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Keep Pests Out in the Cold

by Nic Ellis, Ph.D., Board Certified Entomologist, Western Pest Services

As a property manager, regular maintenance is key to ensuring resident satisfaction. But maintenance projects open the door — literally — to unwanted pests, and nothing ruins a resident’s experience like a pest sighting. To protect a property’s reputation and resident wellbeing, it’s crucial to keep pest management top of mind during maintenance periods.

While many people believe pests are most active during warmer months, they can be equally bothersome during the winter. Just like people, pests don’t like to be left out in the cold. When temperatures begin to drop, pests turn to the indoors in search of food and warm shelter. To ensure residents don’t spot a cockroach or rodent roaming on the property, it’s important to understand how to prevent pests from hibernating in residents’ homes.

Eliminate Entry Points

Pests don’t need much room to sneak inside apartments. Both mice and rats can fi t through a gap the size of a nickel. Pests like cockroaches need even less room to get inside and can enter through gaps one sixteenth of an inch wide. To help prevent these pests from living rent-free, a diligent facility maintenance schedule is needed to eliminate potential entry points. Spaces around doors and windows act as perfect entryways for pests. Use caulk to seal any gaps around windows, which will limit pest access. Door sweeps can be placed below exterior-facing doors to stop pests from crawling underneath, and air curtains can be installed on heavily trafficked doors to help prevent flying pests from making their way inside.

Believe it or not, vegetation around the outside of a facility can quickly become an expressway into the building if not properly maintained. Extending branches and tree limbs act as bridges to rooftops, walls and windows. And overgrown bushes provide many pests with the shelter they need to occupy a building’s outdoor area. Frequently trimming foliage away from building exteriors can limit apartment access for rodents and other pests. In addition, a gravel moat or threshold can be placed around a building’s perimeter to decrease pests’ temptation to come inside. To be most effective, this strip of gravel should be at least two feet wide, which will discourage rodents and other pests from heading toward the property.

Monitor for Pest Activity

Apartment complexes experience a steady flow of foot traffic as residents move in and out during the year. This allows pests to hitchhike inside on personal belongings and furniture. When searching for signs of pest activity, property managers should make note of any droppings, shed cast skins and dead or live pests. Pests like cockroaches are nocturnal, so spotting one of these pests during the day can indicate a larger pest problem. Keep track of when pest sightings occur to help determine whether a larger population of pests is present.

Checking for telltale signs is key to catching a pest problem early. Common pest hotspots include:

With cold weather right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for property managers to ensure they have proper facility maintenance and pest management plans in place. Keeping one’s property’s maintenance routinely top-of-mind not only helps improve conditions for residents, but also helps property managers become aware of and help prevent pest issues. By combining these tactics with a strong pest management partnership, property managers can help kick pests to the curb.

Nic Ellis 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.