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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Light Up My Life (AKA: Right tool for the job)

I have a robot-vacuum. I set it to clean my floors the other day and well… it didn’t go so well. Just like the insect light traps (ILT’s) we use in pest management, things don’t always go as planned.

Let’s talk about insect light traps. The big, bulky industrial models with lots of bulbs in them and the “pretty” sconce-style ones for customer areas. The things that are supposed to intercept the insects incoming from the nearby area. They are in warehouses, food facilities, restaurants, hotels, offices, and I’ve even seen them in homes. Do they catch everything? Nope. Like my vacuum, they have a specific target. No matter how good my robo-vac is, it just can’t possibly get every last piece of lint and dust on the floor. No matter how bright and big an ILT is, it is not going to catch a mouse. Just having and using the vacuum doesn’t mean I don’t have to occasionally get the corners and edges it misses. Having ILT’s doesn’t eliminate the need for other pest management tools like floor traps, inspections, exclusion, and more.

My vacuum just doesn’t like the big, thick carpet I have on one of my floors. It gets stuck, it stops, and the rest of my floors don’t get cleaned because it is stuck in one spot. An ILT isn’t going to get the insects crawling on the ground because it is not intended to; its purpose is to catch the flying insects that are attracted to light. It won't necessarily get every single flying insect either. I understand the limitations of my robo-vac and I know to vacuum that thick carpet separately. Knowing that an ILT will only catch flying insects means there need to be other tools to catch crawling insects and other tools for other pests.

If I place my robo-vac at the top of the stairs, it falls down and doesn’t clean my stairs. It’s not designed to. It is useful for flat areas*. ILT’s are designed to be located in specific areas for specific pests. Putting my robo-vac on the stairs is a bad idea. Putting an ILT in a poor location is a bad idea. ILT’s need to be near doors and other exterior openings (but not too close) so they can intercept what comes in. It needs to be at a certain height for best capture rates. You wouldn’t put a vacuum on a table and expect it to clean the floor; you can’t put an ILT on the floor and expect it to catch the moths flying at five feet off the ground.

After an hour or so, my robo-vac stopped. Why? Because its little dirt container was completely full. (Yeah, my floor was pretty dirty, I blame Max the cat). ILT’s with glue boards can only capture so many insects before they are full and there is no sticky surface to catch the pests. The vacuum container had to be emptied, the filter cleaned, and then replaced. If not, the vacuum just won’t work. Same with ILT’s. They need to be serviced and cleaned regularly so they continue to work. This can change throughout a year. During the warmer months, there are going to be a lot more invading insects to be caught. When a door gets propped open for long periods, that ILT is going to be chock full of fliers. When the dumpster overflows right outside the door, there are going to be lots more flies to be captured. If a ILT glue board is full and it doesn't get changed right away, there could be days or even weeks where it is essentially useless as a pest control device.

No tool is perfect for everything. My robo-vac doesn’t do my counters, clean my laundry, or dust my shelves. (Rosie, I need you.) ILT’s won’t catch ground insects, can’t attract insects from yards away, or work on pests that aren’t attracted to light. I can make the vacuum more effective by putting it in the right area, understanding what is going to stop it, and removing those obstacles. ILT’s can be much more effective when they are placed correctly, serviced regularly, and other tools used for pests the ILT doesn’t target. Do you know if your ILT’s are doing the best job they can? Give us a contact to find out more!

*If someone designs a robo-vac that does stairs, I would totally pay for that!


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