San Francisco Department of the Environment

Pest Prevention By Design Guidelines Released

Next time you consider whipping out a can of bug spray to wipe out a line of ants in your kitchen, think again. While you may kill every ant in sight, chances are the spray will barely phase the immense ant colony living under your house. You will probably wake up the next morning to see another stream of ants going about their business, maybe after those forgotten food scraps under the refrigerator. You ask yourself, is re-applying toxic spray in your kitchen each day the most effective solution?

The silver bullet promised by pesticides cannot last:  Pests become resistant to the chemicals, requiring greater and greater amounts for the same effect. Predators—species we traditionally rely on to balance the ecosystem— become decimated by the pesticides, resulting in even more extreme outbreaks of pests.

Taking a fresh approach
SF Environment’s Integrated Pest Management program developed a set of guidelines to design pests out of structures. The idea is to reduce the amount of chemicals released into the environment, improve indoor air quality by reducing or eliminating the need to apply chemicals inside, and more effectively manage pests by designing them out of buildings in the first place. Following these guidelines will also save building owners money by reducing damage to buildings and costs for pest control services. 
 

Introducing Pest Prevention by Design Guidelines
SF Environment’s Pest Prevention by Design Guidelines target the source, rather than the symptom, of pest infestations. 

These new guidelines can be applied to nearly all structures in a city, including homes, office buildings, parks, and restaurants. For example, where a restaurant owner may traditionally address a rat infestation with rat poison, the pest prevention guidelines would recommend sealing the gap in the door frame that let the animals enter in the first place, putting a better lid on the dumpster out back, or removing the English ivy patch in the backyard (a preferred rat habitat).  To get rid of any rats that are currently in a building, SF Environment recommends the use of traps, not baits, given the harmful effects that rat poison can have on an entire ecosystem (see our Don’t Take the Bait campaign).

Pest Prevention Guidelines: The Next Addition to Green Building?
Now that these guidelines have been created, the next step is to integrate them into building designs and retrofits. Because these guidelines reduce the amount of toxic chemicals sent into the environment and promote indoor air quality, they are prime candidates for inclusion in green building standards such as LEED.

More Information
Launch event: Pest Prevention by Design Guidelines
Pest Prevention by Design Guidelines