Pavement Ants

It’s Monday morning and you receive a frantic call from one of your offices on the ninth floor. The CEO just reached into her drawer for a piece of candy and has found that an unwanted visitor has already been there! “We have a mouse! We have a mouse….or worse….mice,” staff frantically says. Everyone hurries to their desks to check out the status of their snack stashes. The office hysteria begins. Its time to consider steps for office pest prevention.

As the office property manager, your mission is to find and eliminate these thieving creatures, even if some tenants and staff find them cute and harmless.   After the initial call, and properly showing due concern for your tenant, you reach out to your trusted pest management professional for the abatement process to begin.

Pests enter office buildings in various ways.  They can fly, crawl, or hitchhike in with deliveries or people’s personal items.  Once inside, they follow their animalistic instincts to search out the necessities of survival. Your office building, staffed with people who eat, drink, and inhabit the office space, provide all that is necessary for a pest population to thrive and expand.

We have all heard that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, which certainly rings true in the business of pest prevention and management. Consider the following points for attaining a pest-free office building:

Exterior

Sealing openings, cracks and gaps in the building structure is essential to keeping pests at bay. Start with the ground floor and lower levels, gradually working your way to the uppermost floor.  It’s best to keep trash dumpsters as far away from the building and dock areas as possible. Fifty feet is a good general guideline. If that’s not practical, and trash needs to be in the dock area, ensure that maintenance workers are vigilant with cleaning and building repairs here.  This is also a key area for an aggressive pest management component to your buildings service.

Although they are sometimes overlooked, proper screens are critical to preventing flying pests so…if a window opens, it needs a screen.  Unscreened windows are common entryways for bees, wasps, and other flying-stinging insects to enter an office building.

Exterior doors, especially on the ground level, should not be left open unless actively being used. Leaving any door open and unattended will invite rodents and flying-crawling insects to enter your building.

Landscaping

Mulch and low ground cover add greenery and beauty to the contrastingly sterile concrete and brick structure of your building.  They are also ideal habitat for pests. The mulch holds moisture for the plants but also attracts insects and is easy burrowing for rodents. Low ground cover provides camouflage for the rodents to go undetected until their population swells to noticeable numbers.    Mulch coupled with low ground cover, situated near a dumpster -trash dock begs the comment, “build it and they will come.”  Decorative stone with trees and elevated shrubbery is a better choice, as they achieve the desired pleasing esthetics while simultaneously deterring pests from infesting the landscape outside your office building.

Lighting

Always take into account light placement. Keeping light fixtures away from entryways and windows can significantly reduce the potential for night-flying insects to enter your building. For example, if your building has a courtyard, it would be better to have light poles out in the courtyard to illuminate the space and attract the insects away from the building rather than to your building.

Kitchen-Break Areas

Daily cleaning and proper food storage are the “soup de jour” for these areas.  Food should be stored in hard, clear Tupperware type containers that have been sealed and dated. These deter the ninja mice from occupying your tenant’s kitchen space.  An added benefit to clear, hard-sided containers is that, if someone has brought in an infested food item, the problem is more likely to be discovered, be ‘contained, ‘ and be easily disposed of.

Common Areas

Trash and recycling baskets along with their larger cousins, the holding bin, are the big offenders here.  Empty soda cans, bottles and food containers, most notably, are often the source of fruit fly infestations. The holding bin is usually stored by the service elevator and the recyclables and trash are brought here from the general floor areas.   The bins are then emptied when full, which can take upwards of one week or more, which is enough time for fruit flies to begin breeding. These bins should be emptied at least weekly or more often if they fill sooner.  They need cleaning each time they are emptied to prevent residue build-up that could attract flies. Liners should be used in all receptacles and good quality liners will help minimize the amount of cleaning since they will capture much of the daily spillage.

Office Plants

Office plants are another occasional source of concern. Overwatering of office plants can create conditions that enable fungus gnats to breed in the soil of these potted plants. If you have some mysterious, annoying “things” hovering around your desktop, gently shake a few plants near you and see what emerges. Proper plant watering will prevent annoying, nuisance gnats.

Office Clutter

Ensure that office staff is aware of the amount of clutter that resides in a store room, utility room or vacant office.  Practice “Clutter Control.”  Don’t allow areas to become over crowed and unmanageable.  Proper storage rooms, containers and racking allow items to be stored up off the floor, identified, and accessed without difficulty.  Piles and clutter provide pests with quiet, undisturbed areas with which to nest in. Cluttered store rooms, utility rooms, vacant offices are preferred nesting sites.

Pest Reporting

Should all of your diligent efforts fail, have a policy in place that asks a little more from your tenants. Rise above the hysteria and ask that they provide a description of the pest or, if possible and appropriate, catch one for identification. Ask that the person who saw the pest supply information about where and when the sighting took place.  This is all helpful to determine whether the situation is an event or an infestation.

All about Raid

Encourage your tenants to step away from the Raid and leave it on the store shelves. They run the risk of causing a co-worker distress and scattering the bugs into another area.

Considering these tips will help you as you manage your building and your tenant’s expectations.  You can’t prevent every possible scenario of “pest hysteria” from occurring in your building.  However, an ounce of prevention will discourage pests from inhabiting your building and save you dollars in your budget.

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