Visit the new website at www.avitrol.com.
Visit the new website at www.avitrol.com.
MILWAUKEE, wis. — Liphatech invited U.S. pest management professionals (PMPs) to Take the Soft Bait Challenge. PMPs saw what happened when FirstStrike, Resolv or TakeDown went head-to-head against conventional bait.
Liphatech awarded prizes to the top three entries, which were displayed at PestWorld 2017, in Baltimore, Md.:
1. Carlos Fernandez (McCloud Services) – GoPro HERO5 Black Action Camera
2. Scott Dinger (Primal Pest Control LLC) – $200 Visa Gift Card
3. Robert Casey (Pest Management, Inc.) – $100 Visa Gift Card
“I went through many rodent baits, from blocks to pellets, meal bait, wax based, grain based, etc. Nothing was really being eaten, and I wasn’t really seeing results. I decided to start using soft baits. This has been, literally, the most palatable and effective method I have ever tried. Great product, great results, great resource for PMPs for rodent control.” – Carlos Fernandez.
Liphatech encourages PMPs to take the Soft Bait Challenge themselves.
Designated trademarks and their respective logos, including GoPro, HERO and Visa, are the property of their respective owners and do not indicate participation in or sponsorship of this promotion.
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Pi Chi Omega (PCO), the national fraternity for pest control professionals, awards $9,000 in scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing degrees in urban and industrial pest management. Currently, two of the four annual scholarships pay tribute to early founders and industry leaders; the Founders Endowment Scholarship and the John Osmun Scholarship. PCO members, at their annual meeting on Oct. 24, voted to name a third scholarship — the Austin Frishman scholarship — to honor him for his vast contributions to the pest management industry. It is only fitting that a Pi Chi Omega scholarship be awarded in perpetuity in his name since he has had a tremendous impact on not just our industry through his own work, but through each of the students he has nurtured and mentored.
In the last month, over $6,000 has been raised to support PCO scholarships in Dr. Frishman’s name. This pushed the contribution total over the original threshold of $20,000 needed to name 5 scholarships for Dr. Frishman.
“It is clear that Pi Chi Omega members hold Austin Frishman in high esteem as evidenced by this surge in contributions in his name,” said Stephanie Hill, Chair of the PCO Scholarship Committee, and newly elected Director on the PCO Board.
“We saw the proposal to create the Frishman named scholarship as a timely directive by the members,” continued Hill, “to celebrate the life and expertise of Austin Frishman.”
The matter was voted on by members present at the meeting, and the motion carried unanimously.
Dale Baker, the newly elected President of PCO, challenged members, “Make this honor for Dr. Frishman REALLY count. Make a contribution in his name to the scholarship fund and help us achieve the pinnacle of raising $50,000 for this perpetual scholarship!”
The Pi Chi Omega Board would like to invite anyone moved to support this effort to make a donation directly to Pi Chi Omega. So that 100% of your donation will go towards this worthy effort, please mail a check to: Pi Chi Omega, PO Box 187, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. Please write “Dr. Frishman Named Scholarship Fund” on the memo line. If you’d like to pay by credit card, please call Pi Chi Omega at 540/376-3617 or make the contribution through PayPal by paying firstname.lastname@example.org and adding a note that the funds are made in support of the Dr. Frishman Named Scholarship Fund. Please note, that while Pi Chi Omega is a non-profit organization, the fraternity is not a charity and donations are not deductible on an individual tax return.
Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Techletter, a biweekly training letter for professional pest control technicians from Pinto & Associates.
The only way that you can declare that there is an active infestation of bed bugs is to find live bed bugs or viable (able to hatch) eggs. There are many other signs of a bed bug infestation such as shed skins, blood spots or fecal spots, but these by themselves only show that there was a bed bug infestation at some time. That infestation could still be active, or it could have been eliminated or it could have died out on its own. The following are signs of a bed bug infestation:
1) Live Bed Bugs. You must find one or more live bed bugs (or healthy, unhatched eggs) before you can say there is a bed bug problem at the site today. Anyone can find live bed bugs in a heavy infestation, but live bugs are difficult to find in the earlier stages of an infestation or when there is only a small population of bed bugs. In addition to your visual inspection, there are detection tools available such as bed bug monitors and traps, and canine scent detection (bed bug-sniffing dogs). All of these detection tools can find live bed bugs when used properly, but all have limitations and significant error rates.
