The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Experience House in Dallas is the newest hands-on setting for seeing the Sentricon System at work. One of just a handful of similar facilities around the country, the IPM Experience House is intended as a working classroom where pest management professionals (PMPs) can gain experience in settings similar to where they will be working. The facility is designed and maintained by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, with an intent to show PMPs what to look for and how to treat household and commercial pests.
Dow AgroSciences has been a substantial contributor to the house since its inception. Not only was Dow AgroSciences the first donor, it’s one of the largest. This spring, Sentricon bait stations were installed around the front and side of the house to provide a termite control learning experience focused on the baiting system. Although the house has no current signs of infestation and no termites have been detected in monitors, according to Dr. Mike Merchant, an extension urban entomologist and director of the facility, the stations have much value.
“We anticipate the Sentricon stations will be a great learning experience for new technicians who may never have seen a baiting system at work,” he says. “The Sentricon system has been a useful tool in termite control for a long time, but there is a new generation of PMPs out there who are not very familiar with baits. This gives us a chance to explain the science behind baiting and, we hope, a chance to see the stations at work.”
The house, which opened its doors in spring 2017, is an old dormitory. The house is already being used as a site for training classes on termites, mosquitoes and other general household pests. In addition, features are being added that will allow visitors to go on a self-guided tour.
“We’re still working on furnishing and interpreting a number of house features,” says Dr. Merchant. “Our goal is for PMPs to be able to spend as much, or as little, time as they’d like in each room, depending on their professional focus.”
The IPM Experience House consists of several rooms, each demonstrating special features related to pest control. Rooms include mock commercial and residential kitchens, a pantry, nursing home room, hotel room and a residential living room with television and sofas. The living room is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and is named the Sentricon Room.
Observant visitors will notice the house holds some surprises, like a live German cockroach infestation in one of the kitchen cabinets or an active colony of powderpost beetles in some decorative wood balls. There is also a low-level resident population of American cockroaches.
“And a lot of spiders!” Dr. Merchant says. “We can’t vacuum and mop fast enough to keep the spiders out completely.”
The site is still under construction, but once finished, it also will have a covered pavilion with simulated crawlspaces, an open concrete pad to practice spill control and different types of foundations with which to practice.