Late night bug run

Sometimes being in the service industry, service men and women might be asked to go beyond the normal realms of a normal job.  I like to joke about the fact that we are not the electric company and we have to actually strive to keep our customers happy.  Our customers have other options that they could leave us for.

So, one day I had a route that seemed to be a little demanding.  What I mean is that there was a lot of driving.  Sometimes this happens because we cannot control when our customers get pest problems and where they live.  Well, when it rains it pours.

By 2 PM I was calling my 5:00 service and letting them know it would be closer to 7 PM.  They were ok with this.  I also called my 6:00 service telling them it would be closer to 8:30 or so.  Well, if you have ever driven through Austin, TX in Friday rush hour, you know where you have been and you know how slow you were going.  After calling my 5:00 service for the 3rd time, I let them know it would be closer to 9:30.  I honestly thought the customer would want to reschedule for another day and I was a little worried that the customer would be upset with me.  To my surprise, the customer said, “we will be here”.  I was happy to do the service late at night just for the simple fact that I was worried the customer would be upset for me falling so far behind.  On top of that, I called my 6:00 service for the 5th time and told her that it would be closer to 11 PM.  To my amazement, she was good to go.  My 5:00 service that I was finishing up with around 10:30 was walking around his house with me while I did the treatment and he held the flashlight.  He was happy, I was happy.

Could it rain and pour some more?  By this time the rush hour was over so that was a relief, but that is when the roadwork started and I35 was shut down!  I called my 6:00 service for the 6th time and said, I am sitting still on I35 so I don’t know when I will get there.  She said, “I am just up doing laundry, so don’t worry, I will be here and I will be up”.  I showed up at her house at 1 AM!  She was happy to see me as she had a horrible problem with some very large roaches.  She had just moved into and older house in a college neighborhood.  I think I got some pretty good advertisement as there was a very loud party happening next door!  They did not expect to see the bug guy!  I finished her house at 2 AM and somehow I was on time to my first house the next day.

The moral of the story?  If you have a pest control technician show up at your home on a Saturday morning and that technician is dragging his feet, has blood shot eyes, and might be slurring a little bit, it does not necessarily mean he was out parting the night before.

– George Bryant

San Antonio, TX

Bulwark Exterminating: Not An Ordinary Pest Control Service. An Extraordinary Opportunity.

If you have been reading my blog lately you would have noticed that I have taken a more personal approach with my blog posts.  From the beginning I was primarily focused on providing technical tips and insights regarding the pest control industry offering tidbits that would ultimately help get rid of unwanted critters.

To be honest I feel that for the most part you are able to find a good portion of the technical information regarding pest control within my blog and at the same time I must say that I am interested not only with the technical aspects of the pest control industry; but hopefully would offer insight into the development and progression that could be achieved after choosing pest control as a livelihood.

This year will be the first year that my pest control license will expire without renewal.  Although I am still working for Bulwark Exterminating, my role has changed.  I have grown with the company and I am living out my dreams in pursuit of a technical career in the field of technology.  I started out as a pest technician/exterminator, became a service manager, and more recently became a part of the Bulwark IT Team.  I am building databases, web pages, various interfaces, supporting network technologies, etc. in addition to developing life long friendships and obtaining invaluable knowledge and guidance through Bulwark Exterminating stewardship.

“The Secret Is Out,” let me be the first to say, Bulwark Exterminating is not an ordinary Pest Control Service.  Rather, Working for Bulwark has been an extraordinary opportunity.  I am not saying that as a company we are perfect.  In fact, we are constantly reevaluating our “systems” to ensure that they are relevant.  How relevant?

Well we make it our calling to gather feedback–from each individual employee on a consistent basis and most importantly from our customers.  Bulwark Exterminating is an Honorary member of the Better Business Bureau.  Bulwark Exterminating has a website dedicated specifically for customers to offer feedback about their service…guess what the URL is: Grade Your Service Dot Com.

