Pest control at a storage facility is a tedious task at best and a never-ending battle at worst. Either way, you have to think about it. You might already have a well established plan for how to prevent insects and rodents from entering storage units at your facility, but what about the units that come and go from your facility?
We’re talking about mobile storage units. If you haven’t factored them into your pest control plan, here’s how to do it.
Mobile storage units and traditional storage units both offer advantages and disadvantages in terms of pest control.
One of the advantages that a mobile storage unit has over a traditional storage unit is the fact that it is rarely left unattended for long periods of time. A tenant might rent a drive-up storage unit and leave it unattended for years. During this time, the risk of pest infestation increases. A mobile storage user, on the other hand, will usually rent a storage unit for a much shorter period of time and will likely be entering it more often. This allows the tenant to catch early signs of a pest infestation before it spreads.
The disadvantage of a mobile storage unit is that you as a self storage operator can’t always control where it’s stored or how many different contaminants it may come into contact with during transit.
Just as you would with traditional self storage pest control, it’s up to you to recognize the critters that affect your storage units.
Let’s start with bed bugs. These can be transported in mobile storage via soft items like mattresses. Bed bugs can survive in extreme temperatures, so even if a mobile storage is kept outside in a driveway during a hot summer or a cold winter, bed bugs may still thrive. Another type of bug that can plague mobile self storage units is the cockroach. Cockroaches are troublesome because they can transmit bacterial pathogens that make people sick. Self storage operators and tenants should also look out for ants in mobile storage units. These clever bugs alert others when they find a food source, making it easy for more ants to join the party. Look out for mice as well. These furry creatures are happy to travel with a mobile storage unit and can be identified by their distinct black droppings.
You should also take the time to understand unique pests that may affect mobile storage units in your area and the area that the storage unit is traveling to or from. For example, desert mobile storage users may be transporting scorpions. These solitary creatures can live for up to 15 years and are attracted to warmth and moisture, so tenants should be sure to only keep clean, dry items in their mobile storage units and refrain from moving belongings in or out during rain.
Before you rent someone a mobile storage unit, take the time to communicate the following:
What not to store. Mobile storage users should never store perishable items, live plants, trash or anything that’s dirty.
Where to store. A mobile storage unit should never be stored near a dumpster, bushes or a water source, such as a pond. These are the places where pests live, eat and breed.
How to store. Stress the importance of washing soft items like clothing or bedding. As an additional measure, tenants can shake these items before storing them. Discourage tenants from storing items in used cardboard boxes that may contain food particles. This is a great opportunity for you to net additional revenue by mentioning your on-site retail store if your storage facility has one.
Before and after a mobile storage unit is rented, it’s up to you to inspect it for evidence of pests. You should also, however, evaluate the risk. Mobile storage units should have a tight seal that prevents pests from entering. Think of the flat shape of a cockroach or the pliable body of a mouse. These pests are skilled at squeezing in and out of the smallest spaces. A mobile storage unit should be airtight.
If you’re not already using a professional pest control company to protect your mobile storage units, it’s time to start. Always choose a professional instead of doing it yourself. Professionals can better understand the intricacies of mobile self storage. They also know how to identify the early signs of a pest infestation, while the average person only recognizes a pest problem that is already spreading rapidly.
Choose a pest control service that is recognized by a local or state organization and speak with self storage colleagues regarding options in your area.
With these tips, you’re ready to handle any kind of pests—even the ones that are as on-the-go as your mobile storage units. Remember, if you’re doing your part to prevent pests at your storage facility and in mobile storage units, you’ve done your part. Equip your tenants with the knowledge they need and they’ll do their part too.