This article will detail several types of insect control methods, materials and applications that can be done in and around the home. The information is geared toward the do-it-yourselfer who is interested in both obtaining the best products, the best tools and the best information for doing insect control in the home or yard. Though some insect pests may be mentioned, the main goal of this article is to make everyone aware of the methods and materials available regarding general insect control. No longer is insect control simply spraying some liquid from a pump up sprayer. Today, we have many forms of pesticides including baits, granules, dusts and aerosols to go with the more traditional sprays everyone knows. These various forms all have advantages and disadvantages depending on the given application site and the local environment. If you don’t have any pest problems and want to keep it that way, this article will help explain all you need to know!
WHY DO WE GET INSECT AND ANIMAL PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST PLACE ???
Ever since the beginning of time, man has been the target of pests. Blood feeders (mosquitoes, biting flies, etc.), recyclers (hide beetles, carpet beetles, flies, etc.) and organic feeders (roaches, chiggers, etc.) have been following us around literally jumping at any chance they can to get a free meal. Once we started building structures, more and more insects started to find us both attractive and inviting. Today, our houses serve to provide shelter and comfort for every type of insect including ants, bagworms, booklice, boxelder bugs, bees, black carpet beetles, black flies, buffalo gnats, bugs, bumble bees, centipede, chipmunks, clover mites, crickets, cucumber beetles, earwig, firebrats, fleas, flies, gnats, ground squirrels, grubs, insects, knats, nat, lacebugs, ladybugs, larvae, maggots, maskell scale, mealybugs, millipedes, moths, nats, noseeum, pests, pillbugs, psocids, pupae, silverfish, slug, sowbugs, spiders, springtail, stinkbug, thrips, ticks, wasps, worms, no see ums, white fly, yellowjackets, just to name a few. The list is simply too great to include all that are taking advantage of mankind. Furthermore, these are just the insects! Animals will readily move into virtually any structure we build and with them comes a whole new array of insects. Animals that typically attract or carry insects include armadillo, badger, bats, birds, mice, chipmunks, voles, cats, dogs, coyote, mouse, squirrels, ground hogs, rats, moles, muskrat, rodents, opossum, raccoon, porcupine, sparrows, starlings, woodchuck, whitetail deer, mice, rats and ground squirrels just to name a few. And though these animals may seem harmless, the average armadillo, bat, chipmunk, deer, flying squirrels, geese, mole, mouse, rat, squirrel, raccoon or any other typically carry some kind of insects with them like fleas or ticks. Whether they are coming to your yard for food or to get inside in order to avoid the rain, cold or heat, the fact remains that any home can become a safe and comfortable refuge for most any insect or animal.
Since it is not likely anytime soon that all insects and nuisance wildlife will disappear, conflict with them is inevitable. Insects are able to adapt and multiply in great numbers. Though man might be leveling forests which should be taking away from where they like to live, this is clearly not happening. In fact, many urban regions have become insect “capitals” supporting populations never before seen in the wild. The combination of good food and good structure is enabling many insects to populate successfully where they once were non-existent. Furthermore, the ability of man to ship anything anywhere in a very short amount of time has a price. Many insects are “hitching a ride” on overnight deliveries which is now giving them a chance to relocate and thrive. Previously, the long time it took to ship goods abroad was a type of insect control in of itself. Harsh weather, cold or hot temperatures and long periods of time with no food all helped to minimize the relocation of insects from one region to another. Now, countless thousands of packages are being shipped all around the world overnight, everyday. With these packages are many insect pests which might otherwise die off, but because of expedited shipments, are able to live and get established in new regions. Plants, fabric and textiles which are imported from all corners of the world present a never ending parade of invaders all looking for a warm, secure environment in which to reside. Never before has there been so many good choices to live for most any insect!!!
With the vast array of different insects all around our homes and new ones being introduced all the time, it is a wonder why we don’t have more local insect infestations. In fact, most every home will have some type of insect invader at some point in any calendar year. Since we are not home all the time and because there are so many areas of the home where insects can live, clearly most activity is not noticed.
In pest control, the old saying about “an ounce of protection is worth….” happens to be very true. It is very easy to repel, control and prevent most any insect infestation. Treatments in the yard and outside the home can have a huge impact on stopping and/or preventing the success of most any insect. This is true because most insect infestations begin due to the outside of the home being vulnerable. Since we have so many insects active just outside our home, houses which are not being treated are sitting ducks!!! It’s only a matter of time before roaches, ants, spiders or any of the other local pests decide to start nesting on any untreated structure. Remember, to insects, your house is nothing more then a place that might be able to provide shelter and/or food. The only exception to this would be those insects which are able to fly since they might land on your home only to rest and then abruptly move away. However, even these types of insects will readily move into or on most any structure if given the chance. For this reason, it is important to understand that any one home can get a local insect infestation at any time. You might get lucky and not have any “sightings” for a few years but rest assured that eventually something will take advantage of your home at some time. It has nothing to do with being “dirty” or the “neighbors” or the “weather”. It does have everything to do with random insect activity which happens virtually everywhere. Most activity is short lived and without breeding grounds established, can disappear without ever being noticed. However, if there are “conditions conducive” to the specific insect which is currently active, the likelihood of this insect being able to breed and reproduce successfully is greatly enhanced.
