Archives - January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015

An Update on the Pollinator Issue

March

31

2015

Pollinator health has been in the news lately and there are a lot of questions, as well as some erroneous information, being presented. The Sprague Pest Experts are very aware of the important role pollinators play in agriculture production in the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain regions and across the country.
Bees, flies, moths and other insects help pollinate crops that in turn help yield the delicious and nutritious food that is served at our dinner tables and in restaurants. Ensuring that these pollinators are able to do their work is important for all of us.
Often times, stinging insects, specifically yellow jackets and wasps are mistaken as pollinators. Sprague’s Technical Director, Jeff Weier estimates that about 90 percent of the service requests that Sprague receives about “bees” actually end up being non pollinating, stinging insects. According to research from the National Pest Management Association, an estimated 500,000 people go to the hospital annually due to encounters with stinging insects. While yellow jackets and wasps pose risks to those working in or visiting commercial facilities, pollinators can easily be managed.
Finding the proper balance between preventing stinging insects from harming people and allowing them to carry out their important role pollinating crops, is a chief concern for the pest management industry and the Sprague Pest Experts. As a result, Sprague does not treat pollinating plants or crops with chemicals that could interfere with pollination.
The issue is a complex one and many factors contribute to pollinator health, including pests and parasites, microbial diseases, nutrition problems, loss of habitat and forage, and climate change.
As the spring and summer season approaches and service calls for stinging insects increase, the Sprague Pest Experts will make every effort to design control programs that use the latest application techniques and least environmentally impactful products. This will ensure both non-target pollinators and their habitats are not unnecessarily harmed while at the same time guaranteeing the public’s safety.
For more information on the pest management industry’s efforts to protect pollinators, visit http://www.pollinatorhealth.org/

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Tags: jeff weier  |  Pollinators  |  Bees  |  spring  |  summer

Don’t Get Your Feathers Ruffled With Nuisance Birds

March

31

2015

The spring pest season is about more than just pests that creep or crawl on the ground; it includes those that fly in and around your facility as well. For commercial facilities with potential nuisance bird issues spring is an important time to take action.

With migratory birds returning from their winter hiatus it is critical to prevent them from establishing nesting sites in and around your facility. The timing, especially with swallows and woodpeckers, is vital because these species are protected by federal law and cannot be disturbed once they establish a nesting site and lay eggs.

“We are seeing increased bird activity with many of our accounts,” says Keith Rowney, Sprague’s special services manager and resident bird expert. “From migratory species, like swallows and geese, to everyday nuisance species including sparrows, starlings and pigeons, spring is definitely the time to review your bird management program.”

As birds search for nesting sites and mates, and gather materials to construct their nests, commercial property owners, managers, building engineers and quality assurance managers need to monitor their facility – inside and out – for signs of bird activity.

If you do notice bird activity, contact the Sprague Pest Experts immediately. We will assess the situation, survey and document our findings, and create a timeline and action plan that meet your operational and budget requirements.

“Timing is critical in the spring when it comes to bird management because of the protected species,” says Rowney. “If you allow a nesting site to be established you cannot touch it until fall when the birds vacate the area for the winter.”

Waiting will force commercial clients as well as their customers to endure a summer of unsightly and annoying bird droppings in and around their facility. And for clients involved in food processing the presence of birds can lead to an increased risk of contamination of food materials and packaging as a result of bird droppings.

“The increased awareness third-party audit inspectors are placing on bird issues is making clients take a second look at their protocols,” says Rowney. “There is very little tolerance for having bird infestations that present serious health risks such as listeria or salmonella in or around a food plant.”

Using the latest bird exclusion technology and practices including netting and landing deterrents, Sprague will design a custom solution for your facility.

Rowney says Sprague is also offering clients a long-term approach to reduce the size of nuisance bird flocks– bird birth control. The service leverages a U.S. EPA approved product that has also been recognized by the Humane Society of the United States as a humane treatment method for bird management.

While not a short-term solution to a nuisance bird infestation – it can take up to two years – bird birth control is a viable long-term

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Tags: bird exclusion  |  birds

Preparing for Quarterly Program Reviews

March

19

2015

The calendar tells us spring is officially arriving this month and that the end of first quarter is upon us. For quality assurance managers the end of the first quarter also means it is time to prepare for the quarterly review with their pest management service provider.

