Mr. Meek

Security & Safety

Defend Your Hotel Against 'Occasional Invaders'

By Frank Meek, International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC

Proper prevention of occasional invaders naturally starts by understanding a little bit about their behavior. They all have something in common. The outdoors. In most cases, they would prefer to stay outside, but when something makes them uncomfortable in their natural home, they won't hesitate to seek better quarters. Weather - too much rain, not enough rain, too hot, too cold - can encourage them to head for more hospitable environments. Scarcity of food sources or larger predator populations - often tied to weather patterns - also can drive them inside. So, when weather patterns get out of balance in any one direction, expect pests of all kinds to be more of a problem.

Of all commercial buildings, hotels make especially attractive targets for pests on the move. With around-the-clock foot traffic through multiple entrances, they can offer a multitude of opportunities for pests to get inside.

The next step is correct identification. Most hoteliers consult pest management professionals to correctly identify their occasional invaders, but not always. A pest problem may be recurring, making proper identification easier. The official list of occasional invaders in pest control textbooks includes "minor pests" like beetles, weevils, various aquatic insects, caterpillars, centipedes, scorpions and slugs, just to name a few. The actual list is much longer, and few of our hotel customers would call them minor.

If you or your staff have noticed unusual insects or rodents in or around your establishment, it could mean they are invading in large numbers. Typically, infestations have to be significant before the pest becomes a visible nuisance. Because many occasional invaders are seasonal, in some cases time could fix the problem for you, but guests and foodservice inspectors probably won't be willing - to put it mildly - to give you the time to let nature correct the imbalances that drove the pests to your door. As with most problems that crop up when running a hotel, this one calls for immediate action.

Applying pesticide to potential pest entry points is standard operating procedure for many pest management professionals, but it's not always the best way to control occasional invaders. Often, the best treatment is a non-chemical approach, especially for a hotel, where chemical odors or the sight of a technician with his applicator can be a major turnoff for guests.

For almost any pest, an Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, approach that combines several methods of control will get the job done with reduced pesticides. Eliminating sources of moisture or food is one part of the IPM equation, and keeping pests from entering in the first place is another. Consider the following simple IPM steps to significantly reduce your vulnerability to occasional invaders:

  • Rake the mulch covers around the building so the soil underneath can dry out.
  • Cut back on watering flowerbeds and other landscaping around the building if the mulch cover is starting to break down and deteriorate. Or, simply replace the mulch periodically.
  • Install revolving doors in the most heavily trafficked entrances to keep a constant barrier between indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Place door sweeps on other exterior doors to block crawling pests.
  • Seal holes and unnecessary openings in the foundation to prevent pest entry.
  • Make sure window screens are in good repair. Even a tiny hole should be patched or the screen should be replaced.
  • Hotels with foodservice should inspect all incoming food shipments for signs of pest contamination.

Certainly, there are many more steps you could take as part of a vigilant IPM program to prevent pests - occasional or otherwise. If you'd like more information on how to implement a full-scale IPM program in your hotel, you should consult a licensed pest management professional. Most major IPM service providers offer free, on-site consultations on request.

An industry veteran, Frank Meek has been with Orkin since 1986. In 2003, he was named among the future leaders of the pest management industry in Pest Control Technology magazine’s “40 Under 40” ranking. Currently, as the International Technical and Training Director, Mr. Meek provides technical support and training in both sales and service to Orkin's international franchises, helping them grow and develop in their specific markets. As a board-certified entomologist, Mr. Meek teaches Integrated Pest Management principles and can explain how to use all available methodologies to prevent pest infestations in various commercial settings. Mr. Meek can be contacted at 404-888-2898 or fmeek@rollinscorp.com Extended Bio...

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