Will This Record Cold Affect The Pest Control Industry?

Snow_CarMost of the United States is experiencing record cold temperatures with this polar vortex. The end of January was down right glacial with temperatures plunging more than 20 degrees below normal. This record cold and snow is expected to last a couple more weeks.

This frigid weather has us pest management professionals wondering, just how much this severe cold is going to affect business this upcoming pest season. There’s no doubt that these cold temps will kill off some of the invasive pests we service, but to what extent?

mosquito in iceHow Extreme Cold Affects Insect Pests

As PCO’s, we all know that many of the pests we strive to manage can be extremely hardy and resilient. Years of evolution have programmed them to be so. They can go weeks without food, days without water, and months surviving among the elements.

However, insects being exothermic rely heavily on ambient temperature for warmth. The cold causes slower egg hatch and development, and prolonged, unprotected exposure will even kill insects. The longer the frigid weather lasts, the more insects are going to die off. It also means there will be fewer breeding cycles during the season, especially when the colder temperatures are prolonged.

As to how many insect pests will die off? Well, that’s the million dollar question. Yes, some insect pests will die because of this record cold, but the truth is it will probably have a minimal effect on most insects, especially our native species.

Ladybug In Snow

How Will Insects Survive This Record Cold?

Many of the common pests us PCO’s service have lived in the United States for millions of years or longer. They are well adapt at surviving all types of inclement weather; including a polar vortex. Like I said, they’ve had millions of years to get it right. Just how do they do it?

First off, insects go through a physiologically intense process of acclimatization in the fall. There are actually changes in their bodies. It’s the equivalent of having antifreeze. If these insects didn’t create this antifreeze, they would surely die; as their cells freeze and burst.

Second, when it begins to get chilly, insects will harbor or overwinter. Pests like ants and termites will bury themselves in the soil; underneath leaves and under other debris. These pests have a tendency to be less affected by the extreme cold.

Some kinds of pests will burrow behind tree bark. Others pests, like cockroaches for example, will enter our customer’s homes hoping to find warmth inside garages, walls or attics.

Will This Record Cold Affect The Pest Control Industry?

Concerned Business OwnerGiven that temperatures across most of the United States have been some 20 degrees colder than average, and not for just one night but for an extended period, many of us pest management professionals are curious about insect mortality.

According to a recent study from the USDA Forest Service, this record cold is going to have some affect on the number of invasive insect pests this upcoming pest season. We will see a nominal drop in the amount of pests invading our customer’s homes. This drop will be minimal, and could’ve been a lot worse if the polar vortex occurred earlier in the winter; say November.

By mid January, when this polar vortex first hit, most insects have already acclimated themselves to the freezing elements. It would have hit in November, it would have certainly taken a much bigger toll on the bugs.

It is important to note, that if the cold stretches into the spring months, pest management professionals will see fewer bugs. The longer the winter, the fewer the insect breeding cycles… hence, fewer bugs.

As a pest professional with Bulwark Exterminating in Mesa, AZ; last year we experienced some record cold. The cold even did some major damage to our beloved citrus trees. While the freezing cold did a number on our pipes, it really had little effect on our pests. We saw the same amount of bug and scorpion activity, as in previous years.

I’m expecting more of the same this year, but it may differ as to the part of the country in which you live. We’ll just have to wait and see… But hopefully not too long. It’s cold out there. Brrrrr!

Florida Pest Control

Reports are flooding in right now about a pest control company in Florida that has allegedly been operating without a license.  Its rumored that the techs were not licensed and the Alabama based pest control company was not licensed.  Fine is currently set at $30,000.

I am one not to jump to conclusions.  I would be shocked if this is true, but its not unfathomable.  Many individuals in life make decisions that seem to have good short term benefits, but that will hurt them in the long run.  As Adam says, ” It will catch up to you and some day you will have to pay the Piper.”  Running a business in an industry like pest control, where a state license is required you best get licensed.  Sure you can rack up a little more money not paying for licenses, but is it really worth the risk?

