There are a lot of things for property managers to think about as winter approaches. Landscaping maintenance, winterizing systems and pipes, clearing gutters and snow removal in some parts of the country are just a few of the things that round out a long list of responsibilities as colder weather approaches. To help keep your tenants comfortable and happy, it’s important not to overlook any essential tasks, such as winter pest control.
While some pests, such as mosquitoes, are bigger threats during warm weather months, other pests remain active throughout the winter, including rodents and wildlife, which may try to find shelter and warmth in your properties. Which winter pests might be problems for your tenants? Here’s an overview.
It’s a common misconception that rodents hibernate during the winter. While some members of the rodent family, like chipmunks and groundhogs, do take a long winter’s nap, others like rats, mice and tree squirrels do not. And, as cold weather sets in and food sources dry up, these rodents get cold and hungry. Suddenly, your properties may look very appealing to them — especially dark, quiet places.
Squirrels can nest in attics and wall voids, potentially damaging structures and making noise. In addition to frightening your tenants, mice and rats can cause problems for property managers because they can chew and gnaw through drywall, equipment and electrical wiring (which can pose a fire safety hazard).
Rodents can also carry pathogens that may cause disease. Their droppings can be contaminating and unsafe, too. It’s important to note that rodents are at the top of the list for issues that can harm a property’s reputation among current and prospective tenants.
Terminix® Commercial Pro Tip: To help avoid rodent entry, seal their points of entry, including cracks and crevices (rodents can squeeze through a hole as small as the size of a dime), gaps under doors, dryer vents and cracks or holes in your foundation. Keep outside trash receptacles, including dumpsters, tightly sealed, too.
It’s also a common misconception that termites aren’t winter threats. In reality, all types of termites can be active throughout the year. And, since termites are found in every U.S. state except Alaska, that means your property may be threatened. Termites cause billions of dollars in property damage each year in the United States. According to Terminix customer data, the average cost of termite treatment and damage repairs is more than $8,000*. In some cases, the costs can be much higher.
Terminix Commercial Pro Tip: Firewood stored in or near structures can attract termites. Keep firewood off the ground and away from buildings.
These pests are relentless seekers of food and water sources throughout the year. Cockroaches are ugly creatures that crawl through cracks and crevices, living largely in the dark and establishing large infestations quietly and stealthily, often in wood and cardboard. If you see one cockroach, there could be many others hidden nearby as they can be present in populations of hundreds and sometimes even thousands if there are no pest control measures in place. In addition to being vectors for harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella, cockroaches can also trigger allergens and allergy symptoms in some people.
Terminix Commercial Pro Tip: To help avoid cockroaches, alert your tenants to be sure to clean up crumbs, grease spills and moisture sources quickly and routinely.
Bed bugs are another year-round threat that savvy property managers take seriously, or should at least. In fact, bed bug infestations are on the rise. One in five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in his or her home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Bed bugs feed on the blood of sleeping and resting people and can hitchhike into your properties aboard clothing, luggage and pocketbooks, among other things. Infestations can increase around the holidays when people are traveling a lot. Bed bugs are tiny and difficult to spot, but they can leave itchy and sometimes painful bites on some people.
Terminix Commercial Pro Tip: Because bed bugs are considered difficult to spot since they are located in cracks and crevices and can be resistant to many pesticides, get professional pest control help as soon as possible if you suspect an infestation.
It’s a wild, wild world out there, with eager creatures waiting to find ways inside your cozy properties. Raccoons can be destructive and can be vectors for rabies and roundworms. Skunks can carry rabies, too. And skunks may spray you if they are threatened. Bats can scare tenants and annoy them with their swooping as well as be vectors for rabies and other diseases. Wildlife creatures can cause significant damage to property and structures. In addition to being potentially expensive, repairs can also be inconvenient for your tenants and time consuming for your staff.
Terminix Commercial Pro Tip: Wildlife pests can gain access to your properties by crawling up trees and shrubbery, so keep branches trimmed away from structures.
Don’t let pests spoil the winter for you and your tenants. Request a free estimate for your properties today and freeze out pests.
*Average repairs: $7,229 from 2016 survey by Decision Analysts for TMX independent contractors in the TMX network. Estimated treatment: $1,363. Every home is different; repair costs may vary.