Modern Pest Control Management

Instead of powerful and potentially dangerous insecticides and pesticides, modern pest-management systems incorporate several different techniques to help eradicate pests. Together, these techniques are often referred to as integrated pest management (IPM).

Although it may have different means of implementation, IPM is generally considered a program to prevent, monitor and control pests to eliminate or at least drastically reduce the use of pesticides, minimizing the possibility of human exposure to these poisons, according to Stephen Ashkin, an advocate for Green Cleaning and president of The Ashkin Group, Bloomington, ID.

“In a hotel, one of the first steps in IPM involves thoroughly monitoring and inspecting the entire property,” he says. “This allows facility managers to spot situations that pests can take advantage of and correct these situations before they become problematic.”

Monitoring may also involve trapping insects and rodents to determine infestation levels as well as the types of pests found at a particular site. In a hotel, monitoring may reveal spilled food, damaged cans, and even crumbs on the floor or embedded in carpets in guest rooms, which can provide an infinite food supply for insects. “Hotel employees need to make sure these food sources are removed and cleaned up in a timely manner,” says Ashkin. “This also means staying attuned to food product turnover rates because insects are more likely to be attracted to food products that are left in storage for extended periods. Additionally, temperature and humidity can attract insects in a building at different times of the year.”

Along with monitoring, he adds that records should be kept to establish pest-infestation trends and patterns. These should include pest identification, population size, pest location, and prevention and treatment measures currently in place.

“However, the ideal way to help control and prevent pest infestation is through improved cleaning, sanitation, and maintenance,” says Ashkin. “As long as conditions are favorable — meaning food and water sources are plentiful — the risk of pest infestation will remain high.”

According to Ashkin, enhanced, thorough cleaning reduces food and water availability, causing pests and insects to look elsewhere for a place to live and breed. Even the disturbance caused by more thorough cleaning can cause insects to look for new hiding places and food sources.

In particular, specific areas known to harbor pests should be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. Insects can often be physically removed from a facility by vacuuming deep inside crevices and wall and building openings where they tend to hide. Additionally, structural repairs should be made to help prevent pests from entering, or reentering, the facility once IPM measures have been implemented. These can include sealing or caulking cracks in foundations and around pipes entering the building from the outside, repairing torn screens, and installing brushes under exterior doors. Also, consider operating the building under slightly positive pressure so that pests aren't inadvertently sucked into it when doors are opened.

“The bottom line in most situations is that pest infestation takes place because we have allowed it to happen,” says Ashkin. “Spraying pesticides immediately after identifying a pest problem is often only a temporary fix and potentially harmful in the long run. Instead, systems that help prevent the problem are often more practical and much safer for humans and the environment.”

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