In conclusion let me share a little bit about my initial experience as an employee of Bulwark Extermination’s President:  Bulwark Exterminating has operations across the nation from Arizona to North Carolina. We have a customer base in the tens of thousands.  The first time I met this guy he was driving a conservative rental car, was taking the time to visit each individual branch, talked with his employees, and was wearing pants that had been in his closet for over six years.  It was then that I realized that this was a guy who was well grounded and not money driven.  He has a higher calling.  I am sure if you are lucky enough to work for him one day; he would not mind taking the time to fill you in…

Bulwark Exterminating…”Who should you choose to be your pest control provider?”  Well if you ask me…

KT

Hello 2009…1 year Anniversary…Blog Pest Control Dot Com: To My Pest Control Wife

Wow…2008 is officially a thing of the past.  I am excited about the possibilities for 2009 and hope that it brings each of us the true desires of our hearts.  Life is a precious thing and 2008 has made it a point to add emphasis to things that I should be grateful for.  First and foremost I am grateful for my wife.  She is the secret of my success and has to bare the majority of the load of rearing our children.  My wife and I have been married for nearly eight years and I must say that although challenging at times, our union has borne the greatest fruit.

With a house full of “crumb munchers” it is enjoyable to come to a home that is well organized and clean.  I don’t know how she does it…when I am at home (alone with) my kids quickly turn their rooms into a disaster area.  She is the greatest mother I know…and thats pretty good considering my mother is extraordinarily special in her own right…but thats a different story.

Although we had our toast of Welchs white grape; here’s my literary tribute to you; my “pest control wife” who has to bare my long drawn out conversations.  I am certain their is no greater supporter or reader of this blog.  Honey I love you!

STAY TUNED…This blog is going to get a face lift before the end of 2009.  As busy as I am, I have not yet determined when I will have time for “surgery,” but rest assured it will be well worth the wait…or at least worth your anticipation.  Until then, chow.

KT

Pests: Why an annual contract?

Time and time again I receive questions regarding the relevance of an annual agreement for pest control services.  To better answer these questions I feel behooved to put pest control issues within the context of an average pest control customer.  Obviously each pest control customer is different; but there are a few basic assumptions that should be made when one is found to be in need of pest control.

First and foremost when someone recognizes their need for pest control it generally means that their “specific” threshold for tolerance towards unwanted pests has been exceeded or is on the brink of tolerance.  Secondly, pests are often in a cycle of dormancy making seasonal appearances in an adult stage with the next generation safely tucked away in a hidden harborage generally left untreated after one service; and dormant longer than the standard “30-90 day guarantee.”   Finally, pests issues are often community wide issues.

If you are like me you don’t pick up the phone immediately when you see a pest.  I often come across ants, silverfish, and pigeons who quickly become a nuisance.  The first thing I try to do is get rid of the pest myself.  Whether I purchase over the counter bug spray, seal up the crack or entry point, or utilize a beebe gun to shoot at pigeons when no one is watching (wink, wink), I am called into action.  Although alleviating the problem temporarily this approach to pest control often exacerbates the pest problem.

In the case of ants I could cause one colony to split into several different colonies.  Pharoah Ants and Argentine Ants (Super Colonies) each have the efficient ability to seperate and form multiple ant colonies.  So the ants which were attracted to grandma’s cookies in the kitchen are now being found in grandpa’s bathroom (having seperated in response to over the counter bug spray and instinctively being drawn to moisture).  In the case of silverfish I decide I am going to seal my doors better…not recognizing that the infestation is actually within the walls having initially been attracted to starchy materials left within the walls during construction; and ultimately infesting from within.  In the cases of pigeons “whose feathers I’ve ruffled” move from above my garage and are now nestled above my main entrance into the home.

Pigeons are a great example of a pest problem that if symptomatically treated escalates into a living nightmare. One should know that if I am putting spikes and removing harborage areas for pigeons on your neighbors roof; the disgusting pigeon “poop” and “loose feathers” will most likely migrate over to your home.  Although an over simplification, this is a good example of how pest problems should be looked at.  Most consistent pest problems are a community problem.  I often would treat individual homes on golf courses.  Many of these homes were multi-million dollar homes within an elaborate community of picturesque greens, water falls, and man made lakes.  Unfortunately individual residents could never understand why they had an escalating issue of rodents.  Similar to the concept within The Field of Dreams whose adage: “Build it and They Will Come;” is understatement when one recognizes that more than humans, rodents love these artificial developments because of the moisture, shade, and agriculture.  It wasn’t long before those who thought they lived in an area of the development safe from rodents fell victim of the onslaught of their new-found tailed friends.

I have not yet come across a community of individual homeowners where all could agree on a pest control strategy; let alone split the cost of a neighbors newly installed pigeon exclusion.  Unfortunately most people do not see beyond their home boundary.  Because of this unfortunate reality; in order to prescribe a service worth its gurantee and in order to ensure customer satisfaction it is often of necessity to enter into a contract of service.  To put this in perspective let me offer an analogy.

