What does the future hold for traditional rodent control solutions?

By |  March 9, 2018

While monitoring devices are welcomed pieces of the puzzle, traditional rodent control technologies — traps, baits, stations and glue boards — remain integral tools, too.

In this rodent management roundtable, 10 solution suppliers weigh in on where the industry segment is headed in 2018. The manufacturers who make the products that the devices are meant to monitor share their outlooks on the market. There have been several other new wrinkles in product development for rodent management in recent months, from palatable-yet-durable soft bait to multi-catch traps that can be placed in hard-to-reach areas. Even products that would have sounded too fanciful to use just a short time ago — such as carbon dioxide pellets or rodent “birth control” — are hitting the market.

Traditional Technologies Roundtable Participants

Photo: ©iStock.com/GlobalP

PMP: First, thank you all for participating in this rodent management roundtable. Let’s get right to the point: Where do you see the market headed in 2018?

BRANC: There’s nowhere to go but up. The mild winters of the past few years, combined with low spending by public agencies on rodent control programs, have helped populations boom.

BUTZOW: As a public health pest, rodents will continue to be a critical segment of the professional pest control market. It’s important that PMPs continue to have access to a wide array of tools to ensure success.

DOLSHUN: With changing climate and continued drastic regional weather fluctuations, we will keep seeing increased rodent pressure.

PREWITT: Many PMPs are taking advantage of the increased business and incorporating rodent programs into their general pest control companies, providing their customers with better coverage and increasing revenues and profits.

DR. MAYER: As sustainable and green solutions emerge and open up, it seems clear that the addressable market will explode. From the anecdotal evidence we see, the market may even be double the current market over time. PMPs may be able to address this growing corporate social responsibility focus by providing an opportunity to expand their pest management practices in a sustainable manner.
 

PMP: At the account level, what are some of the biggest challenges PMPs are facing today?

HOLMES: One of our industry’s biggest challenges remains how to get rodents into stations, whilst not encouraging non-target species to enter. It’s a persistent problem, but one growing in profile and awareness, both in the U.S. and globally.

DOLSHUN: The ability to allocate enough inspection time in an account to get an accurate picture of exactly where the problem areas are. As in any business, time is money. In the extremely competitive market of structural pest control, it is a constant challenge to allocate resources where they will have the greatest impact. Allowing enough time for PMPs to conduct thorough inspections continues to be a difficult task.

RODRIGUEZ: Rodent issues originating from adjacent properties are a growing problem, often because of the public’s misinformed desire to limit the use of rodenticides and pesticides.

HOWARD: The clients’ primary and secondary poisoning concerns are major obstacles for PMPs, especially in sensitive states. So is gaining quick control of populations in tough environments.
 

PMP: Public perception about pesticides brings up a good point. We all preach that an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, where pesticides and rodenticides are used judiciously, is the best way to go. But is that always the reality in the field?

DR. MAYER: Public opinion is moving toward a more green, environmentally conscious approach. Public health and ecological needs will drive innovation to further develop sustainable opportunities for PMPs to invest in sustainable alternatives to include within their IPM plans.

BRUESCH: There is a lot of public misinformation about rodenticides. To counter that, we must learn the facts ourselves, and share them with current and prospective customers, and anyone else who will listen. We must also make a significant effort to use rodenticides responsibly, especially when it comes to following labels, and protecting non-targets.

KEEFER: While understanding IPM techniques can be a challenge in the field, PMPs do have access to trapping devices and exclusion methods, which they should rely on as much as they would a rodenticide. Using all of these methods is recommended when dealing with a rodent problem.
 

PMP: Exclusion is a major component of rodent control. How are you seeing exclusion strategies evolve in 2018?

KEEFER: With an increase in accountability, restrictive regulations and rodent populations, many PMPs are taking a more holistic approach to rodent control with the use of IPM programs, including exclusionary practices. Rodent work should be a two-pronged service: initial trapping and baiting, as well as exclusion practices to prevent future infestations..

BRANC: PMPs are beginning to offer exclusion services as part of a proper rodent management program. They used to rely on customers to do recommended exclusion work, which was hardly ever done. The result was a failure to control the problem. When exclusion becomes part of the protocol, the baits, stations, traps, etc., become more effective tools as well.

RODRIGUEZ: We see a trend toward more aggressive exclusion programs, especially those using thermal imaging to locate “ideal” rodent (and insect) entry points on structures. (Editor’s Note: For Rodriguez’s take on how to use thermal imaging to your advantage at a rodent account, visit PMPPestTalk.net.)

DOLSHUN: More energy is being spent not only on exclusion, but also on monitoring. PMPs have been focusing more and more on making fact-based decisions regarding the formulation of rodent control plans in accounts. Increased monitoring in customer locations is a big service opportunity, with both existing as well as high-tech monitoring tools.

PREWITT: We’re also seeing an increase in both overall mechanical trapping and exclusion work being performed. These types of services have never been a focus for most PMPs in the past, but they’re proving to be profitable — and growing.
 

PMP: Final thoughts?

BUTZOW: The industry is creating products that make rodent management setup and servicing faster and easier. When enough of these products are put into use, PMPs will have more time to evaluate the health of an account, and make better decisions and recommendations that should ultimately lead to better results.

HOWARD: It’s an exciting time for those involved in rodent work, thanks to the introduction of new products and technology over the past couple years.

BRANC: PMPs have to stay on top of new developments in the market, try different things and think outside the box. We have to think like a hungry rodent to predict what they will do, where they will go and therefore how best to treat. There needs to be a mix of product and technique that is adjusted for every site and environment.

RODRIGUEZ: PMPs need to either invest in or upgrade their rodent control programs to better explain the process to customers with video both for instructional purposes, and for documenting procedures. Programs also need to be developed to be truly preventive, not simply reactive.

DOLSHUN: PMPs are constantly challenged by the ability of rodents to overcome and adapt to adversity, and to opportunistically fill new environmental niches as they make themselves available. This ability often allows rodent populations to surge and thrive in unlikely, sometimes overlooked areas.

PREWITT: As rodent management continues to grow, we see the biggest obstacle to be educating the customer on the amount of time needed to achieve control, along with what is needed from the customer to prevent future issues.

KEEFER: Rodents carry pathogens that can negatively impact humans. With smart practices, control and education, PMPs can help minimize these effects.

DR. MAYER: We are excited to see innovation moving toward a better capture of rodent behavior with digital tracking bait boxes. We look forward to working with PMPs in addressing the growing challenge rodent management presents.

BRUESCH: For a variety of reasons, rodent control is not as “seasonal” as it once was, with rodent populations becoming abundant throughout the year.

HOLMES: While there continues to be an influx of new technologies onto the market, the opportunity remains for well considered, cost-effective and innovative solutions to better maintain public health, which are not cost-prohibitive to both PMPs and clients.

You can reach Editor Heather Gooch at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

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