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It’s hard to get behind the notion of spring being here when it snows in April but welcome to Michigan weather!

For commercial property managers and owners spring means preparing their facilities for increased pest pressure brought on by warmer temperatures.

While winter snows and cold temperatures would indicate that pests went into a “deep freeze” that isn’t correct, according to Jonathan Getz, A.C.E., quality assurance manager for Griffin Pest Solutions.

“Many pests will overwinter inside a facility and once the weather tops 50 degrees their clocks tell them summer is here and they become active,” says Getz.

Getz points to a recent issue a commercial client had with boxelder bugs as a lesson not to assume pests can’t survive the winter.

The client – which made packaging for the food industry – moved into a new facility that had sat empty for three years. During a several day period where temperatures were unseasonably warm the boxelder bugs living in wall and drop ceiling voids become “alive” much to the chagrin of the client.

“The insects became active during the warmth of the day and when it got cold at night they came back inside looking for warmth and were everywhere,” says Getz.

While boxelder bugs do not pose the contamination threat birds, rodents, flies and cockroaches do to food products and packaging, their presence inside a food processing facility puts it at greater risk for a failed audit under tighter mandates brought on by the Food Modernization Safety Act (FSMA).

“The standards for commercial food processing plants are becoming justifiably tougher when it comes to the threat of contamination brought on by pests, especially birds,” adds Getz. “Now is a good time for facility managers and plant personnel to take preventive action when it comes to pests.”

In addition to boxelder bugs, Getz says ground nesting ants, brown marmorated stink bugs and mice will all be active this spring as they look to gain access to commercial facilities.

Again, while stink bugs and ants aren’t a major threat to contaminate food products with harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella or listeria, they are persona non grata in food plants.

Rodents, however, are a clear and present danger to food safety and steps need to be taken to deny them access as temperatures rise and their activity levels, particularly on the exterior of facilities, increase.

Getz recommends commercial clients work with their pest management provider this spring to increase pest monitoring programs inside and outside facilities to measure pest pressure and set pest thresholds.

“From rodent traps to pheromone traps for stored product pests, spring is the right time to measure pest pressures and take the necessary preemptive or corrective actions,” says Getz.

He also recommends conducting a thorough inspection to identify structural conditions (i.e. damage to ventilation screens, foundation, roof, exterior door frames and sweeps, etc.) that may have occurred over winter that would allow pests access.

Getz also says facility managers should pay attention to the landscape around their facility and trim back trees and shrubs, gut grass regularly and don’t overdo it on landscape mulch as they all provide ideal harborage locations for a variety of spring pests.

If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your business and can help your company maintain a pest-free environment for your products, customers and employees, contact Griffin Pest Solutions