PEST CONTROL MYTHOLOGY
The pest control industry isn’t as it really seems or how it wants you to believe it is. In many cases, companies just spray baseboards around the inside of a house on a monthly schedule and call that pest control. That is a gimmick and is not pest control, it is pesticide pollution. When I started in the business over 40 years ago I asked my boss why we sprayed baseboards. He told me it was to kill time in a customer’s house so they thought they were getting their money’s worth. Other companies spray pesticides around the outside perimeter of a home on a regular basis, and it is also a gimmick. The pesticides outside will break down long before they are reapplied and in many cases, they kill more beneficial insects and other arthropods than they kill pests. I have had people tell me that they find more dead praying mantids in their yard then dead roaches. The pest control industry will just consider that collateral damage. If companies routinely spray pesticides inside and outside as I described, it is a fact that they have no idea what they are doing about pest control but are focusing on generating income.
In reality, pests don’t have meetings to decide how they can attack your house and come in and terrorize you. They are occasional invaders and if they come in and find spilled food or something else they like, they will stay.
What a competent pest control company will do is to come in and inspect your house. Then they will inspect the entire perimeter of your house. If you have a crawl space and / or an accessible attic, they will inspect those areas. If they find pests or evidence of pests, they will develop non-toxic methods of controlling them. This could be baits in the case of roaches or ants and diatomaceous earth other cases. If you have fruit flies, a glass of vinegar will work. If you have fungus gnats, drying out the plants will work. If you have rodents, traps will work. Rodenticides are never necessary and they can cause more problems than the rodents. If a rodent dies from rodenticides and the body isn’t accessible, then any ectoparasites (fleas or mites) on the rodent will leave the dead body and can bite people or pets, and in some cases cause the plague. Plus they will stink.
If an infestation of pests is found, they can be treated with EPA Exempt pesticides which are safe for people and pets but effectively kills arthropods. The pest control industry doesn’t like EPA Exempt pesticides because they don’t have a long residual life which they like in case they don’t kill all the pests on the initial visit.
The pesticides the pest control industry uses are mostly synthetic pyrethroids. All the pesticides they use have Signal words, either Caution or Warning. A pesticide with a Caution label is available in stores. A pesticide with a Warning label can only be applied by certified applicators. Both are toxic and neither one should be used in homes or public buildings. They may not make you sick right away, but the pesticides can build up in your system and cause problems months or years later. That is why I always recommend EPA Exempt pesticides. The EPA doesn’t require them to have a Signal word because they are considered safe for people and pets.
A good, competent pest technician will be able to find most of the pests and kill them with EPA Exempt pesticides and then use baits or DE to control any they may have missed. Of course, this will mean they don’t have to come back and the main focus of the pest control industry is to make repeated visits so they can generate income. When I worked for a large company many years ago, they told us to tell potential customers that the pesticide lasts 30 days so we would have to spray it every 30 days to be effective. Of course, that is nonsense, but many companies use the same make believe reasoning to justify their spray and pray methods (spray pesticides and pray you kill something). Some companies even want you to sign contracts so they can spray regularly on a calendar basis. Never sign such a contract.
When a good company does an inspection, they will make notes of any areas in or around your home where pests can hide or come in and make recommendations on how to fix them. Basically, close the doors so they can’t walk or fly in.
Pest control is simply about pest proofing your home to make sure the insects or arthropods can’t just wander in. Keep your home clean so you don’t attract them and if some do get in, they won’t feel welcome. Don’t leave lights on at night unless it is necessary as the lights will attract insects. Basically, that is all you need to do, and if you find pests, you can use baits, traps and, if necessary, EPA Exempt pesticides to control them. The only time you really need a pest control company is if you have termites or wood destroying insects or stinging insects such as yellowjackets. If you want to use a pest control company for ants or roaches, have them do as I suggested and if they refuse, call another company, and another, and another until you find one that is competent and willing to work with you safely and effectively.