Do you worry about pest infestations in your food processing facility? You may have good reason to be concerned. That’s because a wide variety of pests can be attracted to the nutrient, shelter and moisture sources that a food manufacturing environment provides. Pests can cause disruption, productivity decline and even profit loss due to contaminated products and possible structural and equipment damage.
It’s good to be aware of potential pest issues so you can nip infestations in the bud. Many types of pests, especially stored product pests, can infest the product before you even receive it. Most often found in the egg or larvae stages, these infestations are very difficult to detect until they have developed. Common stored product pests include moths, weevils and many other types of beetles. They can attack a variety of different types of food items such as whole grains, wheat, corn, barley, rice, beans and nuts. Stored product pests often have widespread infestations with more than one source, so pinpointing and treating them can be challenging.
Many other pests, like cockroaches, are nocturnal and prefer to avoid human contact, so you may not know they are there until infestations are out of control. Knowing some of the signs that pests may be present in your facility can help you take quick action before populations increase or product damage occurs.
Warning Signs of a Pest Infestation
Instead of wasting time worrying about pests, learn what to watch for and educate your staff so they can help keep an eye out, too. Here are some signs that stored product insects, rodents, flies, cockroaches and/or other pests may be making themselves at home in your facility:
- Holes, tears or other damage to food packaging and containers can be a sign of many different pests
- Gnawing damage to furniture, structures and equipment can indicate rodents or nuisance wildlife are in your facility
- Shed skins or exoskeletons on floors, shelving, window sills, cabinets or in cracks can be a sign of various pest insects
- Eggs, larvae or pupae in or around food products and packaging are more signs of pest insect infestations
- Webbing on products and boxes, under shelves, in corners close to food and products can be a sign of moth activity
- Spider webs near windows, light fixtures and doors (and the presence of spiders are an indicator of other insects since they are a primary food source for spiders)
- Insect and rodent droppings
- Discarded wings can be a sign of termites or ants
- Piles of wood shavings can be a sign of wood-nesting ants
- Mud tubes, usually about the diameter of a drinking straw, with a flat appearance and often found along cracks, under flooring, around baseboards, on pipes and plumbing fixtures and behind siding is a sign of termite activity
- Roof or other exterior damage that could be caused by birds or wildlife
- Hollow wood can indicate termite or wood-nesting ant activity
- Tracks, streaks or grooves that may indicate traffic patterns can indicate rodents or nuisance wildlife
- Greasy smudge marks on walls or floorboards can also indicate rodents
- Small piles of debris can indicate rodents or nuisance wildlife
- Infested food in break rooms or kitchen areas can indicate various pests
- Unusual sharp or musty odors can also indicate various pests
- Scratching or rustling noises behind walls and in ceilings can indicate rodents or nuisance wildlife
- Disturbed garbage or trash bins can also indicate rodents or nuisance wildlife
Effective pest control in food processing plants requires specialized knowledge, training and experience. Having a professional pest control plan in place can help you maintain a clean, pest-free environment for your operations. Terminix® Commercial is well versed in pest control procedures in the food industry, which helps Terminix provide customized and comprehensive solutions.
The Terminix Commercial experienced technicians understand federal food manufacturing guidelines, local health codes and food safety regulations. They appreciate the importance of maintaining compliance with agencies such as the FDA and USDA, and how to identify structural and sanitation issues that may increase your risk of infestations. Technicians can also point out conducive conditions that can attract certain pests and recommend corrective actions.
Instead of worrying about when pests will strike your food processing business, you should watch for their signs of activity, do what you can to prevent them and partner with a commercial pest control company that’s experienced in serving facilities like yours.