WHAT CONDITIONS ARE INSECT CONDUCIVE????
Conditions that are insect conducive are what we call, in the pest control industry, situations that certain insects like. This generally centers around moisture, since most insects need water, but it could have something to do with food, temperature, a certain plant, mold, algae, humidity, light, fabric, building material, wood species which was used, etc. Basically, it could be anything. If “conditions are insect conducive” for any one insect pest, the odds of you getting or having a local infestation are increased. Here are some examples of what we might call “conditions conducive”.
1) Clogged rain gutters filled with leaves and tree debris.
2) Rain gutters that drain alongside foundations and not at least 25 feet away from the home.
3) Leaky windows, doors or roofs.
4) Unpainted and vulnerable wood siding. Natural cedar, as much as it is touted as a “natural insect repeller”, is among the leaders of homes with insect and animal infestations. Clearly this type of structure seems to get more then its’ fair share of pests.
5) Wood piles alongside foundations and structures.
6) Decks which are built just above ground level which hold moisture and create shade.
7) Crawl spaces and even worse – damp crawl spaces and even worse yet – wet crawl spaces!!!
8 ) The only other type of crawl space worse then those listed under item #7 are those which are inaccessible!!!
9) Stoops, patio slabs and other attachments to any home which are built over the existing foundation and against the siding of the structure leading to moisture and drainage issues.
10) Any siding which is not at least 6 inches above the ground below it. Furthermore, any siding which comes in contact with the ground is even worse for a whole host of pests.
11) Pets. Clearly having a pet means you are much more likely to have several types of insects and animals which non-pet owners don’t seem to get. The list includes, but is not limited to Pantry Moths, Fleas, Flies, Ticks, Rats and Mice just to name a few.
12) Bird Feeders and neighbors Bird Feeders.
13) Having a lot of trees, shrubs and plants growing right alongside the home, with little or no space between them and the structure, which promotes many conditions that generally lead to pest problems.
14) Really tall trees immediately adjacent to the home even though they are not “touching”.
15) A lot of mulch adjacent to the foundation surrounding the home and in particular, mulch which is “touching the foundation”.
16) Moisture which could be from rain, irrigation (watering the grass) or natural areas (marshes, drain ditches, ponds, lakes, streams, etc.).
17) Specialty plants like fruit trees, vegetables, vines, etc., which are growing close to the structure.
18) Wood fences which are attached to the home on many sides.
19) A lot of wildlife in and around the yard.
20) Windows, doors, garage doors and vents on the home which are not properly closing or are routinely kept open.
21) Caulking which needs to be replaced, siding which needs to be caulked and any seam on the outside of the home which needs to be sealed to help prevent moisture and/or insects from gaining a foothold on the structure.
The list above represents more of the common “conditions insect conducive” which the author has seen over the years. It is important to understand that most any home will have some type of condition conducive. Furthermore, it is important to understand that these conditions are really only limited to the number of different scenarios which may be found around all the structures ever built. In other words, given enough time, most any insect pest will come to take advantage of that which is presented around any structure. That being said, you might be wondering what, if anything, can be done to help minimize the chances of insect infestations. Rest assured, there are a lot of things that can be done. Furthermore, in cases where conditions are conducive, integrated pest management can play an important role in keeping away unwanted pests.
How to Minimize Conditions that are Insect Conducive
Since most any structure will have access points, faults in construction or vulnerabilities due to the landscape or local environment, it is important to first identify such weaknesses so that they can be confronted. The following list represents some of the “mechanical” alterations that can be done on and around the property to help remove and minimize conditions conducive to insect pest infestations.
1) Make sure that all gutters remain clean and unobstructed year round and that they drain water at least 25 feet away from the structure.
2) Be sure to keep caulking fresh and renewed annually or as otherwise needed to prevent water, wind and insects from entering.
3) Be sure the structures siding is kept clean, protected with paint if needed and dry.
4) Store wood away from the structure as far as possible.
5) Build decks at least 1 foot above the ground, preferably more, and be sure to keep these covered areas accessible and dry.
6) Crawl spaces, basements and other parts of the home must be kept dry and readily accessible so that if any construction problem was to occur, it could be entered and corrected.
7) Be sure to connect any new addition to the structure properly. Such additions could be a shed, walkway, overhang, awning, patio, deck, fence, etc. All too many times such structures are connected without proper flashing or drainage routes established which leads to problems.
8 ) Keep all siding at least 6 inches above ground level.
