Warfare in the warehouse

Pests by their very presence in warehouses could be inimical to health and an obstruction to profits, writes Mohammad Arif Hussain, entomologist, Masa Establishment (pictured)

January 2015

Pest prevention and control is now an integral part of sanitation for most logistics service providers –and for good reason. Contamination of raw materials and products by pest droppings, webbing and skin casts can lead to a loss of goods resulting in millions of dollars annually.

Multiple entry points make logistics facilities inherently vulnerable to pests, a problem exacerbated by continuous deliveries and storage of merchandise, frequent opening and closing of overhead doors, and structural defects that provide harborage sites for pests. The risk is increased when different product groups are stored together, allowing pests to get into non-food goods and spread further.

Rigorous audits increase the pressure on carriers as manufacturers and producers constantly try to impose tighter quality controls during the movement and storage of goods, and close the gap between production and trade more effectively than before. Safety standards, batch tracking and documentation come under particular scrutiny.

No space is out of bounds for the Masa man

No space is out of bounds for the Masa man

Logistics companies and warehousing service providers can meet these ever-increasing requirements by adopting an integrated pest management approach to pest control. It is vital to protect the complete manufacturing, storage and transportation process, including delivery vehicles, to limit exposure to risk.

Maintaining a pest-free environment in a warehouse is critical in protecting your company’s image, and ensures the integrity of your products.

To meet this special challenge, Masa provides its highly trained professionals with a wealth of technical expertise. These experts have also been thoroughly trained to understand the unique needs of all areas in the warehousing and logistics industry.

The consequences

• Damage to brand and reputation, resulting in a loss of customer trust

• Customer complaints and compensation claims

• Termination of contracts leading to revenue losses

• Prosecution for non-compliance with applicable laws

• Increased cost of delayed treatment



The common housefly is a known carrier of diseases and pathogens, including listeria and even salmonella. Houseflies reproduce rapidly; the current school of thought is that one pair of houseflies would have over 500,000 descendants over a six-year period, though not all would survive. Another common food plant insect is the fruit fly, which reproduces just as quickly.

Fog of extermination: A Masa technician goes about his work

Fog of extermination: A Masa technician goes about his work

Flying insect control requires removal of breeding sites, such as the roof puddles and food sources. Garbage is a prime source for both food and breeding sites; therefore, dumpsters must be placed away from open doors. All standing water should be eliminated from processing and distribution properties. Keeping flying insects from entering buildings is difficult but essential. Screen doors work on standard doors, but not as well on dock doors. There are alternatives, such as air curtains and strip doors for dock doors. Air curtains are effective but must be monitored to be certain the airflow points outward. Strip doors are also effective if installed and maintained correctly.

Indoor flying insect control can be achieved with electrocuters, sticky traps or baited flytraps but must be maintained correctly and cleaned periodically. Bulbs must be changed regularly, as most lose their effectiveness after six months.

Insecticide fogging is another alternative but must be performed only by a licensed technician from a reputable pest management firm that is knowledgeable about pest management in food plants.

Another food plant pest is the cockroach, which is known to transmit diseases and bacteria. It is best to know which species we are fighting to know its breeding areas. We can determine the species by placing insect traps around the facility; be certain to map the traps so we can check and collect them all. We can then identify which species we have trapped and battle them accordingly. Be complete with your placement; set traps in electrical junction boxes, behind and beneath equipment, control panels and even floor drains if it can be done safely. Insect evidence is a critical finding in any food manufacturing or distribution facilities.



As carriers of various bacterial and viral pathogens, rats and mice pose a serious hazard for the logistics and warehousing industry. The list of signs of an infestation is long but includes evidence of gnawing, smudges of excrement, feeding damage to merchandise, packaging materials and cables, as well as shredded nesting material.

Masa recommends identifying structural weaknesses and closing off access points such as joints, cracks or holes in walls, ceilings and doors. Strategically placed bait around the site exterior will also help prevent an influx of rodents and infestation of stored products in the future. Monitoring solutions should be implemented to ensure the early detection of any infestation in known problem areas such as cold storage or the food and non-food sector. In this way, specific control measures will only be needed for acute infestations.



Food and textile stored in warehouses are a tempting source of food for many uninvited guests. These include food and textile moths, cheese, flour, storage and cocoa mites, fur, rice grain, corn and biscuit beetles. Contamination of stored goods with their feces, tissue, shed skin and feeding damage can cause enormous financial loss.

Reaching out with a deadly brew in crevices, corners and recesses

Reaching out with a deadly brew in crevices, corners and recesses

In addition, an infestation often creates heat and humidity, the perfect breeding grounds for dangerous mould spores. It is vital to act quickly at the first signs of an infestation to prevent it from spreading rapidly.



Crawling insects that pose a threat include the German or Oriental cockroach, ants, crickets, beetles, spiders, woodlice, earwigs and dust mites who find warehouses a welcoming environment for breeding. Depending on the material being stored – food (raw materials), textiles, animal feed, tobacco and so on – other pests could also be present.



Bird pests, especially sparrows and pigeons, leave no stone unturned in their search for food and can penetrate the interior of warehouses and storage rooms, contaminating raw materials and merchandise. Constantly opening and closing roller shutters in loading docks and materials handling areas, as well as nearby waste containers, make these areas highly attractive to birds.

Birds transmit bacterial infections such as salmonella and psittacosis, viruses such as Newcastle disease and parasites such as ticks, mites or bugs that can contaminate stock. It is therefore vital to prevent birds from penetrating buildings by deploying an appropriate deterrent.

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