Home and Community

Work & Play

Where we play and where we work are the same places pests lurk. Understanding how to control pests in our offices, schools, backyards, playgrounds and parks, helps protect your community from disease and distress. Not to mention preserving family backyard barbeques and the annual community fun day.

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Growing Communities

Urban green space, which includes parks, playgrounds and other grassy or landscaped areas, have become a focal point of city planners and homeowners' associations. Why? Consider these research findings:

  • Promotion of landscaping projects in communities, neighborhoods, housing projects and prisons led to a decrease in vandalism, according to 30 years of research.
  • Green spaces help children think more clearly and cope more effectively with stress by "boosting their attentional resources," according to a study published in Environment and Behavior.
  • Studies by the Human Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign indicate that green spaces are gathering places that create close-knit communities and improve well-being.

Keeping these areas in a usable, enjoyable state isn't an easy task. Think about the last time you saw an overgrown abandoned lot or home. Left alone, weeds would wreak the same havoc on our community parks and playgrounds.

Unsightly, yes, but also potentially dangerous. Uncontrolled growth of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac poses risk to children and adults alike as more than one-half of the U.S. population is allergic to these noxious weeks. Left unchecked, clover on sporting fields and playgrounds will harbor stringing bees, while the uncontrolled growth of weeds like ragweed creates unbearable conditions for allergy sufferers.

Hc Crack

All Cracked Up

Why can't the weeds just be pulled? It sounds simple, but it's not practical. Recent regulations in select Canadian cities have restricted the use of herbicides, with the intent of controlling the weeds using manual labor. After only a few months, weeds in many public places - including bus stops and neighborhood curbsides - are overgrown and unsightly. Weeds peaking up through small cracks in sidewalks and roadways have prospered creating bigger cracks and maintenance issues. Local media reports also indicated an increase in allergies due to the expanded ragweed population.

Hc Mosquito

The Great Outdoors

Bites, stings and scrapes can be considered part of the outdoor experience; however, insects and even weeds can escalate these nuisances to health concerns.

For example, failing to control mosquitoes can lead to increased risk of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, while avoiding mosquitoes can reduce the threat. After Fort Collins, Colo. residents reported 211 cases of West Nile virus, the city implemented an emergency pesticide application program to combat the outbreak. Following the mosquito control program, only 17 cases were reported during the remainder of the season. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drop in cases in that city was far more dramatic than the gradual decrease in infection rates in the rest of the state.

Fire ants present another painful and elusive pest. Each year, fire ants sting more than one-half of the population in the areas they infest (primarily in the south). These stings can cause a variety of medical problems, including hypersensitivity reactions, infections, neurologic complications, and even death.

Hc School

School is in Session

Pests are dangerous to children. In places like schools, with large amounts of inviting food and lots of traffic in and out of the building, bugs and rodents feel invited to make themselves at home. Taking up residence in our schools exposes children to risks such as:

  • Bites from rats and mice that can cause more than 35 diseases.
  • Cockroach allergens that significantly increase asthma rates in children.
  • Fire ants that sting more than one-half of the population each year in the areas they infest (primarily in the south). These stings can cause a variety of medical problems, including hypersensitivity reactions, infections, neurologic complications, and even death.
  • Typical spider bites, poison ivy infections, bee and wasp stings and other pest-related hazards schools seek to control.

IPM: On Target

Pesticide use in schools is part of a specific, strategic plan designed to use pest control products in the safest and most prudent way possible. Think of it as game plan against insects and rodents.

Many schools use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to develop their plan. IPM manages pests by using all the tools in the pest control toolbox, including maintenance, monitoring of pest populations, sanitation and pesticides. It tries to reduce the risk of pests becoming a problem in the first place while having a specific plan of action to follow when pest populations reach a certain level. (In the school environment, this tolerance level may be quite low, or even "zero," in the case of rodents and school cafeterias.)

The U.S. Congress legally defines IPM to include pesticides, stating "IPM programs take advantage of all pest management options possible including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides."

How does IPM work? It follows three simple steps:

  1. Identify and monitor the pests. Accurate pest identification is critical.

  2. Determine the pest population that can be tolerated. Schools or school districts determine an "action threshold," or the level of infestation that triggers the need for control measures. Thresholds are determined based on the severity of injury caused by the pests, building and site characteristics, pest-related health concerns and more.

  3. Take action.

The first two IPM steps allow pest management teams to make an informed, accurate decision to take action. IPM encourages the use of several pest control methods, including sanitation, structural repair and maintenance, watering and mowing practices, pest-resistant plant varieties; and sensible use of pesticides.

 
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