While many people run the other direction when they see a spider, that’s not an option for Darren Van Steenwyk, technical director for Clark Pest Control in Lodi, Calif. He’s had plenty of arachnid run-ins during his career. He shared the following stories with Pest Management Professional.
Q: What’s the largest spider infestation you’ve dealt with, and what did you do to eradicate it?
Van Steenwyk: A warehouse that has a storage shed next to it. The shed was roughly 20×40. It accumulated many items throughout several years without anybody paying attention. We received a phone call when the customers wanted us to take care of the spiders because they were going to empty it, update it and use it for their manufacturing.
When we walked in, there were spider webs everywhere — all over the walls and ceiling. We hadn’t seen that many webs in a storage shed like that. It was way more than we expected. In California, we deal mostly with black widow, cellar and orb weaver spiders. This storage shed had essentially black widows all along the walls and roof.
Three of us started treating the storage shed on the inside. We started on the far side and worked our way toward the door, using various products to control these spiders. We needed to rid the shed of activity so we could come through and treat a second time. The eerie part was the number of spiders dropping on us as we worked our way through the shed. There were thousands of them. That first treatment probably took between a half hour and 40 minutes, which is quite a bit of time. The second treatment consisted of follow-up and spot treatments.
Q: What was the hardest-to-find spider infestation you’ve encountered, and how did you ensure you got the best of it?
Van Steenwyk: We were dealing with orb weaver spiders in rural neighborhoods in Northern California. They were blown inside in between treatments, so we weren’t finding them. They were finding us. We increased the number of visits and worked with the homeowners to modify their property and find new places to store items on their property to create various wind blocks that would prevent spiders from entering. It’s an ongoing process with those accounts. We usually service customers every other month, but we go out there at least once a month if not more often, depending on the weather. PMP
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