Who Invited the Fleas?

By Kristen Maikoo
Photo by Kristen Maikoo
From left to right: Cedric Macon, George Morales, and Scott McNeely.

    As students left campus for winter break, there remained no further reports of fleas since early October when students reported having flea bites. Fleas do not arrive uninvited, however; they always appear accompanied by a host.

    According to the president of McNeely Pest Control, Scott McNeely, the presence of fleas is directly linked to the presence of a host animal.“They are not going to feed and reproduce unless there is a host animal, like a raccoon, possum, or a cat or a dog, those type of animals,” he says. “Fleas only lay eggs when they feed on host animals.” As the eggs are not adhesive, if the animal moves around, the eggs will disseminate to where the animal has been.

    McNeely says that an infestation is comprised of many fleas. Morales says, “We’ve never seen multiple fleas in a room when we’ve gone and inspected. It’s always been just one.”

    According to McNeely, when the company receives a call for fleas or bedbugs, for instance, they begin by searching for a source. “I know that we had several calls. We did find fleas.” Near Gramley Residence Hall, “We did find that there were some—what we refer as feral, or wild—cats that were on the outside of some of the buildings.”

    A cat was found in a Salem residence on Oct. 2. The presence of the animal is linked to the student reports of flea bites. Cats were spotted in different areas on campus, including outside of Gramley, Bahnson and near the Academy. Kittens were found at the Academy and then taken to the Forsyth Humane Society. Morales says, “We try to work with the Humane Society and rescue leagues to save the cats, too.”

    George Morales, Director of the Physical Plant, says that when he receives a call about flea sightings, the monitors are set up. Since the initial flea appearances before Fall Break, the monitors have not indicated the presence of any others. Monitors were placed in Gramley, Babcock, and Clewell Residence Halls. A room in Fogle Flats was monitored and treated.

    When a source is found, then chemicals are used in the treatment process, though minimal pesticides are used. Insect monitors are also installed. McNeely says, “When we treat we typically have used a residual insecticide as well as a an insect growth regulator which will help prevent development if there happen to be any eggs or larvae present.” Rooms in Gramley and Fogle Flats were inspected and treated.

    Cat toys and bowls were found in Fogle Flats. Morales says, “Students that were found that have brought cats into the building were given time to remove the cats and bring them someplace else. It seems like they were also bringing them from one place to another, which just exacerbates the situation if they have fleas they would just be transported.”

    According to Residential Coordinator Heather Harrison, the Student Handbook states that students are not allowed to keep any pets in the residence buildings except for fish.

    Shanoa Totherow, a senior, says, “I live in McHugh Flats and dealt with fleas in my apartment in early October. Fortunately, our room was treated before the problem got out of hand, and my roommates and I haven’t had an issue since.”

    “I appreciate the students’ cooperation,” says Morales. “Everywhere that we had to treat…nobody ever gave us a hard time, so we appreciate the cooperation of the students,” says Morales. During the treatment period, students had to clear the floor, vacate the room for up to five hours, and housekeeping would come in to clean and vacuum the area. “We wound up disposing of the bag so that we eliminate whatever was treated,” says Morales. Once rooms were treated, no other fleas were detected.

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