Fighting pests with technology and design

Food, warmth and light are the biggest attractors of pests to hotels. Cleaning up and sealing the building tightly are logical fixes for the first two problems, but hotels need exterior lights for illumination, often placing insects directly in the path of guests. This need not be the case. Pat Hottel, technical director and board certified entomologist for McCloud Services, said yellow-tinged sodium vapor lights are better than blue mercury vapor lights because insects are not as attracted to them.

“[Light-emitting diode] lighting is a fairly recent innovation but it can have the same difference in light spectrums,” she said. If a hotel is looking at specs, sodium vapor lighting often operates around 600 nanometers of brightness. “Trying to match your LED to the spectrum of sodium vapor lights is worth it, because insects prefer the tinge of traditional LEDs.”

Hottel said that mercury vapor lighting does in fact have a place outside hotels: Far away from guests in the parking lot. This can pull pests away from areas close to the structure, out of sight. Also, mounting lights on poles that face your property as opposed to having lights directly on the building can achieve the same effect for close-range illumination.

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Ron Harrison, technical services director for Orkin, brought up another design issues: Air pressure. Harrison said to investigate the air pressure at the entrance of your hotel to see if it is keeping bugs out or bringing them in.

“If air pressure is positive it will push a moth or fly away rather than pull them in,” Harrison said. “It’s something to be conscious of in design.”