When evaluating the best waste management practices for your property, it’s important to keep pest control in mind. Apartment complexes offer everything pests need to survive: food, water, warmth and shelter. One hot spot in particular is the large waste disposal zone where pests have the ideal environment to thrive if the proper measures aren’t taken. Poor waste management (especially at multi-unit properties) creates ideal conditions for germ-carrying pests like flies and cockroaches, as well as stinging pests like wasps and bees. Unsanitary conditions could put your property at risk for an infestation of the following pests:
Cockroaches are highly adaptable and thrive in dirty, moist conditions, such as in and around waste bins. They primarily feed on dead or decaying plant material and other organic matter. While cockroaches may congregate around the main exterior garbage area, they will soon try to find their way inside your buildings where they are not only unsightly but can easily spread germs, like coliform, staphylococcus and streptococcus. Any cracks, crevices and voids in the walls or ceiling of compactor rooms could also provide harbourage for roaches, so pay special attention to maintenance in such rooms.
Flies are considered a nuisance, but are often more tolerated than other pests. The reality is that flies are one of the filthiest pests, even more so than cockroaches. They can carry and transmit more than 100 pathogens, including Salmonella and E. coli. These pathogens can cause disease in humans and animals. While a few flies may not be a cause for concern, fly populations can grow very quickly, especially if they are left to breed in dumpsters and other outdoor trashcans.
Wasps are scavengers that eat meat, fish and sugary substances. Seeking food sources, they are attracted to garbage cans that are not properly covered and regularly emptied. While stinging pests don’t become a major issue until later in the year, spring time is when prevention is critical because it’s when the queen wasp will start laying eggs. Those eggs will produce worker wasps making up a colony, which can contain thousands of insects at a time. Depending on the species, wasp nests can be built in wall voids, under eaves, in tree branches, on the ground or other concealed sites. This can become troublesome for residents and their pets during outdoor activities and make landscaping difficult. Fortunately, wasps rarely go out of their way to sting, but they will be aggressive if they perceive a threat. Unlike bees, each wasp is capable of multiple stings. Their stings aren’t pleasant, but are generally minor unless the person is allergic to wasp venom. As an added threat, the stinging pests will try to make their way inside as the weather continues to warm up.
Rodents are one of the most common pests associated with poor waste management. They can harbor and transmit a number of serious diseases and can also be responsible for introducing disease-carrying parasites like fleas and ticks. Rats can get indoors through holes the size of a quarter, while mice can use gaps the size of a dime to come inside.
Prevention is key
With any of these pests, eliminating an infestation can be a serious challenge. Now is the time to check in on your pest management program before pest populations are in full swing. The best way to help prevent pest issues is to work with your pest management professional to make sure you, your staff and your residents are prepared.
Consider getting residents on board by including educational, seasonal pest prevention tips in newsletters and e-blasts or by posting bulletins with your property’s pest sighting protocol so they know their role in pest management. Many pest management providers will also provide a complimentary, on-site staff training session upon request. These can be as specific as needed to be effective for your property. Invite leasing personnel and maintenance teams to educate them on how to spot a pest issue and properly report it so that the issue can be treated and resolved quickly.
Waste management tips
Talk with your pest management provider for a customized plan of action, but here are the basic steps you can take to keep waste collection and disposal from attracting pests.
- Keep trash chutes and outdoor trash cans closed and clean so pests are unable to feed on residues. Use detergent and hot water to clean containers often.
- Provide residents with dumpsters that have latching lids and side doors. The CDC defines trash cans as rodent-proof only if there is less than 1Ž4 inch between the container and the lid.
- Ensure that the dumpster is sanitized by the contractor on a frequent basis.
- Move dumpsters as far away from buildings and outdoor communal spaces as possible.
- Inspect disposal zones daily and keep the area surrounding dumpsters free of trash and discarded food.
- Talk to your pest management professional about potential odour-neutralizing products to eliminate pest-attracting odours at the source instead of masking or treating them temporarily. If recommended, this can be used in trash chutes, garbage rooms and dumpsters.
- Consider installing insect light traps and rodent monitoring stations in garbage rooms to monitor for and help prevent the spread of pests.
Reducing pest activity with proper waste management is crucial, especially during warmer seasons when residents want to enjoy the outdoors. Even more importantly this will help prevent pests from gaining access indoors where their presence is not tolerated. 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 from one unit to another. Integrating the tips above as part of a proactive, preventive pest management program and keeping your property well maintained will help you attract renters, not pests.
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. For more information, email Alice Sinia at [email protected] or visit www.orkincanada.com.