[Pest Perspectives] Managing Pests From the Exterior

Columns - Pest Perspectives

July 30, 2014

You’ve heard it before: The key to keeping your customer happy is by keeping pests out of their home. While you may have originally been called to remove those pesky bugs or rodents, once they’re gone, the customer expects them to stay gone. No bugs, no rodents, ever! Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Preventing pests from ever gaining entry into a structure is not always possible. However, there are ways that a pest management professional can reduce the potential for pests gaining entry into the structure.

Identifying Pest Trends.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, know thy enemy. Pests don’t just happen! In most cases their arrival into a structure and their destructive patterns can be predicted based on a number of factors, including seasonality, weather and, most importantly, past service tickets. Identifying pest trends is an important first step, one that should be done before you arrive at the customer’s location. The identification of pest trends can be an easy way of creating a proactive pest management program for your customer. Thinking ahead, doing a little homework, and acting proactively can pay dividends in the end, especially where your customer is concerned.

A Thorough Inspection.

The most effective way to keep pests out of a structure is by focusing not only on the exterior perimeter of the structure itself, but the area around the structure. I have written in the past on the important role a thorough inspection plays in the development of a pest management plan. Locating gaps and openings that pests can enter through, identifying conditions that are conducive to a pest infestation, and identifying what may bring a pest to a structure is only the beginning. It’s also important to identify why the pests are there. You need to ask yourself, what makes this structure attractive to pests? Does the type or amount of vegetation lend itself to an increase in pest activity? Are there drainage issues or areas with standing water? Are the types of bulbs used for exterior lighting attracting pests to the house?

The inspection is also a great opportunity to identify and sell additional service offerings that may be of benefit to your customer. More and more customers look for alternatives to traditional chemical control methods. Greater restrictions on commonly used products, service offerings that center on non-chemical and more long-term solutions, are growing in demand.

Cultural and Physical Strategies.

When we think about an effective Integrated Pest Management program, the effectiveness of a chemical control program is always enhanced by the integration of different cultural and physical control strategies. This incorporation of additional service offerings is a way to increase the long-term effectiveness of your program. This is also a great way of increasing the value of your service and building a long-term relationship with your customer! The well-armed pest management professional should have a supply of equipment that allows for them to correct many of these deficiencies at the time of the service. This may include caulk, a caulk gun, and pruning shears, just to name a few. Exterior lighting is also an area that often goes unnoticed. With the addition of LED lights as a potential light source, replacing exterior bulbs with LED bulbs that produce colors that are “warm white” or “off white” may also be a helpful way to reduce the potential for flying insects and spiders around a structure.

Preparing for the Future.

With the warmer temperatures of summer beating down upon us, we need to remember that now is the time for us to lay the foundation for the future. Reducing the pest potential of a structure from the exterior during the summer months is one way to help reduce the potential for an interior pest infestation in the future.


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