How Green Is My Pest Control

definition |ˌdefəˈniSHən|noun

1 a statement of the exact meaning of a word, esp. in a dictionary.• an exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something: our definition of what constitutes poetrythe action or process of defining something.

Recently I’ve been noticing a few things about my service that I guess I’ve taken for granted over the years. I don’t think I’m doing it the way everyone is talking about. I see the man with the caulking gun and pruning sheers on Tv commercials who apparently never steps inside your door, the company that advertises a 58 point pest inspection…wth? The endless ads for all natural or green pest products that are constantly in my e-mail box, magazines or good old news feed whenever I pop online. I guess I’m not the only one because of the many conversations I see online in forums and chat rooms with all the different ideas of how pest control is best applied (or not applied) and the many many eco friendly products they use and claim to be the best. To be honest, so many of these products I have never even heard of let alone tried. I’ve been pretty happy with my ‘traditional’ choices and kept with most of them for quite some time. 

I’ll be honest, I sometimes doubt myself and wonder where I missed this information. I mean, these people seem so sure of themselves and claim victory at every turn. Lord knows I have my share of call backs and “accounts from hell” where it seems no matter what I do seems to work. Could they be on to something? Why hasn’t my 30 years into this profession steered me to the way they’re doing things?  I guess we all like to feel how our service is the best and that ‘everybody’ does it our way, right?

As I said, this epiphany came as a result of observing many online forums and thread discussions and other media about how pest control works, what green pest control is, best management practices, how to be most effective and yet least toxic, and of course the many many different ideas about what IPM is, or is not.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?

Now I’ve been a chemical guy all my career- I can’t see that changing to the degree that some take it. Where the mere mention of the words chemical, spraying, sprayer, pesticide etc. just sends some folks into a tizzy and leaves them with jaws wide open as their heads fill with images of me spewing toxic waste across the land. That I’m some sort of “spray jockey” whose first and only answer is to grab my shiny sprayer and hose down anything that moves. I’m immediately branded, (consciously or unconsciously) as behind the times, lacking education and simply unprofessional. You’re free to disagree with me but I see this same scenario play out over and over again.  Is this a true picture of what I do? It is not… However it is an accepted premise by many who are in our industry and should know better. Just as well, many outside of the industry who simply are following along with what the negative narrative has been for many years.

Personally, I believe we’ve got some definitions wrong.

What Is Green?

I realize the term ‘green’ can be looked at like a broad sweeping term so I won’t pigeon hole it too much. I also am not impugning those who practice (or endeavor to anyway) green pest control. However, as far as I can see there is no one set definition. Some say it’s all organic while others talk about mechanical. Then for some it’s biological or natural. Some prevent with landscaping and/or building practices or exclusion while others leave everything be and just want to allow for nature to take its course. Many use ‘harmless’ home remedies and strange concoctions but all in the name of green pest control.

No matter the technique it’s all done with the goal of leaving the smallest ‘foot print’ (I call it residual) out in the environment. Being green is to not expose humans, kids (small humans) pets, or non target beings to harmful chemicals. Its tag line is “being environmentally responsible” and that’s a powerful image in the mind of a consumer. The green approach also has a distinct advantage in that it is not nearly as regulated nor under the scrutiny of traditional service. Natural products are exempt from the intense testing and regulatory eyes that leave no stone unturned watching out for the consumer. Green products for the most part are free to throw around works like ‘safe’, ‘non toxic’ or ‘harmless’. If I were to advertise with any of these words, I could expect a visit from my state inspector and have some serious repercussions.

However, green products because of their very nature are more expensive. This is two fold in that the average consumer gets a little sticker shock when they pick up a quart of xyz say for $35.00. Typically that’s not bad but the fact that you need to use up to 6 ounces per gallon and are instructed to treat 500 to 1000 square feet with that same gallon gets a little costly. And, by their very nature green pesticides have very little (if any residual) so you’ll need to spray quite a bit more often. Again, very costly.  Since many such green insecticides are what we term contact kill products people become frustrated with the constant resprays. Time is money so again, they are more costly. Add to this, so many of the green sprays and products are made up of things like rosemary,  peppermint etc. so they do have odors. While pleasant to some, many people talk about getting nauseated after applying. Now in the old days of my career if it didn’t smell we were accused of spraying water or some weak mix. Nowadays if I treat your home and there is any odor we’re accused of giving you cancer….talk about a switch.

Now , I’m not trying to pick on green pest control nor it’s users. As I said I’m simply pointing out the difference so I figured I should at least link to a little proof.  Follow this link to read basically what I’ve stated for quite a popular green product called essentria IC3 .

Then, read the comments left by the users and you’ll see much of the frustration. Granted a couple commenters seem to be licensed pros but when the one person stated this spray chased away rats!!! Ehhh, I kinda have my doubts on that one.

What’s The Difference?

Recently, I started keeping track of what I do as compared to my green friends. True, I use a nice shiny hand held sprayer and in that device I mix ‘man made chemicals’. gasp…  But how much really and how much do I actually place in a home or in a business? Uh oh! Did I say IN? Yes, inside treatments is part of what I do but that’s for another article-or you can read this link. The truth is I use approximately .75 of an ounce per gallon of water or on occasion up to 1.5 ounces and with some products less. Now, that’s not much by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I am very careful when and where I place it and more importantly, this finished gallon is NOT going all in one account. In fact, a filled B&G quite often lasts me two days before I need to fill it again. That could be anywhere from 15 to 25 stops! Now you might agree- that aint much. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 ounces per stop. Now of course, I don’t limit myself to just a bit of well placed spray. I use baits, dusts or sticky traps or whatever the account needs but all according to labels, all put where they need to go and nothing by the pound or even by any real significant amounts as I guess so many would think. You see, I’m not against the environment but more than that I’m kind of cheap. That stuff costs money!!! 😉  Also, the products I use are backed by literally tens of millions of dollars of research, field testing and tight regulations from the fine folks at the EPA and the like. It can take up to ten years for a product to come to market before it ever gets placed inside your home. Green products have none of this or at most some nameless university that gives it a green light– of course, they get paid for such. Too, almost all of my products are odorless but most importantly they almost all have a residual life and will continue killing bugs long after my service is rendered. This type of residual eliminates the need for more and more product to be applied and in many cases my  2.5 ounces of a .75 to a gallon of water mix will far out perform even a whole gallon of environmentally friendly mix. What’s not to like?

Less product, less treatment, less exposure, less cost and virtually no odor yet having years of testing for effectiveness and most important of all, an applicator with years of training to place it where it will achieve best results.

So I ask you…. just how green is my pest control?

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • I used “Black” pest control measures. My customers wanted the pests gone and I didn’t want the callbacks. I treated crawl spaces and exteriors. I would treat inside at the site of activity. I gave customers expectations of how long it would take to control the problem.

    I did spray jockeying in the winter. I’m in the Richmond, VA area so the winters could be used for rodent and pest inspections instead of spraying inside, but I like to stay warm like the pests.

    All these programs are good. I think “Green” means more callbacks because of the slow control time. It costs more and the customer needs to be charged accordingly.

    IPM is a great way to say we use ALL techniques to control the particular pest at the time.

    If we follow the golden rule of pest control: “Be sure to read, understand and follow ALL Pesticide labeling…It’s the LAW” then use the necessary treatment to get the desired result.

    You are the Practitioner. Use “Black, Green, and IPM” together. REMEMBER: They’re ALL happy…they just don’t know it yet.