Places to look

While you may be doing your best to keep your restaurant pest free, there’s a chance you’re overlooking crucial areas that these invaders tend to settle. From roofs to self-serve beverage stations to floor drains, many hot spots are missed in restaurants, and this oversight has potential to leave a huge impact.

Identification is the first step to protect your restaurant against an infestation that can hurt your reputation and bottom line. To ensure your pest prevention tactics are the most effective, check out the top five overlooked spots for pests:

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Self-Serve Beverage Station

Customers appreciate the ability to choose and refill their drinks at their convenience. With access to the beverage dispensers, they have the ability to choose their drink with the added comfort of having the option to change their mind. A flick of the wrist, and the wrong drink goes down the beverage dispenser drain. After long-term use, these drains start to pool with sticky drink residue. These moist areas support accumulation of sugary, organic matter – a paradise for fruit flies.

Self-serve beverage stations sometimes sneak out of sight since employees do not have to use the machine, making them a prime location for sticky residue and buildup, a fruit fly’s bread and butter. And once fruit flies begin reproducing indoors, females can lay about 500 eggs and the eggs will hatch in as little as 24 hours after being deposited, making this pest difficult to control once they’ve settled in.

Worse, as customers directly interact with these stations, they are likely the first to notice this pest presence. The last thing a customer wants is to battle flies for a refill.

Before word gets out on social media and online reviews, stop the problem proactively. To keep your restaurant’s self-serve beverage stations from attracting unwanted pests, be sure to have employees regularly clean the station throughout operating hours. Ensuring the station remains dry and spill-free will also help keep the fruit flies from making your business their go-to watering hole.

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Floor Drains

Like self-serve beverage stations, floor drains provide pests a moist hiding place. In fact, floor drains can attract their own special kinds of pests: drain flies and phorid flies.

Drain flies resemble tiny moths. Drain flies are very weak flyers, so they prefer to crawl along damp surfaces such as floor drains. Like the name suggests, they develop in the organic buildup of uncleaned drains. They can also be found in other areas with moist, organic buildup like loose tiles, broken underground pipes and under grout.

Phorid flies also feed on moist organic material that gathers in drains. These flies often breed and develop within plumbing, which makes them hard to treat in a restaurant. Not only will they potentially infect food and food surfaces with disease-inducing microorganisms, but resolving a phorid fly problem may also require expensive repairs if they develop from an underground plumbing leak.

To avoid attracting and housing these special kinds of flies, regularly inspect and clean floor drains.


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Food Deliveries

Delivery trucks, loading docks and storage facilities provide great spaces for pests to scurry to and from packaged products. Once these shipments enter your restaurant, pests can spread from storage to the dining area and everywhere in between.

Check deliveries for signs of pests before they enter your restaurant. Potential signs of pests include rips or tears in packaging, animal droppings or flies. Rodents can fit into a hole as small as a nickel, so be sure to inspect deliveries carefully.

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Another overlooked pest hotspot is the roof. Birds can take over these high spaces and remain out of sight, until restaurant can see their effects.

Corrosive bird droppings can erode building finishes, causing costly and ongoing maintenance and repairs. Bird droppings can cause slippery walking and working conditions, leading to potential accidents and lost productivity.
Plus, birds are known to spread more than 60 transmittable diseases, including Salmonella, histoplasmosis, meningitis and encephalitis. They also carry fleas, ticks, lice and mites. When congregating in large numbers, birds are noisy and can be offensive to customers. Customers can have a negative brand experience if they are pestered by birds while on your property.

If you spot bird droppings or witness them in action, be proactive and call a professional to help take care of a potential pest-related crisis.

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Waste and Recycling Bins

Waste management is a key factor when it comes to pest management since pests are attracted to leftover food and trash odors. As trash piles up, it creates damp, dark places for pests to make their new home. Add uncleaned spills left in and around trash cans leave sticky residues, making these spaces all the more enticing for pests.

These nestled hideaways are the perfect shelters for cockroaches and rodents. And once in your restaurant, they can spread diseases to your patrons such as E. coli and Salmonella. To keep these hiding spaces to a minimum, wash down trash cans and recycling bins regularly to clean up any food debris, and don’t forget about the dumpsters. Consider working with a waste management provider to empty and rotate the dumpsters on a set schedule, eliminating pest hideouts.

In addition, lingering smells make waste the perfect attractant for unwanted pests like flies and gnats. To help restrict these smells, line trash cans and cover them with tightly sealed lids. Emptying trash cans at least daily will also reduce the potential to attract pests. Take further precaution by positioning dumpsters as far from the building as possible and ensuring all trash makes it inside the dumpster.

Beyond a nuisance, a pest infestation can create a health crisis, since many pests can transmit pathogens and allergens that can make people sick. Not to mention customers have a zero tolerance for visible pest presence. Restaurant owners need to be aware of the risk that comes with neglecting to check these pest hot spots, as well as proper prevention techniques to help protect residents, and ultimately, their bottom line.

Glen Ramsey is Senior Technical Services Manager for Orkin. He is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of training and education, operations, and marketing. For more information, email or visit

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