Keeping campus pest-free

To escape the harsh winter weather, people and pests alike are finding comfort indoors. For the past 15 years, Keith Johnson of Guardian Pest Control has visited UMD every Tuesday to keep the school pest-free. Each time, he takes a to-do list from either the Department of Facilities Management or UMD Housing and chases down anything from raccoons to bats, spiders to skunks, and centipedes to chipmunks.

“Mice get in here; there’s not a lot you can do about that — it’s so big, and it’s all connected,” said Johnson. “It’s pretty minor actually, considering how big it is. I guarantee you there’s no infestation of mice; there’s just occasional invaders.”

“I spent six hours here one day,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s stuff that’s really pressing … other times it’s real simple.”

Johnson said that in “emergency situations,” staff call him to address problems as quickly as possible. He said, “I’ll come outside of a Tuesday if it’s an emergency.”

For instance, last summer Cheryl Anderson, customer service representative for Facilities Management, noticed a rather striking bulge on the Sieur du Lhut (Sir Duluth) sculpture.

“Cheryl called and said there’s a hornet nest on the Sir Duluth,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take care of it,’ and she was laughing when she told me. I went up to her office when I got there and she goes, ‘Well here, I’ll show you a picture so you know exactly where it is.’ And the hornet’s nest was right here,” he said, gesturing toward his pelvic region.

Anderson said that certain areas on campus are more prone to pests, like the Sports and Health Center, where students are often prop doors open. In most cases, mice are usually the perpetrators.

“It’s an education process with the users,” Anderson said. “As winter comes on, mice are looking to come in. It’s warm in here and cold outside.”

Johnson said that when he notices doors propped opened, “I’ll shut them, and when I come back down the hall, they’re open.”

According to John Rashid, associate director of Facilities Management, there are around 135 exterior doors, all entryways for both pests and students.

When inspecting, Johnson sets up and checks various types of traps, such as sticky glue boards or big silver boxes called pro-catches. But he also talks to people about ways to try and prevent pests in the first place.

“Don’t prop doors open,” he said. “It helps to have (food) wrapped up in a plastic container. Metal containers are best.”

To keep UMD pest-free, the steps are fairly simple:

“Don’t leave food lying around,” Anderson said. “Report any pests to our office and know that we’re working behind the scenes to make sure that their campus is pest-free, as pest-free as possible.”



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