Preventing pest infestations is an effective way for colleges and universities to take care of their students, staff, and facilities. The large numbers of people in and out of buildings, roaming between classes, and living on campus make these institutions hotspots for pests. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these nuisances are most likely to be found in the following areas:
- Dorm rooms
- Common areas, such as student centers and dining halls
- Gyms and locker rooms
- Building entrances and exits, especially those with nearby dumpsters
Residence halls are one of the most common places for bed bugs to be found. Students do not always clean up their messes or take out trash regularly, which welcomes bed bugs into their rooms. These vermin are easily spread when they hitch rides in bags or backpacks as students visit their friends down the hall and across campus. The time of year is a factor as well. In a survey, 66% of professionals agree that summer is the most popular season for bed bug treatment, which could be attributed to people packing up and traveling more often.
Did You Know? In 2011, 99% of pest professionals said they encountered a bed bug infestation within the last year.
Cockroaches can quickly and easily cause infestations too. They will live anywhere that provides them with water and food, such as restrooms, locker rooms, cafeterias, classrooms, and residence halls. Not only are they frightening sight, they can aggravate asthma symptoms when they shed their skins, and spread up to 33 kinds of bacteria, such as including E. coli, Salmonella, and parasitic worms. They acquire these germs from all the garbage, sewage, and decaying matter they walk through and share it when they shed skins and leave droppings.
Did You Know? Cockroaches have been known to cause dining hall closures on campuses.
Rodents are just as comfortable settling anywhere, especially as winter approaches. As mice can fit into holes the size of a dime and rats can fit through spaces no larger than a quarter, both nuisances can easily sneak into any building that will keep them warm. Not only do rodents provide their share of bacteria, they can also bring in other pests, such as fleas, ticks, mites, and lice. In addition to the extra guests, mice and rats can cause expensive structural damage by chewing through wood, wires, and walls.
Did You Know? Chewed-up wires are fire hazards, and can put staff and students in danger.
Preventing a pest problem is better than having to eliminate one. Integrated pest management (IPM) focuses on inspections, monitoring, and actions that will make buildings less desirable places for pests. Avoiding these issues costs less over time than treating active problems at their worst. Plus, IPM practices save money in other ways too. The EPA provides an excellent example, “weatherization of buildings not only excludes pests but also saves energy and reduces moisture problems.” It is also great for the environment and the health of building occupants, as pesticides are only used as a last resort and therefore, are utilized less often.