Before You Deck the Halls, Take Pest Precautions
12 Tips that Can Help Residents Prevent Pests during the Holidays
By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As the holidays approach, apartment residents will be busy preparing for holiday entertaining and incoming house guests, but if they aren’t careful they may attract unwelcome visitors too. Did you know there are a number of festive decorations, foods, and traditions that can attract unwanted bugs and critters to your property? When the weather cools down, pests seek shelter indoors, but they’ll find so much inside resident units this time of year that they may not want to leave.
The sight of a pest scurrying across the floor at a seasonal celebration is cringe-worthy, but aside from being a nuisance or making an embarrassing appearance, pests are a real threat to your property. They can contaminate food, cause structural damage, trigger allergies, and, in some cases, even spread disease. Plus, they don’t help with maintaining happy residents and can be the cause of negative word of mouth about your property.
Before residents start to pull decorations out of storage and make holiday shopping lists, consider distributing the following tips they can use to help keep critters from crashing the holidays.
- Pests love holiday food just like us, especially cockroaches, ants, and rodents. Store food in sealed containers and place food waste in secure trash bags, which should be disposed of frequently.
- They’re particularly attracted to the sugary substances left behind by baked goods and sweet drinks like hot cocoa and egg nog. Wipe counters, clean up crumbs and wash dirty dishes daily to avoid the lure.
- Don’t leave food sitting out overnight, though cookies for Santa may be an exception!
- Check containers of dry ingredients that haven’t been used lately like flour, sugar, or spices to make sure beetles or other stored product pests aren’t living or nesting inside. Look for holes in packaging and dispose of any infested food.
- Live trees, wreaths, and garlands can bring in hitchhikers like carpenter ants, aphids, mealybugs, bark beetles, and spiders. Give fresh greenery a good shake outside before bringing it in.
- Poinsettias and Christmas cacti can harbor white flies or fungus gnats so inspect these decorative plants before taking them indoors.
- While real fruits and vegetables make for beautiful accents on your mantle or dining table, overly-ripe apples, pumpkins, berries, and citrus fruits are a magnet for fruit flies to eat and breed in. Toss them as soon as they’re past their prime or opt for artificial.
- Check potted plants for ants in the soil before bringing them in from cold temperatures.
- Containers of decorations kept in storage areas can house rodents, spiders, and cockroaches. Unpack storage containers outside to keep pests from getting in.
- Tight-fitting lids help keep pests out of containers. Choose plastic storage bins for the most protection.
The holidays are truly the most wonderful time of year, but a pest problem can quickly take away from that cheer. Provide residents with tips that will help them stay ahead of pest activity this season and be sure to work with your pest management professional to prevent pest issues before they start.
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.