Tag Archives: pest management

Brett Madden, Aviaway
Bug Bytes

Strategies and Building Design Improvements to Help Prevent Birds

By R. Brett Madden
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Brett Madden, Aviaway

Bird droppings and nesting materials, if allowed to accumulate over time, can cause severe damage to building facades, ledges, loading docks, walkways, roofs and more. Building materials such as stone, wood and metal can be damaged due to the acidity of the bird droppings. And in extreme cases, a buildup of bird droppings can impact the structural integrity of a structure. Also, roof drains can become clogged, and fire hazards from packed nesting materials around electrical fixtures can develop. Not to mention all the possible diseases that can result from disturbing bird droppings! Rather than waiting until these bird problems develop and result in potentially expensive remediation, in most cases, it will be cheaper to consider bird prevention design elements beforehand—specifically, in the design-build stage (ideally) or the retrofit stage (alternatively).

Before we can review the building design elements, it is best to review the types of areas that birds prefer to land, roost and nest. This way, when considering a design element, considering the kinds of spaces they prefer to set up camp will make more sense.

  • 90-Degree Ledges
    • Building ledges
    • Decorative elements
    • Truck bay bumpers
  • Knee Walls (parapet ledges)
    • Typical construction around most commercial buildings
    • Roof structure types
    • Flat based surface areas
  • Covered Overhangs
    • Loading docks
    • Building canopies
    • Interior building structures
  • Roofing Equipment
    • Under HVAC units
    • Ductwork
    • Roof equipment
  • Water Sources
    • Retention ponds
    • Decorative fountains
    • Any water source (natural or otherwise)
  • Food Sources
    • Fruit trees
    • Trash removal
    • Container practices
    • Proximity to building
  • Light Fixtures and Electrical Items
    • These items provide warmth
    • These items provide elevated areas to survey area and avoid predators

In the design-build phase of the project, when we work with architects, we always recommend decreasing the number of 90-degree ledges or reducing the ledge depth surface area as much as possible. In those areas that we are not able to reduce or eliminate the ledge, we would recommend a landing-based deterrent product such as a bird spike, bird wire, ledge exclusion system or electrified shock-based bird control product. Each of these types of bird deterrent items has different pros and cons.

Bird spikes, Aviaway
Bird spikes (All images courtesy of Aviaway Bird Control Services & Consulting)

Bird Spikes

Bird spikes are a type of bird deterrent/and anti-roosting device that will make it hard for a bird to land on a leading ledge and close its wings as it walks onto the ledge surface. When a bird’s landing process is made more difficult, combined with a reduction of the surface landing area, the birds will be deterred from the leading ledge area. Most types of bird spikes have thin metal/plastic rods that are attached to a solid base that point in an upward direction. Bird spikes come in various widths depending upon the surface ledge width area. Bird spikes can be mounted to just about any ledge/surface. Bird spikes can be installed on numerous types of building ledge types and sizes. Bird spikes can be an effective deterrent on gutters, signs, rooflines, cameras, pipes, parapet/knee walls, and related building surfaces.

A con of using bird spikes is that bird spikes are primarily designed to deter larger birds like pigeons. Smaller birds such as sparrows or starlings will not be deterred with bird spikes. A smaller bird can move within and around the rods to use the rods to hold nesting materials within the strands of rods to hold their nesting materials within the bird spike to create a nest. Another con is that larger quantities of bird spikes are unappealing to the building aesthetics.

Bird wire

A bird wire system is a combination of stainless-steel posts that are either epoxied or tapped and drilled into the surface area (typically mortar lines/joints). After the stainless-steel post is mounted, a thin monofilament stainless steel wire is secured between the posts with a micro-spring. The wire is tensioned between the two posts. As pigeons or larger birds attempt to land on treated areas, they will not be able to close their wings and thus will be deterred from landing on treated areas.

A con of using bird wire is that it is typically only effective against larger birds.

Ledge exclusion
Ledge exclusion

Ledge Exclusion

The goal is to turn a 90-degree angle into a 45-degree angle. When you have a ledge that has a base landing area and a return wall area, this allows birds a great shelter area and an ability to survey surroundings. By creating a 45-degree angle, you take a bird’s ability to land and get a foothold and land on the surface. The product is effective for larger birds such as pigeons and smaller birds, too.

