Avoiding pest activity in exterior retail displays

Krissie Callahan

When fall officially arrives, retailers pull out all the stops to capitalize on seasonal consumer spending. That often means putting time and energy into developing exterior displays laden with food, plants, and decorative merchandise. However, these exterior displays can be a veritable bonanza for insects, rodents, and even pest birds.

Whether it’s firewood, football and tailgating supplies, fall flowers and plants, pumpkin bins and Thanksgiving-themed merchandise, or Christmas trees and wreaths, here are some simple steps you and your staff can take to keep pests out of your displays AND your store. 

pumpkins and gourds

An acronym to deter pest activity

Going through a simple 6-step checklist as you construct your exterior display can help you determine if your display could be attracting pests. To remember this checklist, simply remember the acronym I’M FOOD

  • I – INSPECTION: Before setting up any exterior display, do a thorough inspection of the building exterior to seal gaps and cracks ¼-inch or larger. 
    • Insect and rodent pests can squeeze through the smallest openings. Use pest-proof material, such as 1/8-inch wire mesh, flashing, hardware cloth, or silicone caulk) to seal small cracks and gaps. 
    • Install a door sweeps to eliminate gaps under any doors leading to the interior of your store.
    • Mice can even travel under sidewalk gaps to the facility’s foundation, so look for holes or cracks that might allow entry in sidewalk areas around displays.
  • M – MATERIALS: Carefully consider the materials used to construct the display. 
    • Materials used in displays may seem harmless but could be a magnet for pests. For example, hay bales may provide great nesting material for bird and rodent pests. 
    • Consider purchasing specially designed exterior shelving that holds up to outdoor elements and resists pest activity.
  • F – FOOD: Avoid using items that can be food for pests. 
    • This includes birdseed, vegetables, pumpkins, and gourds, as well as plants and dried food decorative items.
    •  If you must use these items, ensure that you inspect stock and toss any foods that are damaged or show signs of rotting, mold, or other decay.
  • O – OFF THE GROUND: Use displays that sit off the ground and allow for easy pest inspection.
    • The display surface should be at least 12 inches from the ground and wall.
    • Items within the display should be easy to access or remove from the display structure. 
  • O – OVERNIGHT: Do not leave displays outside overnight. 
    • Rodents and some flying insects are extremely active at night. Stores have likely closed, leaving displays unattended and ripe for rodent activity.
    • To reduce this chance, bring display items inside at night. However, all items should be carefully inspected for pest activity before bringing them inside. If they show signs of activity, do not bring them inside. 
    • Bringing items indoors may not be practical in some cases, such as Christmas trees. Speak to your pest management provider about how you can deter activity in displays that must remain outside. 
  • D – DISTANCE: Whenever possible, place exterior displays at a distance from the entrance to the store, rather than right next to doors leading into the store. 
    • This reduces the chance that flies and stinging insects that are attracted to flowers and plants will easily fly inside through main entrance doors. 
    • It will also help reduce the likelihood that any other pests attracted to the display would have easy access to the inside of your store.

fall decor on city street

Designing pest-resistant fall exterior displays

If you’re in the process of planning your fall displays, consider bringing your pest management provider into the conversation. Telling them when, where, and what you’re planning to include ahead of time may save you pest trouble. 

If you are a current Rentokil customer, don’t hesitate to ask your Pest Specialist for advice. If you’re not currently a customer but would like to speak with a representative about designing a pest management plan for your business, contact us today or call 800.488.9495. We’ll be happy to send someone out to do a free complimentary inspection of your business.

Krissie Callahan
Krissie Callahan

As the Communications Manager for Rentokil North America, Krissie specializes in writing, editing, and shaping both internal and marketing messages for the company. When she's not at work, you can usually find her taking in a live music performance in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.

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