Blanton Amspacher, Dominion’s Green Team leader, makes an application to the side of a home using Nature-Cide Pest Management Industrial Strength Commercial Concentrate mixed with XP Polymer from Residex.

Pennsylvanian Greg Pettis, a 23-year-veteran of the pest control industry, is an advocate of green pesticides. But that wasn’t always so.

Pettis founded Dominion Pest Control 10 years ago and initially used “green” pesticides on both the pest control and lawn care sides of his business, which now serves the cities of York and Lancaster in an eight-county area in the central part of the state. But he soon became disappointed with green products because of the odors they emitted and their less than impressive residuals. Customers were turned off by both of those factors. “We even lost a large, federally funded retirement community account because of the odor, so I stopped using them,” he said.

Pettis, however, changed his mind about a year or so ago. He had been treating the house of a local client who happened to be a board member of Pacific Shore Holdings, a pesticide manufacturer in California. The client told Pettis the company had successfully developed a new, all-natural product — the Nature-Cide line — which ranges from outdoor pest management to a travel bed bug spray. The client added that the product’s chemical-free, non-staining ingredients emit a pleasant odor and include one or more essential oils, including clove, cedar, cottonseed and cinnamon. The client also said the firm had great success with the product line in the hospitality industry, including a national placement for a customer in need of a bed bug treatment. Pettis’ client asked if he would be interested in representing the product line to the pest control industry.

POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES. “I told him it would take a lot to convince me to do so. I don’t promote anything I don’t believe in and would have to see if Nature-Cide works and how well it fits in with our Dominion Pest Control programs,” said Pettis. “He made the product line available to us and I handed it off to one of our technicians who also serves us as a product analyst. I asked him to use it and report back to me how well it works. Nature-Cide does not cause fumes, he told me, just simply an odor that smells good to humans, bad to rodents and snakes. He explained its other benefits, which include safety and quick kill. He suggested that we use it, but I reserved my judgment, and about two months later I gave it to another technician who believes strongly in using natural products for pest control.”

Soon Pettis said he had two technicians encouraging him to use it company-wide and he began to do so.

“The Nature-Cide line is EPA-exempt and can be used safely pretty much anywhere,” said Pettis. “We’ve found it effective on pests such as spiders, centipedes, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, etc. We’ve found it to be an effective perimeter control. And we’ve seen that it even repels mice, rats and snakes. Nothing we’ve ever used before could do that. Using it I found myself not feeling guilty about not feeling guilty. I stopped worrying about possible criticism of bad odor by neighbors of my clients when we were making applications. I stopped worrying about the safety of children and dogs in the immediate area.”

Pettis contacted Nature-Cide and told the firm that his company was definitely sold on using the product.

IMPROVE THE RESIDUAL. “We were applying it, but because of my previous experience with green products I thought that residual longevity probably wouldn’t be great, and since most of our clients are serviced quarterly I needed to figure out a way to improve that residual factor,” Pettis said.

On the lawn care side of his business, Pettis had used Residex XP Polymer, an extended performance product, so he decided to mix that with Nature-Cide — and soon saw a significant improvement — a 90-day residual.

“I phoned the Nature-Cide people and told them what I was doing. They were fascinated and asked me to send them the mixed product. They tried it, too, and achieved that longer residual,” Pettis reports.

What makes the Nature-Cide product line effective, Pettis explained, is a formula that uses natural essential oils. “The formula is scientifically designed and proven to eliminate insects on contact by disabling their natural defense mechanisms, allowing it to then enter their bodies through their spiracles and tracheal breathing system. This ultimately disrupts their nervous systems causing paralysis and death.”

Greg Pettis, owner of Dominion Pest Control & Lawn Care, Lancaster, Pa., says his firm decided to launch its green program after discovering Nature-Cide.

SENSORY OVERLOAD. Although Nature-Cide products kill most insects, the effectiveness on rodents and reptiles differs slightly, according to Pettis. “When most of these creatures are exposed to the product line, they will experience sensory overload and become disoriented. They’ll immediately try to escape from the treated area. The fumes affect them much in the same way a human can be overwhelmed by ammonia or swimming pool chlorine fumes,” Pettis said. “It becomes difficult to breathe and they immediately leave the affected area seeking fresh air.”

Nature-Cide comes in two concentrates. “We use one for outdoor pest management, and the other one inside. The indoor concentrate has ingredients of clove and cottonseed oils and really smells great. The outdoors product is composed of cinnamon and cedar oils and is highly effective against mosquitoes. Its repellent aspect is great, even against mice, rats, snakes and voles. We have a lot of the latter in our area.”

The author has been writing about the pest management industry for more than 30 years. Email him at jfox@gie.net.