Invasive or Non-native? What’s the difference?

Invasive plant species have been a hot topic in recent months. Everything from wild mustard to milfoil. But it wasn’t until I was at a city commission meeting with my daughter a few months ago that I realized that non-native seems to have become synonymous with invasive: there was some construction work that needed to be done and the contractor was wanting to have 60 year old Chinese Elm trees removed citing them as invasive.

As I was watching these city commissioners nod their heads in agreement while discussing the removal of these big beautiful trees I realized than many if not all of the commissioners weren’t aware of the difference between invasive plants and non-native plants.

So what is the difference between invasive plant species and non-native plant species? According to the Michigan Invasive Species home page, “An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.”

The key words here are “causes harm.”

In Michigan, an invasive species that is getting a lot of attention right now is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolate). Garlic mustard thrives in wooded areas and can tolerate deep shade, partly because it emerges and blooms before trees develop leaves in the spring. It’s choking out the native plants causing harm to the ecosystem.

Another invasive that’s getting a lot of attention is giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). The sap of the giant hogweed can cause a severe skin reaction that can cause the skin to blister when exposed to the sun. This invasive plant causes harm to humans.

Both of these plants are invasive.

However, let’s look at a well-known landscape plant – the hosta. Hostas are native to Asia. They have become a very popular plant for shaded plantings. They are non-native, but not invasive. Another example is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which is a popular plant for sunny locations and even has some medicinal properties. And while both of these examples are spreaders, they are not invaders as they cause no harm to surrounding ecosystems.

The short version is to remember that non-native does not equal invasive, select plants for the landscape that are best suited to each planting site, and consult your state’s invasive plant species list before planting.


Emergency Response to Pesticide Exposure

This is a snippet from Certified Training Institute's Personal Protective Equipment Course - Approved for Continuing Education in Multiple States

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Some are small and fairly manageable and others big or hazardous that require expert assistance. You need to be able to identify how unintended pesticide releases, like fires and spills, can harm humans and the environment. In dealing with emergencies, you must know how to clean up and dispose of contaminated items to reduce environmental impact. And, you should be familiar with emergency response equipment.

Be prepared. The more prepared you are to handle an emergency, the faster you can react to reduce impacts on human and animal health, and reduce impacts to the environment.

What is a typical emergency when working with pesticides?

  • If a vehicle or spray rig overturns, pesticide injuries, fires, or spills can occur.
  • A ruptured hose can cause a pesticide spill that results in an exposure incident or environmental contamination.
  • An explosion or fire in a pesticide storage area can result in toxic fumes.

Why is it important to plan for an emergency response? 

  • Being well-prepared to respond to an emergency can prevent harm to humans and the environment.
  • How you respond makes all the difference and will likely diminish the consequences that may develop.

Develop a Plan

Designate an emergency coordinator for your organization’s emergency response plan. The plan should include a list of agencies to be notified, including the person to contact. Have phone numbers for the local emergency planning committee, police and fire units, and the local paramedics and hospitals. List the chemical manufacturer’s contact information for the pesticides used. Include agencies that are responsible for pesticide containment and hazardous waste clean up. Don’t forget to protect yourself and your assets. Contact an attorney if there is an emergency involving pesticides and remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Emergency Response Forms.  Report information about the incident on emergency response forms and keep them with the phone number list.

Provide Maps. A map of the pesticide storage facility and bulk storage tanks is essential to assist emergency responders and employees. Include the layout of the storage areas, access roads and fences, main shutoffs for utilities, and the location of fire alarms, extinguishers and personal protective equipment. Make sure emergency response agencies have a current copy available in the event an incident occurs.

Provide the emergency response agencies with an area map that directs them to the pesticide storage facility without delay. Even with the advent of 911 emergency and geospatial positioning systems, some remote areas may not have adequate communications/map access.

Online Pesticide Professional Continuing Education

State-approved video continuing education courses are available 24/7.



Arizona Pesticide Applicator Renewal

What are the requirements to renew an Arizona pesticide license?

You must re-certify either every year or two years by May 31st, depending on the renewal you selected. Individuals holding a Certified Applicator license must complete 6-hours of continuing education every year while qualifying applicators must complete 12-hours of continuing education every year.

How do I renew my Arizona pesticide applicator license?

  1. Complete the appropriate continuing education by May 31st
  2. Complete the Arizona Department of Agriculture Pest Management Division renewal process online by May 31st
  3. Applicators -pay $75 and
    Qualified Applicators - pay $100What happens if I'm late renewing my license?

You will be charged an additional renewal fee.
Applicators - $37.50
Certified Qualified Applicators - $50.00

Where can I find courses to renew my pesticide license in Arizona?

