As the season changes and temperatures outside begin to drop, pests will seek out facilities ideal for hibernation. As pests find these hard-to-reach spaces to endure the colder months, they can wreak havoc, especially in food processing plants, causing major disruption in production due to product contaminations or even a failed food safety audit. McCloud Services, a pest management company, shares expertise on common fall invaders and prevent and eliminate fall pests to maintain a clean audit score and meet FSMA requirements.
The most common autumn invasive species are:
- Box elder bug. The most common of the fall invaders in temperate climates, this bug feeds on trees like the box elder and maple. It is ½” long as an adult, mostly black in color with red lines marking the wings and the thorax or area behind the head.
- Brown marmorated stink bug. An agricultural pest and structural pest, this bug is a relatively new invasive insect, which has moved from its U.S. introduction point in eastern Pennsylvania westward. Adults are about 5/8” in long with a mottled brown color and shield-like shape.
- Cluster fly. Among the many species of flies that overwinter in facilities, cluster flies and face flies are the most common and tend to cause the most concern since they often appear in groups or clusters. The adult cluster fly is slightly larger than a housefly with wings overlapping each other over the abdomen.
- Multi-colored Asian lady beetle. These beetles get their name due to their varying colors and markings. While they are helpful in their predaceous nature on soft bodied plant pests like aphids, they are considered pests because they migrate indoors in the late fall months.
Tips for preventing fall invaders in food processing and distribution centers include:
- Prior to purchasing, building, or leasing a facility, evaluate the impact of pest pressures from neighboring environments.
- Aim to have a well-designed and constructed building, and conduct regular maintenance to uphold the building’s integrity.
- Properly seal doors and keep them closed when not in use; if a door needs to be open for ventilation, it should be screened.
- Thoroughly inspect incoming shipments for hitchhiking pests. Educate staff on pest exclusion and ways to avoid bringing pests in from home and the exterior.
- Ensure air intakes, vents, and ventilation systems are screened or filtered to prevent pest entry.
- Keep exterior vegetation trimmed, and do not allow tree or shrub branches to touch the facility.
- Implement strategically placed pest monitoring and control devices where necessary.