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Take action now to avoid pest crises later

September 19, 2010
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By the time a building manager receives a call from a hysterical tenant concerning a pest problem, it is often too late to take care of the situation easily, inexpensively and without loss of reputation.

Building managers have many responsibilities and ensuring a pest-free environment is one.

By knowing some basics about pests, their habits and prevention methods, the building manager can avert a public relations disaster and turn a potential crisis into a controlled one.

Pests found in buildings
The most common pests are rodents, cockroaches, ants and birds.

These pests have three things in common: The need for food, water and a nesting area.

Rodents, including rats and mice, can be the most intimidating pest and cause the most alarm.

The negative reputation of rodents is well-deserved; rodents can carry disease, contaminate food and water, and even cause injury.

Most rodents do not travel far from their nesting site, so finding rodents in a basement, for example, probably means that they are living nearby — usually less than 30 feet away.

In order to be successful in rodent control, one must identify the type of rodent, understand its habits, perform a thorough inspection and take adequate control measures.

Cockroaches are the most common pest to plague buildings and restaurants.

However, cockroach control today is targeted.

A professional will inspect the area, find the sources of infestation and strategically place small amounts of gels in hidden areas based upon his/her knowledge of the roach species.

Ants are one of the most successful creatures on earth.

There are thousands of species, but fortunately, only a few infest buildings.

Control measures for ants will vary depending on the species.

While birds are usually outdoor pests, they should not be viewed as cuddly, feathered friends, due to their disease-carrying potential.

Exclusion is the best choice here, using netting, repellent wires, spikes and other methods to discourage roosting.

Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process that involves common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests.

These solutions incorporate three basic steps: Inspection, identification and treatment.

Treatment options vary from sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to pesticide treatments when necessary.

A professional practicing IPM will conduct a thorough inspection to identify pests, infestation sources and potential infestation sources.

That professional will also perform necessary control measures and monitor the effectiveness of the measures to prevent future infestations.

IPM is a practice that is embraced by the pest management industry. For further information, visit

Facility staff can implement IPM techniques and be a partner with a pest management professional in controlling pests.

Regular inspection and maintenance repairs are imperative.

The staff can be very helpful to the pest management technicians who service the building.

Periodic maintenance reviews of the facility will identify holes in walls, open or broken windows, loose fitting doors and even spilled food sources in the chutes or dumpster area.

Repairs should be done as soon as possible to prevent pests from entering.

Keep good notes and share those observations when the pest management technician is on-site.

Today, pest management is a professional science.

By understanding the pest, focusing on maintenance and embracing Integrated Pest Management, the pest pressures will be reduced.

As a result, there will be less overhead, happier tenants and fewer pest-management crises.

Greg Baumann is a senior scientist and technical director of the National Pest Management Association. His expertise is built upon 27 years of experience in residential and commercial pest management settings. Currently, he has been instrumental in helping to raise awareness and educate the public about pest management issues by acting as one of the association’s national consumer advisors. In addition to his consumer-oriented work, Baumann regularly develops new technical products and educational services for pest control professionals (NPMA members) and interacts with government agencies on a variety of pest management issues.

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