By Missy Henriksen and Dr. Jim Fredericks
Most self-storage operators know they must invest in protecting their facilities and storage units from threats such as fire, flooding, theft and vandalism. However, many fail to give the same attention to the danger of pest infestation. Some think infestations aren't a serious problem. Others believe pest management is too complicated or costly, or that they can handle any problems themselves.
Yet self-storage can be especially susceptible to pest infestations, which can cause extensive damage and be costly. It's important for facility operators to separate the myths from the truths when it comes to professional pest management. Here are a few popular misconceptions.
Myth: Pests are not a problem in self-storage facilities.
Truth: Self-storage facilities can be especially attractive for pests.
Unlike homes and businesses, storage units can go for long periods of time without being opened and checked by renters, giving pests free run of the place. As pests are experts at stowing away in items and infesting new locations, self-storage units, which typically contain cluttered items and boxes, are the ideal infestation targets. A few pests that find their way into a box brought into a storage unit can quickly reproduce and lead to a major problem in a short amount of time.
Once a pest has found its way into one storage unit, it needs only a very tiny entry point to get into and infest nearby units, too. Of course, one of the main reasons self-storage is at risk is because operators usually have little control over what’s being brought into the property. They should be aware of certain items that are attractive to pests, such as food, live plants and even bags or boxes of paper.
Myth: Self-storage operators can control pests on their own.
Truth: Facility size and the variety of pests make the task nearly impossible.
When evaluating the need for professional pest-management services, business owners and operators usually weigh the risks and rewards, benefits and costs before employing a third-party service. Many may come up with a list of reasons why they should address pest concerns on their own. Perhaps they feel they know what’s best for their facility when it comes to the treatment of pest problems. Possibly they view “pest management” as an expendable line item in their budget or feel they can easily handle any problems that arise with a quick trip to the nearest home-improvement store.
However, professional pest management often involves much more than just treating an infestation. Proper control of pests requires training, knowledge and understanding of pest biology as well as the types of methods to properly implement a pest-management program in a commercial facility—skills only available to pest professionals through proper training and continuing education.
Myth: Professional pest control is too costly.
Truth: Damage from pest infestations is costlier.
Pest infestations cause actual damage to storage units, ruining the items contained within and, by extension, the facility’s reputation. No business would welcome the associated costs. Termites cause approximately $5 billion of property damage each year. Rodents can chew through wires, causing electrical fires. Cockroaches can ruin stored personal property. As renters typically pay little attention to their storage areas, any infestation can easily get out of hand, resulting in higher remediation costs.