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Dear Integrated Pest Management Coordinator:
In 2007, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control revised the school IPM rules, known in the biz as Chapter 27. These revisions clarify requirements and exemptions to the record keeping and notification requirements. For example, you are no longer required to notify parents and staff when pesticides are applied during week-long school vacations but you must notify when pesticides are applied over a weekend. The amended rule can be found at http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides/laws/rulemaking.htm or by contacting the Board of Pesticides Control (call 207-287-2731).
Bed bugs are in frequently in the news and reports of these human parasites in hotels and apartments abound. The reports are not entirely media sensationalism. This small (up to 3/16”), flat-bodied insect, which at one time was commonly found in hotels, movie theaters, and even homes, is on the rise again. Should you be concerned that they’ll turn up in your schools? “Anytime an insect has the potential to crawl on a person, and travel with (people), you’re guaranteed that you’ll see them showing up in a public facility,” according to Greg Kesterman, Director of the Environmental Health Division, Hamilton County Public Health (Cincinnati, Ohio), in the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio). This is certainly true. Bed bugs have, and will, show up in schools from time to time, especially as infestations become more common.
Do steps need to be taken to avoid a “large scale problem” in schools? Are bed bugs really another problem that schools need to be highly concerned about?
While you never want to underestimate nature’s ability to cause mischief, the threat of bed bug infestations occurring in day schools is probably relatively low. Bed bugs are primarily active at night. After dark they need a reliable source of blood to sustain a population and spread. It would be tough going in a typical classroom for a bed bug hitching a ride to school in a backpack. And, since they hunker down during daylight hours, it’s also not likely that bed bugs will hop from one backpack to another. However, the bed bug’s night-time blood feeding habits are, perhaps, another reason to ban furred and feathered pets from the classroom. Should IPM coordinators, school nurses, and school pest management staff be able to recognize a bed bug and know something about its biology and behavior? Sure. Should you worry that they are going to spread through your schools and cause a big problem? Probably not. For most school classrooms and auditoriums, there should be little risk of bed bug infestations significant enough to require treatment.
School dormitories are another issue, of course. Schools with dormitories are strongly recommended to implement policies and procedures for preventing, monitoring, and quickly responding to bed bug infestations. An excellent resource is at http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/bb_guidelines/. An inexpensive trap for use under bed posts can be found at: http://www.insect-interceptor.com/. For more information on bed bug biology and control see http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef636.asp.
(Adapted from School Pest News, Southwest Technical Resource Center, http://schoolipm.tamu.edu/Newsletter_upload_files/Newsletter_35.pdf.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released HealthySEATv2, a new, completely voluntary, and fully customizable tool to help school districts conduct self-assessments of their school facilities for potential environmental health and safety hazards.
The heart of the tool is a powerful database file that will let school districts customize the tool to manage all aspects of a facility assessment program. The tool comes pre-loaded with a checklist that integrates all of EPA's voluntary and regulatory programs for schools. States and school districts can incorporate their own policies and programs into a customized checklist and reference guidebook.
To learn more about the program and to download Version 2, visit: http://www.epa.gov/schools.
Free School IPM Workshop at your School!
Coming in May 2009:
Maine School IPM Program: www.thinkfirstspraylast.org/schoolipm
The question we need to ask is not “do you do IPM?”, but “how much IPM do you do?”
The Asian ladybeetle relies on fats stored in its body to sustain it through the winter.
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