The only real con of the changing the ledge structure is matching the building finish. However, this is the best bird exclusion method that is effective against all bird species.

Shock Track

Shock track is a low-profile shock track system with a minimalist low profile, and virtually invisible solution to deter and prevent birds from landing, roosting or nesting on building ledge-based surfaces. The shock track system will deliver a mild/startling electric shock when the bird contacts the strip. Shock track systems are a great option when building/structural aesthetics are a key factor for the facility.

For larger areas such as loading docks, canopies, and related covered structures, netting is the main bird exclusion method.

A few cons for a shock system are that at times, you may have some arcing with heavy snow or water collection when connection area of the strips make contact, and this system is typically only effective against larger birds.

Bird netting
Bird netting

Bird Netting

Bird netting is an exclusion method of bird control. It is intended to be installed on buildings, loading docks, warehouses, airport hangers, transportation facilities, barns, food silos, over building exteriors, balconies, parking garages, rooftops, HVAC units, bridges, agricultural crop applications, ponds, and any other surface that netting hardware can be installed. Bird netting is the best method for excluding all pest bird types. Specifically, seagulls, pigeons, sparrows, starlings, and crows can all be excluded from bird netting.

Bird exclusion netting will prevent birds from gaining entry above any areas that are netted off. It excludes pest birds from roosting and nesting. There are various types of netting and mesh sizes. When selecting the type of netting and mesh size, it is critical to both the target pest bird and where the netting is being installed.

By far, bird netting the best bird exclusion method to control all bird species. The only con of bird netting is that depending upon the application, and the cost can be expensive.

In conclusion, when considering the design-build phase or a retrofit project, the aforesaid areas that are attractive to birds to land, roost and nest should be considered. In most cases, birds can be prevented with a bit of planning.

Remember to also consider surrounding areas (proximity of birds), acceptable pest bird threshold levels, reducing all food and water sources, and closing off all possible entry points. The goal is to not only prevent the birds from setting up shop on the building, but we want to try to keep them an acceptable distance away, too.

Brett Madden, Aviaway
Bug Bytes

How to Prepare an Integrated Bird Management Audit Program

By R. Brett Madden
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Brett Madden, Aviaway

Birds of different species can become a pest problem depending upon where they are landing, roosting or nesting. In terms of food facilities, birds can cause various concerns: Product safety risks, possible contamination (bird droppings/feathers), poor audit grades, inspection failure, secondary insect pest problems, vectoring of foodborne illness pathogens, plant closures or fines. It is for these reasons that it is essential that food, beverage and product manufacturers (FBP) establish an integrated bird management (IBM) program.

An IBM program will ensure that every essential team member is on the same page in terms of the protocols for managing pest birds within and around the facility. Even if a facility has taken a proactive approach to bird control, the potential exists for birds to enter a facility. Especially considering bird pressures around adjacent properties, buildings, bodies of water and food sources near the facility.

Read Part I of this series: Bird Problems and Control Methods for Food Production FacilitiesIBM for food industry facilities is a systematic approach to preventing birds from gaining access within a facility and reducing the length of time birds remain within a facility. Nuisance birds, depending upon how severe the bird pressure—i.e., how many birds are landing, roosting and/or nesting within a given area—can cause severe damage to equipment, property, food products, displays, vegetation, façade signage, ledges, roofs, HVAC equipment, drains, fire suppression, electrical equipment and more. The longer that birds are permitted to remain within and around a facility, the more damage they can cause, and the harder it is to remedy the problem. Thus, it is critical to remove any birds that have gained entry as soon as possible to prevent possible FBP contamination and the birds getting comfortable within the facility.

There are several components to developing an IBM program. First, you need to conduct a complete inspection of the interior/exterior of the facility, followed by a review of the current data as well as any historical bird data. Now that you have all the raw data, you can begin developing the site-specific IBM plan for the FBP facility. Now that you have the program designed, the program can be implemented. Finally, after a defined timeframe that the IBM program has been active, the program needs to be evaluated to determine if any adjustments need to be made to the program.

Inspection

The first step in developing an IBM program is to conduct an initial site inspection audit of the interior and exterior of the facility.

Integrated bird management, audits, food safety
An example of an integrated bird management food safety audit checklist. Credit: Aviaway

The following various elements need to be inspected and with said findings documented.

