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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Resistance is Inevitable (AKA: You won't be assimilated)

The Borg told us that resistance was futile. It’s not, it’s unavoidable. Insect pests (even rodents) are in a constant battle for survival and when we throw something new at them, they start the biological warfare to ensure their race survives. What is futile is treating pests with the same product and the same methods again and again and again. There are plenty of examples of resistance developing in urban pests, here are just a few and what to do about it.

A few years ago, a study got picked up by the media and the headlines were all “Cockroaches are immune to insecticides” and “Cockroaches may soon be unstoppable”. While that isn’t totally true, cockroaches are becoming more resistant to more active ingredients. What’s also important to remember is that resistance isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. There is a range so insects can start to have low levels of resistance. It means that at low doses, the insects may survive, but at regular (label rates), the product is still effective.

Cockroaches can also become averse to baits. This doesn’t mean they are resistant to the active ingredient, it means they just don’t like the taste of the bait anymore. It’s like after eating pizza every day for a year, you are just done with pizza and don’t want anymore so you are craving chocolate. All of this taken together means that products need to be rotated regularly. Not just the active ingredients but also the bait matrixes: the “food” part of the bait. There are still many options that allow for this.

Picard quote
There are still lots of choices!

Speaking of the Matrix, there is a lot going on that people just don’t see. Take bed bugs for example. People often don’t notice them until the issue has grown. Then they try the DIY route. What they don’t see behind the can/bottle is that most over-the-counter products are all pyrethrum based. This is why most populations of bed bugs are now resistant to that active. Like Agent Smith, bed bugs have evolved to use their food source to the best of their ability and to avoid being detected. Like Neo choosing his weapons to battle Smith, there are still many tools to use. Ensure that pyrethrum products aren’t being used and make sure that if multiple treatments are needed, the product (particularly the active ingredient) is switched every time.

Morpheus quote
I can show you the tools, are you ready to use them?

The stormtroopers in Star Wars seem easy to kill, but they keep coming. Just like rats, you manage to take out a couple, but there are 100 more right behind them. Rodenticides have been used for centuries to manage rodents. One of the originally mass-produced in 1950, Warfarin, quickly started showing resistance because it was used almost exclusively. The “second generation” rodenticides were introduced and there were multiple active ingredients and in more recent years, multiple bait matrixes. However, rodents are starting to show resistance to some of these as well. Do you know when the last time the rodenticide around a site was changed?

Yoda quote
You CAN do it!

Resistance is a big deal, but it’s not futile, and if it’s managed well, it’s not inevitable. It is a never-ending battle between the Empire and the Rebels, the pests and the humans. We are likely outnumbered but we have the tools. Why keep using the same tool over and over, when you can use multiple tools and keep those pests in check? Want to know more about the right tools? Contact us here!

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