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Top Ten DOs and DON’Ts for School IPM Success

By: Jodi Schmitz, Janet Hurley, and Dr. Thomas Green

Although the following tips are written for school personnel, several of the recommendations can help the homeowner as well. If you’re not sure where to find some of the equipment mentioned, call your local university extension and ask for the person who handles school or residential IPM.

  1. DON’T place rodenticide bait inside school buildings. DO pest proof buildings to keep mice and rats out. If mice or rats do get inside, use glue boards, snap traps or repeating mouse traps placed in areas inaccessible to children. Glue boards and snap traps can also be placed in tamper-resistant containers.
  2. DON’T think bleach will keep pests away from drains or other surfaces. Bleach does not remove organic matter buildup that cockroaches, ants and mice can feed on. DO use a microbial digester on a weekly or monthly basis to keep drains clean. DO invest in trap guards to keep cockroaches from climbing up drains to get into the building. They also reduce the need to flush water down the drain when not in use to keep traps filled with water.
  3. DON’T leave drain cleaning to chance. DO put a protocol in place that details who is responsible for cleaning drains, the cleaning schedule and approved cleaning products.
  4. DON’T rely on eye witness statements alone to keep track of pests in school buildings. DO monitor using glue boards and sticky traps in high-risk locations where food, water and shelter are present. Date them and locate them on a map or diagram so that they are checked regularly. DON’T go overboard with placements in areas where pest activity is unlikely; these take time to check and maintain that can be better invested in monitoring and prevention in higher risk locations. According to Mark Shour, extension entomologist at Iowa State University, the IPM coordinator should ensure that school staff knows the purpose of glue boards and insect monitors so they don’t get inadvertently thrown away or disrupted. Shour also recommends using windowsills and fluorescent light covers as indirect monitoring tools – if flies and other insects are getting into your facility, you will find these insects collecting in those locations.
  5. DON’T provide an attractive home for pests by storing food products and materials in cardboard boxes. DO remove incoming food items from cardboard and place on movable wire-rack shelving, and discard the cardboard packaging in recycling containers outside of your building. DO place holiday decorations, craft supplies and food items in tamper-resistant containers. DO keep clutter to a minimum to reduce pest harborage, and allow proper cleaning and inspection.
  6. DON’T allow exterior doors to become invitations for pests to enter the facility. DO install well-fitting door sweeps to keep the pests out of the building and heat or air conditioning in. DO train maintenance staff and contractors in proper placement. Properly installed sweeps have no gaps at the ends, or at the middle of double doors. A young mouse can enter through a ¼” gap!
  7. DON’T allow staff to bring pesticides to school to control infestations on their own. DO designate employees or pest management professionals who are allowed to apply pesticides and make sure those individuals are trained and licensed and/or certified.
  8. DON’T ignore record keeping. DO use pest sighting logs to record and track pest activity to determine pest reduction. Shour recommends using your electronic work-order system such as SchoolDude to register complaints and concerns. The IPM Calculator from Texas AgriLife Extension is a useful record keeping and inspection tool. It helps schools estimate pest risk and IPM costs, and leads the user through an IPM inspection.
  9. DON’T reinvent the wheel. DO use resources from others who have implemented school IPM programs. See the School IPM 2015 website for documents and information on IPM.
  10. DON’T place the responsibility for pest management on one individual. DO involve all staff members, including teachers, custodial staff, food service staff and administrators. Remember that IPM is also people management!

From the School IPM 2015 December Newsletter.

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