9) Carefully monitor bird feeders making sure it is not luring too many squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, etc. All this extra wildlife will assuredly lead to fleas, flies, ticks, mites and other insects. Furthermore, some of these “cute creatures” will at some point decide they want to move inside the same structure which has this great feeding station located just outside its’ door!
10) Carefully monitor the bird seed which is used to fill bird feeders. This represents one of the more common ways a whole range of insect pests will gain a foothold inside any one home. Bird seed does not have to follow the strict guidelines of being insect and contaminate free like food for people. This means that all the seed which is casually stored in our homes will generally contain many types of insects which will readily migrate and infest our homes. Be sure to store it in a sealed container.
11) Pet food will be just as much of problem. Though canned pet food is usually not to blame, dry bagged product usually is. And don’t forget to inspect all canned food closely along both the top and bottom lids since many insects will “hide” in such locations. When such cans are purchased, these same insects are then able to hitch a ride home with whoever is buying the host can and will later migrate into the structure.
12) Be sure to allow for proper drainage in and around the home where possible. Don’t over water and watch compost and leaf piles carefully. Grass clippings are another attractive nuisance which many insects love.
13) Make sure all the screens on the structure are in place, that they don’t have any holes and no doors or entrances are left opened continuously. This is a common practice with garage doors whether it’s to allow occupants to have access or pets. However, these doors present a main entrance path for most insects when they are completely closed and if left even an inch or two up, will enable a flood of unwanted pests.
Now that you know about Conditions Insect Conducive…
Now that you are aware of the main conditions which tend to attract and support insects as well as how to minimize such conditions, don’t be lulled into thinking that you can make any one property uninhabitable by pests. Insects have been around much longer then man and will probably be around long after we are gone. Their biology is just too simple and can adjust too quickly for any one thing to cause them to go extinct. For this reason, you must always be on the guard for any insect activity in and around the home which you find. In general, the sighting of even one ant means that more will be coming. One roach is not likely to leave and never return; there are many more which are never seen or move during the time when you are fast asleep so you don’t know they are alive and present. Since many insect pests are nocturnal or thrive in dark, there are just too many times when we are either not around or close enough to see just what is happening either in, on or immediately around our homes. Rest assured, it is a lot more then you might ever imagine.
Though pest control services have been around for over a hundred years, only in the post world war period has an emphasis been placed on keeping our living environments insect and pest free. Insect control services have thrived during these times. Services may be performed monthly, quarterly or annually. The ultimate goal is insect control, pest eradication and prevention. The way to achieve that goal includes many options and tools. These tools include a vast array of insect control chemicals as well as different tools with which to do the applications. Insect control is no longer thought of as “simply spraying” the baseboards of the home. In fact, a complete program which integrates several of “tools” we now have available is clearly the best way to go about keeping and maintaining a pest free structure. In general, no one material should be viewed as the “best” or only thing needed; integrated pest management which involves several different products will almost always provide both longer and more effective control.
PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS
At this time, there are more types of insect control products available then ever before. Each one represents a type of “tool” and in general, the more you have working for you, the better the results will be. Though there is really no one product that should be considered the “best”, clearly there are some which are better suited for certain application sights. However, try to incorporate as many as possible if you intend on making your home “pest proof”.
The next section of this article will detail the different categories or types of insect control products available and then explain each ones strengths and weaknesses. These sections will highlight several materials that can be used along with listing the most appropriate application sights, ways to apply the respective products and what you should expect to gain from their use. It will also point out some short comings of each product type so that you will be best able to pick a combination of materials best suited for your application sight and needs.
As stated above, we live in a time during which there are more pest control products and equipment then ever. As professionals, it is sometimes hard to determine just which ones are the “real deal” and which ones are nothing more then a lot of hype. The pest control industry is not immune to marketing. Many times the latest and greatest turns out to be not quite as good as the old stuff. As distributors, we make a point to know what actives work the best for any one pest problem and then we try to isolate the best form for the application sight. This might sound confusing but the following section of this article will try to explain the subtle differences so that any end user will better understand what to expect when implementing any type of product or material for general insect control.
Though liquid solutions are probably the most common form of product used for any type of insect control, there are many other types of products that can be employed when trying to control or prevent insect activity. Furthermore, there are many types of liquid materials that can be applied. Just because they are in a liquid form does not mean they are all equal. There can be a huge difference between one solution and another when it comes to both residual and performance not to mention odor, visible residue and other characteristics. The same applies to granules, dusts and aerosols. Before we get ahead of ourselves, lets categorize the types of products generally used for the more common insect control applications being done on a day to day basis.
LIQUID RESIDUALS. These are solutions which may come ready to use but are generally created as needed from concentrates. The concentrate can be a liquid, a flowable, a wettable powder or some other design which is usually added to water to create the material that is applied in and around the structure via the use of a sprayer.
DUSTS. These are usually ready to use materials which resemble baby powder or talc powder and are used in wall voids, attics, crawl spaces and other areas out of the main living areas and in voids and other contained parts of the structure where insects might want to live.
