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The BugMobile Travels Far and Wide

(PRWEB) July 13, 2006 -- What is red with black spots and has traveled over 27,000 miles across Pennsylvania? It’s “The BugMobile!TM”, the one-and-only talking car.
   
The BugMobile is a renovated VW Bug painted to resemble a ladybug and equipped with speakers that allow it to "talk". The BugMobile is part of a larger educational exhibit that travels to schools, fairs and other public events to promote integrated pest management (IPM) and teach basic biological concepts about insects and other potential pests. IPM aims to control pests -- such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals -- by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe, affordable and environmentally compatible.
   
The BugMobile made its debut at the 2000 Pennsylvania Farm Show, delighting both adults and children. Since then, The BugMobile has traveled to events such as the Philadelphia Flower Show, Ag Progress Days, EPA Region III Earth Day, and Penn State's The Great Insect Fair as well as many schools, zoos, county fairs, and other events. The BugMobile has exposed over 250,000 youth and adults to the message of IPM in its first six years. The BugMobile has the ability to attract and stop passers-by, inviting them to partake in an educational display with live insects and handouts.
   
"The public needs a better understanding of pests, best approaches to pest management and, if necessary, proper pesticide choices and use," says Lyn Garling, education
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 specialist with the Pennsylvania IPM Program. "Reaching the public effectively requires more than handing out written fact sheets or listing Web sites. Research has shown that a combination of touching, seeing, doing and hearing is important for retention and behavior change."
   
Garling says The BugMobile has helped to raise awareness of facts such as:

 “  Reaching the public effectively requires more than handing out written fact sheets or listing Web sites.  
    • On a pound-per-acre basis, homeowners use more pesticides than farmers do. This causes undue exposure to the user and increased pollution. The EPA estimates all non-agricultural use of conventional pesticides at approximately 205 million pounds of active ingredient (20 percent of total use) per year.
    • Farmers and commercial pesticide applicators are required to attend education
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 on the proper use of pesticides, while homeowners have no such training and often do not follow label instructions. Yet many of the materials they use have the same active ingredients.
    • People often spray unnecessarily and too much because they simply are afraid of bugs. "One survey shows that peoples' top three fears are bugs, public speaking, and death," Garling says. "Increased understanding of insects and their lifestyles can reduce fear and unnecessary pesticide use."
   
The BugMobile is often staffed by volunteers on its travels across the state, including Penn State Master Gardeners and County Extension Staff, Future Farmer of America members, students and teachers, Penn State alumni, arboretum and nature center staff, women's club members, and once a mayor and city board members. More information about The BugMobile can be found at the Pennsylvania IPM Web site at http://paipm.cas.psu.edu/thebugmobile.html. You can even ask The BugMobile questions and check out the IPM display with live insects, free educational materials, pest management information, fun giveaways, and activities and games.
   
If you would like to host “The BugMobile! TM” at your school
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 or event, or would be interested becoming a sponsor, contact Amber Gray at (814) 865-7994, or e-mail e-mail protected from spam bots.
   
The PA IPM program is a collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture designed to promote integrated pest management in both agricultural and nonagricultural situations. For more information, call (814) 865-2839 or visit the program's Web site at http://paipm.cas.psu.edu.


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