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Information on Pests in Schools and Their Control

Pests such as insects, rodents, fungi, and weeds can affect the school environment and the people who work and learn there. These pests can cause human health problems, structural damage, and plant damage.

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Pests of Concern in Schools

You will need to know what pests you are facing before deciding how to control them. These pest fact sheets will give you a brief overview of some pests that may be issues at your school, including their life cycle, health concerns, and information about control.

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Where to Look for Pests in Schools

Pests find homes in many places in and around schools, such as:

  • Cafeterias - pests are attracted to food and water in confined locations, such as between appliances and in cabinets.
  • Classrooms - pest populations increase in untidy areas, such as desks and closets.
  • Lockers - clutter and food can quickly collect in lockers throughout the school year, providing a safe harbor and breeding grounds for pests.
  • Gyms and locker rooms - these areas can be warm and poorly ventilated, providing breeding grounds for pests.
  • Dumpsters - waste receptacles and surrounding areas are vulnerable to pest problems, especially when they are in close proximity to school buildings.
  • Exterior conduits - all openings to the outdoors provide easy entry access for pests.
  • Landscapes, school grounds and athletic fields - neglected landscapes can attract a wide variety of pests, including those that destroy school structures.
  • Buses - present unique pest control challanges when schools initiate programs such as Breakfast on the Bus.

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Basic Information on Pest Control in School

By using integrated pest management instead of solely relying on extensive pesticide applications, schools can reduce pest populations and reduce the use of pesticides, making schools safer for children and school personnel. 

IPM reduces the use of pesticides by first monitoring pest populations to determine where, when, and what kind of controls should be applied. Schools can reduce pest infestations by identifying and removing conditions that will attract pests.

Preventive measures are easy to implement and often improve the overall maintenance of the school. These measures can include:

  • Restricting where food is eaten.
  • Moving dumpsters and food disposal containers away from the school.
  • Repairing and maintaining leaking pipes.
  • Pressure cleaning food service areas.
  • Sealing cracks and crevices.
  • Instituting sanitation measures.
  • Cleaning gutters and directing water flow away from buildings to prevent saturation.
  • Educating students and staff about how their actions affect pest management and control.

In addition to adopting preventive measures, the IPM approach includes evaluating a school's pest management practices and choosing lower-risk methods of pest removal and prevention. When developing an IPM program, schools should consider methods that:

  • Minimize health risks to humans and the environment.
  • Minimize disruption of the natural, outdoor environment.
  • Are least toxic to species that are not pests.
  • Prevent a recurrence of the pest infestation.
  • Are safe and easy to apply effectively.
  • Are cost-effective.

For More Information

The National School IPM Information Source Exit provides resources to help get you started.

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