Interior audit, pest management
An example of an interior audit spreadsheet. Source: Aviaway. (Click to enlarge)

On the interior of the facility, look at the following items:

  • Active Birds with the Facility
    • List the areas and locations of birds
      • Example: Location(s): Food prep area(s), warehouse, etc.
    • Any history of birds and related areas
  • Interior Landscaping
    • Type(s) and necessity
  • Food Processing Areas
    • Any active control measures in place
    • Assess the level of risk
  • Bay Doors
  • Location(s): Gaps
  • Location(s): Bumpers
  • General Doors
    • Location(s): Gaps
    • Location(s): Bumpers
    • Location(s): Structural
    • Location(s): Doors left open
  • Additional Access Point(s)
    • Check all equipment areas that enter/exit building
  • Pipe-Line Penetrations
  • Sanitation
  • Conductive Conditions
    • Location(s): Standing water
    • Location(s): Food Sources
    • Debris
  • Bird Droppings or Nesting Materials
  • Staff feeding birds
    • All access to food and water
Exterior audit, pest management
An example of an exterior audit spreadsheet. Source: Aviaway. (Click to enlarge)

On the exterior of the facility, look at the following items:

  • Active birds with the facility
    • List the areas and locations of birds
      • Example: Locations(s): Rear loading dock
    • Any history of birds around the exterior of the facility
  • Adjacent Structures
    • Accessory buildings and structures
  • Sanitation Practices (Exterior)
    • Location(s): Dumpsters
    • Exposed food sources and spillage
  • Trash Receptacles
  • Trash Removal Frequency
  • Food Waste on Ground
  • Cleaning Practices
  • Cleaning Practices Schedule
  • Cleaning Food Waste Bins
  • Motion Doors
  • Bay Doors (Exterior)
    • Location(s): Gaps
    • Location(s): Bumpers
    • Location(s): Structural
  • General Doors (Exterior)
    • Location(s) Doors Being Left Open
  • Additional Access Point(s)
  • Bodies of Water
  • Conductive Conditions
  • Structural (Exterior)
    • Location(s): Pipe-Line Penetrations
    • Location(s): Flashing
    • Location(s): Pipes
    • Location(s): Openings
    • Location(s): Roof
    • Location(s): Roof Hatches
    • Location(s): Windows
    • Location(s): Canopy (Front/Rear)
    • Location(s): Awnings (Front/Rear)
    • Location(s): Façade Signage (Front/Rear/Side)
  • Drainage
  • Standing Water
  • Clogged Drains
  • Landscaping
    • Retention ponds
  • Bird Droppings or Nesting Materials
  • Exterior Storage
  • Merchandise Displays
  • Existing Bird Control Devices

Review

Next, after all the above items have been inspected and findings recorded, all the data needs to be reviewed. In addtion, all the current bird management practices within the facility, documentation practices, and current audit/inspection findings should be all evaluated together. All this information is your road map for developing your IBM Program. Make sure that while you are collecting all the said raw data, you also speak with all necessary staff to get the most accurate information possible.

Documentation

Now that you have conducted your inspections and collected all the data, it’s time to create a site-specific IBM Policy & Plan for the facility. The development and implementation of the IBM plan will provide the appropriate procedures that are to be implemented to prevent, control and exclude birds from entering a facility and from keeping birds an acceptable distance away from the facility. With proper training and implementation of IBM procedures, there will be a reduced likelihood that birds will be able to enter the facility, and the length of time birds remain inside the facility will be reduced—thus, reducing the level of pest bird damage caused, reducing hazards to food sources, equipment, the public, and the facility environment.

Each facility is unique in its operation, location and potential for bird activity. The facility’s IBM plan will be designed to factor its control options when remedying and preventing bird pressure.

Implementation

Now that you have an IBM Plan, it’s time to implement the plan. First, make any necessary changes based upon findings of the audit and review of all data. Next, correct any conducive conditions that were discovered during the inspection. All the items that may require adjustment may need to be planned out depending upon budgetary constraints. Define staff roles regarding bird control efforts on a front-line facility level. Each member of the action team must fully understand their role and responsibility about the implementation and day-to-day operation of the plan.

