By: Jackson Griffith
Clark Pest Control Corporate
A first hand look at IPM
My day observing Integrated Pest Management performed in the field
It’s one thing to read articles about Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, and another to observe how it’s practiced by Clark Pest Control technicians. I got to spend a day in the field last week with pest technician Biff Strom from Clark’s Rancho Cordova branchoffice, on a Clark S.M.A.R.T. (Sustainable Methods and Responsible Treatments) route.
After the branch’s Tuesday morning meeting, Biff and I set out for the first stop, a home in an eastern Sacramento neighborhood just south of the American River Parkway. The service ticket indicated the residents there had reported ant activity in the kitchen, and as soon as we arrived, the man of the house brandished a big can of aerosolized ant killer. “Oh, no,” Biff told him. “The last thing you want to do with those ants is spray them, because they will scatter all over your house. Also, get rid of all those chemicals under your counter, because you won’t need them.” Biff then turned on his flashlight and began poking around; a quick inspection led to the adjacent garage, with the ants most likely finding entrance through a hole cut for plumbing in the cabinetry.
Then, Biff went outside and began a systematic inspection – the point where Integrated Pest Management practice begins – of the house: at ground level, then up in the eaves, and then around the back and front yards. Spider webs were noted before he knocked them down with his Webster, because those webs can be bellwethers of insect infestations. There was ant activity along a property-line fence and down a mowing strip – Biff identified them as little black ants (Monomorium minimum); other stops later in the day would turn up Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) and odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile). Like its name would indicate, the latter ant, when crushed, smells – either like rotting coconut, or like old Camp Fire Girl mints doused with sunscreen. There also were spider webs on some hedges in front, which got knocked down for aesthetic reasons, and there were little mounds of dirt in a decorative gravel area in the front yard, each of which housed a solitary ground-nesting wasp – which, as Biff explained to the man of the house, is non-threatening and, like the spider, actually beneficial, because it dines on other insects.
Once the inspection was finished, it was time to treat, using low-volume, generally regarded as safe materials. In places that had no observed ant activity, but had conditions conducive to pest habitation, he applied a product that flushes insects. In those places where ant activity had been observed, he applied a different material. Care was taken to apply products only where needed, another hallmark of Integrated Pest Management practice. Once treatment was completed, Biff talked to the man of the house, reminding him to plug the entry point where ants were getting into the kitchen and dump that cache of under-the-sink pesticides. Biff also explained other observations he’d made while inspecting the property, along with what he had just done to remedy any pest situations.
Biff followed that protocol at six or seven more stops during the day: inspecting, then treating only as needed, then communicating his observations to the people who lived there, either in verbal or written form. It was a great way to witness IPM as it is practiced in the field, and it was gratifying to see how Clark Pest Control is committed to finding and applying sustainable, responsible solutions to the pest problems that everyone faces. –Jackson Griffith
Thank you Jackson for sharing your first hand experiences, Jackson will be providing many more field reports in the future so stay tuned!