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Bugs, Rodents, etc. in your house!

Japan With Kids - Forums: Repairs and Maintenance: Bugs, Rodents, etc. in your house!
By Diana on Sunday, July 25, 1999 - 1:51 pm:

We just found out we have new guests in our apartment...cockroaches. Any advice on preventive measures to making them move on? We live in a 5 story apartment building, so we assume they are here to stay?????? Please give us advice.

By Natalie on Wednesday, July 28, 1999 - 7:27 pm:

COMBAT! It's the best thing on the market and it has always worked for me. The older your apartment, the greater the likelihood you'll find them. I recommend that you never leave any food out, vacuum the kitchen every night before going to bed (if possible), seal up any inside cracks in outside walls, ensure that your screen doors fit/close tight, seal up the vents to the outside (usually found in outside walls) and keep your bathroom dry. Some people like to leave the kitchen light on to keep them from coming out. I'd also be interested to hear what others recommend.

By Masa on Friday, November 19, 1999 - 7:51 am:

On NHK news TV - 18 Nov, 1999
"kumanezumi" (RATS) in Tokyo is getting a social to be problem. Kumanezumi originates in south asia, therefore strong to hot weather and weak to the cold they make their nest inside of house such as under the frig, which is warm. They can enter thru 2x2cm entrance and quick motion walking up building wall, even 10 story building. Sometimes biting electric cables brings fire.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, December 1, 1999 - 4:14 am:

Bunkyo ward office has their rat control desk on the 17th floor where you can receive free rat poison and lots of papers (in Japanese) explaining where rats come into your home, and how to administer the poison, and to watch your pet cat while the rats are supposed to be dying from eating the poison. (Lots of ward offices in Tokyo offer a similar service.)

By Admin on Wednesday, October 23, 2002 - 12:24 pm:

I am looking for advice on how to handle centipedes. I think, from what I can find on the internet, that we have vietnamese centipedes. They are large and reddish in colour. In the past 3 days we have found 3 rather large ones in the upstairs rooms of the house. I understand they have a dangerous bite and with 2 small kids I am worried.

Any ideas on how we will go about getting rid of them (I am hoping there won't be more but....) and how to prevent them returning? Any advice would be appreciated.
Various Japanese companies make odourless smoke bombs which kill cockroaches, fleas, mites -basically everything with six legs.
I reckon the gas would take care of your 100 legged visitors too.
BARUSAN is one manufacturer that springs to mind, but there are others.
Ask at your local pharmacy.

Here's what one looks like (from: a pet shop that also deals in various insects)
photo of Vietnamese centipede

By Lucy Mori on Sunday, November 13, 2005 - 4:07 pm:

Beetle larvae in my window boxes?

Not sure where to post this message - but hope someone can help me. I am clearing out my window boxes and the plant pots on my balcony to plant bulbs and pansies for the winter and I have found dozens of white / translucent beetle (?) larvae curled up in the soil. Does anyone know if these are beetle larvae? will they eat my bulbs? will they eat my plant roots? should I leave them? should I throw them out? Or throw the soil out and start again? This is my first winter in Japan and I have never seen anything like them before and they make my skin creep!

By Thomas R. Moore on Sunday, November 13, 2005 - 5:41 pm:

Approximately how big are they? They are most probably some kind of beetle larvae... I am not sure if they will eat your bulbs or roots. I have two kabutomushi
larvae and they seem to only eat the dirt! Depending upon how many you have, you could buy a small or medium-sized plastic container, buy some soil from a pet shop and just let them develop naturally! If you don't want to keep them, just bury them somewhere outside so they can continue to grow!

By Tara on Sunday, November 13, 2005 - 7:56 pm:

Put the soil into bags & put the bags into the freezer for three days and the bugs will be dead. You can use the soil again, no problem.

