Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the practice of preventing and managing pests by employing methods that minimize pesticide use. Commercial pest control services that use IPM in schools do so by modifying pest habitats, sealing entryways, using sanitation practices, performing or recommending structural repairs, and using organic and natural techniques to manage landscapes and playing fields. If a pest control company must use a pesticide, the product containing the least amount of toxins possible is chosen.
Schools are as vulnerable to infestations as homes. Despite the fact that the use of low-impact pest strategies is becoming more popular, many schools still choose to hire commercial pest control services that use blanket pesticide applications to manage and control unwanted invaders. However, the overuse of chemicals in pesticides can negatively affect the health and development of children and youths.
Many other schools, on the other hand, have found IPM to be not only successful at reducing pest complaints but cost-effective, as well. Here’s a look at the main components of a successful Integrated Pest Management program for schools:
1. Education and training. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the use of pesticides can affect the long-term health of students as well as their ability to learn. By training and educating school stakeholders and technicians about the dangers of pesticides and the benefits of an Integrated Pest Management program, educational institutions can effectively eliminate the use of substances that contain known and probable carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, nervous system disruptors and reproductive toxicants. The USDA recommends that schools use non-chemical strategies as much as possible to control pests.
2. Monitoring. Integrated Pest Management includes the practice of regularly inspecting school grounds and trapping pests in order to learn more about species and infestation levels. Unlike IPM, pest control based on the use of chemicals relies on routine applications of pesticides, which may be unnecessary. Pesticides provide a quick fix but are not a viable long-term solution. Monitoring and IPM strategies include habitat modifications, building repairs and the organic management of landscapes in order to find and fix problem areas and make school grounds less attractive to pests.
3. Pest prevention. Prevention is the best way for pest control services to manage infestations in schools. Prevention techniques come in the form of adopting structural changes, mechanical and biological techniques and a change in cultural practices at schools. When schools perform Integrated Pest Management techniques correctly, the results are economical and effective. Pest prevention techniques can include mulching for weed prevention, using screens over windows, improving sanitation and filling in cracks on buildings.
4. Determining action levels. Knowing the population size required for remedial action can help preserve a school’s aesthetics, budget and student health. Conventional wisdom dictates that weeds and pests will overcome school grounds without the use of harmful pesticides, but this is not true. When a school must use a pesticide as a last resort, it should ensure that students and staff will be off the campus for at least 24 hours after the application.
5. Use of Least Toxic Pesticides. When the use of pesticides on school grounds is inevitable, commercial pest control services should make sure the chemicals are not linked to short- or long-term health problems. Pesticides can persist in dust and air particles for several months.
6. Notifications. When schools do not have (or are starting) an Integrated Pest Management program, it is important to post notifications for at least 72 hours to make the public and workers aware of when and where the school plans to apply pesticides. Signs should include information regarding name and type of pesticide as well as how to find safety information regarding the chemicals. Schools should also provide staff, students and parents with written notices regarding pesticide use 72 hours prior to its application.
7. Keeping records. When implementing an Integrated Pest Management program, it is a good idea for schools to keep records of the trends and patterns of unwanted plants and pests. The records should note the species, distribution and population size of pests, as well as the treatment action plan and recommendations for prevention.
8. Evaluations. When a pest control service evaluates a site, it evaluates the success of strategies it used to manage pests – a technique from which schools would benefit. By evaluating the outcome of strategies used, a school can continue the same IPM practices or make adjustments as needed.
While weeds and pests may be annoyance at a school, they do not pose the same dangers as pesticides. By adopting a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program that includes organic landscaping practices, schools can provide a learning environment that is truly healthy.
Find out more about commercial pest control services and methods, including the use of integrated pest management in schools, at www.EdenPest.com, the website for Eden Advanced Pest Technologies, your Olympia pest control experts.
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