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The Latest Innovations in Pest Control Technology

Written by  Patrick T. Copps, MS, B.C.E.

Rocky Raccoon

The pest control industry is constantly researching new technologies and products that will advance the way we prevent and manage pests. And as these treatment and monitoring developments evolve, the overarching goal is to also decrease the impacts they have on the environment and on non-target creatures, as well as the economic impact on bottom lines. What’s more, they may even change the way we communicate about pest control. Here are some of the latest pest-control technologies and products to be on the lookout for:

Bio-Rational Materials
If your facility currently utilizes an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, you won’t be surprised to hear that the pest control industry has and will continue to move toward least-impact products and services. IPM—now widely accepted in many industries as the standard for service—is an environmentally responsible approach to pest control that focuses on proactive tactics, such as facility maintenance and sanitation to prevent pests from becoming a problem in the first place.

Bio-rational materials, or pest control products that are relatively non-toxic and have little negative impact on the environment, are another step forward in sustainability and are becoming increasingly important. One such example is using pheromones to enhance existing control methods.

While pheromones are nothing new to pest control—pest control professionals frequently use pheromones traps as a means to monitor pest populations—adding them to insecticides is a new concept.

The pest control industry is only beginning to understand the opportunities to improve our business with mobile and social technology—but the possibilities are endless.

Researchers at the University of California have developed what they call a “pheromone-assisted technique,” which maximizes the effectiveness of insecticides, specifically for Argentine ants. An insecticide by itself does not actually lure ants. Instead, if the ant happens to cross a treatment zone, it will pick up the insecticide and eventually die. But when combined with a pheromone, the ant can actually be lured away from its trails and nests to the insecticide.

Although this new product will be specifically for Argentine ants, we expect to see products for more ant species in the future. The ultimate goal of pheromone-enhanced products will be to not only control pests, such as this invasive ant species, but also decrease the impact on the environment, on non-target creatures and human health. For instance, some pheromones like those used by Indian Mealmoths can be deployed in food processing facilities or warehouses to prevent male moths from finding females. This “mating disruption” technique is one more new tool that could lead to an increased reliance on bio-rational products.

Like pheromone traps, Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) use synthetic replications of insect hormones. IGRs have been used by pest control professionals to disrupt pest lifecycles and prevent pests from reaching full maturity. But the most recent technique to emerge is combining IGRs that prevent pests from maturing properly with IGRSs that prevent pests from developing cuticles, or exoskeletons, leaving them defenseless and vulnerable. This combination of IGRs can be effective in preventing re-infestation of pests such as cockroaches.

As the trend toward bio-rational products and sustainable services continues, it will be important to make sure your pest management professional has a basic knowledge and understanding of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the National Organic Program (NOP), the new (and changing) food safety regulations, and where or when these types of materials or services can be incorporated into IPM programs.

Second-Generation Green Products
Until the past few years, much of the focus surrounding green products was from a public health perspective. But more and more, the demand for green products is shifting to eco-protection, a move related to the EPA’s focus on how materials affect the environment.

While green products have been on the market for some time, it’s the second-generation green products that are now emerging. These second-generation green products will have greater efficacy, better ingredients, and fewer downsides. For example, a first-generation insecticide may have contained plant essential oils, but it may have also been accompanied by an unpleasant smell. The second-generation insecticide will contain different proportions of the original ingredients or other materials to reduce the smell, while still being effective.

Communication Tools
Technology is changing the way we communicate with the people and objects around us. When mobile data-capture devices were introduced, pest control professionals were able to capture real-time data about the location and nature of pest problems and then store it in a central database online that both facility managers and pest control professionals could access. This also made it simple to track multiple facilities and allowed for more timely corrective actions and more targeted pest-control treatments.

But what is the next big step in communication? Through video recording and real-time communication devices, such as Apple’s FaceTime application and the GoPro video, property managers can capture video of their particular pest problem and relay it directly to their pest management professional for instant diagnosis and corrective action recommendations. And vice versa, pest management professionals can use video to record and narrate inspections and leave a copy for the facility manager via email, or conduct a real-time video co-inspection with the customer if they are not able to be present at their facility during the inspection.

The pest control industry is only beginning to understand the opportunities to improve our business with mobile and social technology— but the possibilities are endless.

Rodent Birth Control
For the past few years, pest management professionals have been using birth control for pest birds such as pigeons as a means of managing populations. Now the attention has turned to rodents. Though not yet on the market, rodent birth control may soon provide an effective way to control prolific breeders such as rats and mice without negatively impacting many non-target creatures. Be on the lookout for rodent birth control in the near future.

Fly Baits
One of the latest innovations in fly control is an insecticide sticker panel that can discreetly control a variety of fly species, including houseflies, blowflies, phorid flies, fruit flies, fungus gnats, and bottle flies. The small sticker is coated with insect food and an insecticide that has the ability to knockdown flies in just one minute upon contact. It does not release any fumes or odors once activated, and it can stay effective for up to seven months indoors.

This new fly bait is designed to work in variety of commercial settings and can be applied directly to areas where flies congregate, including windows, trash cans, under counters, behind equipment, and near floor drains and food storage areas.

In short, the industry is making a lot of advancements, which means good news for commercial properties fighting the battle against pests. Be sure to talk to your pest management professional about these emerging technologies and find out if they are appropriate for your facility.

Patrick Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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