The Sin Of Treating Baseboards

Not all professionals treat baseboards these days, it comes with a stigma that connotes unprofessionalism. I’m not sure who started that train of thought but I think it’s due to knee jerk reaction more than anything else. My first recollection of this becoming taboo was along the time that baits in syringes came to be. The push was for IPM and less chemical and somehow this morphed into sprays becoming evil and baseboard treatments being the root of it. The term ‘baseboard jockeys‘ was bandied about and anyone admitting to this perceived transgression at a CEU’s or other meeting were marked as an evil doers and despised.

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to get a good barrier down as quickly and in a more effective way. Sure you can go along with your bait gun if you wish or dusting under the carpet is also an awesome way to establish a good long term treatment in the same area. I do those things as well and they’re fine, I’m just not happy being called a baseboard jockey because I and thousands of other technicians choose to apply a liquid in the same spot. Also, if you are servicing a home on a quarterly basis do you really think the majority of your customers will be happy paying you $75.00 or more to wander around their home with a syringe and a flashlight? I really don’t think that over exposure or irresponsible usage is a good excuse to criticize this time tested technique either. With a .06% or less in a gallon of water of which treats many more than just one home, where’s the improper use? I’m not here to judge anyone for a method they use as long as it’s according to label and in the best interest of safety but I wouldn’t tag you as backwards or wrong just because I or someone else does it in a fashion they choose.

The truth is that baseboard treatments are very effective. Now I’m not so ignorant as to hose down a 10 foot section of well caulked board on a wood or tiled floor but have you ever lifted up the carpet to see the huge amount of room there is? Take a look the next time someone has some baseboards removed and see just how many dead bugs you find. It’s Interstate 95 under there with exits and off ramps galore and I for one don’t want to pass up treating that space. A good liquid barrier that can sink into this area might be the deciding factor between you and a horde of marching ants or any number of other insects. Bait, spray, dust or caulk it up if you like but the baseboard area is a legitimate treatment zone and if you leave it alone because it doesn’t fit with some message you heard at a meeting somewhere, go to another meeting!

The knock as I understand it is that it is not according to label but that is not true either. Most labels say you can treat an area as a spot treatment which is either a 1ft x 2ft or some are 2 x 2. The label in no way says it has to be a perfect square so if you do the math a 10 foot section treated with a 1 inch barrier (just to make the math easy) and the label called for no more than a 2 x 2 foot ‘spot treat’ could be done in many ways. Here is one example that the ‘baseboard jockey’ could hang his hat on if he wanted.

For a 2 x 2 ( 24 inches by 24 inches) spot treatment you find that it has 576 square inches but please note it does not say this has to be a rectangle, square or any other defining shape. So treating a 10 feet is– 10 ft x 12 in / 1 inch = 120 inches leaving you with 456 inches or another 38 feet to complete your spot treatment in this fashion. I didn’t write the label.

Ok, that said what’s my point? Come with me on any job and you’ll find a tool belt almost overloaded with every kind of application gizmo there is. I look like the Terminator and get called that all the time! You’ll also see a B&G sprayer in my grasp which I proudly use and confidently extol the virtues of. What you may also note is that I do not make it a habit of running through the home like a banshie throwing spray around like Brett Favre on a two minute drill. If that is your idea of a baseboard jockey then I tend to be in your camp and agree that doesn’t enhance the professionalism we all strive to achieve for the industry. If however the mere fact that I carry a hand held pump sprayer somehow makes me unprofessional in your eyes then so be it. I don’t happen to agree with you but unless you’re using a flame thrower you won’t find me criticizing you either. I read something somewhere about glass houses or casting the first stone so I try to keep to myself but I’m only human. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and hopefully I explained my thoughts correctly. You can leave a comment below if you’d like or maybe we can talk about it this Sunday at church. I got some other issues I usually get handled there. 🙂

