Eight Property Management Tips for Keeping the Pests Away


Because of the mild winter that we’ve had across the nation, the stage is set for pests to come out of the woodwork earlier than normal and in greater numbers. According to the National Pest Management Association, warmer-than-normal temperatures are likely to give pests that have been in hibernation an early wake-up call. Already, several states have reported tick sightings.

“Many insects hibernate during the cold winter months, but as this winter has been anything but typical, they may be emerging from their hiding places much earlier than we expect,” said NPMA’s Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen on the organization’s website.

NPMA says that boxeider bugs, multi-colored Asian lady beetles, springtails, ants and termites should be out in force. Wasps and hornets are sure to be in the cast as well.

Bug zappers are already arming themselves for the invasion, and property owners should be on guard. Insect damage to a property can sometimes run in the thousands of dollars.

Jim Warneke, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Orkin, says that above-average temperatures will speed up metabolism and reproduction cycles for ants, termites, roaches, and mosquitoes this spring. Ants, with more than 10,000 species worldwide (about 50 of those are in the U.S.), are at the top of the list.

“Another common sign in the spring is a group of ants with wings which can be confused with termite swarms,” Warneke said in a February press release. “It’s a common misconception because of their similar appearance. Correctly identifying an ant infestation determines the best treatment.”

Termites, which inhabit every state except Alaska, can swarm inside buildings when temperatures rise above 60 degrees before moving outdoors to find food and water. They thrive in moisture from the ground and seek wet conditions from leaks or condensation indoors. Signs of an infestation can include swarms, mud tubes and piles of discarded wings.

Like termites, roaches can emerge from the ground. And where there is one visible during the day, that means there are likely many more. Roaches are nocturnal and can be forced out of crowded conditions to enter a residence through cracks, crevices, vents, and pipes.

“Roaches burrow in mulch or bark for the winter,” Warneke said. “But since the ground temperature has been warmer, roaches probably stayed near the ground’s surface, and we could possibly have larger numbers this spring.

Warneke added that southern states could be in for an early and long mosquito season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some mosquitoes can transmit sometimes fatal diseases.

Property owners can prepare for pest infestations by following these tips recommended by Orkin and the NPMA:

  1. Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.
  2. Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows. Roaches can squeeze through the tightest openings.
  3. Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from the structure. Mosquitoes thrive in standing, stagnant water.
  4. Install screen windows and doors.
  5. Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation. Also thin vegetation. This could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and access for ants, roaches and termites to enter your home.
  6. Keep tree branches at other plants trimmed away from structures. Ants can access structures by traveling across branches that touch roofs and sides.
  7. Keep indoor and outdoor trash containers clean and sealed. Periodically rinse out dumpsters and keep lids closed.
  8. Maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of a building and pay close attention to dirt-filled porches and crawlspaces. Termites could have easy access to wood through cracks in foundation walls or if wood is in contact with the soil.

Don’t let a mild winter turn your apartment property into a scene from a bad B movie. If you suspect a problem, contact a qualified pest control professional who can recommend the best course of treatment. Is your apartment community prepared for the likely early emergence of freaky pests?


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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