Question: Judy, I have a residential customer — let’s call him Joe — who is terrified of spiders. Spiders are the only reason why he has pest control service. Joe doesn’t complain about them on the interior, even though I’m finding some on monitors I have in the basement. I do what I can on the exterior, but he still has some spiders. Is there something I’m missing?
— Would (like to) Exterminate Big Stressors
Answer: I’ll address this in two parts, WEBS: the fear, and the possible treatment options.
FEAR OF SPIDERS
I’m going to assume Joe’s fear rises to the level of being a phobia, or illogical fear. This is as opposed to my fear of dropping things down that crack between the elevator floor and the building floor. I was always afraid of dropping something down there and then it actually happened — so to me, that was far from an illogical fear!
You can’t allay Joe’s phobia with logic, because it’s illogical in the first place. So, rather than try to convince him that spiders can be beneficial, I recommend focusing on setting expectations. Explain to Joe that the spiders are there because there is a food source. Therefore, anything he can do to reduce any food sources makes him a great partner in your treatment endeavors. Giving the phobic person some sense of control over the situation is helpful.
What else can Joe do? Have him reduce the exterior lighting he has shining on or from his house. For example, I don’t have a lot of exterior lighting on my house, but I do have a lot of windows. If I leave the blinds up at night when I’ve got lights on inside the house, I notice a marked increase in the number of webs on the outside.
You don’t mention any specifics about actions you are taking on the exterior, so I’ll mention a few in case there is one you haven’t tried.
Making pesticide applications to surfaces/resting surfaces around exterior lighting can have an impact on the insects (spider food) that are attracted to the light at night. There are anti-web materials on the market that can be used on surfaces as well, most of which are exempt under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) 25(b) provision.
Last, but not least: Knock down the webs at every visit to Joe’s house. There are devices with extendable wands available that make this easy to do. It’s also a very visual action that customers appreciate. If Joe is not already on monthly service, I would suggest talking to him about an upgrade, to allow you the opportunity to knock down webs more regularly.
From your question, it sounds like you’ve been very empathetic toward Joe; thank you for representing our industry so well. The first step in setting his expectations is understanding what he expects from you, and then working to modify that if necessary. Does Joe want complete elimination of every spider that might produce webs on the outside of his house? That’s not possible. Does he want to work together with you to reduce the spider activity that is found on the outside of his house? That is definitely possible.