The IBM Plan is the roadmap that should be followed for managing pest birds throughout the interior and exterior of the facility and related structures. It will set forth the facility’s bird threshold levels and site-specific facility needs. Furthermore, the IBM Plan will provide in detail how each phase of the plan will be implemented at each facility. The facility coordinator, in collaboration with the IBM coordinator, shall be responsible for the administration and implementation of the IBM plan. Each of their roles and responsibly should be thoroughly reviewed and understood.

Next, conduct staff training on proper bird control removal methods if handing live removal internally. Otherwise, what are the approved processes for third-party vendors who are providing removal services? Finally, conduct a review of the new documentation process to record all necessary data for the IBM program. Data collection is a critical component in evaluating the success of the plan and determining if any adjustments need to be made.

Evaluation

To ensure goal compliance, the IBM program should be evaluated at each site annually. The review must consist of all records, the number of birds that gained access into the store, corrective actions taken (at the facility level and outside efforts), and any plan adjustments. By reviewing all the data collected, the plan’s effectiveness can be determined, and whether alterations need to be made. Note that the IBM plan is not a static document that sits in a binder. The plan will have to evolve as operations change, or the set goals of the program are not met.

Conclusion

A proactive approach to reducing bird populations is critical for food industry facilities. As such, the IBM program will ensure that your entire staff is adequately trained on all the site-specific bird control methods, reduce the frequency of birds entering the facility and create a documented bird control program that is designed for your specific facility.

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

If You Think Plague Is a Thing of the Past, Think Again

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Rodents are vectors of more than 50 pathogens, including plague.1 While plague may be considered a problem of the past, according to the World Health Organization, between 2010 and 2015, there were 3,248 cases of reported plague worldwide and 584 deaths. While it is clearly not the 1300’s when the plague killed millions, the CDC confirms, “plague occurs in rural and semi-rural areas of the western United States, primarily in semi-arid upland forests and grasslands where many types of rodent species can be involved.” While the fact that plague is still lurking is a bit surprising, it should be no surprise that rodents can spread more than 50 diseases. Not the least of these diseases is Salmonella braenderup, the cause of recall of approximately 206,749,248 eggs in 2018. The good news: In the age of IoT, new technology can enable an immediate response to help prevent infestations from growing out of control.

With rodent populations on the rise due to climate change and the resultant public health issues in major cities across the United States, public health officials and pest managers face unimaginable challenges in staying ahead of rapidly growing and spreading rodent infestations. Earlier this year, Los Angeles had a typhus outbreak that resulted from a rat infestation near an encampment for those experiencing homelessness. The unsanitary conditions created a harborage for rats that spread the flea-borne illness. Cases of typhoid have doubled in the area since 2012. When and where will the next pathogen outbreak from rodent activity hit?

If that’s not frightening enough, it is important to highlight that once an infected, flea-carrying rodent enters a facility, eliminating the rodent does not always necessarily mean eliminating the presence of plague pathogens. The World Health Organization explains that once vectors have been introduced through rodents and their fleas, it is not enough to eliminate rodents. Vector control must take place before rodent control because “killing rodents before vectors will cause the fleas to jump to new hosts.”

Controlling the spread of pathogens via rodents is becoming increasingly important, particularly in sensitive environments like food processing and manufacturing facilities. Effective management begins with early and accurate detection and sustained through continuous monitoring. However, the traditional method of manual rodent inspection by its very nature cannot provide facility and pest managers with either early detection or continuous monitoring.

Thanks to IoT, monitoring systems can now be used in a wide variety of rodent monitoring devices inside and outside a facility. The systems transmit messages in real time over wireless networks and provide pest managers, facility management and public health officials with 24/7 visibility of rodent activity in a monitored location, which will enable more timely responses and help improve the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Digital IoT technologies are rapidly becoming the modern proactive tool used to help predict and control rodent issues before they occur in an age when traditional, reactive methods are insufficient.

Reference

  1. Meerburg, B.G., Singleton, G.R., and Kijlstra, A. (2009). “Rodent-borne Diseases and their Risk for Public Health”. Crit Rev Microbiol.
Brett Madden, Aviaway
Bug Bytes

Bird Problems and Control Methods for Food Production Facilities

By R. Brett Madden
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Brett Madden, Aviaway

Various types of pest birds can impact food plant structures and facility surroundings. Even a single bird that finds its way into a food plant can trigger a host of concerns such as, failed audits, product contamination, plant closure, production stoppage, lost revenues, fines, structural damage, health hazards to occupants and fire hazards.

