By Win Higgins, Quality Assurance Manager, Western Pest Services
While many think preventing pests is an indoor effort, it’s important to recognize that the war on pests begins outdoors. All sorts of plants, from flowers to shrubs, can provide exactly what pests need to survive, which means you’re creating homes for more than just the human residents of your community.
Pest activity increases as the temperature increases, so now is the time to make sure your landscaping isn’t contributing to pest problems that could damage the reputation you’ve built. When proper landscaping practices are part of an effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, your property will be well-equipped to stop pest problems before they start.
So while you’re tending to the landscape that makes your community so beautiful and welcoming, pay attention to these trigger points:
Parking lots and Sidewalks: These areas can provide food and shelter for wandering pests, so be sure your maintenance routine includes outdoor inspections.
Building Foundation: Rodents need only a quarter-sized opening to find their way in, while roaches and other crawling insects can fit through an opening of just 1/32 of an inch. It’s crucial that your foundation doesn’t allow them even this tiny space to enter your buildings.
Flowering plants: Although some of the most beautiful plants produce nectar, fruits or seeds, they are ones you should watch out for, as they can offer quick meals for pests. And fragrant and brightly colored flowers in bloom can draw in bees and other stinging pests.
Mulch: Pests love to use mulch as a harborage point and since it also provides nutrients and retains moisture, it can be a serious hot spot for pests.
Ponds and Fountains: Mosquitoes don’t need much moisture to breed, so a body of water as large as a pond, or even a fountain can mean mosquitos by the thousand. These pests breed in standing water and populations can swell quickly, as a mosquito can lay more than 100 eggs at a time. A mosquito infestation is not only a nuisance, but also the cause of serious health concerns for employees and customers – especially when it comes to mosquito-borne viral diseases like West Nile, Chikunguya, and Zika.
Unruly Vegetation: When there are overgrown bushes or tree limbs touching your building, crawling pests have a clear path to potential entry points, such as cracks or crevices around window ledges or the roofline. Dense vegetation may also provide a home for many pests including rodents and some social wasps, which may take advantage of this sheltered area for nest construction.
Consult with your pest management partner to make sure your landscaping doesn’t appear as inviting to pests as it does to residents. They will be able to inspect your property and offer insight about which plants and other features you should remove or try to incorporate into your landscape plan this year.
Pest control is never the job of just one person. Be sure to include your staff in your efforts to keep pests out. Educating your grounds crews and maintenance teams on the various pests that may be present around your facility will go a long way to ensuring that these pests are not becoming more prevalent. With the support of your entire staff, you can help keep pests in their place this spring.
Your community will thank you for the care and consideration you take to ensure the safety and cleanliness of their homes.
Win Higgins is an entomologist and Quality Assurance Manager for Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.