Lockdown means that buildings all over the country are currently standing empty: offices, hotels, restaurants, educational premises, and industrial sites. With no (or far fewer) people on site daily, and little activity, these buildings have become a perfect breeding ground for many types of pest. In part one of this blog post I wrote about the first 2 of the top 4 pest risks to empty buildings during lockdown: rodents, cockroaches. This post focuses on the second 2 pest risks: flies and birds.
A number of fly species can be considered a pest risk around buildings. Flies species which breed in decaying organic matter such as food waste, droppings, dead animals and drains include fruit flies, drain flies, house flies and bluebottles. Buildings also provide sites for some fly species to overwinter. Different fly species are attracted to different food products, including fermenting sugars, oils and fats, carbohydrates, and decaying proteins and vegetable matter.
Fly species and their preferences:
● Fruit flies can feed on and breed in very small amounts of sugary liquids – in bars, kitchens and restaurants, food waste areas and discarded food. The liquid can accumulate in rubbish containers, over-ripe fruit, and some vegetables, old drink bottles, in drains, in food and drink spills, even in cracks in wet floors
● Drain flies are attracted to rotting food, sewage and other organic waste material. They lay eggs in organic waste that can build up in drains or polluted shallow water. They can breed in the gelatinous bacterial films – biofilms – that form on surfaces in drains, septic tanks, compost, and are resistant to cleaning and pest-control chemicals
● House flies breed in decomposing waste such as rotting food and animal faeces
● Blow flies lay eggs in rotting meat, including kitchen and restaurant waste, and animal carcasses such as dead rats, mice and birds.
Risks from a fly infestation:
In warm conditions and with adequate food supplies, flies can multiply quickly. You can read about the signs that indicate you may have a fly infestation here. They feed on faecal matter, rubbish, rotting materials and stored and processed foods. They will regularly move between the contaminated food sources and clean areas, carrying contaminated filth on their bodies and microorganisms internally.
Flies can pick up contaminated materials on their bodies, feet and mouth parts. Some regurgitate digestive juices and defecate while feeding and resting, contaminating foods and surfaces with microorganisms that can cause disease or decay. Fruit flies can also carry spoilage microorganisms and diseases.
Flies can carry many microorganisms that cause disease in humans, including Salmonella, cholera, Campylobacter spp, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, parasitic worms and fungi.
A few species of birds are able to thrive in urban areas. They have adapted to the nesting and roosting sites in the ledges, sills, roofs and gutters of buildings and the ready sources of food provided by human food supply activities in the vicinity. They can exploit gaps in the roof, walls, and open or broken doors and windows for entry and take shelter in spaces such as under roofs. The most common bird pests are pigeons, house sparrows, seagulls and starlings.
Risks from birds:
Your business premises could be the ideal habitat for pest birds. You can find our more about the signs of a pest bird infestation here.
Birds can cause the following type of damage to your building:
● Fouling: droppings accumulate around roosting sites, fouling the outside and inside of the building if they gain entry, surrounding areas, vehicles and produce
● Physical damage: birds can dislodge roof tiles, damaging insulation in roof spaces, and corrosion caused by chemical action of the droppings attacks stone, metal, paintwork and other building materials
● Water damage: nests block guttering and drain pipes, causing flooding on the roof, internal leaks, rotten timbers, metal corrosion, damaged plaster and other wall coverings and flooring inside the building. Wet areas can then become breeding sites for flying and biting insects and sources of fungi and mould
● Spread of diseases: bird droppings can contain many types of pathogens that create a health risk by contaminating surfaces. Pathogens include Salmonella, E. coli, Histoplasma, Chlamydia psittaci (which causes psittacosis)
● Spread of insects and parasites: ticks, fleas, lice and mites are carried by birds and can infest their nests and spread around the building. Various beetles, moths, flies and mites that feed on nest detritus can infest nests, including carpet beetle, fur beetle, biscuit beetle, clothes moth, dust mite and other stored product insects
How to protect buildings from pest risks:
It’s essential to continue pest control services and building maintenance to prevent pests from accessing buildings and to prevent infestations from becoming a greater financial risk. Pest infestations also lead to reputational damage and may delay the return of a building to normal use when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. A professional pest control service can provide an integrated pest-management plan that controls pests efficiently and discreetly to protect the building, stock, equipment and provides a safe place for staff.
Pest control is classified as an essential service as it is critical for health and well-being during the lockdown. Rentokil can provide all our contracted services and we strongly recommend that our customers consider implementing a precautionary antibacterial fogging schedule in addition to their other pest control and hygiene services. Contact us if you are worried about pest risks to your building during lock down and you would like to arrange for your pest control service technician to have access to your site.