In most cases, a food plant operation has a bulletproof pest control plan; however, in most cases, birds are always an afterthought in most pest management plans. After inspecting and consulting numerous food plants, I hear the same story over and over: “I have a person in the warehouse that can chase them out” or, “are birds really a big deal?” or, “why do I have to be concerned about birds?” and on and on. Despite what you may think, birds are a big deal, and you should take them seriously!

Pest management, pigeon droppings HVAC
Larger birds, such as pigeons, can cause more problems around the exterior of a facility on HVAC units as seen here. (Image courtesy of Aviaway Bird Control Services & Consulting)

Since food processing plants contain areas that have very sensitive environments, birds can introduce various adulterants and harmful contaminants. Birds can cause potential harm to humans due to foodborne illness.

Pest Bird Species

There are four main pest birds: Pigeon, Starling, Sparrow and Seagull. Each one of these birds can cause a host of concerns and issues for food processing facilities. Just one bird can cause catastrophic damage. In most cases, small pest birds such as Sparrows and Starlings can gain access into a facility through a variety of ways:

  • Damaged bumpers around truck bay loading dock doors.
  • Open doors (seems obvious, but I always find doors wide open during audits).
  • General building deficiencies.

Larger birds, such as Pigeons and Seagulls, typically cause more problems around the exterior of a facility on ledges, rooftops, HVAC units, loading docks and related areas.

In either case, these various types of pest birds can cause significant problems on the interior and exterior of food plants.

Conducive Conditions

In most cases, facilities want to reduce as many conducive conditions as they can around and within the facility in a timely fashion. A conducive condition is one whereby due to a building condition, structural design, equipment operation, food or water source, or surrounding conditions (i.e., near a public landfill, raw materials mill or body of water) can attract pest birds to a facility. With each of these conditions, great care must be taken to reduce as many conducive conditions as possible.

Examples of Conducive Conditions

Structural Conditions

  • Loading docks/canopies with open beams and rafters
  • HVAC equipment
  • Pooling water (roof and landscaping)
  • Structural overhangs and ledges
  • Open access points
  • Landscaping (types of plantings)
  • Damaged truck bay bumpers
  • Gaps and opening around the structure
  • Doors with improper sealing

Human Conditions

  • Open dumpsters
  • Overflowing dumpsters
  • Dirty dumpsters
  • Product spillage
  • Employees feeding birds
  • Doors left open

All these conducive conditions, if left unresolved, can lead to significant bird problems. Reducing as many conducive conditions as possible will be the first step of any bird management program.

Bird Control Methods

From the start, your facility should have a bird management plan of action. For the most part, bird problems should not be left to be handled internally, unless your staff has been properly trained and has a bird management plan in place.
Most birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. However, Pigeons, Sparrows, and Starlings are considered non-migratory birds and are not protected under this Act. Even though these three bird species are not protected, control methods still need to be humane. More specifically, your bird control program must also comply with is the American Veterinary Medical Association (“AVMA”) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals if this is the control method selected. The AVMA considers the House Sparrows, Feral Pigeon, and the Common Starling “Free-Ranging Wildlife.” And Free-Ranging Wildlife may only be humanely euthanized by specifically proscribed methodology.

In addition to the above-mentioned regulations, various regulations regarding the relocation of birds/nests may also apply. I also always recommend checking with local and state agencies to ensure that there are no local regulations that may apply. Bottom line: Don’t rely on untrained internal practices; one misstep could result in heavy financial fines and penalties.

Bird Management Strategies

First Line Defense

  • Stop any bird feeding around the facility immediately
    • Any bird management plan should have a clear policy prohibiting employees from feeding birds. Once birds have been accustomed to routine feeding, the birds will continue to return.
  • Eliminate Standing Water Sources
    • All standing or pooled water needs to be eliminated. Thus, routine roof inspections need to be conducted to ensure drains are working properly.
    • Landscape irrigation needs to be calibrated to ensure no puddling of water in areas of low sun exposure.
  • Proper Sanitation Practices
    • Ensure that dumpster lids are closed when not in use.
    • Trash removal frequency adequate.
    • Routine cleaning of trash receptacles.
    • Immediate removal of spilled food.
  • Eliminate Entry Points
  • Survey the facility to ensure that all holes are properly sealed.
    • Around truck bay bumpers and doors
  • Exhaust vents are properly screened.
  • Windows are closed and have screens when in use.

