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Eradicating and Preventing Pest Infestations

By Liam O'Boyle

As a landlord, discovering a pest invasion can be a harrowing experience, especially if you want to rent out a house or the pests are damaging your building. The Christchurch earthquakes seem to have made things worse – there has been a reported 60 percent increase in pest control callouts which were attributed to gaps, cracks and holes in broken homes. In an article in The Press last year about vermin in the wake of the earthquakes, a woman named Debra Sinclair said she found a 15cm slug on her kitchen floor, nicknamed it Bruce and fed it a potato chip before scooping it up and flushing it down the toilet.

The weather also plays a big part in pest populations. Cold snaps encourage pests to start hunting for warm, dry areas – and your home is a top candidate!

As the weather warms up for spring and summer; wasps, bees and flies tend to be more prolific. We’ve put together a guide that will show you about a number of ways to prevent pests from entering a home and, if an infestation has already taken place, how to prepare for an exterminator.

If you’re a tenant, inform your landlord about the infestation as soon as possible and take heed of the following information.

You’ve noticed a nest – now what?

Whether you’ve found a number of spiders, cockroaches, wasps or rats, it’s important to notify a pest control company immediately. Tell them what you’ve found, how many there are or how big the nest is and where it is. It will generally be recommended that you don’t disturb the pests, particularly in the case of wasps. Do not block the entrance of a wasp nest or try to set it on fire as this will only make them volatile and more likely to attack and sting.

The pest control company will advise on the best way to handle the situation before they arrive. If the problem is inside the house, there are a number of things to do prior to the area being treated.

  • Close all windows
  • Get everyone (including pets) outside
  • Cover fishbowls and tanks with a waterproof cover
  • Cover or put away all children’s toys
  • Cover baby cribs
  • Put away or cover all exposed food

Afterwards, the general rule is to stay outside for three or more hours, so be prepared. Wipe down all food preparation surfaces with a wet, soapy cloth and open windows when you return. The technician will advise if anything else needs to be done or done differently.

Preventing entry

Below we’ve outlined a number of ways to prevent pests re-entering a home or making a nest in the area. Encourage your tenants to take on the following information, and have them inform you as soon as possible if there is an infestation in or around the house or building. There are a variety of traps and baits available on the market for the eradication or prevention of mosquitos, flies, rodents, fleas and other pests. Make sure you research all available options before deciding to lay traps or bait, especially if there are animals or small children/babies around.

  • Check for gaps in windows and doors and cracks on the exterior of the home. Repair accordingly and look into fly screens or similar for doors or windows. Encourage people to close outside doors unless there is a screen in place to prevent pests from entering, especially during summer.
  • Seal interior gaps, especially those behind cabinets, fridges and stoves, as well as the floor and wall juncture and around pipes and vents can be susceptible to pests.
  • If bags and boxes cannot be completely sealed, store them in a plastic container. Encourage tenants to regularly clean out expired or stale food.
  • Keep the area around the house free of litter, weeds and standing water and trim any plants, branches or trees that touch the house and provide “bridges” for pests.
  • Ensure the house is kept as clean as possible. The cleaner the home, the less chance a pest will enter to live and breed.
  • Ensure pets have a flea treatment at least every three months, and at least once a month for ticks and lice.

Taking these precautions will save a lot of trouble in the long run and ensure you and your tenants aren’t terrorized by pest infestations.

Have you ever had a pest infestation? How have you prevented them since? Tell us about it in a comment below.

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