Pest control in schools must protect the health and safety of children and staff, minimize damage to structures and property and facilitate learning by avoiding the disruption caused by insects, rodents and other pests. The Connecticut School IPM Program can help you meet these goals.
The Connecticut School IPM Program is a five-step program. The steps are:
EDUCATION AND TRAINING.
Probably the least expensive non-chemical control method is education of faculty, staff, students, and interested parents about potential pest problems, their causes, and the IPM solutions. Simply having informed individuals who will spot and report pest problems can go a long way toward managing pests in a school.
The education process can, and probably should, take a variety of forms ranging from incorporation into the science curriculum or presentations at school assemblies to newsletters or PTA programs and staff inservice training.
IPM is a relevant application of science. It incorporates many elements of biology, ecology, and chemistry. Many of the monitoring techniques and non-chemical controls used in the School IPM Program would make interesting laboratory exercises or science fair projects.
Students, teachers, parents and support staff should understand why a School IPM Program is being put in place and should understand the need to monitor, observe, and report the presence of pests. Building maintenance and grounds personnel should understand pestproofing and other steps they can take to keep pests from entering buildings. Housekeeping staff can learn to find and give special attention to areas with sanitation problems. Food service workers should understand the connection between inadequate sanitation and pests. Students can even help by regularly cleaning leftover food out of their lockers and picking up trash paper.
An IPM program Consists of a cycle of monitoring, control, and evaluation. The monitoring component of an IPM program is essential to its success. Monitoring is a documented, systematic inspection conducted at regular intervals. It keeps you informed about all aspects of the pest situation and conditions at the site. Monitoring includes the following:
Does a pest, say a single fly, demand immediate action? Not necessarily. In many situations, there may be a specific level of pests (or damage) that can be reached before action is taken. One house fly in a classroom would not normally trigger control. On the other hand, a cockroach in a cafeteria would require a very careful inspection to find out if other cockroaches were present, and probably some kind of control action.
To decide when to take a control action and when to simply continue monitoring you need to understand the action threshold. An action threshold is the point at which the risk of injury to individuals, the risk to public health, or the potential disruption of learning demands that pest control measures be implemented.
Action thresholds depend on the site and the pest. An occasional beetle in a hallway can be tolerated. A mouse in a classroom requires immediate action.
Action thresholds change from site to site and even month to month. For example, a couple of ants in a basement storage room might not require any action but ants in the infirmary would.
Different levels of a pest may generate different control actions. For example, if you find three cockroaches in a storage room, you might place a couple of cockroach bait stations. But if you find 30 cockroaches, you might require that the storeroom be extensively cleaned, treated with additional insecticides, and all cracks and crevices carefully caulked.
In a new IPM program, a practical approach is to establish an arbitrary action threshold for the major pests in each type of room (classroom, cafeteria, etc.) Common sense and experience are your best guide. Later in the program, the action levels can be revised up or down based on continued observations and experience.
HOW TO CONDUCT INSPECTIONS (scouting)
Frequent and thorough inspections allow you to get the jump on newly arrived pests, before they can become a serious problem. There are three basic components to a typical inspection:
Use blueprints or create a floorplan of the school showing all rooms, sensitive areas, points of entry, etc., and become familiar with the entire structure. Certain areas are more prone to pests than others and will require more intensive inspections. Examples include cafeterias and snack rooms, food storage areas, staff lounges, home economics rooms, classrooms or labs with live animals, art rooms, locker rooms, recycling collection points, and loading docks.
Use a bright flashlight and a magnifying glass (hand lens) during your inspection. Do not look just for the pests themselves, look for other evidence of pests such as droppings (especially from cockroaches and rodents) and frass (from wood borers), gnawing, tracks, and grease marks (from rodents), damage (such as powderpost beetle exit holes), and shed insect skins. The presence of feeding debris or frass is an indication of infestation.
Examine window sills regularly as many pests fly or crawl towards light. Also check inside ceiling light fixtures. Pests may be found behind baseboards, under furniture, behind moldings, in cracks in floors, behind radiators, or in air ducts. Check around door jambs for cockroaches and spider webs. Spiders often spin their webs across gaps around doors to capture insects trying to enter.
