Pesticide regulations limit options to halt ant march

Ants invade the trashcans in the halls of Carmel High School.

By: PRISICILLA CABALLERO

Although Carmel High School’s ant infestation has become worse over the years, there are harmless alternatives on how to treat the problem.

“All school sites are regulated by the Healthy Schools Act and the Integrated Pest Management,” CUSD maintenance and operations supervisor Bob Gruber notes.

Although CHS does fumigate—the practice of applying the fumes of chemicals to an area—high-toxicity products are not exposed on campus. Custodian Florence Foster mentioned her technique she uses to safely repel the ants away.

“I don’t know how the ant problem started, but it definitely has gotten worse in the past few years,” Foster says. “We put ant traps in classrooms. That helps a small amount.”

Principal Rick Lopez points out why the school has not gotten rid of the ants easily.

“We do fumigation, but because we are a school, and there are strict regulations on chemicals on school grounds which have to be approved, pesticides that you know aren’t dangerous to students and the people,” Lopez says. “They can’t be toxic. There is less ability to use products that you could go to the Home Depot and buy and use at your house. Our maintenance and operations department takes care of all of that, and we do try to protect the campus from things like ants.”

In addition, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation forbids the use of pesticide products stated on the School Integrated Pest Management website that could be harmful, and gives alternatives to schools in order to rid ants quicker through techniques faculty members can use.

“Effective, non-chemical pest management practices, including mechanical options such as hand-pulling weeds or vacuuming up cockroaches, are chosen first, followed by least hazardous chemical options, such as low-toxicity products or highly-targeted chemicals like pheromones,” IPM publications state.