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Mr. Meek

Security & Safety

Environmentally-friendly Pest Management Tools Help your Hotel on the Path to Sustainability

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

Co-authored by Patrick T. Copps, MS, B.C.E., Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC

Sustainability and environmentally friendly operations are a hot topic in the hospitality industry. From small investments to major overhauls, hotels owners are doing everything from light retrofits to the installation of all-new low-flow water fixtures and recycling programs. New construction and renovations alike include the sustainable practices now expected by those in the industry, as well as their guests.

For those hotels that are looking to obtain green certifications, such as Green Key, LEED and other designations, property owners and managers must consider all aspects of operations. Energy and water conservation, as well as implementing operational practices that reduce the use of natural resources are all important to sustainability. However, another area that warrants consideration in green practices is pest management.

All areas of a hotel are susceptible to pests; these include the front and back of the house, food and beverage outlets, outdoor spaces and even areas frequented by guests, like hallways and meeting rooms. For hotel executives who want or need to meet strict sustainability standards, an environmentally friendly Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is a great way to incorporate green pest management practices, with methods that will keep your hotel on the path to sustainability.

An IPM program helps prevent pest activity by limiting access to their basic necessities. IPM stresses proactive management methods such as stringent sanitation and facility maintenance to reduce potential problems before they occur, rather than focusing solely on reactive chemical treatments. Additionally, IPM programs include environmentally-responsible products and monitoring devices that are not only effective, but have the least impact on the environment, which is especially important in hotels, where you are responsible for the health and safety of your guests.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by all of the pest management tool options and how to know which ones will work for the different areas of your hotel. Work with your pest management professional to determine which green pest management tools can provide sustainable results with minimal impact. Be sure your pest management professional focuses on tools that do not over rely on chemicals. Your pest management professional should offer multiple techniques to interrupt the pest life cycle and encourage a proactive approach that treats the sources of a pest problem, rather than existing signs of one.

An effective but low-impact approach is especially important for hotels, where guests are typically more aware of their surroundings because your hotel serves as an extension of their home while they are away. In order to provide them with all of the comforts they have come to expect, it is important to keep guest rooms, public spaces and dining areas free of any pest activity and evidence of the treatments needed to achieve effective pest management. With the high traffic in all of these areas, the last thing you want to do is put your guests and employees in contact with harsh chemicals. For this reason, an IPM program that employs the use of green tools will fit well with both your hotel's green initiatives, as well as your aim to keep your hotel pest free.

Above all, the foundation of a good IPM program is adhering to strict sanitation standards that will keep your hotel from attracting pests in the first place. Keeping all areas including back-of-the-house locations free of clutter and debris and proper waste handling are essential steps in eliminating the elements that draw pests to your facility. Odors, moisture sources and food debris all can attract pests. Here are a few sanitation tips that apply to all hotels - green or not.

  • Once you've implemented a recycling program in your hotel, don't let your efforts go to waste! Consider the impact your bulk recycle dumpster can have on pests. Work with your waste management company to clean and rotate waste and recycle dumpsters regularly and keep them both as far away from the hotel as possible.

  • While you may be sourcing your food locally in an effort to reduce your hotel's carbon footprint, make sure that leftover in-room dining food isn't leading pest footprints straight into your hotel. Be sure to schedule frequent checks of the pool area, patios and hallways for dining dishes that have been left out by guests. The food remnants on these dishes will attract cockroaches, ants and even rodents.

  • A robust, successful sustainability program takes buy-in from your entire staff. This applies to a successful IPM program, as well. Encourage the staff to do their part to keep the hotel clean. Keep food and drinks in designated areas such as the staff break rooms. Pests only need crumbs to survive, so sealing food containers and keeping a lid on the trash can will go a long way to keeping pests at bay. Clean up food and drink spills immediately, even if it is just water, to remove any attraction for pests.

