Education Program

Until next time,
Be Safe!

Come Learn about the Birds and Bees, and Other Pollinators Too!

Posted on August 11th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Places/Events

This blog was written by Kerry Richards, the Penn State Pesticide Education Program Director.

  • What is a pollinator?
  • Why are they important?
  • What can you do to help protect pollinators?
  • Did you know that one in every three bites of food you eat relies on a pollinator to get from the plant to the table?

The answers to these and other questions about Pollinators can be found be visiting the Penn State Pesticide Education Programs exhibit in the Family Room during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days (APD). This event will be held Tuesday, August 12 through Thursday, August 14, at Rock Springs, Pennsylvania. Instead of our mini-golf course, this year’s games have been designed to help answer important questions about pollinators.

The “Games People Play”

Toss Me Your Birds & Bees This game explains that a pollinator is any insect, animal, or bird that carries pollen from one flower to another helping to carry out the process of pollination. Photos illustrate the diversity of pollinators from bees to bats and in other counties, Blue-tailed Day Gecko and the Two-winged Midge, just to name a few.

Aim, Fire, Pollinate!! Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from one flower to the stigma of another flower (of the same type). Pollinators physically collect the pollen grains on their body and transfer it to another flower. After pollination occurs, the flower can produce seeds or fruits. If it lands on another part of the flower or plant, pollination will not happen and the fruit will not be produced. This game tests the skill of the “pollinator” to see if their Velcro pollen (shuttlecocks) will land where it will pollinate the flower.

Aim, Fire, Pollinate

Aim, then toss the shuttlecock into the center of the flower to pollinate it.

Got Stink Bugs? Answer a Survey and Get a Free Resource!

Posted on May 19th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

Are you a grower? Got stink bugs? StopBMSB needs your help!

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image by Steven Jacobs.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image by Steven Jacobs.

The Outreach Team for StopBMSB are surveying growers to assess the impact of the brown marmorated stink bug on crops and collecting information that will help them defeat this pest.

Receive a free Field Guide to Stink Bugs when you complete the 10-minute BMSB survey at https://cornell.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5ssnjXLNhvp6v1H. But hurry, the survey closes on June 30, 2014.

What is StopBMSB?

With funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a team of researchers from 10 institutions across the United States are working together to form a defense against the invasive pest brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). StopBMSB is working to find management solutions for growers, seeking strategies that will protect our food, our environment, and our farms.

Be sure to visit the StopBMSB website as they have lots great information and resources!

Other BMSB Resources

Pennsylvania BMSB Information, StopBMSB

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Information, Northeastern IPM Center

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Penn State Department of Entomology

Until next time,
Be Safe!

FREE Apps for Pest Management

Posted on May 5th, 2014 by Andrew Frankenfield in Applicators, General

The following information was provided to us from Andrew Frankenfield, a Penn State Extension Educator from Montgomery County. (Sharon Gripp added links and logos.)

Tank Mix Calculator logoTank Mix Calculator for iPhone + Android

This agriculture application is provided free for any farmer to use on their mobile device to quickly and easily generate a tank mix. Just enter your acreage, tank size, and carrier volume. Next, select your chemicals from our list or add your own. Tank Mix Calculator will then provide you with the number of loads required to spray your acreage, along with full and partial load mixes of the chemicals you selected.

TankMix App for iPhone onlyTankMix App logo

The DuPont TankMix Calculator Application lets you quickly and easily calculate how much product and water you need for effective applications based on your acreage or spray tank size. Choose from a wide selection of units of measure and work in either numerals or fractions.

Private Applicators: Know Your Neighbors

Posted on April 28th, 2014 by Dave Scott in Applicators

This blog was written by Dave Scott, Chief of the Division of Health and Safety in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This article also appeared in the January 2014 Pesticide Highlights newsletter.

Every year the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture receives pesticide related complaints – ranging from herbicide drift or misapplication to medical reactions to exposure – from people who live near areas where growers are applying pesticides. As an applicator, it is your responsibility to make sure you are using pesticides safely, and that means being aware of your neighbors.