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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  • Ok you started this mess, I do agree to using the baseboard as an avenue of some treatments. But you and I are old enough to remember that everybody sprayed baseboards every month, every year forever, back in the day. The wet-able powder sometimes was over 1/4 inch deep. While we are on that subject I also have seen those same techs use bait like a caulking. Today more than ever – we have at our fingertips a plethora of great products, like dust that can be used behind baseboards. These days I prefer to do most of the work from outside unless we have an issue inside. Then it is a targeted application determined by the technician on the problem. We even use steam at baseboards in regards to bedbugs but I’m sure it would kill German Cockroaches as well. The talk these day concerns GREEN and honestly I’m really not sure anybody understands this in regards to pest control but I do understand IPM (Integrated Pest Management) the use of all your tools to stop the pest whether it is baits, liquid, exclusion or having the people freeze it before they put it into Tupperware. After all that I still do spray baseboards if necessary but usually limited these days.

  • Ok you started this mess, I do agree to using the baseboard as an avenue of some treatments. But you and I are old enough to remember that everybody sprayed baseboards every month, every year forever, back in the day. The wet-able powder sometimes was over 1/4 inch deep. While we are on that subject I also have seen those same techs use bait like a caulking. Today more than ever – we have at our fingertips a plethora of great products, like dust that can be used behind baseboards. These days I prefer to do most of the work from outside unless we have an issue inside. Then it is a targeted application determined by the technician on the problem. We even use steam at baseboards in regards to bedbugs but I’m sure it would kill German Cockroaches as well. The talk these day concerns GREEN and honestly I’m really not sure anybody understands this in regards to pest control but I do understand IPM (Integrated Pest Management) the use of all your tools to stop the pest whether it is baits, liquid, exclusion or having the people freeze it before they put it into Tupperware. After all that I still do spray baseboards if necessary but usually limited these days.

  • Jeff Ledford

    Mr. Homeowner can go to Lowe’s and buy a 1 gallon pump up sprayer. Then, he can get on Ebay and buy some Tempo, Suspend, Demand… you get the picture. And he can do what he has seen done – start at the front door, walking to the right, spraying every baseboard he encounters, until he gets back to the front door.

    Is he professional? If not, why not – he has seen a “pro” do this year after year in his house, and he is doing EXACTLY what he has seen done. What makes him any different?

  • Jeff Ledford

    Mr. Homeowner can go to Lowe’s and buy a 1 gallon pump up sprayer. Then, he can get on Ebay and buy some Tempo, Suspend, Demand… you get the picture. And he can do what he has seen done – start at the front door, walking to the right, spraying every baseboard he encounters, until he gets back to the front door.

    Is he professional? If not, why not – he has seen a “pro” do this year after year in his house, and he is doing EXACTLY what he has seen done. What makes him any different?

  • The Bug Doctor

    Great comments!

    It really isn’t what makes the homeowner different but what keeps the exterminator or ‘pro’ in the dark ages. If that’s ALL he does then he is not utilizing his tools as Keith said. My point is the automatic stigma that comes about when anyone treats a baseboard as if somehow that is a forbidden area because of who knows why. If it is the goal of a company or their model to not treat with liquids inside a home I say have at it but it is not a monster all of the sudden either. Some things are tried and true but as with anything you need some balance. There truly is a super highway just under those boards and I think it needs to be addressed somehow, don’t you?

    Excellent thoughts and I can almost hear your passion from across the country. — You can treat my house anytime!

  • The Bug Doctor

    Great comments!

    It really isn’t what makes the homeowner different but what keeps the exterminator or ‘pro’ in the dark ages. If that’s ALL he does then he is not utilizing his tools as Keith said. My point is the automatic stigma that comes about when anyone treats a baseboard as if somehow that is a forbidden area because of who knows why. If it is the goal of a company or their model to not treat with liquids inside a home I say have at it but it is not a monster all of the sudden either. Some things are tried and true but as with anything you need some balance. There truly is a super highway just under those boards and I think it needs to be addressed somehow, don’t you?

    Excellent thoughts and I can almost hear your passion from across the country. — You can treat my house anytime!

