CONDITIONS FAVORING PEST INFESTATION

It’s been awhile since my last post! Hope you guys still excited with every entry posted. Let’s start by understanding what pest is.  A pest is an insect or animal that cause problems for people or disrupts the natural environment. Type of pests include:

  • Insects
  • Spiders and mites
  • Rodents
  • Weeds
  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Nematodes

Are pests always a pest?

In many cases, the answer is NO. For instance, termites have a beneficial role to play in the forest environment by breaking down dead wood, but are a serious pest in urban environments. A larger termite nest (mound) in a natural forest in Australia where termites play an important role in breaking down the dead trees and branches.

So, why do they become pests?

Sometimes we move into, or take over, their natural environment.

Eg: we build our houses where termites exist as part of the natural environment

Sometimes we provide the right environment for the pest to flourish

Eg: we remove some of their natural enemies or we provide a more favorable living environment for them to flourish

There are some common conditions that are generally favor pests:

FOOD – where a suitable food is plentiful and easy to access pests can thrive. Pests that live in colonies will often recruit others to feed on food, so a good food source is very attractive and can build up a large infestation very quickly. Ants, termites and rodents are good examples of pests which show recruiting behavior once a good food source is found. Different pests are attracted to different types of food.

WATER – just like us most pests need water to survive. In dry conditions, many pests are attracted to sources of water. Water can be necessary for development of certain life stages in some pests such as mosquitoes whose larvae develop in water. Water is also used by certain insects to maintain a suitable environment for them to live. As termite have no hard exoskeleton they will desiccate under dry conditions. Hence, most termites seek out water or moisture sources to regulate the relative humidity inside their colonies.

WARMTH – insects are cold-blooded animals and so are more active under warm conditions. In cold weather many pests will come indoors where it’s normally warmer for them. The life cycles of insects are also completed more quickly under warm conditions leading to faster build-up of pest populations.

SHELTER – most pests need a safe place to live. Many insects are small and vulnerable. When they are in open areas they are easy prey for predator looking for food. Hence, most insects will seek out harborages that are safe and secure. Rodents are shy creatures and just like insects, they will avoid open areas and seek out protected areas and burrows in which to live. There can be many sources of shelter, some include:

  1. Cracks and crevices in walls and furniture
  2. Walls and roof voids
  3. Various containers including electronic equipment
  4. Cluttered places such as storage rooms

If each of these is suitable for the pest, then conditions exist for a quite large pest infestation.

MODIFYING CONDITIONS TO PREVENT INFESTATION

The best management approach is to prevent pest infestation in the first place. Modifying the environment to be less pest-friendly may be difficult, but it’s generally more effective, and long lasting than any other approach. Taking this approach means implementing cleaner, tidier, and more hygienic practices, which in many cases your customers want too!

To minimize availability of FOOD:

  • Keep all potential food in sealed containers
  • Remove food scraps and rubbish frequently
  • Clean surfaces to remove oil scraps, grease and oil
  • Seal entrances such as doors and windows where food is stored
  • It is also good practice to inspect foodstuffs when it arrives to prevent introduction of pests from the food or the packaging materials

To minimize availability of WATER:

  • Do not leave water lying around and clean up any spills
  • Fix any leaking taps or pipes and ensure drains are clear and not blocked
  • Remove any freestanding water that may have accumulated in containers as frequently as possible
  • Rectify any damp areas in the buildings

To minimize availability of WARMTH:

  • Ensure entrances to buildings are properly sealed to prevent pests from entering from colder areas outside
  • Store food in refrigerators or cool rooms
  • Inspect warm hidden areas such as cracks and crevices regularly

To minimize availability of SHELTER:

  • Seal cracks and crevices
  • Reduce clutter by regular cleaning
  • Remove rubbish frequently
  • Regularly inspect storerooms and other areas where pests may hide

To reduce the favorable conditions for pests in premises, you will need to engage the help of your customer. It’s your responsibility to point out what should be done, but it most cases it’s the customer who has to implement the corrective action.

I believe by removing any one of these the risk of pest infestation can be reduced. Removing these conditions is the best pest management approach and is generally the most long-lasting and sustainable. If you have any queries on pest, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Thank you.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is zureen.jpg
Puan Azureen Rafiee
(Entomologist/Field Biologist)

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