The Department maintains a list of people who have provided medical verification of a sensitivity to pesticides. This list can be viewed online by PaPlants registered users under the “Programs” heading in the Hypersensitivity/Apiary Search” at https://www.PaPlants.state.pa.us. You can type in an address and see a listing of these individuals located within 5 miles of that location, or select your county and township for a larger area. Consider notifying individuals in the Hypersensitivity Registry before you apply any pesticides.

The Air Blast Sprayer Calibration Program Continues

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Applicators

The Penn State Pesticide Education Program is excited to again offer boom sprayer and air blast sprayer calibrations for Pennsylvania growers who request them. Calibration of air blast sprayer (ABS) and boom sprayer equipment is the best way to ensure spray applications are effective, efficient, and economical. Poor spray coverage is the primary cause of reduced spray product performance. Regular care and maintenance will ensure the sprayer is residue-free and in good operating condition. The challenge with ABS calibration is accurately and efficiently collecting and comparing nozzle output.

An air blast sprayer demonstration.

An air blast sprayer demonstration.

Once Again, Master Gardeners Help Spread Poison Prevention Message

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by Kelly Over in Consumers, Places/Events

Kelly Over, our Educational Program Associate, wrote this follow-up blog about Poison Prevention Week. Kelly provides pesticide safety presentations and educational materials to Pennsylvania agricultural teachers and participates in our many consumer outreach events.

While our Pesticide Education Program teaches poison safety all year, this past month has been an especially important time for our poison prevention outreach as National Poison Prevention Week was in March. In 2014, we reached 12,000 students in 30 counties around the Commonwealth with our poison prevention program!  Our poison prevention efforts were recently highlighted in a Penn State News Story.

Our Pesticide Education Program staff delivered poison prevention programs to nearly 500 students in the Philadelphia School District. Our staff also presented programs in cooperation with intermediate units in Chester County and Philadelphia County, in which both parents and students heard the poison safety message. Since English might not have been the primary language used in the home, appropriate adaptations and translations were used to teach participants about the importance of identifying signal words, using Mr. Yuk, and knowing what do in case of an accidental poisoning.

We discussed signal words and Mr. Yuk with first grade students in the Philadelphia School District.

We discussed signal words and Mr. Yuk with first grade students in the Philadelphia School District.

Spring is Here; Get Ready for HHW Events!

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Consumers

In our January blogs, we talked about two waste disposal programs that are available in Pennsylvania: Household Hazardous Waste Program: Plan to Use It in 2014 and Some Changes for the CHEMSWEEP Program. Besides being great programs on their own, sometimes these two programs partner together. At these events, the CHEMSWEEP Program accepts all the pesticide products and assures their proper disposal. By doing this, the HHW program can accept more products and does not have to cover the pesticide disposal costs.

To participant in either program, you need to be a resident of the county where the event is being held. If you do not see your county on the list, other stand-alone HHW events will be held throughout the state–just check the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s HHW Collection Programs website. Check back because more events will most likely be added in the coming months.

2014 National Poison Prevention Week

Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Kelly Over in Consumers, General

Kelly Over, our Educational Program Associate, wrote this blog about Poison Prevention Week. Kelly provides pesticide safety presentations and educational materials to Pennsylvania agricultural teachers and participates in our many consumer outreach events.

It’s National Poison Prevention Week 2014! From March 16th-22nd, Poison Prevention Week is the time to evaluate the poison prevention practices in your home and be sure you know what to do in case of a poison emergency.

While we emphasize the importance of poison safety all year, we are excited to take the opportunity of Poison Prevention Week for a two-part blog series. In a future blog, we will highlight our Poison Prevention Program, which is being delivered to nearly 12,000 first grade students across Pennsylvania with the help of many educators, including Master Gardner volunteers. This week, we want to share several key poison safety messages.