Childhood is a vital time in human development. Schools nurture core human values, moral codes, and personal relationships, and last but nowhere near least; they provide the foundation for all our worldly knowledge and understanding.
Children attend schools and young adults attending universities should never have to focus on anything but education, and this includes their personal safety and exposure to any pests that threaten their health and well-being. Not only do high pest populations pose threats to health, they also degrade the learning environment and cause structural damage to school buildings.
Pest control programs for schools and universities in the Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania area must focus on prevention while simultaneously addressing the needs of a busy, dynamic environment that, by its very nature, serves to attract rather than deter pests.
But what are the keys to effective pest control and exclusion practices for matriculation environments and what can you as a school administrator or manager do to find the right commercial pest control company to secure the safety and hygiene of your student body and faculty?
Pest Control In Schools And Health Concerns For Children
Environmental conditions often bring about pest infestations and children are more likely to experience adverse health effects than adults when exposed to pathogens. This is both because of their smaller body size and the fact that their brains and other organs are still in vulnerable stages of development. Healthier school environments not only improve attendance, they also lead to greater academic achievement and a more productive life.
A major problem with pests is that many of them are common sources of allergens, which can result in serious allergic reactions and trigger asthma attacks. This chronic respiratory condition is responsible for more school absences than any other childhood ailment, resulting in approximately 13.8 million school days missed every year. In an average classroom of 30 students, about three will have asthma. When children miss school, not only do they suffer academically, their schools pay a price as well. States renew funding annually based on attendance records. Although each state is different and varies by district, attendance-based funding can lose as much as $100 million due to absenteeism alone.
According to Dr. Robert Corrigan of the New York City Board of Health and Mental Hygiene: “If rodent “droppings’ dust contains allergens or some type of pathogenic microbe, then there could be potential health consequences, perhaps even some being serious.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are more than 35 separate diseases that rodents can spread and a school child or adult doesn’t have to be bitten in order to contract them.
For many schools with heavy budgetary allocations already stretched to an uncomfortable limit, a hefty sum to remove rodents from schools may be challenging. In the long run however, if not properly addressed, the cost and damage to school property and health will be even greater if the problem is not handled by professionals, such as the experts at Pestco. One school district totaled more than $620 million in damages caused by pest infestations over the course of a five-year period!
Vulnerable School Locations
There are some areas in schools and universities that are more vulnerable to pest infestation than others. Cafeterias where food and water are confined in spots that could easily go unnoticed, such as between appliances and inside, cabinets can be problematic. Classrooms where pests can accumulate inside desks and closets and lockers, where clutter and food reign as king and queen respectively, are particularly troublesome because food can collect unnoticed throughout the year, making pests very happy. Also some rooms have sinks in them, often creating entryways and harboring areas for insects. Gyms and locker rooms, which are usually warm and poorly ventilated, make the perfect breeding ground for pests, and dumpsters situated too close to buildings are also conducive to pest infestation. Also, poorly maintained floor drains can be grow to create serious pest and hygiene-related problems.
Exterior conduits, which translate into insect entry points and neglected school grounds and athletic fields, harbor rodents that destroy school structures.
Pests Found In Schools And Universities In Pittsburgh And Western PA
There are a host of insects and pests that cause problems wherever they go, but the following cast of characters in particular, can be harmful to children and young adults in schools and universities situated in Western Pennsylvania.
The Ubiquitous Cockroach
Cockroaches have survived every civilization known to mankind. They are known to withstand extreme weather conditions and are very difficult to control without help from the professional experts at Pestco. They are known to travel on or through garbage or animal feces as well as drain and sewage pipes. They carry with them, as sort of luggage along their journey, over 33 kinds of bacteria, including salmonella and E.coli. Both of these can be very dangerous, as their discarded skins and feces can trigger asthmatic attacks, especially in very young children. They can be found in kitchen areas, drains and other areas where moisture and food remnants accumulate.
The Despicable Bedbug
While this may momentarily seem an odd choice for a school problem where beds are scarce and reserved for nurse’s offices or the hotel and lodging industry, it is this very moniker that causes confusion. It implies that bedbugs live in beds and this is not true. Bedbugs are skilled hitchhikers and they infect clothing, upholstery, bedding, furniture and rugs. They can and do reside anywhere there are huge populations, feeding on the blood of both humans and animals alike. A recent national poll conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) indicates that bedbugs remain a serious problem for many Americans. Pest control specialists have reported almost 25% more incidents this year concerning bedbugs than last year.
Bedbugs are very annoying pests that the average person cannot eliminate without help. Unlike roaches or ants where eliminating the food source is the solution, in the case of bedbugs, the human is the food source, and therein lies the rub! While these bugs are not considered a health threat as are many other school pests, their bites are distracting and they can get infected if scratched open. Bedbugs can ingest seven times their own weight in blood, which would be the equivalent of an average-sized male drinking 120 gallons of liquid. It seems weird that horror writers haven’t yet been inspired by this fact to create a new movie villain-the blood-sucking bedbug vampire. The opening shots could include the realization that the star awakens to discover that he or she is not sleeping alone in the bed!
The presence of bedbugs can also lead to socially charged interactions, especially if they can be traced to a particular student. No teachers should ever call out a student in front of the class, for this can be a humiliating experience. Even though school authorities must ultimately assume a proactive stance by educating teachers and students about the bedbug problem, professional pest control as offered by the experts at Pestco will probably be necessary, and in the long run, will save schools and universities both time and money.
