Biz Features

Squeaky Clean: Pest Control Pointers For Small Business

by . February 27th, 2013

Why an article on pest control pointers? Unless you run some sort of menagerie or research laboratory, you don’t want rats or other pests anywhere near your business. I’m going out on a limb here and say something I bet most of you wouldn’t bother to argue. I hate rats.

South African Rat

Their scuzzy, dirty little faces and disease-infested paws inspire a primal sense disgust I could feel between my stomach and upper intestines. They leave a disgusting trail of crumby, poopy, destruction wherever they happen to be. The stench of their pee is synonymous with total disrepair.

More than a Nuisance

My opinions notwithstanding, rats aren’t just a mildly disgusting nuisance. Between 1348 and 1350, 60% of Europe’s population was wiped out by a disease spread by rat-fleas, commonly hypothesized to have been the Bubonic Plague, in the event we now know as The Black Death.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about  the Bubonic Plague as much as we had to. But rats (and mice) are also carriers for over 70 other diseases, including rabies, Leptospirosis (a tailor we knew died from this) , and Lymphocytic choriomeningitis,-a disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Same goes for cockroaches- which can carry pathogens for dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis, and gastroenteritis; mosquitoes – which carry the parasites responsible for malaria and the viruses responsible for dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and parasitic worms;  and flies – which carry a whole bunch of science-fictioney sounding diseases on them.

Other pests are less of a health risk, but can cause serious damage to your business’s assets. Termites and silverfish come to mind. In some areas, pigeons and seagulls – and even bears– are considered pests.

Why Take Pest Control Seriously

4.) They depreciate everything. Rats and mice eat through cables, termites ruin fixtures. Seagull poop is powerful enough to dissolve paint. In almost every case, taking steps to  keep them controlled and out of your establishment will be cheaper than doing nothing in the long run.


3.)They repel customers, investors, and applicants. The presence of pests is a sign that you aren’t taking care of your property. This sends a message that you don’t give a rat’s poopchute about your business. When was the last time you felt good about eating in a restaurant with roaches in it? Pests might also make applicants wary of your business, making it harder to fill needed positions.

2.)They can make your employees sick. We already outlined just some of the diseases you could get from pests. Sick employees tend to be less productive, and cost you more in the long run in sick days and lost time.

1.)Tolerating them might be in violation of local health codes. In many cases, you might be legally mandated to keep certain pests under control. Detectable levels of rat or cockroach infestations for instance, are totally unacceptable in the food and food service industries.


Making sure your work spaces are secure from pests in the first place is always cheaper than fixing the messes they make. Each type of pest will have a whole different set of specific control methods, but there are a few general things you should do.

3.) Limit Shelter. If you own or control your own workspace, check your building’s foundations to make sure there aren’t any cracks termites, rats, or mice could crawl into. Generally speaking, if you find a hole you can stick a pencil in, pests will have no problem finding their way into your business.

Screen windows should be incorporated to designs that intend to use natural ventilation. Storage solutions should ideally be modular and easy to clean and move so that pest colonies are easily found before they get too large.

If you’re just renting your location and the owner refuses to handle overall pest control, consider moving out. If you can have your own building set up from the ground up, be sure to incorporate pest control features into the design.

2.) Limit Access to Food. Food items should not be left out in the open and properly disposed of or stored properly when not consumed immediately. Garbage should be disposed of properly and not stored for prolonged periods of time. This would limit incentives for pests to stick around.

You would think that these things would come naturally to most people, but if you know people in general, you know this rarely happens unless you remind them – so do that.

1.) Minimize Open and Stagnant Water Sources. If mosquitos are endemic to your area, makes sure any puddles in and around your work area are cleared if they stagnate. Roofs are notoriously undermaintained parts of many buildings, and puddles or water pockets on the roofing surfaces and gutters are often more than enough room for mosquito and fly larvae to grow. Also make sure not to leave barrels out too long after it rains, as the water collected on the tops are prime breeding spots for insects.

Some business may be located in locations away from urban areas. This may necessitate draining stagnant ponds near the work space. Another thing you can try is to put fish, preferably native species, in stagnant ponds if they can support them. Add water plants if you’re concerned about algae building up.

Trivia: Ever wonder where the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” came from? Before automobiles, horses were a prime method of getting around. Horse troughs and open rain barrels meant for refilling them were prime breeding grounds for mosquitos. People would put goldfish in troughs and barrels to control mosquito larvae. Of course, they also had guns, and didn’t have the internet back then, so shooting fish in barrels seemed like an obvious way to pass time. 


You’ll have a lot of different options for this, but you can break it down to traps and poisons. We’ll lay it out quick, but we do not recommend you handle serious infestations yourself – unless you run your own pest control business of course.

Traps – These include classics such as flypaper, and the original snapping mouse trap, as well as newfangled electric traps and glue traps, and live capture traps. Generally speaking, you’re probably best off going for solutions that actually kill pests as quickly and as neatly as possible. This usually excludes glue traps as they can cause serious suffering to rats and mice as they starve to death, or gnaw off limbs to escape.

Poisons- These definitely tend to work well. However, pests might die inside walls and fixtures, and there are also environmental hazards associated with these. Fumigation for instance, can leave harmful residue in work areas that could subsequently prove dangerous for you and your employees.

When in doubt about pest control solutions for your business, or if your business has grown way too large for you to handle the problem, please consult with a local pest control specialist to get the job done.

In the end, we’d advise you go as far as you can with prevention. Pest control isn’t just something you deal with as it happens. It should be part of any business management plan.



Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.