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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

What is Poison? (AKA: Social media fun times)

I’m not the best gardener. I can grow some plants and I take decent care of my yard, but I certainly get my fair share of nasty notes from the homeowners association about weeds and mowing. I admit I slack off a little. So it is a little ironic that I somehow got onto a gardening facebook group. It’s mostly pretty pictures but I get a kick out of every post that mentions a weed or a pest.

Because people lose their shit and pesticides become the worst thing known to mankind.

To be fair, there were a few comments about using the product according to label and safely. Those comments did not get the likes. I’m not going to get into this particular product. I will say that customers are often afraid of pest control products because of what they have read online. That can cause problems that we have to combat.

“Don’t spray anything dangerous!” Or any version of “is that safe?”. I have to stifle my initial response of the fact that nothing is ever really “safe” and explain about pesticides. What we use is important, but more important is how we use our products. We have amazing baits that can be placed in very small amounts in locations people won’t contact it. There are great liquid products that can be placed in a very small pin-stream application in cracks and crevices to get to where pests are, but not impact people. I like to explain it this way: what’s better, a cup of water in a glass or a cup of water spilled on the floor?

“I want a green product.” Or some version of “all-natural”. There are products like this out there and it depends on what your definition of green/all-natural. Arsenic is all-natural. There’s a good reason it isn’t used as a pesticide anymore. These “green” products are an option in many cases, however they don’t typically last as long as “regular” insecticides and they have to be applied in much greater quantities. There is something to be said for using less to do more. As long as the customer understands the trade-off, these may be a good option.

“Don’t kill it/them.” I had a lady once who told me she didn’t want me to kill the ants that were infesting her kitchen. She legitimately wanted me to sweep them up and take them back outside. And I’m the first to admit that I save every spider that makes its way into my house. There are some pests that we have to kill in order to stop the infestation. My normal response to this is that we will need to terminate the ones that are here, but we can put in place preventative actions so we keep all the other ones out and we don’t have to kill those. This also helps to reinforce the sanitation and exclusion that are needed for a good preventative pest program.

“You should only use (insert home remedy here).” If I have any patience left at this point, I try to explain how these products may provide some temporary relief, but aren’t great long-term solutions. Usually, I have lost my patience by now and I look at them and say “How’s that working for you so far? Because you called me.”

Please be better than me and don’t lose your patience with your customers. Many of them can be easily won over with a little bit of education and good information. It’s helpful to have prewritten information sheets to give out.

IPM is about using all tools, including pesticides, to mitigate pest issues. I am going to go out and pull weeds, but I’m also going to use a herbicide because I need something to work fast before the HOA gives me another warning about my “weedy” yard. I’m going to target that application to just the small areas that need it. Educating our customers on how we use our products and how that helps protect their health, home, and food is important.

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