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A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Pest Populations In Commercial Spaces

Part I: Introduction

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic wind down and businesses slowly resume operations, commercial buildings are beginning to see a lot more human activities once again. This is especially true for hospitality, food & beverage, and retail businesses. With these industries receiving more engagement and human activities, they will inevitably create the perfect conditions for pest infestations to occur.

Besides the resultant loss of reputation and profits that businesses experience when infestations happen on their premises, health risks are a concern as well. During a health crisis such as the current pandemic that we are going through right now, ensuring hygienic conditions to slow down the spread of the diseases is more important than ever.

As such, this guide aims to equip businesses with the knowledge needed to deal with pest infestations - from identifying them and understanding what conditions attract them to tips to reduce their numbers and how pest control services in Singapore can help your business.

Pests in Commercial Spaces

Part II: Pests in Commercial Spaces - Types of Pests And The Industries They Impact

2.1. Bed Bugs & Cockroaches - Common Pests That Hospitality Industry Sees

Amongst all other business sectors, the hospitality industry has the most risk associated with pest infestations. The abundance of food, moisture, and humidity produced by human traffic practically provides the right conditions for pests to thrive and reproduce. Although hotels, hostels, and other lodging establishments may not see as many activities as they did in pre-pandemic times, it does mean that they are at any less risk of pest infestations.

With the hospitality industry being one of the biggest contributors to Singapore’s economy, it is imperative for business owners in this industry to keep proper pest control a priority. Thus, here are the four most common pests that the hospitality industry is likely to encounter. Furthermore, what attracts them to such places, and what business owners can do to get rid of them.

Common Pests in The Hospitality Industry

1. Bed bugs

Since they feast on human blood, hotel rooms are the ideal place for bed bugs to reside in as they see a steady stream of people and body warmth every day. Not only is their shelter guaranteed, so is their food source. Moreover, as a cross-infestation pest, bed bugs can travel quickly to another room if their current room has been vacant for too long or easily hitch onto humans, their clothes, and luggage to spread from one place to another. Coupled with the fact that this pest can reproduce very quickly, it is easy to see how a minor bed bug problem can turn into a full-blown bed bug infestation if it is not dealt with swiftly.

Proper hygiene in the form of vacuuming and changing bed sheets, pillow covers, and cushion covers should be carried out regularly. Hotels should also invest in mattress protectors and pillow encasements as they can help keep out bed bugs. While these prevention measures help, make sure that your staff is educated on spotting the signs of a bed bug infestation so that they can contact a professional pest control service when they see one.

2. Rodents

The most common types of rodents that the hospitality industry sees are rats and mice. The abundance of food, water, and shelter provided in the environment attract them. Being highly flexible, these rodents can squeeze into small cracks (mice have been known to slip through holes the size of a ten-cent coin), and get inside food stores, rooms, and even waste facilities! The problem with rats and mice is that they often carry several harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Hantavirus, Typhus, and their droppings are often allergen triggers. Besides, these rodents often gnaw on furniture and electric wires to keep their teeth sharp. Not only does it result in aesthetic damage to the hotel furniture but also electronics malfunctioning.

Rodents eating cheese

With rodents being the most common pest infestation to occur out of all the other pests, business owners in the hospitality industry have to treat the issue very seriously. For a long-term solution, businesses should engage a professional rodent control service as they are best equipped to help businesses assess their rodent issues, create and administer customised treatments.

Also Read: Complete Guide For Rats Control in Singapore

3. Small flies

Anywhere with decaying organic matter or sugary substances is bound to attract flies. That is why small flies, such as houseflies and fruit flies are often found near garbage containers, grease traps, food and drinks left in the open. Flies are attracted to human and animal waste and hence it is no surprise that they carry a whole host of harmful bacteria. This includes Salmonella and E.Coli that present health risks for humans.

With flies being able to reproduce quickly and become an adult in less than a month, the risks of a flies’ infestation are quite high. Consequently, business owners should take proactive measures to deter flies from their property. Besides ensuring proper sanitation at all times, they should also invest in installing fly units and fly screens around the premises that can trap and prevent flies from getting inside the property.

With flies posing a severe health concern, businesses should look at consulting a professional pest control company as they can provide long-term protection and treatments while adhering to health regulations and regulatory compliance.

