Wednesday, September 28, 2011

IPM Article in The Connection!

Check out the article Clyde and I wrote about IPM activities in Nebraska in the
September issue of "The Connection," a newsletter distributed by the North Central Region Integrated Pest Management Center. The newsletter also features many other IPM events and resources from around the region!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Third Child Care visit

Last week Clyde, Barb, Gina and I conducted our last IPM Child Care visit. This was a smaller facility than earlier ones we visited, but it also had its own kitchen and laundry room. It had several classrooms where daycare and after school care is provided.

We met with the owner and director, who said they hadn't really seen many pest problems. They have had no issues with bed bugs, but we gave them tips about what to do if a bed bug situation ever occurs. As with other child care facilities, they have had occasional instances of head lice, and we also gave them tips on the best way to handle these.

Upon inspecting the facility, the only pests we found were a ground beetle and some house flies. This time of year, the beetles commonly come in and aren't a huge concern. The flies were found mainly in the kitchen but also elsewhere in the building. The kitchen had an exterior door that led to the trash area, which was really close to the door. We explained that many of the flies could be coming in from there (mainly when staff open and close the door to take out the trash), so recommended they move the trash to the other side of the door and further away, which in itself would probably cut down on the number of flies. Also, we recommended installing yellow lights outside, and inside, putting up fly paper or a fly light to capture flies.

Other recommendations we had for the facility were general ones we have given to other schools and child care centers...sealing cracks and crevices, good sanitation (especially counters, behind appliances, and wherever food is cooked or served),installing and maintaining doorsweeps, screening windows, hanging mops and brooms,and locking cabinets that contain chemicals. Although overall the facility didn't have a lot of clutter, there were a few storage spaces where clutter could be minimized, thus reducing potential harborage for pests.

The owner explained that they have a pest control company come in and do preventive sprays, and we encouraged her to talk with them about doing IPM strategies instead, such as inspection and monitoring. In addition, we provided the staff with sticky traps to put out in the kitchen under sinks and in corners near appliances. Although they have not seen any cockroaches, this is a good way to monitor for pests and make sure there isn't a problem!

Outside we found that some plants were growing into the air conditioner unit and recommended they cut these away from the AC unit and the building to help reduce pest harborage and keep the AC running smoothly!

We were happy to see that none of the child care centers we visited had major pest issues. We are providing all the facilities with written recommendations to help them implement IPM and solve minor pest problems they currently have as well as prevent future pest problems.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Second Child Care Visit

Last Thursday Clyde, Barb, Pierce, Gina and I visited the second of our Lincoln child care centers. This too was a fairly new facility, which included a large basement that is currently being used for storage.

The biggest pest issues that this daycare has experienced is with accidental invaders in the basement, including spiders and millipedes in the basement. The staff has put out sticky traps by the doors and caught many insects that way. At one time there was a "meadow vole" problem, and staff reported seeing "baby" meadow voles entering through the basement. Glue traps were also placed for these. There is no report of problems with cockroaches or mice. The facility has a pest control company come in and do regular preventive sprays. We encouraged them not to do this and to instead work with the pest control company to implement IPM methods.

This facility has its own kitchen, although food is not actually prepared here, just heated up. The cook reported that she sees flies occasionally, but rarely fruit flies. Because there was a service door in the kitchen leading outside and dumpsters were near the building, we would recommend that the cook keep this door closed as much as possible to discourage flies from entering. Also, the service door needed to have its doorsweep replaced. Installing outside security lights with yellow lights would also help cut down on the amount of pests near the building.

The kitchen was clean overall, but needed some extra cleaning around appliances and floor drains. Food such as cereal was in original packaging, so we would recommend it be put in pest-proof containers. We also saw some gaps around pipes here and also in the restrooms.

This child care was unique in that it had a cafeteria in which kids could eat. Most child care centers have children eat in their classrooms. Having a cafeteria will help cut down on the amount of food in other areas and thus help prevent pests in those areas. Staff indicated that they try not to have much food in the classrooms, even for curriculum (i.e. dry pasta). After it's used, they try to move it back to the kitchen whenever possible.

There was a laundry room in this facility. As with the first child care center we visited, we gave them tips about how they could use heat to kill bed bugs if this ever became a problem.

The basement was cluttered, but the staff may convert the basement into more classroom space, so this could be temporary. Still, as a general recommendation we would encourage the facility to reduce clutter whereever possible in classrooms, storage, and the basement.

