Tag Archives: pest management

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

REGISTER NOW! Complimentary Webinar: Pest Management, Accountability and Food Safety: How to get more from your service provider | September 10, 2019 | 12 pmSome 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.

Visit Bayer (booth #226) at the 2019 Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo | October 1–3With 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
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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
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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.

Pest Management’s Role in Food Safety and FSMA Compliance

Recorded September 26, 2018 – Pests are a major threat to food product integrity and any facility’s bottom line. FSMA mandates a proactive approach to food safety and, by extension, pest management. This webinar discusses preventive pest management controls that should be implemented to help ensure you and your staff are operating the safest food facility possible. Sponsored by Orkin.

Judy Black, Rentokil
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Impact of Climate Change on Pest Populations

By Judy Black
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Judy Black, Rentokil

As the effects of climate change continue to set in around the world, several threats to our daily lives and the way we do business have emerged in its wake. While impacts such as extreme weather events, regional droughts and rising sea levels frequently draw the most attention, there is another important and potentially devastating consequence to consider. As many pests are more prevalent in warmer climates, rising global temperatures exacerbate the risk they pose to both public health and food production.

A warmer overall climate accelerates insect population growth in a number of ways. Warmer global temperatures expand the habitats that support many types of insects. This is causing bug populations to spread poleward, both further north and further south than they’ve appeared historically. Longer summers allow insect populations to breed for a larger portion of year, allowing them to add more generations and multiply in greater numbers during each seasonal cycle. Higher temperatures also increase survival rates among these pests, as the natural predators that limit their numbers in their native habitat lag behind when they spread to a new habitat, allowing the population to grow without nature’s built-in safeguards on population growth. One example of a pest that has benefited from rising temperatures is the Asian Tiger Mosquito, which mainly affects humans by spreading diseases such as dengue virus, but can also harbor diseases affecting livestock that are part of the food supply chain. Although this pest is native to Southeast Asia, it is rapidly spreading throughout the world and is now found throughout the Asian continent, Australia, Europe, South America, parts of Africa and in North America, where they’re now present in 32 U.S. states.

The rising threat of pests accompanying climate change impacts the global food supply in some very direct ways. Some insects increase in size in warmer temperatures, and larger insects eat more food. This means that, in addition to existing in greater numbers, insect populations can have a more devastating effect on the crops they consume. In addition to the greater threat of insect pests, rodents multiply in greater numbers during warmer weather, posing a larger threat to both crops in the field and stored products in manufacturing and shipping facilities throughout the supply chain.

There are numerous examples of how these pests are negatively impacting crops, including the coffee berry borer, which is native to Africa but has spread to virtually every coffee-growing region in the world, including Hawaii, and now causes more than $500 million in damages to coffee plants each year. This beetle becomes 8.5% more infectious for every 1.8o F increase in temperature, meaning this problem will only get worse as the climate warms. The kudzu bug is a major problem for farmers throughout the Southeastern United States, where it feeds on soybeans and other legumes. The kudzu bug impacts soybean yield in a way resembles the stress placed on crops during a drought. This pest is suspected to originate in Asia, but it’s been on the rise in the United States since 2009, causing insecticide use on soybean crops to quadruple over the 10-year period from 2004–2014.

As climate change drives global temperatures higher and higher, its impact on pest populations means greater risks for both public health and industries that make up the global food supply chain. It also means a greater need for companies in these industries to know the specific risks pests pose to their products and to work closely with a pest management partner to develop a plan for mitigating those risks, identifying potential problems before they escalate and treating any outbreak quickly and effectively, before it can cause a major loss of product and impact the company’s bottom line.

Glen Ramsey, Orkin
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Implementing Pest Management Changes for FSMA

By Glen Ramsey
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Glen Ramsey, Orkin

Preparation is the key to success for any ongoing endeavor. In an industry where your enemies are fighting for survival at the expense of your business, you must be ready for anything. Your opponents are crafty, adaptable and more prevalent than you think.