2) Shed Skins and Dead Bed Bugs. In order to grow, a bed bug nymph will molt, or shed its skin, five times. The old exoskeleton that is left behind is tough and long-lasting. The empty, shed skins are the same general size and shape of the bugs that shed them except they are empty and translucent. Be careful that you don’t confuse shed bed bug skins with those of cockroach nymphs or dermestid beetles. Good bed bug hiding places will often have a large accumulation of these shed skins.
Finding bed bug shed skins confirms that there were bed bugs at the location at one time. Inspect for live bed bugs immediately around the area where you found the skins since it is now a known bed bug harborage site. Look at the skins closely because small bed bug nymphs sometimes hide inside the shed skins of larger nymphs and adult females sometimes deposit their eggs in shed skins.
As with shed skins, finding dead bed bugs only confirms that bed bugs were at the location at some time in the past. The carcass of a bed bug remains intact for a long time, for many months or perhaps even years.
3) Bloodstains. Bloodstains are not the same as bed bug fecal spots (see later in article). Brown or red-rusty blood spots found on sheets, pillowcases and clothing are from both bed bugs and their victim. Blood often drips out of the anus of a bed bug just before it completes feeding on its host. Then, as the bug pulls out its “beak,” the person’s bite wound typically bleeds a little.
But, bloodstains on bedding are not, by themselves, indicative of a bed bug infestation, either past or present. Other spilled liquids leave brown or rusty stains and not all bloodstains in a bed are caused by bed bugs. Bloodstains do not easily wash out of fabric so you can’t estimate their age. You also may find blood smears on the wall, usually located next to the bed. These are from residents smashing recently fed bed bugs.
4) Fecal Spots. The digested blood in the gut of a bed bug is deposited as semi-liquid, black feces. As the feces dry, it leaves behind a black, slightly raised spot. Bed bug fecal spots look somewhat like those left by the German cockroach, but they feel smooth rather than rough-textured. If you wet a bed bug fecal spot, it will smear, while the fecal spot of a cockroach will not.
You often will find large numbers of fecal spots in bed bug harborage sites such as along seams of mattresses. Fecal spots are useful for pinpointing bed bug activity areas and potential treatment sites. But as with bloodstains, fecal spots are long-lasting and may be from a previous infestation of bed bugs.
5) Bed Bug Eggs. Bed bug eggs are small, translucent white and difficult to see, especially when they are inside cracks, crevices, or holes or laid on light-colored surfaces. A female bed bug lays 1 to 3 eggs each day that will hatch in 7 to 10 days at room temperature. The eggs are covered with a sticky substance that attaches them to rough surfaces. Eggs are often found in clumps in harborage sites, but since females often wander, isolated eggs can be found far from the bed. These isolated eggs are very hard to find, hidden inside a screw slot, fabric seam or under the edge of a chip of paint.
Viable eggs confirm active bed bugs, or at least the potential for active bed bugs once they hatch. You can only be sure that an egg is viable once it hatches, but there are indications of egg health. Viable eggs are white and plump, not dried up or shriveled. Two or three days before hatching, two bright red eye spots will appear inside near the cap end of a viable egg. A bed bug egg that has already hatched will have the top cap end opened, no embryo inside and may be crumpled-looking.
The owners are well-known industry consultants and co-owners of Pinto & Associates.
Editor’s Note: Plunkett’s Pest Control used to respond to a bed bug sighting by inspecting the reporting unit and all surrounding units. But that process could allow unreported bed bug units to build in severity until the infestation had spread around the building. Now, for clients with any bed bug experience or concerns, Plunkett’s coordinates with management for 100 percent, unit-by-unit inspections on a quarterly basis plus move-in/move-out inspections. This serves to prevent building-wide problems.
The surge in construction of multi-unit housing as a result of changes in the economy and generational differences in housing preferences provides business opportunities for PMPs able to implement full-building, proactive bed bug inspection programs.
“Bed bugs are an epidemic,” said Jeremiah Riopel, regional operations manager at Plunkett’s Pest Control, Fridley, Minn. “It can also be a large revenue stream with the boom in multi-unit housing by changing reactionary treatment to proactive services.”
HOUSING TRENDS. Changing generational preferences and the economy fueled the multi-unit housing building boom, which continues today. There were a number of contributing trends: a weak single-family home market; the lowest vacancy rate since 2005; lower labor costs; easier financing for builders and developers; employment growth; and demographic trends. The results shifted an owner-dominated market to a renter-dominated market, as demonstrated by a 20-25 percent increase in rental households.
“Boomers are staying home and it’s contributing to the increase in multi-unit housing,” explained Riopel. “Boomers lost value in their homes and they’re not able to sell them for what they’d like. So, they’re staying in their homes longer.” Millennials are would-be first time homeowners, but don’t have access to those houses because they’re not on the market. “Boomers have put a plug in the system,” he said.
