Prevent a pest invasion

by Alice Sinia
Alice Sinia is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services with Orkin Canada

AS WINTER APPROACHES, pests seek out warm places where they can take shelter. Unfortunately, warehouses and manufacturing facilities provide the protection and warmth pests need to thrive during harsher weather.

As you prepare your building for the cooler months, make pest management a top priority. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is essential for keeping pests out this winter.

While performing maintenance to prepare for freezing temperatures, it’s important to remember that pests only need a little space to enter your building. A small crack or crevice around a door, window, vent, utility line or exterior wall can be all a pest needs to sneak inside; a rat or mouse only needs a dime-sized space to make its way into a building.

To prevent persistent pests from invading a space, routinely check the building’s structure for potential entryways; seal and caulk holes and cracks with pest-proof materials; repair or replace worn out or torn screens, door seals and sweeps; and be alert to any areas that may need maintenance.

Consistently checking for structural changes helps avoid pest issues and keeps your facility well-maintained. Preventing a pest introduction from becoming a full-blown problem will save you in the long run.

Signs of a pest problem

Not only can pests infest your structure, but they can also contaminate products and take a bite out of your business’s bottom line. Proper product storage is necessary to keep pests from making their way into your next shipment.

Besides potential infested goods, micro-sites in transportation vehicles can harbour pests and deliver them right into your warehouse. When new shipments arrive at your facility, be sure to inspect for signs of pest activity. Gnaw marks, droppings, urine stains, discarded insect wings, feeding webs and dead or live pests can all be signs of a pest presence. This may seem like it will take extra time, but it can save products and avoid future issues.

Once shipments have been inspected, make sure upkeep of your packages is based on good storage practices to ensure your supply chain moves smoothly. Boxes and packages should not be stored directly on the ground. Instead, invest in shelves, storage racks or pallets that lift each unit off of the floor and maintain an 18- to 24-inch perimeter for housekeeping and pest monitoring.

For additional protection, prevent goods and products from remaining in your warehouse for a prolonged period of time. Moving each delivery in and out of your facility quickly allows for a shorter window for potential pest introductions.

Common hot spots

In addition to offering a protected hiding spot for pests, your facility produces heat that can also attract them. The heat and protection are a perfect combination for unwanted creatures to feel right at home in your facility.

Finding where these insects and animals hide is key. When inspecting for activity, there are several areas that often go overlooked. Keep an eye on these top hot spots:

  • Underneath, behind and in dead-end spaces by equipment. Over time, debris can collect beneath gear and tools, providing the perfect spot for pests to go undetected. Machinery, appliances and other equipment can also give off heat and produce moisture that attracts pests like ants, cockroaches and rodents.
  • Storage areas and shelves. Areas that receive less traffic can easily get left behind in routine inspections. Because shelving and storage areas often provide dead space, pests can find a natural hiding space.
  • Employee break rooms and storage areas. Pests aren’t picky about where they get their next meal. An employee’s discarded ham sandwich or spilled soft drink can be the perfect food source for many a hungry critter. Bed bugs often can carry in on material brought in by employees and cockroaches can find these particular areas enticing. Encourage your team to clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Rooftop vents. A direct entryway from the outside, ventilation systems, especially those with direct connections to roofs, are a prime location for rodents, pests and even birds to enter facilities. Check for nests and other rodent indicators at vent entrances.

When shielding property from the cold, include pest management in a winter preparedness plan. Protecting your facility from the cold and from pests is key to maintaining a good facility and a smoothly running business. By working closely with a pest management specialist, you can learn how to block out pests this winter season.