Pest Management Firms Morphing Into One-Stop Bug Shops

A warm place to rest and all the food and drink desired describes the appeal of all-inclusive resorts for people -- and food processing facilities for insects and other pests.

By Kevin T. Higgins, Managing Editor

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While a service company can ease a plant's burden, it can't assume all the pest-control responsibilities, she emphasizes. "I can't sweep the floor or fix your broken screens," says Hartzer. "Pest management is everybody's responsibility, from the sanitation crew and maintenance department to the operators on the floor."

Free bird

Alternatives to traditional insecticides and poisons are not the only innovations. A high-tech mousetrap from Rentokil debuted in Europe in 2007, with carbon dioxide providing the kill step instead of poison. Clients can opt for an email alert from the trap when it's time to remove a rodent carcass.

Carbon dioxide also plays a role with a bird capture device. The supplier's name sounds ominous — Advanced Weapons Technology in La Quinta, Calif. — but it represents a humane method of removing flighted visitors to a plant or warehouse, according to president Dan Sherman, who markets the device through the website

With a CO² canister as a propellant, the device fires a net measuring 8 ft. by 8 ft. at sparrows, pigeons or other targets in motion, ensnaring them in the mesh for easy removal. The target needs to be moving, Sherman explains, and the net can be fired from 40 ft. or more. "The net acts like a bedsheet," he adds. "It's very difficult to miss and very easy to catch."

The first application was six years ago in Singapore, where authorities wanted a nonlethal alternative to Taser guns. A year later, Sherman introduced the pest-control version, which has tighter meshing than the human net.

"You could take a mouse down, too, though a mouse might be difficult to restrain," he allows. In any case, the invader can be removed from the facility and released unharmed. One of the biggest users of the device is USDA, which has about 100 units.

One of the device's distribution channels is BirdBGone, a Mission Viejo, Calif., firm that manufactures and distributes a broad assortment of traps and exclusion products. Bird spikes that prevent them from landing and electric tracks that deliver a small shock when they try to roost are commonly used, according to Rich Martin, the firm's technical manager. So is netting that attaches to the underside of a dock canopy. "Some people ask, 'Isn't there a spray I can use?'" says Martin. Unfortunately, no, and the best solution usually is site dependent.

Sparrows are the most common avian invaders, but pigeons create more problems in plants.

In the insect world, the kudzu bug is on the march beyond its native Georgia, and Pennsylvania's brown marmorated stink bug has worked its way west into Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Colder weather will drive rodents to seek shelter, and filth flies like to hibernate in cracks and crevices during the winter months and resume breeding in the spring.

Patricia Hottel, McCloud's technical manager, says X-ray technology is sometimes used to examine the underside of concrete slabs to determine if a leaky pipe or other conditions conducive to a pest infestation exist. Her firm also has dabbled with thermal imaging to flag voids in walls.

Pest control is a prerequisite program and a building block for HACCP. The expectation of inspectors, auditors and customers is that food processors say what they do, do what they say and prove it. An integrated pest management program meets those requirements, and supplier realignment makes it more likely that multi-site food companies can select a standardized approach from a single vendor.

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