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Viren R Merchant, Director, PCAMB India

When ‘pest control’ has evolved and advanced to ‘integrated pest management’, why do curative practices to tackle infestations still form the mainstay of pest management? How can preventive measures prove superior to curative ones? How exactly can facilities plug gaps and bar entry to select, unwanted, non-human visitors?
With 20+ years of experience in professional IPM and certified Level 1 & 2 on IPM in Food Plants from AIB Inc (USA), Viren R Merchant, Director, PCAMB India has all the answers.

IPM = Prevention

We have over the decades heard that ‘Prevention is better than Cure’. From health to wealth management, property maintenance to software system maintenance, prevention assumes critical significance. However, despite IPM services having ‘pest prevention’ as their main postulate, there is a significant gap in the understanding and implementation of the same in the Indian property management space today.

Globally in the developed world, pest prevention is the crux of a pest management services program for any structure. The development and maintenance management policies in mature developed countries include Integrated Pest Management and preventive pest management as part of their guidelines.

Many pests that find their way into one’s business or home can spread disease or cause damage to the structure/interiors, inflicting a monetary consequence. Pest prevention therefore should not be perceived as an act of offloading responsibility to the property owner by the service vendor, but rather as genuine expertise in honestly conveying the necessities of protecting one’s property from the impact of pests!

Preventing access

The pests we try to prevent predate human existence. Our human egos result in hypothetical expectations of a ‘zero pest world’ or total elimination of pests, while we consciously hibernate on the concept of implementing pest prevention in our properties. As we imbibe and adopt newer technologies in our structures & properties, simple physical intervention towards restricting common pest access into our facilities significantly enhances the sustainability and well-being of both our properties & the occupants.

Practical practices

Pest prevention strategies are straightforward and rather common sense practices, utilising the knowledge of pest behaviours, then identifying their likely ingress sources into structures and subsequently implementing physical deterrence in restricting them.

The common shafts, ducts, electrical cabling, lift wells, AHU networks, and air conditioning ducting are some of the common pest travel preferences within a structure, in their quest for food & shelter. It’s very ironic that we have a proclivity to create grand welcoming entrances to our structures and yet we procrastinate on restricting the free-flow of mosquitoes & flies into our dwellings. Our beautifully designed edifices need the backing of pest prevention implementation for them to be sustainable and also prevent detrimental impact from pest activity.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) provides the IS 6313 guidelines for preventing and protecting from termite impact, which is critical as these foragers need just approximately 1/60th of an inch to pass through! Similarly, rodents can squeeze through less than a tiny finger-width space and transgress into a facility, causing damage to fixtures and equipment, and cut wires/cables resulting in short circuits and fires.

Cockroaches (especially Blattella germanica)are known to be proficient hitchhikers that gain entry through supplies, stores and packing materials and can trigger asthmatic reactions or food poisoning concerns in our facilities.

Design-stage interventions

All stakeholders involved in the planning, design, construction, remodeling or retrofit of structures should be aware of the necessity for long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems.

Pest prevention will reduce overall costs of pest control operations, as well as other maintenance and operating expenses. Without doubt, the best stage to implement pest preventive strategies is the planning phase while the property is being constructed or developed.

This also means that certain structural design modifications are pertinent, if they are to prevent pest harbourage. It is most effective, sustainable and economical if pest prevention is implemented at the time of developing a property or space.

Finally, the world is not just for the survival of the fittest, but also for the smartest! Because, pests don’t read memos or signages of ‘No Entry’; they need to be prevented where they are not wanted.

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