GRANULES. This type of product is usually composed of a corn cob, seed, nut shell, clay or some other base which is then impregnated with active ingredient. Used mostly outside and adjacent to structures, granules are intended to create a horizontal barrier through which insects cannot penetrate. Though granules were originally designed and formulated with active ingredients that were using the same chemicals as sprayable concentrates, we now have several types of granules with different actives, different ways of acting on target insects and different shapes and forms for the array of application sights in and around the home. And granules are available for applications beyond doing pest control. Products like Ronstar G are used for weed control in turf and lime pellets for controlling soil PH.
AEROSOLS. Cans which are pressurized and contain active ingredient are quite convenient and popular. There is no preparation needed; just push on the nozzle and start applying product. Most commonly used for crack and crevice work, aerosols are still very common and have a place in most integrated insect management programs. They generally will use an active which will also be available as a concentrate but there are baits which come in cans as well.
GROWTH REGULATORS. These are products which are most commonly applied as a liquid and don’t impact present adult populations. Growth regulators are best used when trying to prevent the development cycle or when used in conjunction with adulticides like the types found under Liquid Residuals above.
INSECTICIDAL BAIT. Though bait for insects has been around for several decades, only in the last 10 years have real strides been made regarding formulations. We now have many types of insect baits and they can now be used almost exclusively to achieve both control and preventive maintenance of a wide range of insects.
EQUIPMENT. There is now a wide range of insect control equipment available above and beyond the common sprayer. Such equipment has gotten very specialized and is sometimes needed for the application of one type of product or formulation. However, the most common device still used is the pump sprayer and the hand duster and for most applications, this is what you will need.
PHEROMONE TRAPS. Traps which use glue are now widely available for many different insects which use attractants which are either food or chemical based. In most cases the glue acts as a way to hold the target pest caught; the lure a way to get them inside the trap. Most of these traps are quite effective and though they can help monitor pest related problems, by themselves are usually not a way to control any given infestation.
REPELLENTS. Granular and liquid repellents, including bad tasting agents that can be sprayed on plants, are also available. These products can be a good way to help move away or keep target pests from doing something unwanted in a given area and rarely are considered to be a way of “controlling” something but they can help.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH PRODUCT TO USE???
Since there are so many types of insect control products currently available, how do you choose which is the best material for the task at hand? The answer is complicated. However, there are two guidelines you should follow.
First, if you have a current insect problem, it is strongly recommended that you refer back to our main page and read through the article on that specific insect. The products listed in the article are best suited for that type of problem. We have spent a long time figuring out which products work best for any one problem and though what is listed here in this article would suffice, chances are what we have posted in any article about a particular insect or pest is going to be your best option. Most importantly, the article will detail the best application sights for an active problem along with many other details beyond the scope of this article.
Secondly, choose a product which is best suited for the target sight you want to treat. In the following section of this detailed article, the author will highlight the best sights to apply any type of product. Keeping this in mind, limit your choice to where it is that you want to treat. Though you will still have to make a decision as to what to use, the choices will be narrower and you will be able to pick more based on the size or amount needed as opposed to what will work the best. If there are 5 products you can choose from in the category, chances are they will all perform about the same so you only need to choose based on previous experience/preference or packaging available such as the size and the quantity you want to get. As a generally rule, the more material purchased will mean the less you will pay per application for any one product. In other words, you will probably pay more per ounce of any liquid concentrate if you purchase 1 oz at a time versus buying 16 or 32 ounces at once. Since most any concentrate will last 5 years or more, the purchase of larger sizes will almost always be the right choice.
LIQUID RESIDUALS. As stated above, this is the category of which more material is applied then any other insect control product type. Most professionals and consumers will reach for “something to spray” when the need for doing some insect control arises. That being said, keep in mind there are many types of sprayable solutions and understanding their differences can make all the difference when trying to get the one that will last the longest, kill the fastest, have no odor or dry invisibly. As a general rule, anything that is store bought and ready to use as liquid will be at the bottom of performance when it comes to insect control. These products have been sitting around for who knows how long and over time loose their potency. Remember, they are ready to spray when packaged. Though stabilizers may be included in their mix, chances are they use minimal active ingredients and over time, these actives loose their ability to provide any sound residual. Many of these products will perform OK when first sprayed because they have a lot of oils and other petroleum solvents in their formulation that are actually doing the work. However, once dry, they leave little in the form or residual or protection in the days and weeks after applications are made. For this reason, you will be much better served to mix your own from concentrate.