4. Cockroaches

While there are several cockroach species, typically the German and American cockroaches infest areas that see a lot of human activity and food availability (such as commercial buildings). While they are attracted to dark and damp conditions, cockroaches are extremely resilient and can survive in virtually any environment! Furthermore, cockroaches feed on almost anything - from garbage to other small insects. Not only do they carry and spread harmful bacteria, but their eggs and carcasses have also been known to trigger allergic reactions. Overall, the presence of cockroaches often spells very bad news for your establishment.

While proper sanitation and hygiene can keep cockroach infestations at bay, professional help would be required if hotels want to get rid of them for the long-term. This is because cockroaches may be resistant to pesticides, are often difficult to control, and hide well. With a cockroach control expert, they can identify the right cockroach species and key risk areas to treat, and enhancing the efficacy of the treatments accordingly.

Being that hotels are supposed to be a form of escape and relaxation, even the smallest pest issue can cause stress for customers and risk their food safety. Therefore, businesses in the hospitality industry should ensure that they limit pest numbers by maintaining sanitary conditions and engaging a professional pest control company for long-term protection.

2.2. How to Protect Restaurants & Supermarkets from Pests

The food service industry belongs to the second most likely for a variety of pests to infest. With food and water being plentiful, it is not difficult to see why. As pests present a variety of health risks for consumers and result in violations of health and safety regulations, businesses in the food service industry should take the necessary precautions to safeguard themselves from infestations.

Just like hotels, the food service industry is at risk of infestations from rodents, flies, and cockroaches. Subsequently, maintaining a level of hygiene, being aware of pest ‘hotspots’, and keeping food in airtight storerooms can help businesses keep their pest numbers down.

Another pest species that are more likely to infest businesses in the food service industry is mosquitoes. This especially affects restaurants that have an outdoor dining area. Dengue cases are seeing a spike this year. Business owners should take steps to ensure that their premises are not breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They can do so in three ways:

  • Prevent mosquitoes from entering the property by keeping openings (such as windows and doors) closed when not in use and sealing small cracks and crevices.
  • Being vigilant about removing stagnant water sources and leaf litter so that mosquitoes do not have places to breed.
  • Getting rid of mosquitoes by spraying mosquito repellent, protecting themselves with mosquito patches while keeping the environment cool.

Businesses should also consult a professional pest control company. They offer efficient mosquito control solutions executed by professionally-trained pest control specialists. From reducing adult mosquito populations to eliminating mosquito larvae breeding, an expert pest control company can help businesses get rid of mosquitoes with efficacy and safety.

Also Read: Dengue Cases Surge in Singapore: What You Need to Know About DENV-3

2.3. Stored Product Insects - How to Manage This Sneaky Pest

A pest that is largely unique to food processing plants and warehouses are Stored Product Insects (SPIs). This is broad term that covers insects such as moths, beetles, and weevils. SPIs are especially attracted to foods including dried grains and fruits, birdseed, nuts, and cheeses. That is why they are often found in food processing plants and warehouses.

Their relatively small sizes and ability to fly (for beetles and moths) mean that they can easily enter the food supply chain at any point. It includes from the farm, inside food warehouses, production and processing plants and even end up packed inside food products. Though tiny in size, SPIs are capable of causing extensive product damage. Not only do they eat through food stores, but they also contaminate them by burrowing into the food. They leave their faeces and cocoons behind. This results in economic losses for businesses (for product recall, operation suspension, or financial penalty). Furthermore, it compromises food safety and supply for people.

As SPIs are difficult to get rid of, businesses should engage a professional pest control company. It is because they can provide expert solutions without creating even more product damage. This includes reducing entry points into facilities, exterminating the pests, and setting up a monitoring system to ensure that SPIs do not return. Such a company can even provide education for employees to learn new knowledge. This includes spotting signs of infestation so that they can contact a pest control service right away. Moreover, businesses should invest in training employees to inspect goods for SPIs carefully. In this way, that they can prevent them from entering the storehouses in the first place or allow an infestation to trigger.

