What are the most common pests in food processing each month?

Mona Latif

Pests are sneaky – they can invade at any time, creating potential contamination concerns, audit and shutdown risks, and a general headache for any operator. Knowing what to anticipate would help operators get ahead of potential problems, prepare staff members, allocate resources, and more.

In early January, Rentokil did an analysis of two years worth of data from food processing pest management services to determine the most common pests encountered each month. We packed the results into an infographic that illustrates what you need to know and put together information on what you can do to help prevent issues in 2019.

Grouping pests by category

Rentokil provides services that cover hundreds of pest species. However, many species behave similarly to one another, so to streamline this data, we grouped pests into 26 different categories.

While there was activity in every category at some point during the year, the majority of activity for food processing took place within the top 10 categories:

Consistent pressures year-round

Our infographic below highlights the top 5 pest pressures by month – and you’ll notice exactly what we did: while there is some fluctuation in order, the top 5 pests are the same in every month: rodents, large flies, night-flying insects, small flies, and stored product insects.

The pest pressures that food processors face from these pests are consistent year-round, no matter the season. Amplifying your defenses against these pests will be critical to keeping your facility pest-free.

common pests in food processing


Large flies are the top pest issues 8 months of the year

From March until October, large flies are the leading pest issue across the food processing segment. Large flies include house flies, bottle flies, blow flies, flesh flies, and more. More pest management services are conducted for this pest group throughout the year than even rodents. Large flies, alone, account for 30% of total services.

The products that food processing facilities produce, or their by-products (odors, offal, etc.), can be extremely attractive to flies. If a food processing facility has animal or animal products on site, the fly risk escalates.

These facilities often produce a lot of heat, which can result in behaviors in the facility, such as propping doors open to allow cool air in. This gives flies easy access to points throughout the facility. Discourage these types of behaviors whenever possible. If they continue, talk with your Rentokil representative about solutions that can be put in place on the interior of your facility, such as our Lumnia Ultimate insect light trap, or on the exterior to reduce the overall attractiveness of your facility.

Interesting pest trends in food processing

A deep data dive revealed a few interesting trends with specific pests that are useful for food processors to know.

  • Rodents are a year-round threat in food processing – and rightfully so, as these pests can spread dangerous disease and pathogens. Unsurprisingly, rodents, such as mice and rats, lead as the top issue in colder weather months from November to February. This is because rodents are looking for warm places to shelter. While house mice are a problem throughout the year, issues with deer mice spike in November, December, and January. Rodent activity is at its lowest for the year in March.
  • The Indian meal moth, a stored product pest, has its highest months of activity from February to October. If your facility struggles with this pest, a pheromone program may be useful to help identify problem areas or products. Overall, stored product pest activity peaks in August.

common pests in food processing

  • Cluster flies, which can overwinter inside of walls, spike as a problem in December. Operations that have faced issues with these flies in the past should conduct a thorough inspection of their exterior in warm weather months to identify cracks, crevices, and gaps that can be sealed. The smallest cracks and gaps can allow these flies entry. Other pests that exhibit this similar behavior include the brown marmorated stink bug, ladybird beetles, and boxelder bugs.
  • Birds can be a nuisance pest or create serious food safety hazards for food processing operations. Pigeons and sparrows are the two most common bird issues reported. Pigeon activity is at its highest in the late summer and early fall months (August – October). Sparrow activity, on the other hand, increases in the months of March – July, and then again in November and December. Putting in bird management programs in the months prior to these spikes may help deter activity. Rentokil’s checklist may be able to help you assess your bird risk.

Implement a robust pest management strategy year-round

Rentokil’s data reveals quite a bit of useful information, but there is one hard fact that this data confirms. Unlike other segments which see seasonal declines in pest activity, food processors face constant pest pressures year-round. That means that there is a need for a robust pest management strategy year-round.

The data also shows the need for food processors to augment their program or take additional actions at certain points throughout the year to address seasonal activity spikes.

When is the last time you reviewed your pest management strategy? To be in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act, your program must address the specific risks at your facility – these risks may be based on the products you produce, specific pest pressures in your area, your facility’s structure, and more. You should evaluate your pest risk continually, and especially if your facility introduces a new process, undergoes significant structural changes, or is processing new ingredients or products.

Rentokil can help you design a comprehensive pest management strategy that addresses your facility’s unique risks. To speak with one of our experts, call us today at 800.488.9495 or visit rentokil-steritech.com and use our Live Chat feature.

Mona Latif
Mona Latif

Mona Latif is the Director of Product & Innovation for Rentokil North America. Mona specializes in creating and deploying processes, products and enhancements to improve the overall customer experience. When not at work, Mona is seeking new adventures, taking pictures, shopping and reading.

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