While green pest control products continue to be used primarily in residential accounts, PMPs also rely on them for a variety of commercial and sensitive accounts. What’s most notable about usage in the 2020 State of the Naturals Market study is that a growing number of pest management professionals are turning to green products for prevention efforts, with usage up 12 percent since 2018 (from 47 percent to 59 percent), and as a primary means of control, up 10 percent since 2018 (from 33 percent to 43 percent).
In terms of which insects are most commonly controlled with natural products, opinions vary. Bobbie Terry of The Bug Lady Pest Control gets great results using a green product for spiders, which is especially helpful to her in sensitive marina areas, while Jeff Rea of 1st Response Pest Control prefers to use conventional pesticides on spiders. “We have a lot of oak trees, and that means heavy spider activity, here in Southern California,” he says. “The green products I’ve tried take too long on that particular pest. We have been successful using green products on crickets and ground beetles, though.”
Spiders are, in fact, one of the two pests (along with mosquitoes) to move up in the ranks of the “Insects Most Commonly Controlled” list in the 2020 State of the Naturals Market study. According to PCT research, the use of green products to manage ants, cockroaches and occasional invaders has remained relatively consistent over the past five years, but the percentage of survey respondents choosing mosquitoes as a “top three” pest for green products has more than doubled from 2016 to 2020 (from 15 percent to 34 percent), while the inclusion of spiders has climbed 8 percent (from 24 percent to 32 percent).
Jack Fimple of All Natural Pest Elimination says that the key to achieving success with green products on any insect is to teach technicians about the mode of action of these products, which is different from that of synthetic pesticides. “Since natural products work on an insect’s exoskeleton rather than its central nervous system, the process of eradicating an infestation is different. You can’t count on a strong residual or on treated pests to take the pesticide back to the nest; that means your technicians need to be comfortable in the role of problem-solver, being able to identify the right product and apply it so that it will be as effective as possible.”