EXTERMINATION VERSUS PEST MANAGEMENT
8 March 2021
It wasn’t so long ago that it was common practice for exterminators to apply copious amounts of insecticides at every visit. It was also common practice to put rodenticide [rat poison] everywhere as a precautionary measure, even with no visible presence of rodents. Pesticides were more toxic, such as DDT, which killed indiscriminately. One application would not only kill the target species but most every other living organism, with residual effects lasting for several years. Exterminators practiced the very definition of ‘extermination’ without regard to the impact on non-target species, human health and the environment.
Fortunately, methods have drastically changed in response to our greater understanding of the adverse effects of pesticide use. In 1995, Canada created the Pest Management Regulatory Agency [PMRA] in order to strictly regulate the use of pesticides and mandate risk-reduction to human health and the environment. Extermination has gradually given way to pest management, with the emphasis on inspection, detection and prevention as opposed to large scale pesticide applications. Mechanical means of capture are now prioritized over chemical interventions, while chemical interventions are now more localized and targeted, and requiring specific knowledge and understanding of the various species defined as ‘pests’.
Today, the pest management technician must be proficient in animal biology and entomology, be familiar with structural engineering and building design, have extensive knowledge of pesticides along with their modes of action, and have a sound grasp of environmental science, in order to safeguard human health and non target species. By working to create a hostile environment for pests through the identification and remediation of factors which promote their presence and proliferation, pest management is now more environmentally friendly than ever. And it is now of greater importance to be able to trust the pest management company you rely on to understand your specific needs and foresee potential problems. For most people ants, regardless of their size or colour, are simply a nuisance pest. But a good pest management technician will be able to differentiate between the various species of ants [pavement ants, carpenter ants, pharaoh ants…] and to determine the appropriate strategy as they may differ one from the other.
A good pest management technician will conduct a thorough inspection, will accurately identify the pest, will assess the nature and extent of the problem and will effectively communicate the details of the situation with the client, while recommending appropriate remedial action to prevent future problems. When the use of pesticides is warranted, the technician will familiarize the client with the mode of action, advise on the precautionary measures for the safety of persons, and will guarantee the work to ensure complete satisfaction. The terms ‘extermination’ and ‘exterminator’ are still in use today but their meanings have changed considerably over time. These terms now fall under the purview of ‘pest management’.