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Nearly every service professional today must keep up with emerging technology by earning continuing education units, and pest control technicians are no exception, says Mike Merchant, PhD., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist in Dallas.

New online professional courses in pest and weed control are led by expert AgriLife Extension entomologists.

Pest control professionals seeking continuing education units, and anyone else who wants to bulk up their knowledge of Texas pests and weeds, can now do it anytime online. The new online courses in pest and weed control are led by expert AgriLife Extension entomologists.

“Even pest control is going online in response to COVID-19,” Merchant says. “It’s prompted us to put up these great learning opportunities where they’re broadly accessible.”

Merchant suggests starting with a free course on integrated pest management, or IPM, for school gardens. It offers teachers an hour of certificate credit. IPM is the practice of controlling pests with alternatives to pesticide, and with other methods that consider health and the environment.

IPM for School Gardens is a free online course that offers school IPM coordinators and teachers a certificate hour.

“All of our courses incorporate some measure of IPM teaching,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension IPM specialist in Dallas.

Participants can choose a course in the basics of managing aquatic vegetation, the basics about ants, aerial pesticide application, residential IPM or a growing selection of more than 20 other courses. A range of CEUs and exam preparation options is available.

At the same time, Hurley said, some live workshops will resume in limited capacity to accommodate social distancing. They begin with an ant identification workshop, limited to 15, on July 16 in Dallas.

“Every student will have their own microscope and supplies, and everyone will be at least 6 feet apart,” Merchant says. “And we will offer all the hands-on opportunities that help someone become an ant identification pro.”

Meanwhile, AgriLife entomologists are working to make more courses available online soon.

“We will continue to embrace the use of more training technologies and continue face-to-face classes as possible through new developments,” Hurley says. “But definitely expect to see more online courses in the future.”