Small Business Brief

Pest Control

Office Pests Identification, Prevention, and Extermination (Guide)

In 2016, research revealed that the average home had more than 100 different kinds of pests living in it.

We can only imagine that an office building would boast similar figures. Think about it: the shelter, warmth, food and water that pests often seek can be found in both a residential building and a commercial one. 

You might suspect that your office has fallen victim to an infestation. However, you don’t know how to make any kind of pests identification. 

Or, you might know that you have office bugs, but you’re not sure to get rid of them. 

Perhaps you’re one of the luckier ones — you just want to prevent office insects with some pest control. 

We’ve got you covered in all three scenarios. Read on to learn how to identify pests, get rid of them and prevent their presence in the future. 

Pests Identification: How Can I Spot an Infestation? 

There are multiple signs that your office has an infestation. Some will be easier to spot than others, so know them all to make identification as swift as possible. 

Pest Droppings

If you have mice or rats in your building, you’ll probably spot their droppings before you see the rodents themselves. 

Mice droppings look similar in shape to grains of rice, although they take on a darker color. If you have a mice infestation, you’ll have lots of these droppings in the areas where the rodents roam. So, for example, you might find them in the break room or office kitchen — wherever employees gather and have food. 

You might find rodents’ urine stains in the area, as well. Again, you’ll find these in the areas where the animals can find food. So, inspect the kitchen for droppings and urine to determine if you have office mice or rats. 

Damage to the Building

Pests don’t just move into our spaces uninvited — they often cause damage to the building, too. 

You might find signs of such destruction, which will tell you that you have a pest problem. Different creatures will cause different sorts of damage, though. 

For example, let’s say your building has a termite problem. Inspect the timber that builds the walls or support beams. If you find tunneling or darkening of the wood, that’s a sign that termites might’ve moved in and started eating. 

Rodents and small mammals can cause damage, too. Let’s say a family of squirrels has moved into the roof of your commercial space. If so, you might find chewed-through electrical wires — a telltale sign that you have pests. 

On that note, these same animals will often create holes or other entryways into your building. So, if you find holes or burrows around the building, then you probably have a pest problem. 

Bug Bites

Sometimes, office bugs make themselves known by, well, biting you and your colleagues. 

This is especially true of bed bugs, which don’t just limit themselves to hiding in mattresses. These critters can hitch to work on staffers who have an at-home infestation and haven’t learned how to remove bed bugs properly. They can also enter the building through packages. 

If people around the office have bites, it’s a sign you might have bed bugs. It could also be fleas or cable bugs. 

In the case of bed bugs, you can seek out supplementary signs to confirm your suspicions. Look closely at chairs, into the edges of carpets, behind electrical sockets and inside any plush office furnishings. If you see the little insects, then you’ll know for sure where the bites are coming from. 

Scratching or Rustling Sounds

Have you heard something suspicious coming from behind the office walls? Perhaps you’ve heard scratching or squeaking. Sometimes, it’s the rustle of movement behind the facade or footsteps echoing across the ceiling. 

Any indication of movement is a major red flag — you probably have a pest infestation. In most cases, the sounds you hear come from rodents or small mammals. It’d be hard to hear ants or termites moving around, but it’s clear when raccoons or rodents are scurrying around. 

Unsavory Smells

Although you can’t always hear insects infesting your office, you can sometimes smell them. 

Take bed bugs, for example. They take on a strong musty smell. Meanwhile, cockroaches have an oily aroma. 

Even mice can be identified by their smell. The small rodents can give off the scent of ammonia. So, if you haven’t been doing any deep cleaning recently, that smell could be coming from mice. 

Bug or Rodent Sightings

Finally, and most obviously, if you see pests in the office, then you probably have a bigger problem. 

Let’s say the last person to leave the office at night sees a cockroach on the breakroom floor. Or maybe someone spotted a rat running across the parking lot and into the building. 

There’s a very good chance that sightings like these aren’t isolated incidents — where there’s one pest, there are usually more. 

The same goes for dead pests. Even if they aren’t alive when you find them, you should still consider the insect or rodent bodies to be a sign of a bigger problem. 

How Can I Prevent an Office Pest Infestation?

None of the above sounds good. So, you want to do all you can to prevent an office pest infestation — or avoid another one in the future. Here are the steps you should take: 

Follow a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Having a clean office space will ward off many of the common insects and rodents that come in looking for food. 

Make sure you do the following every day to keep things clean and crumb-free: 

  • Vacuum all floors, area rugs and mats
    • Mop hard floors with a disinfecting solution
  • Wipe away any stains on floors, carpets, furniture, walls, baseboards and other surfaces
  • Dust tabletops and other surfaces
    • Follow up with a disinfectant
  • Empty all trash cans and replace the liners
  • Sanitize the bathrooms and all surfaces, including the hand dryer, countertops, towel dispensers, sink basins, etc. 

On top of that, you should perform these tasks weekly: 

  • Use disinfectant wipes to clean desks, phones, keyboards and other routinely touched objects
  • Dust cubicle walls, desks, cabinets, vents, window sills, ledges and other debris-collecting surfaces

And, finally, the following cleaning jobs should be done monthly: 

  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Vacuum plush furniture and office chairs, as well as fans, vents and any hard-to-reach areas where dust gathers
  • Check pipes for any leaks and repair as needed
  • Wash and re-hang curtains

Of course, you can’t do this all alone. 

Rope Everyone In

To make your pest prevention a success, everyone in the office has to contribute. 

So, you could make your staff responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their workspace at the end of each week. There should be office rules for how to use and clean up the breakroom. Crumb-covered countertops or overflowing trashcans won’t cut it if you’re hoping to perform office pest control.

It’s to everyone’s benefit that the office stays clean and pest-free. So, making them aware of the potential problems with a dirty workspace should be enough to get them to eat, drink and clean up responsibly. 

Close the Gaps

Any cracks in the exterior of your office building will let pests in. Think about it this way: a mouse can slip in a hole the diameter of a pen. Meanwhile, rats can get in through a mere 20-millimeter opening

So, inspect the outside of your office building to pinpoint any holes or cracks. Then, fill them in with caulk or cover them with wire mesh. You can also fill in holes with steel wool. 

Store Food Securely

It’s great to have office snacks available for the team. But you won’t want them around anymore if you find out they’re contributing to a pest problem. 

So, store all snacks and food in airtight containers. And make your staff follow the same rules with the snacks and meals they store at their desks. 

Check the Pipes

We touched on this in the suggested cleaning regimen, but it’s vital that you stay on top of any plumbing leaks. Otherwise, standing water will attract pests and thwart your office pest control program. 

Cockroaches, ants and other unwanted visitors are just as attracted by standing water as they are food crumbs. So, make sure the pipework is tight and leak-free — regular checks should keep it that way.

Office Pest Control: Bring in the Pros

Of course, prevention doesn’t work if you already have an office pest infestation. Sometimes, once you’ve made your pests identification, it’s best to call in the pros to handle it. 

An exterminator can get rid of a pressing pest problem. They can also bulk up the above advice to help you prevent bugs or rodents from returning. They’ll know your building’s setup and your particular issue with pests — and that will help them make a custom list of suggestions. 

Then, it’ll be up to you to keep things clean and stay vigilant against pests. Together, you and your team can get rid of office bugs — and keep them away for good. 

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