Summer Season: Take action against pests on college and school campuses

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It’s hard to believe, but graduation season is here. That means there will soon be a mass exodus as students transition from colleges, universities, boarding schools, and institutions of higher learning and bid farewell to the academic school year. In their place, maintenance, engineering, and janitorial staff members may find pests.

Students can collect, store, and hoard items in places that, when vacated, can lead to pest issues. The absence of students may also allow your staff to address problems that would be difficult to do on a busy campus.

Now is the time to take a step back and employ a bit of preventative maintenance that includes provisions for pest management. Many campuses may be used during the summer months to host conferences and other events, so taking stock soon after students leave is critical. Here are six areas to address early in the “summer season.”

Dormitories, housing, and popular hangout spots

A complete inspection of the dorm rooms, faculty housing, common areas, or areas where people like to camp out should be a priority.  A thorough and detailed inspection of these areas for pests, signs of activity, or conditions conducive to pests – such as sealing of cracks or crevices in dorm rooms – is in order in preparation for the next semester or group of summer residents.

Bed bugs can be of particular concern on school campuses. Have your staff or your pest management professional conduct a thorough inspection of any mattresses and box springs to look for signs of bed bug activity. Any area suspected of activity should be treated immediately. Because of the close living quarters in dormitories, bed bugs can quickly and easily spread from room to room. And because bed bugs can live for up to six months without feeding, any problems not caught now could literally come back to bite someone next semester.

Although dormitories are likely to be the prime area of activity on a college campus, anywhere that humans sit or rest could be subject to bed bug activity, such as libraries, lounges, or common areas.

Bed bug policies and prevention practices

The summer season may also be a good time to revisit your bed bug policies, whether or not you’ve had an issue with bed bugs on campus. Some colleges and universities have limited the types of furniture students can bring in to help reduce the likelihood of bed bugs being brought in on second-hand furniture.

You may also want to consider installing mattress or boxspring encasements on any bedding provided by your school. This can help protect your furniture investment as well as make any future bed bug introduction easy to spot.

Construction areas

If construction is happening on your campus, construction zones and connecting areas could be a prime hot spot for pests. Anywhere doors or entry points may be left open as equipment and materials are moved in and out should have rodent detection and capture devices in place. In addition, areas, where structural gaps may be present for any period of time, should also have extra rodent control in place.

Rodents have a knack for finding their way in through the smallest of openings. Mice and rats can potentially cause structural damage to any building type through gnawing, nest-building, or defecation. Rodents are known to chew through wiring, causing a potential fire hazard, computer outages, or other expensive electrical damage. Mice can enter walls or furniture and make nests. Urine and fecal droppings, which not only contaminate surfaces, can also spread dangerous diseases to or cause allergies for construction workers, staff, and students.

Outdoor recreational areas

With summer nearing, stinging pests could be an issue. Depending on your geographical location, stinging pests can become an issue in early spring. Addressing problems before they have time to develop is best, so be sure you have your pest management company inspect likely areas for activity

As the weather warms, queen wasps come out of hibernation in the spring. They begin the search for a suitable place to build their new nests.  Your pest management provider should be equipped to check the eaves and overhangs on all of the buildings, dorm rooms, and any areas of recreation, to ensure no new nests have been built. Nests for other stinging pests can also be formed in trees. Some stinging pests can even build nests or hives in wall voids. If left to build up their populations over the summer, students will definitely notice them at move-in time.

Dining halls, kitchens, and foodservice operations

Campus dining halls, kitchens, and foodservice operations should be next on your list of proactive maintenance and inspection. As satellite kitchens or dining halls get shut down for the summer, you should continue your pest management service in these areas to ensure no pest population build up when traffic is low and there is no one to notice an issue.

If an area will be shut down for the summer, clean all surfaces, clean floor drains, ensure that there are no holes where pipes go below the floor, and remove all trash from these areas. You may also want to consider removing any dried goods to an operation that will be active over the summer. Have your pest management company come in to ensure sanitation is in good shape prior to closure.

Stadiums, arenas, and gymnasiums

Stadiums, arenas, and gymnasium areas also get very quiet during the summer months, but can also provide harborage and oftentimes food for rodents.

Make sure cleaning crews also remove debris and food waste from areas that may have served as food stations or concession stands. These areas should receive a thorough inspection and cleaning

Locker rooms can also be an area of potential pest activity. To avoid problems, prior to student and any staff departure for the summer, be sure that lockers are emptied, cleaned, and left unlocked. Have your maintenance or janitorial staff leave unoccupied lockers unlocked for the duration of the summer for easy access, inspection, and potential treatment by your pest management provider.

Preventative action makes for a smooth fall semester

Summer is a time for reflection and preparation – and not just for students. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way toward protecting students, faculty, staff and your premises from pests for the next semester.

Rentokil Steritech offers a wide range of pest control services for educational institutions. To learn more about what we can do for your facility, contact us online today

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