Tips and Tricks: Always Bring the Right Equipment to a Stinging Insect Call

By |  April 28, 2014

The majority of U.S. pest management professionals (PMPs) include stinging insect control in their services, whether included in a general service contract or on an as-called basis. Some are beekeepers, with stinging insect control their sole service offering. But even if it’s not your company focus, by following proper protocol, this pest segment can be very lucrative. In the opinion of some PMPs, today’s professional-grade products for stinging insect control are not as effective as those of just 10 years ago. In reality, products labeled for stinging insect control will do the job — but as is always the case in our business, adherence to the label is a must. For example, products labeled for stinging insects will tell you to treat in the evening when the occupants have returned to the nest. Today’s aerosols are designed to shoot a stream a distance of approximately 20 ft., which enables PMPs to eliminate bald-faced hornet nests, for example, quickly from the ground. When using an aerosol, aim the product directly into the nest opening. Whenever possible, the nest should be removed after treatment. You can expect a certain percentage of insects might try to attack, as well as possible chemical splashback. This brings us to the subject of protection. Never try to cut corners and treat without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a bee suit. In addition to protecting yourself from potential stings, you need to protect yourself from the chemical you are applying. Stinging insect control often will involve ladders, which bring additional risk. One of my customers, an upstate New York PMP with four decades of experience, told me of an incident that happened to him: While at a customer’s home on a stinging insect call, he set up his ladder on the rear deck — which was composed of plastic composite — only to have his ladder slip out. The result was a broken back, and after three months he is finally on the road to recovery. The lesson here is that plastic composite, while a very durable construction product, is extremely slippery, even when dry. Also be aware of the product formula you are using, and how it might affect structures harboring the nests you are treating. For example, a common mistake is the use of aerosols on vinyl siding. While the aerosols of today are not formulated with the 1,1,1-Trichloroethane of 10-plus years ago (which could literally melt vinyl siding), keep in mind they are typically pyrethroids formulated in a petroleum carrier. Vinyl siding is a petroleum product; therefore, you run the risk of staining. Your best bet in this type of situation is to use a suspension concentrate (SC) pyrethroid (water carrier vs. petroleum) as a single product or in combination with a dust. Finally, remember that now more than ever we must all do our part to protect honeybees. Whenever possible, they must be removed rather than destroyed. If you are not prepared to remove a nest of honeybees yourself, make sure you have at least one contact with a beekeeper you can call. In the future, expect to see product label changes that specifically address protection of honeybees via timing of applications.

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