Tips to help prevent warehouse pest threats
Although warehouses are designed for storing goods, they are ideal hiding places for pests as they only provide three things they need to survive – food, water, and shelter. In your warehouse, pests are not only resilient, but also difficult to get rid of. From contaminated shipments to damaged packaging, pests can cause extensive damage that can have costly consequences. And since shipments are constantly moving in and out of the system, the risk of letting in an unwanted intruder is high.
Proactive measures are critical to preventing pests from harming your warehouse, supply chain and profits. The best management tool is an in-depth pest control plan that starts with a strong partnership with a pest controller.
Pest control professionals should share warehouse pest control best practices by identifying pest threats, addressing critical hot spots, and engaging your staff.
Detect pests and their business cards
Before developing a pest control plan and engaging your staff, it is important to understand what types of pests are likely to enter your warehouse. The first step in proactive pest control is to identify their key features and spot any tell-tale signs of their presence. Common pests in warehouses are rodents, cockroaches, flies, and food storage pests. Although there are many different types, these pests have certain distinctive features:
Rodents are 7-14 inches in length. But don’t let their size fool you – they can squeeze into holes as small as a quarter. From grease stains on walls and shipments to gnawed boxes and electrical cables, rodents know how to leave their mark. Their waste products and saliva can contaminate products and surfaces that are known to directly or indirectly transmit 35 diseases, including hantavirus, salmonellosis and typhoid.
· Cockroaches have flat, oval bodies that are typically brown with gray or red undertones, depending on the species. These six-legged pests have been known to run from place to place quickly and hide out of sight by squeezing into crevices the width of a penny. With their affinity for cardboard, shipping glue, and moisture, cockroaches can ravage a warehouse.
· Flies are one of the most common pests. Most flies are smaller than 1/4 inch with a single set of wings, six legs, and mouthparts ideal for frothing food. Flies, which are strong day fliers who can easily find entry points, cause more than just a buzzing nuisance and pose a real health hazard. Every time flies land on a surface, they leave behind bacteria-laden materials that can cause dangerous diseases like E. coli, Salmonella typhi, Shigella and Staphylococcus. Flies can also mean a bigger hygiene issue that needs to be addressed.
· Food warehouse pests are a problem for warehouses processing food products and are different in appearance. Rice beetles and red flour beetles, for example, are small brown insects that are known to find their way into grain products. Indian flour moths and almond moths have wings that give them more mobility in your camp. Regardless of the type, these pests will contaminate the food they house and damage your reputation and bottom line.
Address critical hot spots
Hot spots are areas that attract pests and invite them into your camp with the promise of food, water, and shelter. Each of these spots primarily attracts pests by providing some form of entry and putting your profit on the line. Addressing each of these hot spots can help protect your warehouse against pests:
· Seal entry points. Eliminating possible entry points is a must when it comes to pest control. Pay close attention to doors and windows and keep them closed as much as possible. Access points aren’t limited to people – notice and seal gaps, cracks, and crevices that allow pests just enough room to enter your facility.
· Monitor the camp outside. Pay careful attention to the perimeter of the building. Outside bait stations can help reduce pressure from rodents and reduce the chances of rodents getting inside, which is their main goal. Don’t forget to trim the exterior landscaping, which can not only attract and hide pests, but also provide them with a ladder into your facility.
· Check incoming shipments. Check every skid every time. Even if your warehouse logs are at eye level, there is no guarantee that this can be said of your suppliers too. Canceling a shipment loaded with pests before it reaches the warehouse can prevent infestation. So make sure that your employees know when and how a shipment can be canceled due to malware activity.
· Rotate product storage. Reduce the likelihood of your products providing housing by regularly moving products around the warehouse. Maintain an “inspection aisle” of at least 18 inches between stacks of product and the walls to inspect behind and between the stacks. Taking products apart helps cushioning so you can react if you discover that an area of your warehouse is at risk.
Involve your employees
With your eyes and ears on the ground, your staff’s positions are your first line of defense to pest control warehouse. Keeping a pest detection log that your staff can use to record any issues they encounter is the best way to ensure pest activity is not being ignored. A procedure for reporting and recording pest activity can also help you avoid further problems.
Documenting a problem is only the first step. Make sure you have one or more employees responsible for checking the log for new entries on a regular basis. A pest sighting log is only as useful as it is verified. By checking the log for new entries, you are helping to get the most out of your employees’ insights and can call your provider at the first sign of malware activity. When working with your pest control provider, ask if they offer resources or training to educate your staff about their imperative role in rodent prevention.
When developing your proactive pest control plan, be sure to reach out to a pest control expert with storage experience. They can work with you to meet the specific needs of your warehouse and educate you and your staff on the best ways to avoid further problems. Together you can develop an integrated pest control plan that will help you forestall any pest problem. And with this bespoke plan, you can be sure that your warehouse is protected from pests.