The future of Pest Management

“Every Pest Management program starts and finishes with risk assessment and risk management. You don’t know if you have a growing population of pests unless you are using the right tools to monitor on the right locations. Priority number one is to identify the potential threats. Experienced consultants like can help to develop a complete approach.”


Vasilis Sotiroudas

Control Union Greece

We are advancing in many sectors that are already affecting the way we do pest management. Technology is changing our lives, we care more for the environment, there are more tools to guard our own safety and we produce new legislation to protect animal wellbeing. Research is questioning or at least validating our findings and chemicals need to be re-registered to verify their safety.

Pest Management in the 21st century is going to be different that we know!
The IPM circles
When Pest Control changed to Pest Management we use to train the operators with the concept of the three circles, putting a lot of energy (large circle) on Prevention.

Nowadays it is changing again. Simple prevention is not enough. We need monitoring and evaluation of each step.

IPM is not about the prevention, it is not about the monitoring and it is not about the control. IPM is about well proven and verified steps. All actions need to be based on proven facts and their results shall be proven adequate.

Pest Proof buildings
Prevention was and will always be the first priority. But sealing a building is not about building a brick wall around it. There are specially designed additions to be placed under doors, over doors, in tiny or larger holes made by companies like The modern Food Safety Manager carries a roll of Fabric Filler and he cuts a piece to fill a gap, preventing pest entry.

Trap remote monitoring
Rodent and insect e-traps are already available. The action of a rodent entering a station triggers an alarm and the user (Pest Control Operator-PCO or Food Safety Manager) receives a signal for inspection. With insects there is a frequent inspection of the trap through a camera that monitors insect catches.

In both rodent and insects, the software of the e-trap is not only providing raw data. It analyzes trends, compares with previous performance and identifies improvement.

The importance of remote monitoring is that it gives you the possibility for real time action. Following up immediately on a problem lowers the risk of getting infested products.

Fumigation remote monitoring
Remote monitoring is also changing the fumigation world. Precision fumigation is not cheap to achieve and sometimes concentration monitoring is made only at the beginning and at the end of a fumigation. Fumigators hesitate to send operators to take readings every day in a faraway silo. Wireless sensors like the ones designed by send continuous information on the development of a treatment allowing corrective actions and evaluation of each application. The cognitive software also allows treatment prediction and gives recommendation to users based on numerous monitored parameters.

When is control needed?
“Control” in pest management could mean fumigation, spraying, fogging etc. A control action shall be scheduled when pest activity (thus pest population) has grown above the “control threshold” triggering a corrective action.

Let’s see an example with insects in a flour mill: to monitor insect population, a mill needs a complete system of pheromone and UV traps that collect insects in various locations. Insect traps should be able to catch all potential stored product insects that are expected in a mill including the following species: Tribolium, Sitophilus, Rhyzopertha, Oryzaephilus, Plodia interpunctela, Efestia elutela, Trogoderma, Psocids and mites (mites are not insects but are still flour mill pests).

A complete monitoring system shall have traps in all floors and areas and the traps shall be regularly inspected at a frequency of not less than monthly. An average number of 1-2 insects caught per trap per month could be regarded as acceptable with no need for corrective action. When this number grows, control is needed.

Remote monitoring with e-traps for insects allows more frequent checks (daily instead of monthly) and would allow the mill to trigger corrective actions much earlier.

Frequency of applications
Pest management is not a series of spraying visits. The Pest Control Operator is no longer the low-level-worker with the sprayer. The PCO is a skilled auditor and an experienced consultant. He finds gaps in the system and advices on ways to fill them. The frequency of inspection visits shall be decided in case-by-case but should be at least monthly. The frequency of control applications depends on the findings.

Evaluation of corrective action
As shown on the new IPM circles, each step of IPM is evaluated. Prevention is evaluated, Exclusion is evaluated and Control is evaluated. The meaning of evaluation is to monitor before and after an action and use the findings to understand if the specific action had a meaning for the company.

Resistance management
Pests are becoming tolerant and event resistant to chemicals. Managing the problem is very important. Management starts with identifying the problem. When it comes to the fumigant phosphine, has produced a resistance kit that can be carried on site and test insects against resistance. When resistance is found a different fumigation protocol must be applied.

There is insect resistance to contact insecticides too. The modern pest controller must read international research and select the method and the chemical of treatment based on academic findings.

Risk assessment and management
Every Pest Management program starts and finishes with risk assessment and risk management. You don’t know if you have a growing population of pests unless you are using the right tools to monitor on the right locations. Priority number one is to identify the potential threats. Experienced consultants like can help to develop a complete approach.

Are non-chemical fumigation methods successful?
Several treatments like: heat, low oxygen, controlled atmosphere, CO2, N2 and low temperature are considered very successful and are available in many places around the world. Academic research has been conducted by several institutes around the world leading to the conclusion that non-chemical methods are equally successful. Precision monitoring is the key to success.

Food Safety Requirements
Internationally recognized food safety protocols like AIB, IFS, BRC, FSSC etc., have a dedicated section to IPM analyzing good practices and requiring serious management. These safety protocols are very popular internationally and they become a training tool for PCOs around the world. It is necessary for PCOs to follow each edition and use it for internal training.

Trained auditors
The more pressure we get, the better professionals we become. The food safety auditors are becoming more trained around Pest Management. Thus, they put a pressure on the Food Industries to apply modern systems and achieve better results. Finally, the food industries put pressure on PCOs for setting up complete systems and accomplishing better control over pests. Nothing is more important for a food industry that a thorough audit.

People safety
Risk assessment, personal monitors, real-time monitoring, visual and sound alarms. All these shall be part of the process of every fumigation. Life is very valuable to put it at risk and modern technology gives us many tools to use. There is no excuse for risking lives.

The role of the PCOs
The PCO must evolve. Control is needed less and less. Prevention, Exclusion, Advising, Monitoring. These are the services to be offered and will be best offered by a well-trained consultant than by an Operator holding a dirty sprayer…

We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "Product recalls: don’t let your codes let you down".

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