Pest Monitoring Works in Schools


Pest Monitoring Works in Schools

Mice and cockroaches can vector diseases and create allergy or asthma-related symptoms in children and adults. Unfortunately, these pests are commonly encountered in some Utah schools. Schools that practice regular monitoring, however, are able to rapidly respond to pests like these before they become a problem. These schools are practicing integrated pest management, where they maintain a healthy environment with very little pesticide use. The Utah IPM Program is working hard to help more schools in Utah adopt IPM. Not only will they have a safer environment for children, but as of August 2013, it is the law. Regular monitoring is just one component of IPM in schools.

Why monitor?

IPM now Mandatory in Utah’s Public Schools

The Utah Department of Health’s recent amendment to Administrative Rule 392-200 was quietly passed into law in August 2013. While the “School Rule” encompasses a variety of topics, one major change is that now every public and private school (pre-school through grade 12) in Utah must practice integrated pest management.

According to the rule, schools must now:

  • adopt an IPM program
  • have a written IPM plan
  • minimize the presence of pests that are vectors of disease or that carry allergens
  • use non-chemical pest management methods whenever possible
  • follow all pesticide laws

Information is power, and power over secretive pests leads to successful control. Not only can monitoring determine the pests that are present, but also their life stage, abundance, and where they are occurring. Without monitoring, controls are reactionary, in response to an “outbreak” of pests. Schools that monitor enact control measures before pests are a problem.

Where to monitor?

The question of where to place monitoring traps depends on each school’s situation. Schools typically place traps in Pest Vulnerable Areas (PVA’s) to maximize the chance of locating pests. PVA’s are those places in and around buildings that provide food, water/moisture, and shelter for a pest, including kitchens, food storage, dumpsters, locker rooms, classrooms with plants or pets, etc. Traps are placed against walls and other structures, as many indoor pests tend to travel along edges. When traps are placed, they are assigned a unique number and date. Schools that practice IPM can also perform visual inspections in all PVA's. Window sills are excellent places to look for dead insects to get an idea of pest issues in the school.

What kinds of traps are available?

For arthropods (insects, spiders, etc.), sticky traps are the standard. Depending on the location and conditions, sticky traps could last weeks to months. Some IPM schools have used light traps in loading dock areas or entry ways to monitor the various species in the area, and in what abundance.

For rodents, there are different types of bait station traps available for different types of locations. Tier I traps are locked, tamper-proof, and can be used outdoors. Tier II traps are tamper resistant and are used indoors, and Tier III traps are only resistant to children (not dogs) and are also used indoors. (Glue boards and sticky traps are not used for rodents in schools.) No toxic pellets or packets are allowed for rodent control in schools practicing IPM, but non-toxic bait blocks are commonly used. All rodent stations are labeled with the date, bait, and active ingredient, and are affixed to the wall or ground.

What to record?

monitoring box
Some IPM schools install lockable, see-through monitoring boxes, in which they can place rodent snap traps and insect sticky traps.

Schools that monitor for pests use site-specific forms on which they record the trap number, date the trap was placed, who placed the trap, and room name or number. The same form is used when inspecting the traps, to record the type and number of pests. Forms and other documentation (pictures, collected insects in vials, etc.) are kept available for use in making control decisions and assessing trouble spots in buildings. School staff that are unable to identify a pest use the services of the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab.


An important component of IPM is to use thresholds to make treatment decisions. Thresholds are levels of pests that must be present before corrective action is taken. Roaches and mice, for example, are a health risk and have a zero-tolerance policy. The roly-poly, stink bug, ground spider, or ground beetle, have minor health and pest significance and have higher thresholds for whether or not to treat.

To assist school districts in complying with the new rule, USU, the Utah Department of Health, and the Utah School IPM Coalition are writing model IPM plans that schools can adapt to their own situation. They are also developing educational programs to help school districts and health inspectors learn about implementing IPM.

To inquire about how the school IPM team can assist your school district or for questions regarding the School Rule, please contact Ryan Davis ( The new Utah Pests School IPM website will summarize the new rule.

-Ryan Davis, Arthropod Diagnostician