• Chelle Hartzer

If It Isn't Broken... (AKA: The same old ways...)

Pest control isn’t new. People have been dealing with pests trying to eat our food, destroy our structures, and infect us with deadly diseases for thousands of years. Over that time period, there has been an evolution of both products and techniques to help better manage the pest issues.


I was talking with some folks last week and one of my most hated phrases was used: “this is the way we’ve always done it.” My immediate reaction to that is usually: “well… how’s that working for you?”

Want to get me riled up? This is the way!

In this particular case, they said it was working fine, they weren’t having any issues (which I personally doubt but I wasn’t going to argue it). In most cases, folks realize that it isn’t working so well which is typically why they are talking to me in the first place. Consider all the changes that can happen to a particular site over time and then think about if the pest management plan has changed. Here’s a few things to think about:


When was the last time the device site map was updated? Basics of a conversation I had a few weeks ago when there was a rodent problem occurring inside a site:

Me – so you are catching mice inside in one spot?

Them – yep, they seem to be hitting just a few of our traps in this one location, but we know they are getting in through a broken wall that’s on the other side of the site.

Me – so are you moving traps to that wall?

Them – well, we have traps on the other wall.

Me – but the mice are getting in at another location. Don’t you want to put the traps closer to where they are entering?

Them – but then we would have to update the site map.

Me – yeah….

Them – we can do that?

Me – yep.


The pests don’t follow our rules. Just because a station or a trap is put in one place doesn’t mean they will go out of their way to get into it. Moving devices around in response to pest problems, or even conducive conditions (imagine if they had just moved traps to where the hole was or added stations outside of where the hole was), can limit and/or prevent pest issues. Leaving devices where they are for years does not account for pests and conditions shifting around.


What pest treatments are occurring? A conversation I had recently that was along the same lines of “this is the way we’ve always done it” went something like this:

Me – why are you applying product every time you go to this account?

Them – because that’s what the customer wants.

Me – but there are no current pest issues?

Them – no, our customers will be really upset if we didn’t treat every time, they are used to us doing that.

Me – then why don’t you educate them on what you do and how an IPM program works?

Them – they would fire us.

Me – so instead of talking with them and improving, you will just keep spraying every time?

Them – this is the way we’ve always done it.

Me – ugh. (SMH)


The point here is that doing the same thing over and over again but not actually helping the customer and not providing the customer with the best possible service; they are just spraying every time. Instead, they could be inspecting, identifying conducive conditions, talking with the customer to fix those, and preventing issues.


What pesticides are being used? Another recent conversation with one of my clients:

Me – what product have you been using?

Them – product “x”

Me – and you are having problems with the pests increasing?

Them – yep, but there has been no activity on “x”

Me – and when did you switch to “x”?

Them – I don’t understand…

Me – what did you use before “x”?

Them – we’ve always used “x”

Me – for how long?

Them – at least ten years at this site.

Me – ugh. (SMH)


Most have gotten very good about rotating cockroach baits due to resistance and aversion. For some reason, this doesn’t translate to rodenticides, liquid residuals, granular baits, or other insecticides. Some folks get very insistent on their “favorite” that “always works”, but we know that it doesn’t take long for insects in particular to develop resistance to pesticides. Using the same thing because that is what has always been used is a bad idea.


Pests and pest control is not new. That doesn’t mean the same tactics and products used years ago are the best products and tactics for today. There is so much of “it's always been done that way” besides my examples above. Keeping that old mentality will mean pest problems continue and can get significantly worse. Think your program could use some updating? Contact us to see how we can help you!

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