PPD addresses stinging insects
Toward the end of this summer, students received several official notices concerning the presence of stinging insects in various locations on campus. The Physical Plant Department (PPD) sent these e-mails over the course of 10 days, on Aug. 31, Sept. 31 and Sept. 9.
“We had a guy in the Physical Plant get stung,” Director of the Physical Plant Patricia Whitney said. However, this summer was relatively mild, compared to last year. “The summer of 2010 was the worst I’ve seen in my career…finding a couple of nests every week,” Whitney said.
PPD is committed to swiftly and directly communicating concerns such as these to the campus community. While the official notices do not specify the type of insect at large, their purpose is not to alarm students, but to alert them. “We have a commitment to the campus; anytime we use pesticides we send a notice…even when it is not required by law,” Whitney said.
PPD has a fully formed Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan, which is available for download from their website. The plan lays out how often the grounds are inspected, when it is suitable to bring in a licensed pest control company and how to communicate the performance of preventative measures to everyone on campus.
The IPM Plan states that “during the months of April through October of each year, when a potential for pest problems is greater, [a licensed Pest Control Company] will make weekly visits to campus.” This greater potential for problems is weather dependent, Whitney explained.
Stinging insects—typically bees, wasps and hornets—are attracted to hot places, such as attics and eaves. But there is no one particular spot on campus that has been found to be consistently more at risk than any other. “It’s weird,” Whitney said, “I don’t think there’s one most common area on campus.” The areas mentioned in notices this summer included the transformer area of the Steam Plant, the eaves at Piper Residence Hall, and benches and trees by Johnson Pond.
PPD strives to minimize their use of chemicals in eliminating pests, only using pesticides on particularly destructive insects. The College, according to the IPM plan, “is committed to limiting and reducing our use of chemicals that are used to manage pests after thresholds have been surpassed and other preventative measures have failed.
The e-mail alerts PPD sends out intend to maintain a clear line of communication with the campus about issues of concern to the community. Some members of the community have expressed gratitude for these notices, as “so many people have life-threatening allergies,” Whitney said.