What are some steps food manufacturers should be taking during the
winter months in order to get a head start on warm-weather pest pre-
The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry
experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the
overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
Patricia Hottel, Technical Director, McCloud Services
One item that food manufacturers often complete during the winter months of November and December is budgeting. So, to start, there may be structural repairs or improvements which should be budgeted for the next fiscal
year. Pest management documentation, corrective action reports and annual assessments can help with the process
of determining what conducive conditions are present and what actions need budgetary consideration.
One of the most common areas of remediation are the exterior doors, especially dock doors. Repairs to doors can
help from an energy conservation standpoint and pest prevention. For heated structures, it can be very timely to
make these repairs before or during the winter. There are a variety of door sweeps including brushes and rubber
sleeved stainless steel mesh door seals that can be installed. Making sure that the base of a door is properly
sealed can be helpful in excluding rodents and insects. Dock plates should also be properly sealed around the dock
plate/floor frame junctures as well. Other dock door issues can include the need for self closing timers or remote
control closures to assist with plant staff in keeping doors closed when not in use. Rapid roll up doors may be
desired around the dock to add another layer of defense. Lastly, the seals or bumpers around the exterior of dock
doors should be inspected to make sure that they are intact and in good repair. These seals are essential in preventing pest entry when doors are open for truck loading.
In the spring, it is the time to pest-proof the areas where overwintering pests like cluster flies, brown marmorated
stink bugs, box elder bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles have used to access structures to be sealed. It is
essential to wait until the overwintering insects have left the structure before sealing since they will use the same
openings to exit the structure. Pest proofing for cluster flies and box elder bugs can occur as early as March.u
John Kane, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As the temperatures cool and days grow shorter, your facility is going to experience greater pressure from the
outside from rodents, insects seeking to overwinter, and occasional invaders merely following a temperature gradient upstream (into the warmth of your facility). Cold weather brings opportunities as well, to prepare for and bring
about a strong start on the warm seasons. The following are a few, big-picture items that will help:
1. Rigorously assess your facility for openings. These will ‘bleed’ temperature, and allow pests to sense the temperature gradient and enter via the offending opening. Seal it up! Your utility bill will lower, and you’ll have fewer
pests. A few dollars of the right sealant can save tens of thousands on the back-end.
2. Use the appropriate patch, seal, or sealant! Foam just won’t do as a long lasting approach.
3. Consider adjusting placement of your pest managing devices to meet the changing need, or adding equipment
to certain areas. For example, sprinkler pump rooms are often kept warmer, and as a result usually experience
more intense rodent pressure during cold months – get ahead of this by installing more equipment here during
late Fall, Winter, and into early Spring.
4. If your warehouse space is cool (55 degrees F or lower), insect development will be greatly slowed. This is a
great time to attempt to disrupt population cycles of stored product pests (inspect, discard or fumigate infested
items), so you have little or no activity when it warms up. If Indian Meal Moths are a concern, install a mating
disruptor OR pheromone monitoring grid before it warms up; both have their own virtues. Mating disruptors are
fast becoming a proven and effective tool for Indian Meal Moths in food processing and warehousing settings.
Pheromone monitoring grids reduce males in the population, provide locational clues regarding infestations, and
more and more may even be used to demonstrate due diligence to downstream clients.u
What are some steps food manufacturers should be taking during the winter
months in order to get a head start on warm-weather pest prevention?