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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 449 (425)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 449
Page 449

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 449

Effective Pest Control in Theatres

The Various Kinds of Troublemakers Are Discussed With Appropriate Remedial Treatments Prescribed

There is probably no other single factor in theatre operation as destructive to prestige, reputation, and goodwill as the presence of Hbuggy seatsfl vermininfested rest rooms, and rats or mice that roam the aisles. The movieegoing public, while more tolerant in the days of the nickelodeon, today rightfully expects to enjoy a show in surroundings that are entirely free of pests. It has been proven time and time again that any theatre which rashly permits the existence of such unsanitary conditions suffers a severe loss at the boxoflice.

Due to the very nature of their structure, theatres always have been, and always will be, desirable homesites for a large variety of filthy, uninvited ifguests." Nearly always in semi-darkness, heated in winter, and comfortable in summer, the average house offers innumerable nesting areas for disagreeable pests that violate all rules of sanitation and inflict damage running into thousands of dollars on equipment and furnishings. In view of the heavy financial losses from pest depredations, it is imperative that theatre operators be acquainted with measures to prevent their appearance, be able to recognize signs of their presence, and know how to combat them successfully.


According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, there are over 600,000 different species of insects, plus many varieties of rodents, which prey on man, destroy stored foods, and sometimes carry deadly diseases. Not all of these types, of course, plague the theatre, but a sufiicient number of them crop up in places of amusement to cause plenty of trouble. Among the varieties of pests which are most often encountered in theatres are the following: rats and mice; bedbugs, fleas, ticks, and lice; cockroaches, moths, and carpet beetles; termites, flies, and mosquitoes.

Both migratory and flying pests enter the theatre through exit doors, pipe openings, and other types of convenient access; vermin and insects are often carried in by patrons; and merchandise containers, such as candy cases, offer another popular means of entry.


Since few structures offer more coinfortable living quarters for rats and mice than theatres, they occur more frequently than any other type of pest in motion picture, houses. Although theatres which are located near food stores, meat, fruit, and Vegetable markets, and restaurants are usually particularly subJect to rodent infestation, these troublesome creatures will invade any house where food and water are obtainable and convenient harborage available.



Vice-President, Extcrnlinating Services Corporation

One of the finest homesites for rodents are the tunnels under the floors of many theatres. Electrical, telephone, heating, and water pipe lines often found here are extremely liable to be infested with these pests. Food is frequently delivered to these subterranean marauders through return, unscreened air vents when floors are swept.

Rodents may be kept out of or exterminated in underdoor lairs by periodic cleaning of all pipe lines, tunnels, ducts, and utility lines, and by regular inspections of boiler rooms, storerooms, and all portions of the basement. Any worthless refuse should be immediately discarded, for it not only provides excellent rodent harborage, but constitutes a dangerous hre hazard as well.

Inasmuch as drinking water and food are as essential to rodent as they are to human life, all sources of supply should be effectively blocked off. In the first connection, all leaking faucets and pipe lines should be repaired, for a thirsty rodent cannot survive indefinitely with its water supply cut off completely.

Secondly, every possible step should be taken to eliminate food by: furnishing covered receptacles for its disposal; thorough vacuum cleaning under radiators, seats, in corners, and other places where food scraps may lodge; tightly enclosing refreshment stand stockrooms with snug fitting doors and windows; elevating reserve foodstuffs on platforms

BRIEF: Clean and healthful . . . as well as attractive . . . surroundings are essential requisites for any theatre which purports to be modern in the true sense of the word . . . Few patrons will ever return to a house where they have noted unsanitary conditions . . . especially those which give rise to pests of any description . . . aml will not hesitate to voice their disgust to their friends . . . One rodent or insect can drive away a dozen customers . . . to say nothing of the damage inflicted on theatre properly by such marauders.

Prevention through good housekeeping . . . particularly around sources of food . . . is the first step in combutting the pest problem . . . but the theatre operator must also know what measures to take when. destructive invaders have already gained a foothold in his house . . . The followng article points out the types of pests most likely to harass theatres . . . suitable means of dealing with them . . . and the invaluable assistance which the professional exterminator can offer in preventing: and destroying infestations.


at least eight inches above the door; and inspecting merchandise cartons for any possible rat or mouse lairs.

Other rodent-proofing measures include sealing off all possible points of entry around foundation walls, pipes, doors that are not flush with the saddles or door surfaces, broken windows, etc., with a good cement mix, plaster of paris, sheet tin, or wire mesh, and a thorough periodic cleaning of the entire theatre premises to do away with all refuse on which rodents thrive.

As a final note of caution, the theatre operator should avoid control measures involving the use of dangerous toxic poisons which only a professional expert should handle. For example, there recently has been considerable propaganda to the effect that discharges of ozone will repel rodent life, but it has been proved by reliable authorities that its use may be hazardous to health.

Insects and Vermin

The presence of these pests also offers a formidable challenge to sanitary theatre operation, so they must be dealt with as severely as rodents. No respecters of people or places, insects and vermin are as likely to invade the largest and finest theatres as they are smaller houses. As a matter of fact, seats in theatres with continuous shows that are occupied five times or more per day are quite liable to have more pests than those in houses with a smaller audience turnover.

Bedbugs and LiceeSince the reddishbrown, oval-shaped bedbug likes to hide in cracks and crevices and flourishes near sources of human blood, theatre seats are made to order for this type of pest, frequently found in arm rests, backs, and crevices between the upholstery andithe seat bottom. Lapped-over corners of the fabric, metal hat racks, and seat vent openings may also secrete bedbugs.

White egg deposits, brown excreta, and characteristic odor are telltale signs of bedbug breeding grounds. In addition to seats, loge divans, upholstered lobby furniture, and rest rooms are also favorite roosting places.

Immediate and thorough measures should be instituted to control bedbugs. Treatment by a professional exterminator is recommended, but, if a theatre operator is bent upon doing his own work, he should use a good mechanical sprayer and one of the Standard brand insecticides. Seats should be treated after the last show at night, or not less than five hours before the next days first performance, with a practically odorless, quick-drying, non-staining chemical solution. Spraying with any unproven liquid containing an acid or other chemical irritant may turn out to be more dis
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 449