CA Healthy Schools Act already mandates that CA schools implement Integrated Pest Management plan, which is a method of pest prevention that considers the whole school environment and reduces pest populations when needed by identifying pests, monitoring, evaluating, and implementing non-toxic methods of control, which could be cultural controls, physical controls, or biological controls.
CA school IPM policies demand that pesticides are used only as a last resort and that the least toxic chemical control is used. This requires foresight and training of IPM coordinators, staff and school boards to implement a successful IPM plan that keeps our children safe from toxic exposure using sustainable methods.
Successful school integrated pest management includes these components:
- Board approves IPM plan and reviews it annually, board approves general IPM policy and selects IPM coordinator.
- Emphasis on pest prevention by focusing on identification of pests, inspection and monitoring, good sanitation and waste management practices, regular maintenance and pest-proofing of structures.
- pest prevention strategies are outlined in the IPM plan for key groups of indoor pests and outdoor pests and includes predetermined action thresholds for specific pests and identifies cultural/sanitation (modification of pest habitat to deter them), physical/mechanical (barriers, traps), biological controls (owls, ladybugs) as treatment options.
- Emergency pest treatment using pesticides is used only as last resort and pesticides must be chosen from least toxic, non-cancer causing pesticide list such as OMRI.org. Clear documentation of pest prevention strategies used is important for legal compliance with HSA showing the school is using IPM and using least toxic methods of pest management.
- Yearly IPM training of all staff handling ANY pesticide, including antimicrobials (disinfectants).
- Clear communication protocol of IPM plan and updates to parents and staff, including pre-notification of any pesticide applications.
- yearly evaluation of pest prevention and treatment strategies used should be presented to the board before following year’s IPM plan is approved.
*Any staff or contractor using pesticides at a school site must have completed the yearly IPM training prior to use. There are IPM trainings tailored to job duties at DPRs School IPM webpage: https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/schoolipm/
*video training: Natural Turf Management for Schools with Chip Osborne. Available at https://grassrootsinfo.org/training.php
*setting action threshold limits: www.schoolipm.tamu.edu
*landscape monitoring forms: https://ipm.cahnr.uconn.edu/school-ipm-publications/
*Least toxic pesticides to choose from: www.omri.org
*harms of rodenticides: https://cwhl.vet.cornell.edu/system/files/public/cwhl-fact-sheetsrodenticide.pdf
*School IPM resources:
SOLUTIONS FOR SPECIFIC PESTS
*mice and rats:https://www.pesticide.org/mice
WEEDS- weeds are just plants in the wrong place. Pesticides should never be used for aesthetics, the whole ecosystem needs to be balanced.
Must have a comprehensive turf management plan, that includes proper irrigation, aeration, and mowing techniques.
Weeds along fencelines, decorative plots, borders, sidewalks…sheet mulching; pull weeds when young; use steamers or weed torches to kill weeds; borrow goats to eat the weeds.
SAMPLE IPM plan for MOSQUITOS using Nonchemical Control Measures from Texas A&M University:
Sanitation/Cultural Control Measures is source elimination and habitat manipulation:
- Identify anything outside that can hold water such as plastic bottles, cans, containers, and such. Dispose of items, turn containers over, drill holes in containers or dump out water weekly.
- Turn over wheelbarrows and other water-holding tools when not in use.
- Do not allow water to become stagnate in birdbaths, ornamental pools or other outside areas.
- Regularly inspect and clean out gutters and drainpipes.
- Cover dumpsters, trash and recycling receptacles to prevent water accumulation.
- Be aware of nearby piles of used tires, which have become important mosquito oviposition sites.
- Remove old tires or have holes drilled in them to drain water.
- Eliminate adult resting sites (tall grass, brush, pines, and other vegetation)
- Cut back or remove dense brush and other vegetation from around buildings
- Keep grassy areas mowed
- Promote natural breezes to discourage mosquito occurrence
- Alter landscaping to eliminate standing water
- Angle corrugated drainpipes to allow total drainage.
Physical/Mechanical Control Measures
- Make sure window and door screens are in good repair
- Place fans at doorways if mosquitoes are still entering buildings
- Netting/screening for beds, porches, and open door areas.
Biological Control Measures
Biological organisms used to control mosquitoes include predators of larvae and adult mosquitoes, or formulations of naturally occurring mosquito parasites or diseases. The latter are registered by EPA as pesticides.