By: Janet Hurley and Beverlee E. Nix
Food preparation areas in animal shelters have all the essential elements for pest infestations—food, water, and harborage. You can keep these areas pest free by eliminating food sources, removing clutter that provides harborage, and repairing leaks that supply pests with water. Proper shelving in food preparation and storage areas can play an important role in pest prevention.
Wire racks are ideal for preventing pests. Solid wood, metal or plastic shelves collect crumbs and other food debris; wire racks allow spills to fall to the floor where they can be swept up during regular cleaning. Any shelving units should be on lockable wheels so they can move easily for cleaning and inspection.
Pests travel along the seams where walls meet floors; set shelving perpendicular to the wall to keep that area visible and easier to clean.
Set the lowest rack at least 12 inches off the floor. A shelter worker needs to be able to see under and behind racks at least 12 to 18 inches. This clearance will expose insects, rodent droppings, or spilled food.
Cardboard containers are the primary vehicles that transport pests into the building. They are also a favorite hiding place for many pests, including mice and cockroaches. The more cardboard you have, the harder it is to inspect.
Racks designed specifically for canned food can be loaded front to back so older cans move to the front and be used first. These racks are safer for workers because there is no need to lift heavy boxes of cans onto shelves.
Carefully inspect all dry food bags for tears, rips, etc. Food can spill onto the floor and attract pests. Mice, roaches and other pests can also find their way into torn food bags and contaminate the contents. Avoid moist environments for bagged food—store it in dry, well ventilated areas. Keep bags at least 12 inches off the floor so that any spills can be cleaned up easily
◆ Store all food products on industrial grade, stainless steel wire shelving.
◆ Do not store foods in office areas unless they are in resealable containers such as hermetic plastic ware, metal tins, etc.
◆ Keep clutter in custodial closets to a minimum.
◆ Clean and disinfect all areas where animal food is mixed or prepared daily; mop the floors and clean floor drains on a regular basis.
◆ Seal any openings in walls or doors that are larger than ¼ inch. Maintain and repair door sweeps, kick plates, and doorsills to keep rodents out.
◆ Seal all openings around pipes and soffits with a durable sealant.
◆ Seal cracks in walls and foundations.
◆ Keep garbage cans and dumpsters at least 10 to 50 feet from the entryways.
◆ Trim shrubs and trees so they are not in contact with exterior walls or rooflines. Maintain at least 1 foot of separation from buildings.
◆ Use non-attractant exterior lighting. Replace halogen bulbs with low-pressure sodium vapor lights over entry areas. This keeps crickets away, as well as the spiders that follow them.
◆ Seal all cracks and crevices around doors, windows, and walls with an appropriate sealant.
◆ Keep all metal overhangs and roof edges tight and sealed to exclude wasps, hornets, other stinging insects, bats, and/or birds.
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