Other Insect Pests
Insects that are most likely to infest schools besides cockroaches include: bed bugs, carpenter and red ants, stinkbugs, termites and Indian meal moths. Some of these are more dangerous than others, but none are desirable company in school buildings. Termites can cause significant structural damage and flies, gnats and ants are annoyances that distract from an ambiance dedicated to learning and concentration.
Mice and rats are constant threats in schools and universities throughout western PA. Mice are dangerous to students because they carry a variety of diseases, such as salmonellosis, hantavirus, and leptospirosis, all of which can be transmitted to people. Their gnawing and chewing habit can also cause structural damage to a school building, making it unsafe for children, and they can also transmit diseases indirectly via fleas. Eggs, urine and larvae can contaminate food sources in school cafeterias, and an infestation can be very costly both in terms of food replacement and the disruption of lunchtime operations.
A rodent infestation can lead to a secondary insect invasion of mites, ticks, fleas, lice and a host of other unpleasant critters. The Norway rat is a well-known pest in western Pennsylvania. It is primarily a ground rodent that can live either outside or inside a man-made structure. Schools are attractive abodes because they are large sources for food such as meats, cheeses, and even dry foods like cereals and pet food. One final, sobering thought about rodents. Did you know that rodents destroy enough food every year to feed over 200 million people!
Pest Control At The University Level
Ivy-covered campuses can provide many entry points for unwanted critters. They penetrate college structures through cracks in the walls in classrooms, facilities and dorms. According to one US. Census Bureau assessment, nation-wide, there are about 2.4 million students living in college and university housing facilities. College dorms are gourmet palaces to bedbugs, offering buffet blood meals ala carte at all hours of the day and night. The setup of dorm rooms with beds packed tightly and several residents per room provide a variety of hosts for brunch, mid day and evening snacks.
In the cooler months of the year, particularly when students return to school after a summer hiatus, rodents begin their endless quest for warm, dry territory and food. Students must assume some responsibility and become diligent about cleanup and food storage unless they desire new and not so pleasant four or many more legged roommates. Throwing trash away in proper receptacles in the dorm or school cafeteria and not leaving food behind anywhere are two pro-active, preventative measures easily incorporated into collegiate life styles.
University Response To Pest Control And Prevention
Reports of pest infestations at colleges across the country have been steadily emerging. In western Pennsylvania, major universities are taking a solid stance against pest infestations of all kinds. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, has been using an Integrated Pest Management Program since 1990. Baruch Fischhoff, professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon, had this to say about panic and bedbug infestations: “As long as the educators and their audiences are on the same page, students – and anyone else – should be able to respond rationally. It’s the facts as the facts, not trying to spin it. If somebody is convinced that people are going to panic, that things are going to spin out of control, they will…”
In 2017, the city of Pittsburgh was nationally ranked as number 12 on the top 50 list of cities in the United States with the most bedbugs. The figure was based upon a number of service calls provided. Both the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University have reported outbreaks of bedbugs over the course of the last few years.
In the words of David Manos, assistant housing director at Penn State: “Unlike any other pest issues, we have this one (bedbugs) that needs to be talked about… A collaborative, proactive approach is necessary when dealing with bedbugs. They’re cryptic, they’re durable, they’re prolific, and they’re hitchhikers… Education, at this point, is the only deterrent. They are the pest control challenge of our generation. There’s no barrier for these bed bugs.”
Managing Pests In Schools
Two fairly recent Pennsylvania surveys assert that 73 to 79% of schools and universities rely on the services of professional pest control companies, such as Pestco, for information and 60 to 86% hire these experts to physically manage pests in the schools.
There are several approaches that can be employed to eliminate pests. Our integrated pest management (IPM) and exclusion methods are a very effective initial strategy. It involves preventing the access of food, water and shelter by blocking up vulnerable entry points at schools and universities. Also, instead of a temporary reliance on extensive pesticide applications, sustainable solutions, such as X-Termi Green applications, can also make schools safer for children and personnel by reducing pest populations with the use of natural pesticides.
Employing Preventive Measures
This means initiating a pro-active and preventive approach on the part of school administrators and students whenever applicable. This includes: repairing water leaks, sealing off leaky pipes, cleaning food service areas every single day, installing lids on waste receptacles, moving dumpsters away from buildings and selecting pest resistant construction materials.
Teachers can help a great deal with pest issues in the classroom. Any teacher who suspects a pest problem should report it immediately to school authorities so that they can take action to effectively and professionally resolve the problem. Some measures they can incorporate on a daily basis include: not storing food or treats in either student or teacher’s desk drawers; ensuring that the maintenance staff is always on the lookout for signs of pest invasion, and maintaining windows and building cracks with caulking to eradicate entry points.
Everyone who frequents the school must contribute in some way to the selected pest management initiative. In unity there is strength, and a team working together comprised of teachers, students, employees and parents can create a healthy, pest-free environment in and around schools.
More On X-Termi Green
This green pest control alternative is no ordinary solution, which is fitting considering no ordinary exterminators created it. Our experts have developed this holistic approach because for many school administrators, it is a considerate, low risk approach that protects human health and the environment. It involves the specific targeting of pest sources and the subsequent deployment of safe pest control tactics.
Call us today, (412) 252-5200, or send us a message and learn more abut our many pest control and pest management solutions.