Source: UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2018
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2022
Grant Year
Project Director
Oi, F. M.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Entomology and Nematology
Non Technical Summary
After 40+ years of universities providing training to the pest control industry, we calculate that only 6.7 to 11.9% of residential units in the U.S. are treated by Pest Management Professionals (PMPs). The EPA reported 59 million households applied their own insecticides (Grube et al. 2011), far outnumbering the 9.1 to 16.1 million residences that PMPs treat. Everyone deserves to live in a pest-free environment, but many cannot afford professional pest control services. The average consumer purchasing pest control services has an annual income of ~$75,000 or more, yet pest problems are likely to be more prevalent in lower-income, multi-family housing units. The U.S. per capita income is $29,829; median household is $55,322 (U.S. Census Florida Quickfacts, accessed April 25, 2018), far below the average income of a pest control customer or the $100,000 income of a landscape maintenance customer. Do-it-yourself options are simply more affordable. The estimated average cost of a pest control contract is ~$600/yr. The estimated cost of a door sweep that could have prevented a pest is ~$10 and will last many years. Pest prevention is preferred. Exclusion and sanitation are not part of the business model for most pest control companies. These critical practices are left to the homeowner for which there is little guidance. Gaps in integrated pest management (IPM) practices for public health pests can lead to lack of pest control and serious health and economic consequences. We cannot put a price on human suffering, however, some examples include the estimated lifetime cost of microcephaly and other central nervous system disorders associated with Zika is estimated to be $4.1 million (Lee et al. 2017); medical costs due to ticks average $3,000 per patient and between $712 million to $1.3 billion per year nationally (Adrion et al. 2015). Asthma is linked to cockroach and rodent allergens. The estimated cost per patient with asthma is $3,100 (Nunes et al. 2017). Finally, human exposure to pesticides continues to be a significant public health issue (Langley and Mort 2012); very few people follow label directions (Flint 2003).Our methods and approaches to produce data/results and inform target audiences of our efforts include partnering with researchers who understand the applied aspects of pest control in and around structures, evaluation specialists who understand how to most effectively measure knowledge gained, attitude, and behavioral changes from diverse audiences, and Extension specialists/agents who lead diverse programming that will include our IPM message. The research goal of our proposal is to fill data gaps that inhibit integrated, science-based recommendations for the control of perimeter pests that can then be incorporated into Extension programming and delivered to a more diversified audience. Our research objectives will be met by using cockroaches and ants as model insects to determine the preferred interstitial spaces. We will use this information in Extension programming so that homeowners will know how tightly homes should be sealed (i.e., the minimum spaces allowable to exclude perimeter pests) and include these data as part of our field demonstration project on pest exclusion. Results from the research objective that will test over-the-counter products will be incorporated into IPM recommendations that can be used if pests are found in homes. Research results from this project and existing publications will be incorporated into Extension deliverables accessible on state and eXtension websites. Deliverables will include homeowner-friendly recommendations, and up to six, 1-2 minute videos on IPM, exclusion, prevention, and common pests. In working with non-traditional Extension programming, we will also expand Extension's capacity by providing in-service training to agents. We will ensure consistency and scalability of training by providing a resource binder and presentations which includes post-training evaluation tools already developed. We will set a baseline of consumer IPM knowledge and pesticide use via survey to track the outcomes.The ultimate goals of this project are to 1) create public awareness and understanding of IPM; 2) increase adoption of science-based pest management in homes rather than selecting control methods based on advertising; 3) increase agent participation to support homeowner IPM and build Extension's capacity by engaging non-traditional change agents who will then reach a more diversified audience. Increased public knowledge of IPM can allow for fewer pesticide exposures, better management of pests, and the reduction of pests in homes. If pests are better controlled in homes, pest presence in public places such as schools may also be decreased. IPM can delay the onset of insecticide resistance that will preserve the useful life of active ingredients, preserve beneficial insects, and decrease human and environmental exposure to unnecessary pesticide use. Pest exclusion and prevention practiced by homeowners will also assist the pest control industry in fully practicing IPM. This project is scalable and has the potential to benefit anyone nationally.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The main problem we seek to resolve is developing a cohesive dataset and holistic recommendations for pest management in and around structures that can be implemented by homeowners and non-pest management professionals. (We use the term "homeowner" to also include renters.)RESEARCHThe research goal of our proposal is to fill data gaps that inhibit integrated, science-based recommendations for the control of perimeter pests.Research Objective 1. Define the minimum interstitial space that will prevent perimeter pests or serve as harborage using peridomestic cockroaches as a model and expanding to other pests.Research Objective 2. Laboratory efficacy testing of over-the-counter products.EXTENSIONExtension goal is to deliver science-based IPM information directly to consumers by diversifying the IPM message and messengers.Extension Objective 1. Survey citizens about their current knowledge of IPM and pesticide use.Extension Objective 2. Develop homeowner-friendly recommendations that incorporate results from research objectives and use in direct-marketing to the general public.Extension Objective 3. Build Extension's capacity by engaging non-traditional change agents who will then reach a more diversified audience.Extension Objective 4. Demonstration project to complement laboratory research objective on exclusion.
