This is the third and final post dedicated to tactics of school IPM most appropriate to the current situation of shuttered schools. (If your building is open to provide meals for at-home students, we applaud your efforts!)
Post #1 Scouting, Post #2 Exclusion. Sanitation is a third step in structural pest management, as it reduces pest habitat (food, water, shelter).
Sure to gain your attention, this photo (below) proves there’s been a lack of sanitation (and scouting, and exclusion!) But this scenario might well be the case in buildings left unattended during the Covid-19 closures. This may seem extreme, but sanitation isn’t just removing dead rodents, it’s keeping storage areas, kitchens and classrooms free of crumbs, condensed water, and recyclables.
Below is a (partial) look at our recommended Best Management Practices chart. We left off the Daily practices in favor of what can be done best during shutdown. Sanitation is more than just cleaning greasy stove tops. It’s getting to all those places we’d rather ignore, and reducing clutter and keeping food products in pest-proof containers.
The key factor is sanitation and reduction in habitat. Take care not to bring them in on packaging material (inspect incoming food). Clean up all spilled foods; don’t leave dirty dishes overnight; store all food in pest-resistant packaging; modify areas where pipes and utilities enter walls (caulk and screen all entrances); reduce moisture by improving plumbing and insulating pipes that routinely sweat. Empty garbage every day. Keep floor drains capped or full of water. Increase ventilation in moist areas. Baits are the most efficient and widely used form of control, but prevention is the least toxic method of control.
(Above) Mouse droppings are not just unsightly, they can cause allergic reactions and health issues, and can carry disease. Cockroaches exacerbate conditions like asthma. SANITATION also assists monitoring. If this area was cleaned last week, you can be sure the droppings are new.
(Above) Drain Fly Harborage: Clogged floor drains with decaying organic material provides breeding habitat for drain flies.
(above) This commercial storage area shows good spacing and pest-resistant storage. Keeping cardboard to a minimum, and providing space between items, and space below and behind the shelving makes for easier cleaning. (photo Dr. Matt Frye)
Here are some resources:
UC IPM: How to Get Rid of Pantry Pests
Green Cleaning Products – EPA – Protecting Students and Staff with Green Cleaning Products
And in this time of specific cleaning needs, EPA Recommended Cleaning products against Virus