Occasional invaders typically are more of a nuisance than a threat to food safety to commercial facilities but don’t think they can’t cause a headache or two.
Even though instances are rare, occasional invaders can contaminate food products if they gain access to food storage areas and land on unprocessed seeds, grains or flour.
Third-party auditors and inspectors also do not differentiate between a boxelder bug and German cockroach – if a pest is found inside a food processing or distribution it can lead to points being deducted or even a failed audit.
The extreme weather the Western U.S. has experienced this winter – heavy snow and rain – is delaying the arrival of many occasional invaders but appearances can be deceiving.
Most occasional invaders are overwintering pests meaning they can already be inside your facility – likely nesting in drop ceilings, according to Ashley Roden, training specialist with Sprague.
“When clients see cluster flies emerge inside an office or break room on one of the first warm spring days they assume they are coming in from the outside but in fact they are seeing them as they try to leave the building,” says Roden.
If your facility has drop ceilings they should be inspected at least once a year for the presence of occasional invaders and other unwanted pests.
What occasional invaders are poised to be a nuisance this spring? Roden says the brown marmorated stink bug, Asian lady beetle and boxelder bug are likely to be found this spring trying in and around commercial facilities.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
They can be significant nuisance pests, especially in areas where agriculture production is prevalent, and are a threat to crops including fruit, grapes and tree nuts. An invasive species to most of the regions Sprague services, stink bugs will collect on the sunny side of structures in large numbers and their presence will disturb employees and visitors alike.
Asian Lady Beetle
Another invasive pest, the Asian Lady Beetle is attracted to multi-color structures and has been found often near healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical plants. They will gather on the outside of a building and attempt to gain access, and larger populations will emit an unpleasant odor. Some research indicates they leave a pheromone behind that could explain why they revisit structures annually and their small size makes identifying access points difficult.
Found across Sprague’s operating area – except the Puget Sound and western Oregon – these pests are native to the Western U.S. and will overwinter inside structures. Clients will likely see them as they attempt to go back outdoors in the spring and hiding on the sides of buildings.
Prevention is the Key to Success
To keep occasional invaders on the outside looking in this spring (and all year around) facility and property managers need to focus their efforts on exclusion practices.
Facilities located near agriculture production areas or bodies of water (i.e. streams, rivers, retention ponds, etc.) are more susceptible to occasional invaders since pests, like stink and boxelder bugs, are major threats to agriculture crops.
What steps can facilities take to thwart occasional invaders?
- Strategic placement of light traps (facing the interior of the building) in shipping areas and near loading docks.
- Install screens on windows, and roof and utility vents –make sure the screens do not have tears or openings.
- Install screens with tightly woven mesh to prevent small pests from slipping through and gaining access.
- Adjust exterior lighting in parking lots to attract occasional pests away from structures.
- Ensure there is positive air flow in your facility with air blowing out.
- Maintain the landscape on the exterior of your facility by mowing the grass regularly, trimming shrubs and trees, and eliminating excess vegetation that serve as a food and or harborage source for occasional invaders.
“It is hard to pinpoint and eliminate all the conducive conditions in the surrounding area of a facility that promote occasional invaders and that is why hardening your facility through good exclusion practices is a must,” adds Roden.