Don’t Let Your School be Spooked by Creepy Crawlies; Use Integrated Pest Management to Keep from Being Bugged

By Katie Howard, EPA Region 7 and Erin Bauer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension


How many hours a day does your child, nephew, niece, or grandchild spend in a school or child care facility?  October is Children’s Health Month here at EPA! It’s also the month of creepy crawlies as we look forward to Halloween. In observance of these two events, we’d like to talk about a topic that’s important to children’s health and involves those creepy crawlies (spiders and roaches and rats, oh my): Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM has a technical sounding name, but it really just stands for common sense approaches that help keep pests out, which in turn means you don’t have to use pesticides as often.

Some pests can trigger allergies, while others carry bacteria and transmit diseases. IPM can help manage pests while improving human health and safety and protecting the environment. IPM uses a variety of methods, such as sanitation (keeping things clean), exclusion (keeping pests out), habitat modification (sealing holes), moisture control, mechanical controls (fly swatters or trapping) and low-toxic chemical controls to get rid of pests.

But the news isn’t all scary! There are experts across the country working hard to help schools and child care facilities start using IPM. Some of the very best of those experts are right here in EPA Region 7. Joining me on this blog post today is Erin Bauer from University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension. Erin tells us a little bit about some of the IPM success stories the specialists at UNL Extension have been working on:


School IPM 2015 Coalition: Integrated Pest Management

School IPM 2015 Coalition

Bringing People Together: As part of an effort called School IPM 2015, we here in Nebraska began a coalition in 2009 consisting of representatives from University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, pest control companies, school districts, Parent Teacher Associations, Nebraska Department of Ag, Winnebago and Omaha tribes, EPA, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and child care organizations. We meet quarterly to discuss current “hot topics,” such as bed bugs, as well as how to implement IPM in the state of Nebraska. During the summer, we hold a half-day meeting where we bring in several speakers, provide lunch, and network. We are always welcoming new members!

Helping People Get Started: We conducted IPM demonstration projects in Omaha and Lincoln public schools, where we did pest assessments and helped them implement IPM principles. This was an educational experience that benefited everyone involved: the school districts, the pest management professionals who work with the schools, and those of us at UNL Extension. Since the original demonstration projects, the Lincoln and Omaha school districts are developing IPM policies for their districts and working toward IPM Star Certification. We have also helped the Omaha and Winnebago tribal schools start using IPM by conducting walk-throughs, training staff members, and developing IPM policies. Several child care centers in the Lincoln area have also asked us for assistance starting IPM programs. Overall, thousands of children in Nebraska are spending their days in safer environments thanks to IPM!

Integrated Pest Management Private Eye Game

Pest Private Eye

Making IPM Fun: I am pleased to announce thatthe full version of Pest Private Eye and the Case of IPM in Schools (Pest PI), our educational first-person role-playing video game, is available free on our website at Pest PI teaches children and the educators who work with them about pests and how to control them using Integrated Pest Management.Also on the website you’ll find links to online versions of a Teacher’s guide and comic book, a user’s survey, and other resources about pests and IPM.

Creating IPM Resources: Check out our Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide! This manual is an update of our IPM in Schools: a How-To Guide, and we have edited and integrated information to fit not only schools, but other sensitive environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, child care centers, etc. It also has a new chapter on bed bugs, which of course has been a highly-talked about topic over the last few years.

Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide

Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide

The manual includes chapters about IPM, including monitoring and inspection, treatment strategies, action and injury levels, and how to develop an IPM program. It also has chapters on specific pests that cause problems in structures or on lawns and grounds, such as cockroaches, flies, lice, rodents, and stinging insects.

Thank you for reading about IPM in schools and child care facilities. If you would like more information about IPM at EPA and UNL, please visit and

Katie Howard is a program specialist in the Pesticide Section of EPA Region 7’s Water, Wetlands and Pesticide Division. Erin Bauer is an associate with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension.



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