So often, those of us who work in structural pest management – controlling insects, spiders, rodents, and the like around homes and businesses – don’t pause to think about weed control.
That’s a big mistake.
If you are doing a green pest program, it’s an even bigger mistake.
The same applies if your client is an audited food production facility (e.g. AIB, Silliker, SQF, BRC, etc. etc.).
Weeds are frequently fast growing plants, and the young shoots and stems on them can be especially attractive to aphids and the like. Aphids are in a group of insects fondly (or not so fondly, rather) called the honeydew producers. Essentially, they feed upon the sap of plants, which is rich in sugars, so rich, that they excrete excess fluid and sugars. This sweet excretion is known as honeydew. Don’t let the term excretion bring to mind foul waste materials that animals such as us produce from our digestive process. It’s quite the opposite, because other insects will use the honeydew as a food source.
How does this relate to structural pest management? After all, these are just turf and ornamental problems, right?
Ants are attracted to honeydew, and will go to great lengths to get it. Having weeds around your structure will draw ants to your structure. The same goes for any untended, ill-maintained plants around your structure, weeds or not.
Weeds can provide cover and the seeds of some can be a food source for small rodents such as mice and rats, which will attract them to the structure and improves the chances of them nesting on the outside or finding their way inside.
You need to be on top of any weed infestation on the properties that you service.
If you are performing green pest control, you need to make sure that non-chemical control is being performed before you apply pesticides, so weed removal as a way of preventing ants and rodents is essential. You could even expand your services into non-chemical weed control.
For production facilities, any auditor should be deducting points from an audit score if the facility does not have an effective weed control program. A food production facility should expect that their regular pest inspection include an inspection for weed growth.
The problem, however, is that we don’t talk about weeds in structural pest management. We don’t train on them. And we tend not to be licensed to control them, unless you are dual licensed in landscape maintenance or its equivalent.
Wisconsin, where I am at, has an interesting way around this. Certified applicators in their structural pest category, 7.1, can perform weed control immediately around a building.
For the rest of you, it’s important that your regular inspections include looking for weeds.