Anyone who has taken a holiday in an exotic or tropical climate will have noticed that there are often more insects and pests about. Many pests perform well in warm and humid environments.
Traditionally, this has meant the UK had fewer concerns with some pests than other countries.
However, with climate change, the UK has experienced longer warm spells and higher temperatures. And now, summer is fast approaching.
Many business owners need to be aware of potential pest problems. Any business involved with food for instance must meet certain standards, and keep areas free of pests to avoid contamination. With the summer coming, will businesses see more pests this year, and what impact will that have?
What are the common pest issues facing business owners?
Depending on what the business is, different pests may be attracted to it and cause an infestation. Cockroaches are a common problem in many businesses involved in hospitality and catering. While bed bugs are more of a concern for hotels and guesthouses.
The UK’s pest control services eliminate many types of infestations including rodents and bed bugs. Here are some commonly seen pests in the UK that affect businesses.
- Rats and mice
- Bed bugs
- Agricultural pests
Caterpillars and beetles can affect crops. While other pests are more often found in high street businesses or in processing plants.
What businesses are most affected by these pests?
Typically, any business involved in food production or serving meals will have to be aware of pests and how to control them.
Some of the businesses in the UK that are impacted by pests are:
- Food production plants
- Food trucks
Right now, takeaways are thriving in the UK. The additional business that high streets are seeing also means higher levels of waste. With increased food sources, pests will be attracted to takeaways and restaurants in towns and cities.
Food production plants or anywhere where food is processed and packaged will be attractive to pests. These businesses have to have strict hygiene controls as any contamination from pests can be financially disastrous.
With the summer approaching will businesses see more pest problems?
The majority of the UK will welcome the summer. The nation isn’t always blessed with the best weather, so spring and summer usually see more outdoor activity and travel. Certain businesses will see a boost in hot weather. Pub gardens fill up in the summer, and cafes offering al fresco dining will see more trade.
Due to inflation and other economic difficulties, 2022 was hard for many businesses. Half a million businesses closed in the UK last year. So, many restaurants and guesthouses will be hoping for a bumper summer. But, the hot weather will bring increased pest problems.
More welcoming environment
Many pests thrive in a warmer environment. The summer simply sees more pest activity due to the higher temperatures. Some pests that decades ago would struggle in the UK are now happily making it their homes.
Humidity and precipitation will rise during the summer. Many pests like moisture. Ants, cockroaches, and silverfish enjoy moisture. And some pests like living in damp environments.
Increased trade means less focus on pest control
Takeaways and restaurants can find themselves overrun in the summer months. Especially if they are based in tourist towns. The extra trade can mean taking leave from other tasks such as pest prevention.
When pest prevention is ignored this is when infestations and contamination can start. Workers in a busy kitchen can easily forget to seal food containers properly for instance. This attracts pests and leads to infections.
Pests travel further in hot weather
As climate change grows it will see pests expand their geographical range. The impact of climate change on pests in agriculture is already being seen. Faster growing communities, and increased survival rates in the winter, are two examples of change.
And the summer months see more travel as people go on holiday. Although this is less of a problem for businesses, some pests like to hitch rides with holidaymakers. Bed bugs in particular are adept at moving from one location to another via luggage.
Faster breeding rates
Pests tend to breed faster in the summer. And for longer. The breeding rates of some pests increase in hot weather and the breeding period can last longer. Hot temperatures also change pests’ metabolic rates. This means that they will need more food.
As the hot weather increases how much food pests need to eat they will become more active. In turn, this leads pests to seek out food sources. The higher temperatures will also make some pests look for cooler places to shelter such as in commercial buildings.
Greater chance of survival
Increasing temperatures give some pests a greater chance of survival. Pests that before would struggle to survive the winters are now enjoying warmer days due to climate change. The warmer temperatures increase breeding times as previously mentioned, and this leads pest populations to grow and flourish.
More food sources for pests
The high streets will see more waste from takeaways and cafes during the summer. As tourists flock to hot spots around the UK, food debris and waste will be littered more. Obviously, any food debris attracts pests.
But, the summer helps to create more food sources for pests in other ways. Crops will be coming into their brown during the summer which attracts agricultural pests. And food spoils quicker during hot weather leading to more waste. Businesses need to be aware of how food waste can attract pests quickly.
How do these pests impact businesses?
A pest infestation will harm any business in multiple ways. Pests carry diseases, so there is the risk of customers becoming sick. Then there is the financial implication of removing pests. Restaurants or cafes that experience a pest infestation may need to close and hire professional services to eliminate the problem.
These are just a few ways that pests will harm a business:
- Crop damage
- Structural damage
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of customer loyalty
- Hygiene scores lowered
- Closure – temporary or permanent
- Food contamination
- Loss of stock
- Prosecution and fines
In the UK there is the Food Hygiene Rating System. This lets restaurants proudly show that they run a safe and hygienic business. However, this score will be lowered if a poor inspection takes place. And in Wales, it is mandatory to display the hygiene score.
Poor hygiene scores are often the result of pests. When news travels this leads to a loss of reputation and business. Many businesses have to close temporarily to deal with pest problems, and many fail to bounce back.
How can businesses combat increased pest activity in the summer?
Ideally, businesses will bring in pest control experts to carry out an inspection. Pest controllers will spot where issues lie such as access points, or signs of pests. Although the summer means increased trade, businesses should take time to carry out preventative measures.
Sealing cracks and ensuring windows and doors close properly will reduce access points. Food waste must be kept away from the working areas and sealed from pests. Food inside the business should be stored effectively to prevent contamination.
Cleanliness is crucial to prevent pest problems at any time of the year. But, in the summer when pests are more active and require more food, eliminating all food sources will reduce the chances of pests being attracted to a business.
The warmer weather that summer brings will be welcomed by most people. Unfortunately, pests also enjoy hot summer days. Businesses need to be aware of increased pest activity, and take preventative action.
Reducing entry points and making the business less attractive to pests will help. Pest control can treat businesses and carry out inspections to stop infestations from happening. Because, if an infestation does happen to a business, it can be financially disastrous.