The bulbs should be fine, with or without the larvae. I would recommend putting the bulbs into the fridge for a few weeks, ideally in something that will keep them dark (paper bag or something similar), especially if you are recycling bulbs from
last year. They need at least 6 weeks of 10*C or below for them to "winter" properly. Anything shorter than 6 weeks and they will be stubby and underdeveloped.

Anything bought at the store this season will have been "wintered" by the grower before sale, but I always put mine into the fridge anyway for good measure.

By Admin on Sunday, November 13, 2005 - 9:41 pm:

Dear Lucy,
Do you have the ability to take a digital photo of what you see and email it to me? (regarding your flower boxes).

By Pato on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 7:51 pm:

I would submit that some bugs (or rather their eggs) will survive the freezer. And if you have a lot of soil, your freezer may not be big enough.

I had some dark brown and cream striped little hairless (about maximum 3cm in length) caterpillar types in my silk jasmine pot once, and I had the idea (but no real proof) that they killed the plant. Never did find out what they were though.

By Tony Law on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 8:21 pm:

If I am not mistaken they are. They are extremely ugly and have arms. They will eat and eat and eat, kill your plant and then become black beetle like bugs (not the famed friendly kabuto-mushi!).

They killed my last year xmas tree that I was growing to celebrate this year with also. I am very bitter now! They do kill the plants by eating the roots.

I killed them in my by pulling the plant out and poured boiling water into the soil.

My poor Xmas tree was already dead though...

Its called kogane-mushi and looks like this:

By Nancy on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 11:55 pm:

Aren't they called grubs? (in English?)

By Pato on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 9:26 am:

Dear Tony, I looked at your picture and that is not what I had. Mine weren't so fat and were decidedly striped dark brown and dirty cream. Are you saying that you made a mistake: kabuto-mushi should be kogane-mushi?

By Tony Law on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 1:08 pm:

I'm glad for you that is not what you have.

Sounds like you may have something more harmless. Take a pic and take it to Tokyu Hands garden center, or D2, or to your local garden center and ask. They will nail it down for you and give you what you need to mix in the soil if that is what you require.

By Cornelia on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 11:05 am:

A very old building was torn down about 8 meters from mine, and all the mice/rats moved into my place (also old, but not quite as old as the neighboring building was). I am currently involved in a bloodthirsty, demented battle against other living beings (contrary to my beliefs and my character) because they are extremely destructive. They chew insulation off wires, corners off doors, holes in bags and papers (just for the fun of it) and make a racket at night. Not to mention sniffing out every possibly edible thing and chewing more holes to get at it. They have attacked my flower seeds in my gardening box, every possible corner of my kitchen, and the candy Galatea inadvertently left in her gym bag (of course putting a nasty hole into the gym bag in the process). They find the radishes, cabbages, carrots and so on in the cold closet and nibble on each and every one of those. They leave their scat everywhere so it is not hard to see where they've been. I've seen them scurrying up walls. They are nimble, quick, incredible athletes, and smart. They learn very quickly about the traps. They grow fat on the so-called poison. And their breeding season is just around the corner.

I had huge success for one 24 hour period (catching 4 on the sticky traps) at the start of January, and, since, I have not been able to catch any more. Does anyone know what to do? Signed, Desperate.

By Helen Matsuo on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 11:18 am:

Not sure this will be of any help but Rodents favourite food is Chocolate. My father had a similar problem when he used to sell dried dog food and he caught over 30 in one go in a humaine trap when I was a child.....they go mad for chocolate, a bit like me!!!
Good luck.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 10:51 am:

Thanks Helen, these guys don't seem too interested in chocolate, but someone else suggested peanut butter.

A friend wrote me on Friday 17th:

"show on TV about rats tonight
caused problems by rats as follow:
1. breaking out fire by biting electric wires, reported 10 fires last year
2. infection disease such as by tick(?)

they live in: ceiling, in closets, under refrigerator, under washing machine, kichen traps to be set at those places and their routes.

they will make birth during March and April time therefore now is the time for setting traps"

I also talked to my landlady about the problem and even showed her some of the damage (they chew up the corners of the sliding doors in order to make a bigger hole for them to go through among other things). She laughed. I'm not sure if she means to take some action or not. Nor am I sure what she could do, but it bothers me that her property is being damaged AND it's not me!

