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Schools

Give Wings to Your Pest Control Program

NJPA

By Patrick T. Copps, MS, B.C.E.,
Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC

When you think about flying pests, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Flies? Mosquitoes? Bees? Wasps?

All of these pests can cause significant problems at your facility, but there is another common winged pest that often flies under the radar in schools and administrative facilities: birds. More than just a nuisance, pest birds can cause serious health risks and critical building damage. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bird fecal matter can contain disease organisms such as histoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis or cyrptococcus, which can cause serious health issues. Bird ectoparasites including mites can bite people.

Pest birds cause tens of millions of dollars in damage every year to machinery, automobiles, roofs and ventilation systems. In addition to defacing walkways, courtyards and building entrances, bird fecal matter’s high nitrogen content can corrode metals and other building materials.

Specifically, birds become more problematic as the days get warmer and young fledglings begin to leave the nest. Pest pigeons, which breed in urban and suburban areas, transmit diseases and destroy structures. The tiny House sparrow out-competes native species and will build unsightly nests on building ledges and architectural features. Lastly, the Starling, which is slightly larger than the sparrow, can descend in large numbers on trees surrounding your facility, nest in wall cavities and flock in droves when you least expect it.

No matter which pest birds are flanking your property from the air, there is an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tactic to help deter them. IPM focuses on proactively controlling pests through sanitation, facility management and exclusion techniques.

Talk with your pest management professional about setting up a bird control program for your property, and consider using these IPM strategies to help create a suitable air defense.

Take the fight to higher ground

Roofs can be an open door to birds and other pests. Constant exposure to the outdoors means pests are always a threat, and roof ledges can provide the perfect perch. Regularly inspect your roof and rooftop HVAC units for evidence of any openings, cracks or crevices that are being used for nesting and roosting. Also, eliminate puddles of water left after rain showers or caused by leaky HVAC units to reduce the likelihood of rooftop pest activity. If needed, ask your pest management professional about installing bird wire or electric track at the roofline to prevent roosting in this area.

No pest birds allowed

Exclusion techniques like netting, sealants and bird wire can be used to keep problem birds from hanging out on your property. However, you must first understand the “what, where and why” before reviewing control options. Conduct frequent inspections around the grounds to see where bird pressures are building. Ask your pest management professional to provide a written service report with recommendations.

Don’t fuel the problem

Consider posting signs to deter employees and guests from feeding birds. Also, keep trash bins and employee break areas clean and free of food debris. Even a few crumbs around a trash bin or outdoor table can encourage an avian pest invasion.

Look for expert solutions

You can talk with your pest management professional about some of the advanced techniques – including mechanical traps, electronic control devices and specialized non-toxic repellents – available for repelling birds. Your provider will identify what problem species are present, where they are feeding, roosting, nesting and loafing, what risks they pose and the best solutions to resolve pest bird issues.

In many cases, modifying birds’ habitats with IPM tactics can be enough to make your facility and property a no-fly zone and prevent the unsanitary conditions and noise associated with pest birds.

Patrick Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at pcopps@orkin.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.