  • Mel

    Because the Pro isnt treating the baseboard for indian meal moths and rodents?:)

  • Mel

    Because the Pro isnt treating the baseboard for indian meal moths and rodents?:)

  • the Unnamed

    I view this in a different way. I feel that if you are doing a good job on the outside – not just with pesticides, but also exclusion techniques – that there is no need to apply pesticides indoors without good cause. I think that is putting pesticides into the air [and on surfaces] when there is a much more effective way. It has been almost two years since I’ve used a pump up sprayer indoors for anything aside from an insect growth regulator and I have never had better results and happier clients. Most pests live outdoors and come in through gaps or cracks and the pests that choose to nest indoors are rarely controlled with general sprays of any kind. I am a strong advocate for reduced risk pesticides, green solutions, and above all IPM. In no way am suggesting that I don’t believe in pesticides, liquids included. Each situation is different and should be treated as such because cookie cutter pest control never actually controls pests.

  • the Unnamed

    I view this in a different way. I feel that if you are doing a good job on the outside – not just with pesticides, but also exclusion techniques – that there is no need to apply pesticides indoors without good cause. I think that is putting pesticides into the air [and on surfaces] when there is a much more effective way. It has been almost two years since I’ve used a pump up sprayer indoors for anything aside from an insect growth regulator and I have never had better results and happier clients. Most pests live outdoors and come in through gaps or cracks and the pests that choose to nest indoors are rarely controlled with general sprays of any kind. I am a strong advocate for reduced risk pesticides, green solutions, and above all IPM. In no way am suggesting that I don’t believe in pesticides, liquids included. Each situation is different and should be treated as such because cookie cutter pest control never actually controls pests.

  • curtis

    99% of all single family homes only need a good exterior service… But if there ever is an interior problem you can address it with spot treatments..

  • I’m not sure 99% of the homeowners who get pest control would agree or let’s just say ‘think’ they are getting a full service with just the outside. This would be especially true with predominately indoor pests.(or those now infesting inside even though they came in from exterior) = Fleas, roaches, bed bugs etc. Interior service should be at most just a series of spot treatments and some areas will be treated completely different with different products even though they are under the same roof.

  • exterminatorsrock

    I’m bringing this discussion back.

    I’ve read and re-read this article a couple times before I knee jerked, and I feel the “problem” is I want to look at this as a “pro baseboard jockey” argument. But, best I can tell, it’s not. Either that or my definition of a “baseboard jockey” is different.

    My definition of the baseboard jockey is a PCO that enters a residence, head down, tip on pen stream and only lets off the trigger to scratch his face. This guy enters, (some go right, some go left), and leaves a drippy white residue anywhere he goes (a lot of the time running down on the floor). He does not need a flashlight, he does not need to even look up. He scribbles out 1/2 gallon of (whatever) always at middle to high rate. I have photos of basebaords with a semi permanent stain along every baseboard. This, to me is a baseboard jockey. And there is no way in Hades I would let him in my house.

    B&G does not = baseboard jockey. I am not a baseboard jokey, in fact I am one of those that wag my finger at them. That being said, I have 2 B&Gs I use indoors (repellant/non repellant). Also, my opinion about “baseboard treatment” changes dramatically when the term “commercial account” is involved. So, for me to put my 2 coppers in on how I would handle a baseboard, would greatly depend on situations, but never would it involve:1. enter 2. pull trigger 3. go right

    But the confusion, I think, in this article is the lack of definition of what a jockey is. I don’t think if I walked into one of your customer’s house I would find a milky trail. I also know, you are in no way a jockey. But it seems in your article, like you might be labeled as such. Maybe someone thinks B&G = baseboard jockey, but I don’t think they would hang out here where the Pro’s are

    I would love a debate on residential inside treatment vs perimeter only with the baseboard jockey completely out of it all together. Also, the debate would be in reference to “maintenance treatments”, not a problem service.

