Tag Archives: Cleaning

IPM in the classroom – No creature was stirring… scratch that. They are.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But a week off from school is delightful
And since cleanup was incomplete
School pests eat, breed and eat, breed and eat. – Tortured adaptation of Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow

I admit to being a Christmas music junkie (Once Thanksgiving is over, thank you. Christmas music in October is ridiculous.) But I might have overdosed a bit as, considering my next blog topic, visions of mice running through empty classrooms danced through my head. (Okay, I’ll stop now.)

Mice would find Jim delicious. Photo: Michael Homan flickr

At any time of the year, school pests, especially mice, roaches, and ants, will find and consume any food laying around. And sometimes they eat things we might not consider to be food, like glue, fragrant soaps, and their dead brethren.

The holidays, however, bring their own avalanche of new food possibilities. Forget the parties with their crumbs, spilled juiced, and bits of candy that rolled under the radiator. (Actually, don’t forget them. Not forgetting is the point of this post, so we’ll get back to them shortly.) Holiday crafts can be a mecca of opportunity for the critters that make school buildings their home.

The small, round milo and millet can get everywhere! Photo: Megan flickr

By holiday crafts, we mean anything from macaroni art to gumdrop wreaths. As an example of the pest implications of crafts, let’s look at the classic pinecones coated with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed. The small, round milo is a primary ingredient in many inexpensive birdseed and is not even eaten by most birds. The smaller, also round, millet is more popular with birds, but, trust me, both can get everywhere! Although more expensive, black-oil sunflower seeds are high in energy, a favorite of many birds, and, most pertinent to this post, infinitely easier to clean up. (If you’re interested in pursuing this non-pest related topic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a quick guide to seed types.)

And then there is the run-of-the-mill food opportunities provided by breakfast in the classroom, afternoon snack, and the emergency stash in the teacher’s desk drawer. All of these activities lead to overwhelmed custodial staff, who are likely already understaffed and overworked, and, of course, those happy pests that can feed uninterrupted through the holiday break.

A pest-proof container that fits in a desk drawer is the perfect gift for teacher.

So lend a hand. Pre-plan those holiday crafts and parties with pests in mind and be sure to include a clean-up strategy. Give the students the responsibility for their own messes and the tools they need to clean it up. And, if someone asks you what you want as a gift, pest-proof containers for your emergency stash could be just the ticket.

For more ideas on scrooging pests, see the Texas School Pest News post Don’t make it a Happy New Year for Pests. The NYS IPM Program has put together School Integrated Pest Management: The Four Laws for Keeping Schools Pest-Free and other resources available on our Schools and Daycare Centers webpage.

And make sure you check under the radiator.

Happy holidays!

Sandbox or Litterbox – You Decide

Raccoons defecate in communal sites, called latrines. Raccoon feces usually are dark and tubular and have a pungent odor. – from Raccoon Latrines: Identification and Clean-up

Raccoons are pretty cute, but you really don’t want them pooping on the property. Photo: Nell McIntosh

When I was younger, raccoons were my favorite animal. It was hard to resist their clever little hands and cute bandit masks. My stuffed raccoon was named Rickie. Even when I was old enough to learn about rabies, my love didn’t wane. But then, when taking a wildlife rehabilitation workshop, I learned about Baylisascaris procyonis (raccoon roundworm), which is passed in raccoon feces. They recommended using a blowtorch to kill the eggs of this intestinal parasite which can enter the human eye and nervous system. The cuddly raccoon lost its place in my heart.

My love/hate relationship with raccoons came to mind when I saw the CDC has released a fact sheet on raccoon latrines and Baylisascaris procyonis. In it, they state “Young children or developmentally disabled persons are at highest risk for infection as they may be more likely to put contaminated fingers, soil, or objects into their mouths”, but fail to point out that sandboxes can serve as a raccoon latrine.  (They do state it as a possibility here.) Of course, cats, which carry their own suite of parasites, are more likely to use sandboxes as their own personal litter box, so it is good IPM to prevent all types of animals from accessing your sandy play areas.

The easiest way to keep sandboxes from becoming litter boxes is to not have any sandboxes at all.

The idea is good, but the implementation is lacking. Without securing it, animals can easily slip under the tarp. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Bu, if you believe, like so many, that there are sensory and group play opportunities with sandboxes (just Google “sand play activities”), then there are steps you can take to prevent animals from gaining access.

  • Keep sanitation a priority to avoid attracting wildlife – ensure that trash is cleaned up and put in a sealed container at the end of each day. (This will also help with other pests such as rats and yellow jackets.)
  • Have a “no food in the sandbox” rule – there is no need to provide an enticement for local animals to check out the box.
  • Pest proof your buildings (including outbuildings) to reduce den sites.
  • Have a solid box bottom  – not only will this help prevent sand loss, but will prevent animals from burrowing in from underneath.
  • Have a durable cover on your box and make sure it is only uncovered during playtime.

