Pennsylvania’s Top 5 Pests

Pests are everywhere! Some like House Mice and Termites are commonly known, while others are of the more exotic variety, and let's be honest, they're a little bit frightening. They come in all shapes and sizes with four legs, eight legs, wings, fur, and fangs. If we let our imaginations go wild, they become the creepy things that lurk in our nightmares, waiting to pounce upon the unsuspecting sleeper.

Most infestations are manageable and can be taken care of without the need to call a professional. But there are times when calling a professional is your only option. When you do, you'll want someone who has taken the time to become licensed and knowledgeable about the best methods to rid your space of unwanted "guests".

The most common pests inhabiting Pennsylvania's homes are those listed and described below. Surely you have met one or two of them.

#1 Blacklegged (deer) ticks

Young nymphs may be the size of a pinhead and can grow to one-eighth of an inch as an adult. They are known for feeding on deer during the winter and will bite humans primarily during the spring and summer when people spend more time outdoors. They can spread viruses such as Lyme disease which was first detected in 1976 in Lyme, Connecticut when an unusually large number of children suffering similar symptoms came down with an unidentified illness. Blacklegged ticks are usually found in the eastern United States especially in the Northeast. They frequent wooded areas and fields and are commonly found around homes and buildings in secluded or rural areas.

#2 House mice

House mice typically seek shelter and food within our homes, will eat almost anything and build nests in areas such as wall insulation and packing materials. They quickly reproduce and can bring fleas and mites into homes. A female house mouse can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks and can produce up to 35 young per year. House mice are not only a nuisance, but they can pose significant health and property threats. Any structural holes should be sealed, and homeowners should inspect for droppings or gnaw marks on a regular basis.

#3 German cockroaches

The German cockroach is a small species of cockroach, typically about 1.1 to 1.6 cm long. Its color varies from tan to almost black, and it has two dark, roughly parallel, streaks that run behind the head to the base of the wings. The most common cockroach species, German cockroaches will eat almost anything. They find their way into new structures by hiding in cardboard boxes, grocery bags, and secondhand appliances. A large German roach population will produce a foul odor. They prefer to live in warm, humid places such as kitchens and bathrooms. They have also been known to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, seven human pathogens and six kinds of parasitic worms. Practicing good sanitation and eliminating excess moisture will help to prevent a German cockroach infestation.

#4 Termites

With hard, saw-toothed jaws, termites can and will inflict significant structural damage to properties over time. They can eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Termite infestations can mean possible financial ruin for a homeowner. Termites are active across the state, from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and from Philadelphia to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Generally, termites swarm on a warm day after a rainfall. Swarms may occur during the winter in heated buildings. An infestation of termites often remains undetected until it is too late and there has already been major structural damage. If you want to prevent termites, be sure to avoid water accumulation near building foundations and eliminate any wood contact with soil. For an in-depth look at the destructive power of these pests, check out NPMA’s Tiny Termite House.

#5 Flies

Horse flies and house flies tend to be the most annoying pests. Horse flies are approximately one inch long and feed on the blood of humans and animals. Female horseflies inflict a painful bite from their scissor-like mouthparts. A horsefly bite will usually become red, swollen and itchy. Although they rarely result in an allergic reaction, horsefly bites can become infected and require medical attention. Aside from being a buzzing nuisance, House flies are strongly suspected of transmitting at least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, yaws, anthrax, tularemia, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Flies regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest and thereby mechanically transmit disease organisms. The common housefly can live up to 28 days. Be wary of horse flies when near wooded areas or bodies of water and quickly dispose of any trash to avoid a house fly infestation, house flies frequent trash cans, decaying flesh, rotting food and manure.

Should you find it necessary to call on a professional, you'll want to be sure they are licensed by the State of Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recognizes the following classification of applicator licensing:

  • Commercial Applicator – Necessary if:
    • Pesticide application will take place on property not owned or rented by applicator or employer.
    • Restricted use pesticides are being applied to property owned by applicator or employer but not applied to crops.
    • Pesticides are applied to apartments of 4 or more units, golf courses.
  • Private Applicator – Necessary if an individual’s plans to purchase and apply restricted use pesticides for producing an agricultural commodity on land owned or rented by the individual or their employer.

Anyone seeking a license can start the process by visiting the Certified Training Institute's Pesticide Division. You'll find all the information necessary to obtain or maintain a Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License. The courses are offered online and available anytime 24/7 from any computer or even your smartphone!


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Is it Pesticide Poisoning or Heat Exhaustion?

Pesticide poisonings are often mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, such as the flu, heat exhaustion, food poisoning, and asthma. When pesticide handlers become ill from working with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot environments, it is sometimes hard to tell whether the person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning. Anyone who works with or near pesticides should be aware of the symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Pesticide applicators who work with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot conditions need to be especially aware of the difference between heat exhaustion and pesticide poisoning.
It is not always easy to tell if a person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning.

