Tips for spring pest management

Much of the country is breathing a collective sigh of relief because spring is under way, but with good weather comes increased pest activity that can get in the way of the guest experience. Hotels, in particular, have a low tolerance for pest-to-guest interaction, and the early stages of pest activity are crucial periods for prevention, particularly due to seasonal damage to properties from winter.

According to Missy Henriksen, VP of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, cockroaches, ants and rodents are joined by birds as the most invasive pests during springtime. All pests are looking for food, water and shelter, and the tiniest breach in a structure can be their way in.

“Mice can enter through a hole as small as a dime, and rats a quarter,” Henriksen said. “In addition to the natural settling of a building creating openings, leaving break room or kitchen doors open for ventilation creates a red carpet for intruders.”

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Henriksen also recommends trimming any branches or bushes that make contact with the property to avoid giving pests an avenue inside. One major concern comes from termites, which make their home in mulch.

“Wood-to-soil contact is an appropriate area of concern for termites, and standing water, especially when found under mulch, is a breeding ground for termites,” Henriksen said. “For this reason, mulch should never touch the building.”

Ron Harrison, director of technical services for Orkin Pest Control, said it is possible to see a swarm of termites in the springtime as the weather improves and they begin to breed, but if a swarm is seen, that is indicative of a long-term problem, often years in the making. 

“When they swarm, termites are obvious to find, but that is not the optimal time to find them,” Harrison said. “They can be found beforehand. If you have swarmers, the colony has often been there for at least five years.”

Harrison said carpenter bees also become active as the temperature warms. These insects rarely sting humans, but can cause structural damage as they drill holes in wood to lay eggs. Worst of all, they work fast, and pest management professionals will most likely only be visiting a property once per month.

“Landscaping and maintenance employees need to have their eyes open, looking for pests like these,” Harrison said. “They can be doing damage several stories off the ground, and landscaping and maintenance employees are in the perfect position to ID many pests.”

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