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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

It's Not Easy Being Clean (AKA: Ew.)

I was traveling for family stuff this past week and was at a relative's house. Walking in, there were house flies flying around. My (rather elderly) relative showed me a can of over-the-counter “spray” and asked if I used it. They also had a bunch of the store bought “bug bombs”. I said, as nicely as possible, that I did not use those.

In this case, their biggest issue was house flies. Normally we would say those are an outside issue: the breeding source is outside and the adults are coming in through openings. In this situation, they were actually breeding on the inside. There were some sanitation issues that were not being addressed. Trash had not been taken out in a while and there was a bunch of old food waste.

I tell this story for a couple of reasons.

First, because there are often times we can’t take care of a sanitation issue very easily. These were elderly relatives that have gotten to the point where they really can’t physically manage many of the cleaning tasks around the house. There are many situations where cleaning is hard. Some residents can’t de-clutter before bed bug jobs, many restaurants can’t completely remove all food sources, and apartments can’t control their neighbor’s sanitation problems. I would like to tell my relatives to deal with their mess, but that would not have gone over well and would have resulted in them being mad at me and pushing back. Instead, trash was taken out and I suggested (nicely) that they do that a bit more often.

Second, because many people will try the DIY route. It was physically easier for my relatives to use a store bought spray than to find and deal with the source of the issue. When you have a professional service doing the pest control, using additional products on your own can be detrimental. In residential situations, “bug bombs” can cause serious damage including fires and explosions. They can also be dangerous to human health: they should not be used with people in the room or the vicinity of the treated area. Sprays can also interact with professional products and make them less effective, making the problem worse. There is also research that these DIY products are not very effective to start with.

Lastly, because one pest problem can often lead to other issues. The cause of the large flies was also creating a problem with small flies. I didn’t have a chance to identify them but I suspect it was mostly fruit flies. Sanitation issues like rotting foods can lead to food-borne diseases like E. coli and salmonella. Flies can transfer pathogens around as they land on new surfaces. Cockroaches can cause allergy issues, mosquitoes can cause diseases, stored product pests can cause contamination and recalls. It's rarely just one issue to deal with, it's often multiple problems with various solutions.

I hate to throw my relatives under the bus, but they won’t see this and I’m not naming names! Think of the pest problems you may be struggling with and if there are stubborn relatives issues that may be hampering your efforts to resolve them. Sometimes creative solutions need to be employed to reduce the problem to safer levels. And before anyone reports me or my relatives, we are getting their house cleaned and the problem rectified. Want help working on your situations? Contact us here!

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