Glue Traps: How to Deal With the Glue

A very effective and non-toxic pest management tool in the elimination of unwanted pests is the Glue Tray, also called Glue Boards or Glue Pads, or even "sticky traps". These are widely used for capturing unwanted insects and spiders that may enter your home or office, as well as for capturing mice or rats that choose your home or office as their home or foraging area. They are also hung as tubes or strips for capturing flies, ornamental insect pests, or a wide variety of other uses.

Obviously, with so many uses, the glue trays come in a variety of ways. For crawling insects they commonly are thin cardboard with a very thin layer of the glue, adequate for capturing the cockroaches, ants, or other pest insects that crawl onto them. For flies they are brightly colored and hung in areas the flies will see them and land on them, as long cardboard tubes or thin, flexible plastic strips. For rodents the glue may need to be a thicker layer, and these also come as cardboard pads or even plastic trays. Many of the ultraviolet light traps for fly control now incorporate glue pads in the trap to instantly capture flies that enter the trap.

Glue pads may not be for everyone, as their method of capturing an undesirable animal may not be pleasing to all people. However, they are in wide use and they are effective, and for that reason it is very common for someone to encounter a problem, whereby the wrong animal or a child stumbles onto the glue pad, or it somehow ends up stuck to clothing or the floor, and now the question arises….how do we remove the glue without harming our pets or damaging the surface the glue has gotten onto?

The answer, usually, is very easy.

With rare exception, all insect and rodent glue traps use the same basic chemistry of glue, so no matter how thick the layer is or what color of paper it is spread on, you can deal with the inadvertent mess in pretty much the same way. On the product information for some of the glue traps the manufacturer will provide suggestions, and one of the clean-up materials they have suggested is "mineral spirits". Two common products you can purchase at any home improvement or hardware store that are classified as mineral spirits are Turpentine and good old Paint Thinner. Paint thinner is probably the less obnoxious of these choices, as the odor of turpentine can be pretty high.

So, depending on the surface that you have accidentally gotten glue onto, paint thinner could be a good choice for dissolving the glue and removing it. You then might thoroughly wash that area with the appropriate cleaner to remove any traces of the paint thinner, but at least the glue has been dealt with. This could work well for skin, floors, walls, or even carpets. It also would probably work well for pets, should a cat or dog investigate the glue tray that had been placed where the pet, unfortunately, had access to it. The tray itself can be slowly pulled away from skin or hair, and the residual glue then cleaned off the surface.

For animals though, particularly kittens, puppies, birds, or other possibly sensitive animals where paint thinner might have a irritating effect on the animal, there are other choices. Since it may not really be known what kinds of sensitivities certain animals have to chemicals of any kind, it would be nice to have an alternative. In speaking with many professional pest management technicians, here is a short list of other solvents that they have used, successfully, in removing the glue:

  • Dishwashing liquid detergent
  • Hand creams
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cooking oil
  • Peanut butter or regular butter

It appears that many kinds of oily materials will dissolve the glue, so removing it from sensitive skin, hair, or feathers with cooking oil seems to be a fairly benign method that does not run the risk of irritating the skin of an animal. You probably really would not want to dip your parakeet in paint thinner, but a material less likely to cause irritation would be a better choice. Once the glue is removed the area can then be washed with soap and water to remove any unwanted oiliness, and everything should be normal again.

A most important step in this whole process, of course, is to avoid the accident in the first place. While the glue traps are highly effective in capturing some kinds of pests they also can attract curious children or animals. Some of the traps are enhanced with odors that help to attract the insect or rodent, and these sweet odors may also draw the attention of the family dog, who glues his nose to the trap.

For that reason, any glue traps used in a home or office should be placed in a location secure from unwanted animals. This could be under counters behind doors in the kitchen, where the pets cannot open the door. It could be placed under the refrigerator or behind washing machines. If it needs to be in a more open area it should be placed under or within a box that the pet cannot enter. Any traps placed for capturing rodents should be secured with wire or cord to something nearby, so a rodent caught only by one foot cannot then drag the glue tray out to open areas.

Another important point with respect to sanitation and glue traps is that they need to be checked frequently, particularly if you are using them to eliminate unwanted rodents from your home. If you capture a rodent on the glue it will die there, and that dead animal now becomes an attraction to flies and other insects that feed on dead animals. So, along with the smell of the decomposing corpse you could be raising dozens of flies or carpet beetles on the dead rodent, and these could then infest your home. This is also an important point if you contract for pest elimination with a professional company. Glue traps that they place for removal of rodents will need to be inspected regularly and removed when rodents are caught on them, and this should be discussed with the company you hire.

To keep them effective the glue surface should not be covered with a layer of moisture or dust, and once you have eliminated the pest in question the glue trays should be disposed of. If you can leave them in a very secure and clean area the glue pads can provide you with an excellent early warning system. You can inspect them on a regular basis to determine when ants are beginning an invasion, or when cockroaches may have entered your home. They can be used to capture fleas or mites to make sure you know exactly what pest you are dealing with. However, glue trays alone generally are not going to eliminate a problem with insect pests, but instead are a good inspecting or sampling tool.

Again, use of glue trays to capture unwanted pests may not be for everyone, but the glue itself is considered non-toxic. It would have to be swallowed in large amounts to cause a toxic effect, and it is not absorbed through the skin. But, the glue is really, really sticky, and when it gets onto the wrong thing it can make a mess. Knowing how to clean up the mess will help eliminate the anxiety, should it happen to you.