The ability for pests such as mice, bedbugs and clothes moths to survive and become established within a structure is dictated by their ability to find adequate food resources and suitable shelter from predators and inhospitable conditions. Unfortunately when looking at heated storage buildings, a limitless variety of items that are stored by the public and multiple access points with doors on every unit, keeping pests out can be a daunting challenge.
The key to having a pest free self-storage facility is to implement a strong proactive and preventative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program at the site.
An IPM program incorporates multiple measures to not only eliminate pests but also prevent their attraction to the facility. Some of the pieces such a program would include are:
- Visual Inspection - to determine pest presence
- Monitoring - to detect pests and assess level of control success
- Identification - to determine what the pest is permitting proper course of action
- Sanitation- cleaning to eliminate pest food sources
- Exclusion / Structural Maintenance - keeping pests out while preventing movement within the building
- Harbourage Elimination - removing hiding areas for pests
- Mechanical Control - using equipment such as mousetraps, vacuums, etc to remove pests
- Chemical Control - using insecticides and rodenticides to eliminate pests
- Record Keeping and Analysis - looking for trends in pest activity to identify susceptible areas
- Education - informing unit renters of their role in pest management
When looking at self storage facilities and designing an effective IPM program emphasis on prevention is the key to maintaining control of pest activity.
An important tool for minimizing pest activity around a self-storage facility is the performance of regular grounds inspections by pest management professionals to identify conditions conducive to pests; property management staff should also be involved and conduct their own inspections. Outdoor maintenance activities such as keeping grass trimmed, ensuring tree branches are not resting against the structure, removing leaf litter and debris from around the building foundation, and ensuring proper drainage of landscaping will all help deter pest activity. Regular garbage removal and cleaning up any food spills around the grounds will help minimize the attraction of pests to the property reducing potential pressure on the site.
Excluding pests, such as mice, from the building in the first place is also critical to preventing infestation. Ensure gaps around pipes entering the structure, such as plumbing gas and electrical lines are sealed to prevent pest access. Maintaining door sweeps, keeping doors closed when not in use, and repairing holes and cracks in the foundation and walls are also crucial to pest exclusion. As with exterior maintenance, possible interior openings into wall voids should be sealed to eliminate access to this potentially major travel route and harbourage area.
Finally, the education and cooperation of unit renters is often the key to controlling and/or eliminating pest activity within self-storage facilities. Posters can be used to educate renters on rules around storing food items in units, to store items in sealed containers to protect them from being at risk to infestation, etc. There is potential that unit renters will bring pests into the facility with the items they intend to store, including wood boring beetles in furniture, clothing moths on wool items, and even bedbugs on mattresses and box springs, etc. Advising them to inspect their items to verify they are pest free prior to storing is good practice as once in storage, infestations will grow, could destroy belongings and even spread to other units.
Standard Service Program Components
- Monthly Service Frequency
- Inspection and Monitoring Service
- A visual inspection is performed to find evidence of pest activity and to identify conditions that could allow pests entry to the facility (structural deficiencies) or that would provide food sources for pests (poor sanitation)
- Inspection of individual storage units would be performed upon request and is not part of a regular inspection due to security and privacy issues
- Insect monitors / glue boards are placed in lunchrooms, office areas, mechanical rooms, etc. where present to monitor for cockroaches, ants and other insect pests
- Pheromone traps can be used along storage unit corridors to help detect clothing moth in an indianmeal moth presence
- A service report is generated with each visit summarizing the service provided including inspection findings inspection findings and treatment actions when pesticide is applied, and corrective actions required on the part of the Facility Manager to address or prevent pest activity
- Interior Rodent Control Service to capture any mice that may gain entry into the facility
- Includes a network of mechanical mouse traps (preferable) or tamper resistant rodent bait stations
- Exterior Rodent Control Service to minimize mouse and rat activity around the outside of the building
- Includes a network of tamper resistant rodent bait stations that are locked and anchored and placed along the exterior perimeter wall. Rodenticide or snap traps are utilized inside the stations to provide control
- Insecticide Application
- Insecticide applications are performed on an as needed basis when other methods such as cleaning, exclusion and mechanical controls will not be adequate
- Storage units can be treated upon request and with the necessary inspection and preparation performed
Where a customer or tenant of a storage facility raises concerns about property damage due to rodents, having a fully documented pest control program can make all the difference. Showing your due-diligence, that every reasonable effort was made to manage pest issues, can only be supported by a well-documented program.
Each time your pest control provider comes out, they should leave you a written report detailing any pest related problems, be it structural, sanitation or actual pest issues. Having this information in a binder, and showing that any issues have been dealt with, instantly shows that you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent pest issues.
Pest management within self-storage facilities can be a challenge due to the variety of items potentially stored within units, all within close proximity to each other. As access is restricted to the pest management firm during typical service it can be difficult to know there is a pest issue until the problem becomes extensive with infestation activity high.
The level of cooperation between self storage unit renters, property management personnel, and pest control companies will ultimately determine the success of the pest management program leading to the protection of the self storage facility.