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By Jennifer Pinkerton

IPM Cures a Pesty Problem

Managers and owners rely upon a whole range of service providers - painters, landscapers, plumbers and pest control companies, among others.  Walls need touch-ups, drains need unplugging, and bugs need to be kept at bay.  Trouble is, if you rely primarily upon treatment - such as spraying - the current batch of bugs may bite the dust, but spraying does nothing to stop new bugs from moving in later.

It's a one-time treatment, not an effective control approach.  Not to mention the fact that pesticides are poisonous.  Unless applied by professionals, these chemicals pose a risk to human health and can contaminate our physical environment.

According to the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor non-profit, of the estimated 80,000 chemical compounds now in commercial use, just a very small percentage have been tested for a wide range of health impacts, including damage to the human nervous system.  It's obviously in everyone's best interests to explore greener options for pest control.

So, it's good to know that there is a range of options that fall under the heading of "integrated pest management", or IPM, which the University of California defines as an "environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that takes advantage of all pest management options.  It considers pest control strategies that are the least hazardous or disruptive to human and environmental health and well being, cuts down liability and expense, and seeks to be a long-term solution."  Visit their website at for more information.

Here are some most effective strategies for preventing pests - especially cockroaches.

Renter Actions
Educate and engage your tenants to eliminate food, water supplies and Bug Bistros (hiding places).

Store food in re-sealable containers (like glass jars and plastic storage containers).

If dirty dishes have to be left overnight, soak them in hot, soapy water.

Wipe counters and vacuum regularly.

Stow trash in containers that have tight-fitting lids.  Use plastic liners.

Don't let magazines, newspapers, paper bags or boxes pile up.

Owner Actions
Seal the pathways that let bugs hide in (false-bottom cupboards, hollow walls) and move from apartment to apartment (via cracks, conduits, under doors, or other structural flaws).  Add weather-stripping.

Fix plumbing leaks.

Trim shrubs and remove dense ground cover around buildings.  Consider placing a layer of gravel about 6-12" wide around the building perimeter.

If pests do show up, use control products like baits, traps or dust, which will limit your - and your tenants' - exposure to pesticides (

Call the Pros
If you need to call in professional help, look for companies that use an integrated pest management approach.  Some may advertise that they use alternative pest control methods, including botanical treatments, which rely upon oils derived from plants.

For More Information


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Healthy Homes Collaborative, P.O. Box 31796, Los Angeles, CA 90031  P: (323)221-8320  F: (323)226-9587

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