Hulett Environmental Services shares tips to guard against beetles, moths and other common pantry pests
As the holiday season ramps up, families will soon be spending more time in the kitchen, cooking turkey dinners and baking pumpkin pies. However, Hulett environmental Services reminds South Florida residents to check their cabinets and seldom-used ingredients for pantry pests that can become a hassle during this joyous time of year.
Merchant grain beetles and Indian meal moths are among the most common pantry pests found in kitchens. They contaminate stored ingredients that are typically used to bake delicious holiday treats, such as flour, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate.
Pantry pests don’t pose serious health or property threats, but because they can infest an area in a short amount of time, it’s important to stop a problem before it begins. One of the easiest ways to prevent an infestation is to routinely clean out pantries and cabinets, and sift through common stored products like flour and spices.
Hulett Environmental Services recommends some additional tips to keep pantries pest-free during the busy holiday baking season:
- Store food in Tupperware-type containers with secure lids.
- Add a bay leaf to canisters of dry goods. The herb’s pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
- Make it a habit while grocery shopping to carefully inspect food products in cardboard packages for signs of damage prior to placing it in the cart. Only purchase items that show no sign of damage.
- Keep kitchen counters, floors and sinks clean because crumbs and spills quickly attract pests.
- Check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use.
- Dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
- Seal cracks or holes around the stovepipes and water pipes.
- Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
If homeowners discover any pests in the pantry, they should thoroughly clean the shelves with a vacuum and discard the infested food in an outdoor trash bin. It’s important to consult a licensed pest professional if an infestation has already taken root.
- Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
- Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
- Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Contact a licensed pest professional if an infestation is suspected.
For more information on common household pests or more pest-proofing tips, visit www.bugs.com
Cockroaches and rodents can trigger allergies and asthma attacks during the fall season
Although ragweed and dust mites are often blamed for runny noses and itchy eyes as the seasons change, Hulett Environmental Services a pest management company servicing South Florida, warns that cockroaches and rodents can also pose a health threat to those who suffer from asthma and allergies.
Exposure to all types of indoor allergens is higher during the colder months because pests and people alike are forced to spend more time indoors. Practicing good sanitation is key to eliminating indoor allergens, so we encourage homeowners to take proactive steps to keep the home free of pests over the next few months.
Hulett Environmental Services cautions that these pests can contaminate food and transmit disease, in addition to triggering allergies and asthma. In fact, cockroaches are known to spread 33 different kinds of bacteria, six parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.
Hulett Environmental Services recommends the following tips to safeguard the home against allergy-causing pests:
- Seal cracks and holes around the outside of the home.
- Properly ventilate basements and crawl spaces to prevent moisture buildup.
- Keep counters free of crumbs and vacuum floors often to reduce the accumulation of allergens.
- Keep garbage in a sealed container and dispose of it regularly.
- Pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms, as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
As the name suggests, dampwood termites infest wood with a high moisture content. Dampwood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species. Bodies of king and queen dampwood termites range in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and have two pairs of wings that are equal in size and shape and extend beyond their abdomen. Nymphs range up to 5/8 inch and worker dampwood termites are up to 3/4 inch.
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What are the most common pests that commercial food facilities encounter?
Pests are attracted to sources of food, water and shelter – three things that restaurants and commercial food facilities provide in spades. Without taking proper preventative steps, restaurants and food service facilities could see populations of rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants and more.
Is it common for restaurants and food service facilities to have severe infestations?
Many restaurants and food service facilities have already contracted with pest professionals to prevent infestations from occurring. A working partnership between facility managers and licensed, trained pest professionals is critical in controlling pest populations.
Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?
Licensed and professionally trained pest professionals are best suited to keep health and property-threatening pests in check. Today’s pest professionals have the training necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the most responsible and effective pest management methods available. But, restaurants and commercial food facilities should train their internal staff to work as partners with pest professionals. While these locations may receive regular service from their contracted pest management firm, internal employees can take steps every day to help reduce pest populations.
Are there steps a restaurant or food service facility can take on their own to prevent/control pest populations?
- Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of the facility including areas where utilities and pipes enter.
- Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed.
- Inspect boxes, bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking pests.
- Don’t allow food to sit on counters or shelves in open containers. All food and water sources should be kept sealed unless currently in use.
- Clean all food spills regularly.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
- Never store food on the floor. Always lift it up on shelves so that rodents and insects do not have easy access.
- Comply will all regulations regarding pests in food service facilities.
- A licensed and qualified pest professional is your best resource to ensure these steps are completed properly.
Does effective pest management in restaurants and food service facilities require the use of pesticides?
The National Pest Management Association recommends that restaurants and food service facilities implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program. IPM is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests. These solutions incorporate three basic steps: 1) inspection, 2) identification and 3) treatment. Treatment options vary from sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to pesticide treatments when necessary.
What should a restaurant, food service facility or homeowner look for when hiring a pest professional?
- Ask friends, neighbors and other reputable businesses to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
- If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest control companies.
- Don’t rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional knowledge, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
- Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
- Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
- If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary.
- Buy value, not price. Beware of bargains that sound too good to be true.