Because this child care doesn't have a lot of pest issues, we will primarily give them a list of general recommendations to help prevent pests.Through good sanitation, sealing around pipes, keeping doors shut and installed with doorsweeps, and reducing clutter, the facility should be able to reduce potential pest problems.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Child Care IPM Assessment

Yesterday Clyde, Pierce, Barb, Gina from the Lancaster County Health Department (who works with training child care providers on health and safety), and I went to do an IPM assessment at the first of three child care centers in Lincoln. This one was the largest of the three, with several classrooms, its own commercial kitchen, a "mom's room,", laundry room, large indoor and outdoor recess areas, and two staff breakrooms. The facility is new construction, only two years old and is being kept in excellent condition.

The director and assistant direct accompanied us on our tour. They reported very few pest problems. They said when the facility was being built and doors were being left open, they had a few mice, but hadn't since. Some mouse traps were still left out, but some of these were being used to catch insects (sticky traps were being placed inside). Ground beetles and "fruit flies" were the only other complaint.

Upon checking all the rooms, we noted that the staff is doing very well overall on keeping the facility in good condition.

For example, the kitchen's cook has been doing an excellent job with maintaining sanitation, especially in cleaning floor drains to prevent buildup that can attract flies and cockroaches. She noted that she'd seen a few fruit flies by the drain, but regularly cleans the drains to try to reduce problems. We also noted that all permanent food prep areas/sinks/fixtures were sealed at the wall junction. The storage closet has open shelves and no wooden pallets, both things we encourage in kitchen storage areas to prevent pests. These are all great IPM approaches!

The classrooms had some clutter and some had small kitchens, but overall were in good shape. One had a pet guinea pig that appeared well cared for. Generally floors were clean throughout the facility, with just a few areas, such as in the laundry room, that could use better sanitation. We also found a rodent ultrasound device that we informed the staff wasn't effective in deterring pests.

We are going to provide general recommendations for this child care center, such as caulking around escutcheon plates on the sinks in the bathrooms, keeping food in a centralized location and in pest proof containers, good sanitation, and reducing clutter. We also noticed mulch and vegetation close to the building around the perimeter, which may be the source of the ground beetles. The facility may want to address this to reduce the number of beetles that come into the building.

Although this child care center has had no problems with bed bugs, we did give them some pointers about what to do in case a problem would ever occur. We advised them to keep a close eye on coat rack areas where children's coats and backpacks might be stored, and the pet cage, since bed bugs would be attracted to the guinea pig at night when people are not around. Since the facility has an onsite laundry room, we recommended drying clothing or backpacks at 120 degrees if bed bugs are suspected. Bed bugs are vulnerable to heat and succumb to it fairly easily.

Overall this was a well maintained child care center that seemed very interested in learning about and implementing IPM strategies to keep pests out or get rid of any that might become a problem. In addition, their pest control technician also seems to be on board--he does not come in and automatically spray but instead recommends IPM approaches. Just what we like to hear!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bats in the Belfry

Last Friday Clyde, Pierce, wildlife specialist Stephen Vantassel, and I went to visit a child care center located in a church that had reported seeing bats. We met with the director, another child care staff member, a custodian, and a parent who had been involved in capturing one of the bats. They had been seeing several bats inside, and had caught them either with containers or gloves. In all cases, they've followed rabies protocol and had the bats tested. All have turned out negative, but with the children and staff in the building, it's especially important to find the source and prevent more bats from entering.

We suggested that on the inside, the staff screen all vents and openings, such as around pipes. We also noted that they should fill in gaps under the doors with thick towels or rubber stoppers, and to keep doors shut at night to prevent bats from moving to different rooms. Doors during cleaning and trash removal should also be kept shut.

A trip outside the church revealed many large gaps and bat droppings in many locations. We recommended that the staff install one-way bat doors on gaps rather than sealing them immediately. Sealing them could cause the bats to try to find another way out, which in this case might be inside the building. A recent roof repair might have also contributed to some of the bat activity inside. The one-way door will allow the bat to fly out of its roosting/living area, but it won't be able to find its way back in. Once the child care staff are sure the bats are gone out of an area, then they can seal up the gaps. We did find one actual living bat in a gap.

We also mentioned that the staff might want to initiate a "bat watch." Near sundown, people can be stationed at each corner of the building and watch for the comings and goings of bats. That would help in determining exactly where they are living/roosting and help target control efforts.

Other pest issues the staff will want to address include cutting tree limbs away from the walls so that squirrels or other animals can't access the building. Also, weedy areas near the building are great mice habitat and a weed free zone of 12-15 inches should be established around the entire structure.

We wrote a set of recommendations and sent them to the child care center, outlining many IPM methods that can be used to solve their bat problem. We hope to hear some good news about the bat sightings once the staff implements these strategies!

For more information about bats and bat control, check out our Bat Nebguide.