The most appropriate bird control strategy will be determined based on the severity of the bird pressure. For example, if the bird pressure is high (birds have nested), then in most cases, you will only be able to use bird exclusion methods. Whereas, if the bird pressure is light to moderate (birds have not nested), bird deterrent methods can be used. This is an important distinction. Bird exclusion is physically changing the area to permanently exclude said pest birds. Whereas, bird deterrent devices inhibit birds from landing on treated areas.

Bird Deterrent Methods

After the previously mentioned first-line strategies have been implemented, the next step would be to install bird deterrent products (birds have not nested).

  • Bird Spikes
  • Bird Wire
  • Electrified Shock Track
  • Bird Gel
  • Sonic & Ultra Sonic Devices
  • Lasers and Optical Deterrents
  • Hazing & Misting Devices
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Live Capture

Bird Exclusion Methods

If the birds have nested in or around the facility, the next step would be to install bird exclusion products (birds have nested).

  • Bird Netting
  • Ledge Exclusion (AviAngle)
  • Architectural modifying structural
  • Aggressive Harvesting (Targeting)

Prevention Strategies

The best prevention strategy is planning and knowledge. Conduct a bird audit and develop a bird management plan before birds get near or inside the facility. The key is to act quickly, as soon as an incident occurs. I find countless times when I am called in to consult or service a food plant, that the birds got into the facility and no one knew what to do, and as a result, the birds remained within the facility for an extended period, thus increasing the risk of exposure. It is always much easier to remove a bird when they are unfamiliar with their surroundings. Whereas, it is much more difficult to remove birds from a facility that has had a long-standing bird problem.

Once you have a plan, who oversees the bird management plan? Are thresholds determined and set for various areas of the facility? For example, a zero threshold in production areas? Threshold levels will be set based upon by location and sensitivity of the said location. What steps are going to be taken to remove the bird? For how long is each step conducted? These questions need to be answered and developed to stay ahead of bird problems.

Reduce as many conducive conditions as possible. The longer a conducive condition stays active, the more likely birds, as well as other wildlife or rodents, will be attracted to the site and find a way into the facility.

Pathogen Contamination & Hazards

Birds present a host of problems, whether they are inside or outside of a facility. Birds can roost by air vents, and the accumulation of bird feces can enter the facility air system. Bird droppings on walkways and related areas allow for the possibility of vectoring of said dropping when employees step on droppings. Thus, spreading fecal matter/spores and other contaminants to areas throughout the facility.

If birds are within the facility, droppings can spread on product lines, raw materials, stored products, equipment and more, thus, causing contamination. Because of a bird’s ability to fly, they are perfect creatures to spread various diseases, pathogens, ectoparasites and fungal materials. Diseases such as Histoplasmosis, Salmonella, Encephalitis, E-coli, Listeria, and more. Birds have been known to transmit more than 60 infectious diseases!

Besides the spread of potentially harmful contaminants throughout the facility, bird droppings and nesting materials can also create a host of additional problems:

  • The acidity in bird droppings can damage building finishes, façade signs, lighting and more.
  • Wet bird droppings can create a slip and fall hazard.
  • Bird nesting materials can create a fire hazard around façade signs, exit signs and light fixtures.
  • Bird nesting and debris can clog roof drains and cause roof leaks from standing water.
  • Introduction of ectoparasites into the facility such as bird mites, lice, fleas, ticks and more.

Conclusion

In summary, taking a proactive approach to bird control is the best practice. Reduce food, water and shelter sources (aka conducive conditions) promptly. Pest management programs need to implement a more in-depth section of the program for bird control. Like integrated pest management, bird control should be based upon an integrated method. Each facility will have its unique challenges. As such, each bird management plan needs to be tailored to the specific site. A well designed and balanced, integrated bird management program will provide long-term and cost-efficient bird control.

The next article in this series takes a closer look at how to prepare an integrated bird management audit program.

