The stench of decaying organic matter has the same effect on pests that a corner bakery with open doors has on people – it signals the presence of delicious goodies and encourages them to take a closer look.
While we might turn up our noses at foul odors, pests make a beeline for them. And the more pests that are drawn to smells — good or bad — around your facility, the more likely it is that these pests will find a way in. Once they’re inside, they’ll quickly realize they’ve hit the jackpot. To have all of their essential survival needs – food, water, shelter and comfortable temperatures – in one place is simply too good to turn down, and you can be sure they’ll try to stay.
Of course, pests and the contaminants they could carry are intolerable in grain facilities. They can threaten the safety of your product as well as your reputation with customers. That’s why odor prevention and elimination are an essential part of a proactive pest management program.
Indentifying the source of odors is the first step in prevention. Decaying organic matter is a common source of foul odors in and near grain storage and processing facilities.
When organic debris in trash cans, drains and dumpsters break down, it becomes a breeding ground for malodorous bacteria. If trash receptacles are not properly cleaned, lined and sealed, or if dumpsters aren’t regularly cleaned, the odors from the waste can linger long after the trash has been removed.
To help prevent odors in trash receptacles, line all trash cans and make sure their lids fit tightly. Dispose of trash daily, and work with your waste management professional to schedule frequent waste pick-ups. As for dumpsters, keep them as far from your facility as possible and work with your waste management company to have them regularly rotated out for thorough cleaning — twice during the summer months.
After you’ve located the source of an odor, the next step is to eliminate it. A proactive sanitation program is the best defense against odor.
Follow a frequent and consistent sanitation schedule and pay special attention to hard-to-reach areas — especially underneath and behind equipment where odor sources might hide. Regularly remove drain lids and clean drains to keep debris from building up out of sight. Drains can be a breeding ground for certain flies and other pests.
Consider using an organic cleaner, which breaks down grime buildup using naturally occurring bacteria versus chemicals. The more often and thoroughly key areas are cleaned, the less organic debris will be left to decompose and the better the areas will smell. In some instances, elimination might require specialized disinfectants that work to kill odor-producing bacteria.
Once the source of the odor has been eliminated; it can be beneficial to try to neutralize the lingering effects of the odor with masking agents. While masking agents such as air fresheners are not effective for long-term odor control, they can help to minimize unpleasant odors in the short term.
Preventing the foul odors that attract pests is an on-going process and should become an important part of your regular sanitation and pest management efforts. Make sure your staff understands the role they play in odor control, and encourage them to practice good sanitation in their respective areas of operation.
Work with your pest management professional to identify potential problem areas, and create a plan to maintain a facility free of unpleasant odors. Think of it as closing the doors of that corner bakery before any unwelcome visitors waft in.
Dr. Zia Siddiqi is director of quality systems for Orkin, Inc. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail