Office Pest Control is a Sticky Situation

By Published On: 26 May 2015Last Updated: 22 January 2017

Is there a humane way to get rid of insects in an office building? Yes, yes there is - and other animals will benefit as well.

Image of ants walking across counter

What's in this post

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

Editors note: The phrase “pest control” is an industry term created to describe a human construct. Humans believe that insects are pests because they attempt to live indoors with us. But if you think about it, we built our houses and office buildings right on top of where they used to live. I bet if you asked an insect, they’d consider us the pests. – KD

Do vegans kill bugs? I’ve asked that question before, and there is no black and white answer. But here’s a story about navigating a non-vegan world and “pest control”.

Every spring, we get bugs on the outside of the windows on our office building. The birds swoop in to pick them off. A couple of years ago, there were a lot more bugs than there were birds, and the bugs got into the office. It wasn’t uncommon to find dead ones on our desks each morning.

Building management tried to alleviate the “problem” by eventually putting down sticky fly paper to keep the insects away from our personal space. They also put down sticky traps – you know, the ones that are usually used on rodents. They are horrible and I don’t know who would use them and think it was a humane way to catch a mouse.

But I digress. The bugs haven’t really infiltrated the building in a couple of years. The sticky traps remained, out of sight in corners and therefore out of mind. One morning last fall, I arrived to work early and saw an overturned sticky trap on the floor near my desk. A wing was sticking out underneath.

You guys, I don’t do well with dead bodies. I can’t even go near them without having a bit of a freakout. I asked someone to put the poor bird in a box so that maintenance could take him away later. I imagined that he fell from the ceiling panels (we get one in the ceiling from time to time), got stuck, panicked and died. I felt terrible.

Somehow, six months have passed. The bugs are back (though not inside). I watched birds swoop in for most of a recent morning to eat. And as I returned from my AM break, I saw my boss, walking outside with a bird securely in her hands.

The bird was alive, but sure enough, she had fallen through the ceiling, onto another one of those sticky traps. My boss was going outside, intent on freeing her.

I texted KD, because if you didn’t already know, she’s knowledgeable when it comes to taking care of animals of all types. She suggested using oil and referred me to a video of someone releasing a mouse from one of these traps:

Now, oil is not something we keep on hand in the office, so I knew we didn’t have any. I plan on buying a small bottle to have available in case this happens again.

My boss was able to free the bird, who flew away, avoiding the fate of her fellow bird from last fall.

There is so much to unpack here. (I kind of hate that “let’s unpack this” stuff that’s so trendy these days.) Why are sticky traps used at all – they are not humane for rodents, and birds can get trapped and die as well. They aren’t humane for bugs, either, really – do you want to get stuck on something and die? Is there a humane way to get rid of bugs in an office building?

In fact, there is. I will admit I had no idea, but there are humane bug catchers that will catch bugs so you can release them. BugZooka Bug Catcher Vacuum is one. There are also pest repellers that use sound to deter insects and other “pests” without killing them, like this one.

How do you deal with insects in the office (or home)? Do you have a bug catcher? Tell me about it in the comments.

Photo: Dan Brickley


  1. Robert June 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Keeping things clean is the best way to deal with keeping bugs out. There will always be some creepy crawlers that will get through the cracks but that’s just going to happen no matter what! Some bugs are fine, but too many can really cause problems.

  2. libby June 2, 2017 at 7:20 am - Reply

    Keeping a clean work environment is always a great way to keep pests out of unwanted areas of a home. As well as keeping food put away is always a great help.

  3. Serge March 16, 2017 at 11:35 pm - Reply


    I totally agree with you about keeping a clean work environment so you keep unwanted guests from stopping by.
    I also recommend people google some Natural DIY pest control ideas to help before seeking professional help.

  4. Cesar Delgado October 24, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Good idea on using an oil in removing a mouse but this can be messy at times plus handling a dead rodent should be left in the hands of a professional. Keeping your office clean and practicing good food storage habits can reduce the chance of having a mouse visit. I would recommend having your office checked for any infestation should these kinds of things frequent. Prolonging rodent control issues will just result into a severe infestation.

  5. Tanysha Harry May 26, 2015 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    It’s horrible. I work in a non-vegan cafe and the management have to deal with pests quickly by law. I’ve managed to avoid setting any traps. And I do my best to keep the entire kitchen as clean as I can to avoid attracting critters. It’s difficult when working with non-vegans as they just don’t care

    • Daria Zeoli May 28, 2015 at 6:05 am - Reply

      I think keeping a clean kitchen is a big way to try to keep unwanted guests from visiting. I would imagine that you’re bound to have some in a food establishment, though. Tough reality!

      • Jim January 17, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

        Sooo true! When you’ve got to deal with many people, it gets much tougher though! Have to train other to be responsible and all that!

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…