Pest Management

Pest Management for Residents

Pest Prevention Strategies

Pesticides can harm humans, pets, and the environment.  Prevention is the secret to safe and effective pest management. Pesticides should be considered only as a last resort.

To prevent pest problems, the key words are food, water, shelter, and access


  • Put away food to avoid attracting pests.
  • Seal food using hard plastic, glass, or metal containers. Many pests can chew through materials like paper, cardboard, and thin plastic.
  • Routinely clean up all crumbs and spills.
  • Rinse all food and beverage containers before recycling.
  • Rinse garbage and recycling bins frequently.
  • Clean up plant debris, such as fallen fruit under fruit trees.


  • Fix leaky pipes.
  • Clean out drains and rain gutters.
  • Drain or treat puddles.
  • Turn off all garden hoses completely when not in use.


  • Clean up clutter.
  • Remove cardboard boxes, crates, used tires, piles of wood, and overgrown plant material.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices where pests can hide.


  • Screen all vents and entryways into buildings to keep pests outside.
  • Seal out pests by caulking and installing door sweeps or other barriers. 

Choosing a Pest Control Company

To choose a pest control company, determine which ones practice a prevention-based, least toxic approach, and ask the right questions before hiring.

Confirm the pest control company is licensed.

All companies controlling pests in and around buildings are regulated by the California Structural Pest Control Board. You can check whether a company has appropriate licenses, and view their record of violations.

Look for a certified company.

Third-party certified companies follow Integrated Pest Management principles.

As a second choice alternative, look for a Greenpro Certified service. GreenPro Certified is a new industry-sponsored certification. If no certified companies are available in your area, review company surveys.

Ask the right questions.

  • Does the company try alternative approaches before turning to pesticides?
  • If they want to apply a pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide) can they explain their reasons in an understandable way?
  • If they have to use pesticides, how do they select least toxic products?
  • Do they use regular chemical treatments to prevent problems or treat only when disease or insect threshold levels are exceeded?
  • Do they assess underlying conditions that may cause the pest problems?
  • Can they explain what will happen if the pesticide is not applied?

Additional questions can be found at Beyond Pesticides or Biointegral Resource Center.

Starting a Safer Pest Control Program for Your Building

Start an IPM Program in Apartment Buildings, video from the Boston Housing Authority

US Green Building Council LEED-EB Operations & Maintenance Requirements to use least-hazardous pesticides

Bedbugs, Bites, Prevention, Treatment – a compendium of bedbug information from  San Francisco Department of the Environment, New York State IPM Program, Central Ohio Bedbug Task Force, Northeastern IPM Center, Bay Area LISC/Bedbug Task Force

Handbook for Tenants and Building Managers  (San Francisco Department of Public Health) in English, Spanish, Chinese. Information on bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, flies, lice, mold, mosquitoes, pigeons, scabies, and rodents.

Safe disposal

Related Content

What Is Integrated Pest Management?
Pesticide Hazards
Pest Management Resources
Pest Management for Green Buildings
Pest Prevention by Design (for building retrofits and design, 88 pages, PDF)

Additional Resources

How to prevent and manage pests in your building or garden
UCSF's Pesticides Matter Brochure