Hoarders & Pest Control; What Can You Do?

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.

Pet Hoarders

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.

Exterior Hoarders

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.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Confused

    My parents own a multi-unit home with my recently deceased uncle.  His wife is a hoarder.She only has mice.  Now her house is infested.  She has taken up two of the units.  She use to leave food out and fill up pots and pans with water and leave it on the floor.  Now it has gotten to the point of no return.  They are finding mice in cereal boxes and even four jumped on my cousin while he was sleeping.  Now the mice have moved to three other units as well. I am afraid that her hoarding will not be resolved just like the mice situation.  Somebody has reported her, but somehow she keeps the public health department off her back.  I am going to call pest control tomorrow.  Do you have any suggestions?  It’s a 9 unit family home and I live in it as well. I have a cat and dog, so I think I am safe for now.  But I am totally scared that I will get mice, if this matter is not resolved quickly.  She has two rooms full of junk that she refuses to toss.  Lost and confused, HELP!!!

  • Calling the pest pro was very wise. It sounds to me like a “eyes on the problem” will do you the most good. There is a product you can try in her two units (& in others as well) It’s a a natural remedy that may drive them out and not impede what your professional is doing at all. This article has the info & links you need. http://pestcemetery.com/repelling-rodents-without-baits-it-really-took-a-block/

    Good Luck