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?




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