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Ask the Bugman: Environmentally Safe Ways to Control Household Pests
Richard Fagerlund, B.C.E., and Johnna Lachnit; Illustrations by Johnna Lachnit
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002
184 pp., $15.95, paperback
ISBN: 0-8263-2835-0

Frequently I receive phone calls about environmentally friendly pest control. Specifically, how to get rid of the cockroaches in the house. I have my pest "bible" - Common-Sense Pest Control (Olkowski, Daar, & Olkowski, 1991). Unfortunately due to its size, I rarely suggest someone go out and buy it (729 pages). Ask the Bugman is a good supplement to my "bible." Originally an "Ask the Bugman" newspaper column for the Albuquerque Tribune (1997), Richard Fagerlund answered readers' questions about ridding themselves of household pests in a more natural environmentally friendly way. In 2000, Scripps-Howard News Service started distributing the column across the United States and Canada, introducing greater numbers of readers to the benefits of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). For those new to IPM, it is a strategy for controlling pests in an economical, efficient, and environmentally safe way. Typical IPM methods include habitat modification, improved sanitation, and the use of less-toxic, pest-specific baits. While Fagerlund did start out in the pest control business, moving across the country before settling in New Mexico, he got out of the business in 1996. He joined the staff at the University of New Mexico to develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Ask the Bugman features questions from readers of his column. It is divided up into five classifications of pests: "Disruptive Bugs" (ants, cockroaches, etc.); "Destructive Bugs" (termites, carpenter bees); "Biters and Stingers" (bed bugs, bees, fleas, etc.); "Odds and Ends" (aphids, snails, whiteflies, etc.); and "Reptiles, Rodents, and Other Nonbugs" (gophers, mice and rats, snakes, etc.). Fagerlund does include some other topics, such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, comments from his least favorite bug column, true stories, and home remedies from readers. Fagerlund also includes a section on the hiring of exterminators. He gives some very reasonable criteria to use in your search for a competent exterminator.

Overall, this is a good book for someone interested in pest control for the home, and is something that would be useful to have in your local public library. The advice on hiring exterminators is especially useful and could keep you from being stuck with a less-than ethical exterminator spraying poisons everywhere. While Ask the Bugman doesn't cover every pest situation, it does cover the ones most likely to occur in your home. And as an added benefit, it is much less bulky than my pest "bible."

—Annette Aguayo


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Table of Contents

"When uranium mining and processing became big business during the Cold War, the federal government subsidized the industry. Most of the United States' uranium came out of Navajo ground. The Navajo people had a nominal say in the process at the time, but have endured all of the consequences since then. The land was torn open for our nuclear arsenal and the Navajo people are still dying from the cancers and illnesses that it caused.

I do not want a fourth generation of my people to suffer from the physical, psychological and cultural devastation caused by predatory energy practices. The lack of tribal consent contained in the Indian Energy title means that the federal government could override the Navajo law that prohibits uranium-mining activities on our land."
–Joe Shirley, Jr. President, Navajo Nation
"Senate Energy Bill Exploits Indian Resources"
Albuquerque Journal, July 18, 2003



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