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 11:35 am:

I believe that is the laugh of "shoganai" - as in "nothing we can do about it". Crazy for us.

I guess she doesn't live there, too?

How about the ward office??

By Steve K on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 1:01 pm:

Cornelia, what did your ward office recommend? Was their advice useful? (Or are they chasing after owner's of the torn-down building?)

A similar discussion came up in the Gaijin Do It Yourself group, and here's a slightly edited version of comments from a poster from Kansai:

"At this time of the year they often move indoors for a little more warmth and a plentiful supply of food. We got them real bad a few years back, didn't see them at the beginning but certainly heard them....Using the web, I was even able to identify the droppings as being from the common house rat, (rattus rattus), that likes to live in roofs and not the larger norwegian rat, (rattus norvegicus), that prefers to live in the ground, but knowing what they were didn't seem to help in catching them as they just ignored the cage style traps i set. As we had secured all the food and scraps, they started eating the soap. As they were roof rats i put a few of the glue traps up in the ceiling. Eventually they bred and the crowd got larger up there and i tried poison, which they also ignored. We kept the soap locked up now and they had moved on to plastics, my watch strap, the foam instrument surround on my ducati and even my walkman headphone cable....So I tried another kind of cage trap and another kind of poison, but still no success. Then 1 fateful night I came into the kitchen to see a huge rat making off with the homemade sausages my wife had just placed on my plate before she left the room to call me....I studied hard on the internet and learned that rats generally find a trail to food and stick pretty much to it. If the traps aren't on this trail and the food source at the end of the trail hasn't been exhausted they will just ignore the traps. They have also been known to avoid traps that have been set by people wearing perfume or even a strongly scented soap. That night I set all the traps on the path to the kitchen table I had the rat go with my sausies, And as I now knew they'd take some risks to get my sausages I set the traps with them and none of the cheese or peanut butter that had been so ineffective. Within hours I was catching babies, even 2 in a trap the next day. Then when the big spring killer traps that I had my mother send over arrived I caught a few of the bigger adults. Finally I figured there was just the 1 left and it was pretty smart and was avoiding traps that had killed the rest of the family, even after I scrubbed them to remove smells etc. Then i went and bought the most expensive rat poison I could find instead of the cheapest which is what I should have been doing from the start. Not only did the rat gobble it all up that night it even tracked down the box the poison was in and ate through that to get more. Didn't get to see that rat for a few months more but we had the pleasure of smelling it for a month or 2. I finally found the hole they had made to get into the house and rather than block it I have kept it open but with a big spring trap baited with the good poison. It seems to work at catching any advance guard that comes snooping. So, my advice is to get on top of the problem, whatever animal it is, before they get on top of you. Now I've been here longer I realise that the good traps are sold in farming supply co-op shops and not home hardware stores. Depending on space you may want to try a small tanuki cage trap, they are very similar to the box traps used for rats here but larger and about the same size as the traps I used as a child to catch Australian marsupial possums in NZ."

If you do find the entry point, here's advice from another poster: "Old tenement super's trick: put coarse steel wool in the hole. They try to chew through it, cut their mouths up."

Someone else recommended adding ammonia to the steel wool.

By Cornelia on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 2:32 pm:

Steve, this has been the most informative post and I'm going to try to track down the person who wrote it and thank him personally! Steve, thank you so much for taking the effort to copy/paste it here. The ward office advice did not expand my knowledge one iota. Also I have checked for entry points into our house. There are so many possibilities it is very discouraging. The exhust fan from the kitchen, the holes where the air conditioner unit tubes go out to the compressors, etc. I am looking high now as well as low after having seen with my own eyes how they can scamper up walls. I have bagged items hanging form a hook under a cabinet, and they even found a way to leap off the fridge to these hanging bags. And somehow get back again after eating their fill. I have never been so angry at an animal before. They have nibbled on a supply of rubber/plastic doll shoes for Licca-chan (each shoe two bites), the hem of curtains, wooden threshholds, etc., etc. Seemingly just for pleasure and not out of hunger. Where do I find a farm co-op store in Tokyo? Or how far out do I have to go to find one? Or can I order by internet maybe?

