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Avoid Stagnancy: Only Settle for Dynamic Pest Programs
by Zia Siddiqi, PhD, BCE
Editor’s Note: This is final installment in a five-part series of articles that provide a practical approach to pest control topics.
Since pest activity constantly fluctuates based on facility conditions and seasonality, stagnant is the last word by which you want to describe the pest management program at your facility. It should instead be dynamic and change as necessary over time according to pest activity and trends. But how do you know when your pest management program needs to be altered in a small or large way?
The key is to work with a pest management company whose pest professionals understand the science behind pests and the activity they exhibit throughout the year. Here are a few factors to look for to ensure you are signing a contract with a company that truly understands how to develop the best pest management program for your unique facility.
In the food manufacturing world, a company’s bottom line can hinge on the score it receives on its food safety audits. Documentation of the pest management program is vital to the pest control portion of a food safety audit, which can account for up to 20 percent of the final score. Consequently, your pest management company should follow strict protocols in regard to documentation to ensure your logs and reports are audit-ready at any time. All documents should be housed onsite at your facility and should include pest treatment service reports, pest monitoring logs, corrective action reports, trend analyses, and pesticide usage logs.
Along with serving an important role during the food safety audit, documentation helps the pest management professional monitor pest activity over time. When the pest management professional notices a change in pest activity trends, he or she can confirm that certain elements of your pest management program should be adjusted accordingly. Without this collection of data and documentation, he or she would not be able to show hard proof as to why the changes in the program should be made and, unfortunately, may not even be able to recognize a change should be made in the first place.
The last thing you need is for your facility to be left behind with outdated methods.
In addition to strict documentation protocols, look for a pest management company that offers periodic check-ins. Those check-ins should ideally be performed by one of your pest management professional’s supervisors.
These visits will allow a fresh set of eyes to take a look at your facility’s current pest situation, reevaluating the components of the pest management program. Furthermore, the visits will provide added confirmation that the pest management professional who services your facility is following company and industry protocols while treating your facility. In the case that any discrepancies are realized during these visits, you would then find yourself with an opportunity to remediate the situation and work with the pest management professional on altering the program as needed.
Annual Facility Assessment
Now that we’ve discussed documentation protocols for every service, as well as periodic supervisor visits, we can cover a meeting that should take place one time per year: The annual facility assessment.
During the annual facility assessment, the pest management provider will review several components of your pest management program to identify chronic issues your facility faced over the course of the previous year. These issues typically become apparent after the provider takes a look at the documentation that was completed at the end of every service visit, the pest activity trends analysis, and the evaluations from the periodic visits conducted by the pest professional’s supervisor.
In addition, the provider may ask questions about the modifications you made in the last year both inside and outside the facility—did you install any new equipment, experience any damage to your building, or enforce any new procedures for staff? Chances are that you did make some changes, which means your pest management provider may need to take a modified approach to your situation and create a new strategy as a result.
Scientific Research & Technological Advances
Adjustments to pest management programs are largely influenced by scientific research and the advanced technology that is developed as a result. For example, stored product pest infestations can sometimes get out of hand due to the pests’ rate of reproduction. Past scientific studies have led to new technology that prevents reproduction from happening in the first place.
Pest control companies like Orkin now offer mating disruption pheromone dispensers, which allow for targeted pest management by confusing the insects from locating a mate. Thanks to this kind of scientific research, pest management methods for the food processing industry—and others—are more effective than ever. The last thing you need is for your facility to be left behind with outdated methods, so ensure the pest management provider stays abreast of the latest scientific research and uses the latest technology.
By finding a pest management company that fits this criteria, you will succeed in creating a partnership that leads to an effective pest control program. No matter what changes in pest activity will come along, you can trust your pest management professional will take the right approach to adjust your program accordingly and help protect your facility from an infestation in the long term.
Dr. Siddiqi is director of quality systems for Orkin, LLC. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, he is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. Dr. Siddiqi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.