IPM STAR Certified 2008-2008
June 19, 2006
Is it possible to get better
pest control with fewer pesticide applications?
Mesa Public Schools’ experience with IPM proves the answer is a
resounding ‘Yes’! Mesa
Public Schools serves 74,000 students and is the largest school system in
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a common sense approach that focuses on preventing pest problems rather than routine applications of pesticides.
Tom Otis, maintenance
facilitator for the school district, started the IPM program in 1999 after
attending a meeting on new regulations being developed for pesticide use
in schools. He thought it
would be a good idea to experiment with an IPM approach so
Until then, the primary
strategy was to rely on pesticide applications by a local pest control
company. “They were treating
entire schools with pesticide at the end of the year,” Otis recalls.
Now pest control “is a team
effort – it takes everybody,” according to Otis.
An example he cites involves an ant problem in a classroom, “The
teacher was using Cheerios as a counting aid for math.
She insisted there was nothing in her classroom to bring ants
in,” not realizing the Cheerios were the issue. Otis
suggested she switch to a non-food counting aid, solving the problem.
“Kitchens were a tough area,” continues Otis. “At first the schools didn’t want to spend the money to get things up off the floor and get rid of wooden pallets and cardboard boxes. It can be hard to get people to recognize there is a benefit at first.
Gradually, rolling metal and
plastic shelving was purchased to replace pallets.
Food items are removed from cardboard shipping containers as they
arrive and placed on the shelves. Kitchens
and storage areas are now much easier to clean and pest complaints have
been greatly reduced – removing the pallets and cardboard eliminated
hiding places for cockroaches and mice.
Mesa’s grounds maintenance crew also gets involved in pest prevention.
“Water valve boxes on school grounds are a problem,” reports
Carlos Prator, supervisor for the Grounds Department.
These boxes are dark, cool and moist, and are ideal breeding sites
for cockroaches. “We clean
these out and then seal the lids with putty,” says Prator.
The result is fewer cockroaches finding their way into nearby
New team members include Ed
Mesa Public Schools is
committed to improving their excellent program.
Open trash barrels at several schools are slated to be replaced
with trash cans with lids that close – keeping pests out.
The IPM team is also reviewing bird management options, with an eye
towards making schools less attractive to pigeons.
And finally, Ed Stallard and