Emulsifiable Concentrates. When choosing a concentrate, you will need to decide if you want something odorless and how long you want it to last. When spraying for preventive maintenance, most any good concentrate will suffice and the only real difference will be in the length of residual since most are low to no odor these days. Stay clear of actives like Dursban, Diazinon or Sevin and you will be OK. Emulsifiable Concentrates, like PERMETHRIN or ESFENVALERATE will last about 30 days, have no odor and will work on just about any insect. If you want a liquid that will last a little longer, choose a Flowable formulation. These are designed differently in that they are basically solids which are encapsulated and added to a milky white plasma that enables the active to be handled like a liquid when mixing. However, because the active does not have to be broken down to such a small degree as in an Emulsifiable Concentrate, treatments will last longer. Products like CYFLUTHRIN, BIFEN IT and LAMDA-CYHALOTHRIN are designed this way and can last 2-3 months per application thus reducing the amount of time one has to spend spraying. These products are but just two products that make for an excellent carpenter ant spray. Both are odorless and won’t leave any visible residue where applied. Another design worth consideration is the new Latex based products like INSECTA. This material is more like paint in that it dries clear and will last 12-18 months on non-porous surfaces. Clearly this is product of choice for many people who want long residual and little effort! Any of these products can be applied with one of our SPRAYERS and though they can be used inside, outside treatments are best suited for preventive maintenance. When spraying, you want to try to create a barrier between 3-5 feet on the side of the structure. This is accomplished by spraying directly on the foundation and siding. Be sure to treat around windows, doors, garage doors, ac units, any pipe that enters the structure, vents, overhangs, patios, porches, decks and anywhere insects will tend to congregate. Inside applications can include baseboards, carpeting and other cracks and crevices, but as the following sections will describe, there are better formulations for these areas and remember, matching the best product for the area to treat is very important for the long range goal.
Organic Gardening Concentrates. These are products that look and behave like an emulsifiable concentrates. They mix with water and are applied with a sprayer. The big difference is that they bear the organic gardening logo. This means they are very safe to use in and around the home. In order to bear this logo, they must NOP certified. If you wish to use Organic Sprays, only use products that have this logo to insure they are organic gardening compliant. As a general rule, such products incorporate some type of natural active ingredient or use actives that don’t last long once applied. Organic chemicals can be used safely around children and pets and many times can be applied directly to fruit and vegetable plants like melons, squash, cucumber, egg plant, lettuce, tomato, strawberries, herbs, spices, nut trees, asparagus, beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and oriental vegetables, peppers and potatoes just to name a few. Some of the more effective organic products we carry include MULTI PURPOSE INSECT KILLER, GARDEN DEFENSE with NEEM, INSECTICIDAL SOAP and THREE in ONE FIM.
Wettable Powders. These are powders which are concentrated and need to be added to water to form a liquid spray. Generally low odor and very effective, wettable powders aren’t as easy to use as liquid residuals but they since they contain more raw material and less “fillers”, they are regarded as a good pure source of insecticide. Common wettable powders include Orthene PCO Pellets, Demon WP, Tempo WP and ECO WP.
DUSTS. Dusts are excellent for any void where insects may want to nest. Dusts are generally ready to be applied so they require no mixing. Furthermore, they can have an immediate impact and will usually last a long time. Many dusts will last a year or more when applied to a concealed area which remains stable. Though unsightly and not intended for “out in the open” living areas, dusts are ideal for wall voids, the inside of wall socket covers, behind switch plate covers, throughout attics and crawl spaces and behind any wall covering. One unique characteristic of most any dust is that it tends to penetrate voids well and most importantly, it will stay where applied. Liquids will serve little if any help when sprayed in a wall but dusts are excellent for such application sights. Their long residual makes them a great choice for treating attics and crawl spaces which are subject to roaches, ants, wasps and other invaders during the year and since applications will last a long time, it is generally accepted that such areas are treated annually. If you are doing some construction involving the installation of new walls, be sure to consider the application of dust into the voids when they are open and accessible. Such applications are easy to do during the building stage and are readily done during home construction in many areas of the country. Treating during the construction is both easy and most effective since the open walls allow for complete and thorough coverage with little effort. Though most people think of BORIC ACID when looking for a dust, we have many newer products today that work a lot better for many reasons. DRIONE or CYFLUTHRIN DUST are excellent products and will last a year or more when applied to any void, crack or crevice. Use a HAND DUSTER for most small applications inside the home. For attics and crawl spaces, the DUSTIN MIZER or ELECTRIC DUSTER is more suited for the task. And since dusts do such a good job of penetrating cracks and crevices, they can be applied around the outside of most any home to kill off nesting wasps, silverfish, roaches, ants and any other insect. The author likes to “dust” the outside of his home focusing in on the siding, shutters, gutters, overhanging roofing, seams, light fixtures and other cracks and crevices through which nuisance insects will enter. Treating the perimeter of the home with liquid spray will handle most problems but since so many perimeter invaders can enter most any structure along the roof line, treating high is certainly a needed supplement to the base of the foundation getting done. Though you can spray a liquid up to such areas, it will prove to be both messy and wasteful. Dusts are much better suited for such areas and since they last much longer then most liquid applications, you will only need to do the application once or twice a year. For this job, you will be best off using the DUST-R, the LONG REACH DUST-R or the DUSTICK. Keep in mind the application of dust to any home is certainly a big key when one wants to put something down that will last a long time and not have to be applied frequently. Though not the first choice of products most people will look to when deciding what to use because applying dusts does take more effort then most other products, the work to get it applied is time well spent since it will last so long and work on so many insects.