The EPA has provided the following chart to help you compare symptoms.

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Sweating
Headache
Fatigue
Dry Membranes
Dry Mouth
No Tears
No Spit Present
Fast Pulse (slow if person has fainted)
Nausea
Dilated Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Confusion
Fainting (prompt recovery)

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Sweating
Headache
Fatigue
Moist Membranes
Salivation
Tears
Spit Present in Mouth
Slow Pulse
Nausea and Diarrhea
Possibly Small Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Confusion
Coma (can't awaken)

What should you do if you suspect a case of pesticide poisoning?

Time is critical with any pesticide poisoning! Get immediate help from a local hospital; physician; or poison control center (800-222-1222). If you believe you have been poisoned or injured by pesticides on an agricultural establishment covered under the Worker Protection Standards (WPS), your employer must:

  • Make transportation available from the job site to a medical care facility.
  • Provide information about the pesticide to which you may have been exposed.

If you suspect heat exhaustion, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place.
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
  • Monitor the person carefully.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the person's condition deteriorates, especially if he or she experiences:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater

In either case, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Call 911 if in doubt.

Employers, Protect Your Workers and Your Business! 
Make sure your employees are properly trained, current with their license and WPS compliant. Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicators must complete 6 credits of core training each certification cycle in addition to category specific requirements. See chart for details.

Renewal Deadline
Commercial Applicators - annually by 9/30
Public Certified Applicators - every 3 yrs by 9/30
Registered Technicians - annually by 2/28
Private Applicators - every 3 yrs by 3/31

Worker Protection Safety (WPS) Training
As of January 2, 2017, the EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires employers to provide protection to workers and handlers from potential pesticide exposure. Pesticide safety training is part of the requirement. If you do not train your workers properly you run the risk of employee injury and penalties which could cost you thousands of dollars. Certified Training Institute has partnered with Mississippi State University to bring the highest quality pesticide education to Pennsylvania as well as the entire nation. This training is designed to help you comply with the new regulations. Worker Protection Safety (WPS) training is available online  HERE  Training programs are available to help you train all your workers. Packages are available to train 1-25 workers. There's also an option to train an unlimited amount of workers.

Sign up today and begin your required training and stay in compliance with the new laws. Courses are available at – www.certifiedtraininginstitute.com/pesticide


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Are You Ready to Renew Your Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture “To maintain certification, applicators must attend update training programs in core and appropriate category-specific topics. Six core credits and up to ten category credits for each category in which the applicator is certified are required.  If the recertification credit requirements are not met by the specified date, the applicator's license will expire and that applicator will no longer be permitted to make pesticide applications until the license is reinstated.”

Renewal deadlines are as follows:

Commercial Applicators - annually by 9/30
Public Certified Applicators - every 3 years by 9/30
Registered Technicians - annually by 2/28
Private Applicators - every 3 years by 3/31

If your deadline is approaching, here’s what you need to know.

The number of credits you must take to meet your license requirements is dependent upon the number of categories are applied to your license. You’ll want to check your license carefully before you calculate your license renewal requirements from the list below.

Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education Requirements

Agronomic Crops (1) - 10 credits
Fruit & Nuts (2) - 10 credits
Vegetable Crops (3) - 10 credits
Agricultural Animals (4) - 6 credits
Forest Pest Control (5) - 8 credits
Ornamental Shade Trees (6) - 10 credits
Lawn & Turf (7) - 10 credits
Seed Treatment (8) - 4 credits
Aquatic Pest Control (9) - 4 credits
Right-of-Way Weeds (10) - 8 credits
Household & Health Related (11) - 10 credits
Wood Destroying Pests (12) - 10 credits
Structural Fumigation (13) - 6 credits
Public Health - Vertebrate Pests (15) - 8 credits
Regulatory Pest Control (17) - 10 credits
Demonstration & Research (18) - 10 credits
Wood Preservation (19) - 4 credits
Commodity and Space Fumigation (20) - 6 credits
Soil Fumigation (21) - 4 credits
Interior Plantscape (22) - 4 credits
Park or School Pest Control (23) - 10 credits
Swimming Pools (24) - 4 credits
Aerial Applicator (25) - 10 credits
Sewer Root Control (26) - 4 credits
Private Category (PC) - 6 credits

Next step: Find State-Approved Education

Once you’ve calculated your required continuing education, you’ll need to find a state-approved continuing education provider. Certified Training Institute is just the place to complete those credits!

They offer state-approved education for all categories.  All courses are online and accessible 24/7 from any internet capable device, including your phone! Take them at home, in the field, or even your truck!

Courses are offered individually or in money-saving bundles. Each one is specifically designed to meet Pennsylvania State requirements.  The choice is yours!

Take advantage of winter downtime and get started now!


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Pennsylvania Applicator Renewal FAQs

What are the continuing education requirements for Pennsylvania Private applicators?

Private applicators must complete 6 credits of core and 6 credits of category-specific continuing education.

