Why Are Pests Such a Problem in Schools?
While schools are meant to provide a safe and comfortable learning space for kids, pests can quickly disrupt that environment. Pests like cockroaches, termites, bed bugs and rats can get in the way of learning and pose serious health risks for students and staff. School officials can ensure student and faculty safety by establishing environmentally conscious Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at their schools.
Partnering with a licensed pest control professional can also help you implement pest-proofing throughout the year and deal with infestations quickly and safely. Learn more about the importance of pest control in schools, common school pests and how to prevent, detect and get rid of them.
Most Common Pests in Schools
Various pests can be found in school settings. Cockroaches, flies, ants, spiders, rodents and stinging insects are some of the most common, though head lice are also problematic among students.
Here are some of the most common pests in schools and the potential problems they pose:
- Cockroaches: Cockroach infestations occur very quickly and can collect in populations of hundreds and even thousands, spreading bacteria and triggering allergic reactions.
- Rodents: In addition to being unsightly, rodents can damage equipment, wiring and even structures. They also carry pathogens and diseases and can contaminate food and packaging materials.
- Termites: Termites can cause significant and costly structural damage to buildings. These pests often cause issues before leaving any visible signs.
- Flies: While flies can be irritating, some types can bite and have been known to carry disease-causing pathogens from person to person. They can also be challenging to control, especially in the summer when populations increase.
- Birds: Birds can damage property, contaminate products and leave unsanitary droppings near schools, spreading disease.
- Mosquitos: Mosquitos cause itchy, painful bites and can carry pathogens. They breed near shallow water, plumbing and other fixtures in schools.
- Bed bugs: Bed bugs often spread from person to person. While they are not known to spread disease, they can feed on humans and cause itchy bites and allergic reactions in some.
- Wildlife: In addition to rodents, wildlife like raccoons, birds, squirrels and other small animals can damage buildings and leave unsanitary droppings near schools.
Other pests that pose problems for schools include spiders, ants, bees, wasps and ticks.
Most Common Places for Pests in Schools
So why are pests such a problem in schools? Many have environmental conditions ideal for pest infestations, such as surplus food found in cafeterias and the warmth and darkness of lockers and other tiny spaces.
Pests are most common in the following areas:
- Indoor dining areas: Readily available food and shelter make schools appealing to pests of all types. Insects can gather and make their homes near trash receptacles, cafeterias, dining halls and food preparation areas.
- Outdoor eating spaces: Pests often gather in outdoor eating areas or courtyards where they can find food scraps in trash cans or dumpsters close to buildings. Rodents like moles can also burrow beneath school lawns and damage landscaping.
- Computer server rooms: Rodents often seek the dry, warm conditions of computer server rooms in schools. Once they’ve invaded, they can chew through wires, raising safety concerns and damaging learning equipment.
- Maintenance areas: Pests are also attracted to the clutter, dampness and darkness of boiler rooms, mechanical rooms and custodial or janitorial areas.
- Classrooms and administrative offices: Pests find classrooms and offices desirable at times, especially where there are indoor plants with standing water, dust and clutter. Pest populations also increase in untidy areas, like desks and closets.
- Playgrounds and athletic fields: Pests can gather near standing water, using it as a place for breeding. These high-traffic areas may also have food waste and overflowing trash receptacles.
- Plumbing areas: Any areas with leaks and other plumbing problems can attract pests. These spaces include school bathrooms, dishwashing rooms, science laboratories, swimming pools and greenhouses where insects will either breed or get moisture to endure and survive.
- Gyms and locker rooms: These rooms can be warm and poorly ventilated, making ideal breeding grounds for pests.
How Do Pests Enter Schools?
Pests enter schools in various ways, including:
- Cracks in foundations: Pests can quickly enter schools through foundational cracks and unpatched or unsealed holes in buildings. They might also enter through roof or wall damage, squeezing through even the smallest cracks and crevices before spreading through dorms and classrooms.
- Students: Pests like bed bugs, mites and lice can enter schools on students, spreading from person to person.
- Open windows and doors: Unsealed or open windows and doors are the easiest ways for pests to enter schools.
- Wooden structures: Bugs like beetles, termites and ants can enter schools by feeding on wooden school structures, causing costly damage.
In almost all cases, pests enter school buildings looking for three critical resources — food, water and shelter to breed and build nests.
Health Risks That Come With Pests in Schools
With students spending an average of 30 hours a week in school, exposure to pests can create an unhealthy environment. The health risks posed by pests include:
- Allergic reactions: Many pests, like rodents and bed bugs, can carry allergens into schools, causing allergic reactions in some students.
- Asthma attacks: In addition to allergic reactions, mice and cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks in some students.
- Pathogens and bacteria: Rodent and bird droppings create an unsanitary environment for students, contaminating food items that can cause disease and other health issues in schools. Cockroaches can also spread bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, while flies and mosquitos are known to spread pathogens that can cause disease.
- Electrical fires: Rodents can chew through electrical wires, causing fires that can be dangerous or costly structural and equipment damage.
- Slip-and-fall hazards: Droppings left by rodents and other wildlife pests can cause slip-and-fall accidents, which can be dangerous in schools.
- Stings and bites: Biting insects like bed bugs, mosquitos and spiders can cause itchy bites and skin irritation, while wasps and bees leave a painful sting that can cause severe reactions in those who are allergic.
Reducing exposure to pests can improve health and attendance and lead to greater academic achievement. Healthier school environments allow students to learn more and have a more productive, higher-quality life.
