By Madison Grimm

Integrated pest management (IPM) is the industry best practice-driven approach that exhausts all non-chemical methods of control prior to considering the use of chemical pest management materials. The practice of IPM is rooted in inspection, the key to identifying the source of an issue, which may be corrected with exclusion and other non-chemical techniques for longer-term control. Put simply, IPM attempts to find and treat the root cause of the pest problem, rather than solely treat the symptoms.

For IPM programs to see success, there must be a strong relationship between the client and pest management provider. The strategy of the program should be based on technical knowledge and will be enhanced with strong client-provider communication.

A common misconception of pest management professionals (PMPs) is that they simply check traps and kill bugs. While that is part of the process, there is much more involved.

Steps in the IPM Process

  1. Inspection is the anchor of a strong IPM program. Effective inspections are fit to the client’s industry and their specific pest pressures.
  2. Assessment and thorough inspection allow the PMP to identify pest problems at a facility. The PMP will begin by analyzing what may be attracting specific pests to the location and how those pests are gaining access to the facility.
  3. Exclusion is the most effective long-term measure of pest prevention available. Concisely, exclusion is the concept of keeping pests from entering facilities in the first place. The PMP uses analysis from the previous step to strategically implement exclusion methods based on where pests are entering, while considering all specific behavioral characteristics and area specifics.
  4. Treatment. IPM emphasizes trying all non-chemical methods of control before other types of treatments. Examples of these non-chemical methods include exclusion, baiting and trapping. Chemical methods should be utilized for persistent problems or isolated locations only – just enough to correct the problem pinpointed exactly where it is needed.
  5. Monitor. Creating an effective pest prevention strategy requires client engagement. Because PMPs are not consistently at the facility like employees are, they rely on client staff to monitor any pest sightings and to relay that information back to them.
  6. Documentation is proof of the strong IPM program in place at a facility. Examples of documentation could include anything from detailed service reports to trap layout maps. This step is especially beneficial when clients are audited by a third party. Even if a client is not audited, documentation makes the difference between a good pest management program and an even better one.

There is no magic potion to prevent pest presence, but having a strong proactive program in place can help reduce the chance of infestation. IPM requires the client teams – including corporate members, store management, and all store employees – and the pest management provider be on the same page, working together against pest problems.

Below are some best practices that management and staff can implement on their end to reduce the risk of pest infestations and regulatory problems:

  • Talk to the service technician during every service visit. As part of the client partnership, it is important for management to inform the PMP where pests have been sighted. Then, work with them to identify any issues or areas for improvement that may need attention.
  • Inspect incoming product and pallets as they are removed from delivery trucks to ensure no pests or infested items are brought into the store. Common evidence of pests includes product damage, droppings, mouse nests, and live or dead insects under the shrink wrap.
  • Look for openings that pests can use to enter the store. This can range from a door being propped open to structural openings and cracks and holes where light is coming through. It is critical to fix the problem as quickly as possible, and certainly before dark, as many pests enter facilities at night.
  • Make sure the inside of your facility is cleaned thoroughly every week, especially in difficult to reach places. Many pest species, such as flies, mature in 7 to 10 days, so monthly deep cleaning will not suffice in infestation prevention. On a weekly basis, drains should be cleaned with a stiff brush, and any spillage on and under shelves and in corners of racks and equipment should be vacuumed up.
  • Remove Get rid of anything that is not needed in the store. Cockroaches, rodents and other pests are difficult to control if they have clutter to hide in during the day or to use for nests.
  • Train new employees on the importance of pest reporting to managers and service techs, the importance of pest exclusion and the importance of store cleanliness and sanitation.

To learn more and educate your teams on integrated pest management, download our free IPM guide.

If you have questions about IPM or would like to learn more about the programs Copesan offers, please contact us!