Keep the Pests at Bay During Renovations

NATIONAL REPORT—There are a lot of pieces that go into renovating a hotel, but something that might be overlooked is the potential for a pest issue as rooms are gutted, public spaces are deconstructed and then reconstructed, and landscapes are changed.

“Pest activity during renovations can vary based on geographic location and seasonal influences, but a few common pest issues that can arise include rodents and other wildlife, such as possums and squirrels, and crawling insects, such as cockroaches,” said Dr. Ron Harrison, entomologist and director of technical services for Orkin. “Construction often disrupts pest habitats, causing mass confusion and erratic behavior as they seek somewhere to hide. Rodents, for example, may be seen running around in broad daylight—a time when they typically wouldn’t expose themselves.”

Properties within the economy segment are most prone to infestations, because they “present more opportunities for pests to gain access since many feature open-air hallways with direct access to guestrooms from the exterior, as opposed to one main entrance,” said Harrison. But, infestations can happen anywhere since pests “are attracted to any property with the food, water and shelter needed to survive,” he said. “Hotels in every segment should work with their licensed pest management professional to implement a plan for proactively preventing pest activity with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, especially during renovations.”

Harrison said, in order to stave off pest issues before the renovation process begins, hoteliers should work with their pest management professional to assess pest activity in the area prior to construction to determine what measures should be taken to reduce pest populations; verify that the foundation is structurally sound prior to construction, as even the smallest cracks and crevices can allow pests to access the building; and find out if the building is associated with the underground sewer systems of any other nearby buildings.

“Sometimes, even if the buildings themselves are not directly attached, their sewer systems are, which can serve as an underground highway for rats to travel from one building to the next, especially if construction disturbs their current habitat,” he said.

Once renovations begin, there are a number of things contractors can do to keep pest issues to a minimum. They include:

• Eliminating standing water around the foundation, as moisture accumulation can attract pests.

• Selecting non-cellulose building materials to help prevent termites, and appling a preventive termite barrier to new areas of the property.

• Covering all building supplies at the close of each workday, especially wood products. “When it rains during construction, exposed wood can grow fungus that attracts fungus and mold beetles,” said Harrison. “Sometimes, it can take wood a year or two to naturally dry out and, until then, these nontypical pests could come out of the walls.”

• Cleaning portable toilets—which can attract pests such as flies and rodents—regularly.

• Keeping the site as clean as possible to deter pests attracted to food and odors. Construction workers and hotel staff should dispose of food wrappers, drink cans and even cigarette butts immediately in appropriate waste containers.

• Installing baits around the exterior of the property to keeps pest populations down. “Hotel management should also contact their pest management professional to see if there are any treatments that can be applied during the renovations process to control pests in the long run,” said Harrison. “Sometimes, residual applications can be applied in wall voids before the sheet rock goes up.”

—Adam Perkowsky