You may also like: What you need to know about stored product insects

2.4. Space to do Work or Home of Pests? Why Offices Attract Pests

As employees slowly return to workplaces, the increase in human traffic may also invite pests into the premises. With the pandemic already being a stressful situation for many people, having a pest-ridden office is the last thing that any employee or business owner wants. There are a few reasons why pests are attracted to office spaces. They are:

Eating and drinking at desks

Singaporeans are known to work one of the longest hours in the world. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find many office workers eating at their desks. Unfortunately, this results in many food crumbs and water spillages around their tables. This attracts pests such as ants and cockroaches. Therefore, employees should try to limit eating and drinking at their tables. Additionally, clean up after themselves to keep pest numbers down.

Not disposing of food waste properly

When half-eaten food and drinks thrown away in office waste bins and not cleared away regularly, it creates moist and unsanitary conditions. This attracts all manner of pests from cockroaches to flies and rodents. Moreover, the smell produced by decaying organic matter is quite unpleasant as well, which flies prefer. As such, food waste should always be disposed of at the proper disposal areas. This ensures that pests will not come into offices in search of food. In addition, dispose wastes regularly. Furthermore, owners should ensure they use a well-covered bin.

You may also like: The right way in managing waste disposal to prevent pests

Irregular facility maintenance

Regular facility maintenance ensures that any ‘wear and tear’ that buildings sustain are dealt with prompty. This includes weakened structures, leaking pipes, and cracks in walls and flooring. Firstly, common entry points for pests are sealed and it is more difficult for them to get inside buildings. Secondly, this is especially helpful in preventing rodents from infesting buildings. This is because they often chew on electric wires and cause short circuits. Thirdly, leaky pipes and defective plumbing can result in spills and moisture that pests need. Furthermore, they cause choke and odour that attracts flies. Above all, business owners should ensure that their building undergoes timely maintenance and checks.

Office pantries

As the area where people prepare and eat meals, where food and drinks are stored, and where food waste disposal takes place, the pantry is the perfect environment for pests in search of food, water, and warmth. As a common ‘hotspot for pests’, Rentokil recommends regular housekeeping so that it does not attract pests. This includes clearing residues, grease, slime build-up, and any food scraps lying around.

Even with maintaining hygienic conditions and ensuring regular facility maintenance, pests can still find ways to infiltrate buildings. They do so through air vents, blind spots, and difficult-to-reach places. As such, offices should supplement their efforts by engaging a professional pest control company in Singapore. This is because they can provide solutions to get rid of pests effectively. More importantly, this ensures that there is consistent protection in place to prevent pests from coming back.

Part III: All That You Need To Know About Pest Control in Commercial Spaces

3.1. 4 Reasons Why Professional Pest Control Is Important for Your Business

With commercial buildings being at risk of so many different pests, employees may not be properly equipped or trained to handle all of them sufficiently. Do-it-yourself pest control solutions often have limited effectiveness, thus unable to resolve pest infestation efficiently. If businesses want more robust and long-term solutions for their pest problems, they will have to engage a pest control company. This is because they have specialists who are highly trained in dealing with such issues. As such, here are four reasons why businesses should utilise professional pest control services.

4 Reasons Why Business Should Engage A Professional Pest Control Service

1. Customised treatments for every pest problem

Different pests require different solutions to deal with them properly. A pest control specialist will typically conduct a site inspection to determine several factors. These include pest type, the environment and the level of infestation. From there, they will formulate a treatment programme that will effectively get rid of the pest base on business needs, nature of the environment, and priorities. Certain treatments require a combination of treatments. On the other hand, some are managed in a digitalised manner. For example, digital rodent control using sensing technology to detect rats’ activities.

2. Ensure that businesses adhere to health and safety regulations

As many businesses see large volumes of human traffic daily, they have to ensure compliance with strict health and safety guidelines. Tihs ensures that their premises are safe for human activity to take place. Particularly for high dependency or food establishments, where they are regulated with stringent compliance. With pests such as flies, cockroaches, rodents, and mosquitoes posing serious health risks for humans, commercial spaces must not become breeding grounds for them. Consequently, a professional pest control company can help businesses meet health and safety regulations by creating an integrated pest management plan that includes extermination and preventative maintenance to reduce the risks of pest infestations from happening.

3. Access to expert knowledge on pest control and management

Many pests, such as cockroaches, rodents, and ants are extremely resilient and can adapt quickly to fit their environments. When that happens, previous pest control solutions may lose their efficacy. As such, the best pest control companies ensure that their specialists and technicians go through regular training. It helps them rremain current on the latest pest research and management techniques. That way, businesses will always receive the most up to date methods of pest control. In addition, certain pest conditions may mutate or are complex to detect and manage. For example, mosquito activities will change according to weather and chemical resistance. Therefore, new innovations and technology are necessary to overcome such challenges.

