Many of you know that I came into the industry in 20002 when I purchased Hearts Pest Management. Several years later, I added Hearts Consulting Group, as a means of offering my skills far beyond our company boundaries.
Since day one, I heard all the cries of old timers who spoke about the various tools of the trade that had been taken away from them in the pursuit of a pest free environment. Exterminators constantly railed against environmentalist for their short sightedness. They said that the pests would overwhelm us and we would have new and more virulant pest presence to solve. Perhaps they were right is some ways.
Now the environmentalists rail against the exterminators for their short sightedness. They said that the pesticides were too harsh and were killing organisms that were not targeted, destroying good organisms and in quantities that have irrepairable consequences. And so too they were right in some ways.
Having watched the industry for the past 10 years, I too have seen pesticides go away. The first was diazinon. Later I saw restrictive labeling for Termidor, but not a full on retraction of the label. This past year, I have seen Fumitoxin go away for residential use – a portion of the market far greater than many people realized.
Strycnine, although not removed, is consequently in short supply as it has become harder to eliminate gophers and those who remain in the gopher sector of the pest market battle for a supply side that could not possibly handle all the business that had been taken up by Fumitoxin. Strycnine is a word that scares many people – perhaps with some justification. Recently, I had to deal with an absurd situation – thankfully recognized by the local Ag. Dept., when a consumer thought she had somehow contracted strynine in the eye indirectly from a dog who was in a yard where one ounce of strycine was placed underground and the soil was turned over by a lawn aerator. Irrational panic has no limits. We had none of this hysteria when using fumitoxin.
Consumer protection advocates may be happy that fumitoxin will not kill another child, as happened in Utah as the result of a foolish, ignorant act of a company that could not train or control it’s applicators properly. The gopher market has not gone away. People want solutions and will turn to other methods. More strycnine means more paranoid consumers complaining about poisoning – whether poisoned or the result of fantastic fears. Certainly, more pets will be poisoned. As much as I sympathize with the desire to save children from another negligent act, I didn’t think that banning fumitoxin residential use was an answer. How could our regulators not recognize the core fact that this had never happened before? Couldn’t the regulators have instituted a state certification program rather than banning the product?
What’s to stop the residential use of fumitoxin going underground? What’s to stop homeowners from using experimental pesticide treatments to solve their gopher issues. In this industry I have learned that people are extremely compulsive to a fault. I often ask, “What will they think of next?”
Even if a ban worked in eliminating the use of a product, we do no justice to our children or our environment unless we examine the indirect consequences of our actions.