Let’s Talk Trash! Residential Garbage & Pests

By Chris Williams on November 24, 2014.

pests can be residential garbage thievesResidential garbage is a perfect pest food. It’s varied, offering a well-balanced pest diet. It’s conveniently found in one location, and it is accessed with very little effort.

Far too many people don’t see the connection between the way they handle their garbage and their pest problems. Their garbage cans are overflowing and missing lids and they can’t figure out why there are always flies on the back porch, or why a raccoon keeps visiting their yard, or why there’s a rat burrow by the side of the garage!

From Flies to Raccoons, We Feed ‘Em

There are at least three levels of pest problems related to inadequate garbage storage. Flies, of several types, are the first. They lay their eggs in rotting food material. Rodents, both rats and mice, are the second concern. Rodents are impossible to control in a community if they have a constant supply of food from mishandled garbage. Finally, larger animals like raccoons, skunks, and opossums will visit homes when tempted by odors from overflowing garbage cans.

Are Your Garbage Cans Rodent-Proof?

Your community or your trash pickup service may provide guidelines for how your garbage should be stored. The Centers for Disease Control has established the following guidelines as part of their regional rodent control program. Garbage containers meeting the criteria below are considered to be “rodent-proof.”

  • Containers should be water-tight with tight-fitting lids, rust-resistant, structurally strong, and easily filled, emptied, and cleaned. 55 gallon drums and other containers that, when full, are too heavy to lift are not acceptable.
  • To qualify as rodent-proof, a container must have a lid with a space between the container and the lid that is no more than ¼ inch.
  • Acceptable containers may be made of galvanized metal or heavy, high-grade plastic as long as the lids are tight-fitting and they meet the criteria for “rodent-proof” above.
  • Plastic or moisture-resistant paper bags can be used for garbage as long as they are properly tied and intact and are placed at the curb or alley for collection only on collection day and only during daylight hours (not the night before). Plastic bags, when used alone, are not acceptable for overnight garbage storage.
  • Containers that do not meet the above criteria and cardboard boxes are acceptable only for yard trash and nonfood items (metal, glass, carpeting, paper, cardboard, etc.).
  • Containers similar to those for garbage storage are generally acceptable for household recyclables, as are large plastic bags properly tied and intact, and placed at the curb or alley during daylight hours on collection day. In all cases, recyclable items should be free of food particles or other food residue.

Photo credit: JayD Photography / Foter / CC BY


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