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Don’t Hibernate In Winter When It Comes to Pests

Winter’s cold temperatures and snow can lull commercial facility and property managers into a false sense of security and lead them to believe their pest management issues are still months away.

Allowing your facility’s pest management programs to “hibernate” during the winter can be a costly and headache filled experience. Even though colder temperatures will persist into April throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, that doesn’t mean pests have gone away.

Pests – including rodents, cockroaches and flies – that gained access to your facility in the fall or that have been introduced in incoming shipments of food and other products will have established nesting sites and will take advantage of the plentiful food, water and shelter inside the four walls of your bakery, dairy, warehouse, office building or healthcare facility.

“Pests are opportunists and will take advantage of poor sanitation and maintenance practices in your facility to establish nesting locations, especially in the winter,” says Christina Buell, A.C.E., a key account manager for Griffin Pest Solutions. “Clients need to work with their maintenance staff and employees to make sure they are eliminating conditions that are conducive to pests.”

Buell says poor adherence to sanitation practices, allowing clutter, and failing to eliminate exterior access points and other basic maintenance issues are leading causes of pest issues during the winter months.

For example, in an office building or retail store not regularly emptying the trash in employee break rooms and employees storing food in their lockers or desks can attract a variety of pests including mice and cockroaches.

Flies, usually seen as a warm weather pest, can also be problematic in the winter inside commercial facilities. Drains filled with organic matter such as food particles, and broken pipes and tiles are prime access points and breeding grounds for small flies, especially in commercial kitchens and food processing plants.

“Flies can gain access to a facility in the winter in a variety of ways and the common factor is moisture,” says Buell. “The organic slime and sludge that builds up in drains and excess moisture as a result of broken pipes or even a leaky water heater can support fly activity.”

Buell says a common misconception is that bleaching drains will eliminate the problem but that isn’t so. Cleaning the drain with an enzymatic cleaner is needed to break up the sludge. She also reminds clients that “dry” mopping practices can cause drains to dry out and chunky buildup to collect on the surface.

What can commercial clients do to mitigate their pest exposure in the winter months? Buell recommends the following tips:

  • Seal Entry Points/Keep On Top of Maintenance – Make sure door sweeps, overhead door gaskets and ventilation screens are in good repair, seal openings around pipes, utility connections and exterior foundation walls to deny rodents and other wildlife access.
  • Stick to Your Sanitation Programs – Schedule regular equipment cleaning, eliminate sources of excess water, eliminate clutter (i.e. shipping pallets, shipping containers, cardboard packaging, etc.) on the interior and exterior of your building, and make sure dumpsters are not located too close to doors.
  • Inspect Incoming Shipments — Closely inspect incoming shipments for signs of pest activity (i.e. rodent droppings, torn/chewed packaging, etc.). Follow the first-in, first-out rule of product inventory to reduce the threat of stored product 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 products, customers and employees, contact Griffin Pest Solutions.