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Flying Pests Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Written by  Patrick T. Copps

Flying Pests

Flying pest populations often soar with the arrival of summer’s warm temperatures. Houseflies and smaller insects, like fruit and fungus flies, as well as mosquitoes and nuisance birds take to the air this time of year looking for a place to beat the heat.

Don’t let your property be an inviting place to land. When these winged pests descend on your property, their infestations can damage your reputation and even cause harm to your staff, tenants, customers, and guests.

Flies can transmit pathogenic microorganisms that cause E. coli, salmonella and shingles. On top of that, a 2010 study by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Orkin documented five more bacteria species carried by common houseflies that were not previously linked to this pest. These diseases can cause respiratory infections and other serious health problems in humans.

Mosquitoes, too, can transmit diseases, including encephalitis, Malaria and West Nile virus. West Nile virus caused 286 human deaths in 2012 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nuisance birds also affect your property and its tenants. Bird fecal material can contain disease organisms, such as histoplasmosis, and ectoparasites can migrate from nests and roosting areas. Pest birds also cause tens of millions of dollars in damage every year to machinery, automobiles, roofs, and ventilation systems. Their droppings are high in nitrogen content, which can be corrosive to metals and other building materials.

You can manage these pests by taking several preventive measures, which all fall under an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. An IPM proactively controls pests through sanitation, facility maintenance, and exclusion tactics, and it only utilizes chemicals as a last resort.

IPM programs can specifically target whichever pests are threatening your building, whether they crawl or fly. In fact, the CDC now promotes IPM as a “science-based, commonsense approach for managing populations of disease vectors and public health pests.” An effective IPM plan involves comprehensive inspections and risk evaluations, a focus on prevention that keeps sustainability in mind and ongoing monitoring, documentation, and communication.

Talk with a pest management professional today about creating a custom IPM program for your building, and include these IPM practices to guard against the flying pests around your property.

For Flies: Clean Up

Flies are typically a sign of a larger sanitation issue in or near your building. Promoting good sanitation practices at your property will give flies less of a reason to come looking for food, water, or shelter indoors.

  • Clean up any food debris immediately. Use a bacterial-enzymatic cleaner to remove organic material/biofilms on drains and floors that can attract fruit and drain flies.
  • Keep your trash cans and recycle bins lined and empty them often, especially if they contain food waste.
  • Guard your building’s entrances by installing two sets of doors, which create an added boundary line for flies to cross. Automatic doors are also helpful, as they keep frequently-used entrances closed when not in use. Install wall-mounted fans that blow air out, forming a barrier against flying pests.
  • Check with an HVAC professional to ensure that your establishment has positive airflow. This means that air flows out of, not into, your building when the doors are opened. You can test this yourself by letting go of a piece of tissue paper at your entrance—if it blows out, air is flowing positively.
  • Caulk any cracks or crevices around the exterior of your building and seal all doors and windows with weather stripping. Install door sweeps and window screens to help keep pests from crawling inside.

For Mosquitoes: Watch the Water

Approximately 200 of the more than 3,000 known mosquito species reside in North America, and they are most often found near water sources. Mosquito eggs require standing water to hatch, so depending on the species, females will lay their eggs directly in water or somewhere that they know will soon flood.

  • Work with a pest management professional to identify problem areas where mosquitoes can breed and thrive.
  • Immediately remove any standing water on your property, including around parking lots, sidewalks, and roofs. If there is stagnant water on your property, a pest management professional can treat the water to help disrupt the early stages of the mosquito life cycle.
  • Install sodium vapor bulbs on your building. Unlike mercury vapor or incandescent lights, these bulbs do not attract mosquitoes. To draw mosquitoes—and other flying pests—away from your building, you can install mercury vapor lights at least 100 feet away.

For Pest Birds: Create a No-Fly Zone

The types of birds that can affect your property depend on the location and surrounding geography. Pigeons breed in urban and suburban areas, transmit diseases and can destroy structures with their droppings. Similarly, sparrows are never too far away from developments. House sparrows, while only a few inches tall, can outcompete native songbirds with high volumes of noise at all hours of the day.

  • Regularly inspect your roof and rooftop HVAC units for any openings, which serve as nesting and roosting sites.
  • Sweep or mop up any standing water left after rain showers and repair leaky HVAC units to reduce the likelihood of rooftop bird activity.
  • Work with your pest management professional to conduct frequent inspections around your property. Your provider will identify what problem species are present; where they are feeding, roosting, nesting and loafing; what risks they pose; and the best solutions to resolve pest bird issues.
  • Consider sending out reminders to tenants and staff to discourage them from feeding any loitering birds and keep community areas clean and clear of food debris. It only takes a few crumbs to spark an avian pest infestation.
  • Should pest birds persist, talk with your pest management professional about some of the traditional and more advanced techniques available for repelling birds, such as netting, optical bird scarers, tacky gels, and methyl anthranilate repellent.

Partnership with your pest management professional is the key ingredient in keeping these pests away. Together, you can help keep flies, mosquitoes, birds and other flying pests from infesting your property. And you can get back to enjoying your summer.

Patrick Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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