bed bugs

Advances in pest control could help condos

New ant-targeting pheromone technique may eventually be applied to bed bugs
Monday, April 9, 2018
By Dr. Alice Sinia

After successfully controlling pigeon populations with birth control, pest management professionals are looking to use the same strategy to control rat populations. This is just one of the recent advances in pest management that could help condo managers combat the bed bugs, flies, others insects and rodents that can invade their properties.

Groundbreaking research and technology are paving the way for smarter and more sustainable pest control. The industry is constantly looking for better ways to manage pests, and for most of these innovations, the goal is to minimize the impact on the environment and any non-target creatures. Even better, new products are more effective and cost-efficient as well.

Read on to discover what’s new on the market and learn which of these technologies could benefit condo properties and their residents.

New pheromone technique targets ants

Insects produce chemicals unique to their species called pheromones, which allow them to communicate and influence their behaviour. Pheromones are a type of bio-rational material, meaning they are non-toxic to people and animals and have no environmental side effects if used appropriately.

The use of pheromones in the pest control industry is not new, but the way pheromones are being used has been refined to improve their effectiveness. The pheromone traps that pest management professionals have been using to detect and monitor pest populations are now incorporating bait-based insecticides.

Researchers at the University of California developed a “pheromone-assisted technique” to maximize the effectiveness of an insecticide used to control Argentine ants. The original insecticide works to reduce ant populations only if the ant comes into contact with the treatment. However, when combined with Argentine ant pheromones, the product actively attracts the ants, luring them away from their trails and nests to the enhanced insecticide.

Although this new product is currently specific to the Argentine ants, experts are modifying the technique and aiming to apply it to other ant species and eventually other pests. One such product for bed bugs is currently in the works.

Birth control for pigeons…and soon rats?

Pest management techniques have also shifted to an ecological approach aimed at manipulating pest behaviour and population dynamics to reduce the population.

In recent years, pest management professionals have been using birth control for pest birds, such as pigeons, as a means of managing populations. Now the attention has turned to rodents, which are capable of transmitting harmful pathogens and contaminating food and surfaces. Rodent birth control may soon target these prolific breeders without negatively impacting non-target creatures. This will have the greatest impact in busy, urban areas, where controlling the rapidly growing rodent population continues to be a challenge.

Infrared cameras ferret out hidden pests

Thermography is relatively new technology in the pest control field, but is quickly gaining popularity.

When pests such as rodents, wildlife, bees, wasps, termites or ants are concealed behind walls, voids, ceilings or are in other secluded sites, they can be detected using infrared cameras because of the heat emitted from their bodies. The heat pattern and intensity emitted from their nests, colonies or movement is picked by the camera and seen as an array of colours.

That’s how the technology is being used to detect pest habourage sites, nests, potential entry points, damage and activity without having to tear down the structure or open up walls. It also helps to detect conditions that are conducive to the pests, such as the presence of moisture, fungal growth or wood damage.

Thermography can also be used to verify that a treatment worked to eliminate a pest problem. It is time-saving, accurate and a reliable pest diagnostic tool — particularly in condo buildings, where pest inspection and detection can be challenging.

Real-time monitoring improves response

Mobile data-capture devices have made the transfer of pest control information more efficient, helping pest control professionals record pest activity in real time and react quickly. Over time, professionals can identify trends in the data, making pest activity more predictable and preventable.

Some of this research and technology are still in early development or testing stages, but it’s clear that the pest control industry is busy making advancements. The good news is that, once available, many of these advancements stand to improve pest management on condo properties.

Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is quality assurance manager – regulatory/lab services for Orkin Canada, focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 15 years of experience, she performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. Alice can be reached at

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