Chemical Component of IPM Gets the Spotlight during National Pesticide Safety Education Month

The second annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month gets underway February 1st, to reinforce core principles of safe handling and use and to raise awareness of and support for the land-grant university Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs). Pesticide safety is an absolute requirement when using the chemical component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

“IPM considers the variety of pest management methods and teaches how to properly manage pests, whether the approach contains chemicals or not,” says Cecil Tharp, Montana State University PSEP. “A vital role of PSEPs in teaching IPM is to pass along the message that it is not solely pesticides that should be used to deal with pests,” adds Jon Johnson, Penn State University PSEP.

“We take all the IPM strategies and do a lot of planning to prevent pests. If there is an unacceptable pest infestation at some point, pesticides may be required and their safe use is essential,” explains Lisa Blecker, University of California PSEP. “The IPM process has the key role in helping applicators understand all the available tools and make appropriate decisions to control the pest,” notes Clyde Ogg, University of Nebraska PSEP. “That includes being as smart as we can in the use of pesticides,” adds Gene Merkl, Mississippi State University PSEP.

“While PSEPs are often focused on teaching the safe use of pesticides, pesticides are only one possible choice in the IPM toolbox and not always the best choice,” says Mimi Rose, Ohio State University PSEP. “Even if the applicator chooses to use a pesticide, there are other pest management practices that must also be followed to successfully manage the pest.” Don Renchie, Texas A&M PSEP, summarizes the big picture – “When everyone understands the importance of IPM strategies and other best management practices, it avoids problems for the general public and the environment, and for pesticide applicators. With or without pesticides, protecting human health and the environment is always the goal.”

Visit the National Pesticide Safety Education Month webpage to review basic pesticide safety principles and much more. Everyone is invited to share the link with others and use the educational resources, self-assessment and quiz to promote safe use of pesticides, whenever pesticides are used.

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Advocacy of Genetically Modified Crops is Needed to Increase Acceptance Worldwide

Fall Armyworm (FAW) is an insect pest many producers are familiar with in the United States. Unfortunately, farmers in Brazil and now in sub-Saharan Africa (48 of 51 countries; see Figure 1) also know first-hand the significant damage caused by this insect. Genetically modified (GM) crops, specifically Bacillusthuringiensis (Bt) maize, are a tool that farmers in sub-Saharan Africa could use to combat FAW. Currently, 13 countries in Africa are engaged in research and testing of GM crops, yet only one country, South Africa, has approved making Bt maize commercially available to farmers.

The anticipated world population growth emphasizes a need to produce more food on less land. Cutting-edge technologies, including genetic engineering, can help to develop improved crop varieties and protect natural resources. Many producers in the U.S. readily know the benefits of growing GM crops. In many parts of the world, in spite of the potential for GM crops to make crop production more efficient, they remain a polarizing issue due to safety concerns.

Providing policy makers and the public with information about how GM crops are evaluated can be a helpful step to improve acceptance. A new article in the journal Global Food Security, Risks and opportunities of GM crops: Bt maize example, provides an overview of the risk assessment process. The safety of Bt proteins is used as an example for how risk assessment is applied to GM crops. Risks associated with GM crops have proven to be low to non-existent. Developing countries would benefit from GM technologies as one tool to improve crop yields and reduce production challenges. Advocacy from producers in developed countries where the benefit of GM crops has been experienced can be an additional source of support for fellow farmers around the world. One way producers can support each other is through programs like the Farmer-to-Farmer program.

This article was initially published on the University of Nebraska CropWatch.

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Seeking a Director for the Western IPM Center

The University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), is
seeking a Director to assume leadership for its Western IPM Center within the UC Statewide IPM Program. The Director will provide overall leadership of the Western IPM Center, with responsibility for its successful management and operations, including supervision of Western IPM Center staff. The Director will collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to identify regional IPM need and objectives and formulate strategies to address important IPM issues. The Director will communicate with the WIPMC Advisory Committee and represent the Western IPM Center to other agencies at the state, regional, and national levels to identify opportunities for collaboration. The Director will oversee official responses to federal agency information requests that will be prepared by the Center’s regional Network Coordinators and other state contacts. For more, please view the employment page, and reference position #18-08.

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Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Association Spring Meeting

The annual spring meeting of the Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Association will take place on Friday, March 8, 2019 at the French Lick Resort and Casino, 8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, IN 47432.  Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. EST.  Topics include: watermelon production in Georgia, food safety update, irrigation of cucurbits, pollinator safety, health of watermelon transplants, and putting the sprayer on the road.  Those who attend the afternoon session, from 1:30 until 3:30 will receive Private Applicator Recertification Credit (PARP).  Registration is $15 and includes lunch.  Individuals who want PARP certification should bring $10.  Please direct questions to Dan Egel, (812) 886-0198;

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Open tenure-track position for invertebrate vectors of disease and public health

The Entomology & Nematology Department (IFAS) at the University of Florida seeks candidates for a tenure-accruing position (9 months) in Invertebrate Vectors of Disease and Public Health at the Assistant Professor rank. This position will be 60% teaching (College of Agricultural and Life Sciences) and 40% research (Florida Agricultural Experiment Station). The appointee will contribute to a growing departmental reputation for excellence in teaching undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, the appointee will develop an internationally recognized and extramurally-funded program on invertebrate vectors of pathogens causing diseases of medical and veterinary importance.