Millennials also have different housing preferences and are leading the housing market change. Although 20 percent of this generation are still living at home and another 30 percent own homes, the remaining 50 percent presently rent, mostly as a lifestyle choice.
“New households in multi-family buildings are increasing significantly,” according to Riopel. Boomers are staying home since the housing bubble burst in 2008. Gen X and millennials are being pushed, willingly or not, into the multi-housing market and renting longer.
“Folks are actually demanding multi-unit housing. It’s supported by the national trends. Developers are building more high-end, multi-unit housing,” explained Riopel. These facilities offer in-demand, lifestyle amenities not found in single-family homes, including night-club-style community rooms, yoga studios, and pet washing stations, among others. “This shift in housing trends support pest control companies adding full-building, proactive inspections to their services,” said Riopel.
“If you don’t have a plan for proactive multi-housing bed bug inspections, you should really think about getting into it,” suggested Riopel. “It’s a very viable market. The current trend of high-end rentals is projected to continue for five to 10 years. Then experts expect to see the senior-housing market explode. High-end nursing homes and progressive-care facilities will become more popular.”
PROACTIVE INSPECTIONS. “Our goal is to deliver results and retain our clients,” explained Riopel. Shifting to a proactive approach to bed bug treatments wasn’t a business strategy, it was a matter of customer service. “We listened to our clients’ concerns and designed a solution that delivered what they were looking for,” he said.
“Our philosophy is to listen to our clients, provide what they’re looking for, then sell that service to new clients,” added Stacy O’Reilly, president of Plunkett’s Pest Control. “Our multi-housing team worked closely with our clients to design a profitable, client-centric program, which helps us retain long-term clients,” she said.
“Providing clients with proactive, full-building bed bug inspections helps them keep costs down and their annual budgets more predictable,” said O’Reilly. This comprehensive inspection and treatment service has demonstrated that it’s possible to maintain lower costs by identifying unreported units, thereby preventing bed bugs from spreading. They’re currently servicing about 50 clients.
“We offer two programs. One is a conventional program offering preventive services, such as exterior bait stations, common area services, and exterior treatments. We’re invoicing traditional fees for the services, but it doesn’t allow the property to budget,” said Riopel. “The other option for the higher-end properties is what we call an ‘umbrella’ or ‘all-inclusive’ program, where we simply invoice, let’s say $2,000 annually for the property — $1,200 is set aside to provide preventive services and we have a call-back fund built in so the facilities can budget better.”
With a preventive program, “the plan is to drastically reduce client treatment costs, implement inspections, which is obviously a cost, but still come in less than what they were previously averaging in annual treatment costs,” said Riopel.
“We’ve found that this just flat-out works no matter what type of facility. The frequency of getting in to inspect units is going to save you time and headaches. It will also save your clients’ time and headaches. The program ultimately provides better living conditions for the residents,” he said.
“There’s nothing very complicated about preventive inspections, other than getting the right inspection frequency to deliver results,” added Riopel.
“Ultimately we were able to implement preventive inspections at a few sites and got some great results. We tweaked the program and now offer the service to dozens of sites. Ultimately, the goal is the save the clients’ money. At some of our sites, we’ve saved clients $50,000 annually.”
Perpetual bed bug infestations were also “technician killers” prior to a proactive approach. “We were just chasing our tails before,” said Riopel. “The techs at these sites were chasing their tails and became just as frustrated as clients. So, it’s to our benefit for that reason as well.”
“In 2010, we were having a heck of a time getting rid of bed bugs at properties. We had clients who didn’t want to go into a proactive inspection program and ultimately they were spending tens of thousands of dollars for heat treatments,” explained Riopel. “We had to come up with a better option. In one 162-unit facility we heat treated 75 apartments in one year due to constant re-introduction throughout the property. We had a resident who had six family members in six different apartments, as well as discarded furniture being brought back into the facility. There was no type of preventive inspection whatsoever.”
PROACTIVE RATIONALE. Clients may be hesitant to commit to a proactive bed bug inspection program, because it’s a new way to address an old problem and it can be somewhat intrusive for tenants. Once a client agrees and sees the reductions in both infestations and cost, “you’ll have a client for quite a long time,” said Riopel. “We haven’t lost a site yet that has implemented this program.”
“It’s rare that once we explain this approach that we can’t convince them to make the change,” said Riopel. “Usually, when we’re proposing this to a current client, it’s as clear as day and it makes sense to them. They’ve had enough of the reactive approach and gladly welcome a more proactive approach.”
