ARTICLE UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 06, 2023
In the intricate web of global supply chains and logistics, warehouses and fulfillment centers serve as crucial hubs for storing and distributing goods. These vast spaces, packed with valuable inventory, are susceptible to a range of challenges, one of the most persistent being pest infestations. Warehouse pest control is not only essential for preserving the integrity of goods but also for upholding a company’s reputation. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of warehouse pest control, the common pests that pose a threat, and effective strategies to keep storage facilities pest-free.
Discovering a Warehouse Pest Control Problem
Pests have the potential to transmit illnesses that can affect the health of employees and compromise the safety of a facility’s operations. Even if there has been no contamination of products, the presence of pests can negatively impact employee morale, causing them to spend extra time ensuring that unexpected creatures don’t impede their space. According to Facility Executive, the four most common pests impacting facilities in 2023 include rodents, stored product pests, the spotted lantern fly, and birds. There are several signs that indicate the existence of these common pests within a facility that employees can be on the lookout for:
|Rats and mice are constantly chewing. Shredded cardboard and gnawed wood or wiring can be signs of rodents in your warehouse or fulfillment center. Cockroaches are also known to chew on cardboard or paper, leaving patterns of holes through the layers.
|Often, infestation of a building is accompanied by a musty or musky odor. An unusual odor in a warehouse should always be investigated to determine the cause.
|Another sign of rodents in the warehouse is visible grease tracks, especially in places where it would be difficult for a person or equipment to make a mark. Tracks around roof joists, vents, or pipes are a sure sign of rodents.
|Rodents and roaches both leave behind droppings in the form of small dark grains. These droppings can potentially spread bacteria and viruses and are not only a hazard to your products, but also to your workers.
Discovering any of these signs of pests in a warehouse should prompt a quick call to the exterminator. However, while rodents and roaches are well-known pests and easy to identify, other types of pests are relatively unique to warehouses and can go unreported for a long time.
Identifying Pests That Are Unique to Warehouses
Unfortunately, for some of the more unique facility visitors, their presence can go unnoticed for some time. If warehouse managers and employees are not familiar with the indicators of these warehouse pests, they may not control and mitigate the situation in a timely manner, which can lead to more damage. This is often the case with common warehouse pests that aren’t typically seen in private homes:
|When an employee discovers a small brown or black beetle that clearly isn’t a roach, it may not trigger any alarm bells. However, cigarette beetles, drugstore beetles, flour beetles, and the appropriately named warehouse beetle can all infest dry foods like nuts, flour, barley, cereal, and pet food, if left unchecked.
|Spider beetles are hardy scavengers that feed not only on human foods, but also on the feces of other pests, meaning that they can pick up E. coli, Listeria, and other bacteria, and track them into human food. They get their name from their distinctive round body and long legs, and they can be confused with a small spider, which means they may not be recognized as a pest.
|Rice, Bean, Granary, and Maize Weevils
|Weevils are small beetles that eat a variety of crops and lay their eggs in the seed, making them an agricultural pest. They can be recognized by their distinctive snout-like head shape. While they’re harmless to humans and can even be eaten without harm, consumers are unlikely to be happy if they discover weevils in their pantry.
|A two-tone, dark brown insect, the Indianmeal moth is one of the most common stored-food pests in the world. The larval form does all the damage and attacks pet food, bread, pasta, flour, seeds, and other foods. It can also chew through packaging to get at the food.
Since none of these common warehouse pests are instantly recognizable to the average facility worker, they are often able to establish themselves in a warehouse or fulfillment center without anyone catching on until the infestation becomes a serious problem. Once they have become established, the best choice is to contact a professional extermination service. Bringing in a pest control service is a time-consuming and often expensive interruption to warehouse operations. It’s also an expense that is likely to follow on the heels of consumer complaints, load rejections, and even costly recalls of contaminated goods. Clearly, the best option is to keep pests out of your facility to begin with.
Prevention Is the Best Warehouse Pest Control
Although there is no foolproof way of preventing pests from entering a structure, keeping a warehouse in good repair reduces the ways that rats, mice, roaches, birds, and other pests can get in. There are some basic ways warehouse managers can manage pest control:
- Ensuring that the roof is tightly sealed and leak-proof, doors close fully and tightly, and that any windows are also well sealed.
- Doing routine maintenance of plumbing and air conditioning to prevent leaks, which keeps pests from having a convenient supply of water to drink if they do make it into the warehouse and making it more difficult for them to breed.
- Cleaning your warehouse of any spilled food products and keeping tight control over employee food waste by allowing food only in designated areas and ensuring that trash is removed from these areas after each meal.
These basic procedures are all part of keeping a warehouse clean. And while they will help keep pests from entering the facility, they won’t close off a warehouse’s biggest area of vulnerability: shipments of products constantly entering the building. If a pallet full of packaged foods arrives, bringing the pests along with their food supply, then they will have the means to establish themselves in the warehouse despite all efforts to keep them out.
Plastic pallets can help prevent pests from using this route into your warehouse. Plastic shipping pallets have far fewer crevices that insects can use to conceal themselves than wood pallets, and unlike wood, they’re not a satisfying chew toy for rodents. Plastic is also nonabsorbent, and a plastic pallet is less likely to give pests a source of water that they can use to survive. Finally, it’s possible to wash and sanitize plastic pallets, which makes it much easier to control pests. All of these features give plastic pallets a clear advantage in preventing the transfer of pests between warehouses, saving your business money on extermination fees and wasted product, and, ultimately, on your Total Cost of Business (TCOB).
Maintaining a pest-free warehouse environment is essential for preserving inventory, maintaining smooth operations, ensuring employee safety, and upholding a business’s reputation. By recognizing the signs and adopting a proactive and multifaceted approach to pest control, facilities can minimize the risks associated with infestations and create a safe, efficient, and resilient supply chain.
Companies committed to efficient warehouse pest control should consider iGPS plastic pallets for all their shipping needs. Our lightweight, recyclable plastic pallets incorporate RFID technology, making them traceable throughout a supply chain. For more information, contact us at 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.