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Six Things Apartment Residents Need to Know About Pest Control

By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

Apartments can be a challenging environment when it comes to pest control. The large base of residents with varying lifestyles and sanitation habits, large waste disposal zones, and amenities like pools make multifamily properties vulnerable to pests.

That’s why it’s important to keep residents looped in on the challenges of pest control, the importance of ongoing maintenance and what they can do to help. We’ve compiled a list of the top things we wish residents knew about pest control. Consider sharing some of these tips with residents via community newsletters, emails and bulletins, or even host a learning session and offer food and drinks to those who attend.

  1. Anyone can get bed bugs; they don’t discriminate. There are a lot of myths about bed bugs. One is that you can only get bed bugs if you’ve visited a low budget motel or hostel or live an unsanitary lifestyle. The truth is it doesn’t matter how clean you or your apartment are; you can still end up with an unwanted hitchhiker. Bed bugs need human blood to survive, and as long as they have access to that, they don’t care if their surroundings are dirty or clean – even five star resorts get bed bugs! It’s important for residents to understand how they can get bed bugs and how to identify them, in order to avoid a full blown infestation.
  2. Clutter can help perpetuate pest issues. Clutter itself does not attract pests to an apartment, but the effects of clutter can make your space more conducive to pests once they’re inside. When there is clutter, it’s more difficult to clean an area thoroughly, so dust, and grime and food debris can buildup. Clutter also can provide hiding places for pests and make it more difficult to identify pest issues, which can be hidden away behind or beneath the untidiness.
  3. Simple sanitation goes a long way. Whether brought in inadvertently or drawn inside, there’s a much greater chance common pests like flies, ants cockroaches and rodents will stick around if food sources are plentiful. A simple sanitation routine including the following steps can help keep pest from lingering.
    • Take the trash out regularly
    • Don’t leave dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink overnight
    • Store food in tightly sealed containers
    • Clean spills immediately and wipe up crumbs
    • Water can attract pests
  4. In addition to food, pests need shelter, optimal temperatures and – you guessed it — water. It’s vital to their survival. In fact, many pests can survive extended periods of time without food as long as they have a water source. Without water though, they are doomed. This means it’s also important to eliminate any sources of water that pests can access. Leaks, spills, and excess water in houseplant saucers can all be water sources for pests.
  5. When and how to notify management of pest issues. Property managers cannot control or monitor everything that happens in individual units. They rely on residents to be vigilant and report problems when they arise so they can be resolved promptly. Reporting problems is in the best interest of both the property and the resident. No one wants a pest issue to linger and potentially spiral out of control; that’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. Property Managers: Be sure to clearly communicate with residents about reporting protocol and encourage them to speak up as soon as they suspect an issue. Often, residents don’t report problems out of fear of being evicted, so go a step further and make them feel comfortable about speaking up. And if you find that residents are uncooperative, consider requiring regular unit inspections with your maintenance team or pest control provider to monitor for problems.
  6. Pest infestations can spread from unit to unit. Apartment units share more than just walls; they can also share odors, noise, and even pests. Mice, cockroaches, and bed bugs can spread between units, above, below, and next door, so often when one unit has a pest problem, others do too. That’s why it’s important to be a good neighbor and maintain a sanitation routine and report any pest problems to management so they can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Maintaining a positive reputation is essential for your property, and pest control plays a significant role in accomplishing that. Effective pest control cannot only help keep current residents happy, but attract future renters also. Help your apartment community help you by communicating about pest control and the role they play when it comes to prevention and resolving issues. And if problems do emerge, make sure residents understand the cause so they can avoid similar problems in the future.

Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board Certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.