Pest Management

The university utilizes an “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) approach, which combines environmental, chemical (where possible), and structural strategies to address and prevent the infestation and reproduction of pests in our homes.  While we have dedicated comprehensive resources to address, monitor, and prevent pests, we need residents’ help to inform us of problems that exist and to prevent problems from occurring.

Common Pests In Urban Environments

  • The house mouse has the amazing ability to adapt, living in the same buildings where humans live.  While they move outside in the summer, they tend to retreat indoors during autumn. 
  • Mice are omnivorous; they will eat anything, including soap in the bathroom or candles, for example, but their favorite foods are cereals and cereal products.  While they do not eat much (only about 3 grams each day and don’t need to drink much), they create quite a bit of damage as a result of gnawing on items and soiling (producing about 80 droppings per day) products with their urine and droppings.

  • Cockroaches are a common household pest in many parts of the world, including Philadelphia, thanks to our often warm and damp climate. 
  • There are two species of cockroach that are commonly found in our region: American and German cockroaches.
    • American Cockroaches are the larger of the two species, about two inches long and reddish-brown with large wings that enable them to fly.
      • American cockroaches are often found exploring larger spaces, like your living room floor.  They are all sensitive to light,so turning on a lamp in your room may send them skittering off to hide.
    • German Cockroaches are smaller, averaging about half an inch (13 mm) with a brown color, and cannot fly. 
      • German cockroaches prefer to hide in small spaces such as in cabinets, especially in damp areas like kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Both species of cockroach can eat almost anything: food, whether fresh or decaying; waste products; soap, glue, and other materials. 
  • They can also move very quickly, which makes them difficult to catch. 
  • They do not bite and are not poisonous.  They can carry toxic or poisonous substances from place to place and can transfer them to food or other surfaces by tracking it onto them or by defecating on it.

  • Bed bugs are small, reddish brown, wingless insects that are oval in shape; about 1/4 inch long, similar to a tick in appearance, visible to the naked eye.
  • They feed on the blood of humans and animals.  They do not spread disease, but their bites are irritating and can produce itching and welts.
  • They are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide from human breath and are often active just before dawn though they may feed at other times.  They can live up to 18 months without feeding.
  • Generally nocturnal.  During the day, they hide in crevices, bedframes, mattresses, blankets, pillows, behind picture frames, in drawers, etc.
  • They are generally brought to campus in personal belongings such as backpacks, bedding, luggage, and used furniture.  Once here, they can move through holes in walls to adjoining rooms.

  • The spotted lantern fly is a destructive invasive insect threatening agricultural and ornamental plants that has spread throughout Pennsylvania since its discovery in Berks County in 2014. 
    • They do not bite or sting.
    • If you find any life stage of spotted lanternfly, destroy them immediately.  For egg masses, double bag them and be sure you crush all eggs evenly before tossing them out.  Alternatively, all life stages of spotted lanternfly can be placed permanently in a container with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to destroy them.

Doing Your Part

  • Sighting of pests
  • Pest droppings present
  • A hole in a wall or closet with build-up of grease around it (possible rodent)
  • Finding a pile of debris from building material, such as wood or plastic shavings; cinder block dust; or debris from drywall, on the surface of an area
  • Items, particularly food or paper items, appear chewed or shredded
  • Chirping or scratching noise behind walls, appliances or other objects (possible rodent)
  • Waking up with bites or welts that itch, particularly in a straight line (possible bed bugs)
  • Discarded casings or “shells” from a bug, particularly near your bedding (possible bed bugs)

  • Changes in weather
  • Unkept spaces, particularly with build-up of paper goods or clothing
  • Inconsistent trash removal
  • Space is damp or humid
  • Utilizing cardboard for the storage of items, since pests often like to harbor in such material
  • Window screen with holes in it; opening window without a screen
  • Structural problems, such as cracks, crevices, and holes in the room or on the exterior of the building that are not sealed; electrical plates that are not completely flush with the wall; leaking pipes or sanitation lines

  • Do not prop doors open as it can create easier access for pests that utilize the borders of a wall to travel
  • Be familiar with your space in order to be able to note any changes in the space consistent with the signs of pest activity in your room
  • Check your clothing and items before entering your residence for any signs of pests that may have attached themselves to you or to your belongings
  • Do not leave food out for extended periods of time; keep all food in a refrigerator or inside insect-proof containers
  • After eating or preparing food, clean up the area and your dishes thoroughly soon as you are finished to ensure that all food, food particles, or spilled drinks from counters, sinks, and tables has been removed
  • Vacuum or sweep on a consistent basis to ensure that any small crumbs or food particles that may have fallen on the floor are not left behind as food for pests
  • Empty and rinse out food or beverage containers before disposing of them daily in the appropriate trash or recycling receptacles; do not leave trash in the hallways or stairwells
  • Do not allow piles of loose papers or clothing to accumulate on the surfaces of your room, and dispose of empty boxes, paper shopping bags, and other types of clutter so as not to create “harborage” or shelter for pests
  • Try to keep items, particularly cardboard, off the floor as much as possible; store items in plastic pest-proof containers with lids if you are not able to avoid placing them on the floor and ensure that there is space between them to avoid creating small spaces where pests like to hide
  • Keep your bathroom exhaust fan on for at least 15 minutes after showering to avoid creating humidity in your room
  • Avoid bringing used furniture into your room
  • Use a mattress cover
  • When traveling, try to avoid placing your luggage on the bed or floor of the places in which you are staying
  • Clean your luggage and clothing with hot water and dry with high heat after traveling or steam clean the belongings
  • As outlined in our Handbook, do not utilize Raid or other over the counter pesticides; they drive the pest away from your area and spread it to adjacent rooms; using them can also be counterproductive to the exterminating contractor’s efforts to resolve the issue in your room. 
  • Report structural problems that you see in your residence, which could lead to pests, utilizing AiM.

Reporting and Treatment

  • Submit a Facilities AiM Request.
  • Be specific in the notes of the exterminating request about where you saw the pest and in describing the pest
  • Contact your Residential Services Manager and/or Building Administrator.
  • If you believe bed bugs are present in your space, contact Student Health Services to make an appointment for them to assess

  • After reporting pest activity, the resident can take the following steps to prepare their room for a visit from an exterminator:
    • For mice and cockroaches:
      • Clear and tidy up your space to ensure that you have a clear path to the area in your room where you saw the pest activity
      • Note points of entry, frequent activity areas or spots you’ve seen droppings to assist the exterminator
      • If you won’t be present for the visit, pass along this information to your RSM or leave a note near your door
    • For bed bugs:
      • Do not allow guests or visitors to sit or lay on your furniture
      • Do not sit or lay on furniture in another person’s room

  • The exterminator will often follow-up weekly for persistent pest issues in order to assess the treatment’s effectiveness.
  • For bed bugs:
    • You will be asked to be present for an inspection of your room
    • If bed bugs are not found, your room will be reinspected at a later date
    • If bed bugs are found, you will be asked to relocate while the extermination takes place
      • You will be asked to bag all of your clothing and “fabric” items for laundering
      • Anything you take to the temporary space should be laundered or, at a minimum, put in a dryer on high heat
  • For mice and cockroaches:
    • The exterminator will inspect your room and note any holes, cracks or crevices in the wall that need to be patched
    • They will set baited traps, apply pesticide, or use other methods to remedy the pest issue that you are experiencing
    • It can take five to 14 days, depending on the type of pest, for these methods to be fully effective
  • Report any pest issues to your RSM that persist past that point