Vanquish Vermin at Your Self-Storage Property With These 3 Prevention Tips

Though a variety of pests could seek refuge at your self-storage facility, you can prevent them from getting too comfortable. Consider these tips to protect your property and avoid infestation.

November 24, 2023

5 Min Read

Managing a self-storage facility can be challenging. With little control over what comes in and out of the property and the condition in which those goods are packed, your site can be a prime harbor for unwelcome pests like rodents, ants, cockroaches and many others.

Aside from the damage and health risks caused by such vermin, a single spotting can spread almost instantly across social media, with mentions—maybe even pictures—of your company and facility location leading to negative brand backlash and lost revenue. Consider these three tips to better protect your self-storage property, reputation and revenue from the harmful impact of pest infestation.

Tip No. 1: Be on the Lookout

Whether it's a furry four-legged creature lurking in the ceiling, a winged bug attached to personal belongings or a creepy crawly hiding inside a box, storage facilities are at risk for a variety of infestations. By simply knowing and understanding some of the common pests that could be hiding in your facility, you can be better prepared to handle situations if and when they arise.

Rodents. Rats and mice are adaptive creatures who hide from humans and seek quiet, dark spaces for nesting. As nocturnal animals, they’re most active from dusk to dawn. Though they’re often seen hurrying across a floor, rodents are also excellent climbers. They can quickly and easily travel across elevated spaces.

Fabric insects. Moths, beetles and silverfish are just a few of the pests you’re likely to encounter in and around stored products. Similar to rodents, they look for cool, dark places to hide, and it’s easy for them to go undetected without careful, routine inspections.

Moths attach themselves to clothing and other fabric. There are several hundred species of beetle and weevil that infest stored products, but one of the most common is the carpet beetle. They feed off protein and keratin, making carpet, furniture or other items that may be covered in pet hair or dandruff a prime target. Silverfish like old organic matter such as boots and cardboard.

Cockroaches. Cockroaches often look for cardboard boxes, totes and storage containers as nesting and hiding places to breed. They carry their eggs in a sack called an ootheca, which can contain up to 50 nymphs. A cockroach will carry the ootheca and find a safe place to deposit it for the nymphs to continue incubating until it's time to hatch.

Tip No. 2: Take Proactive Measures

One of the most effective ways to prevent pests from entering a self-storage facility is to work from the outside in. Maintaining the landscaping that surrounds the building and ensuring all holes, gaps and cracks on the exterior walls are filled will help ensure pests can’t get inside. Even a micro-opening can be a pathway, so spend a lot of time and pay attention to detail when examining the building.

To keep pests from moving into storage units, conduct an extensive facility walk-through and address potential issues including:

  • Entrances: Fit weather stripping around exterior doorways. Rodents can squeeze through gaps as small as a quarter, and bugs can fit through much smaller spaces.

  • Gaps in exterior walls: Fill holes or small openings around utility cables or pipework with stainless-steel wire wool, caulking or concrete. Steel or aluminium plating can also be used.

  • Roofs: Repair any damage and use wire mesh to seal gaps. Rats are known to enter through broken roof tiles or under eaves.

  • Vegetation: Trim foliage away from the building. Overgrown shrubs or trees can be a pathway of entry.

  • Drains and sewer pipes: Ensure all damage is repaired in a timely manner. Rodents have been known to swim up damaged sewer pipes and into toilets. Additionally, use tightly fitting metal grates or screens to cover drains and ensure that all drainpipes are in working order.

Another way to proactively protect a self-storage facility is to work with a trusted pest-control expert who can assess your property’s unique needs and provide specific recommendations. A few general rules of thumb include ensuring all items coming into the facility are tightly sealed or stored in containers with secured lids, and keeping as many items off the floor as possible. Also, relay this important information to your tenants and post signs throughout the property with reminders.

Tip No. 3: Know When to Call for Help

The third step in warding off invasion is to know when to call for help. Do-it-yourself (DIY) fixes such as infusing the space with all-natural citronella or tea tree oil and properly maintaining the exterior of the building may help keep pests away, but DIY efforts won't stop an infestation from spreading once begun.

The phrase “see something, say something” perfectly applies to pest sightings inside storage facilities. Pests are expert hiders and work hard not to be seen. Once a critter or insect is spotted, it likely isn’t their first time roaming around the facility, and a larger problem may be at hand. Learn to identify droppings, shed skin, gnaw marks and other common indicators of an infestation. The moment you suspect a problem, contact a pest-control professional to address the issue. If ignored, one small colony can quickly multiply, putting your self-storage property, employees, guests and brand reputation at risk.

Every self-storage facility is different. The size, location, climate and environment are all factors that play into the unique makeup of each property and the types of pests that may be attracted to it. Working with a reputable pest-control company is the best way to ensure your property, reputation and revenue are protected from the harmful impacts of pest infestation.

Robert Lockwood is an associated certified entomologist and technical service manager for Terminix. With more than 19 years of experience, he has a variety of knowledge in the pest-management industry for logistics, warehousing and facilities, pharmaceuticals, and grocery. For more information, call 855.832.5949.

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