  • You said it well with B&G Does NOT equal baseboard jockey. I agree. This article mainly addresses those who look at ‘anybody’ with a B&G in their hand as a po dunk non professional hoser of houses….believe me — they’re out there. I think that is unfair and indeed not correct…. It’s like the argument of steroids….everyone ‘automatically’ says they’re bad and harmful…. I say, tell your Doctor that the next time you get shot up with some. It’s used everyday for healthful benefits and is very common.

    To me,- I’ll always use a B&G — it’s effective and minimal risk when used right. As always–there are a few who abuse it or over use it or blast it all and run…but I think honestly it isn’t the majority as some people say.

  • Ant Survivor

    Thanks for sharing your expertise. I had an exterminator in yesterday for ants & was so disappointed that he didn’t do kitchen baseboards (plenty-o-cracks to treat). Eventually, I got him to do some of them but had to follow him around asking!!!

  • If he was using a repellant he might not have wanted to put such a barrier as it would be counter productive…did he/she use baits or non repellant? If so, that can greatly determine how the rest of the home is treated…

  • PestControlNewb

    Guys, I’ve been working in pest control for a few months and I fear that I may be a baseboard jockey. I’m the type of person who cares and wants to do a good job…but this is a very small company and I received next to no training. How can I further my knowledge and learn how to help the clients on my route in the safest, best way?

  • Keep studying and learning the trade as it sounds like you’ll go far… try to stick to web sites that are .edu or accredited people. If you can afford it, do the Perdue courses or others… I was groomed to be a “jockey” too but that was even though the books told me not to… It’s quick easy money for the company… That said, don’t beat yourself up… just advance despite what others say you should be.

  • PestControlNewb

    Thanks for the reply. I guess I’ll just have to do some research and figure it out as I go. It’s frustrating that the company I work for doesn’t have resources available for me to further my knowledge…probably because my boss just wants us to get our tickets signed ASAP so he can make another payment on his boat. What’s more frustrating is that the boss is my dad. I’ve never thought very highly of him, but I always respected him for starting his own business and running it successfully for 20+ years… Now that I’m part of the business though, I see that he’s basically just found a way to con people professionally. I’d leave, but he honestly pays me pretty well…but I’ve got to get better at this for the sake of my own conscience. Anyway, probably more than you wanted to know…thanks again.

  • Worked for a few like that myself… albeit, I wasn’t related. There are tons of articles on my site that may help. I also have my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/pestcemetery

    or check out our group on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/239861312775/?fref=ts

    it’s a closed group but simply ask and you’re in… I do that for privacy reasons and techs etc. can feel free to express, vent or ask anything they want..no one is judgmental and all want to help. Hope to see you there. In any case please feel free to contact me via my ask the bug doctor with any questions or advice

    http://pestcemetery.com/bug-doctor/

  • We believe that the argument is well presented from the point of view of someone that has successfully done the job over and over, years after years, one that we could say “pro”.

    Clients now-a-days tend to discriminate the old fashion way of controlling pests, due to the overwhelming facts about pesticides.

    At the end of the day, the customers will decide what they want, although our recommendation as pest controllers would be much effective.

  • Clients are now smarter than ever. A smart tech uses all his/her tools. Your point about them judging us as pro or not is spot on. Thx

  • Franklin Hernandez

    Thanks for the post I think the key to pest control is real IPM, if the only service anyone performs is a baseboard spray then you deserve the term baseboard jockey, when I started in the industry no one trained me on IPM they trained me to spray. In some cases a baseboard spray is the only way to solve the problem but in others it is counter productive. I’ve been a pest control operator for 7 years now and have not had the need to perform a baseboard spray in controlling most general household pests. I rely on targeted products based on the pest or pests I’m dealing with. Thank you for your post again.

  • Thank you for your comment….. Personally I feel the term Baseboard Jockey gets thrown around to quickly. (not always) For some, the mere sight of a B&G in ones grasp is enough to label them so. I can think of no other tool that disperses liquids any better…. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s the sprayer or the “liquid products” they hate worse.