Individuals wishing to apply should go online to and submit: cover letter that clearly states applicant’s interest in the position and qualifications relative to the required and preferred qualifications listed above o Full Curriculum vitae; a statement of teaching/mentoring philosophies (2-page limit) The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution o A description of current and projected research (2-page limit); at least three letters of reference preferably from those who can speak to the applicant’s research, teaching and mentoring experiences

The selected candidate will be required to provide an official transcript to the hiring department upon hire. A transcript will not be considered “official” if a designation of “Issued to Student” is visible. Degrees earned from an education institution outside of the United States are required to be evaluated by a professional credentialing service provider approved by National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), which can be found at

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New Free IPM Resource for School Districts to Improve Student Health and Performance

Madison, Wisconsin — School districts throughout the US now have a free training tool
to ensure all school staff – custodians, maintenance, food service, teachers, grounds
staff and more – understand how they can reduce pest problems and asthma, and
boost student and staff performance, as they go about their daily tasks.
Did you know that exposure to mice, cockroaches, dust mites and pesticides can
trigger asthma attacks? Increasing awareness of the pest connection to asthma is one
of the key goals of the free training. Asthma is the number one reason why children
miss school, and attendance is one of the most critical contributors to student

Due to their behavior and biology, school-aged children are particularly susceptible to exposure to pests and pesticides. The Pest Defense for Health Schools offers free, on-
line professional development to address this challenge. School districts are using the program for new staff training as well as ongoing continuing education. Users describe
the program as “informative” and “very helpful.” A typical response: “Thank you for
the information presented clearly and concisely. It was great information.”

The Pest Defense, formerly Stop School Pests, is focused on preventing pest problems
including head lice, bed bugs, mice, cockroaches and ants. Simply ensuring all exterior
doors have well-maintained door sweeps that seal the gap between the bottom of the
door and the sill can reduce pest complaints by 65%! Everyone working in schools has
an important role to play.

To learn more or to sponsor an in-person training, please contact Julian Cooper, Visit to view the
training. The training was developed with support from the US EPA and the USDA
North Central Region IPM Center, and with contributions from experts in the National
School IPM Working Group.

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PhD opportunity in Plant-Microbe Interactions

Project: Evaluation of potential resistance mechanisms involved in the pea/Aphanomyces/Fusarium pathosystems 

Project description:  The research project will explore the interactions between nodulation and root rot infection of pea related to timing of infection and resistance status of pea. Experimental methods will involve inoculation of pea lines with Rhizobium and various root rot pathogens in the greenhouse, RNAseq analysis of differentially expressed genes involved in nodulation and defense responses, followed by gene expression analysis of selected genes at varying time points. Thus, an ideal candidate should have background knowledge through coursework in genetics/molecular biology, plant-microbe interactions and plant pathology.  Experience required includes working with RNA, performing real-time quantitative PCR, genetic analysis, and some bioinformatics. Experience performing greenhouse trials and inoculations with plant pathogens is an asset.  Evidence of effective science communication demonstrated by publication in quality journals is required. Candidates must pass the minimum requirements for admission into a PhD program in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge.

Funding:  Includes an annual stipend of $24,000.00 (CAN), travel to conferences and research costs.

Location: Lacombe Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, with some time also spent at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre

Start date:  Screening of candidates starts in November 2018, with an anticipated start date of May 2019.

For further information and/or to apply, please email letter of application, including CV and contact details for 2 referees to:

Syama Chatterton ( and Ravinder Goyal ( )

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Changes to Connections Blog

With the NCIPMC now moved to Michigan State University, changes will be coming to the Connections Blog and the website. To be sure that you are always receiving updates from us, please subscribe to our email list, which we will use to send out weekly and monthly newsletters. These changes will go into effect soon. Please be sure to make sure you remain updated. We will not use your personal information, except for your email to send the newsletter when it becomes available.


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Research Geneticist with USDA-ARS Livestock

Announcement for exciting career opportunity for Research Geneticist (Insects) with the USDA-ARS Livestock Arthropod Pest Research Unit in Kerrville, TX is posted in USAJOBS with a closing date of 11/14/2018:

The incumbent is a Research Geneticist (Insects) in the Livestock Arthropod Pest Research Unit in Kerrville, TX. The Unit’s mission is to conduct basic and applied research providing support to the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s international New World Screwworm (NWS) eradication program in Panama. Research responsibilities require a stay of 2-3 years stationed in Pacora, Panama, on a rotational basis. This position will report to Panama when necessary paper work completed.

Major duties include:

  1. Perform foundational research and translate science-based knowledge to develop the next generation of insect genetic systems to enhance the sterile New World Screwworm (NWS) technique through biotechnology.
  2. Develop collaborations and communicate technical information pertaining to insect genetics research towards generating knowledge that can be applied to reassess the degree of evolution between populations in areas where the NWS remains endemic, and determine the source of incursions in areas where the NWS was eradicated.
  3. Collect, analyze, and summarize technical information pertaining to NWS genetics focusing on adaptation and response to the environment.
  4. Prepare written work products based on research to be reviewed and/or published in professional articles, publications, and technical abstracts.

With the NCIPMC now moved to Michigan State University, changes will be coming to the Connections Blog and the website. To be sure that you are always receiving updates from us, please subscribe to our email list, which we will use to send out weekly and monthly newsletters once these changes go into effect. We will not use your personal information, except for your email to send the newsletter when it becomes available. 

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Assistant Professor of Entomology, Mississippi State University

The Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University is searching for a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Entomology. Applications are invited from individuals with expertise in any area of entomology, but ecological interactions involving arthropods, arthropod chemical ecology, microbiome contributions to insect health and behavior, and arthropod vector-pathogen interactions are areas of particular interest to the department.

With the NCIPMC now moved to Michigan State University, changes will be coming to the Connections Blog and the website. To be sure that you are always receiving updates from us, please subscribe to our email list, which we will use to send out weekly and monthly newsletters once these changes go into effect. We will not use your personal information, except for your email to send the newsletter when it becomes available. 

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