Pests don’t exactly announce themselves when they show up at your grain facilities. They sneak in without warning, each of them with the same goal in mind: to find a reliable spot where they have access to food, water and shelter. Unfortunately for grain handling and processing, pests can usually find all three of these things inside your facility, making your business vulnerable to infestations that can compromise your products and hurt your bottom line.

You need to have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in place to reduce pests. An IPM program looks at strategies to prevent pests or at least prevent pest issues from developing into large infestations. Using multiple tools, including sanitation, inspections, physical barriers, monitoring and treatment, this plan includes a series of ongoing practices to reduce pest pressures. First, your staff should be trained to identify signs of pests and potential pest issues. Pest management companies often offer these training sessions free of charge. It’s also important that when employees find pests and/or signs of activity, they know who to report that to. You want to empower employees to speak up when they see potential issues and ensure they’re clear on the risks of pest damage to your products.

Monitoring devices are an essential tool that can also detect problems early, when they are still small and manageable. These devices can help justify the program to auditors and demonstrate compliance with the updated federal regulations.

Here are a few examples of these useful devices:

Mechanical traps

Used for rodents, there are many varieties of these traps that allow for capture and removal. Though simple, the design of the traps makes them versatile and effective. Curiosity or bait attracts the rodents inside, where it will be trapped. Because of emerging technology, certain mechanical traps can send electronic alerts when this occurs, allowing for quick and easy removal. These stations are commonly placed around the interior perimeter of a facility, along floor-wall junctions to intercept rodents. They also can be used outside to reduce the outdoor population of rodents.

One reason these traps are so effective is because rodents like to run along walls and edges. These furry pests are athletic and intelligent, and they can learn from close calls with unsuccessful trapping techniques. Knowing which rodent species you are dealing with will help with placing the right trap in the right location with the most effective bait. The help of a pest management provider can also help the success rate.

Sticky traps and glue boards

Sticky traps and glue boards may be the most basic tools a pest professional can offer but they are versatile and efficient. They simply reduce the population of crawling insects (and rodents sometimes) around a facility. The traps can be used just about anywhere inside a building because they don’t take up much space. They’re used most often for small population control in areas where crawling pests are already present.

Sticky traps and glue boards are just that: a board with sticky glue on it, which ensnares the pests when they step on it. They are sometimes referred to as “blunder traps” because a pest literally blunders into it — there’s nothing specifically attractive about them. These are especially useful for catching pests like grain beetles and cockroaches and can provide an idea of how many pests are traveling through a certain area in a given timeframe. Over time, this allows customers to see if the pest population is dwindling or increasing, as well as help predict future trends in activity.

Pheromone traps can help evaluate pest activity.

Pheromone traps

Ideal for attracting and monitoring the stored product pests that threaten grain facilities, these traps use the insects’ own pheromones against them. Pheromone traps are most effective when placed strategically around the facility, including storage areas to help monitor for any stored product pests.

These traps use synthetically replicated versions of insect pheromones, the secreted chemicals that insects use to communicate with each other. Like all monitors, these are an early warning system for when pests start to pop up. Especially with stored product insects since they are small and often secretive. There are dome (floor) traps for crawling insects, hanging sticky traps for flying insects and for bulk grain storage, as well as probe-type pheromone traps.

Fly lights

These devices attract flying pests with UV lights in order to trap them on a sticky glue board. The lights need to be placed carefully to not draw insects in from the outside. They work best when placed inside at about eye level and nearby (but not too close) to exterior doors. The primary purpose is to intercept outdoor insects before they can penetrate further into the facility, and they also can be used to track how many are getting in and which openings are providing the most access.

These are some of the most commonly used monitoring devices because of their availability and effectiveness. Each location will be slightly different, and the monitoring program should be tailored to that individual site. It’s also important to remember that sanitation and exclusion are key parts of a holistic IPM program. Monitoring devices (combined with proper documentation) can further strengthen your program by indicating pest buildup in spots that may have sanitation or exclusion issues that need to be fixed. They offer perspective on which pests are present, where they are present, and allow for fast response so losses are minimized or even avoided altogether. If you have access to a pest management service, they can help with selecting the right devices, placing them correctly, checking them on a regular basis and interpreting the results.

Any time you’re using these tools and devices to detect pest hot spots, it’s important to record the results over time. Keep a logbook of findings on site and check it regularly — creating a trend map of pest activity over time to help you see which pests are invading your facility the most. Once you have all the pieces in place, it will be easier to improve your pest management program, protect your bottom line and serve your customers with excellence.