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Establishing an IPM Program for Schools: Steps 6 and 7

Cartoon of a scared mouse and cockroaches carrying their belongings and hitchhiking in front of a school

Step 6: Applying IPM Strategies

Pest-prevention measures can be incorporated into existing structures. Such preventive measures reduce the need for pesticide applications and include sanitation and structural repair, employing physical and mechanical controls such as screens, traps, weeders, air doors, etc. Specific IPM strategies for specific school sites are provided below. (Note: Every school will experience slightly different combinations of pests.)

IPM Strategies for Indoor Sites

Typical Pests:

Mice, rats, cockroaches, ants, flies, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, spiders, microorganisms, termites, carpenter ants, and other wood-destroying insects. Although beneficial as predators, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and spiders can be troublesome.


Door-ways, overhead doors, windows, holes in exterior walls, openings around pipes, electrical fixtures, or ducts:

Classrooms and Offices

Classrooms, laboratories, administrative offices, auditoriums, gymnasiums, and hallways:

Food Preparation and Serving Areas

Dining room, main kitchen, teachers' lounge, home economics kitchen, snack area, vending machines, and food storage rooms:

Rooms and Areas With Extensive Plumbing

Bathrooms, rooms with sinks, locker rooms, dishwasher rooms, home economics classrooms, science laboratories, swimming pools, and greenhouses:

Maintenance Areas

Boiler room, mechanical room, janitorial-housekeeping areas, and pipechases:

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IPM Strategies for Outdoor Sites

Typical Pests:

Mice and rats. Turf pests--broad-leaf and grassy weeds, insects such as beetle grubs or sod webworms, diseases such as brown patch, and vertebrates such as moles. Ornamental plant pests--plant diseases, and insects such as thrips, aphids, Japanese beetles, and bag worms.

Playgrounds, Parking Lots, Athletic Fields, Loading Docks, and Refuse Dumpsters:

Lawns, athletic fields, and playgrounds:

Ornamental Shrubs and Trees:

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Applying Pesticides Judiciously

Many different kinds of pesticides are currently available for use against urban and structural pests. An appropriate application uses the least toxic and most effective and efficient technique and material. Due to their potentially toxic nature, these materials should be applied by qualified applicators in a manner to ensure maximum efficiency, with minimal hazard. Pesticides should be applied only when occupants are not present in areas where they may be exposed to materials applied.

Although EPA registers pesticides for use within the United States, the fact that a particular product is registered does not mean that it is "safe" under all conditions of use. All pesticides used in the U.S. must be EPA registered, and the registration number must be listed on the label. Read and follow the pesticide label directions, know how to apply and handle these chemicals, and try to minimize the exposure to children, adults, and other non-target species.

The following general recommendations should minimize exposure to people and other non-target species when the application of pesticides is being considered:

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Storing Pesticides

Store pesticides off site or in buildings that are locked and inaccessible to all undesignated personnel. Be sure adequate ventilation is provided for the pesticide storage area. Store herbicides separately to avoid potential damage to plants from the absorption of vapors onto other pesticides stored nearby. Avoid storing pesticides in places where flooding is possible or in open places where they might spill or leak into the environment. Store flammable liquids away from an ignition source. Check for state recommendations and requirements for pesticide storage.

If pesticides are stored in occupied buildings, take special care to ensure that the air in the occupied spaces does not get contaminated. Place a notice outside the designated storage area. Store all pesticides in their original containers, and secure lids tightly. Make sure that childproof caps are properly fastened. However, even closed pesticide containers may release toxic chemicals to the air through volatilization. Therefore, store pesticides only in spaces that are physically separated and closed off from occupied spaces and where there is adequate exhaust ventilation (i.e., the air is vented directly to the outside). In addition, precautions are needed to ensure that the air in the storage space has no chance of mixing with the air in the central ventilation system.

The pest manager is responsible for periodically checking stored pesticide containers for leaks or other hazards. To reduce pesticide storage problems, buy only enough of the pesticide product to last through the use season. Mix only the amount of pesticide needed for the immediate application.

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Posting and Notification

Local law may require schools to notify students and staff of impending pesticide applications. If not, the school system may take the responsibility of informing school staff and students' parents of upcoming pesticidal treatments. When good IPM practices are followed, concerns raised by notification and posting activities may be minimized. If notification and posting is a new practice at the school, the new policy should be explained so that it will not be misinterpreted to imply that more pesticides are being applied than previously. Notification can be accomplished by posting notices around the school and sending notices home to those parents who wish to be informed in advance of pesticide applications. Schools should consider posting notices in areas to be treated or that have been treated. The school pest manager should be prepared and be available to provide more specific information to concerned parents and others. A voluntary registry of individuals who could be adversely affected by exposure to pesticides can be kept at the school health or administrative offices. Information on how to contact the local poison control center and emergency personnel should be kept readily accessible. The school may also wish to consider informing the adjacent community in advance of planned outdoor pesticide applications.

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Step 7: Evaluating Results and Record Keeping

Successful practice of IPM relies on accurate record keeping. Record keeping allows the school to evaluate the results of practicing IPM to determine if pest management objectives have been met. Keeping accurate records also leads to better decision-making and more efficient procurement. Accurate records of inspecting, identifying, and monitoring activities show changes in the site environment (reduced availability of food, water, or shelter), physical changes (exclusion and repairs), pest population changes (increased or reduced numbers, older or younger pests), or changes in the amount of damage or loss.

A complete and accurate pest management log should be maintained for each property and kept in the office of the pest manager or property manager. Pesticide use records should also be maintained to meet any requirements of the state regulatory agency, School Board, and applicable local regulations. The log book should contain the following items:

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