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HUD   >   State Information   >   Delaware   >   Stories   >   2014-01-29
Using IPM to Stop Pests

Trainer Allison Taisey with the Northeastern IPM Center and the StopPests in Housing program.

(l to r) Sandra Rosmini, WHA Housing Management Chief; Irmina Williams, WHA Resident Services Chief, and Christine Arnold, Assistant to WHA's Deputy Director Karen Spellman who is sitting at the far right of the table.

It’s a known fact that rodents, certain insects and mold are asthma triggers for children.  That’s why Nemours Health and Prevention Services, the StopPests in Housing Program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are partnering to help public and multifamily housing developments implement integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to eradicate certain pests and to reduce asthma triggers for youth in Delaware. 

The StopPests in Housing Program is offering its expertise in planning and implementing IPM at pilot
sites in Delaware.  The Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) has enthusiastically agreed to be a pilot site and other housing authorities in the First State have expressed interest in doing the same thing.

“The Wilmington Housing Authority is excited about the opportunity to get professional help and to network with peers to address the situation of pests without harming our residents,” said WHA Deputy Director Karen Spellman.

Currently WHA is providing information and statistical data to the StopPests program as it ramps up to become a pilot site.  The StopPests Housing Program
will set up a property-wide IPM program that finds, identifies, documents and responds to a pest problem before an infestation has time to grow and spread.  The StopPests consultant will help convene an IPM team consisting of a staff member who is designated as the IPM coordinator, property manager, pest management professional, maintenance and custodial staff, landscapers, residents and resident support staff.  

During a recent training on the program, trainer Allison Taisey explained that IPM is the coordinated use of information about pests, the environment, and evidence-based pest control methods to prevent and manage pest infestations.  Taisey says the calendar-based use of pesticides only lasts as long as the chemical remains active.  IPM is much more effective, economical and poses the least hazard to people, property and the environment.  It focuses on preventive measures—getting at the root of the problem before an infestation occurs.  Taisey says IPM can save property managers and tenants money in the long term.  To determine the benefits of an IPM program, the costs, health impacts and efficiency will be tracked at each pilot site involved in the program.

“The bottom line is: pests need food, water and a place to hide.  If you take those away, you can begin to solve the problem in a sustainable way,” said Taisey.  

Bed bugs have re-emerged in recent years and the former practice of removing all the furniture and a family’s possessions in a unit to eradicate the pests, Taisey says, isn’t necessary. We need to scale each response to the level of infestation. We have the tools to kill the bugs disrupting residents’ lives too much. For example, you can save the mattress by vacuuming off the surface and encasing it. Steam can kill the bugs and their eggs. There are bed bug interceptors that can be put under each bed frame leg to isolate a bed with a frame since bed bugs don’t fly or jump. The hottest setting on a dryer is one of the best options to kill bed bugs on dry fabric.  There are pesticides that can be used but Taisey suggests that the least toxic method be selected and the application should be left to licensed professionals.  In addition to monitoring and inspection, an IPM program uses these tools.

“Since 2007, we’ve been bringing IPM to affordable housing across the country with funding from USDA and HUD,” said Taisey.

View the complete guide for integrated pest management at public housing and multifamily properties.  The guide is the result of an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and  the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control which also has a website on IPM.