Director of Pest Services at Northwest Exterminating, Adam Vannest, was recently featured in Pest Management Professional magazine. Adam answered some Q and A’s regarding fleas and ticks and also gave some Do’s and Don’ts for when dealing with these pesky pests.
Read below to get the full story:
Adam Vannest, director of pest services for the Atlanta area’s Northwest Exterminating, has faced plenty of hard-to-solve flea and tick problems. He recently shared tales of some memorable infestations — and his team’s solutions — with Pest Management Professional.
Q: What’s the largest flea and tick infestation you’ve faced, and how did you conquer the pests?
Vannest: One of the largest was in a rural subdivision that backed up into a large wooded area. The customer reported dealing with an intense flea problem and said she’d also noticed multiple ticks on the family dog. Seeing ticks on her children was this customer’s threshold point.
While inspecting the outside we noticed a lot of the areas around the home were overgrown. There were tall weeds and grass up against the house and woodpiles around the exterior. We started looking at the ticks’ harborage sites to figure out why they would be attracted to the location. It was a three-story house on a crawlspace, and once inside we noticed the crawlspace door was already open. There were also other entry points because it wasn’t sealed up very well. We definitely found fleas in the crawlspace. The main floor and upstairs also had fleas.
We explained to the customer that we wanted to eliminate harborage areas around the outside by cutting down weeds and trimming the grass around the foundation. We also educated the homeowner about the crawlspace and how many entry points were visible to stray animals and rodents. We had an exclusion team come out and seal up those areas so that we could treat it with a residual product and an insect growth regulator (IGR).
Next, we explained to the customer that to get our product were it needs to be we’d have to remove everything from the floor for cleaning and vacuuming. We also instructed them to take the dog to the vet for treatment. After that, we applied a broadcast treatment to the floor surfaces and throughout the house.
We had to treat the lawn for ticks as well.
Q:What’s your hardest-to-find flea and tick story. How did you solve the problem?
Vannest: It took place at a ranch house on a crawlspace. When we inspected we noticed that the family pets were pest free. This told us we were dealing with a population in the home that had been carried inside by other means.
Sometimes people forget all of the other things that can be responsible for bringing fleas into a home. Some of the hardest flea problems to solve are ones where a rodent population carries them inside.
We inspected the rest of the house and found pockets of flea activity but no defined area. However, when we got to the attic level we found a roof rat population bringing in fleas from outside, so we applied residual products and treatments there to eliminate the rodent problem. When we placed monitors to determine where flea hot spots existed we found a few more harborage sites that had been egg-laying areas. We targeted those areas and eliminated the problem.
Adam Vannest’s Dos & Don’ts
■ Train technicians to always think outside the box. Every flea situation and every tick situation can be different.
■ Know your products and which ones are best for a particular infestation. Read labels and test the products.
■ Use monitoring to help find hot spots.
■ Don’t assume the customer is doing the prep work.
■ Don’t assume every situation is going to be the same.
■ Don’t stop educating your technicians. Give them ongoing training.
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