Project Methods
Research Objective 1. Define the minimum dimensions that will prevent perimeter pests using peridomestic cockroaches and ants as models.Research Methods 1. Harboring and foraging are two distinctly different behaviors, but experiments defining harborage preferences can provide a basis for subsequent experiments that will define the minimum dimensions allowable to exclude peridomestic cockroaches. (Exclusion experiments will rely on foraging behavior.) We propose to replicate Appel and Smith's (1996) experiment that measured the interstitial space preferred by a mixed population of harboring American and Smokybrown cockroaches. Exclusion experiments: As harborage preference experiments are completed, we propose to use the preferred harborage dimensions for each species and stage as the initial spacing for exclusion experiments by decreasing the size (diameter) of the hole or creating a slit by cutting a "cork" to the right size in the partition of the Ebeling choice box (1966). We will use a similar approach to determine minimum crevice heights for adult ants. Statistical Analyses. Both harborage preference and exclusion experiments will be conducted in a randomized complete block design, replicated 3 to 5 times depending on variance and analyzed separately for each species by ANOVA with SNK means separation (SAS Institute). Preference will be determined for each cockroach stage and for all stages combined. Data that do not meet the assumptions of ANOVA will be transformed appropriately. If data do not meet the assumptions of ANOVA, we will rank the data and do an ANOVA on rank-scores (Conover and Iman 1981).Research Objective 2. Laboratory test the efficacy of over-the-counter products.Research Methods 2. We propose to test at least 3 "green" products that commonly contain diatomaceous earth or essential oils such as lemongrass oil, mint oil, rosemary oil; and 2 over-the-counter contact insecticide products, and at least 2 bait formulations against cockroaches and ants. Frequency of homeowner applications are a concern with broadcast, contact insecticides. Thus, we propose to measure the efficacy of products at initial application, then at one week and one month post-treatment. Bait continuous exposure tests for cockroaches will be modified after Appel (2003). Contact insecticide continuous exposure and choice tests will be modified after Snoddy and Appel (2014). Statistical Analyses. Experiments will be replicated 3 to 5 times, depending on variance. Data analysis will follow Snoddy and Appel (2014): "Mortality (LT50) in the continuous exposure tests and Ebeling choice box tests (will be) analyzed by probit analysis for correlated data (Throne et al. 1995) because multiple observations were recorded from the same individuals. Significantly different LT50values (will be) based on nonoverlap of the 95% CI. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) (will be) used for the choice box repellency data (PROC MIXED; SAS 2011)."Ants: Contact insecticide repellency and efficacy as well as bait acceptance and efficacy assays will be modified from Calibeo et al. (2017). Mortality will be recorded at 10, 20, 30 minutes, then one hour for initially treated arenas. For experiments testing contact insecticide efficacy at 1 week and 1 month after application, mortality will be recorded daily up to one week. Experiments will be replicated 3 to 5 times, depending on variance, with untreated controls. Data tend not to meet the assumptions of ANOVA, so we will use rank-scores to compare