What do you feel when you see a cockroach scurry across the kitchen counter? Would you scream? Would you run? If you’re like most people, cockroaches disgust you. They are filthy pests, and carry disease-inducing pathogens in their bodies that spread anytime a cockroach’s body makes contact with something – including walking across counter tops and other surfaces.
But cockroaches aren’t the only disease-causing pest; flies and rodents are also disease-ridden and pose major health risks. Together, cockroaches, flies, and rodents are three of the filthiest pests and most likely to infiltrate a tenant’s residence. That makes them more of a concern when it comes to your bottom line, as pest sightings inside units is never good for business. Cockroaches, flies, and rodents reproduce fast, which means a pest problem can turn into an infestation if left untreated. Larger populations mean a higher chance of a pest sighting, so it’s always best to resolve issues quickly before they have time to escalate. In the age of online reviews, having pests around simply isn’t worth the risk to your property, tenants or bottom line.
Known for their resilience and ability to popup seemingly out of nowhere, cockroaches are a persistent bunch of scavengers. Although the most common species varies from region to region in the U.S., they all share some similar characteristics. Most are primarily nocturnal and leave droppings, which look like dark brown or black specs, everywhere they go. And roaches love to hang out in garbage. That’s because they’re constantly in search of food, water, and shelter – the three things pests need to survive – and they can eat just about any organic food source they find. They’re also known to consume other items like cardboard, books and decaying matter, so they’re certainly not picky eaters.
Cockroaches are adept at locating food sources, once they’ve detected them using their antennae. Potential food sources, of course, are in your tenants’ pantries, garbage bins, dirty dishes, or any other area there might be food. Even crumbs are enough to sustain a hungry cockroach. Able to fit through tiny cracks and crevices, cockroaches love to slip into walls and attics where they can hide out near a potential food source. Once inside, cockroaches become a big problem. They reproduce quickly – one female brown-banded cockroach can produce about 14 oothecas, or egg sacks, which each hold 10 to 18 eggs, in her lifetime (about 150-300 days). These oothecas can be attached to surfaces, so they’re incredibly difficult to spot. If left unnoticed, cockroach populations will grow fast.
You could say that flies are underrated when it comes to their filthiness. Most people think cockroaches are the filthiest pest around, but in actuality studies have shown that flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches! House flies, fruit flies and drain flies are the three types of flies tenants are most likely to deal with on a day-to-day basis. They are often found in:
It’s incredibly important to keep flies away from food. By simply landing on a food item, flies shed off pathogens collected on their legs and mouths that could cause diseases like typhoid, cholera, salmonella, anthrax, tuberculosis, and dysentery. These pathogens are picked up when a fly lands on some of its favorite food sources, like feces, garbage, and decaying animal corpses. Like cockroaches, flies reproduce quickly. But they take it to a whole different level. One female house fly can lay up to 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, which is a span of about a month at most. Fruit flies are similarly prolific, producing about 500 eggs in their lifetimes. Drain flies produce fewer – about 80 in their lifetimes – but only live for approximately 20 days maximum, so they’re reproductive cycle is a bit quicker.
A health threat for more reasons than one, rodents are clever and resilient. They’re known disease-spreaders, too, as they’re capable of carrying pathogens that cause Salmonellosis, Hantavirus, West Nile virus, and Encephalitis. All of these can be transmitted directly by rodents or indirectly from creatures living in their fur. Aside from the risk of disease, rodents can be a potential fire hazard. Once they’ve gotten inside a building, they’ll notice wiring in walls that, to them, looks like the roots they’re used to gnawing on in the wild. Not only is that dangerous for tenants, but it could destroy apartments and decimate property value.
Rodents don’t need a big gap to get inside. In fact, rats can fit through a hole as small as a quarter, while mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime! If they find a hole, rodents can also gnaw around the edges to make it large enough for them to fit through. And although they can’t reproduce as quickly as cockroaches or flies, rodents have a rapid reproductive cycle relative to other mammals. In just one year, a mouse can produce between 32 and 56 pups, while a rat could produce between 32 and 84! Spread out over the course of 8 (mice) and 4 to 7 litters (rats), rodents are reproducing year-round. Don’t give them time to make your property their long-term home!
Luckily, the likelihood of pest issues from all three of these filthy pests can be mitigated using some similar tactics. First, talk to a pest management professional to get a free inspection. They’ll recommend an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for your business that will help reduce pests around and inside apartment units by focusing on exclusion and sanitation in place of chemical treatments whenever possible.
But a pest management professional can’t do it all on their own, they’ll need your help to implement some changes. These can also be effective in helping to reduce pest problems on their own, so consider implementing these changes immediately.
Sanitation is a major factor in helping to prevent pests because it reduces pest attractants. Although you can’t control what your tenants choose to do inside their apartments, cleaning up common areas immediately when dirty, and making sure garbage is properly disposed of is a big step in the right direction. Make sure to keep dumpsters away from apartment buildings so pests aren’t drawn to them. And don’t forget landscaping! Pests love to hide out in thick vegetation and fallen tree branches strewn across yards. Keep landscaping away from the building and building entrances.
Exclusion, blocking pests from getting inside of buildings, is another important tactic. Take a walk around the exterior of your buildings and look for any cracks and crevices a pest might be able to enter through. Remember that even the tiniest gaps can allow entry if they go deep enough. Patch over any gaps with caulk or another waterproof sealant.
Happy tenants make for better profits and reviews, so don’t let pests jeopardize your success! Start implementing good sanitation and exclusion practices today to protect tenants from the ever-present pest threats around you. And if your staff is large enough, bring them on board by educating them about the potential risk factors present around units. It helps to educate tenants, too, be it via email or handout, and some pest management companies will even offer free training sessions. Don’t freak out! There’s plenty you can do to protect your business, just take it one step at a time.