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Food Safety News

The Spring Pest Outlook

It might be hard to believe but warmer spring weather is coming. And with warmer weather comes increased pest pressure in and around commercial facilities.

The harsh winter weather the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions have endured this winter could have an impact on pest pressures this spring, according to Chris Sweezy, regional manager and an associate certified entomologist for RK Environmental Services.

Sweezy says vegetation growth on the exterior of structures could be impacted thus reducing potential pest harborages areas (a good thing) but forcing them to seek shelter, as well as new sources of food inside the closest structure (a bad thing).

What pests could be most active in and around your facility this spring?

The Spring Pest Watch List

  • Ants – While ants are not the health threat rodents, birds, flies or cockroaches are to food industry facilities, they are more than a nuisance. Under mandates of the Food Safety Modernization Act, any pest presence in a food plant is unacceptable and could cause the facility to fail a regulatory inspection or third-party audit. Pavement, pharaoh and carpenter ants are all expected to be abundant this spring and good sanitation and exclusion practices will deny ants access to your facility.
  • Flying Insects – As temperatures rise so will flying insect activity. Filth flies, such as house or bottle flies, and small flies, such as fruit, phorid and drain flies – are attracted to commercial accounts because of readily available sources of food and water. Inadequate sanitation practices in commercial kitchens and food production facilities, poor exterior lighting installation, lack of proper screening and drains clogged with food particles and moisture will attract flies.
  • Stored Product Pests – Warm weather will increase the reproductive rate of stored product pests including flour beetles and Indian meal moths. An infestation of stored product pests in a silo room or flour delivery system can compromise the quality of the product and result in financial losses to replace the product and remediate the situation.
  • Ticks – A very commonly encountered pest in the Northeast, ticks will not threaten the food products your facility produces, stores or ships but they do present a health threat in the form of Lyme disease. Employees and customers walking by tick infested brush adjacent to your facility’s parking lot could be exposed so it is important to stay on top of regular landscape maintenance practices including trimming shrubs, cutting grass and removing clutter.

Preparing for Spring Pests

Facility and QA managers can prepare for increased pest pressure by conducting a thorough inspection of their facility inside and out. The inspection will identify structural conditions (i.e. damage to ventilation screens, foundation, roof, exterior door frames and sweeps, etc.) that would allow pests access. It is important to document any corrective actions that were taken.

Sweezy also recommends adjusting pest monitoring programs to gauge population levels. The data collected by pest monitoring devices provides facility management and pest professionals with valuable clues as to pest harborages locations and root causes behind the infestation. It also provides historical trend data that can be used to map out a plan of action to correct the problem.

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