The Top 5 Predatory Pests That Threaten Pittsburgh Restaurants

The restaurant industry is among the most vulnerable when it comes to the profound damage a pest invasion can cause to both its reputation and its hard-earned, all-important bottom line.

In any facility where food is handled, proper pest management is vital to business operations. It can be an overwhelming endeavor because factors such as heat, moisture, steam, grease or temperature (all of which are beyond the purview of pest care professionals) do tend to reduce the power of pest control product solutions. A clean, pest-free environment must be an ongoing priority and often requires outside help of knowledgeable, well-trained experts.

The Restaurant And Food Service Industries and Pest Infestations

In a restaurant setting, pest management is more challenging than other environments. This is due to a number of unavoidable factors: the abundance of food, ideal moisture and temperature conditions and the many available harborage sites. Restaurants that are open 24 hours have an additional conundrum because the kitchen cannot close for periodic pest control treatments without incurring a significant loss of revenue. Wherever there is food, there is the chance of pest infestation and restaurant owners and employees need to be aware of the risks and how to prevent them.

Rigorous inspection and maintenance are sometimes not enough to keep pests at bay. Professional pest management is the only answer, and scientific advancements are consistently producing new versatile products that can supplement Pestco’s highly effective integrated pest management programs. Due to the fact that all pests are different, versatility is the key to efficient treatment. The pest control professionals at Pestco know how to accommodate the restaurant industry, and often work late at night or very early in the morning after the kitchen has been cleaned, both out of respect for business operations and in order to maximize the effectiveness of treatment applications.

Studies and Statistics

According to a 2010 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that examined food borne disease outbreaks, among those that occurred within a food consumption setting, 48% occurred from food consumed in a restaurant or deli. While there could be many reasons why these infestations occurred, diseases and pathogens from pest infestations are the most likely culprits.

As restaurant owners and operators know all too well, such an environment is ideal for pests, particularly rodents during the colder months of the year. Economic losses as a result of rat and mice infestations are staggering. Experts estimate that rats and mice destroy enough food each year to feed 200 million people by attacking food in farm fields, orchards, processing and food storage and service facilities, as well as people’s homes and restaurants. Rodents do not distinguish between diners or five-star restaurants; anywhere they can get in and nest is home. It is a sobering fact that rodents consume 20% of the global food supply.

The 5 Major Pests Pittsburgh Restaurants Need To Guard Against

The visual impact of a pest in a restaurant or any commercial food setting is a turn off like no other. Imagine an attentive waiter bringing a bill to your table for a wonderfully prepared and painstakingly served delicious gourmet meal and being interrupted by a mouse scampering across your feet or a roach crawling up a wall. This instantly negates all the positive efforts the restaurant staff tried so hard to create. In order of no importance whatsoever, the five most prevalent and annoying restaurant pests throughout Pittsburgh and its environs are: drain flies; fruit flies; common flies; rodents and cockroaches (German, American and Oriental).

  • Cockroaches

The cockroach has been known to every civilization since the dawn of time and they have survived for some 320 million years. They existed millions of years before the dinosaurs inhabited the earth and have evolved very little since that time. Their survival is directly related to their ability to adapt to any climate and environment. It is scientifically estimated that cockroaches spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.

All types of cockroaches feed on bacteria. Their diet of garbage and waste helps them spread bacteria such as Salmonella and Shigella from place to place as they travel across a surface. They leave trails of fecal matter as they walk, which they use to navigate their way around. These gross trails cause stains and odors and the protein in their saliva and waste can trigger allergies and aggravate asthma. It is estimated that 7 to 8% of the American population is sensitive to cockroach allergens. They are often found in sewer drains, and they may come up through the pipes into kitchen and bathroom sinks. They contaminate food supplies and are known to regurgitate and defecate where they eat. For restaurants particularly, cockroaches pose the additional threat of a ruined reputation, which is very difficult and costly to repair.

Pittsburgh Cockroach Control And Extermination Services

Entomologists estimate that that there are 4,000 distinct species of roaches although there are only a few that plague homes and businesses (primarily restaurants). The three most common types of roaches that are found in commercial kitchens and restaurants are German cockroaches, American cockroaches and Oriental cockroaches. We cover the American cockroach here, and the main difference between the other two species is their shell color. Oriental cockroaches are often shiny brown to black. German roaches are a dark to reddish-brown color and are not usually as shiny. In many parts of the world, the German cockroach is responsible for most pest infestations. The problem with eradicating both of these species is that is that once a breeding ground is established, they multiply by the thousands at an incredibly accelerated rate.

 Why Do Roaches Like Restaurant Environments?

Commercial kitchens are ideal havens for cockroaches to live in and breed because of the warmth they offer. Coils on the back of the refrigerator where crumbs tend to accumulate, the pilot stove light and a still warm oven or heating grate are all welcome mats for these invasive insects. Kitchens and bar areas also harbor moisture; water in sinks, moisture on the floor, damp towels and heat moisture all provide a sustainable environment for roaches. Cockroaches also prefer dark spaces, so cupboards, pantries, and cabinets are perfect. Cockroaches live for food sources and even a perfectly clean kitchen can be subjected to an infestation. They seek out and often find gaps in cardboard packaging, containers that ship and store food or opened plastic bags. Even more, they gravitate towards the grease accumulation found around and under grills, stoves and fryers.

The chemicals used to kill cockroaches can be natural (utilizing our X-termigreen program) or synthetic. Myths such as a cockroach being able to survive for days without a head have been proven to be true and they can live for more than 30 minutes under water. These and other factors aren’t always taken into account with insecticide applications. The expert technicians at Pestco are highly knowledgeable about how to permanently eradicate these invasive pests.

