Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Spring Pest

Spring is a time of awakenings. The sun is rising higher in the sky; trees are budding; and grass is peeking through the snow or dirt. Unfortunately, spring is also when flying insects begin swarming around lights and all sorts of other creatures begin to surface and become active.
While the rebirth of spring brings color, beauty and warmth, it also brings the emergence of seasonal insect pests, not only crawling around the outside of your building, but also seeking a way inside.
The Problem“The spring emergence of external invading pests causes one of the greatest pest problems of the season for foodservice establishments,” says John Barcay PhD, Pest Elimination Senior Scientist. “The warm sunny days are waking the insects from their cold-weather harborage to seek food, water and shelter, and your food-service establishment has everything they are seeking.” Boxelder bugs crawling from walls where they over wintered; house flies emerging from hibernation to deposit their eggs; young earwigs surfacing from the soil to feed; outdoor-breeding cockroach species, such as the American and Asian, increasing with rising moisture and humidity; and even fruit flies gaining in number as fresh fruits become more abundant.
To add to the problem, just as these seasonally increasing insect populations are becoming more active, so, too, are your employees. Venturing outside for breaks or lunch, propping doors open for the “fresh air,” cracking unscreened windows to vent the kitchen, all are activities which essentially welcome the newly emerged insects into your facility.
The Solution“Employee education is one of the best preventive measures you can take,” Barcay says. Remind employees about pest prevention, review sanitation practices and instruct them to record any and all sightings into your pest log book. “Reducing conducive conditions and informing your pest elimination service specialist quickly when insects are sighted will go a long way toward preventing infestations from developing.” Other focus areas Barcay recommends for preventing spring pest problems are:
Doors and Windows. Check and repair holes or tears in screening; ensure that seals and doorsweeps are well-fitted, tight and in good repair; make sure air doors or curtains are functioning properly. Shut all doors and service windows completely when not in use.
Lighting. Direct all exterior lighting down and away from doors and windows. Use yellow sodium-vapor lamps rather than white fluorescent or metal halide bulbs.
Drainage. Clear and clean gutters and downspouts; check air-conditioning units and roofs, ensuring that water drains away from the structure; eliminate any areas of puddling or standing water.
Exterior Property. With outdoor areas often neglected during the cold winter months, the spring thaw can reveal piles of accumulated litter and debris that now provide harborage and even food for the foraging insects. Conduct a “spring clean-up” focused on these areas, and geared toward maintaining a sanitary environment.
Landscaping. The accelerated growth of trees and shrubs in the spring can provide harborage for insects or even “runways” to your building. Prune shrubs; trim overhanging branches; eliminate all foliage/structure contact.
Break Areas. Keep the area and its fixtures maintained and cleaned. Remind employees of sanitation practices and prohibit the feeding of birds or wildlife.
Garbage. As the weather warms, garbage becomes more and more attractive to pests. Make sure all garbage is well-bagged; clean cans, concentrating on any build up in the bottom of the can; rinse out all recyclables; and set a schedule for a thorough weekly clean-up.
“Establishing a sanitary and structurally sound environment reduces conditions that are conducive to pest activity,” Barcay says. “Maintaining this through monthly inspections of the facility’s interior and exterior, following through on any sanitation or structural corrections and regular service from a pest elimination service specialist will not only help protect your facility from spring pests, but will reduce pest pressures year around.” Article courtesy of ecolab pest