Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Pest Management
Pest monitoring devices for winter storage maintenance


September 2, 2020
By Alice Sinia, Orkin Canada

Topics
Improper storage techniques can allow pests to more easily access boxes and other packages containing products. Photo by Albany Colley.

As temperatures drop and days get shorter, pests make their way toward civilization – otherwise known as your buildings and warehouses – for the winter. Just like us, pests avoid freezing temperatures and harsh weather by seeking warmth and shelter indoors. Before closing up shop or maintaining your facility during colder months, it is important to incorporate a pest management program into your winter maintenance plan.

While pests are a nuisance to any business, they can also cause expensive damage and risk the health and safety of consumers and employees. Products and shipments frequently travel in and out of any logistics facility, allowing ample opportunity for pests to sneak inside. If not inspected regularly, these pests can quickly work their way into stored products or incoming shipments and contaminate any products they come in contact with. This contamination can lead to a loss of product and higher cost of labour to repackage and process a new shipment. Over time, these expenses can put added pressure to business operations and affect your bottom line. 

A proactive, effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help your facility combat increased pest pressures by deterring pests from encroaching on your business – and prevent pests from taking a bite out of your revenue. Limiting pests’ access to your building and implementing frequent pest monitoring can help keep them out and keep your facility in tip-top shape. 

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Pest monitoring devices 

Unfortunately for fruit and vegetable growers, your facility offers pests the warmth, food, water and shelter they need to survive the cold this winter. Pest monitoring devices can help you stay one step ahead of pests and keep your business operations running smoothly all season long. 

Choosing the right pest monitoring devices can seem intimidating to any business owner or operations manager. With the help of your pest management provider, you can determine which devices can effectively monitor pest activities inside your facility. Consider using  common devices that can help you detect a pest presence in your building, such as:

  • Remote rodent monitoring stations. While these devices can be expensive, remote rodent monitoring stations are capable of sending a signal to mobile devices or can even alert your pest management provider any time a rodent is sensed inside the trap. Timely rodent detection leads to timely control and can prevent infestations. 
  • Insect monitoring devices. These sticky glue boards are placed strategically throughout the inside of facilities to passively capture both flying and crawling insects. While these devices cannot be used to control pest populations, they can help you and your pest management provider determine what type of pests are invading the facility, how many are present, how they are getting in and any possible pressure points to consider.  
  • Electric insect light traps. Larger flies, such as house flies and bottle flies, can be monitored using light traps that are placed around the inside of warehouses or other buildings in select areas. These devices use ultra-low voltage (ULV) light to attract pests and then use an electric zapper or glue board to contain the pest inside the trap. 

Deploying your employees

Your team is the first line of defence against pests. No matter an individual’s role within your business, every single employee should be encouraged to take part in your facility’s pest management practices by being aware of potential indicators. 

Employees are in constant contact with every aspect of your business, all the way from production to shipping and handling. Training team members on the ins and outs of your pest management program not only helps educate each member on what to look out for but can provide them with a procedure to follow if a pest is spotted. Create and use a pest sighting log as a tool to communicate amongst your team about the types and timing of pest activity.

A detailed pest sighting log can help determine which areas of your facility are susceptible to pest activity or may even need additional treatment. To create an effective pest log, encourage employees to include details like the number, type and location of pests spotted. This information can be used to inform your IPM program and make it more effective in the long run. 

Sealing out pests

Even the smallest gap or structural deficiency can allow pests inside your building. Before pests start seeking shelter from the cold, establish a routine facility maintenance schedule and frequently inspect for pest activity. Be sure to note any crack or crevice around doors and windows, and keep an eye out for any holes in exterior-facing walls. 

No space is too small for a pest to make its way inside. Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a pinky finger and rats can enter through holes the size of a thumb, while pests like flies and crawling insects need much smaller spaces to enter. Caulking any gaps with sealant and repairing holes around your building’s structure can deter pests from invading your space and allow your business to remain pest-free. 

Protecting products

Fruits, vegetables and other food products are the ideal food source for hungry pests, so the way facilities store products and manage shipments is crucial to protecting them from pests. Especially for environments with ripe, rotten and decaying or even fermented products like beer, pests like fruit flies are all too common. Unfortunately for areas with these products, insects like these are drawn to and can reproduce quickly in these environments.

Incoming shipments can unknowingly harbour pests directly into your warehouses if uninspected. As trucks bring shipments to your facility, have employees inspect for gnaw marks on packaging, shed wings and cast skins, pest droppings and dead or live pests. These factors can all be signs of a pest problem. Finding an isolated pest incident before pests have the opportunity to enter the building can save you from a pest-provoked headache later. 

Proper product storage can also help prevent a pest problem from plaguing your business. Improper storage techniques can allow pests to more easily access boxes and other packages containing products. Examples of proper storage techniques include:

  • Place shipments above the ground. Pallets and shelving can lift products off of the ground, making it more difficult for pests to access what is inside each package. 
  • Prevent products from being stored for a prolonged period of time. The longer packages sit in one spot, the greater opportunity pests have to infest. Be diligent about moving the oldest products out of your facility in a prompt fashion before shipping out newer products. 
  • Isolate contaminated products. If a product that has been contaminated by pests is discovered, quickly isolate that package or shipment away from the rest of your stored products. This can prevent the pest population from spreading from one shipment to another. 

Don’t let pests make a mess of your facility. Protect your products – and your business – by shielding your space against pests before they begin looking for a place to hunker down this season. Include pest management in your winter preparedness plan to save your facility from a larger pest problem – and keep pests from taking over in the spring. 

 

Alice Sinia is quality assurance manager – regulatory/lab services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. She manages the quality assurance laboratory and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at asinia@orkincanada.com.