treatments (i.e., contact insecticide) in a one-way ANOVA and Tukey's HSD to separate means.Ant bait tests. Colony fragments described above will subject to the choice and no-choice tests. We will use the same arena set up, except instead of treating one pan with contact insecticides, we will place the nest cell with colony fragment in one pan and bait with water, and bait with another food source (e.g., crickets) and water in the other. Mortality will be recorded daily for ~30 days or until controls show significant decline. We also will record the time to takes to reach 100% mortality. Rust et al. (2004) found that 1 to 4 days of exposure to bait caused maximum foraging worker mortality in Linepithema humile, the Argentine ant. We predict a similar trend in maximum worker mortality. Rank-scores of worker mortality about 3 days after treatment and of the number of days until 100% mortality will also be analyzed using a one-way ANOVA and Tukey's HSD (Calibeo et al. 2017)Extension Objective 1. Survey citizens about their current knowledge of IPM and pesticide use.Extension Methods 1.We propose to conduct surveys of homeowners and renters modified from Wilen (2011) and Flint (2003).Extension Objective 2. Develop homeowner-friendly recommendations that incorporate results from research objectives and to use in direct-marketing to the general public.Extension Methods 2. We propose to expand the approach piloted by Florida to programs in Alabama and Texas. There are two types of training to consider: agent in-service and clientele programming. Each co-PI will be responsible for their own state. Approach outline:Agents will be required to participate in annual IPM in-service trainings through their home institutions so that everyone understands the learning objectives.As a state team, review the basic IPM module developed by Florida's non-traditional IPM change agents (NICA) and tailor to that Alabama and Texas clientele.Build shared deliverables that include:Homeowner-friendly IPM recommendationsIn-service training resource binder modified from Florida's existing binderMeet once a year and participate in regular communications as part of the NICA working group.Extension Objective 3. Build Extension's capacity by engaging non-traditional change agents who will then reach a more diversified audience.Extension Methods 3.Agents who received in-service training will provide 30 minutes to 1 hour of IPM programming as part of their existing Extension programs.Specialists will be available to provide in-person and off-site support as counties develop their IPM message.Provide measurable impacts via evaluation on IPM knowledge, attitude, and behavior change through agent and clientele assessmentsExtension Objective 4. Demonstration project complement to laboratory research objective on exclusion.Extension Methods 4. Laboratory exclusion experiments are invaluable in delimiting minimum size interstitial space requirements for pest entry. However, as stipulated earlier, harboring and foraging are two distinctly different behaviors. The scope of this grant does not allow us to examine the many different behaviors that might cause a cockroach or ant to enter a structure, but a demonstration project in the form of a controlled field experiment could provide important observations on insect behavior and some quantitative data in a field setting. Both Texas and Florida have training facilities for pest management industry. We propose to use those houses in a demonstration project on the efficacy of exclusion.

