Solving Pest Problems

Division Of Student Affairs; Western Michigan University


Although the German cockroach is the most common you may encounter, there are several different species depending upon your location. Other more common varieties: American, Brownbanded, Oriental and Smoky Brown. Their habits may differ greatly. Health and Property Alert: The cockroach contaminates foodstuffs. He is suspected of carrying bacteria germs that transfer disease. Recent research indicates he may aggravate respiratory problems in heart/lung patients.

If you buy insecticides, look for products containing Diazinon, Dursban or Baygon. The important thing to remember is to follow the label. Know when, where and how to use it. Don't spray large surface areas where you've seen roaches. Spray deep into cracks and crevices.

If you find that you're fighting a losing battle, professional pest control can achieve long-run effectiveness. The specialist can give you recommendations for correcting attractive roach hiding places.

Protection: Because cockroaches have no effective natural enemies and reproduce at a rapid rate (40 born every 30 days for the common German Cockroach), they are hard to control. Your first step to effective control is good housekeeping. Thoroughly clean under and behind counters, sinks and dishwashers, under tables and loose linoleum, inside drawers and behind stored goods.

House Mouse:

The house mouse (Mus musculus: meaning little thief) steals food even under seemingly impossible circumstances.

He can get through the smallest of openings and quite rapidly sets up his home and family in your home. If the food supply is adequate, he'll rarely migrate beyond 20 feet of his birth place.

Health and Property Alert: House mice and the parasites that live on them carry several human diseases. Annually, mice contaminate tremendous quantities of stored and processed food via droppings, urine and hair.

Protection: To keep mice out, seal off ground level entries to you home—basement windows, wall holes near the foundation. Seal small cracks, screen basement and attic vents, and repair weather stripping.

Today a mousetrap is still a good bet. But in setting your traps, consider this: Mice don't like cheese nearly as well as peanut butter, bacon, gumdrops, or cookies.

Subterranean Termite:

Termites live from just below the soil to 12 feet below ground level. Above ground, they never expose themselves to light and move in mud tunnels which they ingeniously construct in search of food. They can enter cracks as small as 1/64th of an inch. That's why they are able to penetrate concrete slab construction so easily.

Health and Property Alert: The termite's annual damage bill is staggering: $500 millon—more than hurricanes, tornadoes, and other windstorms combined. Each year, termites strike five times as many homes as fire. In addition to destroying wood, they'll attack books, clothing and anything else containing cellulose.

Protection: Of all the unwanted pests, the subterranean termite is the least susceptible to do-it-yourself treatment. The professional termite control specialist knows how to place a chemical barrier around your home's foundation. He injects a termite control chemical into strategically placed holes in and around your home. Usually termite treatment can be completed in a day or two.

House Ant:

Some ants breed indoors only. Others outdoors. Some feed only on other insects. Other ants love grease. Some eat seeds. Others consider human food especially satisfying. Others won't touch it. Ants live underground in colonies.

Health and Property Alert: Ants contaminate food, are unsightly and often hard to fight off once established in a home.

Protection: To discourage ants, handle food items with care. Remember to clean up grease splatters and spilled food and crumbs.

You can purchase baits or ant traps in your local hardware store. However, identification of the ant is very important because the baits you can buy work well for some species and not for others.

A professional can identify the particular species infesting your home. After proper identification, the pest control specialist finds ant breeding places and chooses the most effective means of control.


Although extremely small in size, fleas have played a large role in history by spreading typhoid fever and bubonic plague.

Fleas prefer your dog or cat, but will transfer to humans. Five minutes exposure to hungry fleas is too much for most people.

A female lays several hundred eggs in a lifetime. Over a two week period they can complete a generation.

Flea eggs are laid and mature in places where your pet frequents—often a favorite chair, bed, carpeting.

Health and Property Alert: Fleas need animal or human blood for survival. They spread disease by feeding on infected animals and then in turn transmit desease to man. The rat-flea-to-man cycle caused bubonic plague.

Protection: Follow your veterinarian's advice. Pest control operators will not treat animals. Fleas are basically an animal problem. But when fleas become a people problem, start by giving your home a thorough cleaning to clear eggs from baseboards, rugs, upholstery, floor and wall cracks, ventillators, closets, etc. Be sure to empty your vacuum cleaner immediately (outdoors, not inside).


Two varieties—because of their venomous bite—are particularly dangerous to man: the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. The female Black Widow is usually black except for a red hourglass marking on her stomach. The Brown recluse is brown with a violin-shaped marking.

Health and Property Alert: Venomous spiders account for many painful bites and cause deaths each year. Seek immediate medical attention if a bite is suspected. Do not ignore any spider bite.

Protection: To keep spiders away, control other insect pests around the home. Spiders feed on these. Your home vacuum cleaner will pick up a spider—web and all.


Silverfish make their homes in the undisturbed areas of your home. They prefer damp, warm places.

Silverfish attack all types of sweet food, cereals, flour, wallpaper paste, book bindings, cotton and most fibers such as linen, rayon, silk, and starched and sized fabrics.

Health and Property Alert: While silverfish present no known health hazard, they can cause costly property damage. Some damaged items are irreplaceable.

Protection: Vacuum rugs and flooring to help prevent or minimize infestations. Clean cracks and crevices in the basement and living quarters (including kitchen, cupboard, and closets).

3510 Faunce Student Services Bldg.
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5077
Phone: (616) 387-2336
Fax: (616) 387-2325

Original HTML by Timothy Strunk