[Technical Hints] Hot Spots!

Features - Technically Speaking

Restaurants can harbor some notorious locations for pests to hide — here’s what you can do to find them.

January 28, 2014
Larry Pinto & Sandra Kraft

Editor’s Note: The following was adapted from Techletter, a biweekly publication from Pinto & Associates, Mechanicsville, Md. To subscribe, visit www.techletter.com or call 301/884-3020

Restaurants, maybe more than other sites, are loaded with pest “hot spots” — those pockets of roaches or flies that you’ve missed, or places where treatment was ineffective because of poor sanitation, structural problems or unusual conditions.

What follows is a list of restaurant trouble spots that should be checked during each visit.

Floor Drains. Kitchen workers often clean up by mopping food debris into floor drains. These drains should be flushed clean every night, but rarely are. Drains also should have grates or screens. Food and crud in the drains provide food for cockroaches, fruit flies and drain flies. A lip around the inside of many floor drains provides a hiding place for roaches.

Refrigeration. Refrigeration equipment provides many things pests look for in a hiding spot: warmth around compressors; moisture from condensation and clogged drains; food from spills, scum and mold; and harborage inside motor houses — in the case of walk-in refrigeration units, inside wall voids, false floors and false ceilings. Carry the tools necessary to inspect motors and voids inside refrigeration units at each visit. Install sticky traps as pest monitors.

Portable Tray Racks. In cafeterias, plastic trays are stored horizontally in wheeled tray racks. The tray racks are themselves stored together, usually in a separate room or section. Often they’re left unwashed overnight, full of spilled soft drinks and food waste. Tray racks are rarely steam-cleaned as often as they should be, and provide food and hiding places for cockroaches.

Soft Drink Storage. Spills and leaks of sweet syrup from lines leading to soda dispensers provide high-energy food for cockroaches and fruit flies. Compressors provide warmth. Soft drink equipment needs to be kept clean and drip-free.

Unused Equipment. Every kitchen has an old dough mixer or oven that has been out of commission for as long as anyone can remember. Unused equipment might be hidden under a drop cloth or used for storage and becomes “invisible” to the cleaning crew and pest control technician. It needs to be cleaned and inspected so that it doesn’t become a quiet harborage for pests like cockroaches.

Dishwashing Machinery. Whether located in a separate dish room or in the kitchen, dishwashing machinery is the core of many pest problems. High temperature and humidity are conducive conditions for cockroaches, and along with detergents, will quickly break down most pesticides.

Dishwashing machinery is full of nooks and crannies where food debris can accumulate, which might not be cleaned up by the restaurant’s night crew. Worse, dirty dishes are sometimes left for morning cleanup. In the evening, cockroaches and mice come out of their hiding places in machinery, table legs, pipe runs, drop ceilings, door frames and wall voids to feast on the day’s scraps.


The authors are co-owners of Pinto & Associates, Mechanicsville, Md.