Condo managers are carefully considering how and when it is appropriate for them to reopen valuable condo amenities that will help residents regain some sense of normalcy. At the same time, residents are continuing to spend more time at home than anywhere else, making these reopening decisions critical.
One reality to consider is that pests never rest – even during a global pandemic. If anything, pests are more active without the daily bustle of people moving around, leaving temporarily closed condo amenities vulnerable. Unused spaces make it even easier for pests to slip in unnoticed. Sheltering in place only brought about more potential pest attractants, like new sources of food, water and shelter.
Pests such as rodents, cockroaches and flies carry a wide range of pathogens, and while there’s no evidence that pests can spread and transmit COVID-19, other viral and bacterial transmission risks still exist. Below are tips on which spots to check regularly and what to consider before you reopen shared spaces.
Exterior, landscaping and rooftops
Assess the landscaping surrounding the exterior of any buildings to address overgrown trees or shrubbery that make contact or provide access to the roof, since these plants function like ladders for pests seeking shelter. Note any cracks or gaps in the building’s exterior, which should be sealed immediately. Don’t forget to check the roof as well to ensure there are no leaks or cracks. While there, make sure ventilation systems and air conditioning units are operating and properly screened. On both the roof and the landscaped ground areas, be sure to check for burrows or even dens. Rodents and other wildlife can become bold with fewer people around and nest closer to buildings. Gnaw marks on door seals can also be a sign of rodents trying to get inside.
Offices and shared employee spaces
As employees return, ask them to look through any personal storage areas and make sure they do not see any evidence of pest damage or activity, such as rodent droppings or even a few stray ants. Check for food that may have gone overlooked within reception and management office spaces when employees left at the start of the pandemic – stored product pests could be in drawers or lockers. It is important to clean and disinfect these spaces where pests, especially rodents, could have roamed during closures.
Clubrooms and fitness centres
Using a flashlight and moving slowly, scan these areas for pest activity. Carefully examine electrical wires for bite marks from rodents. Check out storage containers and even machinery. Cockroaches love warm, dark spaces like plugged in, unused espresso makers. Similarly, gym equipment provides lots of crevices for pests to call home, so clean all equipment thoroughly. Spider webs are common in these quiet areas and should be removed and disinfected.
Try to keep the surrounding area as dry as possible to limit the spread of moisture. Inspect equipment areas like nearby sheds, as storage areas like these are prone to pest activity. Also, if you offer towel collection containers, be sure to have someone empty them regularly, since the folds in moist towels are great pest hiding spots.
With the increase in trash in residential buildings, rodents are taking notice – so be sure it is properly disposed of. Thoroughly inspect all common area trash cans both indoors and outdoors to confirm they were empty throughout closures, noting they may have seen use from residents in the meantime. If waste bins had organic debris inside them during closures, they offer pests a buffet of food and a comfortable shelter. Bag, seal and remove any remaining contents from waste bins as soon as possible. Be sure to resume regular trash pickups if you reduced or paused them in certain areas due to temporary closures.
Making decisions about reopening common areas and condo amenities can be difficult, but pest management doesn’t have to be. Using this checklist of areas that might have welcomed some unwanted guests during closures as a guide can help cross worrying about pests off your list. For consistent results, educate employees on pest prevention techniques and ensure you have a known procedure for reporting potential issues, such as ant or cockroach sightings and rodent droppings. While reopening spaces, have building staff keep a close eye out for these issues.
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is quality assurance manager of regulatory/lab Services for Orkin Canada, focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 20 years of experience, she manages the quality assurance laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit orkincanada.com.