Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nacho Cheese, Anyone?

Last week Clyde and I joined Mark Shour from IA State, and Darrell Deneke, Jim Wilson, and Jon Kieckhefer from South Dakota State to visit four South Dakota schools in two school districts where we are working to implement IPM. Some other participants in one or more of our SD visits have included Mike Daniels, the pesticide circuit rider for the Nebraska Winnebago tribe, Stephen Vantassel, UNL wildlife expert, Ruth O'Neill from Montana, and Jerry Jochim from Indiana, all of whom have either been involved or are interested in IPM for schools in their states.

We began this process May of 2009 and will do a total of 5 visits. Our hope is to educate the SD schools about pests and how to address any current pest problems as well as prevent future ones by implementing good sanitation, exclusion, trapping, and other IPM practices. We have provided sticky traps and placed these in pest conducive areas around the school during each visit. On our next visit, we check and record numbers and types of pests found on the old traps and replace with new ones to monitor progress. PMPs in both school districts we have been working with have been involved in both walkthroughs and assisting with pest monitoring. They are an integral part of the team and will be very important in maintaining and coordinating IPM with the SD schools after this project is completed.

On previous visits, we have conducted in-services/training for custodial and other staff, and teachers to introduce common pests and explain what IPM is and what we are trying to accomplish with this project. We have encouraged the participation of SD school superintendents, pest management professionals (PMPs), custodians and facility managers, teachers, and other school staff.

Overall the SD schools have shown very good efforts! One school had a pretty severe moth fly problem due to a dirty drain and during this last visit we were very impressed to find that the drain had been deep cleaned and there were very few moth flies on the trap we had set out. One school had dead mice in traps and mouse droppings under a sink. They have since removed the mouse, cleaned thoroughly, and freshly painted this area. Other general observations we've made is that the schools need to seal around all their pipes, install doorsweeps under all doors (they are on the way to fulfilling this) and improve general cleanliness under appliances.

We have found some major problems with cleaning small appliances used in concessions and other least 3 popcorn machines are encrusted with grease and have left over popcorn long after use, a nacho cheese machine looks like it has never been cleaned, and a small fryer and some ovens/microwaves in home ec rooms or teacher lounges have a lot of food debris and grease that should be deep cleaned. All of these things are not only unpleasant to look at, but would be a feast for pests!

During our first visit we found several cans of pesticides in non-locked cabinets, some of which were really outdated. We recommended to the schools that these be discarded. Since then, we have found a can here or there, but the schools have been pretty cooperative in either discarding the pesticides themselves or letting us remove them. We did find some lawn pesticides in outdoor sheds as well, which should be removed or stored in locked cabinets.

With one visit left to go, we have been pleased with the progress that the schools have made. One school is even using pest logs, a recordkeeping tool we have encouraged to help schools keep track of pest sightings. Although there are still some areas that need improvement, the SD schools are doing a good job of addressing many issues that the IPM team has found and seem enthusiastic about making the changes.

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