Since its agricultural beginnings, the basic concepts of IPM have been adopted and modified to fit the urban environment. Urban IPM combines several methods of pest management, including: (1) Cultural control practices such as sanitation; (2) Chemical control practices such as the use of reduced-risk bait formulations; (3) Mechanical control practices such as the use of traps or exclusion techniques; and (4) The use of biological control agents. Whereas the primary concerns in the agricultural system are economic gain and the management of resistance, the concerns in the urban system are reduction of exposure of people and the environment to pests and pesticides. In the indoor environment, pesticide applications create residues that can persist for long periods of time. Urban IPM is one way to reduce the amount and frequency of pesticide use and thereby improve environmental and personal health conditions.
There are few urban areas where these concerns are of greater importance than in schools. The school environment creates a unique problem for pest management because schools are expected to be pest-free, but they are also expected to be free of pesticides. In this environment, IPM serves to prevent pest problems while reducing the risk of pesticide exposure to children. Integrated pest management in schools has come to the forefront in recent years due in part to the Food Quality Protection Act, the impending legislation of the School Environmental Protection Act, and pressure from concerned groups.
Our group strives to develop innovative pest control technologies and test new concepts under field conditions. We are comparing conventional methods of pest control (primarily baseboard sprays), to an IPM approach in several North Carolina public schools. The study quantifies the amount of time required to conduct the services, their cost, the materials used, and the efficacy of the two service types. Thus far, our data show that an IPM-based program is a viable and preferable alternative to conventional-type services. We are also investigating the amount and distribution of pesticide residues resulting from these two pest control programs. As expected, the IPM methods generate significantly less pesticide residues and contamination of nontarget surfaces.
Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment