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Bloomington pests

A field guide

Published on Oct. 10, 2011 | Print | Share | Recommend ()

During your time at IU, you're bound to encounter a lot of pesky situations. But lurking in your dorm rooms, greek houses, and off-campus apartments live actual pests that threaten to send you running and screaming – as well as potentially destroying your home and giving you diseases. Inside understands your pain, and to help you cope with these unwanted intruders, we present our field guide for identifying, understanding, and ultimately vanquishing these creatures.

INSECTS

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius)

Why They’re Freaky Bedbugs are parasitic bloodsuckers whose mission is not unlike the mosquito’s: drink enough mammalian blood to satiate their diets. Their bites are disease-free but leave behind red, itchy welts caused by the saliva they inject into their victims as they feast.

Where You’ll Find Them Bedbugs hide out in dark cracks and crevices, which is why they tend to frequent bed headboards. If you suspect an attack, check for small, rust-colored spots on your bed sheets.

What You Can Do Wash your bed sheets in hot water with detergent. And if paranoia is getting the best of you, coat your bed legs with petroleum jelly at night to create a barrier between your skin and the bug.

Cicadas (Tibicen linnei)

Why They're Freaky The bug itself is completely harmless to humans... unless you hold one up to your ear. Cicadas' sounds resonate at a volume that could cause permanent hearing loss.

Where You’ll Find Them For the majority of their lives, cicadas live in the nymph stage underground where they burrow and mature. Fully grown, cicadas tend to hang out in trees and bushes.

What You Can Do Other than its perpetual singing, the cicada is not much of a nuisance. If one does fly in through your window, refrain from smashing it. Use the cup-and-paper routine: trap it beneath a cup, slip a paper underneath, and then release it back into the wild.

Sprickets (Rhaphidophoidae)

Why They're Freaky These insects are natural hybrids gone wild. Appearing as the bastard child of a spider and a cricket, these freaks have the large hind legs and antennae of crickets, and the hunching bodies and multiple legs of spiders.

Where You'll Find Them Sprickets are often basement and bathroom nuisances in student houses because they prefer dark, damp environments.

What You Can Do Keep the entrances from the outdoors sealed. If you're already experiencing infestation, purchase sticky boards to hold the pests captive.

MAMMALS

Raccoons (Procyon Iotor)

Why They're Freaky They can carry rabies. Enough said.

Where You'll Find Them They can create a den in your attic, chimney, or basement. They also love to dig in your trash cans, scrounging for those week-old Pizza X crusts left over from your last binge.

What You Can Do Secure your trash. Sometimes loud noises and flashing lights can scare away raccoons, but if you find one in your house, call Bloomington Animal Care and Control. Because raccoons carry rabies, Laurie Ringquist, director of Animal Care and Control, says that students should not try to handle them without protective gear.

Bats (Chiroptera)

Why They're Freaky Bats are traditionally associated with horror films, Halloween, and vampires, making them creepy to most people. While bats do not attack humans, large amounts of bat droppings within homes allow fungal spores to form, which may lead to histoplasmosis, a lung disease that can cause flu-like symptoms. They can also give you rabies. Gross.

Where You'll Find Them Bats have been found in several of the trees around campus. They'll go anywhere they can roost, including your porch.

What You Can Do If you find a bat in your house or apartment, call Bloomington Animal Care and Control. While it is possible to catch a bat, it is probably safer to let the professionals handle the situation.

Mice (Mus musculus)

Why They're Freaky Knowing there’s a speedy little critter living in your house and eating your food is bad enough, but mice are also super animals that can climb, swim, and jump. Mice can also spread diseases, and finding little black pieces of mouse excrement in your cabinets is never fun.

Where You'll Find Them Aside from humans, mice are the most common animals to live in cities. It only takes a quarter-inch hole for a mouse to enter a house, and once they’re in, they can hide just about anywhere — especially in places where they can find food.

What You Can Do If you think you have a mouse, keep your food in containers that cannot be chewed through and don’t leave anything sitting out in the open. Traditional mousetraps are effective and are available at several stores, including Walmart and Lowe’s. Other traps, such as ones that keep the mouse alive for later release, are available; poisons, however, are not recommended due to their hazards to people.

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