Progress 09/01/18 to 08/31/19

Target Audience:Homeowners are the final target audience. Auburn University: To reach this audience we will conduct training for our Home Grounds Extension Agents that work with homeowner pest problems. Most of their work has been on exterior pests and this will provide information to them to assist homeowners with pest problems in the home also. Texas A&M: In Texas, educating county agents about the need for more education about pests in and around the home has been difficult. Finding the right person within the AgriLife Extension agency to help with disseminating this information has had its challenges but we finally have a path to success. University of Florida: Florida continues to work with counties agents who provide first-time home buyer programs and who are partnered with horticulture agents under the auspices of at 2017 EIP grant. Knowledge of the EIP effort to provide homeowner information has led to involvement with Master Gardeners and interest from other Extension programs that involve homeowner education. Changes/Problems: eXtension's decision to not support Community of Practice websites created an unexpected delay because we needed to rebuild the website from scratch. We reached out to the southern region IPM center for assistance and a private web designer who provided basic guidance. The former eXtension website was converted to Wordpress with no functionality. There is no budget to purchase the plug-ins that would make the Wordpress site more functional for the end user. We also did not budget for a webmaster. We invested a week of time with the southern region IPM center to do the basics of setting up pages, Google Analytics, SEO,and developing content. We chose the Guttenberg editor, but may change to a different one that provides more functionality. Without the website, there would be no place to home the link to the survey, articles that would survey as guidance for homeowners, and short videos proposed. In Texas there was some personnel changes within AgriLife Extension that required PI Janet Hurley to seek new contact for creating the homeowner survey within Qualtrics.Once that person was found, the survey development went quickly. At the same time, there were additional changes with the AgriLife communications department which slowed the progress to work with county agents.This has changed and steps are in place to move forward on demonstration and training of agents within the next fiscal year. Both AL and TX county agents continue to seek ways to integrate new content into their programming. Florida will have to submit a separate IRB for the survey. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?TX: This has been limited in our first year, but had conversation with Associate Director of Extension Communications, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service on July 8, 2019 to discuss getting county agents involved. AL: N/A FL: Florida provides continuous,year-roundopportunities for training and professional development through Pest Management University (, a separate Extension program. Registration for county agents is waived. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?A press release for the survey (Objective 1)wasdelivered by TAMU. Information on homeowner IPM is located here shared through social media: Twitter, @PMU_News, Facebook: @PMUNews, Linkedin, and invited pest control Facebook pages. Florida county agents presented results from related EIP grant at the annual Extension Professsional Association of Florida (, Sanibel Harbor, FL, Aug 27, 2019) which generated additional interest for the homeowner IPM initiative and will result in traffic to the Pests in Homes website What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Marketing materialswill be developed so that County Agents can disseminate. Will also use social media links and other methods like bookmarks that will be handed out at the Texas State Fair and other events that county agents participate in. Continue to work on Pests in the Home website. We will continue to refine the content on this website so that anyone who takes the survey can go to this website for more information, as well as place for county agents to reference for basic information. Continue to work with AgriLife Communications and Leadership to engage County Agents in the project. In the process of developing materials to make it easier for TX county agents to use this material. Also working with another group that might have access to new homeowner classes. Continue to work with Alabama Home Grounds Leadership to engage County Agents in the project. In the process of developing materials to make it easier for our county agents to use this material. Analyze survey data and publish. Provide in-service training to agents in all states. Continue to deliver training to homeowner audiences Complete research objectives and begindemonstration project.

What was accomplished under these goals? Extension Objective 1:Survey citizens about their current knowledge of IPM and pesticide use. Currently, there are no published reports that provide industry estimates of IPM adoption or pest control practices. The survey will help us understand the barriers to IPM adoption by homeowners and devise programming appropriately.The survey has been developed, approved by IRB (IRB2019-0680 ), and disseminated via press release: Reviewed California survey's for questions and what could be used in 2019/2020 from the survey's written in the early 1990s and 2000s. Our team agreed on a series of questions. Worked with Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications Department at Texas A&M University to find a Professor to assist with the online homeowner survey. Extension Objective 2. Develop homeowner-friendly recommendations that incorporate results from research objectives and use in direct-marketing to the general public. The eXtension website where we intended to post the homeowner-friendly recommendation required rebuilding. Two new publications were developed under the auspices of the related Crop Protection and Pest Management Extension Implementation Project, grant no. 2017-70006-27149/project accession no. 10139622 were posted to this site: Selecting a Pest Control Company: Termite Prevention and Control: Extension Objective 3. Build Extension's capacity by engaging non-traditional change agents who will then reach a more diversified audience. Florida's agents continue to deliver IPM training and advance evaluation tools under the related relatedEIP grant (Crop Protection and Pest Management Extension Implementation Project, grant no. 2017-70006-27149) and these advances are shared with AL and TX for use with their agents. Extension Objective 4. Demonstration project to complement laboratory research objective on exclusion. N/A