Part II: Setting Priorities for IPM

Steps to Build an IPM Program
Integrated Pest Management recognizes that not all bugs are bad and need to be killed immediately. On the other hand, some insects and rodents can be very dangerous to the safety or health of the occupants of the facility, and must be eliminated as quickly as possible. Therefore, it is very important that the school staff and the pest control operator or school pest control technician establish well-understood guidelines of action in response to reports of pests present in the facility.

Step 1. Determine Tolerance of Pest Activity

Roaches. There should be no tolerance for roaches in any area of the facility. They can carry several pathogens that can cause health problems under certain circumstances. Problems can range from salmonella poisoning to severe asthmatic reactions in young children.

Cereal Pests. These infest flour and other cereal grain products, and should not be tolerated. Ingestion of insects or pathogens in infested grain products can cause illness in anyone who consumes the food.

House Flies. In nonfood areas, these are more of a nuisance than a threat to the health of the children and staff. Thus, an occasional house fly in a nonfood area should not be cause for alarm. If there are many flies in a nonfood area, this could be a sign of a sanitation problem that needs to be corrected. House flies in a food area cannot be tolerated. The pads on the feet of the flies are sticky and will pick up debris from wherever the fly lands. If the fly should land on garbage or animal feces and then fly into the kitchen and land on exposed food, some of that debris will be transferred to the food.

Other Flies. Flies such as the Cluster Fly or the Carrion Fly are often found throughout a school building. Small numbers do not constitute a health threat, but they can be a nuisance and should be treated as such. However, many flies in a room or area may indicate a problem that needs to be investigated.

Ants. In a food area they should be eliminated quickly as they may contaminate open food, although to a lesser degree than flies or roaches. In nonfood areas they are strictly a nuisance and should be handled as such. Ants outside a building that are not migrating into the building are more beneficial than detrimental and should be left alone.

Occasionally Invading Pests. These include such pests as Crickets, Spiders (except Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spiders) Boxelder Bugs, Millipedes, Clover Mites (not Fowl Mites), Springtails, etc. These insects are not a health threat and only become a nuisance if they appear in large numbers or they are found near open food areas.

Stinging or Biting Insects. These can cause a serious health threat to some children and adults who are hyperallergic to stings or bites. For this reason, there should be no tolerance for these pests either inside or outside of the building. The most likely pests found in Illinois schools in this group are bees, yellowjackets and other wasps, brown recluse and black widow spiders.

Mice. There should be no tolerance in any area of the school for mice. They contaminate food by gnawing into unopened packages and by urinating or defecating on open food or food preparation surfaces. Their constant gnawing can cause damage to the building and, in extreme cases, may cause an electrical short and resultant fire. If a student or staff person attempted to pick up a mouse, he or she could receive a rather nasty bite.

Rats. There should be no tolerance for rats inside or outside of the school building at any time. Like mice, they can contaminate food through gnawing into packages and urinating or defecating on open food or food preparation surfaces. Their gnawing habits can cause damage to the building and they could cause a fire by gnawing into an electrical wire. A bite from a rat can be more serious than one received from a mouse.

Birds. In general birds should not present a problem for a school. However, bird nesting on school buildings should be discouraged to prevent accumulation of droppings that may harbor pathogens and to prevent migration of pests such as fowl mites or carpet beetles from an abandoned nest into classrooms.

Raccoons. These are protected animals and can only be removed from a school by a specialist who is licensed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Raccoons are nocturnal and normally would not contact students or staff. However, they should be removed from the facility as they can be physically destructive to the building. They can get into garbage and create a mess that is attractive for flies and other pests. Additionally, they can carry fleas, and there have been a few isolated cases where children have been bitten by raccoons.

Squirrels. These are protected animals and can only be removed from a school by a specialist who is licensed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Squirrels can cause physical damage to a building and they carry fleas. They tend to be more "people tolerant" and will feed on food scraps found on the school grounds or in the garbage area during the daytime. This will increase the possibility of a student coming in contact with one.

Bats. These are protected animals and can only be removed by a specialist who is licensed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Although bats are nocturnal and are beneficial in their feeding on night-flying insects, they can pose some problems for a school. If they are allowed to roost in a building for a long time, the accumulation of bat droppings can become a health hazard, and can cause physical damage to the building. If a sick bat on the playground is handled by a student, there could be a serious health problem.


Step 2: Determine Response Times

If IPM is to succeed, response to a pest problem must be both timely and effective. However, the facility managers must recognize that some pest problems are more serious than others. For example, a pest problem that threatens the physical safety of students and/or staff should have a higher priority than the mere presence of a single nonthreatening bug. Consequently, facility managers and their pest control staff may want to agree on the response times for pests (Table 1).

TABLE 1 - Response by Pest Control Staff to Pest Problems

Response Time Condition Pest
Not over four hours Potential physical harm to students or staff Rodents where students or staff are likely to contact them;

Wildlife (raccoons, opossums, feral cats, bats, etc.) where students or staff are likely to contact them

Stinging or biting insects
One working day Potential medical harm to students or staff Fleas, Lice, Bed/Bat bugs and Poisonous spiders
One working day Potential for food contamination Cereal pests, Roaches, Rodents, Ants in kitchen or food storage areas and Flies around food.
One to two working days Sighting of large numbers of nonthreatening bugs Ant or Termite colonies in the building; movement into the building of Millipedes, Crickets, Boxelder bugs, etc.


