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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

The 12 Days of Pest-mas (AKA: Stop with the birds)

If you’ve been following along, we posted for the last two weeks on the 12 days of Christmas pest control style. Here’s how it went this year, plus lots of extras!



First day of Christmas - a partridge in a pear tree.

Fruit trees are fabulous if you are a pest, particularly roof rats. They provide food, shelter, and protection. All that fruit is also food for cockroaches, ants, flies, raccoons, and so much more.

What makes this even more complicated is roof rats will rarely come down to the ground and are most active at night. Getting bait stations and traps close enough to where they are living and feeding is hard.

Second day of Christmas - two turtle doves.

Most birds in the US are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. That means they can't be physically harmed. So pest control has to get creative with the other aspects of IPM - sanitation, exclusion, scare tactics, and more.

Scare devices are great to start with, they are usually less expensive. However birds get accustomed to them fairly quickly and stop being scared of them. Exclusion is very effective if installed correctly. It is going to cost more.


Third day of Christmas - three French hens.

Poultry is notorious for having ectoparasites. Particularly bed bugs! So for all those backyard chicken operations, bed bugs can enter homes from the feathered friends.

What's worse, bed bugs in poultry are exhibiting some of the same pesticide resistance found in residential situations.

Fourth day of Christmas - four calling birds.

Because most bird species are protected, scare devices are often used against birds. A common one is loud noises or recordings of predatory birds. This can work initially, but if the birds get used to the noise, they will start to ignore it and the bird problems continue.

There are many things that "call" to birds, particularly food and shelter. By reducing those food sources (yes, bird feeders too!) and tripping back vegetation to make the area more open, birds can be reduced around structures.


Fifth day of Christmas - five golden rings.

Pest problems don't just spontaneously occur.... there is a starting point and a cause. If it is early, that point can be identified and inspections can start in those spots. By inspecting in "rings" spiraling outward, pest issues can be identified and (hopefully) contained.

Monitoring devices are the way to find problems early and zero in on them. If you have to inspect everywhere, it can be impossible to narrow down those issues. Monitoring traps help you with a starting point.

Sixth day of Christmas - six geese a'laying

Food facilities can have lots of pests trying to get to all the good food we want to eat. Poultry processing (and egg packaging) sites have a great deal of wet material that is perfect for small flies to develop in. And since some of our pest species can develop in just seven days, that small fly problem can explode very quickly, contaminating foods.

To add to that, there is lots of carrion in poultry facilities. So phorid flies, carrion beetles, and much more are happily living among the eggs and birds.


Seventh day of Christmas - seven swans a'swimming.

Eighth day of Christmas - eight maids a'milking.

We think of milk and dairies and "wet", but we often don't think about all the dry milk and how many products have dry milk added to them. (I say as I drink the powdered hot chocolate I just made.) One pest that is fond of the high protein dry milk is the warehouse beetle (Dermestidae). Think of all the products (aside from my hot chocolate) with milk: mac and cheese, baby formula, protein shakes, pudding mix... so much!

Those Dermestid beetles also like hides, feathers, wool, etc. Check out this awesome videos of Dermestids breaking things down.

Ninth day of Christmas - nine ladies dancing.

Okay, I may be stretching this one a bit, but dancing, flying, making friends... Many pests can be controlled by stopping the mating process. Especially Indian meal moths. Others, you can take those happy chemicals from them "dancing" to attract and monitor for them.

Mating disruption has been used for many agricultural pests and is used for food moths like Indian meal moths. Pheromones are also used in monitoring traps for many of the food beetles.


Tenth day of Christmas - ten lords a leaping.

If you've ever worked with food, healthcare, hospitality, or other big industries, you know that you have lots of "lords" to report to. There are always standards to follow. You may be lorded over by audit standards, industry rules, federal regulations, and corporate standards. Many of these apply to pest control and your pest management program should be in compliance for all these lords that will check up on you!

There's always this statistic that every chocolate bar can have a bunch of insect parts or rodent hairs. The truth is, the industry and consumer standards are so much higher than the government permitted levels. But some chocolate bars now have much more; cricket flour is being used!

Eleventh day of Christmas - eleven pipers piping.

What's in your pipes? With all the crud that gets washed down drains, there is often a buildup of gunk (AKA organic material). That can support way more than eleven small flies or cockroaches. The fly larvae burrow into the material and are protected within that food source. Cockroaches will chow down on it too. Your pipes may be singing with pests, you just can't hear it yet.

It's not just pipes, any crack under tile, a low spot under a vending machine, the water leak behind a wall... all of this and more can support a huge amount of flies.

Twelfth day of Christmas - twelve drummers drumming.

Most insects don't make any noise. Our pest insects like cockroaches, beetles, moths, ants, termites, and more use pheromones to communicate. Those chemical communications can be manipulated and sometimes broken to help manage populations. Pheromone monitoring for stored product pests is a perfect example of this.

Since insects like cockroaches and ants use those pheromones to find their way back to the colony, this can be used in baiting. They can take baits back to their harborage spots and share with all their friends who won't be coming out foraging.

There you have it, the 12 days of too many birds and many other pests. If you need help, we can help!


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