Lab Pest Management

Off-topic conversations and chit-chat.

25 posts Page 1 of 2
Wanted to see how other labs handle pests in the lab. We have an environmental lab that we run pesticides and my supervisor is worried about contamination (to the point of paranoia) and don't want any part of the building to be sprayed. The pesticides we look at are chlorinated, so is there a certain pesticide we could ask the exterminators to use, or would just spraying the perimeter of the building do? Just kinda would like to see what others are doing or have done.

Unfortunately in our part of the world most of the steps I could take to deal with the worst pests in the lab are illegal. Humans are very much a protected species...
haha, gave me a good chuckle this morning. Our biggest problem since our new facility is out in the country in a rural area now, is scorpions and wasps.
Most of what I see on the market for unlicensed consumers are permethrins and similar compounds. These are "green" in the current vernacular and shouldn't cause any trouble with analysis of legacy pesticides. If you are looking for more modern pesticides use caution and ask for an MSDS before you agree to their service.
A lot depends on what the pests are.

We had frequent disputes with the plant culture lab on the floor below our pesticide lab because they were forever wanting to fumigate their culture rooms against mites or something.

Peter Apps
Thanks for the help. Just trying to get some knowledge and background to take to my supervisors to show that we can use pest control.
Pests can only survive if they have food, water and shelter. A lab with a serious pest problem probably also has a housekeeping problem.

Peter Apps
Wasp Trap:

You can google all sorts of wasp traps that don't use pesticides.

As for the scorpions, good luck. From what I can find, you need to make the outside of the lab inhabitable for them - get rid of hiding places for them and their food. Seal off cracks in the foundation, seal leaks in faucets and pipes, etc. If they're coming in en masse, maybe try glue traps around the doorways to the lab - that should at least indicate what else is getting in, and keep some of the scorpions controlled.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Peter Apps, a lab where I used to work had a mouse problem. You'd see paws and tails in the fluorescent light fittings, and more and more droppings would appear. It turned out the people on the floor above thought they were cute, and were leaving biscuits for them... Arrgghhh.
lmh wrote:
Peter Apps, a lab where I used to work had a mouse problem. You'd see paws and tails in the fluorescent light fittings, and more and more droppings would appear. It turned out the people on the floor above thought they were cute, and were leaving biscuits for them... Arrgghhh.

:lol: There is an African saying; there is no medicine to make foolish people wise. !!
Peter Apps
If you have your extraction area separate from your analysis area then as long as you are not saturating the extraction area with pesticides you should be ok. We have our extractions in a separate building across the parking lot from the main building which help keep cross contamination out of the volatiles analysis lab.

The pest control people spray around the perimeter of the buildings about twice a year and inside we have glue traps in the corners by the door and inside the labs. We have never had any problems with contamination in our analysis. As long as you are running instrument and extraction blanks to show the lack of contamination you should be good to go.
The past is there to guide us into the future, not to dwell in.
This thread reminds me of the episode of breaking bad where Walter spends the entire episode trying to kill a single housefly that is loose in his process/industrial sized meth lab, instead of making product for his boss. His partner is upset at him at first for ignoring the work and walter refuses to let them do chemistry until the fly is killed, after failed attempts to kill it, booby trapping the whole lab. Walters partner eventually drugs him with sleeping pills so he can start doing chemistry by himself. I'll let you watch the episode to learn what becomes of the fly.
I had to chuckle when I read this post. Reminds me of the days I was at Purdue in the early 1970s. I was in the entomology department, working in the pesticide residue lab. As with your case, use of pesticides in the building was not allowed. There were classic cartoon-like rat holes chewed through the base of most of the doors leading to the labs. Long before I got there, there was a rat infestation. Folks said if you went in at night and flipped the lights on you could see rats scampering about. That was ended with a building fumigation and removal of hundreds of rat carcasses. By the time I got there, this was history. But there was a big research project on cockroaches, which have a wonderful nervous system to use as a model. Roaches were everywhere. You'd open a drawer and they'd scamper into the shadows. At least they weren't in my kitchen! One day I was having excessive noise on my baseline of my GC tracing. I replaced the column, septum, cleaned this and that, but nothing helped. Then my major prof opened the lid on the strip chart recorder and saw a roach scampering across the slide wire, just like a circus high-wire act. Our came the pyrethrin can with the narrow spray tube and we solved the roach problem in the recorder... Most of the time we did pest control with sticky traps and snap traps. At least this reduced the population of friends to a reasonable level.
John Dolan
LC Resources
Sticky traps can be quite useful for personnel too. We used to hang sticky fly-traps on the tops of the bamboo sticks that supported plants in our greenhouse. While harvesting Canola seeds, I got my hair stuck to one. The canola plants were all intertwined so every time I moved, a complete bench of 3m of canola plants was wobbling precariously. So I reached up to unstick my hair and got my hand stuck. So I reached up with the other hand to unstick the first hand and...

Yeah, right, at least it's not as painful as a mousetrap.
It reminds me of Grad school. I worked in a lab that cultured mammalian cells. They were always blaming the lab down the hall that did Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe whenever they got contaminated with yeast.

The Yeast lab denied their strains were that pervassive and were constantly complaining about the genetics lab accross the hall for their Drosphila flies getting into their yeast media/culture. I have no idea who the drosophila people blamed for contamination.
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