Alex Koh, Bayer
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Rodents 101: How to Identify and Control Rodents in Your Facility

By Alexander Ko, Ph.D.
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Alex Koh, Bayer

In my experience, mice are curious creatures and will wander into traps, such as the typical multi-catch trap. Rats are much more cautious, and it will take more creativity on behalf of the pest control operator to catch them. Pre-baiting is essential, and getting a rat to become accustomed to feeding on bait from a trap will be necessary in getting a successful capture later. Choosing the proper rat trap is necessary as well, because if the trap is sprung and the rat is hurt but not killed, the rat will forever be hesitant to approach traps in the future. Rat traps differ in their ability to kill rats, and selecting a less-than-lethal rat trap will only make the rat population trap-shy. The following table outlines the need-to-know attributes and behaviors of common rodent pests, including rats, and how to control them in your facility. (Note: Please click on the table for the readable version)

Rodents 101, Bayer Environmental Science
Bayer Environmental Science, A Division of Bayer CropScience LP, 5000 Centre Green Way, Suite 400, Cary, NC 27513. ©2019 Bayer CropScience LP.

Register to attend the pre-conference event sponsored by Bayer at the 2019 Food Safety Consortium, “Salmonella Detection & Control Sanitation Workshop”. The event takes place on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. View the agenda for more information.

Mars Streamlines Global Quality and Food Safety Processes

Join Jaime Boyes, Corporate R&D Processes and Systems Director at Mars, to hear the company’s quality and food safety journey, leadership, best practices and lessons learned. You’ll learn how Mars consolidated disparate paper-based and manual processes to develop standard global processes to streamline audits and key processes.

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
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Back to the Future…of Pest Management

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Some of you may not remember the days when pest control companies were few and far between and the majority of pest management programs were run by in-house experts. But in-house pest management programs used to be the rule, not the exception. Over time, most companies have adopted third-party pest management services as a way to manage costs. In-house programs are certainly more costly than third-party services, but they have significant advantages over today’s outsourced approach. Because of a shared accountability and responsibility for the outcome, well-managed in-house programs incorporate greater expertise and responsiveness.

While outsourcing pest control services will continue to be the standard, manufacturers do not enjoy the same level of transparency as they did in the past. Manufacturers trust that the job is being done well, but with limited in-house pest management expertise, it can be hard to know if gaps or “blind spots” exist in the program that can put them at risk.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that you rely on the expertise of your service provider. However, consider whether cost containment efforts have put your brand reputation in the hands of the lowest cost service provider, not necessarily the best provider. Your provider may be responsible for your pest management program, but they are not accountable for the consequences—you are. There are, however, ways to mirror the results of an in-house program by collaborating with service providers and aligning expectations. It may require building in-house knowledge and understanding of new technologies available today in order to partner with your service provider and get their very best service.

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
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Meet the Three Biggest Rodent Offenders

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Rodents are wary and cautious animals. Because of their discreet and mainly nocturnal nature, hundreds can be present in a facility without anyone knowing, all the while spreading dangerous bacterial diseases.

In order to outsmart them and protect your facility, you need to know what you’re dealing with. I’d like to introduce you to the three biggest rodent offenders and share some helpful hints to help you identify them. Without further ado…

Norway Rat

Norway rats are large, stocky, strong and sometimes aggressive. Common characteristics include coarse, reddish to greyish brown fur, blunt noses, small, close-set ears and short, scaly, semi-naked tails. They dig burrows and often nest in their burrows or in basements, walls, floor voids, woodpiles and sewers.

REGISTER NOW! Complimentary Webinar: Pest Management, Accountability and Food Safety: How to get more from your service provider | September 10, 2019 | 12 pmPossible signs of Norway rats: Urine and droppings with blunt ends, grease marks, fighting noises, scurrying and climbing sounds, footprints (about 2 cm-long and may show 4-5 toes), visual signs of gnawing that are around 0.3 cm and damaged goods (favorite foods include meat, fish, cereal and dry dog food).

Roof Rat

Roof rats are smaller and sleeker in appearance than Norway rats. Common characteristics include grayish black to solid black fur, pointed snouts, large ears and long tails. They are climbers and often nest in stored material, walls, appliances, false ceilings, wood piles, floor voids, garages, storm drains, attics and in vegetation like ivy and climbing vines, in trees like yucca, palm and cypress trees.

