U begins annual creepy-crawly crackdown

Tricia Michel

University buildings and grounds worker Dave Minke has seen more on the job than most students would like to know about: cockroaches the size of mice, ants grouped by the thousands and furniture infested with silverfish.

Fortunately, he said, he is pretty fearless when it comes to the creatures.

It is pest season at the University. From late summer to early winter, pests pop up the most, and the University doubles its pest inspections.

Minke said he once picked up a half-full cup of coffee and noticed the cup was moving.

“I dropped the cup and saw 12 cockroaches run away,” he said.

Other buildings and grounds workers said they have had similar experiences.

“This campus is infested,” said Seth Roe, who works on the East Bank campus.

He said he feels bad for students who nap on communal furniture.

“I guarantee they’re taking home silverfish,” he said.

Silverfish are small, wormlike insects that are usually harmless and live off of cereal, paper and the starch in clothing.

Jay Bruesch, technical director for Plunkett’s Pest Control, said silverfish, cockroaches and mice are the most common pests on the University’s campuses.

Bruesch said prevention methods such as traps and poisons are the most successful.

Plunkett’s Pest Control usually inspects the University campus on a daily basis and conducts twice as many inspections during the pest season.

In addition to mice, cockroaches and silverfish, Bruesch said, bed bugs are becoming common pests.

Bed bugs are flat, tiny insects that live in or near beds and feed on blood. Bruesch said their bites are painless.

There are not any known cases of bed bug infestations on the University’s campuses, but he said anyone living in multi-unit housing should be aware of the pest.

Buildings and grounds worker Colleen Crosby said she has seen a lot of mice and still screams every time she sees one.

Crosby said that when she worked in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, there was an awful smell that got worse every day. She said after weeks of using air fresheners to cover up the stench, she found three mice roasting on the radiator’s fan belt.

Most pests do not pose a huge threat, but they can be associated with risks, Bruesch said.

Mice can carry salmonella, squirrels might be infested with parasites, and certain pests can trigger asthma attacks.

Buildings and grounds worker Mike Dulski said pests have become a smaller problem over the years.

“Today people call an exterminator; years and years ago nobody cared,” he said.