There are a variety of pests that plague vulnerable facilities. In fact, many pests — in search of food, water and shelter — find comfort in the environments facilities provide. Understanding the most frequent offenders will help managers prevent future pest problems.

Birds are considered to be an occasional invader and may enter a facility looking for a place to roost or nest. While food-related facilities provide the perfect combination of food and shelter, birds can become problematic at a variety of facilities. These pests can damage or destroy property and are considered to be a health concern as they eat and contaminate food items.

Managers should be on the lookout for signs of bird activity, which can indicate a problem. One of the most common signs is the presence of droppings. Pigeon droppings, in particular, are very acidic and can deface marble, limestone, painted surfaces and even car finishes.

Rodents are known to destroy a variety of materials and cause structural damage as they gnaw through wallboards, wood, plaster and electrical wiring. In addition to being a structural nightmare, rodents are a medical concern, as they are known to transmit various diseases and can contaminate food.

Mice are the most commonly encountered and economically important of all the commensal rodents. They are capable of entering buildings through openings the size of a dime and are prolific breeders that can transmit disease by contaminating food with their droppings and/or urine.

Norway rats are the largest of the commensal rodents and the most commonly encountered rats in temperate environments. They are capable of entering buildings through openings the size of a quarter and are known to destroy materials by gnawing, contaminating stored food products and are vectors of many diseases.

Roof Rats are the smaller of the two commensal rats and more common in subtropical and tropical regions, but are just as problematic.

Ants, due to their sophisticated social structure, small size and efficiency at finding food, can become problematic in a variety of settings. These insects can reproduce at a rapid rate, and their small size allows them to enter structures through the tiniest cracks and crevices, making them difficult to control.

Cockroaches are one of the more prolific pests, often found in facilities that provide access to food and water. They enter facilities organically and are often brought in via deliveries. They are considered to be a major health and safety concern as they are capable of spreading nearly 33 different kinds of bacteria. If cockroaches are found, corrective treatment should be taken immediately.

Flies are not only nuisance pests, many add to disease transmission. Fly control is one of the more challenging pest control problems as larval development sites must be located and eliminated for success. Sanitation and exclusion should be a primary focus when resolving a fly infestation.

Developing a proper IPM program is essential for a variety of facility types, and contributes to the health and safety of building occupants. Facility cleaning managers should partner with a reputable pest management firm to develop a specific program suited for their unique needs.

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