6 Common Pests Every Restaurant Owner Should Know About
Restaurant owners face all kinds of challenges – from keeping the menu fresh and carving out a niche in their city, to finding and keeping top-notch staff while staying on budget. The last thing you want is an infestation in your restaurant. Vermin can scare away customers, eat through your food stores, and cause costly health inspection-related shutdowns.
What’s a restauranteur to do? In this article, we’re going to go over six of the most common pests (two are actually groups of pests, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it). We’ll tell you why those pests are particularly problematic, and give you some tips on how to deal with them.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a moment to talk about some high-level strategy regarding pests. Pest management is mostly a game of prevention – ensuring that pests don’t get into your restaurant in the first place. Shifting up the basic infrastructure of your restaurant, like creating shelving so food stuffs don’t sit on the ground, can deter mice. Brush seals on doors can help prevent bugs from getting in. Disinfect and sanitize the area where you’ve seen pests to keep everyone healthy.
If the plot of Ratatouille was real, and rodents were sentient creatures who could teach us how to cook meals so incredible that they’d make even the most hard-nosed of critics reminisce about their childhoods, we’d welcome them into our fine dining establishments.
Sadly, that’s not the case.
You almost certainly know why rodents are a problem pest – they chew through bags of food, eat just about anything they can get their paws on, and, to quote GL Pest Control “the reproductive rates of rodents are staggering”. That means when you have one, you likely have a whole infestation. They can travel through your business using very tiny holes (sometimes the size of a dime). Their droppings can spread disease, as can any contact they have with food.
Dealing with rodents requires a comprehensive strategy. You’ll need to seal off any cracks or orifices they can crawl through, set traps, put food on hard to reach shelves, and use containers that the rodents can’t gnaw through. These strategies will allow you to get rid of the rodents you have while discouraging new rodents from moving in.
Flies can be a particularly obnoxious pest for restaurant owners. Rodents tend to go unnoticed by most patrons – they’re shy and prefer to stay hidden. Flies, on the other hand, will have no problem flying around your guests’ heads and landing in their soup.
Dealing with flies is mostly a matter of keeping your restaurant clean – that, and being able to identify the types of flies you’re dealing with. Drain flies are attracted to rot, and they’ll fly deep into your drain to get to it. Fruit flies – well, I’m sure you can guess what they’re attracted to.
So what’s a restauranteur to do? Keep things tidy! Keep your garbage in a sealed container when you take it out. Make sure to close the lids of sugary, fruity syrups and the like. You should also get fly screens, and make sure you always shut your windows and doors when they’re not in use.
Cockroaches may be the pest that is most emblematic of an unclean environment. They evoke a visceral reaction from almost anyone – shivers, recoiling, waves of disgust. There’s a good reason for all of that – cockroaches leave offensive odors, can trigger allergies, and are almost impossible to get rid of.
That’s because cockroaches are incredibly active – they’ll quickly move from one part of your building to the next, always searching for new sources of food. They can eat almost anything, and some species can survive without food for up to a month. They’re also notoriously hard to kill.
While cockroaches are hard to deal with, there are a number of preventive measures you might take. It’s important to have good airflow throughout your establishment, because moisture can attract cockroaches. You’ll also want to make sure to caulk and seal cracks and crevices they can crawl through, reducing their mobility (much like you would do with rodents).
The cockroach’s hard-to-kill nature means exterminators can be particularly helpful in getting rid of them. You’ll want to vacuum up any cockroaches you can see, then get your exterminator to clean any hard-to-reach areas. They’ll treat your restaurant using substances effective at killing adult cockroaches, as well as nymphs and eggs.
You know the rule – you see one ant at the picnic, and it’s time to change spots, because where there’s one ant, there are hundreds. Ants are attracted to whatever sources of food they can find, so it’s easy to see how they can become a problem for restaurants.
