Pests get into every type of building, and an office is no exception. Because of this, you must take precautions to control these unwanted critters. Pest control services exterminate existing cockroaches, rats, etc., and use preventative measures to keep future infestations at bay.
Overview of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The integrated pest management program focuses on prevention and non-chemical control techniques to minimize the use of pesticides. This includes barriers, traps, and other forms of manipulating the environment to deter pests from entering or sticking around.
In this blog on IPM for large office facilities, we’ll look at the following:
- Understanding IPM: A Holistic Approach
- Common Pests in Large Office Facilities
- The IPM Process: Step By Step
- Preventive Measures in IPM
- Biological and Mechanical Control Methods
- Chemical Control: A Targeted Approach
- Monitoring and Documentation
Understanding IPM: A Holistic Approach
Principles of Integrated Pest Management
The IPM program follows a four-tier approach outlined by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). These include: 1) Identify the pests and monitor progress, 2) Determine the severity of an infestation, 3) Prevent, and 4) Control.
Identify The Pests And Monitor Progress
- Is there an existing pest problem?
- What types of pests are there?
Determine The Severity Of An Infestation
- Where is the infestation in severity?
- Health hazard
- Economic threat
Take action to prevent pests from entering the building and deter their presence.
Eliminate existing pests in a way that minimizes the need for pesticides. The levels of pest control include:
- Heat/cold treatment
- Physical removal
- Pesticide application
The Benefits of IPM in Large Office Settings
IPM is an effective pest control method for bigger spaces, such as a large office building, because it allows for prevention and control without putting people at risk of toxic chemicals and reduces the time required for the space to be cleared during treatment.
Common Pests in Large Office Facilities
Identifying and Understanding Common Office Pests
The primary rodents that get into commercial buildings are rats and mice. These pests are highly food and shelter-motivated. They’ll live in your walls and floorboards, coming out at night to search for crumbs, spills, and any other food left exposed or accessible. They’ll find ways into pantries and cupboards to chew through food packaging, often leaving behind feces and germs.
Cockroaches enter buildings through small crevices they manage to squeeze through. Their main goal is to find a nesting location that provides food and water. Unfortunately, offices can make the perfect home when proper pest control isn’t in place. Once inside, roaches breed rapidly, scurrying through the walls and spreading bacteria to surfaces.
Ants are a common pest in Arizona that pop up around commercial establishments, including offices. A build-up of undealt with crumbs or spills in the employee breakroom is enough for an entire colony to show up. Some species deliver painful bites and stings as well when provoked. Due to their size, it can be challenging to determine where they’re getting in from until the infestation becomes unmanageable.
Termites may not be aggressive to humans, but they can cause severe destruction to your building’s integrity. A single colony of termites can consume over 30 pounds of wood in one month. Serious infestations can lead to long-term shutdowns of offices until the problem is fixed and the building is reinstated as structurally sound.
Flies typically make their way into buildings through open doors and windows. They seek out food to land on, spreading numerous diseases. If you’ve ever tried to kill a fly, you know how frustrating it can be. Imagine having to deal with an entire infestation on your own.
Assessing the Risks and Challenges They Present
All pests are equipped with at least one risk to humans and property, whether that be the spread of disease, damage to property, or biting and stinging. Some pests are especially threatening and pose multiple risks, such as rodents and cockroaches, which can transmit diseases and harm your building’s structure.
|Physical Damage to Property
|Depends on species
|Depends on species
The IPM Process: Step by Step
Inspection and Identification of Pest Issues
When your exterminator first arrives, they will inspect the building’s interior and exterior for signs of pest activity. Any pests found will be properly identified, and the severity of their presence will be determined. For example, one fly is less likely to suggest a hidden infestation as opposed to spotting one or two cockroaches who travel in packs.
Developing a Customized IPM Plan for Office Facilities
Once your exterminator has identified the existing pests, they’ll determine whether there’s an infestation and how bad it is. This allows them to work closely with the situation and create a plan based on the IPM model.
IPM plans are developed based on whether there are existing pest problems, the pest species, and the level of infestation. Even if your building is free of pests, an IPM plan will include preventative measures to avoid future problems. In more severe cases, tougher pesticides may be required to eradicate the infestation.
Preventive Measures in IPM
Structural Modifications to Deter Pests
Physical barriers and other forms of building manipulation are effective ways to keep pests out. Some of these methods include:
- Sealing all holes, cracks, and gaps in the building’s walls, floor, doors, and windows.
- Installing floor sweeps to prevent entry beneath doorframes
- Placing screens on vents to close off an additional entryway
- Planting certain species of herbs in or around the perimeter of the building to deter pests (e.g., rosemary, lemongrass, chrysanthemums, citronella, etc.)
- Replacing plastic bags with containers to prevent access to food and other items by chewing through them
Sanitation and Maintenance Best Practices
Along with physically preventing pests from entering your building, you can practice hygiene-based methods that will remove the allure of your office and motivate pests to look elsewhere.
Regularly clean and disinfect the following areas:
- Fridges, microwaves, and cupboards
- Trash bins
Likewise, remove standing water and built-up moisture, such as leaks in water coolers and spills, and take out the trash frequently using proper sealing (double knotting bags, using a tight-fitting lid).
Biological and Mechanical Control Methods
Using Natural Predators and Biological Controls
Biological pest control involves introducing natural predators to target specific pests. This method is less likely to be used in more extensive office facilities and is typically designed for outdoor pest infestations in gardens or crop fields.
Effective Mechanical Controls and Exclusion Techniques
Barriers and traps can eliminate existing building pests and prevent developing infestations. There are several barrier and trap techniques you can use, including:
- Window and vent screens
- Door sweeps
- Plant collars
- Foams and sealants
- Stainless steel mesh
- Sticky traps
- Water traps
- Pheromone traps
- UV light traps
The best options will depend on the pest you’re dealing with. For example, meshing around a building’s exterior walls may keep rats out but will do little for an ant problem. Likewise, UV light traps only work with pests attracted to that type of light; pheromone traps vary on the kind of pests they target, etc.
Chemical Control: A Targeted Approach
Selective Use of Pesticides in Large Offices
Some pest problems call for the use of pesticides. The chemicals used in IPM are regulated and approved by the EPA for use in commercial spaces. Your pest control professional will tell you which pesticides they’re using, whether it’s safe for people to be in the treated area, and if not, how soon you can return.
Safety and Compliance in Chemical Pest Control
You can read more in-depth about these laws and regulations in our blog: Integrated Pest Management Strategies for Government Facilities
Monitoring and Documentation
Ongoing Monitoring Strategies for Long-Term Control
During scheduled visits, your IPM team will regularly check for and address emerging issues. This improves the effectiveness of your pest control plan tailored to your office facility’s needs.
Record-Keeping for Compliance and IPM Effectiveness
Maintain records as evidence of adhering to policies and procedures for health inspectors visiting your building. This includes proof of the correct use of pesticides and documentation of previous infestations and treatments.