Pests pose numerous threats to the functions of facility management businesses, from cleaning and catering to maintenance and utilities, waste management and staff welfare. The complex operation of facilities management requires specialist expertise in many disciplines to ensure smooth operation in all these areas. It also means there are many opportunities for pests to pose a risk to the business.
Many types of pest can find shelter and food around large buildings. Continuous maintenance and monitoring are essential to prevent them from entering buildings and to deal with any pest infestation quickly. Rapid action is needed to prevent pest from spreading around a property and their population increasing. From decades of experience supporting facilities management customers, here is what you need to know about the five types of pest which cause the most problems.
Rats and mice are the most common pest in many types of business. Their constant search for food and shelter means they will investigate any possible means to get into a building. They are highly agile and can squeeze through tiny gaps or gnaw through many materials to create holes large enough to gain entry.
They will exploit any weak points in buildings, such as gaps in doors and windows and where cables and pipework enter a building. Inside, they exploit hidden areas such as roof spaces, cavity walls, suspended ceilings, cable ways and piping to travel around a building, find nesting sites and search for food.
They cause physical damage by gnawing holes for access and gnawing anything to grind their teeth down, including electrical cables, which can lead to shorting and fires. They pose a health risk as they are vectors for a wide range of bacteria, viruses and parasites, including leptospirosis and hantavirus, and can trigger asthma in building occupants from shed fur and skin particles.
Urban areas provide ideal environments for a few species of bird that find shelter on and around buildings and other structures and thrive on the food provided by human activities. Birds roost and nest on buildings, damaging the structure with their corrosive droppings, blocking drains with nesting material, disturbing occupants with their calling and movement, and fouling window ledges, balconies and pavements.
Birds also spread diseases and parasites in their droppings and nesting material. A variety of insects infest their nesting areas, including SPIs and ectoparasites such as ticks, mites and bird bugs carried on their bodies.
Pigeons are the most widespread bird pest and the main ones that damage buildings. Starlings can roost in large numbers on buildings and nest in cavity-like spaces such as drain pipes and ceiling voids. Sparrows tend to be a problem in large buildings such as food processing factories and warehouses, where they can get inside to nest and can foul and damage products. Gulls are pests mainly near coastal areas and landfill sites. Herring gulls nest on the roofs of houses and are mainly a noise nuisance, while herring gulls prefer flat roofs for nesting, where they can block drainage.
3. Crawling insects
Crawling insects are a diverse category that covers both insects that are attracted to food we eat and some that also feed on us to get a blood meal.
Cockroaches are attracted to warm, damp places in buildings where there is a food supply nearby. This can range from crumbs and spills on floors, desks, and kitchens to packaged or loose food in drawers and cupboards and food left out on counters and in sinks. There are many types of ant worldwide that invade buildings to look for food. Once you see them walking along a trail, you know they have already found a food supply in your building and you’ll need to track the source and take action to prevent them from infesting your premises. Both cockroaches and ants require food-hygiene measures to deny them sources of food.
Fleas are brought into buildings by people and animals, including other pests such as birds, rats and mice, which will then need to be dealt with to prevent further infestation. Bed bugs are carried into buildings by people and in luggage and furniture. They are mainly a problem in buildings which provide overnight accommodation such as residential properties, hotels, student dormitories and care homes.
4. Flying insects
Flying insects include house flies, fruit flies and blow flies that are a food safety hazard. They’re attracted to food in kitchens and eating areas, both inside and outdoors. Badly stored waste food or other organic waste – which could be on a nearby property –can become a breeding ground for flies and result in large numbers entering buildings.
Certain local environments, wetlands and waterways, for example, can produce swarms of aquatic insects such as caddis flies and biting midges. Wasps and bees can nest in pitched roofs, wall cavities and other parts of the building and grounds and cause a hazard to the occupants and passers-by. These stinging insects will need to be removed safely and as quickly as possible.
5. Stored product insects
Quantities of packaged food stored in offices, commercial kitchens, canteens and residential properties can attract a range of insect pests that live and breed in the food. These tiny pests can infest any type of dried and preserved food, including cereals and grain-based products, nuts, sweets, dried fruits and meats. There are three main categories of these pests:
Beetles and weevils
There are several hundred species of beetle and weevil that infest stored products, including biscuit, larder and grain beetles, rice weevil, and flour beetles.
The larvae of several moths are significant pests of stored products worldwide, including the Indian meal moth, warehouse moth, and the mill moth.
These arachnids are the smallest of the stored product pests. They can infest many products, including cheese and flour and also cause allergic reactions.