All businesses and industries – including pest control – go through change and their technology advances. Of course, some changes happen more rapidly than others.
According to Dr. Robert Corrigan, the newest technology that is being integrated into the rodent control industry is electronic rodent monitoring (ERM). He says he believes this represents a significant change in the way pest control will be provided as a service for years to come.
Corrigan calls a big misnomer in the pest control industry “The Big False Negative.” He says this refers to the fact that technicians are only out on any given client’s property (commercial or residential) a certain number of minutes per month. So, the chances are somewhat slim that a pest technician will actually find all pest issues happening there during their visit – unless there’s a big infestation that’s easy to find.
“For pest control this is as big as moving from sprays to baits in termites. Who would’ve ever thought that would happen, and it does a great job. Say we’re there for 20 to 30 minutes a month and you calculate how many minutes we’re not there for the 29 or 30 days between appointments,” said Corrigan. “The majority of the time, we’re not there so we have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on everywhere. So as an industry, we wait for a call.
“But having (ERM) monitors, the biggest advantage is you’re installing a ‘canary in the coal mine,’“ he said, referring to the ages old practice of coal-mining companies putting canaries in mines to allow miners to know if there was a gas leak.
Eventually, all types of clients will have ERM monitors, Corrigan said. “I think everyone will have them at some point and you’ll get that alert on your phone or your desk. (Currently), that mouse can go for weeks undetected because you have to wait for the next time the pest guy comes back. Monitors reduce the chances of that false negative being so large.”
The other aspect of ERM is that it changes the way that commercial technicians are able to provide services, Corrigan said.
“At a commercial account like a hospital, if a technician has to get a ladder to get up in a ceiling and look around, that’s a real clock eater. The technician checks these spots and it’ll take a half hour and most clients don’t want to pay for that half hour. If you have monitoring and nothing triggers them – the ‘canaries’ so to speak – then you don’t need the ladder.
“Also, these monitors can share pinpointing as to where the issue is located that needs attention. Say you put out 35 monitors you look at the data and four of them are always alerting and the others not ever. You’ve been given data and now you can work to rodent proof or do what’s necessary to solve that.”
Another incentive for pest control professionals to use ERM as a standard tool – not an option but a traditional day-to-day part of their services – is the fact that monitoring is a basic part of every IPM program.
“I think it’s worth mentioning the definition of Integrated Pest Management (in part) is monitoring,” Corrigan said. “If you’re not monitoring, you’re not doing IPM. There’s no negotiation here. That makes no sense.
“When you say you’re selling IPM you’re only selling pieces of it. Remote sensors instantly put you into that IPM approach, they are data-driven tools and prove it through their remote sensors.”
The future will include ERM as a big part of it in the pest control industry, he says.
“This whole thing is an evolutionary step forward. There is some confusion. The technician might be worried it will replace them, but I think that’ll never happen. Someday there will be a tipping point and customers will ask, ‘How much for a sensor system?’ I think we’ll head there and never look back.”