Springtime is here and summer is just around the corner. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the annual incursion of spring pests is upon us. Carpenter ants are swarming, wasps are buzzing and raccoons, squirrels, skunks and birds are all having babies. If the animals are in your buildings, property owners and managers need to know how to safely and humanely evict urban pest animals from the premises.
Why are they there?
If any animal (and insects are animals too) is in your building there is a reason – carpenter ants prefer to nest in moisture damaged wood, so perhaps there is a leaky window or roof or pipe that also needs to be dealt with. For birds or racoons nesting in buildings, it means there is an opening allowing them inside, or perhaps a weak spot in the roof or siding that allowed them to make their own hole to get in. Your pest control contractor can eliminate the carpenter ants and evict the squirrels, but unless the moisture issue attracting the ants and the holes allowing access to the squirrels are dealt with, the problem will recur, as will the expense. Often it is not enough to just deal with the current pest problem.
Raccoons, skunks and squirrels are the most common wildlife species that cause problems at this time of year. Feathered offenders include pigeons and seagulls on rooftops and ledges, plus sparrows and starlings in dryer vents and insulated parkade ceilings. We also need to deal with moles digging up nice fresh spring lawns and ants pushing up sand in patios and driveways. Some clients are also “lucky” enough to have wood peckers banging holes in the side of their building in order to attract mates, look for emerging ants or create a hollow for a nest.
- Structural damage from the animals pecking or ripping or chewing into soffits, fascia boards or even right through a roof to gain entry. Raccoons are the worst offenders here – they can rip holes in asphalt shingles or cedar shakes and even break off clay roof tiles.
- Fire! Fires occur every year in North American cities due to stove and dryer vents being plugged by small bird species (sparrows and starlings) filling the vent pipe with nesting material.
- Water damage due to roof drains and gutters being plugged by bird droppings and nesting material (from pigeons and gulls), plus water leaking into the access holes raccoons or squirrels make in a roof.
- Sickness and disease due to contact with droppings. Dozens of different viruses and bacteria are in the urine and feces of birds and wildlife. Birds nesting near HVAC units on rooftops can result in contractors refusing to service the units plus unsafe air being circulated to the occupants of the building. Call a professional experienced in the particular pest problem. If there is an established carpenter ant issue in an older three-storey wood frame building with moisture problems, it may be beyond the abilities of a regular service technician. Many pest control companies have specialists who can safely and legally deal with bird and wildlife problems, but many do not. Make sure they can address the following, depending on the situation:
What to do about it
Call a professional experienced in the particular pest problem. If there is an established carpenter ant issue in an older three-storey wood frame building with moisture problems, it may be beyond the abilities of a regular service technician. Many pest control companies have specialists who can safely and legally deal with bird and wildlife problems, but many do not. Make sure they can address the following, depending on the situation:
- Safe removal of nesting material and droppings deposited in and around nests.
- Sanitizing and de-odorizing the area and repair of any damage done plus prevention of re-entry.
- Safe and humane removal of the offending adult animals, plus removal of the babies and re-uniting mom with the babies.
- Access and safety– do they have the proper ladders, ropes and safety gear plus permits to operate lifts in order to get to the necessary location.
- Legal issues – migratory birds (seagulls) are protected, as are bats. Raccoons and skunks are classified as fur bearing animals; some squirrels have legal protections but most sparrows and starlings and pigeons do not. Regardless of status, all animals must be humanely treated. If they are not bad press, bad reputations and legal proceedings from the SPCA may follow. Knowing these details is important.
Regardless of the situation or species, a common sense solution with a good outcome for the owners, tenants and pests can usually be found. So, enjoy the sun while it lasts this summer and hopefully you won’t need to evict any “wild” tenants!
Brett Johnston is president of Assured Environmental Solutions, Inc, a full service pest management company operating in Metro Vancouver with specific expertise in bird and wildlife control, carpenter ant and rodent control, and all things bed bug including heat treatments. Contact info: 604.463.0007, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.assuredenvironmental.ca