Seven steps to prevent pests Richard Moseley, Technical Manager from the British Pest Control Association takes you through his top tips to keep out pests.

1. Don’t attract pests to your premises

If you want to maintain a pest free environment there are a number of steps you can take. Without a doubt, the first and most important is to try to maintain a clean environment around your property to stop the attraction of pests. Pest such as rodents and cockroaches are great opportunists, and will take advantage of the smallest food spillages. Consider your external bin and waste areas – if your bins are overflowing or encrusted food spillages are building up around waste stores, act now before it is too late. Ensure bins are emptied on a regular basis and implement a regular cleaning programme for susceptible areas. Always ensure that plants and foliage are cut back and are kept in good order, as overgrowth will encourage pests to come close to your premises, meaning infestation is just inches away.

2. Make your premises pest proof

Pests such as house mice can enter a property through the smallest of gaps (if you can place the end of a pen in a gap, then it is large enough for a mouse to gain access). It can be difficult to completely prevent pest entry, but by maintaining a good standard of repair to any property, it will automatically make it less favourable to pests. Where gaps and opportunities do exist, there are some reasonably cost effective measures that can be considered (such as bristle strips and fly screens) to help control the intrusion of pests.

3. Time is essential When dealing with pests such as bed bugs, early detection is essential if you want to control and eradicate an infestation. Make sure you have a way of staff reporting and recording any activity such as a log book or a diary. Many infestations get out of control because of poor communication regarding the location and type of infestation. The more information you have for the pest controller, the better his chances of success.

4. Training

If you want staff to help with the control of pests by reporting any suspicious signs of activity, they may need some basic pest awareness training, especially when identifying and controlling pests such as the bed bug. Give your staff the knowledge to spot issues – early eradication could save you £1,000s in lost revenues.

5. Know your limitations

It is easy to find information on most topics via the internet, and there are a number of pest control products that can be bought across the counter for the non-professional user. However, if you do encounter pest activity that you feel you can tackle yourself; know your limitations. Professional pest controllers have access to specialist products and have undertaken vast amounts of training. If you attempt to treat a pestinfestation internally, you may find you are using the wrong product and may leave yourself open to prosecution. Even if you are treating the right pest, poor technique can cause resistance and bait avoidance, ultimately lengthening treatment times and raising costs.

6. Make the best use of your pest controller

Pest controllers are not just employed to kill pests if they happen to crop up on your property. They should be visiting you on a regular basis to inspect your properties and alert you to early signs of pest infestation. Your pest control operator should also be drawing your attention to any deficiencies on your site that may attract pests (see above). Pest control professionals are a much under-used resource that should be ignored at your peril. If you are given recommendations by your contractor, try to act upon them. If you don’t, legal representatives such as environmental health officers may take a hard line if they find a pest infestation that might have been prevented, had some simple recommendations from your contractor been followed.

7. Always use a professional!

How do you know which pest control company to use? A quick internet search will give you access to hundreds, if not thousands of pest controllers. But how do you know that they have the required level of knowledge and training – vital to ensuring control of potentially damaging pests with potentially dangerous products. We would always advise that you use a company that is registered with an internationally recognised trade body such as the British Pest control Association. If you use one of our 400+ servicing members you can be assured that your contractor is suitably trained, qualified and insured, and that they have been inspected on a regular basis by a trained representative of BPCA. When the pest technician arrives on site, ask to see their PROMPT card, which shows they have the right training and are keeping up to date on developments in pest control. Always remember that there is a cost involved with maintaining membership of an organisation such as BPCA. A cheap pest control quote may be attractive, but it may not necessarily be the safest and most cost effective way of protecting your reputation, your customers and your livelihood.