The 3 Dreaded Restaurant Pests: How To Stay Pest Free

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German cockroach eating food

A German roach almost crawled onto my shoulder. I was eating at a local seafood restaurant when out of nowhere came crawling a German cockroach. It crawled right out of a tiny crack in the booth where my family and I were sitting.

For the owner and management of the restaurant, this one little roach could mean major trouble. I could have pulled out my phone, taken video and pictures of this roach and within seconds posted a viral YouTube video, had 100s of shares on Facebook, and left a review on Yelp.

However, since I am in the business of helping restaurants to retain and attract more customers, I am going to give you some tips to make sure this never happens. In the age of social media and Yelp reviews, protecting your brand is first priority. Having a pest-free business is the first and most important step when it comes to protecting your brand.

First, let’s talk about the 3 major pests that could affect your brand. These are the three most common restaurant pests in the Worcester, Boston, Framingham, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Grafton areas.

1. Mice & Rodents

When people see mice they freak out. I have seen people jump on chairs, jump on tables, and seal off entire doorways with duct tape at the sight of a mouse. People do not like mice. If they see one in your restaurant, believe me, they are telling everyone they know for the next 2 weeks (if not longer). We want to prevent this from ever happening.

The Problem: Mice are getting into your restaurant

  • They are contaminating surfaces with urine and feces
  • They are scaring away customers and affecting your businesses online reviews
  • They are chewing into food product causing a loss of inventory

The Solution: Eliminate mice quickly and prevent them from coming back

How do you eliminate restaurant mice quickly? Good question.

The first thing that needs to be done is a mass trapping. Set up between 50 to 100 old-fashioned-style snap traps. Bait 75% with peanut butter and then bait the rest with cotton (female mice will be attracted to cotton for nesting material). The initial trapping phase may take 2-3 days and should eliminate 90% of the mice in the restaurant.

Then you’ll want to keep several traps active but keep them in inconspicuous places. Boiler rooms, closets, and behind equipment make great places for traps because customers will not see them there or any mice that they’ve caught.

The next step is to locate any entry points where mice are coming in. However, it is not always so easy. Mice only need a quarter-inch gap or a hole the size of a dime and they can get in. Although, from personal experience I think that a dime is a huge hole for a mouse. I have seen them slip through gaps that were barley visible. I have also watched mice climb up and down walls with ease and jump right over traps as if they knew to avoid them.

This is why it is an ongoing battle with mice. Just when you think you’ve sealed up every possible entry point, they either find or make a new one. Mice are constantly looking for things to chew on. They will eventually chew their way in. But the idea is to make it as difficult as possible.

Make sure all door sweeps are in good working condition and that there are no gaps underneath doors where mice will be able to sneak in.

  • Seal any gaps in the foundation and along the basement sill.
  • Remove all possible food sources such as trash and spilled food debris that will attract mice.
  • Make sure to check for mice activity in the drop ceiling panels (mice love hiding above the drop ceiling!)
  • Make sure to check and replace traps on a regular basis as traps get rusty and wear out over time, making them ineffective.

By following these steps you will reduce the risk of a customer spotting a mouse and potentially running out into the parking lot screaming, just waiting to log onto Yelp to write a review.

Although these steps will help to reduce mice, there is no substitute for monthly pest control service from a trained Bug Bully Pest Control professional who is licensed to use and purchase restricted-use products. There are certain products that allow a Bug Bully technician to eliminate mice even quicker. Also a trained eye can spot potential trouble areas before customers ever notice a problem.

Bug Bully offers free consultations to any restaurant that would like to discuss its mouse exclusion options or to have a current mouse removal plan evaluated.

2. German Roaches

Roaches are another dreaded pest of the restaurant industry. They have also been making a comeback as of lately. I have been seeing a lot of restaurants that are infested with roaches.

Once roaches get to the point where they are out of control, there is little ‘home remedy’ that will be able to eliminate them. Over the last few years gel baits have become popular for roach control, however, given the unique setting of restaurants where food can be plentiful, gel baits don’t always work that great. Roaches already have plenty of food so they might never even go near a gel bait placement.

The Problem: Roaches have infested your restaurant.

  • They are crawling on equipment and contaminating all surfaces that they touch.
  • They have been spotted at the bar, scaring away customers.
  • They are spreading fast.

The Solution: Find all roach harborage areas and eliminate them.

Dealing with roaches is definitely not for beginners. They reproduce so quickly that an inexperienced person will soon become overwhelmed with trying to eliminate them. Right when you think they’re gone, another group that was hidden deep inside a void will emerge and continue causing havoc.

As a restaurant owner the best thing that you can do is to monitor for roach activity.

This can be achieved by placing sticky traps around areas where there is heat and moisture. Refrigerator motors are a common roach hiding spot. Also underneath sinks and around pipes. Place sticky traps in these areas and be sure to replace and monitor them regularly.

If a roach is ever spotted on a monitor, bait that area immediately before the problem spreads. Gel baits will not always be the best solution in a restaurant setting. This is why it is crucial to have a reliable monthly cockroach control service.

If a roach is spotted in the restaurant a Bug Bully technician will treat the area right away with specialized equipment such as an excaticide and an actizol micro injector. This will eliminate any roach problem before it spreads to other areas of the restaurant (e.g., customers' booths).

3. Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are a bar’s worst nightmare. Like roaches, fruit flies also reproduce quickly and they are very difficult to get rid of. The problem with fruit flies is that chemicals and traditional pest elimination methods have little effect on fruit fly infestations. This is because fruit flies breed so quickly and also have a short life span.

The Problem: Fruit flies are flying around the bar, kitchen, and customers tables.

  • Customers are getting annoyed from constantly having to swat away fruit flies.
  • Fruit flies are landing on customers food and drink.
  • Chemical treatments are doing little to get rid of fruit flies.

The Solution: Remove and clean up all fruit fly breeding sites.

Sometimes restaurant owners don’t want to hear that fruit flies cannot be eliminated with chemicals, but it is true. Chemicals can be sprayed all day long and the fruit flies will never go away, they will only be suppressed.

In order to get rid of fruit flies forever, all organic decaying matter where fruit flies breed must be cleaned up. Fruit fly elimination = good sanitation.

When you have old fruit at your home, sometimes you will get fruit flies. Then once you throw out the old fruit, the flies disappear. This principle is similar in a restaurant but the only difference is that it is harder to locate what is attracting fruit flies in a restaurant.

Some common fruit fly attracting/breeding sites are:

  • Food buildup in and around drains
  • Cracks in floor tiles
  • Cracks around perimeter where food and water debris build-up
  • Bottom of trash cans where food and water debris collect
  • Soda and beer tap hoses

It is important to inspect all of these areas and clean them thoroughly BEFORE a fruit fly problem begins. It is much, much easier to prevent fruit flies than it is trying to eliminate them.

Again, a trained eye can easily spot fruit fly breeding sites and bring them to the attention of the restaurant owner or manager. It is vital that there is cooperation between the restaurant staff and the pest control professional when dealing with a fruit fly problem. This is because fruit fly elimination is not done solely with chemicals; cleaning by restaurant staff is equally important.

If your restaurant is experiencing any of these dreaded restaurant pests, call Bug Bully immediately before these pests start affecting your restaurant's reviews.

Bug Bully offers FREE consultations to any restaurant that would like to discuss their commercial pest control options or to have a current pest control plan evaluated.

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