Green Pest Management in a Difficult Time
By Frank Meek, International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC
Everywhere you turn these days you see the phrases “green,” “environmentally conscious,” and “sustainable.” These buzz words have encouraged consumers to think about reducing their environmental impact, whether that means changing to a new product or altering habits. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), 93 percent of consumers say they are in fact “very” or “somewhat concerned” about the impact they are having on the environment. As a hotelier you most likely have already put green practices in place. You may provide guests with limited laundry service or organic toiletry products. But, in a down economy it can be costly to introduce additional green practices and products to your hotel. A relatively easy way to green up your hotel is by evaluating your pest management practices.
A great way to green your hotel’s pest management program is to employ an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. A proactive approach to pest management, IPM uses methods like sanitation and facility maintenance to block pests’ access to your facility and their basic survival needs. IPM helps prevent pests from setting foot, wing or tentacle into your facility, rather than waiting until they are already established.
IPM is a process that has great efficacy when you work alongside your pest management provider as a partner. But, is it really worth it? Is it just as effective? Yes and Yes. An IPM program takes a comprehensive approach to pest management, incorporating everything from how rooms are cleaned to when and how pest infestations are dealt with. Before beginning an IPM program, it is important to understand the common “hot spots” in hotels that attract pests like cockroaches, bed bugs and rodents.
Closely monitor these areas to help ensure pests aren’t making your hotel their new home.
- Foodservice Areas: Kitchens and dining areas attract pests and rodents looking for a steady food source, from left behind crumbs to improperly stored food.
- Guest Rooms: Bed bugs typically live within 15 to 20 feet of their food source, human blood, so guest rooms are the perfect breeding ground for these flat, oval-shaped insects.
- Laundry Facilities: Leaking washers and other excess moisture provide pests like cockroaches with a water source for survival, while dryer lint provides them with a food source.
- Employee Areas: If your hotel has employee locker and break rooms, be mindful that employees often store food in their lockers and can leave behind crumbs that attract pests. Employees also may unknowingly bring pests inside on their clothing and belongings.
- Storage Areas and Closets: Dark closets with many cracks and crevices become breeding and hiding places for pests. Areas that store mops and other wet cleaning supplies also attract pests seeking moisture sources for survival.
Once you have identified the common pest “hot spots,” the first step to “greening” your pest management is to put an IPM program into place, if you don’t already have one. The second step is to utilize the many different aspects of IPM to your advantage. Following are several environmentally friendly pest management practices that can help to prevent pests without making a dent in your bottom line.
Proactive Facility Maintenance
- Cracks and Crevices: Pests can enter your establishment through a crack as small as one sixteenth of an inch. By scheduling regular monitoring of your facility’s exterior walls, you can reduce the likelihood that pests may ever enter. Seal cracks with a weather resistant sealant and use copper mesh to help stop pests from getting through.
- Landscaping: Landscaping can be a wonderful place for ants, cockroaches and other pests to hide. Help discourage them from entering your establishment by keeping flower beds and plants away from the building’s exterior walls with a gravel strip. Also, make sure to trim large shrubs and trees so their branches do not create a bridge for pests by touching the building or roof.
- Dumpsters: Trash receptacles are a natural hot spot for a variety of pests because they are an instant source of food, water and shelter. Dumpsters should be located as far away from your hotel as possible. Work with your waste management company to clean and rotate dumpsters on a regular basis. This will help make them a less inviting place for pests.
- Sanitation Methods: You already have a regular cleaning schedule that includes guest rooms, lobbies, kitchens, elevators, and a number of other areas, but you may want to consider stepping up these cleaning regimens. Spills and moisture sources should be cleaned up or removed immediately. Common areas or break rooms with food and water, two of pests’ survival needs, should be cleaned on a more frequent schedule.
Eco-Conscious Pest Management
- Sticky Boards: To help reduce the number of pest traveling into your establishment, a pest management professional may implore the use of sticky boards. As the name suggests, crawling and flying pests get stuck on non-toxic glue boards. These also work as a helpful tool for pest management experts to monitor the level of pest activity in different areas. The traps can be effectively used in the kitchen and other foodservice areas in out-of-the-way places.
- Fly Lights: These ultraviolet lights attract pests to a sticky board and can be discreetly installed in foodservice and other service areas to help monitor and manage flying pest activity.
- Organic Cleaners: Drains can be a food and breeding source for a variety of pests. Use an organic or enzyme-based drain cleaner to help wash away the grease and grime left behind by most foods.
- Non-volatile Baits: These baits come in both gel and containerized solid formulations so they are easy for a certified pest management professional to apply to a targeted location. Because of their unique formulations, they do not become airborne, making them the first choice to use in foodservice areas when needed.
- Pheromone Traps: These synthetically replicated pheromones use pests’ biology against them. In conjunction with sticky traps, pheromones help lure pests to them. These traps can help certified pest technicians monitor for and identify pests that may be plaguing your facility.
- Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs): IGRs interrupt pests’ naturally occurring cycles to prevent them from reaching full maturity. This method helps keep pests from reproducing, thus preventing them from furthering their population inside your hotel.
Effective Employee Training
Another component of IPM is training employees to be on the lookout for pests and empowering them to report any pest activity or sightings to your facility management team. Be sure to act upon those sightings quickly and efficiently and call your certified pest management professional.
Adopting green pest management practices and incorporating them into your IPM program is both good for your bottom line and good for the environment. But, more importantly, “greening up” your establishment is the right thing to do.
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 email@example.com Extended Bio...
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