GRANULES. Granules are used primarily for the treatment of turf, gardens, mulch and other areas where the application of liquids will not last as long. Granted that nothing will work as fast as a lot of liquid pesticide being sprayed out over the yard but the inherent problem with such applications is that they are usually both short lived and time consuming to perform. Furthermore, liquid treatments over large areas can get quite costly. For this reason, the use of Granules should be considered. This is particularly true when performing preventive maintenance. The application of granules to any turf, mulch or flower beds before there are active insects will almost always work at keeping the treated areas insect free. Granules are usually in the form of small bits about the size of BB’s, rice or crushed shells. Recently, some have been found in the form of sand and other very small particles. They all work by laying on surfaces over which nuisance insects will be walking or nesting. When properly dispersed, the concept of the granule is that there will be enough in place so that as insects walk over the treated areas they will pick up a lethal dose of the active ingredient. Once this occurs, the insect will die. Generally speaking, treating more of an area will insure that lethal doses are absorbed. In fact, a thick band less then 10 feet wide around the home using a 10 lb bag of some type of granule will not be nearly as effective as treating your whole yard with the same 10 lb bag even though the material will be spread out much thinner. The reason for this is that it takes time for a lethal dose to be absorbed by insects and this can be achieved better when the granules are spread out over a larger area where insects are likely to be active. Trying to create a barrier over which insects will not be able to walk is not likely since there are too many factors and possible entry points which can circumvent the band. Remember that granules are ready to use and are either a base which is impregnated with the active ingredient or a base which is loose to which the active is added and then formed into a granule by some type of machine. Most granules are fairly stable and won’t release the active until wet. Generally, granules which are created by impregnating a base of corn cob or sand with active ingredient may give the impression of lasting quite long but in most cases the active will have leached away long before the granule base completely breaks down. In other words, just because you still see some granules in the turf three months after the application was made, chances are what you see has no active left and is merely the base granule which has not mulched back to the soil. On the other hand, formed granules tend to break down too fast if you are in a wet environment and will need to be replaced once they are gone so be aware of these traits following the application of either type. As a general rule, most applications will last about 2 months. This could be less in a region which experiences heavy rain following the application or it could be longer in an area which remains very arid following the treatment. And if you have active insects which need to be addressed, it is always best to apply some granules and then spray over the top with one of the liquid concentrated listed above. The liquid will serve to kill off targeted insects immediately as well as activate the granules. If you are only needing to do an application for preventive measures, applying granules 4-5 times a year is usually enough. Be sure to use one of the newer types of granules like CYFLUTHRIN, DELTA GUARD or BIFENTHRIN. All are low odor, will last 1-2 months and control just about any type of insect. Remember that the real key to getting this type of product to work well for you is getting it dispersed properly. Use one of our GRANULE SPREADERS for both even and proper applications and make sure to do the application either just before a rain or when you will be watering the lawn since you need water to activate them.
GROWTH REGULATORS. Insect growth regulators are essentially juvenile hormones or proteins which most any insect requires during the growth period of its’ life. During growth, these hormones are normally utilized by the insect in small amounts since only small amounts are ever available at any one time. At some point many years ago it was thought that the over abundance or over exposure of these hormones could impact the normal growth of insects. In fact, this proved to be the case. Synthetic hormones are now manufactured which can seriously impact the normal development of most any insect. By over exposing the larva to these hormones, they are not able to properly pupate into normal, healthy and reproducing adults. This effectively ends the cycle of the insect as the old population dies off. The first products which did this were PRECOR for fleas and GENTROL for roaches. Precor effectively halts larva from being able to reach adulthood; Gentrol allows the roach to still live and be seen but rearing young is stopped. The great advantage of growth hormones is that they are very safe posing no real hazard to people or pets. In fact, they won’t even harm adult stages of the target insect! For this reason many people will use both a Liquid Concentrate (adulticide) along with the growth regulator. Long after the adulticide wears down and the residual is gone, the growth hormone will still be around since applications can last 3-6 months. This means you can effectively keep prevent infestations with the use of growth regulators. Simply treat twice a year with Precor and you will probably never get fleas. Better yet, use some of the newest compound, INSECT GROWTH REGULATOR, which will effectively work on just about any insect including ants, roaches, fleas, mosquitoes and just about any beetle to name a few. Treating carpets, furniture and any flooring in the home with this growth regulator twice a year will prevent any insect from establishing nests in the home. Use it outside around the home in turf, flower beds and mulch ground covering and you will be able to stop ants, mosquitoes and just about any insect from living adjacent to the home. Use a SPRAYER to apply the material and remember to do the applications twice a year for optimal results. At this point, growth regulators are still probably the longest lasting material which can be applied in and around the home which will effectively keep insects controlled. However, they are still not commonly used since most people seem to wait for an active infestation before they start treating and at this point, growth regulators don’t have nearly the value as a fast acting adulticide in the form of a dust or liquid concentrate. It appears as though growth regulators will never take over as the dominant material being used until the general population learns that preventive treatments are so effective and valuable and really work.
