8 Reasons NOT To Do Your Own Pest Control
The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Pest Controlling
Pest control is important. Really important. In fact, many public health organizations attribute our improvements in life expectancy and the quality of life we enjoy today to 3 main things: better sanitation, better medication, and better pest control. Pest control product formulations have gotten more precise, allowing for more targeted applications with a reduced hazard potential to applicators, non-target organisms, and the environment.
The advances within the pest control industry over the past several decades, in combination with increased access to pest control products and information, have given rise to a an emergence of aspiring do-it-yourself pest controllers across the country. There are now entire companies and website dedicated to the world of do-it-yourself pest control. Indeed, Pest Control Everything itself would not exist, at least in its present form, but for the high demands relating to do-it-yourself pest control. Some see it as an opportunity to save money...after all, why pay for an exterminator if I can do the same pest control treatment with the same products for a fraction of the cost? Others see it through an environmental lens, hoping to reduce potentially adverse impacts on our ecosystems by limiting the use of pesticide products.
While the origins of any consideration of doing your own pest control are usually well-founded, questions quickly emerge as to what value, if any, is really gotten from a do-it-yourself pest control approach. At the end of the day, when all things are comprehensively taken into account, does eliminating the professional exterminator really make sense? Pest Control Everything has taken a long, hard look into this question and has come up with 8 Reasons Not To Do Your Own Pest Control service. And because many of our readers will disregard these recommendations, we will continue providing as much support as possible to those wishing to tackle their pest problems on their own.
8 Reasons Not To Do Your Own Pest Control...
1. You May Not Know What You're Doing
Honestly...do you? Realistically, this one reason should be enough to steer most people away from the idea of attempting a do-it-yourself approach to pest control, and this reason has tentacles that extend well into all other reasons to follow. I've been in the pest control industry for the better part of 20 years, and have performed thousands of pest control applications for many, many different types of pests with many different types of pesticide products. I've trained pest control technicians, developed service protocols for various types of insects, and resolved many pest control issues. With that as my foundation, I hesitantly consider myself a damn-near-pest-control-expert. That said, I recognize that the composite of what I don't know about pest control far outweighs the composite of what I do know.
The reality is that every single pest control situation is different, with different contributing factors, environmental conditions, and synthetic components that require an individual analysis in order to determine the most prudent course of pest control action. The same species of insect may respond or be impacted differently by the same formulations of the same pesticide product from one location to the next as a function of these many variables. One of the huge advantages professional exterminators bring to the table is their wealth of experience dealing not only with the pest species found in your particular geographic area, but also with the myriad variables that need to be taken into account in order to implement an effective pest control treatment strategy.
If you don't know what species of insect you're dealing with, what environmental conditions prevail that are enabling their presence in your area, what additional factors may be contributing to their populations, and how these insects are likely to respond to various types of pesticide formulations, you stand little chance of executing an effective, long-lasting pest control treatment program, and may be well advised to Find a Licensed Exterminator Now
2. All Pesticides, Even Organic Pesticides, Are Toxic
Did you know this? All pesticides, by definition, synthetic or all-natural, have a certain level of toxicity that is designed to kill, repel, or otherwise adversely impact target pest organisms. If they didn't do this, they wouldn't be pesticides. As a former long-time pest control operator in the state of Florida, one of the many value-added services we provided to our residential pest control customers was a spider elimination program, where we used an all-natural spider repellent to drive out web-weaving spiders from inside pool screen enclosures. This program was phenomenal, and the results were tremendous.
This particular all-natural spider repellent product was comprised largely of citrus extract and other natural ingredients...on paper one of the "least toxic" products carried by our technicians. For me personally, however, this product was among the most bothersome, causing severe dizziness and disorientation whenever I came near a recent application. Unlike many synthetic, theoretically more toxic pesticides, this all-natural, "non-toxic" pesticide required me to take significant additional precautionary safety measures whenever applying in order to minimize these adverse side effects.
