Since the start of the semester, Sean Garrett ’19 has seen a lot of bees — both dead and alive — in his room and elsewhere in Leonard Residence Hall.
“There was one night where I went to the Beta lounge and I found like at least 50 dead ones on the floor,” Garrett said. “It was pretty nasty.”
The honeybees’ hive, located somewhere around the Beta Theta Pi lounge on the fourth floor of Leonard, is just one of numerous insect infestations on campus. It’s difficult to say whether there truly is an increase this year in bugs compared to previous autumns, because students have submitted fewer work orders for pest control this year; 56 work orders for pest control were filed from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, while 69 such work orders were filed during the same period last year, according to Facility Logistics Manager Clinton Baker. However, these work orders encompass not only insects but also mice, bats and skunks. There is no work order specifically for insect infestations, making it hard to know whether Kenyon’s bug situation has gotten better, or — as many seem to think — worse.
Some attribute the perceived increase in bugs on campus to high temperatures in September and early October. Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Elizabeth Schultz Reichard thinks this could be the case.
“It seems like there are a lot more [insects] around,” she said. She explained that many insects are ectotherms, meaning their body temperature is completely dependent on the external temperature. The arrival of frost normally kills them. Otherwise, they retreat indoors.
Grounds Manager Steve Vaden assists in the removal of bugs on campus. He said that it seems like there has been an increase in two types of insects specifically: yellow jackets and stink bugs.
Jacqueleen Eng ’19 lives in Hanna Residence Hall and has seen more than her fair share of stinkbugs. They started entering her room when it was warm out, and she said part of the problem is that Hanna rooms do not have built-in window screens. Even though she uses a screen provided to her by the Office of Residential Life, there are holes around the screen because it is attached by ropes, so the bugs can still get in. She’s tried applying duct tape but so far nothing has worked.
Eng added that there were two very cold days recently during which the problem was alleviated, but when the weather warmed up again, the stink bugs returned. She said she’s found an effective way of disposing them, however.
“I knock them into a jar and then I kind of shake them into the urinal that’s not being used in the bathroom,” she said. “And then if you put dish soap in the water, they drown super easily. Because they can still swim, so you need something to keep them down.”
Sam Palicz ’18 lives in a North Campus Apartment, and she and her housemates have had four or five brown recluse spiders in their apartment. One of her housemates was bitten by such a spider when she was younger and developed blood poisoning from it.
“We’re kind of paranoid about it, like if they get into your bed or if they’re somewhere and they bite you,” Palicz said. “It’s just not fun to see them around.”
She said they are in the process of filing a work order to address the situation, but that it’s been difficult because there is no specific designation for insects on the work order form.
As far as the removal of other insects, Vaden said there is really no treatment for stink bugs. For honey bees and yellow jackets, he sometimes uses a liquid spray or pesticide dust which the insects then track back to their nests.
But because honeybees, and to a certain degree, yellow jackets, are pollinators, Vaden is sometimes averse to spraying them, particularly if they do not pose much of a problem to people nearby.
Additionally, he said sometimes honeybees will swarm around the hive after interference and that there is the problem of leftover honey inside a building or its walls when a nest is sprayed. Other pests can then be drawn to that honey.
As for the bee hive in Leonard, he is still weighing his options as to what can and can’t be done.
“That’s something I really don’t prefer to go in and spray, but I haven’t figured out how I can get them out yet, either,” Vaden said.
For Eng, the presence of bugs in her room has at least alleviated her fear of these new roommates.
“I used to be scared of stink bugs,” Eng said. “Now I can handle them because I have to.”