By Cornelia on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 3:36 pm:

Well, can't find the person who posted that on Gaijinpot, but thanks to him/her anyway. And for those who enjoy getting hysterical about something, I just found this concerning the most recent plague which ocurred in India in 1994:

By Steve K on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 5:09 pm:


I'll pass along your thanks to the guy in the GDIY group at Yahoo (that's why you couldn't find him on Gaijinpot). BTW, outside our home in Edogawa-ku, I've seen rats scampering along overhead telephone and electrical lines. I think that's why many homes have enclosed attics (even though a roof without roof or attic ventilation may not last as long, but this is open to debate).

Farm co-op? Sorry, I don't know. Like I said, he's out in Kansai. Perhaps you can e-mail Alishan Organic Center (Tengu Natural Foods) and ask them:

I'll post your question at GDIY and pass along any replies.

By Cornelia on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 7:58 pm:

Hey, yes, good idea. I'll ask Jack. He's got loads of farmers around there with whom he's friendly I think. Jack are you there? You can email me privately too ofcourse.

By Jack Bayles on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 11:57 pm:

Jack here....not sure what you want from
me....a farmers coop? I would think
Canniz Homes would have it. I can try to
take a few pics of interesting traps. We
seem to fight the battle of rats in the late
fall as they head inside with the cold.
Luckily this year none but not true all the

By Nancy on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 9:25 am:

Cornelia, I think you need to hire a professional. Surely your landlord has an interest in not having further damage to the property. Here is a link to a company that may be able to help. Perhaps you can inquire about an estimate and cost of treating the problem. I would certainly try and get the landlord to pay. Has anyone offered to give you a cat yetJ

By Cornelia on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 10:14 am:

Looks like this one-step is using an ultrasound and shockwave Rodent Repeller and glue boards. There was a show on NHK debunking the usefulness of the ultrasound/shockwave technique. I have had one cat offered, a ferocious hunter by accounts. Unfortunately my daughter is allergic (will bring on her asthma). When spending the night at friends with two cats one summer we had to move out of the house and into their camper to sleep, at about midnight. I'm trying to figure out a way to use a cat, believe me. Strikes me as somehow cleaner than having a bunch of poisoned rats decaying in the ceilings.

My landlady will not fix a broken gas supply nozzle either. (It was broken when I moved in. I had checked for locations on these gas supplies, but I did not test them before signing the lease and forking over all that money). She suggested that I just use another type of heat. I don't really know how to continue the negotiation. She lowered the rent by Y20,000 just before my agent called me and we nabbed it! But I think she is just filling it while deciding what to do with the building which is why she rented to me (a foreigner and a single mother!). I do have insurance, so maybe I should contact the insurance company. Maybe they will call my landlady and put pressure on her Japanese style!

But frankly I think the one-step arsenal will be ineffective.

By Steve K on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 12:26 pm:

Here is some feedback from a couple of GDIY guys:

Rob wrote:
"I had a similar problem at our farmhouse. I hated that sounds of them scurrying overhead at night. I brought all our toyu heaters into the kitchen and made the room hot then felt around for any cool air to find the less than obvious holes to plug. Then I moved from room to room doing the same. That seemed to solve the problem. The garage seemed to be a breeding ground. There I used those back breaking type traps with peanut butter as bait. I've since aquired two of the meanest cats I've ever known or heard about!!!....I got my traps online at"

