Pest Prevention in Facilities Demands a Proactive, Year-Round Strategy
An integrated strategy can make all the difference for managers during the winter months.
Benjamin Franklin must have had facility managers in mind when he famously said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An integrated pest management strategy by managers — that ounce of prevention — can make all the difference for the winter months.
“The idea is that you look at your facility and grounds and develop a tailored and prescriptive plan,” said Mike Bentley, director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
And if you don’t? You might have a mess on your hands, with an infestation of rodents or insects that appears quickly and costs a pound of cure.
Bentley recalled a dry-goods distribution facility that had been advised by its pest control service to inspect all shipments on arrival and hold them in a separate location temporarily. Then the facility’s management changed, and the inspections stopped.
Within three months, the entire warehouse was contaminated with beetles. It took two months to resolve the problem, much of the inventory had to be destroyed and the loss was in the vicinity of $100,000 — not including the cost of remediation.
“It was a worst-case scenario,” Bentley said.
No pests are good pests, but there’s a clear No. 1 challenge in the fall months: rats and mice.
As outdoor temperatures drop, rodents begin to look for places to hide away, long before the first snowfall arrives. Institutional and commercial facilities and warehouses can be a haven for them, providing the shelter, stored food, and waste and refuse that they desire. They can spread disease, they will chew on most everything and even their excrement serves as a welcome mat to other rodents.
Bentley offered this checklist for facility managers who are tasked with keeping out rodents and other unwanted visitors:
- Ensure that the building “envelope” is tightly sealed, and this includes huge bay doors and large doorways that can serve as entrances for pests. They don’t need much of an invitation. A rat can make its way through a hole about the size of a quarter, a mouse through one the size of a dime.
- Partner with a licensed pest control company to review the facility and devise a pest management strategy. One size does not fit all, sometimes not even for separate buildings on the same grounds. The NPMA website has a database, searchable by ZIP code, that lists licensed pest control companies.
- Make sure building maintenance places a high priority on sanitation. How often are dumpsters emptied? Are they located a decent distance from the entry points, as they should be? Is landscaping free of overgrown vegetation, which can be attractive to pests?
- Conduct regular facility inspections, at least monthly. Know what looks out of the ordinary and take a closer look when in doubt. “What looks like dirt might be rodent droppings,” Bentley said.
- Pay special attention to pallets, the transport and storage structures that can serve as a breeding ground for pest issues.
It’s all about doing your best to exclude the pests, and there really isn’t an offseason for being on guard.
“The misconception is that in the colder months you don’t have to be as vigilant,” Bentley said.
Doug Carroll is a freelance writer located in Chandler, Arizona.