Look, too, for conditions that might lead to pest problems. Check for moisture problems, both indoors and out, which may lead to moisture related pests such as carpenter ants, termites, or mold. Watch for damaged screens, doors, and walls, which could allow pest entry. Note any sanitation problems. Be aware that fresh flowers and other plant materials may be infested with insect pests.
Inspect outdoors, also. Heavy landscaping near the foundation and plants such as ivy growing on walls increases the risk of outdoor pests moving inside. Moisture problems around the foundation, gutters, or air conditioning units can favor moisture-related pests. Bright exterior lights may be attracting insects to the outside of the building, and these insects may be finding their way indoors. Poor management of trash may be attracting rodents, which could find their way inside through utility lines or other openings.
There are currently three major types of monitoring traps:
Sticky traps are the most common monitoring tools in use today. These glue-covered traps are most often used to trap cockroaches, but they are useful in monitoring for all kinds of crawling insects, and particularly those that are active at night.
Here are some tips for monitoring with sticky traps:
Pheromone traps are valuable tools for monitoring certain pests, particularly "stored product pests," such as cigarette beetles, drugstore beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, Indianmeal moths, and warehouse beetles (Trogoderma) that infest food. Much of what these insects do is directed by certain chemical odors. The odors tell them where to find food, or a mate, or others of their own kind. Pheromones are the natural scents insects use to communicate with each other. Science has discovered how to isolate or mimic some of these pheromones and incorporate them into traps. Certain pests are strongly attracted to the traps, providing an extremely effective early warning system.
There are many different styles of traps, the most common being hanging traps. These have a sticky surface and a small lure that contains the pheromone to attract certain flying insect pests. Another common type of trap is the pitfall, which lures crawling insects into a container filled with oil.
Here are some tips for monitoring with pheromone traps:
Insect light traps (also called ILTs, insect electrocutors, and electronic insect traps) are useful for detecting and controlling occasional flying insects. The traps emit ultraviolet light ("black light") that is very attractive to certain insects, particularly to flies and moths. The insects are drawn into the trap and are either ''zapped'' (electrocuted on a grid) or fall onto a glue board. Flies can see lights from about 25 feet away, moths up to 100 feet away, depending, of course, on the ambient light present in a room. Only industrial grade traps should be used, not the backyard "bug-zappers" sold in retail stores. In schools, insect light traps are most effective in narrow hallways or 15-25 feet inside main entry points. Traps that are low to the ground usually capture more flies than do ceiling-hung traps. Ceiling-hung traps capture more moths. Use insect light traps indoors only. When placed outdoors, they mostly capture nonpest insects.
Be sure to check and empty the light trap periodically or the dead insects will themselves attract dermestid beetles and other scavengers. Bulbs must be replaced at least annually. Although it appears normal, a blacklight bulb loses about 50 percent of its effectiveness after one year.
Information from School Staff
During inspections, ask staff members if they have seen any pests. School staff should know what to do and who to contact if pests or evidence of pests are seen. Whenever such evidence is discovered, it should be reported and recorded in the IPM Logbook.
The following items should be considered for use in any school IPM program.
Maps, blueprints, graphs, or floor plans are extremely helpful in monitoring in and around school buildings. They should note all pertinent factors including high pest risk areas and sensitive areas.
Use working copies of the floor plan during each inspection. You should have access to all areas. Mark any evidence of pests, and related information that may prove useful (sanitation problems, overflowing trash cans, torn screens, moisture problems, etc.).
Correct identification of the insect or other pest and its life stage is critical. Without it, you cannot make an informed decision about how best to control the pest, and if control is necessary at all. To learn how to identify pests, and to obtain information on a pest's biology and habits, refer to the books and resources referenced in the appendix.
Good records help you solve pest problems, give you a historical perspective of pests at the school, and let you antici-pate seasonal pest problems. All evidence of pests should be thoroughly documented. Note what was found-species and life stage, where it was found, the day and time it was found, and whether it was found alive or dead. Keep careful records of inspection results, trap catches, etc. to identify seasonal risk factors and areas with a high frequency of problems.
The Safe Use of Pesticides & Equipment in Public Health Pest Management
Public Health Pest Control
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The information in this material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.All agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label is the law.Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels. Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current regulations.The user of this information assumes all risks for personal injury or property damage.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kirklyn M. Kerr, Director, Cooperative Extension System, The University of Connecticut, Storrs. The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.