Step 3: Establish Periodic Inspection and Reporting System

IPM programs can be successfully implemented by trained "in-house" school employees or by contracting with a pest control company. A combination of in-house and contracted functions may be mixed and matched to the needs and capabilities of the school system. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages and indi-vidual school systems must decide what is best for them.

Inspections by Trained Personnel. The single most important step in the IPM program is the periodic (not less than monthly) comprehensive inspection of key areas by a trained individual, combined with the evaluation of the documented reports of pest sightings by staff members. This is the foundation upon which all other IPM actions are based. The periodic inspections may be done by a staff member, a specialist with the school district, a local health department person or a structural pest control technician. This person must be able to:

  1. know the life cycle and habits of pests most likely found in schools;
  2. know where the signs of these pests are most likely to be found in the school facility;
  3. be familiar with the many unusual ways these pests can enter the school facility;
  4. have access to all areas of the facility;
  5. identify or obtain an accurate identification of any specimen provided by the school IPM coordinator;
  6. talk to the staff person who made out the pest sighting report, evaluate the information and make a decision on any subsequent action to be taken;
  7. be familiar with pesticide safety procedures and respond to emergency situations as the need dictates;
  8. make written recommendations for the upgrading of the facility and for the changing of procedures to diminish the ability of pests to get in or to find harborage areas in the facility;
  9. follow up on the recommendations and/or changes in procedures to confirm that they have been completed; and
  10. provide a detailed written report for each month.

If the school does not have a person on staff who can meet the above qualifications, then the principal should appoint a staff person to act as the IPM coordinator for the school who will work with the above person. (The IPM coordinator may need to attend appropriate training to work effectively with pest control personnel.) The IPM coordinator's duties should include the following:

  1. receive and possibly make preliminary evaluation of all written reports from other staff persons including:
    1. reports of an occasional invader; these should be handled in accordance with the procedures set up under the "response times,"
    2. reports of unknown pests should be passed on to the technical person described above for evaluation,
    3. reports of those pests deemed to need immediate action should be passed on to the person designated to handle this situation as soon as possible.
  2. coordinate any pesticide applications with the many activities that are common in most schools with the goal being to minimize exposure of students and staff to pesticides;
  3. ensure that all areas of the school are accessible for inspection and/or application of control methods;
  4. check any monitoring devices such as sticky traps between the periodic inspections, if deemed advisable;
  5. be in charge of seeing that structural changes or changes in procedures are carried out;
  6. maintain written reports and recommendations in a file for review as needed; and
  7. review all written reports every six months and ensure that recommended changes are completed.

Guidelines for Periodic Inspections. In large facilities, a pest control technician will want to become familiar with the entire operation before making an inspection. Pests can occur in machinery, stacked products, dumpsters, product spills, etc. In kitchens and storage areas, excessive clutter, poor lighting, unaccessible storage areas and rooms located above or below infested materials are special target sites.

  1. All inspections should be conducted with bright flashlights. A knife or spatula, a good hand lens, screwdrivers and mirrors are also useful equipment.
  2. Flushing agents (small aerosol cans of pyrethrin insecticides used to aid the inspection of voids) can be used, but care must be taken not to contaminate foodstuffs or expose occupants of the facility.
  3. Inspect the pathway taken by incoming supplies to detect problems.
  4. Special attention should be given to all spills. Check for dead insects and tracks in spilled products or dust.
  5. Inspect the back of pantry shelves, floors under shelves and all dark areas.
  6. Traps that use a sex attractant (pheromone) are available for nearly all stored product pests and roaches, which may be used to conduct routine inspections.
  7. Keep written inspection records. Results of inspections and recommendations for changes by management or maintenance should be written in an easily understandable form.
  8. Be safe. Use bump hats and be careful of hot machines and electrical hazards.

Monitoring and Reporting by School Staff. The pest control technician should obtain the assistance of other staff members to monitor pests throughout the school (Table 2). This will enable the pest control technician to concentrate on kitchens, food storage areas and other rooms where pest invasion is likely. To establish an effective monitoring system, individuals must be responsible for monitoring particular areas. Otherwise new pest infestations may be missed because everyone assumed that someone else was responsible for reporting a pest sighting.

Because the pest control technician is not always in the facility, other staff must be relied on as pest monitors. Staff should file written pest sighting reports, which are important to an effective IPM program. Otherwise, the message to the pest control technician may become confused or lost during the many activities in a busy school day. However, the reporting form should be concise and require only necessary information. A cumbersome or long reporting form may be looked on as burdensome by staff members and thus may never be filed. Consequently, a new pest infestation may become established because the staff did not want to take the time to fill out a long report form. Table 3 is a simple pest sighting report that can be modified by schools to fit local needs.