So in order to do your own pest control, at least when an active pest infestation exists, you are likely going to need to incorporate some type of pesticide product...whether that be an all-natural product or a synthetic one. As a pesticide applicator, you are going to be potentially exposed to any product(s) you ultimately choose to use, sometimes over and over and over again. And each of those products, every one of them, has inherent risks associated with them. Professional exterminators are specifically trained to be able to handle, mix, and apply each of the pesticide products they use safely, efficiently, and effectively. Until or unless you are equipped with this same vital knowledge, doing your own pest control probably is not a very good idea, and it may be time to get free pest control quotes now.
3. You May Not Have The Right Application Equipment
Do you? Do you even know what the right application equipment would be for the particular type of pesticide you intend to use? A quick scour of the internet will highlight many work-arounds for those wishing to cut corners with pesticide applications. After all, who needs a termite tank or treatment gun when you can just as easily use a 5 gallon bucket, right? How important is this extra pest control equipment really? Well, after nearly 20 years worth of pest control applications, we at Pest Control Everything have concluded that the application equipment is very, very, very important. Proper treatments for certain pests such as termites may require very specific, specialized application equipment.
Safety Considerations: Remember, every pesticide you are going to apply is toxic. Many pesticide formulations, including liquid pesticide concentrations, require measuring, mixing, and some sort of application equipment in order to apply the product. (Some formulations, such as ready-to-use aerosols or foams or spray bottles, may come packaged in a way that doesn't require any additional application equipment). Without proper application equipment, it becomes very difficult to measure, mix, and apply pesticide concentrates in a safe manner.
Efficacy Considerations: Without the appropriate application equipment, it becomes increasingly challenging to make pesticide applications consistent with the label requirements. Certain products for certain pests may be best treated with a fine mist application, for example, and others with a pin-stream crack and crevice approach. Other products may require a stronger output in order to uniformly cover an impacted area. Because improper application methods generally lead to unsatisfactory pest control results, using inadequate equipment is likely to leave you more frustrated than the bugs you're trying to get rid of.
Time, Energy, Money, and Resources: Without the proper pesticide application equipment, you're positioned to waste significant amounts of time, energy, money, and resources in the interest of preserving these very things. Whether it is through product waste during mixing, over-application of product, or a combination of other factors, attempting to do your own pest control without the right equipment for each particular product is like going down a rabbit hole. And sometimes the process of acquiring the necessary application equipment may prove to be more costly than working with a professional exterminator in the first place.
4. Doing Your Own Pest Control May Be Irresponsible
Most people starting down the path of potentially doing their own pest control begin with the premise that doing so is a responsible, environmentally-friendly approach. In reality, however, in large part because of reason number 1, the opposite is usually true. In most instances, nobody...neither you, nor your family, nor your neighbors, nor the environment...is better off with you doing the pest control services that a trained professional should otherwise be doing. Consider this by way of example...
Let's say you live in New York, and you're planning on doing your own mosquito control applications using your new gas-powered backpack mosquito mister, and you're planning on using a bifenthrin-based product such as Talstar to treat your 2 acre property. If a professional were to do this same application, your immediately adjacent neighbors would be notified several days in advance of their application, as required by state law. This would give them an opportunity to take any necessary precautions that might be in their best interest in order to minimize their own risk of exposure from that particular application. In all likelihood, because you yourself are not subject to the same regulations as commercial pesticide applicators, you will not be making those same notifications, potentially creating an elevated risk beyond what should otherwise prevail.
On the day of the schedule application, the professional mosquito applicators know that certain conditions such as rain or wind may prevent them from being able to provide the treatment on that particular day. And upon completion of the treatment, they are required to maintain a pesticide application record to be submitted to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation as a means of checks and balances. As an individual applicator on your own private property, you are under no such regulations. Maybe good news for you...and maybe bad news for your neighbors. And when you do ultimately make the mosquito application, what if the treatment calls for 20 gallons at a .02% concentration and you apply 60 gallons at a .06% concentration? Now you have applied 3 times the permissible amount of finished solution at 3 times the permissible concentration. Might be bad news for the mosquitoes in your yard...but could also be bad news for the people and pets in your yard as well.
And of course the hypothetical potential scenarios of irresponsibility extend for many, many pages. What's most important to remember is this: if you are intending to do your own pest control, it is incumbent upon you to become fully and comprehensively educated on all things related to your particular application. It is not ok to make pesticide applications equipped with only a fraction of the information necessary to adequately consider all potential consequences of your activities. If you aren't properly prepared, consult a licensed exterminator in your area now.
