As air travel is expected to grow significantly in the years to come, the risks from pests – better known as imported pests – is set to grow. Pests have travelled with man since antiquity, and air travel has made it easier than ever before for foreign pests to travel to new countries and continents where there may not be any natural predators. More importantly, the transport of pests could introduce new diseases to these countries.
Pests in airplanes can be categorised into two groups:
- Nuisance pests: In a confined area such as an airplane, nuisance pests can cause alarm to passengers, which can be dangerous when combined with insecurities such as claustrophobia or fear of flying. The presence of locusts or crickets, praying mantis, and even scorpions has been documented on airplanes.
- Public pests: These are of more concern in the airline industry. They include the following:
- Cockroaches: Infestations of cockroaches can be transferred from aircraft galley to food carts and vice versa. This increases the risk of spread of pathogens such as food poisoning organisms.
- Rodents: Rats and mice can be introduced through containers which makes their detection difficult. They can cause damage to aircraft systems by gnawing at wiring or other sensitive equipment, compromising air safety. They can transmit serious vector diseases to humans, either directly or indirectly via fleas.
- Bedbugs: These have been found in upholstery and carpeting of aircraft. They are blamed for various skin diseases and can introduce pathogens to the body
- Mosquitoes: These are among the most serious imported pests and can transmit malaria and several arboviruses (dengue, yellow fever, etc.), not only to passengers but to whole communities on arrival to their new destination.
In the past, pest control for mosquitoes in airlines was practiced by using spray-type pesticides administered usually by the crew once passengers had boarded and the doors were closed. This method has been abandoned as it led to respiratory complaints, asthma and other ailments.
Defon Pest Management & Hygiene, as part of its IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program, offers effective methods of Residual Disinsection technology that are completely safe for application in airplanes, covering not only mosquitoes but other arthropods as well.
Residual Disinsection is applied diligently and meticulously by trained personnel in localised, specific locations in the aircraft with pesticides that are safe for people, as well as for metals, plastics and paints to meet aviation safety standards.
Defon also covers aircrafts for rodent control.