Suppose you lived in a community of four houses aligned in a square plot divided equally.  Where each house was centered on each division.  If there is a heavy rain your subdivision is flooded.  Suppose you hire a professional to come in and install sandbags around your home…and it works effectively.  Next time there is a heavy rain the other three homes will be flooded (proportional to the water displaced from your barrier) worst than before.  Furthermore, we know that it is necessary to continually reinforce your barriers as rain is inevitable and so is the degredation of the sand barrier.  Why is a one-time sand bag installation ineffective?  Why would a seasonal sand bag service be ineffective?

“Whew…”

KT

Bulwark: The Pest Control Stewardship

It has been a while since my last blog entry.  These past few months have been extremely hectic for me.  My wife and I have had a new baby (#5), I am furthering my education, and I am fortunate to have a job which is continually offering interesting challenges.  At Bulwark Exterminating our culture is in a constant state of flux–operating tirelessly to achieve the big objective: The Most Productive Highest Quality Service Company In The World.

I have been reflecting upon 2008 and I can hardly believe that we are about to enter a new year.  It is amazing how time flys when you are having fun!  The current economic and foreign policy predicaments that the US are currently facing has negatively affected many Americans attitudes about the future; yet fortunately I have seen many who are willing to remain optimistic, while patiently anticipating an eventual economic upswing, and ultimately a more tolerant world.

It especially easy to be grateful for something during a time of its respective scarcity.  I have personally been extremely grateful for my employment, my spouse’s health, the health of my children, -their safety, and the stewardship of great leaders.  The United States of America is facing many critical challenges that are inherently deduced when the survival of American Values are to be pitted against stoic and mundane American economic policy.  To put things in perspective I will highlight the fact that although Americans have been facing a sluggish economy; Americans continue to find a way to give to charity.

Although at Bulwark Exterminating we have always appreciated our customers, there is, at least in my mind, a heightened awareness towards customer satisfaction.  No marketing is better than positive word of mouth.  There should be no greater advocate of a service; than he/she who is offering the service.  As one who was in need of employment–I am grateful for a small business with a big heart whose willingness to hire a “green” technician with a red fire desire to learn a trade has ultimately allowed me to provide for a young upstart family.

Then again, as a medium-sized business behind a philosophy of “promote on performance,” Bulwark extended a “stewardship” to me which encompassed managing those who would follow in my footsteps…to ensure excellent customer service while offering the latest pest control technologies within a proprietary service.  As a service manager I wanted our customer’s to be happy: With empathy each customer was given the best I have to offer; and I trained our technicians to offer the best.  I took a keen interest in pest control; I took it upon myself to try and master the pest control trade; while absorbing the wisdom offered from Bulwark’s great leaders.  My studies led me to this conclusion:  Before Bulwark Exterminating was in the Pest Control Business, it was in the “People Business.”

This is my blog and these are my thoughts.  I am personally grateful for “Bulwark.”  I am professionally grateful to all Bulwark Exterminating customers who have allowed us the privilege of attending to their pest control needs. To the greatest Pest Control Technicians in the business…Thank you…

Ed Sakugawa…”Thank you for your continuous efforts in the Las Vegas East Area.”

KT

President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden

I wanted to take a moment and congratulate all of those who participated in this years elections.  Win or Lose, we should always be grateful to be apart of a nation like the United States of America.  One of our greatest civic duties as fellow Americans is to participate in the voting process with a belief that each vote counts.  I am truly proud to be an American!
KT

PS…GOT BUGS?

I recommend you call Bulwark Exterminating…1-800-445-9313.

Integrated Pest Management-Revisited (IPM)

IPM: Integrated Pest Management


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is sometimes referred to as a total science that encompasses the basic principles that guides the perception of the right way to approach pest control and pesticide application. The ultimate goal of Integrated Pest Management should be to identify conditions that are conducive to unwanted pest presence, the measurement of tolerable pest thresholds, and the best way to control pests in a manner that is the least destructive to the environment.

We can better identify conditions that are conducive to an unwanted pest presence by recognizing the three aspects that make up Integrated Pest Management.