No, I’m not describing your competitors. I’m talking about pests—a major threat to the integrity of food products and a threat to any facility’s bottom line. Whether it’s stored product pests contaminating inventory or rodents spreading pathogens as they skitter across equipment, pests are a risk that should be minimized.

With FSMA in full effect, preparation is more important than ever. FSMA mandates a proactive approach to food safety, and by extension, pest management. It’s important that the pest management program is exhaustive and integrates seamlessly into the overarching food safety plan.

Most, if not all, food processing facilities currently use an integrated pest management (IPM) program to help minimize the chance of pest problems, but FSMA puts more emphasis on being proactive to keep pests far from products at all times. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that a pest sighting in a facility is the end of the world, but it means that it should be resolved quickly, investigated and documented to help prevent such an occurrence from happening again.

Specifically, FSMA has numerous stipulations that trickle down to pest management.

  1. Hazard analysis. First, a comprehensive inspection should be done to identify the high-risk areas in your facility where pests may take residence. Entry points, potential food and water sources and harborage areas should all be noted.
  2. Preventive controls. Include regular facility maintenance reviews and a strict sanitation regimen in your food safety plan to help minimize the use of chemical pest management treatments.
  3. Monitoring. Use devices and employees to keep tabs on pest activity and conducive conditions to ensure preventive controls are working and executed across the facility.
  4. Corrective actions. Implement and enforce pest management solutions such as exclusion strategies (e.g., weather-stripping, door sweeps, vinyl strip doors), traps (e.g. pheromone traps, insect light traps, bait boxes), air curtains and repellants to help manage pest activity.
  5. Verification. Schedule regular service visits with your pest management professional to verify corrective actions are working to reduce pest problems over time. These visits should include an annual facility assessment and pest trend analysis, both of which help determine potential areas of improvement over time.
    6. Record keeping and documentation. Document every action taken to prevent pests. That includes corrective actions and their results to prove that your written IPM and food safety plan has been implemented and is effective in helping to manage pests at the facility.

With these key components accounted for, it will be easier to be prepared for pests. But, even still, the real-world implementation of these tactics might not be abundantly clear. That being the case, let’s take a look at what food processing facility managers can start doing today to help protect their facilities and demonstrate a proactive approach to food safety.

So, what’s the best way to be more proactive in preventing pests?

Well, that question has a plethora of possible answers, but four of the most important are sanitation, exclusion, staff training and monitoring.

Sanitation

Perhaps the most important of all, sanitation helps to eliminate two key attractants—food and water—that draw pests inside a facility. Any spot where food particles or moisture is collecting, pests will be looking to find.

But sanitation shouldn’t seem daunting. Here are some actions you can start doing today to step up your sanitation program:

  • Wipe down equipment regularly to break down the buildup of organic materials.
  • Wipe off countertops and sweep floors in common areas where food is present, then sanitize with an organic cleaner afterwards to eliminate any remaining odors.
  • Take out the garbage at least daily, and keep dumpsters at least 50 feet away from the building to avoid giving pests a harborage location nearby with an easy path to get indoors. Make sure to cleanse garbage bins and dumpsters regularly, or they’ll become attractive to pests, too!

Exclusion

A big part of preventing pests from getting inside a facility is simply blocking them out using exclusion.

During an inspection, a pest management provider will walk around the interior and exterior of the facility and look for any potential entry points for pests. They should recommend you seal any cracks and crevices they notice, as many pests can fit through extremely tiny gaps. For example, mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Gaps should be sealed with a water-resistant sealant to keep pests and moisture out.

In addition, make sure to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible or use screens to block pests. Automatic doors can help in this way, especially when paired with an air curtain to blow flying pests away from entrances. Pests can often come in through the biggest gap of all: The front door!