TABLE 2 - Response by Pest Control Staff to Pest Problems

Area Cooks Expert Maintenance Teachers & Staff Students
Kitchen & storage areas X X X    
Restrooms     X X X
Locker Rooms   X X X X
Utility rooms & janitor closets   X X      
Entrances & Hallways     X X X
Classrooms     X X X
Outdoors   X X X X
Dining Area X X X X X
Staff lounges   X X X  
Student Lockers     X   X


TABLE 3 - Simplified Pest Sighting Report

Description of pest seen or sample if available  
Number of pests seen  
Exact location where pest was seen  
Time and date of sighting  
Name of person making report  


Check with Key Facility Personnel. A routine monthly inspection schedule should be established by staff for kitchens, product storage areas and other key locations that are most likely to be subject to pest invasions. The pest control technician should check with key personnel as part of the monthly inspection. Without a standard inspection procedure, conditions that may encourage pest invasion or proliferation may be overlooked.

As with the pest sighting report, the inspection checklist should be as concise as possible so not to burden staff with excessive paperwork. Table 4 is an example of a monthly inspection report for a school kitchen and cafeteria. A monthly inspection report may be needed for other sites including restrooms, utility rooms and janitor closets, entrances, hallways and outdoor areas.

TABLE 4 - Facility Monthly Inspection Check List

Date Pest Sightings Location/Numbers Action to be Taken
Main Kitchen South Wall
Soup Kettles
Tray Assembly area
Tray conveyors
Day storage
Salad Prep area
Cart Storage
Dishwashing area
Cafeteria Serving line
Dirty dish conveyor
South and West Walls
Checkout area
Condiment island
Small dining


Check of monitoring stations. At least once per month, the pest control technician should check glue traps or other monitoring devices for evidence of pest infestation. The presence or absence of captured pests should be recorded so that areas of the school susceptible to pest infestation can be identified.


Step 4: Investigate Pest Sightings and Apply IPM Measures

The pest control technician should file a monthly report of pest infestation with school officials. The report should include the significance of the infestation as a health or nuisance issue, the type of action taken by the pest control technician and any recommendations to school officials to reduce or eliminate conditions that encourage pest infestations. An example of a pest sighting/infestation report may be found in Tables 5 and 6.

TABLE 5 - Pest Sighting/Infestation Report

Site : Action to be taken Details
Pest(s) : Action taken by pest control technician Further Monitoring ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, see attached form
Health( )   Pesticide application ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, see attached form
Nuisance( )   Trapping ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, see attached form
Safety( ) Recommended action taken by school maintenance staff Physical changes ( ) Yes ( ) No If yes:
    Procedural Changes ( ) Yes ( ) No If yes:
    Source Elimination ( ) Yes ( ) No If yes:
Other :      
  Results of Communication to key school personnel    


TABLE 6 - Record of Pest Control Procedures

Method of Control Comments
Pesticide ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, time and date of application:
Site of Application :
Pesticide Used :
Target Pest
Application Method :
Common Name & EPA Reg. #
Amount Used :
Expected Results
Nonchemical Control ( ) Yes ( ) No Time and date :
Target Pest(s):
Method of Control
Traps ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, type of traps:
Location of Traps :
Expected Results:
Mechanical exclusion ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, method:
Building/equipment repairs :
Harborage reduction
Other :
Procedural Changes ( ) Yes ( ) No
If yes, method:
Merchandise storage :
Food handling :
Housekeeping :
Expected results :
Waste disposal :
Equipment Cleaning :
Recycling programs :


Step 5: Follow-Up and Evaluation

Both managers and pest control personnel must be aware that pest problems may change. Pests may actively invade schools or be introduced on dry goods, food packaging, pallets, school bags and many other sources. Consequently, the IPM program should be reevaluated periodically. Information from pest sighting reports, visual inspections, glue traps and other monitors should be kept in a central log for reference. Additionally, school administration must insure that changes in food handling procedures or repairs recommended by the pest control technician are acted on in a timely manner.

Periodically, pest control staff and/or school personnel should review records to decide if pest numbers are at a minimal level or are increasing. A quarterly evaluation of the IPM program is important because a variety of events in the school can affect the long-term success of the IPM program. Consequently, all aspects of the school's pest management program must be periodically reviewed at least quarterly to determine if a pest problem is chronic or temporary. The quarterly evaluation can also be used to determine if past problems have been eliminated and if new problems are appearing. If a pest problem occurs repeatedly over a three-month period, the problem may be chronic. For example, mice seen repeatedly in the same area suggests they are entering from a harborage area like a hidden crawlspace void. In contrast, temporary or seasonal problems may occur about the same time each year, but usually are over in a few days. Other changes in the school's operations can affect the functioning of the IPM program:

  • changes in use patterns like the addition of evening or summer classes;
  • in urban areas, nearby construction causing an invasion of rats;
  • in rural areas, seasonal invasion of mice from nearby fields following grain harvest; and
  • invasion of flies produced from decaying material deposited by stream flooding and receding.

It is important to maintain contact between administrators and pest control staff, otherwise, the initial priority given to the IPM may be lost among the day-to-day demands of a busy school schedule.


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