    Sandbox with cover rolled back. Photo: Gil Garcia

    Tarp ties on the sandbox hold the tarp securely in place. Photo: Gil Garcia

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you find a latrine, check out the CDC fact sheet that includes information on cleaning it up while protecting your health. (Spoiler alert: they also recommend using a propane torch as chemicals will not kill the eggs.)

Just a note that raccoon latrines can be found in other areas, including (yikes!) inside buildings. Be sure to pest proof your buildings to prevent raccoons (and squirrels and bats and birds) from making your building their new den. To keep wildlife out of your buildings and discourage them from your grounds, visit the NYS IPM Program web page: What’s Bugging You: Wayward Wanderers.

New York State’s “Clean, Green, & Healthy Schools” website

The NYS Department of Health has organized a website with extensive information on school environmental health, defined as the way the physical environment of school buildings and school grounds influences the overall health and safety of occupants. The key role that IPM plays in protecting school children and staff is prominent and includes resources from the NYS IPM Program. If you have not visited the site in a while, check it out at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/healthy_schools/index.htm

Pest Prevention by Design?

Another great EPA webinar is coming up next week. Pest Prevention by Design helps school administrators, engineers, and ‘green’ builders understand how to design pests out of buildings rather than be in a battle to control them after they’ve entered. 2000px-Environmental_Protection_Agency_logo.svg

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 2:00pm, you can be part of a live webinar (online workshop) simply by registering. From your desk, laptop or tablet, you can watch, listen and interact as desired while two pest exclusion experts share their knowledge. If you’ve never used Adobe Connect, get a quick overview at: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.htm

For example, where a school may traditionally address a rat infestation with rat poison, the guidelines would recommend sealing the gap in the door frame that let the animals enter in the first place, putting a better lid on the dumpster out back, or removing the English ivy from the landscaping (a preferred rodent habitat). By following these recommendations, we can keep pests out, thereby improving indoor air quality and saving money over the life of the building.DSC01130-B

Join us to learn how you can better incorporate pest prevention in your school district’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Featured presenters will be:

Chris Geiger, Ph.D., IPM Program Manager, City of San Francisco

ChrisGeiger

Robert Corrigan, Ph.D., Rodent IPM Specialist, RMC Pest Management Consulting

Robert M. Corrigan in downtown Manhattan. (Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times)

Robert M. Corrigan in downtown Manhattan. (Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times)

Space is limited to the first 1,000 to attend, and that number is not unexpected. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar.

REGISTER NOW!

Pest Management for Today’s Schools Workshop – October 30, 2015

Do you work for a school district served by Orange-Ulster BOCES? Join the NYS IPM Program of Cornell University and Orange-Ulster BOCES for a seminar on implementing integrated pest management within schools and on the grounds.

Lynn Braband discussing landscaping and how it affects school pest management.

Lynn Braband discussing landscaping and how it affects school pest management.

There is no fee for the workshop, but pre-registration is requested. Contact Jack DeGraw, Health and Safety Coordinator, Orange – Ulster BOCES at  john.degraw@ouboces.org or 845-781-4887.

WHERE

Orange-Ulster BOCES, Carl Onken Conference Center at the Amy Bull Crist Campus, 53 Gibson Rd., Goshen, NY 10924

AGENDA

8:00 – 8:30           Registration

8:30 – 9:00           Tenets of School IPM – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program

Introduction to the concepts and tools for successful integrated pest management programs on school properties. Learn how to make your pest management program more efficient and effective, and how to comply with school-related laws and policies.

9:00 – 9:45           Regulatory Update – Catherine Ahlers, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Presentation of state regulations impacting pest management on school properties.

9:45 – 10:00           Break

10:00 -11:00          Turf and Grounds IPM – Joellen Lampman, NYS IPM Program

A discussion of IPM approaches for athletic fields, lawns, and non-turf areas such as fencelines, sidewalks, and curbs. Cultural techniques for minimizing weed populations, such as heavy overseeding, will be featured along with methods for assessing insect populations. Techniques for preventing insect and weed infestations as well as pest management products allowable for use on school grounds will be reviewed.

11:00 – 12:00         Structural Pest Management – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program

A description of implementing IPM for management of rodents, ants, cockroaches, and other pests in school buildings. This session will include discussions of inspections, sanitation, prevention, control options for common structural pests, and record keeping.

12:00 – 12:30         Walk-Through Exercise – Lynn Braband and Joellen Lampman, NYS IPM Program

Interactive session where we will conduct a casual on-site inspection, discussing pest management aspects of situations encountered.