The three parts of Integrated Pest Management are:

  • Environment
  • Insect/Pest
  • Food Source

The goal is to see how our homes play out relative to these three components of Integrated Pest Management. Integrated Pest Management is a science that focuses itself on these three factors and how they specifically can be applied to any specific property. For example I will give you my IPM perspective towards controlling scorpions. First and foremost I look for environmental factors that are conducive to scorpions and/or scorpion activity. I look for construction nearby which may have removed the scorpions previous habitat, or perhaps may have disturbed the current habitat and encouraged migration. Secondly, I would look for the introduction of new landscaping, and particularly types of agriculture used as a natural habitat for the scorpion. Furthermore, does the customer have various water sources, pool, poor drainage, etc?

Does the customer have a lot of make shift harborages for scorpions; firewood, old washer and dryer, kids toys, un-maintained brick walls/fencing? What type of (gravel/rock) landscaping are they utilizing? There are many different things that although artificially created produce an environment that scorpions are naturally attracted to.

In addition to environmental conditions, (and probably after recommending that nothing sit up against the house for at least 2 feet) I would focus on food sources. Although controlling the scorpion�s food source may be a good idea, I am always cautioned by my respect for their antiquity. The fact is that scorpions have been around for millions of years and have over the ages developed the ability to survive under the direst circumstances. Scorpions eat various insects; ensuring that you eliminate the scorpion�s prey of choice can help control an unwanted scorpion population. Divulging from my scorpion perspective to help add emphasis to the “food source” aspect of Integrated Pest Management I would like to quickly point to fruit flies. I would often run into customers who would complain about fruit flies and come to find out they have a huge pomegranate tree in their backyard with fully ripened fruit dotted throughout the problem area. The IPM way would be to remove the fruit (food source) and in turn, remove the pest.

The final aspect would be to look at the insect/pest or in this case the scorpion. The nature of this pest may justify more drastic measures because of the type of danger a scorpion bite poses to humans. Secondly, the threshold of scorpion tolerance is very low (as opposed to a fruit fly, where tolerance can be significantly higher). I have not met a person who could tolerate sharing their home/yard with scorpions. I would always recommend that every precautionary measure be taken when it comes to scorpion control.

The general theme surrounding Integrated Pest Management is that overall there may be a progressive approach that you can take to pest control that in some cases may not utilize pesticides or is more environmentally friendly. Sometimes changing environmental factors within your control can eliminate/control various pests. Desert Landscaping as opposed to Green Grass is conducive to different insects/pests. Sometimes controlling the availability of food sources; dog food, dog poop, fruit trees, wood, etc. will help prevent the unwanted pest who prey on your unsuspecting food sources. Finally, look at the insect and identify a threshold of tolerance. Insects/Pest all have its own implications on our environment. Nature’s equilibrium rests upon a delicate balance that requires the participation of all natural living beings and their life processes.

Happy Halloween!

Please have a safe and happy Halloween.  Please be extra cautious for trick o’ treaters as they scurry from house to house.  Slow down a little bit more than usual when driving home.

Kenneth
PS…When you see those trail of ants leading to your kids candy…Don’t forget The Worlds Most Productive Highest Quality Service Company In The World…Yours Truly….Bulwark Exterminating…for all of your pest control needs.

SilverFish & Firebrats

Silverfish and firebrats eat a wide variety of foods, including glue, wallpaper paste, bookbindings, paper, photographs, starch in clothing, cotton, linen, rayon fabrics, wheat flour, cereals, dried meats, leather and even dead insects. Silverfish often live in damp, cool places such as basements and laundry rooms. Sometimes, they are found in a bathtub, sink or washbasin, unable to climb out. Firebrats live in hot, humid places such as attics in summer and near furnaces, fireplaces and heat pipes in winter.

Identification

Silverfish and firebrats have flat, elongated bodies 1/3 to 3/4 inch long and broad near the head, tapering toward the rear-somewhat “carrot” shaped. These fragile, wingless insects are covered with scales and have two long, slender antennae at the head and three long, antennae-like appendages at the rear. These three appendages, one directed straight back and the other two curving outward, plus the two antennae, are nearly as long as the body. Sometimes these insects are known as “bristletails.”

The silverfish adult is about 1/2 inch long with a uniform silvery or pearl-gray color, whereas the four-lined silverfish is about 5/8 inch long and the back displays four dark lines the length of the body. The gray silverfish is about 3/4 inch long and uniform light to dark gray. The firebrat is about 1/2 inch long, grayish and mottled with spots and bands of dark scales. Young resemble the adults except they are smaller. Eggs are whitish, oval and about 1/32 inch long.

