In the early days of what we might call “modern pest control”, thoroughness of coverage was the key. The average flea job took an entire gallon of mix (usually Ficam W). Any less and the boss would frown at your lack of efficiency and you were all but guaranteed an unscheduled retreat. Termite work was intense to say the least. Even with chlordane’s villainous reputation of indiscriminate killing power, termites needed only a sliver sized break in the barrier to continue ‘unfazed.’ Homes looked like they were on the wrong end of a machine gun fight because termite treaters could leave no void untouched with their hammer drills. Chemicals were decent and strides were being made but without a complete job, pest control services were often left wanting. Pest control has always needed the clients help.

IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. It also (in my opinion) hasn’t gained a whole lot of traction over the years. It seems like forever that traditional pest control services has promoted IPM and still do to this day but customer cooperation has always been scant. Forcing compliance is an option with contract disclaimers and guidelines but only gets limited success. Clients just don’t seem to want to have any part with helping out a treatment in any real significant way. IPM could stand for I’ll Pass on My 1/2.

Kudos To Green?

The green pest control movement gets credit for pushing IPM farther than it’s ever been but I think their success is somewhat overstated. Lobbyist have successfully gotten a mandate that schools and other government type facilities adopt a ‘least risk’ approach which is heavy laden with integrated pest management practices. While I think this is a good step, I don’t see it as a public consensus and global cry for less pesticides as some might have us believe. Even green customers aren’t overwhelmed with IPM. Interesting to note that traditional pesticide use is not ruled out with the least risk approach- it’s held as a ‘ace in the hole’ in case things get out of hand and this reliable and proven way is needed to get stubborn problems under control. IPM here might be called Integrated Pest Mandate.

Do Customers Really Want IPM?

Maybe I’ll be the only one to say this and excoriated by my peers for doing so. I can live with that if what is said is well thought out and not part of the mass hysteria mantra. NOBODY WANTS IPM. Clients want from little to nothing to do with your service because for the most part they feel they are paying you- It’s YOUR JOB. Caulking, screen repair or cutting back bushes isn’t something the public at large cares a thing about doing. What’s more, I don’t know of a whole lot of folks who’d be happy with an $80 service just ‘inspecting their property and filling out a report with recommendations. It’s our own industry with the calls for less pesticides and I just don’t see the acceptance on any wide scale and in my opinion, this is why green pest control has not forged ahead. IPM here stands for I Pay Money- You Get Rid Of The Bugs!

Do PCO’s Want IPM?

Even as chemicals become worlds better and less is needed to target and destroy unwanted insects the pest controller has always had the IPM card in case he needed it. (and we do) It’s on the back of every contract (usually in fine print) and on the lips of every technician, service and branch manager as an arrow in their quiver when problems arise. It’s taught everywhere I’ve been and I don’t disagree. You see, pest control has always been a complaint business and the buying public isn’t paying for excuses about how chemicals are being shared or slow acting products etc. Putting some of the onus on them can quell problems, buy time or just flat out show the client we aren’t miracle workers and they’ll have to do their part. So many of our clients problems are self induced and pointing out their lack of cooperation or lack of IPM has been a strategy of customer relations, retention and mediation for years. It could be IPM’s other name is, I‘m Packing all My tools but it’d be nice to have your help.

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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  • Mel

    Yet another great article Jerry. The thoroughness by technicians described in yesteryears methods is what I envision needing to take place if I were to rely only upon natural products. It would be time consuming and costly unless I could somehow lower expectations. Expectations lower than a miracle worker rarely happens. Colaboration with a pest control customer is needed also but even though I explain the why a homeowner must participate in the process I frequently see disappointment when their responsibilities are described. Most of my customers have busy lives commuting, working, familial obligations and now I’m adding to their list or to-do’s. So my proposal is to exsisting and future customers is to allow the professional be the professional. He or she will take care of your pest problem. They’ll use natural products when they see fit, baits, some of the methods you read on the internet, synthetics all applied safely

  • Very good proposal- and as you alluded to, it’s been on the table for a long time. I’m hoping one day we’ll get the ‘yes.’

  • Thank you Karl

  • Eric Kroon

    After servicing customers here in Florida, over the last 16 years, the only thing that I have found that customers, or potential customers want is to see dead bugs! They do not care if the service is green, blue, yellow or black, they do not want to see any pests!

    I love to talk to these “green” pest control companies about their products. They use the “green products” until they see live pests, then pull out the Termidor, WP’s etc. They know that the green products do not work and do not hold up longer than a few days here in Florida with all the rain and sunshine.

    How often do you have to caulk a house?

    Great article Jerry,

    Eric Kroon

  • Thanks Eric & great comment;
    yea I wondered that too… how much caulk can you possibly do?

  • For the most part I agree, I have added comments to service tickets till I’m blue in the face. Our problem in Arizona are Bark Scorpions and generally people want the quick fix, spray and go but if their troubles continue they are willing to spend the bucks for home sealing. I probably do 25 homes per year and we seal inside and outside, crack and crevices. The scorpions do find there ways in without the sealing, so you must be thorough. I think most caulking holds up for years. Green products are getting better but are not there yet on the durabilty to hold up under heat, scorching summers and the occasional dust or rain storms. Even the GreenPro service understands Green services may not always work but allows you the options of vearing off and then coming back to it. All in all another great debate and with all the experience within the group I’, sure we got an handle on it.