• Chelle Hartzer

It's a bird, it's a plane, who cares? (AKA identification matters)

A few weeks back, a court ruled that spiders are insects. This may not seem like big news, but to a science geek like me, I'm looking for my soapbox so I can jump up on it. Of course spiders are NOT insects! What idiot decided to convince a court that spiders are insects???


There is a bit more to it than that and Stephen B. Heard writes a brilliant blog post on it here. I think most of us know that insects and spiders are two very different animals, but why does it matter?


In the world of pest management, identification is the first step in dealing with a pest issues. If a pest is misidentified, a potentially huge amount of time and money is wasted. Let's take rats as an example. You find a rat in your food processing site and the troubleshooting starts.

  • where did it come from?

  • how did it get in?

  • what food is it going after?

  • where are all it's little friends that are going to follow?

I had this exact situation happen and I was told it was a Norway rat. So we put forth a whole bunch of ideas:

  • probably coming from outside, check all door seals

  • there's plenty of food inside so it's likely attracted to that

  • look outside and eliminate burrows in the ground so more don't enter

  • use extra traps by doors and on the floor where evidence has been spotted


A month later, there is still a rat issue inside this facility. I get called to do an in-person visit and with the pest control technician and the plant manager, we start to do an extensive inspection. I ask them to show me where they think there is the most evidence: sightings, rat poop, potential trails. It's toward the back of their building, in a large maintenance area. With a skylight at the top for light. With an open skylight at the top. With an open skylight at the top with a large set of beams that runs from said skylight to the ground. Oh, there's also a large, overgrown tree at the back of the site that hangs over the roof and skylight.


Yep, it was a roof rat. They sealed the skylight, trimmed back the tree, and sealed the base of the door that lead from maintenance to the production floor all in the same day. Up until then, they were losing thousands of dollars in shut downs, contaminated product, and the pest control company was losing money on all the call-backs for over a month.


Here's another example: I was asked to troubleshoot a flour beetle issue in a dry processing mill. I told them the basics:

  • sanitation - keep it as clean as possible/remove spillage

  • check incoming dry goods - might be being "delivered" in

  • monitor - find out where they are and the extent of the infestation

  • treat - especially along equipment bases and floor/wall junctions

If you've guessed that it didn't work, you would be correct! They finally sent me physical

samples of the insects and they were foreign grain beetles. Which feed on fungus. Inspections and treatments weren't working (waste of time and money) because they weren't focused on the right place. Turns out, there was a roof leak a couple months back, and one area of an upper floor had gotten wet, the product stored there had gotten wet, fungus developed and these beetles had their food source. Once the moldy product was removed and the roof addressed, the problem was resolved.


Many of the pest species we deal with develop quickly so the longer a problem goes unresolved, the more time is wasted and the more money is lost. Are you totally sure you have the pest identified correctly? Contact me today to find out, 360 PFSC is here to help!


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