Pest Control Chemicals
Summary: There are numerous types of pest control chemicals sold. Some do a better job than others, but the trick to effective pesticide applications is to identify your target pest and make sure it is listed on the label of the product you are buying.
“I want the stuff that the pros use.” That is a familiar statement made every day in hardware and lawn and garden stores across the country. People want the “strong stuff” to knock out every bug that dare venture within a hundred yards of their property. Funny thing is, pest control professionals don't have access to anything special. They just do a much better job of putting the chemicals where the pests are hiding.
So, what's the trick? Again, there is nothing special. Pest control pros are required by state laws to know something about the pests they are hired to
control. They have to be able to identify a pest in various stages of its life, know what it eats, where it nests, when and how it reproduces and understand what types of chemicals best control it. Lots of this knowledge comes from text books, video training, classroom time and state-run certification programs. In fact, the training is never-ending. Hours of annual retraining are mandatory in all states. After a few years of service a pest control pro pretty much as seen it all dozens and dozens of times.
When we hear, “This stuff didn't work” we know it most often is not the pesticide, but how it was applied. For example, if you know the common German cockroach prefers to rest in tight spaces, away from the light, you would know that a cockroach bait station like Combat, will most likely not work if placed in the center of the back wall of a cabinet. That is not where the roaches are resting. If you want control using that bait product you need to put the product directly in the back corner of the cabinet. You might need to put a couple in each cabinet depending upon the level of infestation.
Another example of pest control chemical misuse would be trying to apply a liquid treatment to an unpainted concrete or cinder block wall. You've discovered ants in your basement and you want to put down a preventative line of pesticides to kill the ants. Before you apply you need to understand the makeup of the material. If you apply an oil base product to these surfaces the product will simply be absorbed leaving no residual barrier. However, if you purchase a wettable powder, the liquid application will leave a coating of the powder after it dries and that coating will serve create a residual that will kill insects for many weeks.
The use of aerosol sprays has its practical uses, but misuse will result in limited pest control. There is no use wasting the aerosol if the product is being pumped blindly into a wall void. It might flush out a bug or two, but the majority of the insects hiding inside that wall will run from the spray. So, aerosol sprays are only good if you know the insect has no escape route. Aerosols are also only good if they are not being absorbed by dust or insulation inside a wall. It would be much better to use pesticide dust when treating wall voids. The dust floats lightly and does a better job of coating the surfaces inside the wall, thus providing longer and more effective insect control.
A couple more words about aerosols. A typical can of aerosol fly spray should last the entire fly season, but this application is one of the most misapplied of all. An average sized kitchen of 12 x 15 feet takes an application of three seconds. That's it! You don't need to spray every corner of the room and you don't need to chase every flying insect with the spray blazing away. In fact, that short blast of aerosol insecticide puts out billions of molecules of product and it only takes a single molecule to kill a fly. The product manufacturers know this happens, but their product label instructions seldom talk about the number of seconds to apply per square foot. Misuse means higher product sales.
When purchasing a pesticide product don't pay any attention to the product name, the color of the bottle or the picture on the label. Instead, read the label ingredients. Certain products will contain 0.25% pyrethrin, while another has 0.5%. One is twice as strong as the other and it will be more expensive. But, look at the label to be sure the pest you want to control is listed on the
label. Then, compare the two labels to see how the treating instructions vary. You may be paying more for one product, while the less expensive product will do just as well.
If you are treating around the garden be sure you are treating with a product that specifically states the product is safe to use around flowers. Some products contain an oil residual that will kill flowers. Some product s contain a residual that could affect vegetables. Pay close attention to all the details on the label before you buy and before you apply.
Lastly, do not over apply. If the label says apply one ounce of a product, do not apply two ounces because you think it will twice as effective. It does not work that way. The product is made to be applied as directed by the label. Those instructions are telling you the most effective way to use the product. It is Federal law that the manufacturer must do this so the end user does not have to guess.
Properly identify the pest. Research the pest to understand its habits. Read the pesticide label to be sure the pest is listed. Apply the product exactly according to the label instructions. It is how the pros do it and it works.