Fill Your Parking Lot With Cars, Not Pests

Far before any chemical treatments are necessary, you can proactively prevent pests from filling your facilities by setting up external barriers.

Parking lots are the first and last experience many tenants have with your building, and making a good impression requires more than just newly-painted lines, updated lighting and manicured landscaping.

A large part of leaving a lasting impression is making sure that your trees, grass and shrubbery are properly trimmed and that no litter or other refuse is strewn about your grounds.

While cluttered and unclean parking areas around your property can be a deterrent to tenants and customers, the bigger danger — a connection many facilities managers and property owners fail to make — is that they encourage pests like rodents, flies and cockroaches.

Whether you have an enclosed parking facility, a covered carport or a wide-open lot, no space is safe from a potential infestation.

Moreover, if you’re attracting pests to your parking lot, you are putting them one step closer to finding a way inside.

But, by maintaining a clean and orderly parking area, you can force pests to hit the road before they set up shop on your property — causing a problem that could have effectively been prevented.

Recognizing the causes of your current pest problems and any potential catalysts for future infestations is only half of the battle; knowing the right steps to follow and when to take action is also crucial if you want to keep pests at bay.

A properly trained pest management professional can do more than provide valuable advice for establishing a barrier on the outside of your building: He or she can help you proactively fight pest activity from unwanted bugs, birds, biting insects and other bothersome pests.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is the preferred method of pest control because it relies on proactive measures for pest prevention and utilizes chemicals only as a last resort.

From removing trash on a regular basis to washing down pavement or concrete, there are several key ways to maintain a clean parking area — one that is unfriendly to pests.

The following are a few common pest-prone areas to monitor during your maintenance routine along with some actionable solutions you can easily implement.

The Parking Lot

Beyond simply being a place to park cars, pests are often attracted to the conditions parking areas offer.

Like humans, pests need basic elements such as food, water, shelter and optimal temperatures to survive, many of which can be found in the confines of a parking lot.

Trash and debris can easily collect in parking lots and decks, as well as around dumpsters.

Consider adding a few more steps to your regular parking lot maintenance routine to help minimize pest pressure.

Some things you can do to combat parking lot pests include:

  • Add more trash receptacles to the parking area to encourage proper disposal and ensure that trashcans are lined and emptied frequently

  • Pick up any trash that might serve as a food source or attract pests and sweep parking areas frequently to clear any crumbs or debris

  • Clean up spills as soon as they occur

  • Pests like birds or rodents will be attracted to moisture sources, so be sure to remove excess moisture in the area; look for sources that can provide a free drink, such as clogged gutters and drains or rain puddles formed from uneven pavement or leaking air conditioning units

  • Most pests aren’t picky when it comes to their meals, so make sure garbage bags are tightly sealed before placing them in the dumpster; be sure to have a “closed lid” policy for the dumpster

  • Do not leave any trash or cardboard boxes sitting next to the dumpster, as cockroaches can make their home in the packaging and even feed on the glue that holds boxes together

  • Work with your waste management company to request a more frequent trash pickup and ask that your dumpsters be cleaned and rotated on a regular basis

  • Keep dumpsters at a reasonable distance from your building since these bins are attractive to pests.

Landscaping And Sidewalks

While landscaping and sidewalks around parking areas are important features for impressing guests or maintaining tenants, they can also attract a variety of unwanted pests if not well maintained.

Flower beds, mulch and trees offer shelter for insects, so be sure to monitor these areas for pest activity and consult with your pest management professional on any necessary remedies.

Keep these best practices in mind when inspecting and maintaining your parking lot features:

  • Trim back foliage at least three feet from your building and avoid using ground-covering plants such as ivy, which can harbor pests like rodents and crawling insects; branches touching the building can also provide a bridge for pests

  • Reduce the amount of mulch you use, or pull it away from the building, as many insects are prone to hide under this warm, rotting material

  • Consider installing a gravel strip around the exterior of your building or parking deck because rodents don’t like to be out in the open and crawling pests are often discouraged by the rough terrain

  • Sweep and wash down sidewalks and walkways frequently to remove any debris that may entice pests

  • Limit irrigation to the required minimum to avoid attracting pests.


The choice of lighting and light fixtures around your parking lot can have a significant impact on the pest presence in your building.

Certain types of lights and their placement can either attract or deter pesky critters looking to enter your facilities, and a trained pest professional will understand this and be able to provide the proper guidance.

Be sure to follow these steps when installing lights in your building’s parking area:

  • Replace fluorescent or mercury vapor lights close to your building with sodium vapor lights that are less appealing to pests

  • Consider installing the brightest lights at least 100 feet away from the building to draw pests away

  • Have lights shine onto the building, rather than positioning them on the building itself, as this will draw pests away from the exterior walls.

Prevention Is About Proactivity

By implementing a proactive and preventive approach to parking lot maintenance, you can ensure your building, facility or campus is protected using the best possible measures against future infestations.

As with any IPM program, be sure to consult with your pest management professional to determine the most effective approach for your needs.

As you work to establish a protective barrier around your parking area, you’ll create a clean, comfortable environment for your tenants and guests without allowing pests to settle in for the long haul.

Posted On May 30, 2013

Patrick Copps

Technical Services Manager for Orkin's Pacific Division

Patrick T. Copps is technical services manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A board-certified entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Copps has more than 35 years of experience in the industry. For more information, email him or visit

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Fill Your Parking Lot With Cars, Not Pests
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