Whether it is a single pest or a full-blown infestation, pest sightings should never occur on your property. Most facilities offer plenty of food, water, and shelter that attracts pests and sustains them, making commercial properties the perfect place for pests to settle down. While pest pressures will vary between facilities, implementing a consistent pest control program is essential to prevent pests from infiltrating your business.
No matter the time of year, pests are professionals at making their way into your facility, seeking shelter from the elements in colder months and places to breed in warm seasons. These unwanted visitors not only can cause structural damage but also can prove to be health risks to employees and customers alike. Common pests to keep an eye on around your facility include:
- Cockroaches – If you find droppings that look like pepper flakes, especially in cupboards and cabinets, these sneaky pests may be in close proximity.
- Ants and Flies – These pests can find their way into your building through unscreened windows, open doors and the tiniest cracks or crevices. If you spot them, be sure to act quickly to prevent an infestation.
- Rodents – Droppings, gnaw marks or chewed electrical wires can all be indicators of a potential rodent problem in your facility.
- Bed Bugs – While bed bugs may not seem like your typical office pest, they can be brought into your facility by anyone and can easily hide in office furniture.
Potential Pest Hotspots
Unfortunately for your facility, pests are masters when it comes to breaking and entering. In addition to using open windows, doors, cracks, and crevices to sneak their way inside, pests can be quite inventive when finding their way inside your space. When inspecting your facility for pest activity, make sure to check each of the following areas to ensure your facility isn’t unintentionally attracting pests.
- Landscaping – Fruit-bearing trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nuts, and seeds are attractive to insects, birds, and rodents, as they provide food and potential nesting sites. Bushy shrubs, thick vines, and other heavy vegetation can also provide shelter for pests.
- Rooftop – Often overlooked, roofs are a common entry point for both birds and roof rats. Check the airflow of HVAC units to ensure insects are not being pulled into your facility and inspect any rooftop vents that could be potential entryways for curious pests.
- Trash – Dumpsters, trash cans, and other waste disposal areas are a haven for pests if not maintained properly.
- Low spots – Standing water in parking lots, adjacent properties and low spots can attract pests. Other areas to check for pest activity include ditches, soggy flower beds, catch basins and even soggy soil.
- Lighting – While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of pest protection, lighting can attract bugs. So, place light fixtures with soft, yellow lights away from the building, with their light shining on the building façade. Avoid bright white lights that tend to attract insects.
- Floor drains – Drains not only can be a sanitation issue but also can act as a possible breeding source and entry point for pests like small flies, drain flies and American and oriental cockroaches. The buildup of debris and other organic materials can attract pests like small flies to the drains in your facility.
- Storage areas – Areas that are hard to reach or are not regularly inspected by employees, such as voids, dead-end spaces and flat ledges above head level, can become major hotspots for pests to hide and thrive. Storage areas are prime examples since they don’t undergo regular cleanings.
- Break rooms – The smallest crumb can be a meal for pests. Pests are counting on your employees to be messy eaters, so encourage team members to clean up any area where food is being consumed. Also be sure to clean behind vending machines, as these areas easily accumulate dirt, crumbs and other debris.
Keeping Pests Out
Once pests have managed to settle down in your facility, it can be difficult to kick them to the curb. That’s why it is so important to have a preventive pest control program in place to proactively stop pests from claiming your space.
Scheduling a pest control audit is the first step to pest prevention. Your pest control provider can help pinpoint potential pest hotspots in your building and help create a plan that works best for your property.
Implementing a consistent facility maintenance schedule is the next step to keeping pests at bay. Routinely cleaning your facility ensures that potential pest attractors, like food and clutter, are removed from the premises.
Finally, establish exclusion techniques to keep pests where they belong – on the outside. Exclusion strategies can be used to fortify your facility and stop unwanted visitors from coming inside. Effective exclusion strategies include:
- Door sweeps/seals – Gaps under doors are inviting pathways for pests. Door sweeps contain thousands of dense nylon bristles that ensure smaller pests like rats and cockroaches are barred from entry.
- Air curtains – Mounted in doorways and windows, air curtains use high-speed fans to create a powerful wall of air that proves a daunting challenge for flying insects.
- Water-resistant sealant – Cracks along floors, walls, baseboards and ceilings can be hard to spot – but if they exist, pests will find them. Weather resistant caulking keeps these crevices sealed.
- Rodent bait stations – When baited with appropriately approved and labeled baits and placed around the exterior of the facility, rodent bait stations help control rat and mice populations. Anchored, tamper-proof bait stations protect bait from accidental exposure to other animals or humans.
- Insect Lights Traps (ILTS) – These devices are strategically placed in the interior of the facility and use ultraviolet light to attract flying insects to a non-toxic sticky board inside a confined trap unit.
Implementing a proactive, preventive pest control plan is essential to keeping unwanted visitors at bay and can save you from a pest-provoked headache in the long run. If you have a pest problem in your facility, contact your local pest control specialist to create an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that works best for your workplace and stops pests from eating away at your business.
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is quality assurance manager – regulatory/lab services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 20 years of experience, she manages the quality assurance laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at [email protected].