Persnickety Pests…Continued!

In “Know Your Enemy” by Rachel O’Connell, SN’s editorial assistant, readers receive a pest-by-pest refresher on why and how to banish the worst-of-the-worst in order to keep serving the best-of-the-best. This To Your Credit article in April 2018’s issue covers rats, mice, cockroaches and flies, but we know there are more types of pests you might need to control, which is why this online content includes advice for birds, stinging pests (like wasps) and ants.


You might think that birds are at their worst when they fly in, unexpected, and wreak havoc on your cafeteria, your time and your patience. But, even before they’re flown through your windows, bird have likely taken roost in your building or ventilation system—the worst part of which is that they are carriers of over 60 transmittable diseases, including Salmonella! They are also carriers of fleas, ticks, lice and mites (talk about pests on pests!).

It is important, regardless of these facts, to be exceedingly careful when approaching pest control of birds. Many birds are protected species and it is best to be safe (especially because common removal includes climbing on ladders) and call a pest removal service. Make sure to specify a need for foodsafe means of removal when inside your operation.

In the meantime:

  • Eliminate standing water that birds will use to feed. This includes ensuring gutters are cleaned.
  • Make sure any open trash cans are covered.
  • Never feed the birds.

Stinging Pests

Stinging pests are a serious issue, particularly with rampant allergy concerns. These concerns increase with outdoor cookouts and eating areas favored by many students. Whether a bee, yellow jacket or stinging ant, these critters should be contained as soon as a nest is identified. And, given the tendency of these insects to swarm, it should be done by a professional. In the United States, more people die each year from insect stings than from poisonous snake bites.

You should:

  • Make sure there is no panic if others are in the vicinity of the nest and that all other people (students, staff, etc.) are cleared away.
  • If anyone was harmed by an insect, proceed with emergency protocol immediately.
  • Many honey bees are now protected. You may need to contain the area and consult with an expert bee keeper if a honey bee nest is found.


There are many different types of ants: Carpenter, Fire, Ghost, Pavement, Pharaoh, Argentine, Odorous House, Leafcutter, and more. They are social creatures that thrive in colonies—so you won’t be successful killing just one at a time, especially because ants lay down a chemical pheromone trail along pre-established routes to and from their food sources so that other ants can follow the “pheromone brick road.” Therefore, you, as a future ant-killer, must first determine where the source of food is.

Carpenter ants, for instance, like termites, snack on wood. You will be able to spot them around damaged wood or wood piles very easily. Once you have identified the type of ant you are dealing with, you will be more equipped to develop an appropriate control strategy, i.e. ants that live outside and forage inside can be controlled by re-caulking, whereas ants that have nested inside might need ant baits.

If you are already calling in an exterminator for one problem, you might be able to bundle in a solution to an ant infestation; however, since most ants are not dangerous, you can easily provide some solutions yourself, such as previously mentioned ant baits. Ant baits are safe to use and lure a variety of species. Similar to fly baits, the ants are tricked into believing these baits are food and carry the poison back to the colony, doing the dirty work for you. But keep in mind that you should not get rid of the baits just because you no longer see ants. For more information, read this article from Do-It-Yourself Pest Control on “How to Get Rid of Ants.”

Contact Us

2900 S. Quincy Street, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22206  

Tel (703) 824-3000
Fax (703) 824-3015

> For The Media
> Work With US

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Read the latest news and developments facing the school nutrition industry, as well as stay on top of important trends and resources.


> Read the Latest Newsletters

SNA State Associations

The School Nutrition Association has a presence in every state across the country. View links to many of the state associations to find out more about what SNA is doing nationwide. 

> Learn More