Pest management issues are found throughout the school (interior) and outside the school (exterior) on the campus. They involve every aspect of the school, from the obvious locations (cafeteria) to the less conspicuous (lockers and desks).
Different pests (insects, weeds, molds, rodents, or other animals) require different conditions to thrive, but all creatures need food, water, and shelter to survive. As a result, key concern areas include places where pests have access to food, water, and hiding places (harborage). Pest-prone areas include the following:
- Cafeteria: Pests are attracted to food and water in conspicuous locations as well as between appliances, in cracks, and cabinets. Pests enter through openings in exterior walls and doors, and are transported in on packaging. Pests will remain in places of harborage (i.e. stacks of boxes).
- Classrooms: Pests are attracted to food in desks and areas around classroom pets. Pest populations increase in protected areas where papers and clutter accumulate. Some classrooms have even higher levels of vulnerability, such as home economics classrooms, and they will reproduce in these safe spaces.
- Lockers: Large amounts of clutter and food can easily and quickly accumulate in lockers throughout a school year.
- Loading Areas and Docks: Well-managed schools are often introduced to pest problems through deliveries of goods and supplies that have been stored in uncontrolled warehouses. Open spaces over and around garage doors also provide year-round access.
- Dumpsters: Waste receptacles (all varieties) and surrounding areas are especially vulnerable to pest problems.
- Exterior Conduits: All openings from the outside, including gaps around pipes, electrical lines, ventilation ducts, air conditioners, and windows, provide invitations to pests.
- Landscaping: Foundation plantings attract a great variety of insects, including those that destroy structures. Overhanging tree branches are known for providing pest access. Rotting fruit from fruit trees attract flies and stinging insects. Nuts and seeds from trees can attract rodents such as squirrels.
- School Grounds and Athletic Fields: Herbicides are used to control weeds found in landscapes and athletic fields, and insecticides are used to control insects in both areas. Often well-intentioned parents, volunteers, or staff will apply pesticides to control or eliminate problems, unknowingly creating risks for students involved in athletic activities.
Additional locations in schools that are vulnerable to increased pest activity include areas surrounding vending machines, recycling centers, teacher lounges, locker rooms, and theater/back stage areas including dressing rooms.
School administrators and staff must work together to create and manage their own individualized IPM checklist or inspection form. Examples are included in the links to the right. Schools can modify them to suit their individual needs.