School Pest News

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Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service School IPM Program

Managing Food in the classroom

By Jennifer Snyder, Oregon State University, School IPM Program

Food in the classroom… It can bring joy to children's faces, or elicit groans from teachers and custodians alike.

The United States is currently undergoing a food revolution in its schools. New federal laws seek to limit sugar, salt, and fat content in school meals and snacks, while increasing the amount of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Current and pending laws govern federally-funded breakfast, lunch, and snack programs, but do not apply to classroom treats brought in by students, parents, or teachers. As we all know, treats and snacks are common in many classrooms and are likely here to stay.


While regulations and concerns over childhood nutrition are an evolving topic, there is one aspect about classroom food that has not changed: if you provide it, the pests will come. Classrooms with microwaves and refrigerators are especially prone to food debris and pest occurrence. In addition to a food source, these appliances provide a heat source and shelter for pests.

Primary pests like ants, flies, cockroaches, and mice are not picky; they'll be drawn to half-chewed Halloween candy covered in dust, the long-forgotten crumbs under the microwave, a few bits of birthday cake ground into the rug, or juice residue left on desks and furniture by sticky-sweet faces and fingers. It takes very little food for pests to thrive and reproduce in the hidden spaces of a classroom. Some common pests, such as certain flies, can carry disease organisms and spread food-borne illnesses, including salmonella1. Urine and dander from the common house mouse are known allergens and triggers of asthma2. Secondary pests-such as spiders, and other predatory or scavenging organisms-may also invade a classroom

To read more click here


Careful food management in the classroom will help keep pest issues to a minimum.


· Manage free-range eating in the classroom by designating an easy-to-clean "snack area". If the area is small, consider having students rotate playtime and snack time. The more consolidated food crumbs and residues are, the more thoroughly custodial staff can clean on a tight schedule.

· Encourage students to help clean up and tell you about spills immediately.

· Avoid foods that are difficult to clean up after (treats with frosting, muffins, etc.). Request that parents bring in snacks like granola bars, carrot sticks, grapes, or individually-packaged treats that generate fewer crumbs. Send leftovers home with students.

· Store your desk and cupboard foods in hard containers with snap-tight or screw-top lids. Boxes and plastic or foil bags are no barrier to a hungry mouse or insect.

· Consider removing the refrigerator or microwave from your classroom. Annual energy savings will benefit your district, and you'll be eliminating one more home to a pest.

· Move stored materials off the floor (e.g., onto shelves, or tables along the wall, etc.). This opens up access to the wall base (where food debris and pests accumulate) so that custodial staff can clean more thoroughly.

· Clean up spills or notify custodians promptly. Make sure that any trash or recycling containing food debris is removed from the classroom every night.


· Share this newsletter with teachers and administrators at your school. Remind staff that pests are after three things: food, water, shelter. Everyone has a role in managing these to prevent pests.

· At least once per month, vacuum along the wall base and behind freestanding furniture. Most pests follow walls, and eat debris that accumulates there.

· Empty classroom garbage as often as district policy allows. During the fall and winter holidays, this may require daily garbage service due to the surplus in classroom food.

· For pest issues that cannot be immediately addressed with sanitation, report them to your district IPM Coordinator or pest manager.

From Dusk to Dawn, Mosquitoes Suck!

By: L.C Fudd Graham, Auburn University, Coordinator - Alabama Fire Ant Management Program/School IPM Program

Mosquitoes in urban settings can cause numerous health problems due to their ability to transfer, or vector, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens. With human cases expected to soar this summer, our best defense is knowledge of the virus and mosquito management.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus contracted through mosquito bites. Only about 60% of people who have tested positive for the virus ever knew they were being bitten by mosquitoes, so it's advisable to just assume they are out and about between dusk and dawn.

People of all ages (including children) can contract the virus. About 20% of those who contract WNV will come down with what is called "West Nile fever"; the other 80% of those infected show no or only mild symptoms of the virus.

Mosquito Prevention Tactics

The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to minimize the number of mosquitoes since that is how the virus moves from bird host to human. As a rule, the easiest way to deal with mosquito pests is to prevent them from breeding around us in the first place, and this is quite easy

Mosquitoes need wet conditions to lay their eggs and grow from an aquatic larva into a flying adult. HUMANS create the vast majority of the wet conditions used by mosquitoes in our state, and it is likely that many of us have mosquitoes developing in our neighborhoods and own backyards. We cannot eradicate every individual, but there are some very simple steps each of us can take to keep numbers low. To read more click here

From the TX Department of State Health Services Friday Beat (9/12/14)

Wellness Policy; the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010; and Texas Nutrition Rules

Implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act) is well underway with the meal standards that took effect in 2012-and which have subsequently been revised-as well as the required application in July of this year of the federal Smart Snacks rules and additional state standards related to competitive foods. The Act also addresses school district wellness policies, with the intent of strengthening those policies and providing transparency to the public in key areas that affect the school nutrition environment.

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released proposed federal regulations in February, 2014 for the portion of the Act that addresses the Wellness Policy, and the public comment period ended in April, there is not yet a scheduled release date for final regulations. The Act and subsequent regulations make clear that each district will need to revise its Wellness Policy and corresponding Wellness Plans; however, until the federal regulations and requirements are final, it is premature for Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Policy Service to recommend specific revisions. For additional information on the Act, see USDA's Team Nutrition: Local School Wellness Policy at and its summary of the proposed federal rules at

In addition, new rules from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA),$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=4&pt=1&ch=26&rl=11, effective September 1, 2014, place restrictions on the time and place for the sale and consumption of competitive foods. These restrictions reflect the previous standards found in the now-repealed Texas Public School Nutrition Policy; however, the new TDA rules give local school boards the option to revise their Wellness Policies to adopt alternative standards. TDA has prepared a helpful guidance document reflecting both the competitive food requirements and the time and place restrictions. Access the guidance document at

Walmart Community Grant Program

Walmart believes in operating globally and giving back locally - creating impact in the neighborhoods where it lives and work. Through the Community Grant Program, the associates are proud to support the needs of their communities by providing grants to local organizations. Funds must benefit the facility's service area: potential grantees should be nonprofit organizations with programs that benefit communities within the service area of the Walmart store, Sam's Club or Logistics facility from which they are requesting funds.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have identified four core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women's Economic Empowerment or Career Opportunity. To ensure that the application has the best chance of being funded, the proposed use of the grant should fit within one of these areas of giving. Primary consideration for the Community Grant program is to support local organizations with programs that align with the Foundation's areas of giving. However, programs that do not align with these areas may also be given consideration.

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