Certified Training Institute offers several online video courses that have been approved by the State of Arizona Department of Agriculture for your license renewal. Courses can be completed online at your convenience and on any device that is connected to the internet. We also have a dedicated staff to answer your questions and help with tech support.

How do I submit my completed continuing education to Arizona?

Certified Training Institute will submit your program completion to the state. You will also be able to print a copy of your course certificate immediately after finishing the course.


Certified Applicator Course Package
6-Hours | Online HD Video


Qualified Applicator Course Package
12-Hours | Online HD Video



Hawaiian Farm Pays $550,000 For Failure to Comply with Worker Protection Standards (WPS)

A Hawaiian Farm is accused of using a pesticide known as Lorsban Advanced incorrectly and failing to notify workers to avoid the field. Furthermore, the farm allegedly allowed and directed workers to enter the treated fields before an adequate amount of time had passed, without protective gear or access to decontamination supplies.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture began an initial investigation in January of 2016 and deferred the case to the EPA for enforcement later that year. The EPA determined that the farm was in clear violation of the FIFRA Worker Protection Standard Regulations. In February of 2018 the farm reached an agreement with the EPA to pay $400,000 on eleven WPS training sessions and a $150,000 civil penalty.

Not only will the farm be required to provide $400,000 worth of Worker Protection Standard Trainings, but they must also develop compliance kits in 4 languages to accommodate the diverse populations of Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands where the company has commercial farms.

Worker Protection Standard enforcement has not been widely advertised, however, as seen above, repercussions are steep and costly. Training your staff before a problem occurs is a preventative measure that will help you avoid costly lawsuits, medical bills, fines, and save your business’s reputation.

Do You Employ Workers and Handlers? 

Visit for online, EPA approved, video Worker Protection Standard training programs in English and Spanish.

More information on Worker Protection Standard Training

WPS Compliance

Who Needs WPS Training?

What Happens if I don't Comply?

$26,700 Penalty For Failure to Meet Worker Protection Standard Requirements


$26,700 Penalty For Failure to Meet Worker Protection Standard Requirements

Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture found several pesticide safety violations at Wonder Farms, Inc during inspections conducted between 2012 and 2015. EPA inspectors discovered the company was out of compliance with the EPA's Worker Protection Standard and fined them $26,700.

Wonder Farm faced penalties for failing to:

  • Provide workers with information necessary for their safety regarding pesticide applications, including the location of the treated area, the product used, active ingredients, time of application, and any restrictions to entry.
  • Ensure that its workers and handlers had received pesticide safety training.
  • Post pesticide safety information in a central location after pesticides had been applied.
  • Ensure handlers used the required protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves and eyewear.

EPA inspectors also discovered that Wonder Farm applied pesticide products to their basil containing malathion, carbaryl, and dimethoate as active ingredients. These active ingredients are not authorized for use on basil. Wonder Farm also failed to follow the instructions found on the pesticide labels that set the approved application and frequency of use for crops, failed to properly clean leftover, non-refillable pesticide containers, and improperly used pesticides for cleaning spray tanks.

Do You Employ Workers and Handlers? 

Visit for online, EPA approved, video Worker Protection Standard training programs in English and Spanish.

More Information on WPS Training

WPS Compliance

Who Needs WPS Training?

What Happens if I don't Comply?

Hawaiian Farm Pays $550,000 For Failure to Comply with Worker Protection Standards (WPS)


Wyoming Pesticide Applicator Renewal FAQ

When is my Wyoming commercial pesticide applicator license due for recertification?

Commercial licenses must be renewed every two years on January 31st.

Do I have to complete continuing education to recertify my Wyoming pesticide applicator license?

You may complete 24-hours of continuing education or retake the exam. If you retake the exam you must pass with a score of 70% or higher - Study ahead of time with online exam prep!

Do I have to pay a recertification fee?

Yes, commercial applicators must pay a $25 fee to recertify.

How do I recertify my Wyoming commercial applicator license?

  1. Complete 24-hours of approved continuing education or retake the licensing exam
  2. The WDA sends out renewal notices to expiring licensees in November. This notice must be signed and returned to the state with the $25 renewal fee.

Where can I find courses to recertify my Wyoming commercial applicator license?

Certified Training Institute offers online Wyoming approved HD video recertifiation courses. All courses are available 24/7 so you can start and stop at your convenience.

Who submits my continuing education to the state?

Upon completion of your course(s), Certified Training Institute will submit your continuing education courses to the state for you.

Online Pesticide Professional Continuing Education

State-approved video continuing education courses are available 24/7.



