Natural pest control is in boom or bust?

The world is turning green. The color “green” is the symbol of environmental concern and the driving force behind cutting-edge technology. It’s also the buzzword of the socially conscious. Pest control is not the only product that is being developed because of concern for the environment and how man impacts it. Environmentally-friendly carpet moth treatment services are growing in popularity, particularly in the commercial sector. Even environmentally-conscious residential customers are interested in natural alternatives to conventional pesticides. However, they often lose their enthusiasm when faced with the 10%-20% cost differential, longer treatment times, and sometimes even weeks.

The increasing awareness of America’s environment and strict federal regulations governing traditional pesticides seems to have shifted the focus of the pest control industry to integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is safer for the environment and for pets, as well as for people, pets, and secondary scavengers like owls. Pest Control Technology magazine surveyed 378 pest management businesses in 2008. Two-thirds of them offered some form of IPM services.

Instead of lacing pest sites with a poisonous cocktail of powerful insecticides designed to kill, IPM focuses on environmentally-friendly prevention techniques designed to keep pests out. Although low- and no-toxicity products can be used to incite pests to leave, IPM focuses on eliminating and controlling the cause of infestation.

IPM is particularly popular among schools and nursing homes that are responsible for protecting the health of elderly and young citizens. IPM is also attracting the attention of commercial businesses, residential customers, and office buildings. Driven in equal parts by environmental concerns and health hazard fears, interest in IPM is bringing a host of new environmentally-friendly pest management products — both high- and low-tech — to market.

Tom Green, president of Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America (a non-profit organization that certifies green exterminating businesses), said, “Probably the most effective product out there is a sweep.” Green said that a mouse can fit through a hole as small as a pencil’s diameter in an interview with the Associated Press posted online by MSNBC last April. If there is a quarter inch gap under your door, a mouse will not be able to enter. Cockroaches are capable of slipping through a 1-eighth inch crack.

Cindy Mannes, spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association (a $6.3 billion trade association representing the pest control industry), stated that IPM “is a better approach to controlling pests for the health and environment of the family,” in the same Associated Press story. Mannes warned that IPM is still a new addition to pest control’s arsenal. She also noted that there is not much industry consensus about the definition of green services, as IPM is relatively new.

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