As the old tale goes about a truck driver bragging that he was so good at driving his truck that he could drive with half a wheel hanging off the edge of a cliff, another driver chimed in, “I am so good at driving a truck that I stay as far from the cliff as possible.”

Do it right, all the time, every time, and you won’t have to worry about “getting caught.”  If you are doing it right then there is nothing to catch.

Re: Leaving Something on the Bone – Gerry

Leave Something On The Bone – Sick Pay, Benefits, Medical Coverage in the Pest Control Industry

Great write up by Gerry, I would have assumed that most pest control companies offered. Gerry suggests that the pest control industry should be inline with offering sick pay, benefits and medical coverage. I applaud him on that. Gerry is quite the visionary. He brings a different perspective to the pest control industry with his background. He seems to possess a superb business sense and it shows with how he treats his customers and his employees.

I agree with him. It would be ideal for pest control companies, and all companies, to offer more and take care of their employees. Even offer the most they possibly can. But I hesitate to allow an outside entity to mandate how a business must run. How a business should run and how a business must run are entirely different. I see huge negatives to the government interfering with business. A government agent may not take into consideration all of the other factors associated with that business. Just because it sounds good and looks good doesn’t mean that it is good. Shouldn’t the government leave more on the bone for the business owners to divide up? (read Animal Farm again before answering that question)

Besides, I hold to a belief that the “Good Guys” will always win. Yes, call me an optimist, but its survival of the fittest. A company that offers more, and rewards employees based on their performance will have better employees and in turn a better company. Evolution. The guy that does it better, faster, bigger, or whatev-er will win. What you aim for in those wins will determine longevity. The winner of a battle doesn’t always win the war.

I believe in free commerce. I believe that an open market is best for all. I believe in Capitalism. Capitalism often equal optimization. It turns the will of invention and forward thinking. Just as I have balked at the “Green Pest Control” green washing of many companies.  But in the end, a healthier safer pest control service will win… not simply because of a title, but because of a reality.

Back to leaving something on the bone….. In the end, maybe we should consider raising a bigger cow, a bigger Purple Cow, and then there will be more to spare for all on the farm.

Thanks Gerry for your thoughts.  Its always a pleasure reading your blog.

Mosquito Count

Manitoba Health concludes that the numbers of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes,  mosquitoes known for carrying the West Nile Virus, are beginning to increase. The adult mosquito population is contingent on weather and pest control remedies. The weather will determine if their is enough moisture for the mosquitoes to reproduce. If the temperatures stay hot, and rains decline, allowing for  groundwater levels to fall then the normal water puddles and pools will dry kiling off the mosquitoes’ offspring. Pest control actions we take around our homes and properties to eliminate or treat stagnant waters used by mosquitoes will also determine severity of mosquito bites.  Quick tip, Mosquito Dunks are one of the best pest solutions for controlling mosquitoes in water bodies found around homes and property. As mosquitoes often don’t fall under the normal pest control service protection plans, you will want to apply these remedies yourself.

Mosquitoes do pose a health risk.  In fact, Salt Lake is reporting that mosquitoes in Utah county are indeed infected with West Nile virus, and while there are no infected humans at this point individuals should use repellent. Bug spray is especially important to apply after sunset, when mosquitoes carrying West Nile emerge.  Of the 2008 incidents in Utah none were fatal, and of 2007 incidents 2 were fatal.

So for your own safety: USE BUG REPELLENT WHEN OUTDOORS.

Are all Pest Control Companies the Same?

“We have no patent on anything we do. Anything we do can be copied by anyone. But you can’t copy the heart the soul and the conscience of the company.” -Howard Schultz

They Can copy our Service but it will not be same.

The products, the equipment, and the techniques may all be the same, but they will never have OUR PEOPLE. Our people are really what makes our service.  They are the face of our company. They are the voice you hear on the phone.  Excellent people make an excellent company.  Our people make up the Bulwark Family.  They make up our culture.  They come to trust one another and work as a team.

