By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
Each season brings its own unique assortment of pest problems for apartments and condos. From well-known spring insects like ants, to winter pests like rodents, pests of all kind can affect your property and residents throughout the year – some even present a persistent threat like cockroaches. The most effective way to combat seasonal intruders is to work with a pest management professional to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.
Pests are attracted to multifamily housing properties because they offer everything pests need to survive: food, optimal temperatures, shelter and water. Unfortunately, pests can be tough to control in this environment because lifestyles vary among residents; unsanitary conditions in one unit can attract and spread pests to other units.
Because property managers can’t control everything that goes on in each unit, maintaining a year-long IPM program is critical. IPM is a proactive approach to pest control that works to stop pest problems before they arise. It utilizes non-chemical methods such as sanitation and facility maintenance to eliminate the elements that attract pests.
Here is a snapshot of the seasonal pest threats to be aware of throughout the year and the IPM tactics you can implement to manage them.
As cold winter weather yields to warm, rainy days, many pests emerge from overwintering and become active. Pests are most prevalent inside apartments and condos this time of year, particularly ants, who find their way indoors while foraging for food and water.
Flies are another major spring pest and can be more than just a nuisance. Flies are capable of spreading harmful bacteria and pathogens, which can cause disease in humans, including typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery and hepatitis.
You’ll find more flies this time of year than any other time. Fly problems indoors often stem from food and breeding sites outdoors. Summer is also high season for stinging insects. Wasp and bee control activity hits a peak in late summer because they have had all season to build up their numbers.
Summer rains lead to mosquitoes, who may lay their eggs in stagnant water or above the water surface. They most commonly infest ponds, marshes, swamps and other wetland habitats, but can also lay their eggs in pools, puddles, bird baths or anywhere else where standing water exists.
Rodent control and exclusion should be your top fall priority, as mice and rats begin seeking a warm place for winter during this season. Walls, closets, pantries, crawl spaces, basements, and attics are all inviting spaces for rodents to find protection from winter.
This time of year can also include a variety of occasional invaders, including stink bugs, box elder bugs, and ladybugs. These pests enter apartments and condos seeking an overwintering site to wait out the cold winter weather.
When winter blows in, many people breathe a sigh of relief thinking pest season is over. However, while certain insects do go dormant, rodents remain a threat. Doors without door sweeps and unsealed gaps and cracks offer just enough space for a rodent to get inside. In fact, rodents can squeeze through surprisingly small holes – mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of half of a quarter. Once inside, they’ll happily stay through the winter and even beyond the winter.
There are four key areas of your property that you need to focus on year-round to keep pest pressures down. Work with your pest management professional to incorporate the following IPM tactics for these areas:
Regularly vacuum, sweep, and mop public, multi-use areas such as clubhouses and fitness centers to remove food and water sources for pests. In outdoor swimming pool areas, keep the pool deck clear of puddles by using a squeegee or broom on the pool deck after it rains. Regularly empty trashcans in common areas and line and cover all trashcans to help reduce residues or odors that might attract pests and prevent water and spillage from accumulating inside.
Many apartment and condo properties have large waste disposal areas that make them more vulnerable to pest infestations. Keep dumpsters as far away from buildings as possible and rotate and clean dumpsters regularly. Maintain a sufficient garbage pick-up schedule to prevent dumpster overflow and remove cardboard boxes or other spilled waste in the surrounding area that pests may use as shelter.
Conduct routine inspections of the exterior of any buildings to look for holes, cracks or gaps pests may use as access points. If openings exist, seal them with weather-resistant sealant. Also, be sure door sweeps and weather stripping are in good condition to help prevent pests from squeezing through.
Landscaping plays a big role in the overall appearance of you property, but if not managed properly, it can also attract pests. Trim back foliage from buildings, and avoid/reduce ground-covering plants and mulch, which can provide shelter for pests like rodents and crawling insects.
Pests are a year-round occurrence, so work with your pest management professional to implement an IPM program that will help prevent pests from bothering your residents and affecting your bottom line.
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.