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Clutter and Pests

By Chris Williams on April 13, 2011.
Q. My apartment manager told me that I need to clean up the clutter in my apartment because the exterminator says it’s a pest problem. What does clutter have to do with pests anyway? They don’t feed on it do they?
 
A. Well, they could feed on it if your clutter includes food leftovers or spillage. Whether you call it clutter, or personal treasures, or just plain “stuff,” most of us have too much of it.
 
In the worst cases, some people can’t control their stockpiling and their piles of stuff get out of control. You’ve probably seen the TV reality shows about people who are hoarders. They take clutter to the extreme. And pests are often a part of the hoarder’s problems too. The TV episodes show flies buzzing around leftover food and pet feces, cockroaches, lots of mouse droppings, and even mummified mouse carcasses underneath all the debris.
 
But even much less clutter can cause problems. Your exterminator has probably identified some ongoing pest problems in your apartment and that is why he is concerned. Clutter not only provides plenty of hiding places for pests, but it also makes effective pest control much more difficult.
 
• Clutter makes it difficult to see pests. They can build up to high numbers unnoticed.
• Clutter provides lots of hiding places, nooks and crannies, where pests can hide.
• Clutter is rarely disturbed so it provides an ideal protected, breeding place for pests.
• Clutter makes it difficult to clean which further encourages pests.
• Clutter sometimes provides food for pests if it includes empty food containers or dirty dishes, or when food drops into hidden spaces. Some pests feed on stored fabrics and paper, especially when they become soiled, damp or moldy. Then there are pests that feed on other pests.
• Clutter makes it more difficult for you or a pest control professional to inspect and treat for pests. There’s no place to place traps or baits, and no way to get insecticide into all the many inaccessible spaces.
 
And pest concerns aside, clutter is a very real fire hazard. Do yourself a favor and work on organizing that clutter.

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