Life Cycle and Habits

Silverfish and firebrats are active at night and hide during the day. When objects are moved where they are hiding, they dart out and seek new hiding places. The silverfish lives and develops in damp, cool places (prefers 75 to 95 percent relative humidity), often in the basement, bathroom and kitchen. Large numbers may be found in new buildings where the walls are still damp from plaster and green lumber.

The firebrat is quick moving and lives in dark places above 90 degrees F such as around ovens, furnaces, boiler rooms and fireplaces or insulation around hot water and heat pipes. These insects follow pipelines from the basement to rooms on lower floors, living in bookcases, around closet shelves, behind baseboards and behind window or door frames. They are hardy and can live without food for many months. Bristletails prefer to eat vegetable matter. Indoors, they will feed on rolled oats, dried beef, flour, starch, paper and paper sizing (which contains starch), gum and cereals. Outdoors, they can be found under rocks, bark and leaf mold, and in ant, termite, bird and animal nests.

Silverfish females may lay over 100 eggs during a lifetime. Eggs are laid singly or two to three at a time in small groups, hatching in three to six weeks. Young silverfish and firebrats resemble adults except being smaller, white and take on the adult color in four to six weeks. Adults may live two to eight years. Firebrats lay about 50 eggs at one time in several batches. Eggs hatch in about two weeks under ideal conditions.

Silverfish and firebrats, depending on the species, may reach maturity in three to twenty-four months. These insects normally hitchhike into the home in food, furniture, old books, papers and old starched clothing. Unlike other insects, they continue to molt after becoming adults. Forty-one molts have been recorded for one firebrat. Populations do not build up fast. A large infestation in the house usually indicates a longtime infestation.

Control Measures

Prevention

Sanitation is important but not entirely effective in reducing populations because insects often reside between wall partitions, in insulation materials, in books and papers, among book shelves and in other protected places. However, be sure to remove old stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers, books and fabrics plus foodstuffs spilled and stored for long periods of time. Often reducing available water and lowering the home’s relative humidity with dehumidifiers and fans is helpful. Repair leaking plumbing and eliminate moisture around laundry areas. Lighting a dark, sheltered area may force these insects to move to new sites where they can be controlled more easily. Once the infestation has been eliminated, sanitation will help prevent reinfestation.

Insecticides

Treatments need to be applied thoroughly to all potential hiding places such as cracks, crevices, inside floor moldings, around steam and water pipes, in and behind seldom moved furniture, closets and even attics. It may be necessary to drill small holes in the walls to treat large populations in wall voids. Control may not be immediate since bristletails in wall voids must move out and contact the insecticides. It may take 10 to 14 days.

There are many insecticides labelled for control of silverfish and firebrats (bristletails). Residual sprays of chlorpyrifos (Duration, Dursban, Empire, Engage, Killmaster II), chlorpyrifos + pyrethrins (Dual Use), diazinon and propoxur (Baygon) can be used. Space sprays of amorphous silica gel (Drione, Tri-Die), pyrethrins (Exciter, Kicker, Microcare, Pyrenone, Pyrethrum, Safer, Synerol, Uld, X-Clude), resmethrin (Vectrin) and esfenvalerate (Conquer) can supplement residual sprays, especially in attics, crawl spaces and other hard-to-reach areas. Likewise, dusts of bendiocarb (Ficam), boric acid (Borid, Niban, Mop-UP, Perma Dust), diatomaceous earth (Answer), diatomaceous earth + pyrethrins (Organic Plus) are effective in places where sprays are hard to reach such as in wall voids, crawl spaces and attics. Other insecticides labelled for “restricted use” can be applied only by the licensed pest control operator or applicator. Their products include bendiocarb + pyrethrins (Ficam Plus), cyfluthrin (Optem, Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff, Cyper-Active, Demon, Vikor), deltamethrin (Suspend), lambdacyhalothrin (Commodore), permethrin (Dragnet, Flee, Prelude, Torpedo), propetamphos (Safrotin) and tralomethrin (Saga). Before using any insecticide, always read the label, follow directions and safety precautions. It is advisable to use the services of a reputable, licensed pest control operator or applicator when infestations are persistent and hard to locate.

Source: William F. Lyon, Ohio State University