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

When is it time to call in a pest management professional? This question can be compared to the age-old healthcare question: When it is time to see a doctor?

Like sneezes, some pest sightings may be isolated incidents. For example, if a fly is spotted in a room that has a window open, it’s likely the fly flew in by chance. But other times, pest sightings can mean there is a bigger issue at hand. Whether it’s your health or the health of your facility, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

This is why it’s important to partner with a pest management professional. A pest management partner can not only help prevent and treat pest infestations, but help establish action thresholds also. Action thresholds are points at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that some form of action needs to be taken — so facilities know when to call for help.

Hiring a pest management professional is a worthwhile investment. A good pest control partner can assess the pest risks in your facility, implement a custom plan to manage pests and monitor for any problems that arise.

With bed bugs, which can plague long-term care and assisted living facilities as well as hospitals, it pays to have a pest management provider performing regular inspections. If bed bugs are able to thrive and reproduce undetected in your facility, the resulting costs of fighting off an infestation — as well as the cost to your reputation — can far outweigh the cost of regular pest control service.

With all this in mind, it’s important to find the right, licensed pest management professional who will partner with you to implement all of these tactics to help keep pest problems away.

Integrated Pest Management should be the foundation of any program you implement with your pest management professional. Instead of waiting for a pest problem to occur, IPM takes a proactive approach to managing pest activity by analyzing trends, using chemical treatments only as a last resort.

The pest management industry has become completely customizable, with pest management programs as unique as the facilities they are implemented in. That’s why you need a provider who can tailor an IPM program specifically for your facility and your needs — if a potential provider doesn’t utilize IPM and insists on traditional, outdated tactics, you should look elsewhere.

Once you’re ready to start searching for a provider, keep these points in mind:

It’s OK to ask around
When starting your search for the right pest management provider, your industry colleagues can be a good resource. Ask them who they partner with and if the partnership is paying off. If your facility is part of a larger network, you may also consider talking with other managers about their pest management providers and their results — both positive and negative.

Good advice from your peers can create a short list of providers to choose from.

Pest control starts with inspection
Inspection should always be the first step. A pest management provider shouldn’t offer you a plan without initially walking through and assessing your facility first not only for any existing but potential pests as well. In fact, pest management professionals should inspect your facility on their first visit and also bring in pest specialists who understand pests’ behavior and how to manage them.

Keep your staff in mind
Your staff plays an important role in reporting pest sightings and keeping your facility clean, so ask potential pest management providers if they offer staff training or educational materials like tip sheets and checklists. Many pest management providers will provide staff training at no extra cost.

Once you choose a pest management provider, take time to meet with them and discuss the roles of everyone involved. Establish benchmarks for your pest management program and set up specific times throughout the year to evaluate the program’s success and areas of improvement with your provider.

Use these suggestions, and your next pest management provider could become a long-term partner.

Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., is Director of Quality Systems for Orkin. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.orkincommercial.com.