By Glen Ramsey, B.C.E.
From the April 2019 Issue
Pest birds pose many threats to commercial properties including costly damage to machinery and vehicles, roofs, and building exteriors and grounds. Birds can also cause major health and safety issues when present around a facility. Unfortunately, commercial facilities usually offer vegetation, shelter, food, and water—all of which encourage birds such as pigeons and sparrows to make their nests. That is why an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is crucial when dealing with these winged pests. A proactive approach, IPM focuses on inspection, sanitation, and exclusion measures to keep birds away from a property and in nature, where they belong.
Minimizing the presence of birds at your property begins with finding out why they’re attracted there in first place. A pest management professional should examine your property to determine the severity of the bird problem. There are four levels of bird pressure that could be present.
- Socializing. Birds are using the property to communicate with one another. They come and go as they please and can show up at any time. This is the lowest level of bird pressure.
- Feeding. If feeding, birds are finding food or water sources around your vegetation and landscape.
- Roosting. Birds are now finding shelter in addition to food and water at your facility and are beginning to stay overnight.
- Nesting. Birds are breeding and taking up permanent residence in or around the property. This is the highest level of bird pressure.
Inspecting For Pest Birds
Birds are some of the most intelligent pests and are able to adapt to their surroundings. They can even learn how to combat many traditional control methods. For this reason, it’s important to commission a licensed, expertly-trained pest professional to conduct a detailed inspection of your site to evaluate a bird problem.
Areas to keep in mind when protecting against birds are any tall structures with ledges that provide shelter. Around a facility, these may include: silos, guardrails, rooftop parapets, signage, shipping and receiving dock doors/bays, false ceilings, and other architectural details.
Not all species require the same bird control approach. Take into consideration the methods which are most effective for both your facility and the type of bird present. Swallows, for example, are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and require a different approach from other types of birds. Remember to check with a pest control specialist before taking any action against these feathery pests.
Sanitation To Deter Pest Birds
Sanitation is an important practice in any bird management program, as it helps remove the primary reason birds flock to your site—food. Birds don’t need much food for sustenance so it’s important to have strong sanitation practices, including regular cleaning of any exterior areas with potential food sources. Discourage bird feeding and birdbaths, and remember that spills, garbage, fruit trees, unkempt lawns, and seeding flower beds can all cause a potential problem.
Sanitation and removal of biologically hazardous fecal matter is imperative, because it helps reduce health hazards, prevents building and paint erosion, and eliminates slippery surfaces. When dealing with bird droppings, facility managers should implement a proper removal process with their pest control provider. If your employees handle removal, the following steps should be taken before any extensive cleanup begins.
- Those with weakened immune systems should be informed of possible health risks of bird droppings.
- Wear protective clothing (e.g. boots, gloves, disposable coveralls, respirators).
- All exposed skin, especially hands, must be washed when removal is completed.
- Implement dust control measures, such as containing area with plastic sheeting.
- The affected area should be wet down to prevent inhalation of droppings and to reduce infection risk.
By Meredith Flora
As outdoor temperatures rise, so does mosquito pressure across the United States. When temperatures are consistently above 50°F, mosquitoes become active. These outdoor pests are more than nuisances that leave behind itchy bites; they pose health concerns such as West Nile Virus, Zika, and other vector-borne illnesses. There are precautions that can be taken to ensure mosquitoes do not disrupt time spent outdoors.
Assess problem areas. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water. Bird baths, flower pots, ponds, clogged gutters, storm drains, downspouts, and leaking watering equipment (e.g., hoses, sprinklers) can become breeding areas. Remove standing water from these likely breeding sites. The mosquito breeding lifecycle from eggs to biting adults is complete in less than seven days. Diligently dumping standing water is the most proactive solution.
Wear light colored clothing. Mosquitoes are highly visual; therefore, colors like navy, black, and red are more likely to attract these pests. Light colors, such as white, gray, and khaki, are less likely to get noticed. Long sleeve shirts and pants provide a barrier against getting bitten. Wearing more protective clothing is encouraged for those spending prolonged amounts of time outside.
Barrier treatments provide an added layer of defense. Trained and licensed technicians apply a treatment to the perimeter of an outdoor space which eliminates mosquitoes on contact and repels them for up to three weeks. Treatments can also be applied to employee and customer common areas to provide an added layer of defense against mosquito-borne illness. All-natural treatment options are available as an alternative to traditional options.
Flora is a senior marketing specialist for Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company and outdoor pest control franchise that provides treatment services for mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
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It is nearly impossible to predict when birds will flock to a facility, so proactive steps are always recommended. Bird proofing by exclusion is the most appropriate and environmentally friendly approach to managing pest birds. There are several exclusion techniques that will help modify the habitat to help prevent birds from accessing desired areas. Some common techniques include:
- Physical barriers such as poly netting, bird spikes, or bird wire systems that discourage birds from perching on building exteriors.
- Place netting to block off the area around and under HVAC units where birds can take shelter and make nests.
- Seal all openings in exterior walls wider than an inch with appropriate materials. This can help deter birds from squeezing through small openings and entering the facility.
- Set up exterior traps to aid in relocation of birds.
- Use of environmentally responsible bird sprays to repel safely.
- Install multi-sensory, gel deterrents that appear as “dishes of fire” in the eyes of birds.
- Place an electrical track on all ledges, with special attention to building areas that overlook outdoor dining areas and entryways.
- Use UV paint, which helps increase the effectiveness of the electrical track and the gel product.
Whether pest birds are lingering outside or have breached your front door, it’s important to know how they can affect your business. By understanding how to identify bird pressure and having a pest control professional by your side, you can implement practices to help ensure your property stays free of pest birds.
A board-certified entomologist, Ramsey is technical services manager for Orkin. He provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of training and education, operations, and marketing.
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