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Why You Suck at Insect Control



Most people know that there are some pests that they just can’t control by themselves, such as mosquitos or bedbugs. Mosquitoes don’t necessarily breed on your property, and the only good way to control them is with a fog treatment. On the opposite end of control, bedbugs are off-putting and resistant enough to over-the-counter remedies that most people end up calling a professional right away (which is the right decision).  But what about insects that many people try and treat without a second thought, such as wasps, ants, or stinkbugs?  Every grocery store carries a line of insecticides, or even traps, all claiming to “kill on contact,” or “kills *given pest* instantly,” but when used by the average consumer, they often do little to nothing to stem the tide of insects. What is the difference between generally available products and those that our technicians use to control pest issues?

The main difference is in the products’ degree of strength and application. Because of the wide availability, over-the-counter products must have a weaker concentration of an active ingredient, rendering the mixture that much less potent. This is due to safety concerns; after all, your average consumer isn’t going to be certified by the state to apply pesticides, and thus isn’t going to be thinking about personal protection while using the product, nor about the storage of the product, or even how the product works against the target pest. This last factor is often why DIY pest control can fail.

Over-the-counter pesticides are nearly always contact-based products. They work by disrupting nervous systems and clogging their breathing spiracles (the tiny holes in the thorax and abdomen through which insects “breathe.”) This is great for killing the individual insect that the product touches but does not work nearly as well, spreading the product from insect to insect, which is often where most of the control happens.  A nest of yellow jackets in your siding, for example, can be sprayed with a can of wasp-killer, but this will only kill the insects that are present at the time of treatment, and even then, only the ones that are directly touched by the project, as it dissipates faster than it can spread from insect to insect. To effectively treat a nest of yellow jackets with a product like that, you will need to treat it several times a day for several days, and even then, it may not work long-term. Ant products work the same way, often to less effect, as ant colonies have many times the numbers of a yellow jacket nest.

Pesticides used by companies like ours are often a combination of contact, instant-acting aerosols, and long-lasting dusts. The aerosols are used against larger pests (such as bald-faced hornets) or large colonies of aggressive insects (like nests of yellow jackets) that need to be killed instantly or run the risk of harming a technician. After the initial application, nearly every area is treated with a special dust that coats the entire region. This dust takes care of insects that return to the site after treatment, as it lasts much longer than the dripping liquid left behind from sprays. Aerosol and dust pesticides for specialized equipment are not always available for consumer use. Used in combination, these two types of products effectively take care of insects instantly and over time, leading to long-lasting control and protection that an over-the-counter spray cannot emulate. Liquid pesticides are also used in distinct concentrations, which are helpful for prevention rather than immediately killing an existing colony, as these bind to the material on and around your home and affect insects looking to establish a colony. Cans of products you can buy at a grocery store simply don’t have the longevity and control options that are more specialized.

Of course, under some circumstances, over-the-counter remedies can work just fine; but if you’re having trouble with a stubborn nest or colony of ants, don’t hesitate to give Creature Control a call. We have the products, tools, and experience required to control your pest problem. Contact us today to schedule an inspection.

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