There are several jobs in pest control that come extremely close to the category of impossible. Flies coming from under the slab, spring tails, paranoid clients and roach control in Chinese restaurants. (can I get an amen?) These are just a few of course and like you, I’ve done all of these successfully but I’ve had more failures than I can count. Things only start to turn my way in accounts like these when I can get some major cooperation and sometimes even a bit of luck. This is especially true of doing pest control service in a home occupied by a hoarder.
I would say of any pest tech that’s been around for a few years, they’ve had a hoarder on their route. Hoarding is such a conducive factor to so many problems and high on that list is pest infestation. On the many that I have serviced over the years it has also been common to have broken windows, ill fitting doors and any number of maintenance problems besides the clutter so pests almost always had free access. Mice, rats, roaches, fleas and even things like raccoons or opossums take advantage of the cluttered environment and protection it offers to make their homes. Food and water is generally not to far away and so with all the necessities of life, pest populations flourish.To treat a home with a hoarder as the occupant is not such an easy thing. Not only do you have the challenge of physical barriers but most hoarding people will also pose just as great a problem. Best to be prepared with a good tool box and the proper frame of mind.
There Are Kinds Of Hoarders
Not all hoarders are like those extreme cases you see on the new hit show Hoarders on A&E. (the same network also puts out Billy The Exterminator- we’re not all like him either) Some hoarders seem to keep all there stuff in the garage, attics or sheds while their house is relatively normal. They hoard much of the same things but for some reason they haven’t got the full blown desire of hoarding so at least they do try and attempt to keep it out of sight.
Others seem to be animal hoarders which in my mind is some of the worst for pest infestations. I’ve had homes that had so many cats or dogs running around it was impossible to get a count. Birds, reptiles, ferrets and others come to mind as well. Even those with smaller ‘pet populations’ can be a nightmare for a bug man. One thing that is pretty consistent with these hoarders is their love for their pets and they’ll let you know in a heartbeat they want nothing put down that can hurt their pet family.
These folks have huge stockpiles of items in the yard and the cluttered mess leads to all sorts of problems. Although it is messy looking to most, they do seem to have a method to their madness and even cover items that weather will ruin with tarps or whatever is handy. These yards are always rife with tall grass, weeds and become a magnet for pests in every direction. You’ll also have some pet hoarders in this category with dogs and the like but animals such as goats and horses as well. Unfortunately I see someone on the news like this once or twice a year and the emaciated animals are taken away and most put down. Very sad.
Full Blown Hoarding
These are the folks that simply hoard EVERYTHING not only inside but on the outside and anywhere on their property their treasure can fit. To get around in these homes, hoarders make pathways just barely big enough to walk through. Paths lead to the bathroom, kitchen and perhaps other essential rooms (also filled) but most just dead end to rooms that are now simply impenetrable. It’s amazing to me that anyone can live this way let alone want to.
It’s Not A Stereotypical Problem
When I think of a hoarder I think of a poorer person. Sorry, that’s just what I think- how bout you? But in reality many hoarders I service have good jobs or at least have money from some source. When you think of it- they’d almost have to to afford all this stuff and hoarders don’t stop hoarding so they get more somehow. According to what I’ve read, the cause of hoarding is not fully known. What they do know is that people who hoard look at each item they’ve collected and simply feel like they cannot part with it because it is to valuable. You can try to talk them out of an item or two and even have them agree that you’re making perfect sense as to why they should give or just throw away things they don’t use. The problem kicks in when push comes to shove and it’s time to let go-at that point they rationalize that maybe someday their going to need it or they were just about to use that– so in the end they hang on to everything they have and just collect more.
Can You Do Pest Control For A Hoarder?
Servicing a home like this can be very tricky. You won’t get away with much IPM (integrated pest management) speak. And even though ‘stuff’ may have been sitting untouched for years it’ll suddenly be taboo if you get to close with a spray gun or duster. If pets are involved you’ll really have a tough row to hoe. There’ll be no way to segregate the animals for flea control and howls of “don’t hurt my cats” will echo down the pathways of the cluttered jungles.
Most of my customers who tend to hoard stay with me for years but I’m not sure if it’s for results or just for the sake of saying it was done. There is really no text book answer or label provision that can help you in most situations. Spot treatments may be your only answer but are so limited it’ll hardly be worth the effort. I resort to sticky traps, bait where I can and used to use Precor 2000 plus when the label had ants and roaches on it. I find that if the bait is fresh you can attract roaches somewhat and any glue or snap traps I use for mice go into protective boxes. Short of that I’m open to suggestions. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has hoarders for clients. I’ll begin collecting your comments now.