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Think like an insect during your inspection

By Dr. Austin Frishman, Ph.D.

Those who know me have heard me say “think like an insect.” If you can put yourselves inside their minds, think about what types of environments they prefer and even how they smell, you have a much better chance of finding them.

Here are a few examples of my inspection tips and why they work:

  • Gently blow on loose food materials (like flour or cereal) on a horizontal ledge. As you do so, the wind will blow the food base away, but the insect larvae within the base will grab hold of the horizontal surface to stay attached.

  • Listen. When all is quiet in a dark space, you can hear insects chirping. Once you hear them, start looking upward with a strong flashlight.

  • Smell deeply. Odors coming off a rancid surface can alert you to potential breeding areas for a myriad of fly species. When looking for German and American cockroaches, the odor each gives off is distinct, and you can determine the species before you ever see them.

  • When entering a dark room, keep the light off and search with a flashlight. If you find pests, go back or turn the lights on and watch where the insects or rodents scurry. They will lead you right to where they harbor.

  • From within a room, stand back about 10 feet from any exit and look for places where light may be coming through. This can help you determine how insects can get inside.

  • Learn to look at air and open space. Your eyes are accustomed to looking at solids, but flying insects fly through space. This can help find small flying insects that no one else sees.

  • In residential homes, ask children where they’ve seen pests coming from. They are more aware because they take the time to look.

  • In commercial accounts, find out who the first employee to start work in the morning is, and ask them if they’ve seen pests entering inside. They are the ones who turn the lights on and see pests before anyone else.

  • When shining a flashlight, do not shine it perpendicular to a wall, but at an angle. This will help you look at a much larger surface and see more.

  • In hot, dry spaces, look for moist areas where water is the limiting factor. Pests gravitate to these areas.

  • Follow lines and cracks that stem to and from a structure. Ant trails are often forged on the surface of lines like sidewalks, fence posts or tree roots.

  • Gently pulling up the edge of a full-room carpet often pinpoints where ants are trailing. You do not need to pull up the entire carpet, but just small sections about one to two feet long.

Stay tuned as I continue to list “think like an insect” inspection themes over the next few months.

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