5. You May Not Have The Right Protective Gear (PPE)
Before any other consideration is taken into account, safety should always be the top priority when considering pest control applications. Many professional pest control companies have entire departments devoted to the training and use of proper pest control personal protective equipment. As an aspiring do-it-yourself pest controller, here's a pretty basic rule of thumb: if you don't have the right PPE, don't do your own pest control. We have already established that ALL pesticides are toxic. On top of that, accidents happen...more regularly than you might think. Regardless of the variable levels of mammalian toxicity that any particular product may have, protecting yourself from unnecessary exposure is of utmost importance. Things like chemical-resistant gloves, respirators, safety goggles, and hard hats are just a few of the necessary safety items you will want to be sure to have on hand. If you don't have these essentials, it might be time to get some free pest control estimates.
6. You Might Actually Make Your Pest Problem Worse
I've compiled a fairly substantial amount of data over my 20 years in the pest control industry. But one of the things I didn't collect, that in retrospect I wish I would have, is what percentage of customers hiring a new pest control company previously attempted to do their own pest control treatments. On a purely non-scientific level, my experience tells me that this percentage is rather high. Overwhelmingly, new pest control customers seem predominantly to have been unable to resolve their own pest problems or have been dealing with another pest control company who has been unable to resolve their problem for them. In either instance, the result is the same, with improper, inadequate, or substandard pest control treatment measures leading to ongoing or recurring pest control problems.
With most types of pest problems, where and how you begin treating tends to have a rather significant impact on where and how your pest problem ends up. Sometimes lousy applications might just mean the pest problem ebbs and flows, dissipating for awhile but eventually returning. In other instances, improper treatments can make the pest problem altogether worse, making any eventual remedy much harder to accomplish. Pharaoh Ants, by way of example, are generally only able to be managed through a strategic ant baiting approach. Attempting to treat these ants with a residual spray application will likely cause something called "budding," where the ant colony splits off and forms multiple, sometimes independent subsidiary colonies while rapidly increasing reproduction. Other species of ants similar communicate with a type of alarm pheromone that can trigger an increase in reproduction.
How discouraging must it be to invest weeks, months, or years battling an ant (or other pest) problem, only to eventually discover that your efforts were actually increasing the overall populations all the while? Not only will you have unnecessarily wasted time, energy, money, and resources, but you will have unnecessarily subjected yourself to living with pests that could have quickly been mitigated by hiring a professional exterminator.
7. You Might Put Yourself Or Others In Harm's Way
Unnecessary pesticide exposure should certainly be one consideration, but it isn't the only safety consideration. Unless you are aware of how certain pests are likely to respond to different types of treatments, you may not be reasonably positioned to perform a safe treatment. Spraying for certain types of bees or wasps, for instance, could put all sorts of people in the surrounding environment in jeopardy and pose a severe health risk for those with particular allergies. Improper disturbance of fire ant mounds could cause aggressive swarming that could be hazardous and potentially fatal to people, pets, and livestock in the area. Attempting to set rat snap traps without requisite familiarity might lead to finger injuries or worse. And while the risks are many, the considerations should extend well beyond yourself. Before making any pest control application, be sure to consider all worst case scenarios regarding who and what else might be at risk. And if you're unsure how to safely apply pesticides, use our free exterminator search tool to find licensed professionals in your area.
8. The Effectiveness Depends On The Applicator (You)
So here's the thing...you can spend hours upon hours researching which pest control products work best for your particular type of pest. And yes, using the right products are very important. But once you've determined which types of products may work, the success of your treatment program is going to depend entirely upon you and the quality of your application. How you apply your pesticide of choice is going to determine what impact those applications have on your overall pest population, and how quickly that pest population is ultimately eliminated. If you simply don't know what you're doing, the greatest pest control products in the universe are unlikely to resolve your pest problem.
For most aspiring do-it-yourself pest controllers, the best advice is to seek the services of a licensed professional exterminator in your area. Only individuals who know what they're doing (or are able and willing to learn), have the right pest control application equipment, have the right personal protective equipment, and willing to adhere to all label requirements and local regulations should consider moving forward with a do-it-yourself pest control approach.