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Got Bugs? Why Pesticides Should Be Your Last Resort: An Interview with Tom Bray of The Bug Man Pest Control

By Tom Bray

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Bug Man Pest Control is a family-run business operating in the greater Houston area. We service a large area from the City of Lake Jackson TX, in the south to Green banks as far north as Cleveland TX. We are a green pest control company that uses products from EcoSmart and are very involved in IPM. We service two large school districts and a major university as well as bank chains and senior living centers. We are mostly commercial when it comes to pest control. We have a large residential customer base with termites. We also offer wild life control from everything from bats to raccoons.

If traditional pest control and using pesticides works, why should homeowners choose an environmentally friendly solution instead?

One issue using regular synthetic pest products is that they are used incorrectly. The label is the law, and it tells where and when a product can and cannot be used. Also tells you the re-entry time when they are used. A good example is the dust products; they create a fine powder mist and have limited usage. Also aerosol products can irritate someone with breathing problems such as asthma, and re-entry time is important.

Over the years we have seen pesticides used incorrectly by other companies we have followed into accounts because the products were not used according to the label. The consumer has the right to get a copy of the label from the pest company and needs to verify that it was used properly.

How does the effectiveness of chemical pesticides compare to eco-friendly treatments?

As far as effectiveness of synthetics versus natural products, that depends on the type of product. There are sprays that dilute with water and will last about as long, average is 60 to 90 days. Aerosols are about the same, depending on brand. The Ecosmart aerosol carries a faster knockdown with our testing.

The powder or dusts of the natural products do not last as long simply because they are affected more by moisture. The natural borate powder will not last as long as the synthetic because they are not water soluble and the humidity does not affect them near as much. The big difference is in the products used to treat for termites. Friponil products have a ground life of 10 to 15 years. Imdicloprid products last 7 to 10 years. The natural product manufactures that I use can't give me a ground life for their products.

How does the cost usually compare?

In a cost comparison, there is no big cost difference anymore. We do not charge any more for the use of green products. The cost does go up when it comes to exclusion work or IPM. Exclusion work is when we seal up the insect entry point into the property. Sealing doors, windows, fireplaces, rotten wood, and any entry point for the pest. By sealing the entry point it is more labor intensive up front, but when done properly it can eliminate the need for pesticides and is a one-time treatment.

Can you briefly describe what Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is?

IPM or Integrated Pest Management is the best long-term and safest method of pest control when possible. It is using the least amount of chemical to control pests.

What are the main differences in how you approach a pest problem with IPM versus traditional pest management?

A good example is in rodent control. To seal up the entry point will be much better than using the rodent poisons. By sealing cracks in windows you can stop ants and other bugs from entering a room. We service school districts, university, city building, and nursing homes using IPM as the primary method of controlling insects.

When pests invade, they are looking for a nest site, food, or water. We focus on how the pest gained access and sealing the entry point and also by eliminating the food or water source when possible. Instead of simply spraying the kitchen for ants, we go outside and look for the entry point and it could be something as simple as removing a water source that brought them close to the house. Ants require water daily so finding and cutting off the water source if possible helps a lot.

Do you have any advice for people who normally call an exterminator to get rid of pests in their home?

If you are using an exterminator you need to know what chemical he is using in and around your home. Get a copy of the label and read it to see what it is and how it should be used. A good example of this is if he is using a spray on the exterior of the home. All sprays have a drift, small particles that become air borne and float through the air landing far away depending on how windy it is and how the sprayer is used. Does that spray end up drifting into the dog's water bowl or onto the dog or cat food?

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

We can be reached through e-mail at bugmantom@gmail.com to help answer any questions or by phone at 281-804-9531.

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About The Author

Tom Bray is the owner of Bug Man Pest Control.

Phone: 281-804-9531

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