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Of Termites and Bed Bugs . . .

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  1. P Bello

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    Joined: Nov '11
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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Oct 25 2014 9:01:11
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    Dear Folks,

    At the risk of seeming argumentative, which is not the intent here, please review the comments below regarding strategy, methodology, philosophical perspective all couched with entomological viability and soundness:

    > Termite control work is still the primary source of revenues for US pest professionals. Not all pros mind you, but the entire industry revenues taken as a whole, across the board.

    > These days pros are using termiticide liquid applications, direct wood treatments and sub-soil installed stations to control termites and annual termite re-inspections to protect homes long term from termite damage.

    > In geographies where termites are active, long term control and protection is an ongoing process because soil borne termites are a constant threat to any structure built on the ground, and let's face it kids, most of them are right? (Please note that this constant threat of termite invasion/infestation may be viewed in much the same way as potential bed bug infestation from neighboring units in multi-family settings, right? Humor me.)

    > For purposes of this discussion, we're limiting mush of the commentary to liquid termiticide post construction remedial applications. This means we have a structure where active termites are found and a termiticide application must be done in order to eliminate the termites to protect the structure from ongoing and future damage. Still with me here? Good.

    > Once the application is completed, we will also need to re-inspect the structure each year in order to detect any subsequent termite activity prior to significant damage occurring. That's pretty much the strategy in a nutshell. Once again, not rocket science here kids.

    (Let's now relate this termite stuff to bed bug control, stick with me here.)

    > For the most part we may not be able to tell exactly where the termites are coming from. We may be able to see their mud tunnels and excavated galleries in the structural framing members and components however, unless you have Superman like X-Ray vision, it's beyond a tad difficult to know for sure where and how the termites had entered the structure from. Additionally, we're not easily going to know exactly where they may come from in the future either. However, what we do know entomologically is the termite biology, behavior, preferences, habits, etc.

    > This said, when conducting our termiticide application work let's all assume that professional applicators may have a choice in how they do the actual applications with the choice being a partial or spot type application or a complete or comprehensive label compliant application. Got that?

    What this means is as follows:
    a) Partial/Spot type application:
    Only the area where the termites are actually seen is where the termiticide is applied.

    b) Complete/Comprehensive type application:
    The entire structure is treated with the termiticide as per the label instructions.

    (OK kids, fasten your seat belts cause here's where this discussion is going to get a bit sticky.)

    > Partial or Comprehensive application treatment?
    Why would we choose one strategy over the other?
    What would you choose if it were your own home?
    (I realize that some of you may or may not have a suitable knowledge base upon which to make an informed decision on this and that some of you may not but stick around, I'll explain further here.)

    Experienced, knowledgeable and competent pest professionals know that the comprehensive termiticide application would be the best choice for long term control and there are many reasons this is so. They also know that an application limited to the areas where termites were found or observed would not protect the rest of the structure or control/eliminate termites that may be active yet undiscovered in the structure due to their crypt-biotic nature. (Note that crypto-biotic may be loosely defined as "hidden life".) Further note that bed bugs have also been described or characterized as being crypto-biotic.

    (OK, now let's get to the bed bugs. Finally.)

    > To state or assert that application of control procedures or materials must be limited to only those areas where bed bugs are actually seen or observed is not consistent with most insecticide product labels, state regulations and/or how work is being done in the field by experienced and competent pest professionals.

    PLEASE NOTE that this is not to be argumentative in any way but to merely point out and underscore the truth of the matter for work being done here in the US under the parameters which pertain to and govern how such work is to be done here. As qualified expert in this field, and let's all know and understand that there are actual legal definitions for the term or characterization of the word expert, my role requires that I read and review regulations in place in many states. And, while such regulations are similar in many aspects, there is no way I have all such regulations memorized.

    Generally speaking the phrase "The Label Is The Law" is equally applicable in all states. Further, while an individual state may have a regulation which is more strict than the Federal guideline/regulation, in now way may a Local/State regulation be less restrictive than the Federal guideline or the label. Please note that this is an important concept as it is the very foundation upon which the regulatory parameters with which the professional pest industry must comply are built. Got that? Good.

    > Now let's think about actual bed bug application work here. If our team is working in your house and we find live bed bugs in your bed frame, box spring, sofa etc. you can bet your azz that we're going to vacuum, steam and apply insecticide products. (We're also going to install encasements, blockers, monitors and isolate your beds to prevent bites too but that's a whole other lengthy thread . . .)

    > Out control and application work will NOT be limited to just those areas where bed bugs "are seen". We're also going to address those areas where bed bugs may travel, harbor and/or hide as per the product labels. Doing so is entomologically sound because we know that bed bugs do travel, harbor and hide in these areas. As such, doing so is in you, the customer's, long term best interest to protect you from bed bugs.

    Now, please understand that as an educated, experienced, knowledgeable, competent pest professional as well as being an expert qualified in both Federal and many State Courts, I have not reviewed nor am I familiar with the regulations in foreign lands outside the US.

    However, in speaking with various pest pros from Australia, Sweden, Denmark, UK, Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Philippines, Japan, China, India, Bahamas and other such places whilst attending Pestworld 2014 this week my observation is pretty much outside the US "it's the wild, wild west" out there kids. While all these folks know that "the label is the law" what's a tad surprising (even though I did know this in advance) is that these pest pros still have various products to use inside their customers homes that have been unavailable for use here in the US for many years now.

    Some of these guys tell us that bed bugs are NOT a big deal in their country because they are able to use those "good ole products" that are no longer available here. And, while Mike Potter published a similar observation in one of his articles about three years ago (or thereabouts), it's always interesting to discuss such issues first hand with pest pros at Pestworld. In fact, one such gent told me just yesterday that they're still using dursban and "it eliminates bed bugs in one trip no problem mon".

    > So, the question or comment is this:
    If pest pros working here in the US open an outlet and there's no bed bugs seen, are we "ok" to apply an insecticide product to that surrounding wall void and/or should we to control bed bugs?

    And, the answer is:
    Yes, of course and they should also do so for those areas where we know bed bugs travel, hide and/or harbor. Doing so is part of a thorough and comprehensive approach.

    Later today I'll be sharing my notes taken at Pestworld 2014 as promised.

    Have a great day folks ! PJB


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