Further, since other companies are the ones copying they will never have the edge.  For our people, Bulwark means change.  Bulwark is constantly listening to our customers, listening to our managers, listening to our team leaders, listening to anyone that has a good idea, and implementing those ideas to make a better system.  Welcome to the Bulwark 2009 Model!  Our business in 2009 is not the same as 2008.  And next year we will role out the 2010 Pest Control Model.

So how do know which companies are different? How do you choose a pest control company?

Well… Wouldn’t you rather have an original Picasso over a copy?

Bulwark, the orginal pest control service.

p.s… This post came about because an office staff of ours took a call the other day.  The gentleman seemed very interested in our service and was asking all kinds of questions.  What kind of products do you use? Is your product safe for dogs?  Where do you treat? What are your mixed rates? Do you use baits for ants?… In fact the call went on for 20 minutes.  The caller then abruptly ended the conversation and said he would call back later.  Our office staff called to follow up with the “customer” later that same day only to get an voice mail, “Hi this is Joe Loss from Unpresentive Pest Control….” (Names changed to fictitious names to not embarrass our competitors.)

So a competitor called and found out what we used… We’re not too worried about it.

Green Pest Control- Green Week

Green Pest Control – Dallas TX Conference

Green is the thing especially during Green week. The yellow brick road is now green. Pest control is no different. Green Pest control is the new buzz. But what does it mean? What is green pest control?

Is the pest control company green or are they just “Green Washing” ?

This brings back memories of the 80’s “Light” craze. Everything was going “Lite”, “Light food”, “Lite Beer”, “Lite Cheese”, stick a light label on it and it was hot. It’s the “New and Improved” sells pitch. Or try “No Calories” for water that never had calories. “Fat Free” gelatins, no fat all sugar. “Reduced Fat Mayo” sure you’ve gone down in fat nano grams, but shouldn’t you just skip the mayo all together? We went through and are still suffering from the “Low-Carb” label. From craze, rave, wave, to the grave. The problem with the newest fad is that being new makes it unknown and the results unsure. Fortunately the rage that is worthwhile leaves its everlasting impression. And we believe that green means better, better for you and better for the earth.

“Greener is Cleaner”

The problem still remains, “What is Green Pest Control?”

Unfortunately after day 1 of The Green Pest Management Conference, there is still no concrete answer. Being green is still too new for most of the pest control industry. The best way to say it is that Green comes in shades. There is the “100% Organic group”, the “All Naturals”, and the much looser “Mix and Match”. More of a hybrid approach.

Bulwark’s stance, forget the label and the hype, we know and have always known that the customer wants the most effective and the safest pest control solution. If you label green as using the most effective solution with the least amount of exposure to families, children, pets, water, and the environment then you can label Bulwark Green. Bulwark began its service with an in-wall treatment plan, no baseboard spraying, and using products that had been used and proven in agriculture pest control. Bulwark was one of the first pest control companies to feature EcoSmart products. Bulwark has always been aware of a customers concern about the safety of their family. Bulwark has always tried to do what we feel is best for the environment. Call it what you want. If you ask me, yes were are green, always have been a shade of green,… and a very dark green if you look at the logo…

and getting greener.

Always moving, always improving. Or as our employees have so lovingly phrased it, “Bulwark means Change” … The world is evolving, shouldn’t your pest control?

Pest Control “Calibration”

A new word for the Pest Control Jargon page is calibration.  Calibration can simply be defined as the comparison of desired output and real output; and that adjustments are made so that real output equals your desired output.

Calibration is very important to a Pest Control Technician.  Applying the chemical as efficiently as possible requires that his/her equipment be fully calibrated.  The effectiveness of the pest control treatments may have a lot to do with the technicians ability to calibrate chemicals and chemical applicators.  Calibration ensures that the chemical has been diluted and spread properly/evenly over a desired space.  Calibration also prolongs the use of valuable tools and equipment that technicians use by prolonging equipment lifespans.  At Bulwark we use Power Sprayers to treat the perimeters of our customers’ homes.  Non calibrated “rigs” would lead to motor burn out, hose damage, or nozzle failure.