By: David Moore, B.C.E.
Monitors can be an invaluable tool whether you are battling a current issue or proactively watching a location. These devices work 24/7 and will be your eyes when you are not present in your account.
You can use insect monitors for multiple purposes. First, if they are installed properly, you can catch a problem early. If you have your insect monitors placed properly, you can find an introduction before the pests become entrenched at the client’s location. This is especially useful in commercial kitchens where there is a constant influx of susceptible product being brought into their facilities. Knowing the biology of the pest you are trying to monitor for will help you exploit their habits for increased capture rates.
Once you have your proactive monitors set up and you catch an insect, you can tell what type of insect pressure you are experiencing. If you don’t know what it is, you can provide a specimen to an entomologist or your state agency for proper identification. This is useful so you can properly identify it instead of relying on the client for identification.
You also can tell directionality by looking at the monitors. If all you see is ground beetles on the left, then focus your attention in that direction. At this point you should be looking for harborage or entry points, structural conditions, sanitation issues or employee habits that are contributing to the pest intrusion. Make sure you report any relevant conditions on your service report or they will never be corrected.
In many cases, you can tell how close you are to a harborage point. This can be achieved by looking at how many pests you have captured and their current life stage. For instance, if you are monitoring for German cockroaches and you catch a bunch of first instars, you know you are within a few feet of the harborage point. If you are monitoring for cigarette beetles, and your program has a spike in a particular area, then you know you are in the general vicinity of the issue.
You can verify if an IGR is being used or if it is being used correctly. If your staff is supposed to be using an IGR at an account with a German cockroach issue on a regular basis and you find numerous German cockroaches without twisted wings, then they are either not using the IGR or they are not getting the product where it needs to be. This can alert you to coach your technicians about the way they are servicing the account and improve their knowledge base to increase your service quality at that location and others.
RODENT CONTROL. You also can use monitors for rodents. Many people just use glueboards, multiple catch traps and bait stations as an elimination tool. However, monitors also can be invaluable and provide many of the same benefits as when used for insects, including understanding what type of pressure you are experiencing and from what direction pests may be coming. In addition, they can alert you to take proactive measures (in some cases) to prevent an intrusion from becoming an established population.
As with insects, knowing what type of rodent you are monitoring for will dictate how you will structure the program. If it is for mice and Norway rats, then you will look at monitoring down low. If you are monitoring for roof rats, then you will be setting up your baiting program and other monitors up high. The location of your monitors can be more important than the number of monitors you install for any pest issue.
There are many ways you can use monitors for rodents to catch a problem early. You can use a layer of bait stations on the exterior to know when you are starting to experience an influx of rodents at your client’s location. Adding devices along the fence line will provide a forward-operating, monitoring program that can alert you to a potential issue long before they even reach the structure, even if you are using just monitoring blocks, bait blocks or snap traps. You can use your multi-catch devices to know when a large influx of mice is brought into a client’s warehouse with a particular product, preventing them from spreading unchecked. Another way to monitor for rodents is to use a small bait placement or glueboards in a homeowner’s garage to help catch mice before they enter their living space.
Using the same set-ups as described previously, you can tell directionality of any rodent pressure at your customer’s location. If you have a sudden influx of rodents at your fence line program along the west wall, then you know that you will need to reinforce that area to prevent a rodent issue inside for your client. If your multi-catch devices constantly catch mice by a pillar, then you probably have a structural issue behind it that needs to be addressed. That glueboard you stuck in the garage can tell you if the client needs to repair their garage door to prevent mice from getting inside.
You can use monitors to regularly check for many pests including general insects, rodents, stored product pests, fabric pests and flying insects, to name a few. Just like in real estate, location is extremely important. Knowing where to place them can be key to catching an issue early or risking additional customer impact. If your monitors are not placed properly, they lose their value very quickly. They need to be placed in areas that pests frequent such as in corners, inside equipment, in shaded areas, areas that are not disturbed and other pest-specific locations.
The monitors need to be secured properly as well. If you placed the monitor perfectly but someone moves it or throws it away, then they are doing nothing for you. These devices are your eyes when you are not there, so if they are removed from their ideal spot, then they will cease to provide value to your inspection. Make sure you review with the customer how important they are and why they are placed where you install them. Additionally, they will need to be serviced and replaced on a regular basis. If the glue stops being sticky, then it is no longer valuable, regardless of placement. If the bait inside your device is six months old, then it probably is not palatable to a rodent anymore. Having stored product pest monitors out is great, but if the lures are past their change date then they are just pretty decorations. The point is that without proper servicing, the devices are no longer valuable to your program and can actually put your client at risk since your monitors are no longer working properly.
You also can use pheromones and attractants to increase effectiveness. These can be added or are already impregnated in some items. Many glueboards have attractants added to them to increase capture rates, but in some cases adding a pheromone can increase the effectiveness of these devices. This is common for German cockroaches and stored product pests, but you also can use this method on ILTs, rodents and others if you think about how to exploit their habits. Another way to use this strategy is to verify if an issue has been resolved. By using a monitor that is augmented for a particular pest, you can see if an issue has been truly resolved.
There is much more information on monitors and their placement to be gathered, but by increasing your knowledge of their usage, you can increase the level of your service. By using monitors, you can see what trends are starting and can work with your client to be proactive and catch an issue early before it starts to impact both operations.
David Moore, BCE, received his master’s degree in entomology from Virginia Tech. He serves as Manager of Technical Services for Dodson Bros. Exterminating.
This Tech Talk article was originally published in the February 2020 edition of PCT magazine.