A pest management resolution for 2015: Put down the spray can

Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., B.C.E
Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., B.C.E

Over the past few years, we've discussed several pest control topics, from why pests are attracted to and enter healthcare facilities to areas where you can expect to find them hiding out.

But what about treating your facility for pests?

Today's pest treatments are moving beyond widespread conventional applications of chemical pesticides. Instead, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has become the recommended practice by the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. As a result, more and more healthcare facilities are using IPM to manage pests.

To recap, IPM is a collaborative and ongoing cycle that takes a proactive approach to pest control. IPM relies on chemical treatments only as a last result, focusing instead on proactive strategies like exclusion and facility maintenance, stringent sanitation practices and ongoing inspections to keep pests away. If chemical treatments are needed, non-volatile and least toxic formulations are used only in precision targeted areas. This is ideal for healthcare facilities, which often have guests and patients with weakened immune systems.

If you're looking to make an impactful New Year's resolution for your facility, working with a pest management professional to set up an IPM program could keep pests in check in 2015 and beyond.

Solutions for Crawling Pests

Ants, cockroaches and rodents are some of the pests that give healthcare facility managers the biggest headaches, routinely appearing at the top of the list in an annual Orkin survey of AHE members on pest issues.

These pests don't need much room to squirm into your facility. Rats can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter, and smaller mice can make it through dime-sized openings. Cockroaches only need 1/16 of an inch to find their way inside your facility.

To combat these pests, start by making your facility air-tight. Seal all cracks and crevices with weather-resistant sealant to keep these pests outside. Use weather stripping around windows and install door sweeps on all entryways.

If preventive techniques aren't successful, that's when chemicals may be needed. But chemical treatments for these crawling pests can be targeted and organic. Consider these options:

  • Repellants – Organic dust made up of chrysanthemum flowers and silica gel compounds can repel ants and other crawling insects from cramped, hard-to-reach places. This combination of pyrethrins damages the insects' exoskeletons. Sensing that damage, pests retreat from the area when they come into contact with the repellant.  
  • Baits – Baits come in different forms including gels and bait pucks, and feature a combination of attractants. Your pest management provider can apply these directly into infested areas, away from the public, offering a safer way to control these pests. Ants and cockroaches not only eat the bait but also share it throughout their colony.

Treatments for Flying Pests

Not only are flies a nuisance, but they also are some of the filthiest of pests, potentially carrying billions of microorganisms on their bodies that can spread diseases and contaminate food. Because of this, they pose a serious threat to healthcare facilities.

But there are proactive and green tactics you can use to ground flies at your facility:

  • Organic cleaners – Try using organic cleaners in your cleaning routine. These cleaners break down fly-attracting grease and grime that collects in facility drains and other areas.
  • Air Curtains – These fans can be mounted on top of entrances, creating a wall of air that impedes flying pests from getting inside.
  • Fly Baits – These baits, when applied on the exterior areas, can be highly effective as a means of reducing your fly population. Flies are attracted to and eat the baits, which can be in granular or liquid form.
  • Insect Light Traps (ILTs) – Commonly known as fly lights, ILTs use ultraviolet light bulbs to attract and draw flies to a non-toxic sticky board trap. In addition to managing flies, these traps can also be used to help monitor and identify the types of flying pests your dealing with.
  • Fly Traps – Much like ILTs, fly traps draw insects in and trap them. A pest management professional can determine the specific species of flies plaguing your facility and choose the most appropriate traps and where to place them, but they are often set up in employee break rooms or shipping and receiving areas, out of view from patients and guests.

With these tactics, you can manage crawling and flying pests and make your facility a little greener.  

Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., B.C.E., is the Director of Quality Systems, Orkin, LLC. 

A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, he is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.  For more information, e-mail zsiddiqi@orkin.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.
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