Mice, Fruit Flies Dine in Cabot Dining Hall

A mouse joined the fruit flies for dinner Wednesday night in Cabot House.

The mouse was first seen scurrying along the the lower level of Cabot’s dining hall seating area and was later spotted under tables and chairs on the dining hall’s upper level, students said.

“I was unnerved,” Benjamin J. Soskin ’04 said.

Entomology Officer of Environmental Health and Safety Gary D. Alpert was then called in by Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) to assess the problem.

The mouse probably snuck into the seating area of Cabot’s dining hall after being displaced from its home in Pforzheimer House by drilling that has begun as part of this summer’s large-scale renovation of all three Quad dining halls, according to Alpert.

House Master James H. Ware has kept the residents of Cabot House informed of the situation via e-mail. He has assured them that the mouse is a displaced Pforzheimer resident.

“We have not had an invasion of mice,” Ware said.

Alpert said a newly-drilled hole in Cabot’s dining hall, where the mouse is suspected to have dwelt, has been sealed. He said he does not expect another mouse in the House.

The Cabot community is slowly recovering from the mouse incident, but students complained that the fruit fly infestation Alpert had visited the House for last month had yet to be resolved.

“The mouse was a little shocking, but the fruit flies have grossed me out more because they are actually on the food,” Sonja R. Nikkila ’02 said.

“It’s just one mouse, but there are still fruit flies around,” Julia B. Appel ’04 added.

But Alpert’s month-old recommendations to get rid of the “compost-like situation” underneath the tray return were followed yesterday.

An outside contractor cleaned the clogged drain, a process that took a few hours and, according to Alpert, should solve the fruit fly problem.

Alpert assures the students that, although they are unsightly, the fruit flies “do not defecate or transmit disease the way that houseflies can.”

Alpert said he was disappointed that his original recommendations about the flies were not followed.

“There’s no excusing the flies,” he said. “I am disappointed in the delayed response because my recommendations are usually followed promptly.”

—Staff writer Maria S. Pedroza can be reached at mpedroza@fas.harvard.edu.