Warehouse and distribution facilities can be unwilling hubs for pest activity and facility managers should be aware of several key factors that can contribute to unwanted pest activity.
With shipments and personnel coming in and out constantly, it is important for a facility manager, in concert with their pest management partner, to identify traffic patterns, as well as the number of people who enter and exit the structure every day.
Each facility is different in its purpose and in the items it stores or distributes and this requires that a customized plan be developed – there isn’t a one-size fits all remedy.
Food distribution and storage facilities require vastly different requirements than a furniture storage facility, and the location, weather, and age of a building will help determine specifics of the program.
Avoid the “Trojan Horse”
Stopping pests at the loading dock door is far more preferable and less costly than having to eradicate a pest infestation that has established itself inside your warehouse or distribution facility.
This is why inspecting pallets of finished products as well as unprocessed food ingredients upon arrival is the first stop in preventing pests from pulling a “Trojan Horse” and gaining access to your facility.
Facility staff should be trained (Sprague Pest Solutions can provide this service) to thoroughly inspect all incoming shipments while they are outside on the receiving dock and refuse any shipment with signs of pest activity (i.e. gnawed packaging, rodent droppings).
The Sprague Pest Experts offer the following suggested guidelines for inspecting incoming shipments:
- Inspect the top of the load of all deliveries for signs of pest presence.
- Inspect exposed parts of pallets, and between packing and shrink wrap.
- If there are signs of infestation, the shipment should be rejected.
- Contain and control product, and notify quality control if needed.
- After unloading, inspect previously inaccessible areas of trailer and pallets.
- Look closely in cracks and crevices in floorboards.
- Prior to loading inspect the trailer for signs of pest evidence.
- Note signs of debris, spillage, insects, or structural damage.
In food distribution and warehouse facilities it is a good idea to practice First In, First Out (FIFO) to ensure products in storage don’t go beyond their acceptable shelf life. Older products will be more susceptible to pest infestation the longer they remain idle and age.
Sanitation is another critical component and facility managers need to ensure that sanitation protocols are in place and consistently followed by employees to help prevent or suppress pest infestations. Good sanitation protocols will remove and limit food, water and harborage sources available to pests and can have a direct impact on the success or failure of a pest prevention program.
Look Outside for Threats
Properly maintaining the exterior landscape of a facility will help deter pest activity and lessen the chance of a pest threat. These types of controls include modifying landscape elements used by pests for food (e.g., fruit trees, date palms, Algerian ivy, boxelder trees), harborage locations (rock or brush piles, dense foliage or ground cover), and access routes to buildings (trees, bushes, and vines touching the structure).
- Reduce or remove dense groundcover or replace with less dense varieties or alternative species.
- Thin out or replace densely overgrown shrubs and bushes.
- Break up dense plantings with pathways of pebbled rock (at least 6 inches deep and 36 inches wide is recommended).
- Regularly trim all lawns and bushes.
Note: Portions of this article were adapted from the PCT Guide to Commercial Pest Management.