Self Storage Packing Tips: Blankets & Storage

Ants, Roaches, Spiders
Three of the most common household pests are spiders, cockroaches and ants. We’ve all seen them, but how much do we really know about these persistent pests? Let’s explore these two six-legged insects (the cockroach and the ant) and the one eight-legged non-insect (the spider) so we can understand how insects and arachnids affect items tucked away in self storage.

While spiders are frightening to most people, they do keep damaging pests in check. Spiders prey on insects that harm crops, livestock and stored food products with biting jaws and venom. Most spiders can’t open their jaws wide enough to bite people, although some – such as the brown recluse and black widow spiders – can and do bite people when disturbed. In fact, the bite of the brown recluse can result in an open sore surrounded by dying skin. Organ failure can result in a small number of cases because of the poison.

To lessen the chances of having brown recluse or other spiders in your home or self storage unit, keep it tidy. Cleanliness is an important factor to limit the reproduction of spiders, as is filling all cracks and crevices leading into the home to deny them access to these desirable living conditions. Look for a self storage unit that does not have spaces under the doors where pests could enter or cracks in the walls. Try also to keep basements and crawlspaces dry, since spiders like humid conditions.

The pesky insects, which can go for many weeks without food or water, generally hide in dark areas during the day and then come out at night. A flat, oval body enables them to squeeze under objects and in crevices quickly, as anyone who’s chased them will attest.

Just as with spiders, cleanliness can help decrease cockroach infestations. Because they’re attracted to food and water, keeping a clean kitchen countertop and doing all the dishes are good first steps. Frequently sweeping floors and vacuuming carpets can help decrease their food sources. Where food is stored, try to keep containers as airtight as possible. Be sure to thoroughly clean every dish, chair, table, appliance and similar kitchen accessories before moving them to a self storage facility.

Baits laced with insecticide work well on cockroaches and provide long-residual control. Sprays also do a good job, but provide more immediate results. Make sure you treat the areas where you most suspect them or have seen them. With ancestors dating back 300 million years, cockroaches are usually found in dark areas, especially where surface moisture, humidity or both are plentiful. Food-preparation areas are ideal environments because of the mixture of water and food, but they’re fond of drier areas as well.

For other treatments, you may want to consider insecticide dusts. Boric acid, with its low toxicity to humans, is a popular and effective control, since it poisons cockroaches over the several months it’s active. It can be used full strength, or look for it as a key ingredient in some popular insecticide dusts. The acid is abrasive to the insects’ exoskeleton, causing it to break down and cause death. The least toxic treatment is a sticky trap, but a cockroach has to walk directly on it to become trapped, limiting its effectiveness.

They can be found most anywhere there is food, mositure, darkness and cracks in which to hide. They prefer heat, including heaters and warm machinery, even if this warmth is found in cold climates like Alaska.

If insects were cast in movies, you’d want to use ants in a feature about British royalty. In reality, most ants spend their lives protecting the queen and her colony, gathering food, working on tunnels underground or in mounds, and caring for the young. Some ants like sweets while others like oils, cheese, dead insects, meat and grease. Adult ants aren’t able to chew and swallow food, but instead suck the juice from whatever they’re eating and then leave the pulp. If an ant finds a good stash of food, it leaves a scent trail that other ants can follow. Ants use their antennae.

Ants come in an array of colors, including blue, purple, green and yellow, but the most common colors are black, brown and rust. Among the “tidiest” of insects, worker ants take debris from inside the colony and place it outside the nest. If disturbed, most ants will bite, and some can sting.

Treating ants is similar to treating cockroaches. Boric acid is especially effective. Most baited traps contain boric acid, which it taken back to the colony where it poisons other ants, including the egg-laying queen. Sprays can be used, but they seldom control ant colonies as well as other, albeit slower, methods. When controlling ants, sprays are more effective in providing a barrier around the house, rather than to control the colony. A two- to three-foot wide barrier around the perimeter of the house is ideal.

Protect Yourself
El Dorado Storage Center takes precautions to exterminate insects and spiders, but with all of the goods moving in and out, these creatures can easily slip into boxes, papers or folded clothes and hide for awhile.

Look before you touch boxes or reach into files, especially those that have not been tightly sealed.
• Shake out clothing, shoes, blankets and other items before packing them and when removing them.
• Seal boxes well. Use airtight containers when possible.
• Clean items before placing them in storage.
• Check boxes for cockroaches or other insects before packing anything in them. Don’t store perishable food.