Possible signs of Roof Rats: Grease marks, fighting noises, scurrying and climbing noises, footprints (about 2 cm-long and may show 4-5 toes), visual signs of gnawing that are around 0.3 cm and damaged goods (favorite foods include fruit, vegetables and cereal). FYI: Roof rats do not often leave signs of urine or droppings on building floors.

House Mouse

House mice have small, slender bodies. Common characteristics include dark grey fur, large ears and long, semi-naked tails. They nest in walls, attics, trees, storm drains, woodpiles garages, basements, closets and storage places. They are especially drawn to insulation and voids of the walls with fibrous and shredded materials like paper, cloth, burlap, insulation or cotton.

Possible signs of house mice: Small droppings similar to those of large cockroaches, footprints (more numerous than a rat’s and do not exceed 1 cm-long), characteristic musky odor, scurrying and climbing sounds, visual signs of gnawing that are around 0.15 cm and damaged goods (favorite foods include seeds, cereals and insects trapped on glue boards).

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

Are You Rolling Out the Rodent Welcome Mat?

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Register for the complimentary webinar: Pest Management, Accountability and Food Safety: How to Get the Best from Your Service Provider | September 10, 2019 | 12 pm ETRodents are intelligent creatures. Luckily, no matter how smart they get, their goals remain the same. Like any animal, rodents are primarily after three things: Food, water and harborage. When going about your day-to-day activities, it is important to assess your facility with these three things in mind. Consider how conducive your facility is to rodents in each of the following related areas.

  1. Easily accessible raw food waste: If food is available and unprotected, rodents can feed off of the raw food waste and populations can grow. Ensure any stored food sources are sealed and inaccessible, minimize exposed food as much as possible and attend to spills and standing water immediately.
  2. Clutter and inaccessible areas: Rodents look for undisturbed areas where their populations can grow. In a rodent-infested grocery store in Chicago, rodents were found in the wall voids, gaps inside shelves and in quarter-sized (or larger) cracks in concrete floor underneath pallets of food. Recessed areas, traps and pits under heavy-duty industrial equipment are also places where rodents like to nest.
  3. Easy access: Gaps underneath door sweeps, exterior facing doors that close slowly, propped open doors, gaps in walls, cracks, utility access ports that enter the building are all attractive to a rodent seeking shelter.
  4. Foliage that touches the building: Tree branches that extend over the roof of a building can act as perfect pathway for mice to run across and jump into the top of the building (ants can trail from branches that touch buildings too, so this isn’t limited to mice).
  5. Building proximity to rodent habitats: If your facility is close to open fields, dense foliage, brush or other places with lots of insects, chances are high you have some rodent neighbors. It’s important to be particularly vigilant, especially during fall and winter because as the temperature drops, rodents look for shelter.
Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

Top 3 Things to Know About Digital Rodent Monitoring

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

The future of rodent control is here. The traditional, time-consuming method of manually checking traps just got a lot smarter thanks to the science of IoT (Internet of Things).

What does IoT enable when it meets a device like a mousetrap? 24/7 monitoring, real-time capture alerts and up-to-the-minute program verification. This means that instead of getting caught up in the cycle of checking and scanning empty traps, now there is the ability to immediately respond to a capture alert and spend the time needed to identify the root cause of the problem. The result? Improved efficiency, audit readiness and protection for your business, brand and the public health.

If you’ve been considering the idea of going digital, it’s likely you have a few questions. The following are the top three things you should know about going digital with your rodent monitoring system:

  1. Technology matters. Before taking a shot in the dark, you need to understand that many types of technology exist on the market, each with unique features and varying levels of detection sensitivity and accuracy. Understanding the pros and cons of available systems is a vital ingredient for success.
  2. Not all network platforms are created equal. Network connectivity in complex environments is a key feature to look for when considering digital rodent systems in order to ensure your system is working reliably 24/7. Everyone is familiar with cellular and WiFi networks, but did you know that these communication platforms can be challenged in factories, food processing facilities, convention centers and other complex environments? (Other network platforms exist and you can refer to this article on wireless modules that operate in the sub-GHz bands to compare their features and characteristics).
  3. False positives are common in many technologies available today. False capture alerts destroy the value proposition of remote monitoring and cause headaches and unnecessary labor. Be sure you understand this key performance metric and invest in a system that has solved this issue.