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How to Increase the Effectiveness of an Integrated Pest Management Program

Everyone can help increase effectiveness of integrated pest management (IPM) in schools. The tips on this page can be used by parents, faculty and administrators to make pest control better at their school.

On this page:

Never Bring in Cans of Bug Spray

If you have an emergency pest problem, follow the procedure provided by the pest management personnel and your IPM policy.

  • Plan to notify the pest management technician of any pest problems so they can quickly treat the problem.
  • Do not buy pesticide products at local stores to use in school areas.
  • Keep a pest sighting log in the teacher’s lounge where you and others can report pest sightings and get concerns resolved.

No Exposed Food or Drink in the Classroom

Do not bring food or beverages into the classroom except in sealed containers (e.g., lunch box). Even tiny crumbs are a full meal for rodents, cockroaches or ants.

  • If food incentives are used in the classroom, they should be stored in plastic, sealable containers.
  • If items are small, freezer bags are recommended because they are made of a thicker material that is more pest resistant.
  • If your school has a "grab-and-go" type of meal, assign a daily "clean team" to sweep crumbs and remove trash from the classroom once the meal is over.
  • Remember that items for recycling kept indoors can provide food and harborage for many pests. These items should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before storage.

Keep the Classroom as Clean as Possible

Sanitation, not pesticides, has the biggest effect on pest populations:

  • Cleaning up after any pets in the classroom and after parties is an absolute must.
  • Empty soda cans, used paper plates, food wrappings, etc. should be placed in the trash can and then be removed to an outside dumpster before the end of the day.
    • Trash cans full of items with food debris left overnight are often sources of pest populations.

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Get to Know Your Pest Management Staff

Whether pest control is handled in-house or is contracted out, try to interact with the pest control technicians as often as possible:

  • The more communication that occurs between the faculty/staff and the pest control technician, the more effective pest control will be.
  • It is very important for teachers and school staff to communicate with the pest control technicians about the kind of pest problems that exist with specifics such as:
    • When they are a problem (e.g., in the morning or all the time).
    • What kind of pests exist (e.g., cockroaches, ants, wasps, rodents).
    • Where the pests are (e.g., near the sink in the rear of the classroom).
  • A great way to communicate pest problems to the technician is by using a pest sighting log.
  • The technician will be better prepared to treat the pest problem with this sort of information.

Begin Using a Pest Sighting Log

Pests sighting logs are used by school employees to communicate pest problems to the pest control technician. The log is a record of:

  • when the pests were seen;
  • by whom;
  • where; and
  • what kind of pests were present.

The pest control technician checks the log and then uses the information provided to treat the problem. The pest control technician also records what action was taken by them to treat the pest problem.

See Example Pest Sighting Log (PDF). (1 pp, 4.1 K, About PDF) Exit

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Discuss IPM with the Pest Manager

Convincing your current pest manager to implement IPM may be simpler than you think. Also, speak with your school’s principal about IPM and the advantages it furnishes by providing a safer school environment.

Learn About IPM

  • Consider IPM as a topic at the next school PTA or faculty meeting.
  • Help build support for the idea of switching to a school-wide IPM program by distributing IPM materials to others.
  • A knowledgeable group of people who support an issue is often more effective than a single voice of concern.

Communicate with Pest Managers

In-House Pest Control 

If pest control is handled by in-house staff in your school district, contact the supervisor of pest control. It is important to convey your deep interest in IPM.

If the pest management supervisor is unfamiliar with IPM, provide information about the benefits of IPM, including the reduced health risks associated with IPM implementation. Be sure to provide some of the school IPM references to the pest management supervisor.

After the initial contact, allow a short period for the pest management supervisor to review the materials you provided. Offer to meet with the pest management supervisor and even walk through your school discussing IPM strategies while pointing out specific areas of concern.

Contracted Pest Control

If pest control is handled by a private pest control operator, contact the person listed in the school’s pest control contract as the supervisor or ‘contact’ person. This information usually can be found by contacting the school district’s purchasing agent.

Discuss with the supervisor the overall method of pest control currently being used by your school. Let the supervisor know that you are interested in getting IPM implemented at your school.

The supervisor should be willing to cooperate with your efforts, depending upon certain contractual obligations. Keep in mind that you are the customer, and the pest management industry is customer driven.

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