Articles
Multifamily

Refresh your Pest Management Plan

By Patrick T. Copps, MS, B.C.E.
Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC

As spring nears and residents start to head outside to enjoy the season, be wary of pests that want to travel inside. Spring is the perfect time for updating landscaping, a renewed sanitation routine and incorporating Integrated Pest Management (IPM) into your property’s maintenance plans—all of which can help deter pests.

Apartments have one of the highest pest management demands of any industry because of the large base of residents with different lifestyles and sanitation habits. The frequent arrival of new residents and their guests can also increase the chance for pest introductions at your property. Once introduced, pest problems in apartment buildings can be difficult to pinpoint and control because of shared walls and floors, allowing pests to spread rapidly.

To prevent issues, it’s important to make sure staff—and ideally residents—are on the same page when it comes to managing pests. Consider distributing e-blasts or posting bulletins with seasonal pest control tips as well as information about any incidents to keep residents aware of the role they play in pest control and encourage them to do their part. It can also be effective to conduct regular trainings for on-site associates, including leasing personnel and maintenance staff, to help them understand how to spot an issue so it can be treated quickly.

Establishing protocols for staff and residents to report pest sightings is also an important component of successful pest management in the multifamily setting. Orkin customer Loetta Lewis, community manager with First Communities, an apartment management company based in Atlanta, has her staff document each pest incident and then notifies their Orkin pest specialist for further evaluation.

As a property manager, it’s your team’s responsibility to treat the property with care, especially if you want to keep it pest-free. Here are some actions you can take this spring to help make sure pests don’t become your next resident.

Sanitation Routine

While a deep clean is synonymous with the season, updating your regular sanitation routine with these cleaning tips will help prevent pest infestations year-round.

1) Clean communal areas daily – Hallways, fitness centers, laundry rooms and community entertainment facilities need to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. Pests like ants, flies, cockroaches and rodents are attracted to the food, water and shelter these places can provide. Dust and vacuum these areas regularly and remove food debris.

2) Pay attention to dryer vents – Not only is lint buildup in dryer ducts a fire hazard, but they can easily become home to a variety of wildlife like rodents and birds. Inspect the exterior vent and clean dirt, leaves and excess lint out of the exhaust. Consider installing a dryer vent bird guard and replacing the outside vent cover each year.

3) Seal trashcans and dumpsters – Encourage residents to take out their trash on a daily basis. Provide them with trashcans that seal or dumpsters with latching lids and side doors. The CDC defines trash cans as rodent-proof only if there is less than ¼ inch between the container and the lid. Clean the trash cans weekly with detergent and hot water and ensure that the dumpster is cleaned by the contractor on a frequent basis.

Landscaping Tips

A beautiful landscape can up your curb appeal, but it can also be a harborage for pests.

1) Plan ahead – Elements of your landscaping can be conducive to pests. Before planting, work with your pest management provider to identify plants and other landscaping features that can attract or harbor pests.  First Communities manages 30,000 units at more than 150 properties, many of which feature multiple garden areas. They have found that proper planning before the season change can reduce pest ants year-round.

2) Create a barrier between landscaping and building exteriors – Consider trimming vegetation back away from the building exterior and installing a 3-foot gravel strip to obstruct crawling pests from reaching the walls and entrances. When laying pine straw, use the same logic. First Communities saw reduced pest pressure after pushing pine straw back at least one-foot away from all patios and buildings. If using mulch, consider cedar mulch, which has been proven to be a pest repellant.

3) Eliminate standing water – Spring showers can cause excessive moisture and stagnant water on your property, which pests like gnats, mosquitos and roaches need to thrive and breed. Help prevent excess moisture by cleaning gutters regularly, covering outdoor trashcans to keep water out, and dumping standing water out of saucers under planters and other containers. Also be sure to immediately fix leaky pipes and avoid over-watering plants.

Spring time is the perfect motivator for refreshing your pest control needs. Integrating the tips provided above as part of an IPM program and keeping your property well maintained will help your property attract renters, not pests. 

Patrick Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years of experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at pcopps@orkin.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com