How to Prevent Pests From Entering Schools
Pest control in schools begins with prevention. All school environments — from kindergarten classrooms to college campuses — face unique challenges when implementing pest control programs. By partnering with a licensed pest control professional, you can implement proper pest-proofing throughout the year. Professionals can also educate school personnel about potential problems and prevention steps to minimize pest issues.
School administrations can help prevent pests on school grounds in the following ways:
- Keep entry points sealed and place weather stripping on windows.
- Keep food securely stored and put away.
- Clean areas where class pets and food are located at all times.
- Remove garbage and food waste from classrooms and common areas daily.
- Regularly clean microwaves, fridges and freezers.
- Move dumpsters away from buildings.
- Remove excess equipment and clutter.
- Place weather stripping and bottom sweeps on exterior doors.
- Dust and vacuum regularly and remove clutter and debris.
- Routinely clean desks, lockers, cabinets and storage closets.
- Discourage sharing of student coats, hats and other personal items to prevent the spread of lice and bed bugs.
- Close doors and windows to the outside whenever possible.
- Stay up to date on building inspections and repairs.
- Trim trees that touch buildings.
- Install lids on waste receptacles.
- Repair water leaks and seals around pipes and electrical entries into the building.
- Educate staff and students on pest prevention practices.
Ultimately, the best way to manage pests is to deny them access to food, water and shelter. Prevention and pest control in schools can save you from infestations that lead to health risks and costly treatments and repairs.
How to Detect Pests
Here are a few signs you have pests in your school:
- Active pests: While this might be obvious, it’s essential to be aware of active pests. It helps to research and learn how to identify different pests to understand the type of infestation you may have. For instance, you can learn the difference between German cockroaches and water bugs or voles and mice.
- Dead bugs indoors: Check near the most common places pests congregate for dead bugs. If there are many bugs of the same species, they likely live on your school property.
- Pest droppings: Another sign that you have a pest infestation is droppings. You could also have a pest problem if you notice any egg cases, which could reveal roaches or bed bugs on your property.
- Evidence of nesting: Rodents like mice and rats will make nests from whatever they have available. That’s why it’s essential to keep areas clear of clutter. Search through nooks and crannies, inside cabinets and near cluttered spaces for red flags like shredded paper that they might use for nesting.
- Odd smells: Pests can also bring unpleasant smells. Experts have determined bed bugs produce a musty, sweet odor, while rats often smell like ammonia. Roaches have been said to give off an oily odor, while the smell of garbage can attract more pests.
- Strange sounds: It’s also essential to keep an ear out for the pattering of rodents’ feet. Mice and rats often hide beneath floorboards or behind walls. You might hear scratching on the walls, squeaking, gnawing or scurrying. You might also hear larger bugs if you listen closely.
- Holes and gnaw marks: Small holes in your floors, walls or landscaping are another possible giveaway of an infestation. Search for burrows in garbage spaces and weedy areas as well. Rats will gnaw on anything, so look for chewed-up electrical wires and other equipment that rats might have destroyed.
- Grease marks and tracks: Rodents tend to travel the same paths every day and can leave evidence and trails along the way. You might find grease marks along walls and footprints through dust paths that can determine an infestation.
- Structural damage: It’s vital to look out for signs of termites, as they can destroy wooden structures. Check for visible holes, sagging floors and wood that sounds hollow when tapped. You might also notice swelling or bending in wood, mazes or tubes within furniture and walls or the smell of mildew and mold.
How to Get Rid of Pests
Pest control in schools is essential to keep students and staff safe. Removing pesky insects and wildlife from your buildings also helps create an environment more conducive to learning.
An IPM program for your school consists of inspecting, identifying, monitoring, evaluating and establishing an appropriate control method. Professionals can help with this process and eliminate pests from your property. They’ll also analyze the situation to ensure the pests are gone and the correct methods are employed to prevent them from returning.
Steps for pest control include:
- Inspection: Routine inspection and identification can ensure the most effective control methods. Professionals will examine vulnerable areas like entry points and estimate pest population levels.
- Prevention: Professionals will then make habitat adjustments to reduce the pest’s prevalence and ensure entry points and other areas are sealed.
- Control: Professionals will often repair and sanitize to control pests in schools and keep them from returning. At Pestech, our pest control methods are proven to work. We even offer eco-friendly integrated pest management solutions with our GreenPro program.
What to Do if There Is an Infestation
As mentioned, the best course of action for a pest infestation is calling professional pest control. Professionals can pest-proof your school building to keep pests away and reduce the chance of an infestation. They can also remove signs of pests and clear infestations safely and quickly.
The professionals at Pestech will safely perform fumigation to eliminate pest problems and keep your students and employees safe. DIY methods are often ineffective, costly and dangerous, so it’s best to leave pest control in schools to professionals.
Our fumigation services can achieve total control of pest populations in 72 hours. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures even the most challenging and extensive pest issues are solved. Under our guarantee, if we aren’t successful the first time, we can continue to provide pest control services at no additional charge until the problem is resolved.
Fight Pests in Schools With Pestech
Pest control in schools is vital for ensuring the health and safety of staff and students. Deterring these pesky insects and wildlife can also prevent costly structural damage and learning disruptions. At Pestech, our pest control professionals in New York will help you eliminate problems and prevent future issues while having a minimal effect on the environment.
We use scientific methods to minimize pest destruction and infiltration in the most efficient, eco-friendly way. Let us customize an IPM program for your school. You’ll get regular inspections and opportunities to catch pests before they become serious problems, and we’ll solve any pest issues with the best technology, people and science.
Protect your students and solve pest problems by calling or contacting us online today.