Eric wrote:
"I've been having rat and mouse visitors out at the cabin over the winter. A very old building with too many holes to plug....When I had the problem some years ago in our old house I tried 3 different poisons until I found 1 they liked. Then it was just a matter of replacing the baits everyday until they stopped taking them. This was in the fall and come spring we had a terrible stench as they all rotted away between the walls, under the floor, behind the fridge etc. Not wanting to have the same problem at the cabin I decided not to use poison but traps, the old-style "backbreaker"-type traps I couldn't find here so I bought 2 different kinds of cage traps and later had my mother bring over a newer plastic-style backbreaker trap. (I've since seen the older cheap chinese wooden ones in japanese farming shops but they are by no means common.) Of the three kinds of traps I found the backbreaker type the best: smallest, cheapest, toughest and best of all they kill the rat and solve THAT problem. Of the 2 cage types the rectangular box made of small bars is better than the mesh type with sliding door. I noticed once that the rectangular box style were what the professional rat catchers use. Each time I left and/or arrived at the cabin I would bait the traps with small bits of bacon. Each time I arrived I would usually find 1 or 2 caught in the traps. Normally I keep a bucket of water ready when using cage traps to drown the rat but in winter with all the water frozen this has proved a bit of a problem."

By Cornelia on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 5:39 pm:

I got a new washing machine hose from my local appliance shop for only Y800. (Some of you read my Classifieds Wanted" post on March 12 two days after the rat(s) had taken a sudden liking to chewing holes into the accordian pleats on my hose, and I couldn't do the wash. Some of the holes are quite large.) Wow! Every once in a while you get lucky here in Japan. OK, I am now rat free. But here was a nice piece of advice that came in shortly before my imported rat poison arrived:


Sent: Mon 13 Mar 2006 12:50
Can you take some of the poison, mix it up into something nice-smelling and sorta smushy like peanut butter, and slather it on the old hose before you throw it away? Sounds like you found one of their preferred routes.

The stuff I got is called JUST ONE BITE (poison ingredient is Bromadiolone). It made it unscathed through customs in a GPM envelope from the USA. It took about 8-10 days and then there was peace! The war was over. I still haven't found any bodies yet, so I'm hoping they went outside to meet their creator. As soon as it gets a bit warmer I guess I'll know. I'm not looking forward to it. I remember a very bad smell in my college dorm first year that took weeks to dissipate. Unfortunately the two natural options that seem to really work were not accessible to me: a snake or a ferret.


Posted by: Oberon (My Page) on Wed, Nov 24, 2004
Okay, this might sound weird, but it is true and it works.
We (my kids) have pet ferrets. Four of them as a matter of fact.
We live way out in the country and ever since we got the ferrets we have NEVER found a mouse in our house. My wife has a friend who had a terrible mouse problem and was wondering about borrowing a ferret.
Well, someone read in a book that leaving ferret droppings in an area where mice live will make the mice decide to move and very quickly. For about two weeks, my wife gave her friend fresh ferret droppings (in sealed baggies) to place around her house.
According to the friend, after about two days she could practically hear the mice leaving town (rodents are DEATHLY afraid of ferrets!).
After the two weeks of placing the droppings, she sealed all the entries that she could find and waited to see what would happen.
That was over a year ago, and to this day she reports never having found even a sign of a mouse inside her house.
And as a follow up, we had a rabbit infestation in our horse hay last winter. We "released" (on long leashes) several of the ferrets in the hay barn and we literally could hear, and in a couple of cases see, rabbits heading out to the back woods - in a serious hurry! And we also left fresh droppings in the corners and under the hay in the barn for the rest of the winter and the rabbits never returned.
In Europe they use ferrets to hunt rabbits.

To dispose of the uneaten poison I am not to put it in the burnable trash or anywhere that it can dissolve into the water cycle, but wrap it several times n newspapers and then some plastic and put it out after the crows have scavenged... It's of fairly low danger to humans, because mice/rats are so small, but still should be handled carefully, avoid contact with skin, etc. I have plenty left if anyone needs some.

By Scott Hancock on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 6:39 pm:

Why wrap it for the crows? Let them eat it freely!

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