Self-storage owners and managers know pest control is essential as an infestation of rodents or insects can spread quickly, not only damaging property but the facility’s reputation. There are some unique and sometimes surprising technologies that can help you in the effort to minimize or even eliminate self storage pests.
Variety Of Self Storage Pests
Michael Bentley, director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association and a board-certified entomologist in Fairfax, Va., outlines the types of self storage pests owners and operators most commonly encounter:
Bentley lists this as the top nuisance to owners and operators. Self-storage facilities provide the perfect haven for rats and mice because there are many dark, undisturbed areas for them to reproduce and nest. And contrary to your lease agreement, some tenants may have food in their units, providing rodents a food source, at least long enough to cause a problem.
Roaches are a common problem in self-storage facilities because tenants can bring them in through cardboard boxes. If the tenant lived in a building with an infestation, he/she could unknowingly bring cockroaches that are hiding in items such as microwaves, refrigerators, alarm clocks, and furniture. They breed and spread quickly. One thing many people don’t realize about cockroaches is cardboard provides a nutritional source for this disgusting pest.
Relatively eliminated as a problem in the U.S. until the beginning of this century, bed bugs have become an issue for hotels, apartments, and even self-storage facilities. While bed bugs need humans as a food source, Bentley says they can live a surprisingly long time moving from unit to unit searching for a human food source.
Once again, self-storage facilities provide a perfect haven for spiders, which typically nest and hide in dark, undisturbed places. In many instances, spiders may be just a nuisance, but in other cases, they can be quite harmful or even deadly if someone is bitten by a venomous spider while going through their unit.
5. Ants and Termites
Bentley says these may be pests many self-storage operators don’t consider when assessing their risks because many facilities are not made primarily of wood. However, he says if there are wood beam supports, your facility may be at risk. Some ants, such as carpenter ants, can bore into wood to nest, causing extensive damage. Many people also don’t realize termites can live by munching on cardboard.
Traditional And innovative Treatments for Pests
Bentley says sometimes the most effective treatments aren’t always the newest on the market. Liquid poison applications and baits are still very effective for many of these self storage pests. However, as more people become more environmentally conscious, some operators may be seeking fewer toxic methods in not just treatment but preventing pests.
As with almost everything in our lives, pest control has gone high tech. Traps, cameras, baits, infrared, and other devices can be set to monitor pest traffic at your facility. Bentley says this data is transmitted to your pest management professional, who then knows where in the facility to concentrate their next extermination efforts.
Drones can be set loose on your property, zigzagging in and out of aisles and between buildings to detect the heat of pests that may be prowling your property. The drones then send the data back to your pest management professional who can zero in on problem areas. This may be especially helpful if you have a large, sprawling property.
This will not eliminate a pest problem immediately, but most pests have a short life span, and once they have been sterilized, they will die out. This method is especially attractive to people who want to limit poisons on their property.
Bentley says termite baits aren’t necessarily new but have become more popular in recent years due to people’s awareness of environmental hazards presented by traditional sprays. Baits are typically placed in the ground or sometimes in the foundation of a building.
Whether you are using a traditional pest control method or a newer technology, Bentley emphasizes that it’s important to call in licensed professionals. He says not one treatment will typically treat every type of pest that can be found on your property. “Professionals know how to apply and how much to apply. They can also evaluate your property; help you find weak spots such as cracks or leaks and coordinate a full integrative plan with you.”
Pest Prevention Is Paramount
Of course, the most effective form of self storage pest control comes in prevention. Make sure you and your managers are following these five procedures:
Start with the lease. One of the most effective ways to prevent many infestations is to ensure your tenants understand they cannot store food items in their units.
Seal cracks. Many pests can squeeze into small spaces, even if it is just centimeters. Make sure all your doors are sealed.
Stop water leaks. In addition to cardboard, which cannot be eliminated from self-storage facilities, many pests seek moisture. Even the smallest of leaks can attract pests. Bentley says to make sure interior leaks are fixed, downspouts and soffits carry moisture away from the buildings.
Keep your property clean. Trim foliage and shrubs around your facility and avoid plants known to attract pests in your landscaping, such as peonies, which attract ants. Other items that may attract pests are pallets, spare pieces of 2-by-4s, and other wood items.
Change your lighting. Some types of lights attract flying insects at night, and that will attract spiders.
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She is a regular contributor to Mini-Storage Messenger. Her business articles have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com, MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.