Commercial Real Estate Pest Control
Owners of residential real estate know that nothing makes your house feel less like a home than having to deal with a pest infestation. The sight of a skittering cockroach or a rat-like tail vanishing behind a piece of furniture undoubtedly ups homeowners’ anxiety levels. But no matter how acute the discomfort an unwanted insect or rodent may cause a private citizen, it grows even sharper when you’re a business owner or manager. That’s why commercial real estate pest control is so important, no matter your company or business type.
In this post, we will explain what kinds of pests you can expect to find in most types of commercial properties and specific techniques and pest control products that pest management services should use to keep them out.
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Common Pests in Commercial & Retail Properties
Pests have been a problem from antiquity onward. Aristotle mentioned bed bugs in some of his lesser-known writings, and while he seemed to believe they could actually serve a medically beneficial purpose, most ancient writers treated them as a scourge. Rightfully so. Other records reveal that Sumerians used sulfur to control pests, Egyptians introduced cats into grain-storage silos to eliminate rodents, and Chinese employed ants to protect citrus groves from caterpillars.
Today, most business owners don’t work in the agricultural sector, but they still face many of the same pests. In fact, pest control for residential and commercial properties alike often focuses on many of the same irritants. While there are obvious differences between how pest control works in each context (differences that we will discuss in greater detail in the next section), some common pests that managers and business owners can expect to face include:
Rodents – In the 1978 cinematic version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a health inspector played by Donald Sutherland engages in a heated debate with a chef and a restaurateur over a small pellet found in the kitchen. While the cook insists it’s a caper, Sutherland states that it’s rat waste — and dares him to consume it. Such a shudder-worthy scene drives home the point of how disgusting rodents can be, as well as how quickly they can sink your business. Additionally, protecting against them isn’t an easy matter. Not only must employees scrupulously clean up any potential food sources, they also need to ensure that they’ve sealed any points of ingress. These may include:
- Gaps in the building’s foundation
- Spaces near doors, pipes, and dryer vents
- Damaged screens, flashing, or weather stripping
- Broken gutters
Cockroaches – While cockroaches don’t spread as many different kinds of diseases as rodents, they elicit just as strong a reaction from those who find them. Notoriously difficult to eradicate, they’re also associated with dirt and filth. Their appearance doesn’t always mean your commercial property is disgustingly dirty since they seek out sources of water as much as they do grime. However, people will assume the worst if they see them.
Ants – FX’s comedic spy show Archer contains more than a few regularly repeated gags, and one of the longest running involves characters shouting, “That’s how you get ants!” whenever some sort of food spills. The joke works because ants are distressingly common pests and deeply despised. In 2010, the National Pest Management Association reported that “54 percent of [1,0000] survey respondents named ants as their top pest concern.”
Flies – The presence of flies communicates similar “messages” of uncleanliness as the other pests mentioned above. Unfortunately, there’s often little that commercial real estate managers can do to prevent them. Because flies usually enter the premises when doors open (and because many commercial properties need those doors opening to maintain a flow of customers and deliveries), remediation after the fact is usually your only option. If you’re dealing with severe fly problems, searching for professional pest management services is your best option.
Birds – Many people wouldn’t place birds in the same category as the previous pests, but they very much deserve to be there. An eye-opening post published by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors shared several startling facts, including that the pH of bird droppings is strong enough to slowly burn through most building materials, that bird nests built in ventilation systems can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning due to restricted airflow, and that large groups of birds (think: pigeons) can cause noise pollution. The group also reported that “an apprentice elevator mechanic obtained a $2.7 million settlement from a property owner after bird droppings caused him to slip and fall down an elevator shaft.”
Proactive Pest Control Management for Commercial Properties
If they find themselves facing some of the above pest problems, commercial real estate owners know that searching for professional pest management services are an important step to take. Still, businesses experience unique pest-related challenges. For example, even the appearance of pest control professionals at a company can trigger a wave of panic in its customers. No manager wants that to happen. Similarly, retail establishments and other commercial real estate properties operate at hours that often preclude frequent, repeated servicing by a pest control professional.
What’s an owner or manager to do? The most important step is to reach out to a qualified pest-control professional that practices integrated pest management (IPM). According to the EPA, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.”
Practically, this means that IPM-based pest control companies focus on a number of fundamentals, such as:
- Setting Action Thresholds: Inspecting the property to determine that pest remediation needs to occur
- Monitoring and Identifying Pests: Determining which pests are present in the property and using knowledge of their life cycles to determine how best to proceed
- Prevention: Communicating findings to managers and owners after managing current pest populations, and implementing plans to prevent the development of future pest populations
- Control: Regularly re-inspecting the premises to ensure that pest problems haven’t persisted and addressing new issues before they become endemic
Because IPM seeks to deal with pests before they become a significant issue in your property, it’s considered an environmentally and people-friendly pest-control approach. Smithereen Pest Management Services is proud to be Green Shield Certified, which shows our commitment to IPM principles. A certification developed by the Integrated Pest Management Institute of America, Green Shield Certified companies satisfy LEED® eligibility requirements and are a truly “green” solution for those concerned about reducing their pest control impact. What’s more, it’s also highly effective!
Pests can threaten your building, employees, customers, and image. From retail space to offices buildings, Smithereen will be there to protect your investment with tailored Integrated Pest Management Programs. Through detailed inspections, innovative strategies, and proactive communication Smithereen will provide you with service that you can rely for your unique needs.