How do you know if someone has head lice and what should you do?

The return to school can mean an increase in cases of head lice. Children are more likely to get them than adults because children play and live so close together, especially at school and daycare. Dr. Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark, UGA Entomology Department, share valuable information in two publications on understanding and controlling head lice.

Head Lice 101: The Basics

Head lice signsDo not panic! Head lice are not an emergency and, in most cases, do not pose any health risk. Misuse of pesticides, however, and use of unlabeled treatments (ex., kerosene) can pose a health risk.

Head lice CANNOT live off a human host for more than 24-48 hours. Head lice CANNOT live on pets. Head lice CANNOT reproduce in carpets, furniture or other household furnishings.

PESTICIDE SPRAYS DO LITTLE OR NOTHING TO CONTROL LICE. NEVER treat homes, cars, furniture, beds, pillows or clothing with pesticides (e.g., ‘lice bombs,’ flea bombs, sprays, etc.) in an attempt to control head lice. You will expose yourself and others to unnecessary pesticide risk.

If your school sprays rooms, buses, furniture, etc., to control head lice, ask them to stop immediately. Refer your school to the Cooperative Extension Service brochure called A School’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice.

Head lice are very common among all classes of people. More than 12 million people, mostly children and school personnel, get head lice each year.

Direct head-to-head contact with an infested person is the main way head lice are transmitted, but they may also be transmitted by sharing hats, scarves, headphones, combs and other hair accessories. Lice cannot hop, jump or fly, but they can crawl rapidly.

The best treatment for head lice is manual removal (see ’10 Tips for Manual Removal’ in A Parent’s Guide to the ‘Nitty Gritty’ about Head Lice ).

If a lice shampoo is warranted, ask your doctor or pharmacist for specifics on the product and follow all label instructions exactly. Misapplications can be ineffective and dangerous as well.

See these UGA publications for more information on controlling head lice safely and effectively

A School’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice, Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark

A Parent’s Guide to the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ about Head Lice, Paul Guillebeau and Gretchen Van De Mark

Nov 1 deadline to apply for the John Strickland GCLP Scholarship!

GCLP_371-150x157John Strickland Memorial GCLP Scholarship Application Deadline is Nov 1!

John Strickland was one of our industry’s most recognizable figures.  Involved in Georgia’s landscape industry since 1976, he was instrumental in the development of the Georgia Certified Landscape Professional program and served as both MALTA President and GGIA Chair.  In fond memory of John, one scholarship a year will be awarded to cover registration fees for the GCLP program and the scholarship winner will be honored at the annual certification luncheon in conjunction with GGIA WinterGreen.

Requirements:  Candidate must be a student or professional that is working/studying in an area of landscape contracting and will commit to completion of the GCLP certification program.

Award:  Selected candidate will receive study materials, access to the GCLP web study course, and admission to exams at no charge.

Application:  Email Becky Griffin at with your contact information and a typewritten essay (not to exceed 200 words) about your experience, dreams, and aspirations in landscape horticulture.  Please include any information that demonstrates a financial need.

Deadline:  November 1st.

Mosquitofish help Richmond County control mosquitoes in abandoned pools

Edited from the PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT section of the November 2013 issue of Dideebycha, the Georgia Mosquito Control Association newsletter.

Western mosquitofish - Robert McDowell,
Western mosquitofish – Robert McDowell,

The mosquitofish program is a new venture for Richmond County Mosquito Control. Since there are always some pools that have to be in control maintenance due to an inability to determine who owns the pool, or other reasons, a means of reducing the cost of maintaining these pools was sought. Tiny fish could be the answer to some of the county’s biggest mosquito problems.

Mosquitofish fill Phinizy Swamp and now they also fill some abandoned swimming pools. It’s a new project with Richmond County Mosquito Control and the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy and it could save residents a few bug bites.

Dr. Oscar Flite is the Vice President for Research at the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp. They’ve teamed up with Richmond County mosquito control for an experiment with mosquito fish placing them in abandoned pools to stop mosquito’s from breeding there.

Earlier in the summer they added about 30 mosquito fish to 4 pools in the county. In two weeks they went back to check and see how the programs working. The fish had survived and were reproducing, and preliminary surveillance data show a decrease in numbers of mosquitoes being caught in traps set in the vicinity of the pools.

The mosquito fish will save both time and money. “It’s going to save us a lot of money because treating a pool three times a year costs us about 150 bucks,” explained Koehle.

“The guys spent about 5 minutes going out and catching more than a 150 mosquito fish, so in terms of economics I think it works out pretty well,” added Dr. Flite. An easy fix and easy to get rid of when someone wants to swim.

“When a new homeowner moves in, they dump the water out the fish go with it no big deal,” said Koehle

“Nobody loses, everybody wins in this.”

Well, everyone except the mosquitoes.

This caterpillar can sting – what is it?

This information came from the UGA publication, Stinging and Biting Pests by Elmer Gray, UGA Entomologist. See the original publication for more information on stinging and biting insects

The caterpillars of some moths have sharp, hollow spines or hairs that contain venom. Contact with these spines causes a burning inflammation of the skin, but can be more serious when in contact with a mucous membrane or the eyes. The spines from dead caterpillars are still problematic. Most of these caterpillars feed on the leaves of various hardwood trees and shrubs and contact with people is uncommon. The venomous spines are a defense mechanism and the colorful patterns or unusual body shapes serve as a warning to their enemies. About 25 species have spines that can be painful. Three of the more common species are described below.

Puss Caterpillars:


Puss caterpillars may be pale yellow, gray or reddish brown, about 1 inch long and densely covered with hairs. Among these hairs are hollow spines with venom. Stings on the hand can cause the entire arm to swell and become numb. Later, there can be severe pain followed by itching. Young children are often more severely affected. Large population increases in local areas can cause a problem.


Saddleback Caterpillars:


The saddleback caterpillar is approximately 1 inch long and has a brown slug-like body with a green mid-section. In the middle of the green midsection there is a distinctive brown saddle mark with a white border. Venom-filled spines are located on fleshy “knobs” on all sides of its body. Contact with this caterpillar’s spines can be extremely painful and severe reactions are possible for sensitive individuals.


Hag Moth Caterpillars:


The hag moth caterpillar is a strange-looking brownish caterpillar with six pairs of curly projections, three long and three short, coming from the flattened body. The plume-like projections on its back project out to the sides, suggesting the disarranged hairs of a hag. Among the brown hairs on the projections are longer black stinging hairs. These caterpillars are solitary and can easily be mistaken for leaf debris.



Control is usually not needed since contact is uncommon and these caterpillars are usually solitary. If a number of stinging caterpillars are seen feeding on the foliage around areas where children are active, spray the foliage with an insecticide labeled for tree and shrub application. Remember, dead caterpillars can still cause painful stings. Spread a cloth or plastic sheet under a tree or shrub to collect the fallen dead caterpillars, and then carefully dispose of them.

Find other Stinging and Venomous Caterpillars here.