man inspecting facility for pests
Photo courtesy of Terminix


Spring: A Fresh Inspection

As flowers and greenery reemerge, new pest challenges will accompany them. Pests that are less active throughout the winter, like paper wasps, hornets and ants, will become more active as they discover food resources, build nests and reproduce.

This increase in pest activity is an important time for facility cleaning managers to maintain strong lines of communication with their pest management team, who will implement targeted strategies to eliminate pests. These individuals may inspect areas where pest populations could be breeding or foraging. Inspections like this will help reduce the number of invaders during the summer season.

In the spring, facility managers should double their efforts on the building exterior, paying special attention to any small cracks or openings. Doors, screens and roofs should be carefully examined during spring months.

Winter climates can take a significant toll on a building’s exterior due to changing temperatures and humidity levels, and snow or ice that has collected on (and in) any exterior cracks or crevices. Spring is a perfect time to tend to normal wear and tear that building managers may not have been able to address during cooler months.

Shifting weather patterns and environmental debris, such as landscaping or fallen leaves, might block facility managers’ views of external construction features. This is why it is important to invest the time and effort necessary to inspect the exterior in both the fall and spring seasons. Facility managers should refer to the comprehensive maintenance issue log book compiled during their fall inspection and determine whether any issues have reoccurred.

If a problem occurs repeatedly, it may be time to consult with a pest management provider or other facility management expert to determine if there are any cost-effective or long-term upgrades that might help. For example, if a particular door repeatedly presents maintenance problems, a simple solution, such as a different varnish or new door sweep, could mitigate the problem with relative ease. By identifying patterns, facility managers can proactively find solutions.

Spring is when facility cleaning managers should also consider a critical pest: termites. Termite evidence is more noticeable in warmer months, so it is important to take this opportunity to identify any warning signs. Managers should ensure that their pest management personnel are conducting a comprehensive termite inspection of their structure.

Summer: Enjoying The Great Outdoors

Summer is a great time for facility managers to implement pest management strategies outside. It is also the perfect time to address exterior features, such as landscaping.

During summer months, facility managers should ensure that trash is properly disposed of in a sealed container, away from service and overhead doors. Pests that may be attracted to the trash will be kept further from easy entrance to facilities. Managers should also ensure that all trees, shrubs and bushes are well trimmed. Keeping shrubbery away from building facade will reduce opportunities for pests and rodents to use branches as bridges to get in or on the structure.

Sprinklers and other watering systems are also critical areas of focus for outdoor and landscaping pest maintenance. It is important to check if there are water pools near sprinkler heads, which can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a source of drinking water for larger pests, such as rats. It is often best to inspect the area after the sprinkler system has run for an extended period or after a heavy rain, when pooling issues are more likely to be present.

Another critical summertime task is ensuring that light fixtures do not draw insect pests toward the structure. Insects “see” differently from humans. Their eyes detect light and motion and do not have a refined image. Areas around exterior lights are locations where other insect species, prey and mates may be found. They are, therefore, an area where many insect pests migrate.

Facility managers should keep this in mind when installing lighting fixtures near doors or other entrances. Employees entering and exiting the building will provide pests flying near entry lights with the perfect opportunity to slip inside. If the problem cannot be addressed by repositioning lights, then it may help to install an air curtain or plastic barriers to reduce the likelihood of pests entering the facility.

If pests do make their way indoors, insect lights placed in an interior corridor can also be used to prevent flying insects from getting deeper into the structure.

Year-Round: Stay Ahead Of The Curve

While every season offers its own pest-related challenges, there are some concepts that facility managers should consider year-round. Proper sanitation is always important.

For example, insects may seem less common in the winter because they are not seen outdoors as frequently. However, there are several insects that may live in a structure year-round, and this is when rodents may be more likely to enter structures.

Ultimately, by taking a proactive approach to pest management and implementing clear seasonal maintenance protocols, facility managers can reduce the likelihood of pest problems and help promote a clean, pleasant environment for building occupants. 

ANGELA TUCKER, Ph.D., is Manager of Technical Services and an expert in entomology with Terminix, a commercial pest management provider. Dr. Tucker has published and co-authored several articles in leading journals of entomology, and has advised countless facility managers and consumers on ways they can protect their properties through integrated pest management principles.

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Overcoming Seasonal Pest Challenges In Facilities