Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Integrated Pest Management School IPM

What is IPM?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management. IPM works by reducing sources of food, water, and shelter for pests and only using least-toxic pesticides when necessary. An effective IPM Program requires identifying and monitoring pest populations, and then selecting the most effective control methods with the least possible hazard to people, pets, and the environment.

Steps for Successful IPM

Set action thresholds.

Before taking any pest control action IPM users must first set action thresholds – points at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. The threshold is often the level at which pests will become a health hazard or an economic threat. Different pests will have different action thresholds.

  • Rats, mice, and cockroaches can cause disease and trigger asthma. The presence of a single pest usually means pest control action is needed.
  • Carpenter ants and termites can cause structural damage if they nest in a building. Control actions may be needed for these pests when just a low population is present.
  • Other nuisance pests like Asian lady beetles and sowbugs do not cause damage or disease. They may not require action until a very large population is present.

Identify and monitor the pests you have.

During an initial inspection of a school look for the signs of pests:

  • Example inspection checklists are available from the IPM Institute of North America.
  • Sticky traps and pest sighting logs help to monitor pest populations. Monitoring protocols are available from the IPM Institute of North America.

If you find a pest, make sure you correctly identify it. Learning the biology of the pest tells you how fast it reproduces, where it likes to live, and what it likes to eat. There are many tools available to help with identification. Outdoor Pests and Indoor Pests on this website have information on the most common pests found at schools.

Choose the best control options.

You want to control the pests without harming people, pets, or the other animals and plants that share our environment. Do this by choosing the least hazardous method of pest control. Prevention is the best place to start.

Prevent pests before they become a problem.

For indoor pests…

  • Frequently clean floors and surfaces to eliminate food and hiding places for pests. Remember, a crumb to you can be a feast for pests.
  • Remove clutter and cardboard boxes that provide harborage for pests.
  • Fix leaks. All pests need water, and many like to live in damp places. Make certain water drains away from the school.
  • Deny entry into the school. Caulk and fill openings in roofs, walls, and foundations. Repair broken windows. Install door sweeps. Screen windows and crawl space vents.

For outdoor pests…

  • Choose plants that will grow well in the planting area and that usually have few or no problems.
  • Properly water and fertilize lawns and plants to keep them healthy.
  • Debris, weeds, and plants right next to buildings provide hiding places for pests and spots where they can find or store food. Trim branches away from siding and roofs.
  • Make sure dumpsters and trash bins are away from doors and are covered.

Eliminate existing problems

  • Trapping can be used for monitoring and for control. Using sticky traps, glue boards, snap traps, and live traps can tell you exactly what kind of pests you have. You can also get rid of some or all of the pests this way.
  • Using a biological control is one way to manage some pests. For example, there are bacteria call Bacillus thuringiensis or B.t. that can be applied to control certain insects, such as tent caterpillars.
  • Pesticides are sometimes used in IPM if other methods cannot control the problem. A pesticide is any substance intended to prevent, destroy or repel pests. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides. Pesticides can harm people and the environment if not used carefully. Read and follow all instructions on the pesticide label.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a pest management professional (PMP) for your school district.

Evaluate your efforts

Check often to see if you still have the pest problem. Determine which control methods work best and remember that it is much easier to get rid of a pest problem when the population is small.

(pdf) Information available as a PDF document. You may require additional software to view or print this document. Wikipedia maintains a list of some options, if you do not already have suitable software.