What’s Bugging WC?

By Emily Blackner
News Writer

Instead of things that go bump in the night, Washington College students are scared of things that creep on the ground–namely, mice, cockroaches, and other pests. These pests have moved into dorms and are causing many students distress, and some feel as if more should be done to combat this problem.

Reid Raudenbush, Director of the Physical Plant, has received numerous calls about pests in dorms.
“The most frequently reported problem this year has been mice, particularly in Minta Martin, but several have been reported in other areas,” he said. “There have been some lingering reports of stinkbugs (a real problem for everyone at the start of the year) and some scattered calls about spiders.” The problems seem to be centered in Reid and Minta Martin, both Zone 1 dorms.
“I think anyone in Minta [Martin] can talk about mice,” said freshman Kodi Webb, who lives on the third floor of that dorm. “I myself have seen three.”

“I was freaked out when I first saw the mouse, but now it’s not really that big of a deal,” she said. Webb’s mother encountered one of the creatures as well. “When I moved back in after winter break, my parents were bringing things up to my room and they walked down the hall with a mouse. They were a little freaked at first, but then my mom said it was cute,” she said.

Cockroaches, pests that have been making plenty of visits to WC dorms, are far from cute, however. Sophomore Lindsay Haislip lives on the first floor of Reid and has had far too much experience with the insects.

“So far, I have seen two cockroaches alive and have found two dead ones,” she said. “One was in my shoe, and the other I found upon returning to break.”

“I was extremely alarmed and upset when I saw the first one,” Haislip said. “It was very large and black, and I was told by another resident, who also had one in her room, that this particular one is able to fly. I did not sleep at all that night, and now I check the floor before I walk into my room or get off my bed every single time. I am extremely nervous that there will be more that will show up.”
In addition to being “creepy,” cockroaches pose health risks to humans by carrying disease-causing germs, such as those that lead to staph infections and strep throat. The presence of cockroaches can also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, and exacerbate asthma symptoms.

The Illinois Department of Public Health website warns that mice are just as dangerous. They can spread salmonella and cause other illnesses, leave a musty odor wherever they nest, and destroy property as they continually gnaw on things to keep their teeth from becoming overgrown.
Webb attempted to get help in capturing the mouse that inhabited her room.

“I went to my RA and she called PS, and they couldn’t find the mouse,” she said. “When I got back to my room the next day, there were the sticky mouse traps around my room and then two weeks later they got moldy, so I threw them out.” No mice were caught with the traps.

Raudenbush advises students to report any pest sightings, but not to PS. “Pest problems should be reported to Buildings & Grounds at [extension] 7210, or by on-line work order,” he said.
Once it receives word of an issue, the college calls in the exterminators.

“Washington College has a contract with Erhlich Pest Control who is here every week to address or prevent pests in residence halls and the dining hall,” Raudenbush said. “A log book is maintained at B&G and every call we receive is entered in the log and the tech from Ehrlich responds to each call.”
In spite of this, Webb is now focused on preventing the animals from getting into her room in the first place.

“I think the mice are here because it is an old building, and people in the past have not been very clean,” Webb said. “I know when I moved in there were clumps of hair in the drawers and cabinets, and some food left over from the person before me. So I am keeping my food off of the floor and in plastic containers.”

Raudenbush agrees that this is the best prevention strategy. “Pests, especially mice, are after food. Once they discover a food source in a residence hall or the dining hall they will return. Ehrlich will attempt to bait and trap, but the best defense is to keep food secure.”

Haislip, in addition to general cleanliness, is being more proactive. “I decided to take matters into my own hands upon returning from break, and came equipped with a large bottle of ‘Raid-Kills on Contact’ spray, and ‘Combat Roach Poison,’” she said. “I have attacked every area of my room with the poison, in hopes that they will stay away.”

Even these measures may not be effective because of the state of the building. Webb said, “There is a hole in my wall next to my closet which is where the mouse comes in and out of our room.” She said that the problem might be solved for her “if [the college] could put something there so the mouse can’t get in or out.”

Renovating Minta Martin completely might be another, albeit more expensive, solution, and students like Webb doubt that “the college would actually do that.”

“I think that this is an important issue for the college to address,” Haislip said. “No student should be afraid to walk into his or her room out of fear of cockroaches.”

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