LSU entomologists join Ascension schools’ bug war

Staff reports

Three schools in Ascension Parish are taking a new approach to pest management with the help of LSU AgCenter entomologist Dale Pollet.

“We’re trying to reduce the amount of pesticides used in schools through the process of monitoring, sanitation and education of the students and faculty,” Pollet said.

Schools can be a haven for mice, roaches and a host of other creepy-crawlers. The pests can take refuge in nooks and crannies behind cubby holes and desks while subsisting on the crumbs kids leave behind.

Ascension was chosen by the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center’s working group of entomologists to test the school IPM program. Pollet and entomologists from other states visited East Ascension High School, Pecan Grove Primary and Central Elementary to determine a course of action.

“We looked for things that needed to be changed to help modify the system and control the pest problems in and around the school,” Pollet said.

A few problems in the schools included stacks of cardboard boxes that housed roaches, trash cans without lids and air penetration around pipes that allow pests easy access into buildings.

“We are the first parish in the state to implement this program, and we are excited to be on the forefront of pest management,” said Jeff Parent, maintenance supervisor for Ascension Parish Schools.

Jeremy Theriot with the Ascension Parish Schools’ planning department said after they took care of a number of initial problems, they could be more reactive to pest issues.

“We set traps to see what pests are out there and where they are and then target these specific pests and areas,” Theriot said.

This strategy cuts down on the amount of pesticides applied around the schools, saving money while creating a healthier school environment.

“The program costs more upfront,” Theriot said. “We’re providing shelving to get boxes off the ground. We spent money on traps, but we’re shifting from pesticides to preventative measures.”

The schools have asked students and facility to take a role in identifying pest problems around the schools. The schools have log books, and students and facility can write down what pests they saw and where they saw them.

“The more eyes you have looking at a problem, the easier it will be to control it,” Pollet said.

Pollet is developing a flip chart with pictures of insects to make it easier for school personnel to identify pests.

Entomologist from across the southern United States will visit with schools to monitor pest activity and help the schools best manage their insect problems.

If the program is successful, Pollet expects it to spread to other schools in Ascension and other parishes in the next few years. For more information, you may contact Pollet at 225-578-2370 or