When is my Pennsylvania private applicator license due for renewal?

You must renew your license every three years by March 31st.

Is there a fee to renew my Pennsylvania private applicator license?

Yes, you must pay $10 to renew.

Are your Pennsylvania pesticide courses state-approved?

Yes! All our courses are state approved. Approval numbers are listed after the course title.

Who submits my Pennsylvania pesticide continuing education to the state?

Certified Training Institute will report your course completions for you!


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Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Issues Spotted Lanternfly Alert

The Department of Agriculture recently issued an alert warning Pennsylvanians of an invasive pest known for wreaking havoc on area vineyards. While the Spotted Lanternfly may be beautiful with its fiery hues of red, yellow and orange, it is considered very dangerous for local agriculture.  

What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), an invasive planthopper, has been discovered in Berks and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. It is native to China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and introduced to Japan and Korea where it has become a major pest of grapes. This insect has the potential to greatly impact the grape, hops and logging industries. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania businesses and agriculture.

What does it look like?

The Spotted Lanternfly adult is approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide at rest. The forewing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. Immature stages are black with white spots and develop red patches as they grow.

The spotted lanternfly feeds on many types of plants but strongly prefers Tree of Heaven.  Attacked trees will develop weeping wounds. These wounds will leave a greyish or black trail along the trunk. This sap will attract other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants. In late fall, adults will lay egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles, and structures. Newly laid egg masses have a grey mud-like covering which can take on a dry cracked appearance over time. Old egg masses appear as rows of 30-50 brownish seed-like deposits in 4-7 columns on the trunk, roughly an inch long.

What areas are affected?

According to the PennState Extension website, the following counties are quarantined, and residents in these areas should take caution to "look before you leave" to avoid spreading this invasive insect pest: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill.  If you live outside of the current quarantine area in Pennsylvania and find a spotted lanternfly, report it!

Along with expanding the quarantine zones, seasonal changes, and the insect’s life-cycle, the department of agriculture has shifted its control strategies, enlisting additional support from local, state, and federal agencies and universities. During the summer months, control efforts focused on eliminating insects and Ailanthus trees, or the Tree of Heaven, where the Spotted Lanternflies prefer to breed and feed. Work crews continue to concentrate on areas that pose the greatest risk for transporting insects, such as railway beds, interstates, and other transportation corridors where the Ailanthus tree grows.

What sort of damage does it cause?

  • Like most hemipterans, SLF feeds on plants using their sucking and piercing mouthparts to extract plant sap.
  • Adults and nymphs feed on phloem tissues of young stems with their piercing and sucking mouthparts and excrete large quantities of liquid (honeydew).
  • Feeding creates weeping wounds
  • Honeydew facilitates the growth of sooty mold
  • Weeping Sap attracts activity from hymenopteran such as wasps, hornets, ants, bees etc.
  • May be toxic to domestic animals because of Cantharidin and toxic metabolites from Tree of Heaven.
  • Impacts quality of outdoor life for everyone

What should I do if I see a Spotted Lanternfly?

If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. Please report sightings of egg masses, nymphs, or adult spotted lanternfly using this tool provided by Penn State Extension 

Collect a specimen: Specimens of any life stage can be turned in to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Entomology lab for verification.

Take a picture: A photograph of any life stage (including egg masses) can be submitted to Badbug@pa.gov.

Report a sighting: If you can't take a specimen or photograph: report your sighting using this online tool or call the Automated Invasive Species Report Line at 1-888-4BAD-FLY and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.

Will certain pesticides be effective at eliminating the Spotted Lanternfly?

There is limited information on pesticide options for control of Spotted Lanternfly because is it a new pest to this area. This year, Penn State Extension is conducting efficacy trials on products that are available to the homeowner for control on their property. "Early this month, we (PennState Extension) began testing contact insecticides including horticultural oil, neem oil, insecticidal soap, and products that contained spinosad, carbaryl, bifenthrin, or pyrethrin as the active ingredient. Additionally, we included two systemic insecticides (both applied as soil drenches and one as a bark spray) in our preliminary trials."

(source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture PennState Extension  NJ Department of Agriculture)


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Pennsylvania Applicators, Are You Ready to Renew?

When is my Pennsylvania pesticide applicator license up for renewal?

December 31st, annually

How do I renew my Pennsylvania pesticide applicator license?

Pennsylvania applicators must renew their license annually by completing the state-required continuing education, a renewal application, and paying the appropriate fees. License renewal applications will be mailed to you.

Where do I find classes to renew my Pennsylvania pesticide applicator license?

Certified Training Institute offers Pennsylvania-approved continuing education courses in an easy to use, online, video format. Courses are available 24/7 on any internet capable device with the benefit of our friendly support staff to guide you through the renewal process.

Who submits my Pennsylvania pesticide applicator continuing education?

Certified Training Institute will submit your continuing education to the state. You will receive a printable certificate for your records immediately after completing each course.

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