April showers bring May flowers … and pests! In general, many insects survive the winter months as immature larvae with the protection of heavy debris and when the weather does not fluctuate between thawing and freezing temperatures. With the pandemic moving food waste into residential buildings, now is also the time for owners / caretakers to protect their residents from these unwanted guests.
We reached out to Paolo Bossio, President and CEO of Advantage Pest Control, for insight into the challenges of pest control and tips on how to control them.
Why is spring an important time to think about pest control?
This is the time of year when the weather warms up and most pests take action from their dormant state to forage, lay eggs, and expand their colonies. However, mice and rats remain active year round even in the colder months. They eat almost anything to survive, and gestation periods for mice are between 21 and 28 days. So it is wise to think about pest control year round.
How did the pandemic exacerbate the problem?
A major problem is that many restaurants are forced to rely on grocery delivery services to serve their customers. However, this means that the food waste is being transferred from commercial properties to residential operations. Now all the mice and rats that used to feed on the dumpsters behind restaurants or shopping malls are following this food trail to condominiums, apartments or single-family homes.
Over the year we have seen thousands of mice and rats behind apartment buildings where they are very well fed. It is for this reason that we have sent our technicians to our property managers to check if this is happening in their house and to make sure they are well prepared to resolve the problem. This is an example of our dynamic integrated approach to pest control.
What is dynamic integrated pest management?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) describes an ongoing pest control process that takes an environmentally friendly approach to pest population control. The first step is an inspection of the pest population or environmental conditions, which indicates that pest control needs to be carried out, and the second step is to identify and monitor pest activity. Next up are preventive measures and exclusions, and the final step is to control the problem by using physical traps and using bait and sprays if necessary.
However, dynamic IPM is about seeing things before they happen and adapting to our customers’ needs. Each program is specially tailored to each apartment building, as each residential building is unique. As Wayne Gretzky said, “It’s about where the puck goes, not where it was.”
For example, what if we do a cockroach service treatment and use a spray and aerosol combination in an apartment when the person cannot walk? What if they are bedridden or have no place to go because of the pandemic? We need to get creative and maybe change something in how we complete the service with the vacuum or use more sticky boards. We can’t just say, “Well, that’s the IPM program, so there’s nothing we can do about it.” Our team is trained to be agile and ready to adapt their approach to the circumstances, even if that means you need to take more time to do the job more thoroughly and responsibly.
One of the questions I ask in technician interviews is, “How many units can you handle in a day?” It’s a trick question. Some applicants come from pest control companies where 30 or 40 units are expected per day. However, when they say they take pride in getting so many done, they usually don’t make it to the next round as it doesn’t about the number of treatments they can do but the quality and result of the Job. I want to make sure our team offers quality treatments and great customer service, even if it takes longer to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
What pest control tips can you give the property managers to prepare for spring and summer?
There are a few things real estate actors and property managers can do. For example, always check the exterior of your property to make sure there is no water leaking from the gutters and the water pump is pushing water away from the property, if you have one. Standing water is a breeding ground for insects! Also, don’t store debris or firewood on the side of the property as this can serve as a new point of port for mice or rats.
Another tip is to check that the surrounding trees are not touching the property. If a limb touches the roof or balcony, it can be an open invitation to unwanted guests like squirrels who are now looking for places to breed.
Finally, take a moment to consider how you can keep pests from making your property their new home. Keep food out of reach and eliminate easy entry points. Seal all entry points, especially in heavy winter, against gaps around pipes, ventilation slots, windows and doors. If you need help or are looking for a partner who can identify and address pest control issues on your behalf, give us a call.
Paolo Bossio is President and CEO of Advantage Pest Control Inc., a family company specializing in dynamic integrated pest control programs.