The German Cockroach

German cockroaches (Blatella germanica Linnaeus) are between one and one and a half centimeters long. This species is the most common among cockroaches and it can fit through very small openings and theyhave been known to breed at a rate of up to six generations per year, producing up to 50 eggs each time the female produces an egg case. In addition to being an unattractive pest, the German cockroach can be harmful to human health because they spread disease and are often responsible for outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people. Medical studies have indicated that German cockroach allergens can exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children. They are generally gain access to a facility through food delivery containers such as beer cases and cardboard boxes.

Oriental cockroaches

Also known as water bugs and black beetles, these roaches (Blatta orientalisLinnaeus) are a larger species than the German, usually between one and a half and two inches. Their exact origin is unknown, but they are not native to North America. Due to human migration, these roaches have made their way across the globe. They are known to travel via plumbing pipes and they leave behind bodily deposits in cracks and crevices that make them extremely difficult to eliminate with traditional insecticides. They gravitate towards moist areas such basements, water leaks or on and around cooling units where moisture accumulates. Regular inspections are vital to insure that Pestco’s pest control and management solutions are efficiently protecting the premises.

  • Drain Flies

Any type of business that deals with manufacturing, packaging or serving wine, beer, sweets, pastries and fruit juices are likely to have continuous problems with drain flies or moth flies as they are sometimes called. These insects are so named because they breed in or infest in sewers, septic tanks, contaminated soil and restaurant drains. They do not bite and are not known to transmit disease, but they are a definite nuisance, and without the help of an integrated pest management program (IPM) and proper floor drain maintenance, the problem is certain to get worse.

Pittsburgh Drain Fly Control For Businesses

  • Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are very annoying visually, but more important, they also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms. They are attracted to any commercial space where food is permitted to rot and ferment including supermarkets, kitchens, restaurants, bars and other areas where food is prepared or stored. They are particularly fond of spilled bear, juices, rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other un-refrigerated produce. Fruit flies can be problematic all year round, but are especially common during late summer/fall because that is the season for many ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables.

According to entomologist, Jennifer Brumfield: “Fruit flies are attracted to drains because of the gunk and grime that is caught in them, not only because it provides an excellent food and water source for them, but because it provides a spot for them to breed. And simple tactics like cleaning with bleach and conventional cleaning products will not work.”

  • Common Flies

Scientifically Known as Musca domesticathe common housefly can be a problem anywhere, in places big or small, but they love large population centers and can infest all types of premises.Theyare attracted to spills and all kinds of ingestables, including human food, pet food, animal feed, food waste and even feces.

Pittsburgh Common Fly Control And Extermination

They can be a big problem in restaurants and have the potential to carry more than 100 different pathogens, including salmonella and typhoid. Closing restaurant doors and the use of screens on doors, windows, delivery docks and other entryways is very important, as leaving them propped open for any reason is a welcome mat for these insect pests.

  • Rodents

The presence of rodents (rats or mice) in a restaurant can have serious repercussions; it can result in a loss of reputation, food and surface contamination, fines from the health department and in severe cases, temporary or even permanent closure of the establishment. For centuries, rats and mice have been known as commensal rodents, which is an appropriate term that may cause a shudder or two to run up any human spine. It means that they share the table with people. The three most common rodent species are the house mouse, the Norway rat and the roof rat.

Pittsburgh Rat And Mice Control Services

Rodents also pose serious property damage and health implications. They spread Salmonella and other bacteria through their droppings, can trigger allergies and asthma attacks as a result of a protein in their urine, and transport other diseases such as murine typhus, the plague, infectious jaundice, Weil’s Disease and rat-bite fever. Rodent infestations can also damage property, as they are known to chew through wood and drywall, and can cause fires by gnawing through electrical wires,

Exclusion And Some Other Preventive Measures

First and foremost, you should ensure your restaurant facility has a complete exclusion inspection to ensure any cracks, crevices or other areas pests may gain access are secured and sealed. We recently wrote extensively on the subject of pest exclusion and why it’s essential to your business and bottom line.

Beyond that, any opened food that contains sugar or anything sweet will attract insect and rodent pests.  Unused or leftover portions should be placed into pest-proof containers. Anything that produces crumbs, such as bread and chips, should be sealed in airtight baggies or placed in bug proof containers. Before putting bottles away, make sure they don’t have drips or spills of fluid on them, and wipe them down to reduce the chance of stickiness and sweetness that pests cannot resist. Restaurant owners can also reduce the number of welcome environments for invading pests by investing in equipment with lockable wheels and installing flexible gas and electric lines, both of which can be moved when cleaning.

Restaurant owners should also avoid planting bushes that touch the ground and/or the building. Stone is less attractive to pests than bark or mulch. It is also more difficult for pests to infiltrate a strip of gravel placed strategically between the outside of the building and the landscaping. By situating the restaurant dumpster away from any doors, an often used ingress for pests is quickly eliminated. Off-building, yellow-spectrum exterior lighting helps as well, as it directs pests away from the restaurant’s entry points.

Pestco’s Full Facility Care Program  

This three-pronged preventative initiative offers the ultimate in pest control, environmental odor and air freshening solutions supplied by Air-Scent. This vast array of professional services is available under the cost-effective blanket of one highly respected company that has been in continuous operation since 1948. A special offer, this program ensures that every restaurant owner and manager can have peace of mind in knowing that they have selected the best professionals available anywhere to keep their facilities pest free and smelling fresh.

Give us a call today, for a pest free tomorrow!

Final thoughts on pest control: I just tried to kill a roach with hairspray. He’s still alive, but his hair looks outstanding. ~ Pinterest


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