With heightened concerns around the spread of disease following COVID-19, the last thing your diners want to worry about is an increased health risk.
Warmer weather often entices patrons to visit restaurants, especially in the summertime when vacationers are scoping out new scenes. Not all of these visitors, however, benefit your bottom line. Mosquitoes, the unwanted guest, also thrive in the summer months.
While their high-pitched buzzing is annoyance enough, mosquitoes can also spread diseases through their bites. They can transmit dangerous diseases, including chikungunya, dengue, encephalitis, malaria, West Nile virus, Yellow fever and Zika virus. In fact, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest creatures on earth. More deaths have been reported as a result of their bites than any other animal.
With heightened concerns around the spread of disease following COVID-19, the last thing your diners want to worry about is an increased health risk. Plus, in the wake of social distancing, diners may be more likely to opt for outdoor seating areas to avoid close contact with other guests, making a mosquito problem all the more disturbing.
Once mosquitoes settle in your restaurant space, they’re likely to stay there for a while. They are short-distance flyers and are only able to travel about 100-200 feet at a time. They live their whole life within this short range. And, since a single female mosquito can lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime, a mosquito presence can quickly multiply.
It’s hard to enjoy a meal while dodging pests. From patio dining to rooftop bars, these outdoor amenities, which typically add value to your business, can leave your employees and customers exposed. Fortunately, there are steps your restaurant can take to help mitigate a potential mosquito problem. Consider the following tips to help protect your employees and diners from their itchy, and potentially dangerous, bites.
Minimize standing water
Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, but it only takes a few millimeters—that’s about the size of a thimble. This makes paying careful attention to potential water sources critical. Additions meant to make your guests more comfortable during hot summer months, such as water misters, could help contribute to the conditions that attract these pests. To help limit standing water around your restaurant:
Empty places where water may collect after it rains, such as in recycling and garbage bins.
Pay attention to the less obvious sources of standing water around your restaurant, including gutters, buckets, saucers under planters and flowerpots and other containers.
Involve your pest management professional if you have any ponds or fountains by your restaurant. They can inspect and treat the water with products that use insect growth regulators or bacteria to help disrupt the early stages of the mosquito life cycle.
Evaluate your environment
When not searching for a meal, mosquitoes rest in shaded areas such as crowns of trees, thick bushes and sewer and storm drains. This means certain elements of the area surrounding your restaurant, like landscaping and lighting, could also attract mosquitoes. Keeping these choices in mind is a simple method of mosquito management. For example:
Reduce existing adult mosquito populations by cleaning up overgrown vegetation. Thin out heavy vegetation and trim bushes and branches back from around your patio to eliminate potential sources of food and shelter.
Avoid attracting mosquitoes by replacing outdoor light bulbs with yellow bulbs. These are less attractive to mosquitoes than LED or fluorescent bulbs, which tend to draw mosquitoes near.
Keep air flowing
Since mosquitoes are weak flyers, they have a hard time flying against wind. You can mimic the effects of wind by increasing airflow in and around your restaurant. Investing in these technologies not only keeps air moving to help deter these weak fliers but also cools off diners as an added bonus. To maximize airflow in your restaurant:
Consider mounting overhead fans above your patio and electric fans around the perimeter of the patio to keep the air moving.
Install air curtains near entrances and exits. Air curtains are fans that help protect your diners by creating a wall of air that mosquitoes can’t fly through.
Work with an HVAC professional to create positive airflow in the building. When doors open, air should push flying insects out, rather than sucking them back into the building.
You may also consider going the extra mile by keeping an EPA-registered repellent on hand and available for diners and employees that contains one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.
Show that your business cares about the wellbeing and safety of its customers and employees by implementing these mosquito prevention strategies.
And remember, if you notice a mosquito population around your restaurant, alert your pest management provider immediately. The faster your provider can identify the issue, the sooner it can be resolved—and the faster your diners can get back to enjoying their drinks on the patio.
Glen Ramsey is a Senior Technical Services Manager for Orkin. He is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of training and education, operations, and marketing. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orkincommercial.com.