Industry tips and tricks from Bayer’s Technical Service Lead, Joe Barile, and his 30 years of experience.
Let’s complete the 30 Tips for 30 Years we began earlier this year. Below please find the second half of this two-part series:
- Do You Measure UP? It may seem silly, but TRAIN techs to accurately measure for dilution/application. Pay attention to metric vs. English measures. I once watched an experienced tech pour eight OUNCES of concentrate into his B&G because he did not understand what a MILLILITER was.
- Moisture Meters: This will be one of the best investments you will ever make. Use is not restricted to termite inspections: find carpenter ant nests; determine if wood-destroying beetle infestations are active; find nesting bats, wasps and rodents in wall voids; and determine if plumbing leaks are present in voids.
- Frito® Bandito: I have used corn chips as a monitor bait for oil/fat feeding ants, especially fire ants. It is amazing how fast the ants can detect and find this food.
- Don’t be a Dust Junkie: Everyone needs to learn to apply dust formulations correctly. Don’t fill wall voids, but apply light, floating clouds of dust into voids. Practice with dusters filled with cornstarch to get the ‘feel’ of how to make these applications correctly.
- Going Bananas: Need to confirm roach activity or make a positive, fast cockroach identification? Place a slice of banana (or even a piece of banana peel) in the middle of your sticky trap. Bananas release a volatile oil that almost all of our target species find especially attractive. This is very helpful with exotic species like Surinam and Turkistan roaches. Remember to return within a few days as the banana will likely become moldy.
- A Mouse is Not a Mouse: Structures in rural and suburban areas are typically invaded not by the house mouse (Mus musculus), but by the white-footed mouse, or other local Peromyscus species. The usual baits for snap traps may not be as attractive. Try nut meats (walnuts); seeds (sunflower seeds); cotton balls, a raisin and even jerky meat.
- Kneepads: Years of crawling around accounts will take a serious toll on your knees. Start protecting your health early, and wear kneepads. You may find your customers will be impressed when they see them.
- Penlights: Today’s flashlights are reliable and provide superior illumination to the models of the past. However, they can fail when you need them the most. Carry a small penlight (or Mini Maglite®) as a backup. I learned the hard way when my rechargeable flashlight failed suddenly in the sub-basement of a huge hospital complex.
- Toothbrushes Are Your Friend: Don't throw old toothbrushes away! A toothbrush is one of the most helpful field maintenance tools for PMPs. Clearing clogged sprayer nozzles, cleaning off rodent snap trap triggers and cleaning insect bait station residues off surfaces (a little WD-40® helps here) are just a few of the uses with this helpful tool.
- Bang the Station Slowly: Be aware that rodent bait stations may be occupied when you service them. Give the station a rap with your flashlight, and be prepared before opening. I have surprised birds, bats, snakes, spiders and, of course, rodents that are harboring in the stations. In their native range, also watch for scorpions.
- Don’t suffer from “Tempo Neck”: We used to joke about technicians having “Tempo Neck,” a malady that is caused by continually looking down during service visits. Train techs that pest management occurs in a three-dimensional environment and to look for activity wherever resources exist that will support them. I once found an infestation of German roaches in a hospital kitchen suspended ceiling because the night staff threw old baked potatoes into the void as a joke.
- Account Review: Regularly solicit technicians’ comments regarding “problem accounts.” Many techs may not communicate about uncooperative, undersold or habitually difficult accounts. This can be done on a schedule (annually), and it promotes technician involvement.
- “Green Fly Trap”: Use a pint-sized deli salad container. Punch a pencil-sized hole in the lid’s center. Place one slice of banana in the container, and add three to four drops of water on the banana. Place the sealed container between waist and shoulder height in infested areas. This is very effective against house flies and lesser house flies. I have used these in a public aquarium where we could not spray.
- Pre-bait Maxforce® Ant Bait Stations with a small smear of honey on the entrance ramp.
- When is a pest not THE pest? The presence of scavenging beetles (carpet beetles, dermestids, larder beetles) may indicate other pest problems. When you find these insects, also look for: wasp, hornet or bee nests; animal carcasses; rodent nests (cached nuts and seeds); and nesting vertebrates (birds, bats, squirrels).
Many thanks to my mentors throughout these 30 years, including Austin Frishman, Richard Kammerling and Howard Morong, just to name a few.