AEROSOLS. This type of insect control product is really a “convenient” package which combines ready to use functionality with pin point precision for making specific applications. Though too costly for most insect control companies to use exclusively, aerosols do offer the occasional applicator a lot of benefits. The fact that they are ready to be used saves a lot of time which would be wasted if you had to mix up a tank of something to spray. Since they come in their own “sprayer”, there is no need for sprayer maintenance or care. Simply throw away the can when empty. Straw tubes, like that which is generally seen on any can of WD-40, allows the applicator to make precision placements of pesticide into cracks and crevices without waste, runoff or over application. All of these attributes makes many aerosols a good tool to have when equipping yourself to do insect control. However, they have many limitations. First, aerosols don’t do well for large treatments. It is not practical to use an aerosol to treat the outside of a house when you want to produce a large wide barrier. Liquids and granules do better outside. Second, aerosols are expensive. Simply put, one pays for the convenience of having a can which does it all. All these factors taken into account still leaves the aerosol a type of insect control tool that has its’ place amongst the liquids, granules and dusts. In fact, one of the best features of most aerosols is that you can make a pinpoint application in living areas without having to make a mess. Aerosols are much like dusts in that they will treat voids well but unlike dusts, most aerosol treatments will dry immediately and invisible – something which makes it far superior to dust for use where people might see a residue. Like liquids and dusts, there are many active ingredients to choose from and formulations as well. There are Space Spraying aerosols like PT-565XLO which is great for flying insect control. Just a few second release will take care of most any fly, bee or wasp in a kitchen or living room and since it uses Pyrethrin as its’ active ingredient, there is no residual making it safe for use over and over as needed. This same product is excellent to use as a flushing agent to help locate ant nests, roach pockets and other hiding locations of anything from silverfish to psocids. If you only want to have one type of aerosol, PT-565XLO is the one to have. However, if you want the safety of Pyrethrin but in a form that will last longer, get the Encapsulated form called PT-MICROCARE. This product is very similar to the 565 but instead of all the pyrethrum being available upon release, this formulation keeps most of it locked up in tiny capsules which hatch over time after the material has been applied. This unique form is much like the encapsulated liquid concentrates mentioned above. Treatments can still be made to open spaces but crack and crevice applications along with spot treatments to furniture or rugs will last 2-4 weeks – something the 565 cannot do. For even stronger residual, get some of the D-FORCE aerosol. This active has been around a long time but is still the best for spiders (arachnids) and other odd insects like centipedes or millipedes. It has a slight odor (mostly undetectable by anyone) so if completely odorless is what you want, get the CYPERMETHRIN AEROSOL. It costs more for being odorless, but it will work as long as the D-Force – 4 weeks or more – without any smell.
INSECTICIDAL BAIT. Baits have been used for many different insects for many years. The first forms used actives like Boric Acid and were mixed up using everything from flour to fish as attractants. Todays baits are quite complex and use actives which are inherently safer then most any other type of pesticide. The one governing fact making this possible is that a bait has to be ingested or eaten to have an impact. Since the biology of any insect is so much more sensitive to what it eats then mammals, baits can be made which are able to target insects yet pose little if any hazard to mammals – even if eaten! Largely due to the complex digestive tract mammals have for digesting carbohydrates, proteins and fats, this same digestive system will generally process any insect bait as just another meal. The whole key to any type of bait being successful depends on how readily the target insect will eat it. Though formulations have been tested, re tested and tested again, todays baits offer a wide range of attractants using anything from water to sugar to protein in a never ending quest to make the presentation irresistible to the nuisance insect. For roaches, products like MAXFORCE BAIT STATIONS were once the only option. Now you can get MAXFORCE GEL, AVERT GEL or AVERT DRY for roach control in the home. If you are having a problem with roaches outside, get MAXFORCE GRANULES or NIBAN FG which are formulations created for use where it is wet and out in the open. Both the Maxforce Granules and Niban will work on other insects like crickets, ants and silverfish. Simply sprinkle them out around the structure in mulch beds or turf where insect acitivity is seen. Much the same type of selection is now available for ants as well including MAXFORCE ANT BAIT STATIONS, MAXFORCE ANT GEL, DRAX DUAL and ADVANCE STATIONS. Any of these products work great at attracting and killing off foraging ants in the home. Use the Maxforce Granules or Niban if you have them outside or want to keep them from coming around and establishing some nests. Though these products will work for most any ant, if Carpenter Ants are your main concern, then you will need the CARPENTER ANT GEL for the inside and the CARPENTER ANT BAIT GRANULES for the outside. Baits have gotten so insect specific there are even TERMITE BAIT STATIONS now available! Though some of these products can be used for controlling current infestations, all baits are best suited for preventive maintenance. Since most insects need a good food supply when setting up new nest locations, a properly placed bait can serve you by killing off intruding insects before nests are able to get established. By killing off the first signs of new insect activity in and around the home with insecticidal bait, populations