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One Man’s Trash Can Be a Pest’s Treasure

By Win Higgins, Entomologist and Quality Assurance Manager, Western Pest Services

Nearly all apartment properties feature large waste management areas where residents dispose of trash. These areas provide convenience for residents, but they can also make the property more vulnerable to pest infestations, as garbage and its odors emitted act as strong magnets for a variety of pests, including flies, ants, rodents, birds, and cockroaches.

Composting is another component of waste management that can affect the pest pressures on your property. Composting, which helps reduce waste output to landfills, is gaining popularity across the nation as a more environmentally-conscience waste management option. In fact, in some cities composting is mandated. If your community features a communal compost bin for residents, remember that decomposing food is highly attractive to pests, particularly rats, so you need to adjust your maintenance and pest management programs accordingly to account for added pest pressures.

To help keep your waste management area from becoming a breeding ground for pests, work with a pest management professional to create an Integrated Pest Management program tailored to your property and consider implementing the following best practices:

Minimize odors and food sources

The odors emitted by waste are one of the top attractors for pests. To restrict odors, make sure any trash cans located on the property are tightly sealed and lined. Empty trash cans at least daily, if not more frequently. Wash down trash cans regularly to help prevent any lingering food debris that may serve as a food source for pests.

Schedule regular pick-ups

Schedule frequent and regular garbage and compost pick-ups with a reliable waste management company. Frequent pick-ups not only help avoid overflow, but prevent conditions ideal for pest breeding. Flies, for example, feed on garbage and often lay their eggs in moist piles of trash. They also reproduce very quickly, developing from egg to adult sometimes in as few as six days. If garbage sits for two weeks without pick-up, you can potentially go through multiple generations of flies.

Keep in mind that if you already have frequent pick-ups scheduled and you are still experiencing overflow, it’s likely your dumpster is too small.

Maintain dumpsters

Poorly sanitized dumpsters are often crawling with pests. And when pests are attracted to your dumpster, it brings them that much closer to your building. As a result, it’s important to keep dumpsters as far away from the building as possible. They should also be rotated and cleaned regularly. The area underneath and surrounding the dumpster should be sanitized as well using a power washer or other cleaning program.

All dumpsters should have lids that are kept closed when not in use. Lids help block out rain and prevent easy access for pests. Similar rules apply for compost bins.

To help ensure waste disposal areas maintain proper up-keep, have your staff monitor these areas daily.

Get your residents onboard

It takes a team effort to protect your property from pests. To help avoid misuse of these areas by residents, consider including tips and reminders about proper maintenance in common areas or in community newsletters.

Remind residents to:

Follow these steps and work with a pest management professional to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your waste management area from attracting pests.

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.