  • Regularly sweep, mop or vacuum floors across the hotel. Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to remove dust and debris from small cracks and crevices where cockroaches hide. This pest isn't picky about meals and can even feed on dusty residues.

  • In your foodservice areas, follow a strict cleaning schedule and ensure that all employees know and execute their responsibilities on the schedule. Immediately clean up spilled liquid, crumbs, etc., and use an enzyme "green" cleaner on drain covers and in drains to remove and prevent buildup of organic material.

Now that the basics of sanitation are covered, let's dive into the newest in green pest management technology and how these tools can help make pests no-shows in your hotel.

Fly Lights

The food and trash your hotel produces will appeal to flies and other pests, particularly in foodservice and waste management areas. Install fly lights near entrances to shipping, receiving, food preparation and waste disposal areas to intercept flying insects before they can reach areas where they will become a nuisance and even a health threat to your guests. Fly lights are available in an array of decorative styles, so you don't have to sacrifice your hotel's décor to your pest management program. These devices trap insects on a non-toxic sticky board inside a confined unit. Ask your pest management professional to replace the sticky boards regularly and the specialized light bulbs every few months for best results.

Sticky Monitor Boards

Often used for cockroach management, sticky monitoring boards trap crawling or flying insects and allow you to detect and analyze pest activity in areas where pests may be hiding. These covered, non-toxic sticky boards are placed out of the way of guests and employees in common pest "hot spots" such as storage closets, kitchens and linen or laundry rooms. Your pest management professional will maintain records of the number and types of pests found at each location to determine the significance and level of pest activity.

Pheromone Traps

With the help of modern science, pest management professionals can use a pests' biology to monitor and keep them out of sensitive locations. Pheromone monitors employ synthetic copies of chemicals involved in pest reproduction, growth and communication. These pest specific attractants lure the target pest to a sticky trap. Most often used as a technique to manage flying insects and stored product pests, pheromone traps can help you identify and monitor pest populations in your hotel so you'll know when to take corrective action. Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)

Like pheromone traps, IGRs use synthetic replications of insect hormones to disrupt pest life cycles and prevent them from reaching full maturity. This prevents reproduction and helps limit the pest population.

Repellants and Desiccants

Small amounts of repellant dust can help keep pests from hiding in hard-to-reach cracks and crevices in and around your hotel. Commonly used to treat crawling insects such as ants and roaches, repellants use a combination of naturally occurring compounds, and/or desiccants, like silica, to damage insects' exoskeletons by causing their bodies to lose moisture and dry out. Repellants and desiccants are most effective when used in small openings around the exterior of a building. Sealing these cracks after treatment will help reduce the pests' hiding spots and help prevent future infestations.

Non-volatile Baits

Although baits do contain chemicals, they can be formulated as gels or small bait pucks so the chemicals do not become airborne. This allows you to apply the treatments in a targeted and contained manner. In many cases, insects will consume the bait and take it back to their harborage, which can help eliminate entire groups or colonies. Have your certified pest management professional apply baits in potential pest harborages in kitchens and storage areas. When a pesticide application is needed, bait products should always be the first consideration by your pest management professional.

Organic Cleaners

Organic green cleaners employ naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes to break down grease and grime that pests can use as a food source. Use these environmentally friendly products in and around drains, sinks and garbage disposals to eradicate the build-up that serves as a breeding area for drain and fruit flies.

For the most effective results, work with your pest management professional to accurately identify specific pest issues and develop a pest management plan that is appropriate for your property. Remember a successful IPM program relies on cooperation and commitment from your staff. Ask your pest management professional to conduct a training session on IPM to equip your employees with the tools and knowledge they need to monitor and report pest activity.

Today, being green is not just a trend, it's an important aspect of how a hotel operates. One of the easiest ways to keep guests happy is to keep pests at bay. Recent advancements in green pest management technology mean you can have a pest-free property with minimal impact on the environment.

This article was co-authored by Patrick Copps. Mr. Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin's Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at pcopps@rollins.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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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