Many restaurateurs are ready to feel the warm spring breeze, as it means diners will rid themselves of their cabin fevers and begin eating out again. But restaurateurs and their guests are not the only ones who are excited—pests are too. Spring is a busy time for pests as they leave their winter hiding spots hungry for food and thirsty for water.

The beginning of spring is a great opportunity for restaurant owners to contact their pest management providers and establish an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach in their restaurants or refresh their existing program. IPM is the most effective and environmentally responsible approach to pest control because it focuses on eliminating the conditions that attract pests through proactive sanitation and restaurant maintenance, reducing the need for chemical treatments.

To help prevent pest activity this spring, consider these four tips:

Don’t forget about the patio

Patio pests to look out for this spring include house flies, mosquitos, ants, birds, and cockroaches. The outdoor areas we enjoy also create an enticing environment for pests because they offer food, water, and shelter—the main ingredients for a pest infestation. To have a better chance of reserving your patio for human guests, ensure outdoor dining areas are kept clean and tidy by immediately clearing dinnerware and flatware, wiping down tables and sweeping any food waste left on the ground. Play close attention to what lands just outside the patio perimeter or under a deck as well—while those places are out of sight for diners, overlooked crumbs can attract pests like rodents, birds, cockroaches and ants.

Make waste inaccessible to pests

Waste management is a key factor when it comes to pest control since pests are attracted to leftover food and trash odors. To restrict smells, line trash cans, cover them with tightly sealed lids and empty them at least daily. Wash down trashcans regularly to clean up any food debris, and don’t forget about the dumpsters. Position dumpsters as far from the building as possible and ensure all trash makes it inside the dumpster. Regularly sanitize the interior and exterior with an organic cleaner to eliminate grease and grime, and work with a waste management provider to empty and rotate the dumpsters on a set schedule. Remember to sanitize the area underneath the dumpster as well, as trash can ferment and leak out of the dumpster as it decays.

Keep the dining room and kitchen spotless

Keep the indoor dining area clean by immediately wiping away any crumbs and clearing away meal leftovers. In the back of the house, ensure counters are cleaned regularly and that floors are washed down at least once daily with an organic cleaner. Cleaning spills and sanitizing surface areas helps prevent pests from feeding on grease and grime, which to them are sweet and sticky snacks. Afterward, manually dry the counters and floors or ensure they dry in a reasonable amount of time to prevent the surfaces from remaining wet. Some materials found in commercial kitchens, like wood, can become attractive to pests if they soak up moisture. Limit the amount of clutter stored around the kitchen that pests can use as shelter, such as cardboard boxes. Be sure to monitor and sanitize floor drains to prevent them from clogging due to gunk build-up. In the bar area, prevent fruit flies by cleaning bar wells daily and rinsing glasses immediately after use, even if they’re going to be washed more thoroughly later.

Get your staff involved

Effective IPM requires a team effort. Ask your pest management provider to host a training session for your staff to educate them on their role in the overall success of your restaurant’s pest management. Teach employees about conditions that attract pests, monitoring for signs of pest activity and how to report any issues that are detected.

By incorporating these tips and tactics, restaurateurs can help keep pests out of the picture this spring.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Director of Quality Systems for Orkin. A board certified entomologist with more than 35 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail or visit
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