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Office Pests – Does Your Building Have Them?

By Chris Williams on October 7, 2015.

What kinds of office pests might be hiding in our workplace? Our office manager says he is going to have an exterminator come in to take a look. Some of my co-workers say they have seen bugs, but I don’t understand how there could be a bug problem in an office space.

W. L., Londonderry, NH

Think about it. Offices pests find their way in, just as they would in any other building, or employees or visitors bring the pests in with their belongings. A floor in an office building is kind of like a tiny community, perhaps with neighboring communities above and below. A suite of offices offers many of the same amenities as a home, just with a different layout. Offices are subject to infestation from just about any pest that you can imagine. All office pests require to survive and reproduce anywhere is food, water, and hiding places. Offices can provide all of that. There are bathrooms for moisture, probably a kitchen or break area with a microwave, refrigerator, and food crumbs. Maybe even spillage from soda and vending machines, drawers with snack food, and no shortage of garbage.

Even Bed Bugs Can Be Office Pests

One thing offices don’t have is beds (usually), yet that doesn’t stop bed bugs from becoming temporary office pests in certain settings (see Bed Bugs in Offices!). Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers and are carried in on the belongings of visitors or employees, but almost never establish a breeding population in offices. Yet, the people and the blood are there and bed bugs that find themselves in offices will attempt to feed on employees if possible.

The Most Likely Office Pests

1. Ants – Tiny ants like pharaoh ants or thief ants can be very happy in offices year round where they nest in spaces such as behind baseboards, in cabinets, or behind switch plates…and feed on whatever crumbs they can find. They have multiple nests and can pick up and move their nest quickly if disturbed (see Tiny Pharaoh Ants Are Difficult to Control).

2. German cockroach – This is our number one cockroach pest in homes so why wouldn’t it follow us to our offices? Cockroaches are introduced in shipments or in personal belongings and end up in break rooms or bathrooms, or wherever food is stored or eaten (see Why Cockroaches Are So Successful).

3. Small flies – Fruit flies that feed on fermenting or decaying foods are common in offices because workers store fruit in their desks, soda cans are not rinsed out, and garbage bags leak. Drain flies or phorid flies can show up in janitorial closets, compactor rooms, bathrooms, and near floor or sink drains. (see Tracking Down Indoor Gnats)

4. Silverfish – Silverfish are common occupants of offices due to the large quantities of stored papers, books, and files. Silverfish like starchy foods and chew on glued or gummed surfaces, or the starchy surfaces on some papers (see Silverfish Infestations – Finding the “Hot Spots”)

5. Mice – Office buildings offer everything that a mouse could need (see Mice in Offices). In fact, since offices are relatively empty for more than half of the day, mice can move around freely, sampling snack foods in many locations and leaving piles of droppings.

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