Like many of the insects we’ve talked about so far, the main problem with ants is their tendency to get into (and contaminate) your food supply. As you can probably guess, an ounce of prevention is, once again, worth a pound of cure. The best way to eliminate ants in your restaurant is to make sure spills are cleaned immediately, food is stored in insect-proof containers, and waste is disposed of efficiently.
Depending on the type of ants, you may also want to get rid of stagnant water and any tree stumps on your property. Some ants live in rotted wood. Again, here, it’s important to make sure your restaurant has proper ventilation to prevent spaces from becoming too moist.
The strategy for getting rid of ants will depend very much on what type of ant infestation you have. Some ants thrive on grease and protein, while others love sweets. Depending on which type of ant you have, the bait will need to be changed.
Now we come to the first of the broad categories alluded to in the introduction. Stinging pests encompass a wide variety of annoying insects that can bother your patrons. We’re talking about mosquitos, wasps, bees, yellow jackets, and anything else that can fly around and sting you.
Obviously, the prevention strategies for stinging pests vary depending on what kind of pest you have. For mosquitos, it’s important to eliminate stagnant water. For wasps, you may need to locate and destroy a nearby nest (do not try this on your own). Of course, stinging pests tend to be a much bigger problem in outdoor environments, so you might try to employ netting around your patio. For indoor environments, the old stand-ins return: make sure your doors and windows are sealed when not in use, and use screens where appropriate.
Eliminating stinging pests isn’t the easiest prospect on the planet – here, prevention and mitigation are going to accomplish much more than extermination. There are many useful bee species – you might even be using them to harvest your own honey – and bee colonies can be relocated instead of eliminated.
You can use lawn treatments for mosquitos – they’re a good temporary fix, but mosquitos are everywhere, so they’re easier to deter than to eliminate. Encourage your staff to wear long clothing if they want to avoid being bitten.
Stored Product Pests
For our last (but certainly not least) category, we have stored product pests, a large group of insects who make their homes in, well, stored products! Specifically, we’re talking about insects that make their homes in food. They can live in all kinds of different food packaging, from cured meats to (more commonly) packages of grain.
Again, we’re talking about a broad group of insects here, so the strategies to exterminate them will differ – anything from rice weevils to the hilariously named, confused flour bug, can cause problems for your restaurant. Prevention strategies are more or less the same for all stored product pests:
- Store dried goods in glass or plastic containers
- Always order from trusted suppliers
- Check your shipments for any signs of infestation
- Use a first-in, first-out system to ensure the oldest stored products are being used first
The problems with stored product pests are obvious – they contaminate your dried goods. They can lay eggs and/or leave exoskeletons and waste in foodstuffs. They tend to be a bigger problem in restaurants that purchase a lot of dried goods in bulk – should you find signs of an infestation in some of your dried goods, throw those goods out in an exterior garbage bin. From there, call an exterminator to make sure the infestation is contained.
With all the above information, you now know about the most significant pests that can affect your restaurant’s well-being. There are, of course, a number of other pests that can bother you and your patrons, from termites to moths. When you’re worried about an infestation, or if you just want to learn about pest control strategies for prevention, it’s a good idea to call an exterminator. While they have “exterminator” in their name, they understand that pest control is an ongoing process, and that the practices you have in place are the biggest factor in deterring the risks that pests pose to your business.
Synergy² would like to say thank you to our friends at Gilles Lambert Pest Control for this awesome guest post on managing pests in restaurants. We highly recommend the blog post section on their website as a resource to learn more about pest control for both your home and business. To learn more about GL Pest Control visit https://glpestcontrol.ca/about-us/.
Mississippi homeowners and business owners: Did you know Synergy² is a full-service pest company in the Jackson, MS metro specializing in difficult-to-treat pest problems such as bed bugs and termites?
If you want to know more about pest prevention, or need pest control services in your home or business please visit our site at https://synergy2ms.com. Feel free to read more about us and decide if Synergy² is the right company for you. We have over 270 Five-Star Google reviews for pest control service in the Jackson metro area(Jackson/Madison/Brandon/Ridgeland). Check out our newest location reviews for pest control service in Jackson, MS here!