can be snuffed out before they can start reproduction. The same is true for the use of any liquid or granule treatment but the big advantage baits have is that they take advantage of that which the nuisance insect seeks – food. When a good attractant is used, it is hard to beat any bait for preventing insect infestations. And the combination of many types of baits enhances their performance all the more since most insects will vary their diet. By having 2-3 flavors (2-3 different types of bait) for ants or roaches to find, the chances of them ingesting a lethal dose is that much greater. This is particularly true when dealing with a species of insect which likes to change its’ diet from protein to carbohydrate. Just remember not to spray over where you bait. Liquid treatments will contaminate the bait and cause it to be ignored. If you are using Cyfluthrin or Bifenthrin Granules in the yard around the home, the use of Maxforce Granules or Niban outside in the same area won’t help. The Cyfluthrin or Bifenthrin would affect the bait and cause it to be rejected. The same is true for inside applications. It’s OK to use a gel or bait station up high in cabinets or wall units and to spray down low on baseboards but don’t waste your time spraying over bait placements. Once any bait is contaminated by a spray, nothing will touch it.
In summary, it is clear to see that there are several types of products available for insect control in and around the home. Furthermore, there is no one great product to use in all cases. Clearly the products we have available to us today are so offered because they all have strengths in certain types of applications. The real secret to getting and using the “best” product for any one job is to first identify that which you want to accomplish. Once you identify this goal, match a product up which can provide that kind of protection when used properly and you will gotten yourself started to accomplishing a successful integrated insect management program. Most importantly, don’t think that one type of product will do best by itself. Clearly the more products implemented, the better the results.
I AM SO CONFUSED OVER PRODUCT SELECTION, WHERE DO I START???
Now that you know about all the different types of materials that can be used for insect control, it might seem more difficult then ever to choose what to use! Well, here are some guidelines…
1) It’s always good to start with a good liquid residual. Choose one from the products mentioned above and make your choice depending on how frequently you want to spray. Remember, emulsifiable concentrates will last 2-4 weeks, the flowables will last a little longer and the latex based material will last the longest. Assuming you don’t have any insects to contend with, make your applications around the perimeter of the home monthly or every other month depending on which formulation you choose to use.
2) Apply granules. After spraying, treating the turf with some granules will offer protection around the home by keeping nuisance insects from nesting close to the structure. This really helps at keeping them out of the home altogether and the use of granules goes hand and hand with liquid treatments.
3) Aerosol treatments in the home is probably a better way to treat any living space then simply spraying the baseboard with the liquid material you use around the outside of the house. Since you can direct the aerosol where it needs to be, treatments can be precise and the amount of material used inside will be small yet efficient. If you insist on using liquids inside, limit their use to basements, garages, screened in porches or decks. There is usually no need to treat living rooms, bed rooms and other areas with a heavy liquid. Use the aerosol for such locations. Furthermore, having a can of good aerosol around for spot treating as needed is very handy. It will save a lot of time when an insect is seen in between regular maintenance treatments and you don’t want to mix up a batch to deal with one sighting. Simply grab the can, treat the spot and be done with it. The aerosol residual goes well with outside liquid and granule treatments and will have many applications over the course of any insect season.
4) If the home has attics or crawl spaces which tend to attract insects, dusting them annually will prove to be quite effective at keeping nuisance insects out these areas so that less make their way into living rooms. Dusts are not used nearly as frequently as other product types and when implemented for preventive maintenance, once a year applications seem to be very effective and cover all types of void problems.
5) If the home is largely susceptable to ants or roaches, setting out some bait for prevention is advised. Since certain homes are more likely then others to get these insects, the application of bait in key areas quarterly can prove to be very effective at preventing infestations. This is true since most all insects come inside seeking both food and harborage when they forage. If there are bait placements out already they are sure to find them and will die off once they feed. Since the first few ants or roaches that find their way into any home are very rarely seen, bait works much better at intercepting them then liquid or aerosol applications. Consider some bait placements along with the outside liquid and granule applications as a front line of defense in living areas. The other big advantage of using bait in these areas is the safety issue and ease of removal.
At this point the author hopes you have a better understanding of all the types of insect control products available for use in and around the home. There are so many ways to effectively treat before you get an insect infestation that preventive applications are clearly the smart way to handle insect control management and cost. If you choose to wait your turn to get a insect problem, rest assured you will have to use more product and exert more effort to get the problem under control. For these reasons and many others it makes sense to start doing some regular insect control in and around any structure before a local infestation is established.
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