Scruffles the Mouse Teaches IPM

Want to teach school staff some simple IPM techniques in just a few short minutes? Orange County Public Schools, in conjunction with Orlando Tech Animation, created several video “shorts” on IPM topics. The videos, which feature a cute animated mouse named Scruffles, run from one to two minutes long and include IPM basics, bed bugs, head lice, ants, rodents and cockroaches. In addition to presenting useful IPM tips, Scruffles has a tongue-in-cheek charm. In the rodent video, he comments that as a mouse himself, “I have certain expertise in these matters.”

Scruffles maintains that “the key to a successful IPM program is to think like a bug.” This allows you to make decisions about pest management that are tailored to the types of pests your school deals with. For example, the two most common types of cockroaches in the US live in different environments. German cockroaches like warm, moist areas while American cockroaches prefer cool places. Knowing which type of cockroach is in your facility can help you target management approaches to avoid wasted effort.

Pest management is everyone’s responsibility, especially when it comes to pests such as cockroaches that can trigger asthma attacks or worsen symptoms. “Dead roaches are a custodial issue, but anyone can dispose of them regardless of their job title,” advises Scruffles. Dead cockroaches pack a double punch: not only are they potent asthma triggers, but other cockroaches might use them as a food source. Once a high-level IPM program is implemented and pests are being prevented from entering the facility, dead cockroaches should be a thing of the past.

The head lice video points out that schools need to stay vigilant about preventing the spread of lice. “There is no scientific justification to spray for head lice at home or in the school environment,” says Scruffles. Instead, school nurses should check students for lice if an outbreak is suspected. If ants are a problem, sanitation can stop them from coming back to a kitchen or classroom. Leftover food and drinks, overflowing garbage cans, and food spills can be the culprits in ant infestations. Remove these temptations and clean up pheromone trails left behind by ants.

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