MOHAMMAD ARIF HUSSAIN, an entomologist at Saudi-based Masa Establishment, outlines steps to be taken to control the various pests that can infest kitchens.
Cockroaches, rodents, fruit flies and pantry pests can all easily find their way into kitchens where they contaminate foods, spread bacteria and ruin a “sacred” space in the home.
With all the cooking and baking and leftovers, kitchens are a magnet for pests which are looking for food and shelter at this time of the year – often inside houses. These include:
• Cockroaches: Cockroaches spread 33 kinds of bacteria including E coli and salmonella, six parasitic worms and more than seven other types of human pathogens. Additionally, their saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms.
• Rodents: Each winter, these sharp-toothed, disease-carriers typically invade millions of homes in the kingdom bringing with them a slew of dangers. Mice and rats spread salmonella bacteria and Hantavirus, and they can carry other disease-causing pests, such as ticks, fleas and lice. Rodents can also chew through wood and electrical wires, increasing the risk of home fires. Prevention is the name of the game with rodents though because when they move in, they quickly make themselves at home. A female mouse can have as many as 12 babies every three weeks.
• Fruit flies: Fruit flies are able to detect the yeast produced by fermenting fruit, even from great distances. Once they have identified an intended target, they have little trouble getting to it as their tiny size allows them to enter a home through miniscule cracks and crevices. Most window screens won’t deter them either.
• Pantry pests: These insects tend to be attracted to food often stored in pantries and cabinets such as flour, dry cereals, spices, candies and chocolate. Common pantry pests include several types of beetles, Indian meal moths and ants.
• Ants: Both the large, black carpenter ant and the smaller, red, brown or black ants are attracted to sweets and other food found in the kitchen. They often come in from nests located outdoors in the ground or under the foundation. The best way to control ants is to eliminate the food and apply judicious spot treatments at entrance sites and along the ant route. If the ant nest is located within the house structure, it is necessary to locate and destroy the nest.
Prevention is the first line of defence against pests. Masa Establishment for Pest Extermination, Maintenance and Contracting recommends the following preventative measures to ensure the kitchen, pantry and the food remain pest free:
• Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors and shelves.
• Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
• Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
• Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains – the pungent scent of the leaves repels many pantry pests.
• If you keep fresh fruit on the counter, check it often for signs of over-ripening or decay. As female fruit flies lay an average of 500 eggs on the surface of fermenting fruit, it’s best to dispose of the fruit in outdoor trash cans to prevent those eggs from hatching in your indoor trash.
• Run your garbage disposal regularly.
• Don’t let dirty dishes pile up and stand in the sink for long periods of time.
• Don’t leave pet food and water bowls sit out for long periods of time.
• Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
• Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
• Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home and around the kitchen, especially around gas and water pipes.
Furthermore, IPM (integrated pest management) should be applied; it is an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programmes use current, comprehensive information on the lifecycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
Masa, through an expert team of highly skilled pest control technicians, offers professional and reliable services. All its services are tailored to each individual property and to the individual needs of the business in question to ensure the best possible results are attained. Masa’s team will partake in detailed discussions with the concerned representative of the premises prior to starting any work to establish the required frequency and level of service required.
Masa is amongst the largest pest control companies in Saudi Arabia with 12 branches present across the country. Its methods are based on 36 years of service to the public and environment and it has gained a stronghold in the pest control industry by strict observance and maintenance of high-quality service standards. A member of 13 international pest control associations, Masa exerts every effort to boost public awareness of the pest hazards in premises and urges the public to cooperate with a professional pest control operator to maintain a healthy environment.