Convincing new clients may present more of a challenge. “It’s an approach they’re not accustomed to, so it may be harder to convince them to try something new,” explained Riopel. “However, depending on the level of infestation at the site they may be more than willing to try a new approach.” For really hesitant managers, Plunkett’s may offer the initial inspection free of charge and, based on the company’s findings, recommend regular inspections.
“We recognize that this reduces our revenue with these clients,” acknowledged O’Reilly. “The clients recognize it, too. These clients appreciate our commitment to the best service program for them and refer us emphatically and enthusiastically to new clients. So, we may not generate as much revenue at the original site, but we’re adding clients that not only need bed bug services, but other pest control services as well. In the end, doing the right thing by the client is always a good idea.”
“We average a 98 percent success rate at the first go-around with a heat treatment,” said Riopel. “At the same time, we’ve seen a significant revenue increase over the past seven years in all aspects of multi-housing revenue.”
If you decide this is a service you’d like to offer your clients, the advice is to start small to give your team an opportunity to learn the process. “Pest management companies may want to start out with a smaller account and take more of a ‘bite-size’ approach before selling a 500-unit high rise,” said Riopel.
TREATMENT STRATEGY. Inspections are done manually to assess living conditions and inspect for multiple pests, for which pesticides are applied. It’s also important for management to provide a list of previous material applications.
You have to gain the full support of management and buy-in from residents before implementing an inspection program and let them know what to expect. Multiple educational presentations, with translators present if necessary, provide an opportunity for the pest management company to provide information and answer tenant questions. Holding one-half to one-hour resident information sessions twice a year can provide “phenomenal” results. As one might expect, not all resident reactions are going to be positive. Some residents vehemently refuse to allow anyone to enter the unit. All tenant-related situations should be turned over to management.
Some property managers have residents sign-off, indicating that they received and understood the preparation notices. Some managers also fine tenants if their apartments aren’t prepared for inspection and treatment.
Entire facilities need to be fully inspected to be effective, including all units, common areas, laundry rooms, storage lockers, and vehicles, if high infestations dictate. During the initial inspection, about a dozen technicians descend on a facility and systematically document the areas and extent of an infestation. Riopel added that they “average about four hours to get through a 180-unit site with 14 technicians. The team performs these sweeps regularly, so we’re efficient when providing these services.”
This also provides a baseline for future inspections and measuring success. It’s important for the technicians to identify the problems, rather than relying on tenants reporting them to management. “We’ve found that non-reporting of pest issues by residents is a big issue,” added Riopel. “There’s always the stigma of having bed bugs and ‘being dirty,’ which may prevent someone from reporting an issue.”
During normal weekly or monthly service visits, Plunkett’s provides move-in and move-out inspections. Units of residents who have given their 60-day notice or recently moved in since the last scheduled visit are inspected for bed bugs, cockroaches, mice, and treated as needed. Inspecting units before residents move out helps prevent pests from being inadvertently spread to other areas of the building.
Riopel suggests renting wheelchairs and walkers as needed. In buildings that are highly infested it’s likely that residents will have bed bugs in both and the pests will immediately return after heat treatment. Another suggestion is to have management purchase and distribute movie passes so that while a resident’s unit is being treated they are less likely to go to a friend’s apartment or to a common area. “It’s not uncommon that residents have nowhere to go during the day, so the movie passes help,” said Riopel.
Vehicles are another consideration, for which Plunkett’s uses a mobile heat chamber, which looks like an inflatable bouncy house. “When someone is moving in, and have a known case of bed bugs from their previous residence, we empty the contents of their truck into our mobile heat chamber, as well as place a heater in the back of the truck. By the end of the day their belongings are bed bug free,” explained Riopel.
“Some clients have decided to purchase their own heat equipment and heat chambers,” said Riopel. Plunkett’s partners with their clients and provides chemical applications in conjunction with client-performed heat treatments.
An initial inspection dictates the frequency of future inspections. “We’ve found that quarterly inspections deliver the best results, but that doesn’t mean inspections will continue to be at that frequency. We may reduce inspections to twice or even once annually,” explained Riopel.
“Since implementing 90-day inspections at several facilities, we haven’t found a single unit adjacent to a source unit that’s been infested,” said Riopel. “The 90-day frequency seems to work the best. Although, someone moving in with a lot of bed bugs, whose belongings haven’t been treated, can throw a wrench into the system.” This is where the move-in inspection really delivers.
The author is a Florida-based freelancer.