Invader Season

Dealing with pest control in logistics can have its challenges.

By Tim Husen

Winter is known as invader season and pests, just like people, seek to stay warm during the colder months. Many storage areas, warehouses and transportation vessels provide the resources pests need to survive — food, water and places to hide. With multiple entry points and consistent incoming shipments, pest control in the logistics industry can certainly have its challenges.

Nuisance pests, such as ants, are present year-round but may only be noticed when temperatures drop. Colder weather can force cockroaches and rodents inside to warmer temperatures for survival. These seasonal visitors can pose serious issues, cause structural damage and ruin supplies and product.

Pest prevention and control needs to be top-of-mind for warehousing and logistics industries. If pests settle in your facility, they can impact your bottom line by damaging and contaminating raw materials, which in return, could tarnish your reputation with customers. The most effective way to combat pest problems is to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan that involves management, maintenance, employees and pest management professionals.

Common Winter Pests

The first step to keeping these cold-weather invaders out is identifying which pests are most common during the winter. Here are a few pests you’re at risk to see scurrying around your facility:

• Rodents – Rats and mice find warmth by taking refuge in the walls, roofs and other safe-protected spaces like behind infrequently moved pallets. As they dig and gnaw, rodents can damage wires, utility lines, doors and stored product. Rats can enter your facility through a quarter-sized hole, and mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel.

• Cockroaches – German cockroaches prefer warmer and more humid areas within different structures. They can enter your facility through shipments on bags, boxes or cardboard containers. Once they are in your facility, their small size allows them to hide efficiently.

• Spiders – Spiders often use structures as a place to overwinter. They are found in subfloor air vents, upper corners of rooms and other dark areas of your facility. They normally enter through open, poorly screened windows and doors, through cracks and gaps around door and window frames or inside boxes and other shipment containers brought indoors.

• Ants – Ants are one of the most common structural invaders, and ant sightings in the winter could indicate a larger infestation. Ants are usually located somewhere in an inner wall, in door and window frames, or under hidden places such as floors and appliances.

Identify Pest Hot Spots

Your facility has everything pests need for survival and they’ll try anything to get inside and stay inside, so you should know which areas to monitor closely. The most common places – or “hot spots” – for pests include:

• Loading docks

• Utility rooms

• Storage rooms

• Equipment

• Shipments

• Employee break rooms

• Dumpsters and trash cans

To avoid an infestation in any of these hot spots, proactive measures such as a sanitation routine, a secure exterior, employee involvement and a pest management provider partnership should be implemented.

Strengthen Sanitation and Cleaning Routines

Proper sanitation will allow facilities to proactively combat pest problems. Incorporate these tips into your regular sanitation routines:

• Place supplies on open-backed shelving to remove pest hiding spots.

• Implement the proper stock-rotation practices so that the older products are always at the front of the storage area.

• Inspect boxes and containers for signs of pest activity, such as droppings, gnaw marks and urine.

• Check to ensure packages are sealed off from pests before stocking.

• Don’t bring a whole pallet of goods directly into storage areas. Instead, break it down at the loading dock.

• Avoid using cardboard, and store materials in tightly closed, plastic bins.

• Remove any extra clutter from the room, and also try to maintain a dry, cool environment.

• Check all windows and ventilation openings to ensure they are sealed.

• Any spilled or damaged products or ingredients should be cleaned up or disposed of immediately to help prevent pest attraction.

• Pests will feed on the residue in drains and on equipment, so stick to a stringent sanitation plan using organic de-greaser/cleaner to eliminate the build-up.

Secure the Exterior

Pest problems usually start outside your building, as rodents and crawling pests like spiders and cockroaches can easily creep in through small openings. Monitor these external areas closely to help prevent pest invasions.

• Examine exterior walls regularly for cracks and fill holes with water-resistant sealant.

• Manage landscaping, especially around entrances since pests will use vegetation as staging and feeding sites.

• Cut tree limbs, trim bushes and remove fallen leaves so pests cannot use them for protection.

• Install and maintain weather stripping and door sweeps to help prevent pest entry.

• Partner with a pest management professional to design other site-specific exclusion measures, such as choice and direction of exterior lighting or other landscape modifications.

Include Your Employees

Include your employees in all pest monitoring efforts because they are your first line of defense when it comes to avoiding pest problems. Make sure your employees receive proper pest control training on which pests to look for and what conditions attract them. Encourage them to monitor for and report any signs of problems, because no price tag can be placed on the value of their constant vigilance.

Partner with Your Pest Management Provider

By following these steps, your facility can enjoy the winter season with a lower risk of unwanted visitors like rodents, cockroaches and spiders. Talk with your pest management professional about these and other steps you can take to protect your business from these and other seasonal pests’ specific to your region.

By taking a proactive approach to pest control, you’ll be one step closer to preventing a pest infestation. Work with your pest control provider to create an ongoing IPM plan that is customized for your facility to stay pest free all-season long.

Tim Husen is a technical services manager for Orkin. A board-certified entomologist specializing in urban entomology, he has more than a decade of experience in the industry. For more information, email or visit