Staff Training

It’s always better to have a team behind you. Training employees on the basics of an IPM program and what they can do to help will take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Many pest management providers offer free staff training sessions, which can help employees understand what to look for around their work areas and what to do in the case of a pest sighting. Consider creating your own pest sighting protocol to make it clear what employees should do if and when a pest is spotted. They’ll need to record when, where, how many and what kind of pest(s) were seen at the time to give your pest management provider the best chance to create a customized solution to resolve the issue. If you can catch one of the pests in a container for future identification, that’s even better.

Monitoring

While employees can help by keeping an eye out for pests, it’s important to have ongoing monitoring techniques to measure pest activity around the facility.

Monitoring devices are a great way to do this, and your pest management professional can help you place them strategically around the hot spots in your facility. Fly lights, bait stations, pheromone traps and more can capture pests and serve a dual purpose. First, they’ll reduce pest populations around the facility, and, second, they’ll allow you and your pest management provider to see how many pests are present in certain areas.

Over time, this will give you a feel for which pest issues have been resolved and which continue to be a problem. That can determine the corrective actions taken and the long-term food safety plan, which will demonstrate a commitment to constant improvement. That’s a great thing to have on your side, especially when an auditor happens to stop by.

Documentation

I know, I know—this wasn’t one of the four “answers” listed, but it’s still incredibly important! Documentation helps ensure you get credit for being so prepared.

It’s recommended that facility managers keep a few documents on hand to keep things simple. The food safety plan, annual assessments, sighting reports, a list of service changes over time, a list of monitoring devices and proof of your pest management professional’s certification are all important documents to keep updated and ready to go. That way, you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared at a moment’s notice.

It is never too early to start preparing. Pests aren’t going to stop searching for a food source anytime soon, so don’t stop your proactive efforts to keep them at bay. Your financial department will thank you.

Judy Black, Rentokil
Bug Bytes

How the Internet of Things Helps Pest Management in Food Processing

By Judy Black
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Judy Black, Rentokil

As the applications of connected devices continues to drive innovation and create exciting possibilities throughout the food processing industry, the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on pest management in the food supply chain is already easy to recognize. An ecosystem of connected devices streamlines several processes that are integral to an effective integrated pest management plan, providing convenience and saving time for both food manufacturers and their pest management partners. From creating a smart network of devices that detect changes and track movement in the pest population to seamless reporting procedures that cut down on paperwork, we’re already seeing the benefits of a more connected world on a very important aspect of food safety. At the ground level—often quite literally—we have networked traps for pests ranging from stored product insects to rodents. Each trap tracks the pests it captures and reports its readings to a central hub in real time, providing an instant snapshot of changes in the pest population and triggering notifications when that population exceeds pre-set parameters—well before the pests create an issue. Beyond knowing when a pest population increases in a facility, this network of connected monitoring devices can pinpoint where those pests are congregating, allowing the facility’s pest management partner to identify and eliminate the source of the issue quickly.

Beyond those devices on the front lines, the IoT also has a major impact on the behind-the-scenes management of pest management processes. With the increase in reporting requirements brought on by the adoption of FSMA earlier in the decade came a lot of new paperwork for food manufacturers. On the pest management front, the paper trail required to track the steps taken to reduce the risk of pest infestation represents a significant commitment of time and effort on the part of facility managers. Working with a pest management partner that understands the opportunities connected devices provide means less paperwork; a centralized online hub allows facility managers to review their partner’s recommendations, indicate the steps they’ve taken to address issues and close the loop without having to touch a file cabinet.

The availability of this pest-tracking data allows forward-thinking pest management companies to be more efficient and better informed. By compiling and analyzing this data, they can identify regional trends in pest populations, allowing them to be better prepared to recognize and resolve pest issues early and to stay ahead of cyclical fluctuations in the pest population.

We often talk about technology in terms of the impact it will have in the future, but in the pest management business, we’re already seeing the benefits of a connected ecosystem of devices. While the technology will continue to evolve and improve, it’s important for food manufacturers to recognize the benefits of working with a pest management partner that embraces the IoT. By streamlining and centralizing the processes of monitoring and reporting on pest management practices, this technology saves time and reduces the risks pests pose throughout the food supply chain.