4. Fewer disruptions to business operations

When pest infestations occur on commercial premises, businesses would usually have to suspend operations for some time. This allows extermination and investigation to carry out. Not only does that cost businesses money, but they also lose profits due to their closed operations that result in downtime. Many pests, like ants, rodents, and cockroaches, can often go undetected for a long time. It causes a minor issue to become a full-blown infestation. With the help of professional services, businesses can detect and treat pest problems early. Hence, it results in fewer interruptions to operations and ensuring productivity.

3.2. What Are The Different Types of Pest Control Services for Businesses?

Pest control services for commercial space differ from those for residential spaces. This is because businesses have to ensure zero-pest tolerance and stringent regulatory compliance. As a result, businesses should engage in credible pest control companies that have trained specialists in providing and administering treatments for commercial spaces. For example, food service companies will require non-toxic treatments so that their food does not risk contamination. On the other hand, food-processing plants require treatments that will effectively remove SPIs without causing further damage to the products.

There are three types of pest control services available: elimination, prevention, and control. A pest control specialist will conduct an on-site assessment; discuss the needs and desired outcomes with businesses before proposing recommendations. Businesses can choose to do a one-time pest control treatment (for acute isolated conditions) or invest in a long-term package that includes elimination and prevention methods. Pest trend analysis reports are also generated to ensure quality control and audit compliance.

Many businesses may also want to know how frequently they should schedule pest control. In most cases, pest control specialists consider the following factors when determining the frequency of treatments. They are:

  • The type of business - hospitality and food service industries have to adhere to very strict health and safety guidelines. That means they need consistent measures to deter pests.
  • Environmental factors - buildings that are prone to damp conditions, in dengue clusters, or easily affected by weather changes may require more frequent pest control to get rid of pests.
  • Recurrence rates - if a building suffers from repeated infestations, a pest control specialist would advise frequent treatments to effectively rid of the pests.
  • Pest species – Some pest types such as mosquitoes require regular and frequent treatments. Other pests such as termites are treated less frequently but with long-term protection.

3.3. Disinfection & Sanitation Services - What Are They and When Should Businesses Use Them?

Disinfection services may be getting more attention now due to the pandemic. However, it has always been crucial in reducing the spread of pathogens virally or from pests. These include rodents, flies, and mosquitoes. Some of these bacteria and viruses can stay on surfaces for a few hours and even a few days. Therefore, regular cleaning is not enough to get rid of them completely.

4 Most Common Types of Pathogens

A disinfection service typically involves misting all surfaces with disinfectants that eliminate disease-carrying pathogens. Certified disinfectant specialists should carry out the treatment to ensure proper decontamination procedures. For businesses that see a lot of human traffic, the risks of cross-contamination are high. As a result, they will benefit from a disinfection service as it ensures the safety and sanitisation of the space - that, in turn, protects the crowd from virus transmission.

Just like for pest control services, disinfection services entail on-site inspection, understanding of business’ needs and expectations before proposing the frequency, locations, and types of disinfection treatment. For instance, treating an infected premise requires additional safety precautions.

Businesses should integrate disinfection services with pest control services. This helps ensure the optimal health and safety of the users and guests. This can prevent cross-contamination risks and transmission of viruses and diseases coming from viral and bacterial means. This includes pest infestation or an environment where individuals cough and sneeze into the air. Hence, disinfection services should be part of a business’ cleanliness and sanitation strategy that includes pest control and prevention.

Also Read: The complete guide to disinfection and sanitisation service in Singapore

Part IV: Conclusion

As pests can infest all types of industries and are present so long as there is food, water, and shelter, businesses need to ensure that they have proper measures in place to handle them effectively. This ensures that pest infestations do not impact their growth or cause health concerns. With more businesses opening up, they need to make sure that their premises are conducive environments for human activity to take place safely. In addition, cross infestation may increase with pests traveling from the external environment or via neighbouring units. As such, both diligent housekeeping and facility maintenance must be integrated well with effective pest control solutions to ensure optimal results in controlling pest pollution.

Rentokil Singapore offers a range of expert pest control services for various industries types! Call us at 6347 8138 for a pest control solution today.

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