A New Year Brings New Pests

Each year dozens of invasive pest species are introduced across the United States. While some pose a greater degree of threat than others, all qualify as nuisances, especially for commercial food processing facilities.

The Sprague Pest Experts caught up with Dr. Jim Fredericks, the chief entomologist and vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Pest Management Association, and a board certified entomologist, to ask what “new” pests should commercial clients be concerned with in 2015.

Fredericks told the Sprague Pest Experts that the marmorated stink bug, a relative newcomer to the Pacific Northwest, was a pest to keep an eye on. Introduced to the Mid-Atlantic States in the 1990s, the brown marmorated stink bug found its way across the country in shipping crates, trucks, trailers and railcars.

As its’ names implies the stink bug does just that – stink – as it emits a foul odor when crushed. The stink bug is not known as a carrier of bacteria that can lead to food-borne illnesses but its large size (1/2 to ¾ inches long and wide) and presence within a commercial facility, especially one that is subject to third-party food safety audits, would not be welcome.

“Stink bugs are overwintering pests and will seek shelter inside facilities during the colder winter months,” says Fredericks. “Once inside they will hunker down and could find their way into food packaging or finished stored food and contaminate the product.”

The best prevention method for stink bugs is to deny them access to the facility by sealing cracks and openings, and conducting a thorough inspection of incoming shipments.

“Insect contamination of unfinished and finished food products is not only due to rodents, cockroaches or stored product pests, it can be any pest,” says Fredericks. “In today’s global food industry, shipments cross not only state lines but international borders, and are vulnerable to pest infestation at numerous points along the journey.”

Early detection is the key to getting the upper hand on invasive pests. If you or your staff encounters a “new” pest in your facility contact the Sprague Pest Experts immediately to make a proper identification and plot out a plan of action. It is also recommended that you isolate any product or material shipments where the pest was found to prevent further contamination.

Commercial Properties