The occasional invaders

The experts at the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) discusses the importance of recognising and responding to pest warning signs.

Infestations in buildings are not always easy to spot. Miss the signs at your peril: you will likely end up being invaded and your uninvited guests will not want to leave if you don’t maintain vigilance.

During late Autumn and Winter, buildings become even more attractive as they are both warm spaces and provide sources of food. These sources might be indoors, or outside in bins and rubbish areas, allowing pests to multiply and take advantage of your hospitality.

Common and most noticeable pests to building users are house flies, ants at certain times of the year, silverfish, lice and birds. Cluster flies generally invade roof spaces in large groups. Flies in general travel throughout buildings to find food and breeding sources. Once established, they are hard to remove; people become annoyed and swat them away.

More concerning is that flies land on animal waste and carry it to other surfaces, including our skin. If cluster flies take hold in their thousands, then professional intervention may be warranted, which can be costly.

Lack of action by building owners or managers can lead to significant problems and potential ill-health. Recent studies have demonstrated a clear relationship between increased exposure to pests like mice, cockroaches and dust mites, and an increased risk of allergic sensitisation and severe asthma. Given this relationship, it's a logical tactic to prevent infestation and reduce the risks to building users.

There is plenty of advice on offer, but a few key actions can reduce the chance of unwanted guests. Eliminate food sources by making sure bin areas are efficient to store rubbish, and food

“During late Autumn and Winter, buildings become even more

attractive as they are both warm spaces

and provide sources of food.”

is removed from the building swiftly. External bins with organic waste should be well maintained and will house pests. Keep them as clean as possible and away from doors and windows. Flies can breed in bins from eggs to adulthood in just a few days.

Keeping items off the floor and blocking entry points to the building can help to stop breeding grounds for many pests from flourishing. Dust control is vital for building cleanliness and helps to keep infestation to a minimum. Good cleaning techniques to remove dust, avoid making dust airborne and its safe removal from the building will make a difference.

BICSc’s Cleaning Professionals Skills Suite (CPSS) training requires cleaning operatives to check for infestation throughout their shift. Proper training can help identify traces of pests, allowing quick solutions to stop the further spread and implement additional preventative measures (if they are necessary).

Getting to know your building hotspots and likely breeding grounds will reduce the risks. Knowledge for building users and what to look out for can provide early warnings.

There are many devices and products on the market to kill or deter pests. Always take professional advice if considering chemicals and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Local wildlife and small animals not considered to be pests could be harmed or killed unnecessarily.

Above all, have a plan and review annually considering the seasons, the countryside or community around you and solutions ready to repel, remove and prevent these occasional invaders.


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