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Environmental Health & Safety

Pest Control Unit

Pest Prevention / Minimization Tips

One of the keys to having a successful structural pest control operation is the education of customers regarding pests they may encounter, how they best can help protect themselves from these pests, and help minimize and abate pest problems if they do occur. The University’s Pest Control Unit (PCU), part of the Environmental Health & Safety Department, has been utilizing a very aggressive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, which has helped reduce pest problems and the use of many pesticides.

The most critical components of IPM are prevention followed by minimization.  IPM relies on pesticides as little as possible.  When they have to be used, the least toxic are chosen as long as they still achieve an acceptable level of control.  In order for IPM work, customers (the University Community) must be willing partners who understand the causes of infestations and are ready to work with the PCU, and ultimately accept a threshold of minor or periodic activity in certain situations when methods are used which are safer but possibly slower in controlling or eliminating the pest problem.

With all pests, exclusion is the first line of defense.  A mouse can enter underneath an outside door with a gap of ¼ inch and a bat can enter the same size opening, squeezing around a window screen and the window itself.  Flying insects and wild animals such as squirrels and raccoons enter easily through open doors, windows or ripped screens.  In addition, many pests can enter a structure by deliveries of supplies.  There are many accounts of German roaches being hitchhikers in cardboard boxes, especially food or food supply boxes.  American roaches live in sewers and can enter a room through dry sewer drain traps.  All sinks or drains should have water run through them at least once a week if not used regularly.  Not properly filled pipe chases allow pests to easily move between floors and rooms.

Reducing the attractiveness for pests, such as not enticing them with readily available food, water and shelter, may keep them out.  Keeping your occupied space clean and free of food that sits around too long will go a long ways in preventing and minimizing problems.  At the very least, good sanitation and lack of clutter will deprive them of the basics they need to survive, hide and proliferate, which will most likely minimize the severity of pest problem and make it easier to abate.  Ants are attracted to even a few crumbs on the floor, and fruit flies can be attracted and reproduce very quickly with one unwrapped banana peel left in your garbage can too long. Old equipment, rugs, piles of papers can provide hiding, nesting and breeding space without being detected.  

There are times and situations no matter what preventative and proactive steps are taken when structural pests do become a problem.  This is especially true in high risk areas such as kitchens, animal research areas, and unoccupied spaces such as warm mechanical rooms.  Early detection and communication with the EH&S Pest Control Unit is important to minimize/eliminate a problem as quickly as possible.  Many pests proliferate very quickly.  Taking notice and contacting the PCU is key to helping minimizing the negative effect of pests.  For example, seeing an insect in your occupied space may very well be indicative that more exist.  Promptly notifying the PCU may prevent a worse situation down the road.  Providing as much detail of the pest, even collecting an insect if possible, is always helpful.

Please keep in mind that pests, besides being a nuisance, can spread disease, cause injuries such as bee stings, and destroy property. There are many incidents across the country where squirrels create power outages or start fires by chewing wires. Flies have been known to cause illnesses such as salmonella or shigella. The PCU is here to help prevent and minimize these risks, but we need the University Community’s assistance to do so!

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 12/10/2015. Disclaimer.