Pest-Proofing Your Facility for Winter

The temperature may have dropped, and rain (or even snow and ice) may be in the forecast with greater frequency – welcome to winter.

And while conventional thinking would tell you that pest activity all but ceases during the winter months that isn’t the case. Clients will see a reduction of pest pressure during the colder months with some species of insects becoming less active and entering their overwintering stage but the threat from pests, especially rodents, never truly goes away.

In fact, rodent pressure can increase inside commercial facilities over the winter months as rodents seek a warmer place to live and for food sources that have become scarcer outside.

The key to preventing rodents (and other pests) from gaining access to your facility this winter starts by implementing preventive controls to establish an environment that is decidedly unfriendly to pests.

How can facility and property managers make their facilities less hospitable to pests this winter?

Seal Up Your Facility – The most effective defense against pests is preventing them from gaining access to your facility in the first place. It starts with your maintenance team or pest management professional staying on top of exclusion practices from top to bottom:

  • Use quality exclusion materials installed by a trained professional or you will be wasting your time and money.
  • Inspect and seal all insect and rodent pathways entering or connecting to structures at ground level, below ground and above ground.
  • Most pest exclusion programs forget to cover a structure’s roof – one of the most common entry points for insects and rodents with its multiple vents and utility openings.
  • Make sure overhead loading dock and entry doors have sturdy weather-stripping installed to deny pests, especially rodents, access.

Don’t underestimate a rodent’s ability to gain access to a building; mice only need an opening of a ¼ inch to make their way inside.

Stay on Top Sanitation/Equipment Cleaning Protocols. Winter is not time to let your guard down when it comes to sanitation. Maintaining good sanitation practices on the production floor, storage and warehousing, and loading dock areas, and on the exterior of a facility are critical to not attracting pests.

  • Regularly empty trash receptacles and don’t let used product packaging to collect – pests like clutter.
  • Keep trash dumpsters closed and as far from the building as possible. Even in winter trash and its odors will attract pests. Employees should be instructed to place trash only inside trash containers, and all should have pest-resistant lids/covers that are kept closed.
  • Clean floor drains to prevent food particles from building up and attracting pests.

Inspect Incoming Shipments. The most common way for pests to gain access to a facility is inside incoming shipments of processed and unprocessed food and packaging. Close inspections of pallets and shipping containers on the loading dock before they are accepted is vital to keep pests out. Do not hesitate to reject an incoming shipment if you see signs or evidence of pests (i.e. droppings, gnaw marks, broken packaging, etc.).

Properly Store and Clean Equipment. Winter is also a good time to deep clean food processing equipment that is being stored during non-production times. Most pests will take harborage about anywhere they can find shelter. If you keep equipment, crates and pallets, etc. unprotected outdoors, you not only attract pests seeking shelter, but you risk the chance of bringing those pests into the facility when the equipment is brought inside.

Stay on Top of Grounds Maintenance. Keep the landscape around your facility to a minimum and well-maintained even during winter. Overgrown shrubs and grass provide the perfect cover for rodents looking for a way in.

Weeds, grass, yard waste piles and downed branches can provide shelter for a vast range of pests. Additionally, keeping a two-foot band around the perimeter of the facility completely free of grass, plants, or organic material will create a non-attracting buffer zone.

Even standard landscaping ground cover, such as mulch and bark, can provide food and shelter for pests, and increase their access into the facility.

Eliminate Excess Moisture.  Moisture is one of the greatest of pest attractants – whether it be puddling in low-lying areas, stopped-up drainpipes, or other leaks. On the interior check pipes and faucets for leaks and fix them. Exterior areas that accumulate water or excess moisture from rain or snow should be regularly drained. Grounds should be built up to slope away from the building; downspouts directed away from the facility; and stone, rock, or other non-absorbent materials used for landscaping.

Commercial Properties