Structural pest control refers to the control of pests in and around a structure. This may be your home, a restaurant or an office building, and combines several preventative and active control methods for keeping pests out.
Structural pest control may involve the use of insecticides, traps, poisons or other methods, depending on the type of pest you want to target. Putting together an integrated structural pest control plan first requires a solid understanding of your enemy, their feeding habits, entry routes and how they reproduce.
How is structural pest control different from other types of pest control?
Structural pest control refers exclusively to pest control methods used to keep unwanted critters out of a building. These types of pests are known as household pests and include creatures like cockroaches, rats, and termites.
This is different from garden pest control, which focuses on keeping pests off your plants (like aphids, whitefly, and mealybugs). It is also different from pest control methods you may use against bugs that target pets, such as ticks and fleas.
What are the benefits and challenges of structural pest control?
The benefits of structural pest control are numerous, and include:
- Sustained protection from insect and mammal pests.
- Reduced risk of contamination of food products.
- Lower risk of pest-borne diseases for those living or working in the building.
- Reduced risk of structural damage to the property (from pests like rats, termites, and other, wood-boring bugs).
- Reduced risk of insect bites and overall better quality of life for those living or working in the building.
Structural pest management is a highly effective way to combat pests, but it’s not without challenges. These mainly relate to the complexity of putting together an integrated pest management plan, which requires:
- A sound understanding of the pest you want to prevent or eliminate.
- Consistent maintenance of pest control measures.
Putting together a structural pest management plan may seem daunting but, once it’s in place, it can be a highly effective long-term solution to your pest control woes.
When you consider the time spent and the cost incurred by a full-blown infestation, structural pest control starts to look like a remarkably low-maintenance option.
How can you implement structural pest control at home?
An integrated structural pest control management plan has five basic steps. These are:
Step 1: Inspection
The purpose of the inspection step is to learn as much as possible about your pest problems. This involves a thorough examination of the building to identify things that may be attracting pests, and possible routes of entry they could be using.
When inspecting your property, look for the following:
- Moisture sites (may be found under dripping faucets, leaky AC units or in blocked drains).
- Improper food storage (i.e. food that is accessible to pests, including crumbs and dirty utensils).
- Entry points (pests can get in through cracks and gaps in the exterior of the building, around window and door frames and through pipes).
- Harborage sites (these are areas where pests can hide and include piles of recycling boxes, leaf litter or overgrown shrubs near the foundation of the building).
- Evidence of infestation (including droppings, dead bugs and/or rodents, skin casks, egg cases, etc.).
Step 2: Diagnosis
Once you’ve performed a thorough inspection of the building you should have a better idea of what pests you’re up against.
The inspection will also help you to identify contributing factors to your pest problem, such as excessive moisture sites, food sources or entry points.
Step 3: Prescription
You know your pest, their motivations, and their entry points – the next step is to work out how to eradicate them. The mode of pest control you choose will depend on the nature of your pest, but may include the following measures:
Traps can be used to capture your pest. Many are lethal, and kill the targeted pest using electrocution, ‘snap’ contraptions or suffocation.
Other traps are humane and don’t kill the targeted pest, though these are most suitable for monitoring purposes or for dealing with small infestations.
Baits often contain some kind of poison (either insecticide or rodenticide) and can be used to kill large numbers of invaders.
They can also be used for monitoring purposes.
Sealing off entry points
Once you’ve worked out how pests are getting inside, you can seal off their entry points to stop more from coming in.
Use caulk to block cracks and consider installing screens around windows to block off their entry points.
Removal of harborage sites
Harborage sites make excellent resting places for pests and can encourage them to hang around near your building. Removing potential harborage sites near your building can reduce the number of nearby critters and make further infestations less likely.
Examples of common harborage sites include:
- Discarded boxes
- Unsecured trash cans
- Piles of leaf litter and other garden debris
- Piles of firewood
- Overgrown grasses and shrubs
Once you’ve decided which control measures to use, the net step is application. Use all pest control products exactly as directed on the label for the safest and most effective results.
Now your control measures are in place, the final step of structural pest control is evaluation. This involves regular monitoring of your pest population – if it’s decreasing, your measures are working! If you control steps don’t seem to be making a difference, however, you may need to fine-tune your methods for better results.
Even if your control measures are working, you will need to monitor your building consistently to prevent future outbreaks. This can be done using baits and traps around entry points, which will give you an early warning should the pests return.
Structural pest control refers to the control of pests in and around a building and focuses on the detection and eradication of household pests.
The most common types of household pests include cockroaches, rodents and ants, though there are dozens of pest species that may invade structures.
The five steps of structural pest management are inspection, diagnosis, prescription, application, and evaluation. It takes some time and effort to implement, but once your integrated pest management plan is in place your structure will be well protected from future infestations.