[Pest Perspectives] Time to Rethink Your Exterior Pest Management Program

Columns - Pest Perspectives

January 28, 2014
Kim Kelley-Tunis

Exterior pest management practices have come under greater scrutiny in recent years, due to concerns over groundwater contamination, secondary toxicity in non-target pests and the reduction of plant pollinator populations. This has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate many common active ingredients used for exterior pest management. These include the anticoagulant rodenticides and products containing either pyrethroids or neonicotinoids as the active ingredient. This process has resulted in the modification of many product labels, affecting product usage and application methods that will ultimately reflect the strategies implemented in an exterior pest management program. As we start a new year, what might your exterior pest management program look like?

Rodent Control.

Rodent control strategies focused on the use of rodenticide baits to decrease rodent entry into a structure by reducing exterior populations will become a thing of the past. Mass baiting programs will be replaced with a strategy that focuses on the continuous monitoring of the structure and grounds, either through the use of monitoring baits or electronic sensors.

These monitoring stations will be replaced with devices, such as multi-catch traps or snap traps, once activity has been identified and verified to effectively remove populations prior to their entry into the structure. This reduces the need for and significantly reduces the amount of rodenticide bait applied within the environment. This new control strategy will also further help reduce the potential for mortality in both non-target animals and secondary hunters, such as predatory birds.

Exterior Liquid Chemicals.

The use of liquid exterior applications will continue to dwindle. Changes to the labels of products containing pyrethroids and neonicotinoids have greatly restricted the application, uses and the locations in which they can be applied. Companies must look to alternative control methods, including the use of granular products to create barriers or zones along the perimeter of a home or utilize baits that are species-specific.

In the future, the development of new chemistries and active ingredients may help improve the quality of our exterior programs. Future development of general application or broadcast products that are species-specific will help to protect non-target insects, such as the honey bee. Pheromone-based products also could be developed and implemented as monitoring tools to identify hot spots or critical areas where targeted control strategies are needed.

Other Trends.

Successful companies will also increase their focus on cultural and physical control strategies to provide long-term relief from the invading pest population. Thorough inspections that identify openings into structures and conditions that are conducive for a pest infestation will identify the need for ancillary services such as moisture remediation, window/door seals and sweeps, or the sealing of openings into the structure.

Lastly, trend reports and detailed documentation will become an even more important tool for the development and continued evaluation of an exterior pest management program for both commercial and residential customers. Identifying pest population trends and resolving specific pest-related issues before an infestation becomes established will set a successful pest management company apart from their competition.

Whether we like it or not, strategies surrounding the practices of exterior pest management are changing. As we move into 2014, every company must ask the same question. What will our exterior pest management program look like moving forward?

The author is Rollins’ technical services director. She can be reached at kkelley@giemedia.com.