Catching more than rodents on glue boards


July 1, 2022

Photo: Dr. Niamh Quinn

Dr. Niamh Quinn snapped this photo at the scene of what was likely blow fly maggots. Photo: Dr. Niamh Quinn

BUILDING TYPE: High school
LOCATION: West Coast
THE HORRORS: It’s cases like these that make me bang the drum that we need more research to continually fine-tune ways to prevent and control mice and rats. In the research world, we literally know more about polar bears than we do about commensal rodents.

Almost all of my rodent horror stories take place in schools, mostly high schools. I think it’s in part because the buildings tend to be older, and in part because you have teenagers spending time there for extracurricular activities, eating and leaving behind trash.

I’ve seen cafeterias where the walls had rub marks so thick you could write your name in them.

I have a friend who teaches in an impoverished school district, and her classroom lights flicker when the mice run across the electrical wiring.

But one story that really sticks out took place a few years ago. I was called to consult on a roof rat job at an urban high school on a hot, mid-summer afternoon. The building had been closed up since school had let out.

The first thing I noticed were flies buzzing around me as soon as I walked through the door. I went down a hall, entered a classroom and saw the technician standing on a ladder with his head inside an opening in the drop ceiling. I came in just in time to see him drop a glue board.

What looked like shards of glass went flying everywhere. Except they weren’t glass shards. They were maggots.

Dr. Niamh Quinn

Dr. Niamh Quinn

Now, I do a lot of gross things in my life. I deal with rotten rats and bloody coyotes on the regular. I don’t even mind fleas and ticks. But maggots? They’re my Kryptonite.

In this case, they were getting everywhere. Without a word, the tech nonchalantly walked out to his truck to get some new traps and glue boards.

Lessons learned: We noticed early on with the West Coast Rodent Academy ( that there is a huge desire among PMPs to learn more about rodent exclusion. We now hold an entire breakout session to give attendees hands-on practice on installing door sweeps, caulking and more.


About the Author

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DR. QUINN is the Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension South Coast Research and Extension Center.

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