pest-busting stage 1: familiarizing ourselves with the enemy

Pest-busting Stage 1: Familiarizing Ourselves with the Enemy

By Desmond Lim

Earlier this week, we met up with our primary stakeholder for this project, Bonny Bentzin (Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer of UCLA), to orient ourselves with her goals for the team and the existing pest management practices on the UCLA campus. Needless to say, it was an extremely informative and fruitful session as most of the team had little or no knowledge of pest problems that plagued the campus! The main culprits? Rats.

Let’s get acquainted with our new pest friend. The nocturnal creatures are attracted to food-waste bins and water sources, such as irrigation pipelines, because these sources are immobile and provide a relatively stable supply for them. Rats are considered pests due to their ability to destroy building structures, contaminate food sources and transmit diseases to other animals and human beings. Although rodenticide serves as a temporary solution to population control, Bonny aims to implement integrated pest management on the campus eventually. The overall goal, she mentioned, is to “create conditions that would make growing food on campus a feasible option.”

The first stage of the project, Bonny stated, was to document the existence and location of rats around the campus. The UCLA Office of Environment, Health and Safety has been tracking rodent hotspots and our team will be looking to work with them to create a map of places that currently and potentially attract rats. We are in the midst of conducting our literature review and will definitely be more acquainted with the subject matter as the quarter goes on.