By Scott Young
When most people think of Pest Control, they think of the “exterminator” who applies big clouds of toxic chemicals. While this image was fairly accurate many years ago, the Pest Control industry has changed dramatically:
1. The 1st major change was through regulation and the banning of the most “toxic” and “harmful” chemical products such as DDT, diazinon and dursban.
2. The 2nd major change was a movement within the industry to the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). There are several key elements to IPM:
> Minimize the use of chemicals through targeted chemical application (focusing on crack and crevices where insects live and breed).
> Focusing regular service on the exterior of structures where most pests originate, which will pro-actively keep them out of the structure and minimize the required use of chemicals inside.
> Utilize non-chemical treatments such as sealing up entry points, placement of monitoring devices such as glue traps, and reducing food and water sources.
3. The latest change is the creation of “effective” green and organic products. The products vary widely. Some are truly “organic” and are made of things like orange peel oil extract while others are more “green” in nature like baits that minimize chemical exposure.
Many pest control companies have created Green pest control programs by utilizing the above changes. Unfortunately, like most industries now utilizing the “green” term for marketing purposes, there is a lot of different “shades of green”. Some programs only utilize Organic pest control products, while others focus more on inspection and treat with chemicals only when necessary.
What is the right “shade of green” for your property? My personal opinion is that good sense should prevail. You should always look for a professional company that practices IPM in all their programs. Then it really depends on your tolerance to pests. If you do not want any pest issues, then a true Organic program is probably not right for you. This does not mean you go back to “clouds” of toxic chemicals. There are many products produced now with chemistries targeting only insects and have little to no effect on mammals (they focus on the exoskeleton of insects). In addition, a professional company can utilize baits and target their treatment with minimum chemical application. Although the programs can vary, below are some basics that they should all include.
A good “green” program should consist of the following:
1. Inspections: Always start with a thorough inspection including monitoring stations to find the source and to learn where to target treatments.
2. Conducive Condition reports: provide information/feedback that describe areas that need to be fixed to reduce potential pest problems such as high moisture around the perimeter of the structure due excessive watering, trash areas that are not clean or overflowing, gaps around windows or doors that insects can enter through.
3. List specific products: the Service Ticket should show specific products that were used. If you have concerns about the toxicity of any of the products, the company can send you the product label or should be able to answer any questions. Some pests (like fire or carpenter ants) can be difficult to control with organic products, so many “green” programs make exceptions for them, but they should still only be used in crack or crevice areas inside.
4. Establishing a partnership: IPM will not work without proper inspection, reporting, and cooperation of the property owner. Conducive conditions must be reported and remedied to minimize the pest pressure which will result in less chemicals used on site.
So ultimately the term “Green Pest Control” is not an oxymoron, but the level of green depends on the program implemented.