NORTHBROOK, Ill.—July 22, 2021—In this edition of Straight Talk! with Jeff Cross, Jennifer Gordon of Bug Lessons Consulting discusses the value of science-based pest control that uses data to make decisions. Gordon, an urban and medical entomologist who has been fascinated with the world of insects since childhood, explains how cleaning plays a role in pest control and outlines several key questions to consider for any integrated pest management (IPM) program.

“Integrated pest management is a science-based approach to pest control,” Gordon says, explaining that IPM begins with surveying for pests and identifying them to determine precisely what a particular facility may be dealing with. Facility managers should then partner with a pest control company to develop a comprehensive plan that includes preventing and removing the insects. An important aspect of IPM is continuous monitoring and assessment of how well the plan is working and making changes as needed.

“Sanitation and maintenance play a really huge role in integrated pest management,” Gordon asserts. She explains that when you find an insect, you must first ask why the insect is there. “Are there food or water sources that that pest is trying to get at?” A critical step for cleaning professionals is “eliminating attractant conditions,” she says. Other pest control techniques include eliminating cracks and crevices around doors, windows, and building foundations to keep insects out, reducing clutter that could provide a refuge for pests in facilities, and regular surface disinfection. “Pests can physically mechanically spread different pathogens that can make people sick or lead to food spoilage, so proper sanitization and disinfection are really key components to having a good, clean facility that’s free of pests,” Gordon explains.

Five questions to ask when you encounter a pest in a facility:

  1. What is the pest? “It’s incredibly important to know what species you’re dealing with so that you can solve it.” Gordon points out that species differences may be subtle to the average person, but they can be important. For example, some species of cockroach are a public health issue requiring a strategic response, while others are simply outdoor critters that may accidentally end up inside from time to time and do not require the same level of response. It’s important to consult with a pest control company about these differences.
  2. How did the pest get inside? Gordon explains that pests can hitchhike on packages and people, follow plumbing or wiring, or come in through cracks and crevices. “That’s important to know because that’s how you can fix the problem,” she says.
  3. Why does it want to be there? Pests could be seeking food or water, shelter from heat or cold, or they could just accidentally end up inside, and knowing this also helps you solve the problem.
  4. How do we get rid of it? “I recommend developing a really good relationship with a pest management professional,” Gordon says. Some pests are simple to remove, and some are more complicated, she explains. Insecticide is not always necessary, but sometimes it is the best option, and a pest control professional will be able to help you develop a protocol to eliminate the pest.
  5. How do you prevent it from coming back in? Gordon says this goes back to building cleanliness and maintenance. Caulking cracks, installing door sweeps, installing traps, and changing protocols such as cleaning routines or where trash is kept are all effective preventative techniques. Gordon also reiterates the importance of a relationship with an integrated pest management professional for both removal and prevention.

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