By Dr. Alice Sinia, Ph.D.
Each season brings different challenges when it comes to pest prevention. Some pests that bug you during the spring and summer months are not likely the same pests that will bother you in the fall and winter. For this reason, regardless of the season, it’s important to take a customized approach to prevent problems before they begin.
Proper sanitation and prevention techniques implemented through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach will help deter and keep pests away from your restaurant, keeping customers satisfied and your business’ reputation protected.
As it warms up this spring, ants and flies are two pests commonly encountered in restaurant kitchens. Both of these pests constantly roam in search of food, so exclusion techniques are best for keeping them out. Flies carry a number of diseases that they can pass onto food simply by landing on it, so keeping them away from food and preparation areas should be a priority. With ants, a small colony could lead to a huge problem if left untreated. In fact, ants can establish a nest in your restaurant and grow into a colony of hundreds of thousands.
Following these simple steps can help keep ants and flies out during the warmer months:
- Sweep and clean off food spills and particles from floors and surfaces throughout the day. It doesn’t take a lot to attract ants and flies, as even a small amount of food left to linger can draw a crowd. Develop a deep cleaning schedule that will focus on hard-to-reach areas like dead-end spaces near equipment where potential food build-up can attract and provide breeding sites for pests.
- Store food in air-tight containers with labels.
- Find and correct moisture sources, as any buildup of water can attract ants and other pests.
- Seal any cracks around windows and doors to ensure there are no other openings for ants and flies to get in through. These pests can fit through tiny gaps, so eliminate any that you can find.
- Repair or install window screens if tears are present.
- Replace door seals and worn-out weather stripping around door edges to help keep pests out.
- Locate garbage and place dumpsters away from the building doors/entrance or windows. Schedule weekly dumpster/garbage pick-up, if possible. For cans inside your restaurant, make sure they have tightly sealed lids.
Later on as it starts to cool off in the fall and winter, ants and flies become less of an issue and other pests become a more active threat. More specifically, rodents and overwintering insects such as stink bugs, boxelder bugs and cluster flies. These pests will actively seek shelter indoors as the weather gets colder, so your restaurant will look like the perfect safe haven to them.
Like flies, rodents are known disease-carriers and can be a risk to your operations. Rodents will undoubtedly scare and keep guests away if spotted on the premises, but surprisingly, they can be tough to find during the daytime since they are normally active at night. Overwintering insects are similar in this sense, as they look for a place to stay for the winter before reemerging in the spring. While overwintering insects don’t pose as much of a health risk, they are a nuisance and can be extremely unpleasant if one is squished inside your restaurant. In fact, when they die indoors, they can become an attractant to other insects.
Here are some tips that you can use to keep out rodents and overwintering pests:
- Keep food sources protected, and don’t leave crumbs and garbage laying around.
- Reseal all cracks and holes on the exterior of your building before winter. Even rodents can find their way through, as they can compress their bodies and get through a hole the size of a quarter.
- Use weather stripping to seal gaps under doors and windows.
- If overwintering insects do get inside your restaurant, the best way to remove them is by vacuuming them up – avoid squishing them at all costs!
These tips can give you a head start on your pest management prior to seasonal changes and their related pest challenges. Even with the best pest prevention strategies in place, if you suspect pest activity, work with your pest management professional to identify problem areas and help keep your restaurant pest-free throughout the seasons.
About the author:
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 10 years of experience, she manages the Quality Assurance Laboratory for Orkin Canada 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orkincanada.com.