Food industry professionals should not dread these reviews like a trip to the principal’s office but rather view them as an opportunity to make sure the pest management programs within their facility are working and if corrective actions need to be taken, they are being done promptly.

What do QA managers need to do to prepare for their quarterly reviews? The Sprague Pest Experts have conducted hundreds of these reviews and encourage clients to keep these key points in mind:

Keep Good Documentation – Accurate and detailed documentation is the only way to verify that the proper pest management processes are being done, when they are being done and what methods are being used to achieve them. If you do not have the proper documentation assembled you leave your facility vulnerable to an auditor’s questions and risk receiving a poor audit score. The Sprague Pest Experts will go over your documentation during your quarterly review and let you if something is missing.

Types of Documentation – What documentation is needed for your program review and, more importantly, an audit? Key documents include:

  • An overview of the pest program in place, who is responsible for doing what and what pests are being targeted.
  • Service reports listing details on each service visit including date, time and what service was provided.
  • Pesticide usage logs detailing what products were used, where and when they were used, the active ingredient and what type of pests were targeted.
  • Maps/layouts of where pest control devices are located; keeping these updated is important.
  • Pest sighting logs that your staff uses whenever they see a pest within the facility; be sure to include the time, date and location of the sighting.

Review Pest Trend Data – With data from pest sighting logs and reports your pest management provider will help you identify pest trends in your facility that require corrective action.

Discuss Corrective Actions – When your pest management service provider makes a recommendation for corrective action it should be noted in a corrective action report. The details of what actions were prescribed and, more importantly, when the corrective actions were taken, should be listed. Following up on corrective actions is a major element in any third-party audit.

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Tags: 2015  |  Quarterly Review

Preparing For an Early Spring Pest Season

March

19

2015

The milder, above average temperatures the Pacific Northwest is experiencing this year may or may not be a symptom of global warming but one thing is for sure, it has given pests a head start as we roll into spring.

The first quarter of 2015 has been a busy one for the Sprague Pest Experts as we partner with clients to prepare for third-party audits, navigate new food safety regulations, and maintain pest-free environments in their facilities. It also has seen increased pest activity as ants, stinging insects and flies break out of their over-wintering behavior to threaten clients’ facilities.

Warmer temperatures, longer days, moisture and mating cycles all contribute to the rise in pest activity across the region and the Sprague Pest Experts are pro-actively working to help clients get their staff and facilities ready to combat these threats.

Sprague technicians and quality assurance managers are conducting thorough top to bottom inspections looking for signs of pest activity as well as identifying deficiencies in the structural, cultural or management protocols of the facility that may have developed over the winter.

For example, strong winter winds and heavy rains could loosen or damage screening on ventilation openings providing pests with easy access to a structure. Or your primary contact at an account may have left and during the transition period before their replacement was hired, protocols may have slipped through the cracks, just like an ant would.

Following inspection our technicians will record their findings and make corrective action recommendations to remedy the situation. The Sprague Pest Experts remind clients to be vigilant their sanitation protocols and educate staff on how to spot potential pest issues.

Spring Pest Prevention Tips

  • Perform A Thorough Inspection and Seal Up Access Points – Check roofs, gutters, window and door frames and screens, ventilation and utility openings, foundations and exterior walls for openings. - Repair openings with caulk or sealants to keep pests out; repair leaky faucets and eliminate sources of excess moisture. Install door sweeps, air curtains or roll up style doors in loading dock areas to cut down on pest access.
  • Keep Vegetation Trimmed – Overgrown vegetation provides an ideal harborage for a variety of pests. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed, and maintain an 18 to 24-inch barrier between vegetation and the structure.
  • Do A Good Spring Cleaning – Spring is a good time to do a thorough cleaning of your facility. Review your sanitation protocols to make sure they are meeting your needs, remove clutter in storage areas, and deep clean under equipment that hasn’t been moved recently.
  • Schedule A Bioremediation Treatment – Keeping drains free of grease and oil build up is an important part of an effective pest management program. A monthly bioremediation service from Sprague can help food processing and service facilities maintain good drain “health” and reduce pest access to an easy meal.

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Tags: insect control  |  spring pests

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