Interview with Alyssa Foss

Pest Defense recently had a discussion with Alyssa Foss, an Environmental Analysis and Pesticide Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Read the blog post below to learn about the Wisconsin school IPM and pesticide laws and policies or watch the recording with this link

What is your position at DATCP and your role with school IPM? 

I am a pesticide program manager at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Wisconsin school IPM law is vague, which allows schools to create their own IPM plans tailored to their needs. DATCP provides resources and is available to any school district in Wisconsin to help build their IPM program. Then, we use a relationship-based approach and encourage schools to reach out to neighboring schools with existing IPM plans for guidance. 

What is Wisconsin Statute 94.715 and how does it regulate school IPM in Wisconsin?  

This statute does not dictate IPM in schools. However, it does dictate that school applications must be made by certified applicators. The statute, also, asks school boards to perform a pesticide review to approve or disapprove potential pesticide applications.  

To enforce this rule, DATCP has 14 environmental enforcement specialists on staff that work across the entire state to physically visit schools and verify certifications of staff or pest control companies. These specialists look at pesticide application records and perform “use observations” by shadowing applicators during the application process. They review pesticides chosen, check for required postings and make sure products are applied according to the label. 

According to Wisconsin Statute 94.715, germicide, sanitizers or disinfectants are not considered pesticides. Why are there no certification requirements for these products even though some are EPA registered? 

The products are still considered pesticides under the EPA, but certifying every individual that applies them would be exhaustive. This rule exempts individuals such as teachers, nurses and custodians from needing certification to allow them to use these products to clean.  To ensure these products are used properly, DATCP will perform “use observations” by an environmental enforcement specialist. 

Other similar regulations that relate to school IPM? 

ATCP 29 covers general pesticide rules and regulations. Covers pesticide use, certifications and licensing of businesses and individuals, pesticide storage, disposal and general pesticide use. 

What is an emerging pest you see in schools in Wisconsin? How do you see them managed? 

We have recently had more inquiries into bed bug control and any pests that would require bait stations. DATCP will recommend minimizing the spread as well as prevention to a school dealing with bed bugs. If caught early enough, the school may not require a pesticide application. Instead, they should focus on isolating contaminated materials, promote frequent cleaning and vacuuming of classrooms along with providing resources to parents to prevent bed bugs. Then, if the problem becomes too large, DATCP would recommend that the school speaks with a commercial pest control company that specializes in bed bug control to handle the infestation.  


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