Closing the Seams: How to Prevent Pests During Building Upgrades
By Jennifer Brumfield, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As an apartment manager, you take every line item into account — especially during construction or renovations to your building. Your tenants demand attention to detail, and it’s essential to make sure everything looks flawless before the new space is finally unveiled. But unfortunately, there’s one kind of risk that’s extremely easy to overlook.
Every apartment manager dreads this scenario, but pest infestation is a real threat to your property during building upgrades. And while pests may be the last thing on your mind, your building — teeming with food, water, and shelter — is one of the first things on theirs. Forgetting about pests could mean trapping insects and other nuisances inside the structure of your building. What’s more, the disruption of normal sanitation procedures during these times makes it even easier for pests to crawl in and make themselves right at home.
So, how do you keep it from happening? It’s crucial to have a pest management strategy in place before renovations begin, so you can keep pests out before, during and after the process.
Here are a few useful tips to defend your property.
Set up a meeting with your pest management professional before the upgrades begin. Making sure you’re both on the same page will give you the best collective chance to fortify your building against invaders. Also, consider the following:
- Plan to begin upgrades during the driest part of the year if possible. This lessens the possibility of pests taking up residence in standing water and damp construction materials.
- Examine any current pest activity in the area with your pest management professional. This will help determine what actions you should take to reduce infestation risk.
- Pre-treat the building for termites and use non-cellulose building materials if possible. Termites eat cellulose, so reducing this food source will help keep them at bay.
- Tidy up any neglected areas on the property. Improperly discarded waste or overgrown plants can provide places for pests to hide.
- Be wary of construction zones in nearby properties. Displaced pests may wander onto your property in search of a new place to stay.
- Look carefully at raw building materials to make sure they’re free of pests before bringing them to the jobsite.
Throughout the upgrade process, it’s likely that several parts of your building will experience high traffic. With so many people, tools, and materials moving about the property, pests have ample opportunity to make unnoticed entrances. Here’s what you can do stop them:
- Talk to your pest management provider about using bait traps around the building’s exterior and in the proximity of any construction materials.
- Grade the property so that no puddles form near construction sites. This is especially important for discouraging mosquitoes and termites, which thrive in standing water and moist areas, respectively.
- Ensure the site always stays clean. That means picking up any discarded food, trash, and wood debris, which can all provide scrumptious snacks for pests.
- Replace any exterior mercury vapor or fluorescent lights with LED lights. Pests are less likely to be attracted to LED bulbs.
- Cover building materials to protect them from rain. Once they get wet, they can become attractive spaces for many types of pests.
Once the finishing touches have been applied, you’ll want to ensure your building stays pest-free. Keep these tips in mind to aid in ongoing prevention:
- Continue working with your pest management professional to implement or update your Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM). The IPM approach uses environmentally friendly, nonchemical techniques to help manage pests long-term.
- While landscaping, avoid plants that attract pests. This includes flowering shrubs, fruit trees, ivy, or any other ground-covering plants. You should also trim back any plants that are touching the building, as these can serve as footbridges that allow pests to scurry straight into the building.
- Make sure that any new doors and windows are tight against the frames. Screens and weather strips can help eliminate any potential openings for pests.
- Work with an HVAC professional to create a “positive airflow” in your building. This means that when doors open, air pushes flying bugs out instead of sucking them into the building.
- Consider working with your pest management professional to develop an education plan for residents and employees. This can include helpful information such as recommended sanitation practices and proper procedures for reporting any pest sightings.
When you upgrade your apartment complex, it’s important to remember and execute effective pest management tactics. Contacting a professional early to create a plan could be the difference between “all is fine” and big trouble for your bottom line.