One of the often overlooked, but most critical parts of an effective pest management program is making sure your building isn’t an inviting environment to pests.
Explore this issueOctober/November 2005
By using simple maintenance and monitoring techniques, plant managers can hang up a “No Vacancy” sign for pests, reduce the need for pesticides, and boost their food safety audit scores.
Consider the “ABCs of Pest Habitat Modification.” The first step is “acquiring knowledge” of the building inside and out. Once you’ve identified your facility’s vulnerable points, it’s time to implement “best practices” to mitigate those issues. The third step is to instill a “commitment” to the program among employees.
Together, these steps help form the building blocks of an integrated pest management (IPM) program. Working with a trained pest management provider to implement these “ABCs” will ultimately strengthen your IPM program and help keep pests out in the first place.
As you set out to acquire knowledge about the exterior of your building, landscaping is a good place to start. The first thing to know about landscaping is that no vegetation should touch the building. The best practice in this case is simple. All vegetation should be trimmed back two to three feet away from the building.
By pruning the vegetation, you eliminate an easy access route for pests into the facility. There are also landscaping features you can use that will discourage pests from getting too close. Consider installing a 36-inch wide gravel strip around the perimeter of the building. Rodents will be discouraged from crossing this open area and the gravel can pose an obstacle to crawling insects.
Water is an essential ingredient for all life, and that certainly includes pests. That’s why it is essential to monitor and remove standing water around the property during exterior inspections. There are several areas where water might accumulate. Pools of water often develop around drainage pipes or downspouts and on parking lots and rooftops. Besides needing water to drink, many insects actually breed in water; the most common example being mosquitoes. By carefully surveying the building and eliminating standing water, you can actually lessen pest populations inside and around your facility.
Getting a Grip on Garbage
Garbage dumpsters can influence pest activity around a building. Debris placed inside a dumpster is often very attractive to pests, especially houseflies, rodents and ants. Two important steps will help prevent pests from gathering at your dumpster and entering the building.
First, place the dumpster as far away from the building as possible. Second, have your waste management company clean or replace your dumpster periodically. This will help reduce the number of pests and minimize the chance they’ll find a way into the building.
Keeping Them Out
Obviously all buildings need utilities such as electricity, natural gas and water. Unfortunately, oversized holes in exterior walls are often found where pipes enter the building. Those holes can serve as an open door for pests trying to find a way inside. A mouse can fit its entire body through an opening the size of a dime and roaches only need 1/16 of an inch to squeeze through.
It is very important to identify the entry points for all utilities and make sure a highway for pests isn’t being provided. Just like the openings for utility pipes, other cracks and crevices in the building foundation or frame can leave the door wide open for pests. Use caulk or expanding foam to seal gaps around utility lines and any other holes or cracks in the masonry.
Pests are usually attracted to a building for one of three reasons. Either they are interested in light, are attracted by odors emanating from the building or they are looking for an ideal climate to set up camp.