No one wants to find a bug in their food. But pests are sneaky, finding ways into just about anywhere, and no food plant is safe from infestation if it’s left unguarded. As April is national pest management month, McCloud Services, a leading pest management company, is encouraging food facilities to be proactive when it comes to keeping out pests and offers a number of tips for this pest-heavy spring season.

“As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage food facilities to take simple preventive steps that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months,” says Patricia Hottel, technical director for McCloud Services.

According to McCloud, three main factors contribute to pest activity. These include easy access to food, water and shelter—things a pest might find plenty of in a food facility if they are not kept in check. McCloud says it’s important to limit these factors and reduce the “general attraction of the structure to pests.”

McCloud offers tips to fight pests for each of the three categories.

To minimize water:

•         Use drip irrigation versus automated sprinkler systems for turf and ornamentals.

•         Make sure the ground around the structure drains properly. Use drainage tiles to help reduce standing water near the foundation. In addition, make sure the ground slopes away from the building to draw the water away from it.

•         Use gutters and downspouts to move water off the roof and away from the facility, and do not allow it to puddle or erode soil.

•         Fix any leaking faucets or other exterior water pipes.

•         Keep roofs and paved areas in good condition to avoid potholes and depressions that collect water.

•         Use gravel (one inch or larger in size, six-inches deep and 18- to 24-inches wide) around the building perimeter versus mulch. Wood mulch and other common soil covers retain moisture and attract a wide variety of moisture-dependent insects and insect-related arthropods such as sow bugs, millipedes, psocids and springtails.

To minimize food:

•         Keep dumpster/compactor areas clean and the lids closed on free-standing dumpster carts.

•         Promptly clean up spillage.

•         Avoid planting trees and shrubs that produce fruit or nuts, providing food for vertebrate and insect pests. Even flowering plants can attract a wide variety of insects, including bees and wasps. Trees located close to the structure can attract birds that may then enter the building. 

•         Keep tree branches trimmed so they do not touch the building.  This will help reduce pathways for pests like ants and rodents into the structure.

•         Properly maintain exterior employee break areas. Keep them free of spillage and food containers.

•         Use trash receptacles with self-closing lids to exclude foraging pests. To minimize shelter and exclude pests:

•         Seal cracks and crevices that can harbor insects and may also lead into the structure. Use a sealant designed for exterior use that is suitable for the surfaces on which it is applied.

•         Use screens to exclude pests from vents and windows that are opened for ventilation purposes. 

•         Avoid ground covers and low-growing plants that can encourage pest activity and provide shelter.  Instead, put in V-shaped plants so more of the soil is exposed for inspection.

•         Keep doors closed when not in use and consider automatic timers and other devices to help ensure doors completely close.

McCloud will host Pest Invasion 2015 later this month, where representatives of the food supply chain will discuss key aspects of food safety and pest management practices that impact the entire food supply chain of custody. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, April 21 at the Drury Lane Theatre & Conference Center in Oakbrook, IL.

Founded in 1904, McCloud Services provides integrated pest management solutions, serving the food supply chain of custody, healthcare, hospitality, property management and retail industries. The Illinois-based company specializes in integrated pest management (IPM), pest proofing, electronic data collection, GFSI audit compliance, food safety training, food safety audits and LEED-compliant programs.

 More information can be found by contacting McCloud Services at 800-332-7805 or