pest management

Preventative maintenance for pest control

Keep critters out with an integrated pest management program
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
by Alice Sinia, Ph.D.

Preventative maintenance of outdoor amenities is essential for effective pest management. By creating an integrated action plan that continues throughout the year, property managers will have a better chance of keeping unwanted critters out, and happy residents in.

Once the winter season changes and the snow begins to melt away, pests can quickly become a pressing concern. The temperature change signals pests to emerge from their overwintering state and become active, looking for food, water and shelter to reproduce and quickly build up their population.

Ensuring the satisfaction of your residents is always top of mind, so don’t think you left pests out in the cold. Having a solid Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in place is the most effective and environmentally-responsible way to protect your property and residents from pests.

IPM involves taking proactive steps to help prevent pests before they occur by deterring and excluding them out of buildings, structures and landscapes. Persistent pest activity can drive residents to seek new homes if pest sightings become a regular occurrence. To help ensure your property is protected from pests, here are some key aspects to consider:

Landscaping

Inspect the grounds for uneven spots as these holes can provide areas for snow to collect. As temperatures rise and the snow melts, dormant pools of water will be left behind, providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes, gnats and midges, and attracting several other pests that are desperately seeking water at this time. Working on leveling the lawn on your property can drastically reduce pest pressures from mosquitoes, midges and gnats throughout the year. If the lawn is covered with snow, rodents will burrow and move around under the snow, and those burrows will soon be revealed. Inspect the property for any signs of burrows and contact your local pest management provider if you suspect an infestation.

This is also a good time to review which plant species worked well last year and which need to be reconsidered. For example, were stinging insects, birds and rodents a huge nuisance on your property during the summer months? It may be because the plants sown in early spring produced nuts, seeds, flowers or fruits that often attract these pests. Such plants should be avoided or strategically placed in areas that are not congested with residents. Enlist the help of your pest management professional to work with your landscaping team to implement a plan that is both aesthetically pleasing for residents, while still unattractive to pests.

Crawling pests, like ants and rodents, can easily gain access indoors if they are given a bridge from surrounding plants and onto the building’s exterior and foundation. Note which tree branches might be touching the roof or sides of buildings and trim them back. On the ground, avoid planting right against the exterior walls and maintain a 36” gravel strip around the exterior. This barrier not only helps keep burrowing rodents and other pests away, but will also help prevent weed growth and make your landscaping look neat and well-maintained throughout the year.

Exterior maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a cornerstone to any successful pest management program. Performing the following maintenance tasks will go a long way in helping to deter pests from gaining entry to your property and the homes of your residents.

  • Install weather stripping around windows and doors to close off any gaps that pests could enter through. Inspect for worn-out door weather strips and sweeps and replace accordingly.
  • Inspect vents and have them properly screened.
  • Look for cracks and other damages to exterior wall structures. Make the repairs and seal with weather-resistant sealant.
  • Inspect the roof for any cracks or missing shingles.
  • Inspect for openings, voids or easily dug spots in building foundation where raccoons and skunks can dig to nest. Keep them out by sealing off these sites.
  • Consider replacing your current exterior security lights with either high or low pressure sodium lights as these will not attract pests.

Finishing touches

Starting off the year with an integrated pest management game plan will strengthen your defense against pests throughout 2017 – but know that an IPM is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process to help keep pests out permanently. Plus, the most effective pest management programs require the support of your entire staff. Work with your pest management provider to make changes to your program as the seasons change and to help ensure that you and your staff are equipped to reduce and handle pest pressures year-round.

Alice Sinia, Ph.D. 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 [email protected] or visit www.orkincanada.com.

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