A few years ago Terminix had some great TV commercials airing where the ‘walls’ would tell the homeowner about some invading problem or termites moving in under the slab. Well since even our smartest house isn’t that advanced yet and no one has invented a device to alert us of impending pest invasions, it might be a great idea to consider a few things about gauging pest pressures.
Pressure is defined as a constant pressure: physical force, load, stress or thrust. All of these can come to mind when a pest pro is battling a stubborn problem. For the seasoned pro, these are always in the forefront of their thoughts and he or she should be constantly on the look out for the build up.
Pest pressure can come on suddenly, build up over time or even be imagined but if the end result is futile attempts at keeping a customer happy or solving a problem, well then the pressure (pest problem) wins out. Here are a few observations that may help you avoid an oncoming wave of unwanted pests.
A significant amount of insects or vermin invading seemingly out of nowhere and with no readily recognized cause;
We have a lot of Doctors offices and medical facilities on our routes and these are a great example of how ‘sudden pressure’ comes in to play. 99% of the time we have absolutely no problems and our maintenance service works beautifully. Our Doctors must be pretty good at their jobs too because they’re constantly getting flower or plant deliveries as a Thank you. At least once per year we get a frantic call from one of the offices that they have a massive problem of some pest invading suddenly out of the blue. It’s sometimes the front desk, the break room or an office but this all out invasion couldn’t have been seen or predicted yet there it is. In almost every case the first thing we check is the lovely floral arrangement that is usually proudly displayed near by. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found fire ants teaming in the pot or fungus gnats running around the leaves etc. From there it’s just an easy fix and we look like the hero.
Now I couldn’t possibly list all the different scenarios and accounts that this type of pressure could show up in but if you take a minute I’m sure you can list some that have happened to you and/or could occur. This type of sudden pressure is most difficult to predict let alone prevent. For us, we’ve taken the time to talk with the office mgr. because they’re always the first to hear the screams. Now I’m not so naive to think they’re checking every bouquet that comes in the door but in most cases the mgr. remembers what we’ve said and by the time we get there, the plant is outside the back door and the problem is 1/2 solved already.
Take time to consider your account and how sudden pressure may become a problem. Then take a few more minutes and put together a plan.
A massive escalation of pest numbers that may be just outside of your service, be behind protective seclusion or is for some other reason just unnoticed;
This can be the most insidious type of pressure because even the best of us can’t see in walls, don’t know how the neighbor may live and sometimes can’t even look beyond a property line to know what trouble may be brewing. Still- it’s often hinds sight and tiny clues that we should’ve seen that may have alerted us to this festering problem. Building pressure is the worst because so often the pest already has a firm grip on IT’S territory and has only recently come out due to it’s growing colonies needs or cycle. The numbers can seem astounding.
We had a client who loved to feed the birds. (don’t we all?) She only had 2 or 3 feeders and they were along the back fence in some landscaping. She did this for years and knew every once in awhile an occasional rat ‘came by’ for a free snack. Then as time went by she saw a few more and even had them frequent her garage. She caught a couple and thought the problem was solved. When the sightings became persistent, neighbors were complaining and she started hearing noises in the attic I guess she figured it was a good time to call us in. All total we took out 70 just from her tiny home and lot and the burrow system was like the New York subways. Not quite a Stephen King movie but I think you get the idea.
Again, we could use termites, ants, flies you name it as our example but suffice to say, no matter the pest we should ‘actively’ be on the look out for building pressure and have a plan in place to stifle this proliferation or stop it altogether once tell tale signs are seen.
Note; True pest pros hardly ever let this visible type of example happen- not in current accounts they serve. They’re pros not because how smart they are-it’s because they have their eyes open, flash lights on and truly are serving the client
Most often an unreasonable, imagined or exaggerated belief of infestation. Sometimes based on pure fear but also can be a result of missed pest ID; The ‘pressure” of this scenario is most often more intense in ones mind (client or tech) due to the lack of facts replaced by imagination.
Believe it or not, not all imagined pressure comes from the customers side of things. For examples of clients paranoia you need only to hang around the shops water cooler in the morning- (do any pest control offices have water coolers?) Or you can always read some of my articles on the subject in my blog.
Unfortunately I’ve seen plenty of techs who’ve spotted some evidence and completely over reacted and thus missed the mark. (usually salesman….sorry but true)
We’ve picked up a few clients over the years who claim they had massive flea problems and the company treating the place has bombed and sprayed several times with no results. The problem, springtails–Or the tech/ salesman who saw wings and assumed termites when it was ants or the tent that went over a house for a Round Head Borer infestation– uh, that’s a non reinfestating borer = no treatment necessary. The list can go on but can I share just one little secret with you without sounding pompous or like a Mr. Know- it- all?
Take a breath when confronted with ANY of these situations! Make an excuse to go outside or just sit for a minute and think. If you don’t have a positive ID- “that’s Ok”. There’s no harm in waiting until you get one. You either call in your mgr., phone a friend in the biz or take a sample and go home and get on the internet and call the client later. The truth is you can’t in all good conscience (and perhaps legally) treat for some unknown thing. This is even regardless of the times when people are breathing down your neck because they want an answer.
You know, people think I’m so dang smart sometimes when I announce I’m “taking one more walk around” and then come up with the answer. When really I’m just buying time to figure out my next move. (Don’t tell anybody that-;) It’s sometimes just a matter of piecing the clues together as to why this “pressure” exists. So you know what I do? I head out to my truck to get away from their noise and break out my technicians guide, my ant book, my copy of Pest Free Blueprint (which I must say is pretty good) or even my really powerful scope. HEY–I’ve been doing this almost 3 decades and I’m telling you– if I have to do it, there’ll come a time when you have to as well. Just saying…..
If I could give you one piece of advice, plan to avoid this last pressure more than any other. Walking away with a true ‘zero’ reading is far better than a blown gauge any day!