household pest removal part 2
Most people can relate to the surprise, shock and revulsion of coming across pests in their homes. After their presence is detected, one can’t help but wonder how many of the troublesome creatures exist and how difficult it may be to get rid of them. Once settled inside your apartment, pests can threaten your sanity, your health and your home. Do not ignore the presence of a cockroach or another pest and hope it will disappear. Deal with pests immediately before they multiply into a problem that you will be unable to handle.
Common household pests include insects, such as ants, cockroaches, termites, flies, moths and wasps. Urban wildlife, such as rodents, raccoons, bats and birds can sometimes become problems in buildings as well. Insects are the most common and troublesome pests found in apartment buildings and this article focuses on them.
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy is widely recognized as the most effective approach to dealing with unwanted insects. Endorsed by the scientific community, government and the pest management industry, the five-step IPM approach relies primarily on non-chemical means (such as controlling climate, food sources and building entry points) to prevent and manage pest infestations. IPM combines changes in the pest’s living spaces with the targeted use of pest control products to eliminate or reduce pests to acceptable levels.
Conventional pest control tends to ignore the causes of pest infestations; it relies instead on routine, scheduled pesticide applications. Pesticides can provide temporary fixes, but tend to be ineffective over the long term especially if the source of the problem is not addressed. Pests’ food, water and shelter must be removed. The most effective solution is to follow the IPM approach to control pests. Also, inform your building manager as soon as you notice a problem. The pests may not just be in your apartment and you will need a concerted effort to deal with them effectively.
Prevention begins with building managers and extends to other people in the building, including custodians, trades and, most importantly, the residents themselves. A successful IPM program is a collaborative effort involving building management, maintenance and residents.
The five steps of IPM are: 1. Inspect. 2. Monitor. 3. Decide. 4. Control. 5. Evaluate.
1. inspect your apartment closely
• To confirm there is a pest problem;
• To identify the kind of pest;
• To locate the problem areas; and
• To look for the reasons pests are entering your home.
Identify the Pest: To effectively deal with an insect problem, you need to establish the kind of pest. Each type and species of pest has a distinct biology and behaviour pattern. Local health departments and provincial agricultural departments may be able to provide information and advise whether to consult a pest control professional.
Routine and careful visual inspections are critical to long-term pest management. Look for indications of pests (damaged areas, droppings, eaten food) and conditions that favour pest infestations. Since some insects, such as, cockroaches, silverfish, carpenter ants and rodents are active at night, inspect your apartment an hour or two after dark to identify where they are nesting, feeding and travelling. Conduct your inspection quietly and use a powerful flashlight. Look in all areas that might possibly provide the pest with food, water, warmth or shelter. If possible, during warm weather look outside for evidence of pests or their points of entry.
Monitor your apartment to determine the scope of the problem and to establish a benchmark for future evaluation. Use sticky traps or glue boards to capture the pests (available at most hardware and grocery stores). Place the traps in locations where you suspect or know the pests visit; leave them in place for two to seven days. Keep a written record of the results and use the same trap locations for follow-up monitoring.
Several kinds of traps are used to catch and count pests. Be sure to purchase traps designed to capture the pest you have in your apartment. Place traps in the kitchen, bathroom(s) and dining room. Problem areas include under the sink, in the back of cupboards and other food storage areas, and behind the refrigerator, stove, toilet and bathtub. Place traps in areas not accessible to children and pets.
Monitoring allows you to identify the extent of the problem and the specific pest, and to fine-tune your management methods.
Decide on the number of pests you can tolerate in your apartment and your building. For most people, this means no pests in their apartments, but it may mean occasionally spotting a few cockroaches or a silverfish near the garbage collection chute or in the common waste collection area.
The various comfort levels of the different occupants of the apartment building may create some tension when dealing with pest infestations. Some people may be willing to endure silverfish under the sink rather than carry out an extensive clean-up and use pest control products. Others may want conventional pesticide spraying on a routine basis whether there is a problem or not. Still others may be familiar with the benefits of the IPM strategy and advocate a proactive pest management program. Consult your building manager for information about your building’s pest control policy.
Control pests by using several control methods simultaneously.
• Cut off food and water sources.
• Seal cracks and cavities to prevent pests from entering.
• Use pest control products, such as baits, bait stations and dusts.
Refer to the “Good Housekeeping Habits”, listed above; each one will help you cut off the pest’s food supply and compel the pest to leave (or die).
Seal cracks and cavities to reduce the locations where pests can hide, live and move between apartments. Use heat-tolerant caulk to seal gaps around heat registers, and other caulks to seal gaps near air ducts, electrical chases, false ceilings, interior/exterior water and heating pipes, and wherever pests can move from unit to unit.
Use pest control products, such as baits, bait stations and dusts, for a targeted approach to dealing with pests after cutting off the food and water sources, and sealing cracks and cavities.
Purchase a containerized insecticide bait (looks like a small hockey puck), or bait paste or gel specifically designed to deal with the pest in your apartment. Baits attract the pest by acting like a food source, so ensure no other food is available. Follow label directions for placing and using the bait containers, pastes or gels. Pastes and gels can be placed inside cracks, under sinks and in gaps between the wall and cabinets. They may leave deposits of bait, however, that cannot be removed so ensure it is not placed in a visible location or on valuable furnishings. Ensure the baits are placed in areas not accessible to children and pets.
Use pesticide sprays only as a last resort to correcting severe pest problems, and use a low-toxic type. Several registered pesticides are available from garden and hardware supply stores.
• Silica aero gel (a desiccant that dehydrates the insect) may be combined with pyrethrum.
• Commercial products containing boric acid (an effective insect stomach poison and desiccant that has low toxicity to humans.)
• Pyrethrum product (a chrysanthemum derivative.)
Read the label before using any pesticide. Consult your building manager before applying pesticides in any area where other residents may be affected.
Pesticide technicians can provide valuable assistance in dealing with troublesome pests. In Canada, only licensed exterminators can charge a fee for a pesticide application. Ask if they follow the IPM strategies. They should conduct a thorough inspection of your apartment, monitor the pests and identify the contributing conditions. Only then would an IPM-trained technician take reasonable and effective action – called precision targeting – to control and prevent the problem from recurring.
After completing the steps to control the pest, monitor again to evaluate whether you have succeeded. If so, keep following the good housekeeping measures to prevent their return. If you were unsuccessful, inform your building manager and repeat the first four steps of the IPM program.
— CMHC, www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca