I am working on pulling together everything we've developed over the past four years on implementing IPM in multifamily housing. My goal is to make everything available at www.stoppests.org and in a print guide so that anyone who wants to start an IPM program in affordable housing will have step-by-step instructions. I'm also including templates, lessons learned, and resources. Pretty much everything on my computer.
One of the sections is "Frequently Asked Questions." The list of FAQs comes from the questions that participants asked during the 14 one-day IPM in Multifamily Housing Trainings we ran over the past few years. Since I am working on this today, I thought I'd share two with you.
1. Do construction sites attract pests?
Rats sometimes become more of a problem when there is construction going on. Not because the come from miles around, attracted by the bulldozers, but because their burrows are disrupted by the digging. They need to find a new place to live—they are no longer out of sight, out of mind.
Also, construction sites can be ideal pest habitats. Consider the following:
- Food for birds, rodents, and cockroaches is available in open dumpsters or where workers take their lunch break.
- Pests may be brought in on wood or cardboard used for the job.
- Piles of wood or cardboard will give pests housing, even before real homes are built.
- Grade stakes, cardboard, and any other cellulose-based material touching the ground will feed termites.
Construction contractors should be mindful of waste—especially human food and wood/cardboard used in all steps of the construction process. If you are planning construction, keep these in mind. Also, if there are rats in the area, talk with a PMP about installing exterior bait boxes around the construction site.
2. After a unit renovation, how can you prevent reinfestation?
Property management need to be proactive about pest control to prevent introduction and infestation. Residents and staff must be educated on how pests get in and how to prevent this from happening.
Pests show up in a new place by one of two ways:
- On their own by crawling, jumping, or flying in.
To prevent pests from getting in from the outside: install door sweeps on all exterior doors, make sure screens are intact, and seal any holes where pipes or wires enter a building or unit. Make the “building envelope” free of holes. I posted about this at http://stoppests.typepad.com/ipminmultifamilyhousing/2011/01/ipm-considerations-for-construction-and-renovation-projects.html
- By hitchhiking in on people or their possessions.
- Ideally, residents will get their things pest-free before packing to move, but you may not have control over this.
- Have both staff and residents unpack items that come in boxes and recycle the cardboard and paper immediately. Mice, bed bugs, and cockroaches can get packed into boxes and insects will lay eggs on cardboard. Also, piles of most anything make good homes for pests.
- Advise residents to look for pests as they unpack and have a vacuum handy to suck up any they see. Install monitors in the new unit to catch incoming pests. If bed bugs are a concern, wash and dry fabric items on high heat as soon as possible.
- Before it is an issue, talk with your PMP about options for making incoming items pest-free. Always start with an inspection, never jump straight to using a pesticide. Control methods include heat (hot dryer, steam, or a container system), freezing, and fumigation. Your PMP should know what is available in your area.
- Finally, I'd advise you implement an inspection within the first 90 days of moving in. During this inspection: continue to build a relationship with the resident, remind the resident about the IPM program, check the monitors, and address the beginnings of poor housekeeping practices such as hoarding.