Friday, June 25, 2010

IPM in Schools: First Demonstration Visit

On June 22nd and 23rd, our Nebraska IPM team conducted the first assessment at the two demonstration schools in Omaha and Lincoln. In addition to the UNL team members (Clyde and Barb Ogg, Stephen Vantassel, and myself) we had great attendance by school administration, custodial supervisors, and nutrition and environmental specialists. Also joining us were PMPs who service the schools and Mike Daniels, the tribal representative who wants to implement IPM for the Winnebago and Omaha tribes in Nebraska.

We began the day by giving an introductory presentation about IPM and explaining a bit about how the demonstration process would work at each of the schools. We covered topics such as what IPM is, the move away from the "traditional" approach of preventative spraying, children and pesticides, specific pests, conducive pest areas within schools, and what responsibilities each school staff member (administration, food service, teachers, school nurse, custodians, and contracted PMPs) have in helping to implement and maintain IPM in their schools. Upon concluding this, we asked what pests had been seen around the school and then set out to do our walkthroughs.

The kitchen was probably the biggest area of concern in the schools. Both schools had problems with German and Oriental cockroaches. Live cockroaches were found in drains and even running around on the floor--mainly in the kitchen, but also in the home ec room and near entrance ways. Sanitation was definitely an issue in both cases...drains, floors (especially under appliances), and surfaces need to be deep cleaned in each kitchen. Because school is currently not in session, this would be a good time to address these issues.

Staff lounges and the home ec room were also of concern. Again, this is due to all the food that is eaten, cooked, or stored in these areas. One school had had problems with a pop machine in the staff lounge being infested with German roaches. Obviously, with sweet pop residue and a warm, dark place to live, it was the ideal place for a roach party! The PMP stated that the machine had been treated with gel bait and sure enough, many dead roaches were seen around the area of the pop machine.
The same staff lounge had a leafed wooden table. When we separated the table, we could see lots of debris had built up in between the leaf---again, cleaning this could go a long way in reducing the number of roaches. Any place where food residues can be removed will help.

The other staff lounge had an open bag of peanuts. Staff lounges are going to undoubtedly have food throughout the year, but it's best that long-term items such as the peanuts, chips, candy, cookies, etc. be put in sealed containers, and plates with treats such as donuts or cake be covered tightly when no one is in the lounge.

The home ec room, like the kitchen, needs a good deep cleaning. Dead and live roaches were found several places, plus an old sticky trap that had been placed was full of them. The stoves (in, around, and behind) need to be cleaned, as well as the floors and drains. Doing this will go a long way in reducing food sources for pests.

In all of these areas we placed many sticky traps...some were specifically pheromone traps for roaches. It is our hope that this will help us monitor and determine the extent of the problem. We will check these at an upcoming visit.

We also looked at custodial rooms in both schools...both had pesticides stored, although one had them on open shelves, the other in locked cabinets. Things like Roach Prufe (boric acid) and Raid were some of the more commonly found products. We recommended to the schools that they remove these from the shelves. We'd rather see them implement good old mechanical controls like fly swatters (or a shoe!) than spraying Raid at a pest. Both require direct contact to kill the pest, so why not use the non-toxic approach if possible? Additionally, we talked about how the PMP has the tools and low-toxic products like gels that could be placed in cracks and crevices, thus reducing human exposure.

Finally, we took a look at the perimeter. Overall, both schools looked good but had a few problems with grading and water pooling that could cause excessive moisture problems and attract pests. Also, weed free zones should be in place around both schools. Stephen indicated that the schools should watch out for gaps in the roof, foundation, or walls that could encourage bat, wildlife, or rodent entry. Portable classrooms were one particular problem as they had many gaps, broken vents, or other problems that could encourage animal entry. One school had courtyards that were overgrown with weeds, had grading problems, and had trees touching the roof or walls. These will need to be updated and maintained to discourage pest activity.

This first visit was very productive! Everyone involved seemed very enthusiastic about fixing any problems and working hard to implement IPM over the next year! We'll be providing a report with recommendations to each school, and working with them over the course of the next four visits. Stay tuned!

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