When Phobias Collide-Is Pest Control An Environmental Disaster?

I’ve run into a lot of folks who have legitimate concerns of what I’m using and how I plan to apply it. I have absolutely zero problems with this because I’m in their home or business and and they have every right to know. Generally speaking these folks hear about 20 seconds of what I have to say and they simply nod their heads and say go ahead. Since a few seconds isn’t enough time to even explain the theory of crack and crevice treatments I can only assume that my confident reassurance is all they really needed. Still I treat their castle with care and respect and place my ‘cides’ where they’ll do the most good and be out of harms way. I have very few people who after watching me service a home that ever still have questions about my commitment to their safety and I believe the same is true with almost every pro.

Unless you’ve lived on another planet you can’t help but notice the huge push for everything green and pest control is no exception. My question is however where the push is coming from? Is it the home owner demanding this new way of service based on the non stop flood of global crisis information? Or is it in fact coming from our industry itself and the manufacturers who seeing the trend have bent over backwards to stay ahead of the curve?

Is it the customer

I have a lot of steady customers Thank God plus new ones everyday and have to say I really don’t see this as a huge phobia at all. They aren’t phased or swayed in the least if I mention DE (diamataceous earth) or boric acid and baits. I would assume this would be all they wanted or some Eco spray touted on the market but that just isn’t the case even if I bring it up. Outside only approaches are also met with skepticism and I’m not here to say why but one would think this would be automatically well received. Hardly anyone I meet whose considering my service is concerned with my work hurting the earth in fact I don’t think they care at all or think that it does. At least I’m not asked about it in any way that leads me to believe they just came back from and Al Gore convention and no one criticizes me for pulling up in a F150 that I park next to their SUV.

The questions I get are almost always about personal safety–“Will this poison my well? Will my kids be safe? What about my pets? Is this stuff safe for me to breathe?” Not am I using recycled labels? Is that an all natural product? Is oil used to make up that spray?”

Now before you think I live in an area where the environmentalists are banned let me tell you they are alive and well. The push is on like never before for clean cars, green earth and responsible living. We read the same news paper stories you read, the same intranet blogs are on the top of our Google searches you get and the same anchors and anchorets spout their views on their unbiased stations every single night. There’s not a day that goes by that someone isn’t mentioning mankind is destroying the earth-not one. Still I just don’t see the everyday push for major reforms for pest control from everyday folks, I see it from within.

I’m all for being ahead of the curve and planning for the future but planning usually involves intelligent people giving the people what they want or will want. Do people want to go to all natural products that have very little environmental impact or do they want dead bugs and at the same time to be safe? Do they care my granules were processed and laced with lethal poisons or does their concern stop once they hear it would take 9 pounds to kill their pet? Where is the outrage when sprays are used to stop chinch bugs from destroying your beautiful lawn? While legitimate concerns for health and well being are something I applaud I openly ask the question, where does this phobia get its legs?

Anecdotal, hypocritical, naive might be a few ways to describe me and truthfully that’s just fine but when it comes the phobia of pest control creating a irreversible disaster I think that dog won’t hunt. What I do think is a fear however is the manufacturers and pest control companies that don’t want to be left out and looking bad in the perception that they’ve helped create and that’s a phobia I never thought I’d see.

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

    Concern regarding the use of pesticides has exsisted all my life. Especially in relation to organophosphates. As a kid, I recall seeing ddt all over the news and in texts books. Even my father who was not involved in pest control always told me to be careful and gave examples of problems he witnessed. I entered the industry shortly after the banning of chlorpyrifos and diazinon. It was an exciting time. The company I worked for was frequently conducted training emphasizing the safest application of chemical, utilizing the least toxic method, and IPM. I frequently read reasonable articles by former pest controller Steve Tvedten advocating intergrated pest managment. But then he started a website selling “natural safe2use” pesticides. I suspect in order to generate more sales he hired affiliate marketers. In another one of your articles you asked where all these “gurus” appeared from. These marketers using the internet to make a sale distribute a lot of misinformation. They write ad’s scaring the public into buying their products. The misinformation then is rejuvenated when it is shared with acquaintances. Steve the activist lobbied lawmakers and built alliances with antipesticide nonprofit organizations who intensify the chemophobia problem, turned a profit and created the new industry of “safe” pest control. Exacerbating the problem is infinite pest control firm who instead of educating customers they’ve already implemented the ipm and best practices have integrated the marketers methods of telling the public what they want to hear in order to secure a sale. I could go on with the failures by the pest management associations, more pest control firms, and chemical manufacturers but I will spare your eyes for the moment.

    Thank you for bringing up the topic

  • Thanks for your insightful reply Mel,

    I got in at about the same time as you and for years this subject wasn’t even on my radar even with the big hub bub about taking chlordane off the shelf. Now people are still people so I’ve ALWAYS got the comments “is that going to kill me” but back then the industry was full of data, instruction and evidence that phobias of pest control were unfounded and many things like you say-books, magazines etc. seemed to have articles etc. filled with these postulations. Now I don’t see so much of this and even at a recent CEU type meeting we were told point blank “anyone using sprays should get out of the stone age cause you’re causing undo damage to the planet and start using baits” This person wasn’t a quote, salesman with CEU accreditation but someone who has authority and could affect my license. So even if there are no studies showing what I’m doing is terrible for anything or body I can’t help but think that an internal pressure is creating a ‘solution for a problem’ that has little or no basis of existence. Kind of like a ‘phobia’ thus the article.

  • Mel

    I guess the technical data the industry supplied came with advancements of fourth generation pyrethroids and to overcome the public objections after the organophosphate panic. After acceptance of the virtually oderless man made version of the chrysanthemum derivative occured, the industry became complacent. That is, until the latest assaults in the industry merged with the latest marketing gimmick (we’re all natural”). . The evolution of the industry use of pyrethrin into pyrethroid over the last half century was impressive. Use of pyrethrin went from a chem with a half life lasting a few hours to a few days to a more stable and longer lasting (40-60 days outdoors) and requires seven to ten times less chemical than the natural version. A study I read from Berkley declared using bifenthrin was safer than pyrethrin because of the amount of chem required to achieve the same results. I noticed a you said SALESMAN called you a caveman because your arsenal includes sprays? He showed he has the IQ of a caveman because bait alone will not manage the plethora of mayhem causing insects we encounter daily.

  • I have been called worse ;+

    Great point on the ‘less’ factor’ Come to think of it-I haven’t heard of that as a virtue for many years.

  • mel

    You’ve been called worse? What could be worse than a caveman salesperson?

  • A ‘good’ salesman…… 😉

  • Mel

    Im sorry were you called a good salesman. Hopefully you have recovered from that condition:)