How Cyber Criminals Use Real Estate Transactions

Criminals are hacking into the email accounts of real estate agents or other persons involved in a real estate transaction and using the information to dupe a party into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hackers often send an email that appears to be from an individual legitimately involved in the transaction, informing the recipient, often the buyer, that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions.  Following the new instructions, the recipient will wire funds directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

The National Association of REALTORS® urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud. In May 2015, NAR issued an alert regarding a sophisticated email wire fraud hitting the real estate industry. Since then, the incidents of online scams targeting practitioners have continued to rise, but the advice is the same. Bottom line: Do not let your guard down! Start from the assumption that any email in your inbox could be a targeted attack from a criminal.



What To Do With A Bad Review

What is the first thing a potential client does when looking for a new service provider? If you answered "look for reviews" you're correct. So what do you do if you have bad reviews?

  1. Avoid being defensive. It's natural to have hurt feelings or want to retaliate when someone speaks poorly of your business. Avoid this reaction. Instead, do a little research.
  2. Google your business to see if there are any additional negative reviews about your company. If you find a pattern, for example, multiple clients saying your staff is rude and unhelpful, you know where to start. If you only have one bad review, that's great news!
  3. Talk to anyone on your staff who may have interacted with the unhappy client. It's possible a misunderstanding occurred or you have an unreasonable customer on your hands. Either way, it's best to know what you're up against before you respond.
  4. Now that you understand the problem, you're ready to respond. Make sure you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a positive manner. When responding to bad reviews start by thanking the reviewer for their time and valuable input. Apologize for their poor experience without making excuses (yes, even if their complaint is unreasonable. This shows future customers you are dedicated to keeping your customers happy). Let them know how you plan to address the problem. The response below not only addresses client concerns, but also encourages the client to take the conversation off of a public platform, and shows potential customers your dedication to customer care.

Example: "Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback. We are very sorry you had a bad experience with our company. We are working with our staff to ensure we are able to provide top-quality customer service in the future. We would appreciate the opportunity to make things right with you, please call our office between 8am-5pm to discuss possible solutions."

Do you want to become a licensed plumber?

Study for the Michigan Journeyman exam with our online HD video prep program!


DIY Plumbing Disasters

Many homeowners fancy themselves DIY professionals and tackle all kinds of projects around the house. While DIY mentalities can save homeowners money the opposite is often true when it comes to plumbing.

One of the most common mistakes made by DIY plumbers is digging when they see water coming from a buried pipe. Most homeowners crack the pipe almost instantaneously if they're lucky they hit an inflow pipe and are covered in clean water. If they're not so lucky they hit a sewage pipe and cover their basement and body in waste.

One DIYer decided to scrub the "rust" off the floor after an old toilet had been removed. After scrubbing proved insufficient she went at the spot with a hammer and chisel. When the job was completed a handyman came to install a new toilet and found she had removed the flange from the floor. This cleaning project brought her toilet installation cost from $200 to $600.

The most dangerous plumbing DIY stories involve hot water systems, electricity, or gas water heaters. Each of these can prove fatal to the novice homeowner or if you're lucky, a large repair bill from a plumber.

Do you want to become a licensed plumber?

Study for the Michigan Journeyman exam with our online HD video prep program!


Pesticide Laced Mosquito Nets Protect Children from Malaria

A recent study has found lacing mosquito nets with two pesticides reduces the prevalence of malaria by 44% when compared to mosquito nets laced with only one. This is especially true in areas where mosquitos have developed a resistance to first-line insecticides so the World Health Organization has recommended the use of two-chemical nets in these areas.

The pyrethroids that have been used in mosquito nets for over a decade are still present in the new nets, alongside piperonyl butoxide, which blocks the mosquitos ability to break down pyrethroids.

The search for insecticides that will kill or repel mosquitos while leaving babies and children unharmed has proved difficult. The insecticides also need to stand up to regular washing and intense sunlight. After only two years the piperonyl butoxide fades significantly. Once this chemical has faded malaria prevalence is reduced by only 33%. Still, malaria deaths have dropped 60% between 2000 and 2015, largely due to the use of pesticide lined netting.

In addition to netting, many individuals coat the inside walls of their homes with long-lasting pesticides, pregnant women and young children receive prophylactic treatment, and new rapid result malaria tests and treatments are available. In 2005 President George W. Bush's administration major a large cash commitment to fighting AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria across the globe.

Recently the distribution of free mosquito nets in Africa has come under fire, however. Many of the nets are misused by fishermen and farmers who use them for catching and drying fish or fencing their gardens respectively. On World Malaria Day, April 25, Uganda's health minister threatened to have police arrest citizens using the nets for any other purpose than fighting malaria.

Pesticide Professional Continuing Education

Online state-approved video continuing education courses are available 24/7.