It’s ant season. We know you didn’t need us to tell you that. Your customers are probably doing a fine job as it is. However, when we saw this article, Five Ant Management Lessons Learned from the April issue of Pest Management Professional we thought it would be good to share. We all need a little reminder every now and again.
1. Be a good detective — or pay the price. Don Wood, co-owner, Bestway Pest Management, Knoxville, Tenn., explains how one customer’s vending machines created a teachable moment for he and his technicians. “We had trouble getting rid of both ants and flies,” Wood explains. “After the second callback I went out to the account with the tech, and after examining the drink machines I discovered that the area where the bottle caps fall after removal had never been cleaned.” Wood and company cleaned, washed and treated the area and says the combination of good housekeeping practices and some solid sleuthing solved the problem and led to a happy customer and several referrals.
2. Provide customers with timeline expectations for eradicating nests at your own peril. Even if they ask for an estimated time of completion, spitballing how long it will take to gain complete control over their ant population can be dicey and often lead to customer discontent. “A mobile home [we were to service] was refinished after we provided an estimated time of completion,” explains Matthew Allen, owner, Bug Busterzzz, Vassalboro, Maine. The refinishing involved, among other major overhauls, an interior grove that made it very difficult to locate the offending carpenter ants. “We had originally told the customer we could get rid of them within a couple of treatments,” Allen adds. “We were very wrong.”
3. Explain possible collateral damage to the customer in advance or risk “losing your butt.” “I took a carpenter ant job where I failed to thoroughly explain some of the drilling that would be necessary as part of the treatment procedure,” said Ron McHan, owner, BUGS McHAN Pest & Termite, Flower Mound, Texas. “When the least invasive system failed, creating budding movement, it ended up leading to a lot of drilling in a 60 linear ft. area.” McHan explains that his failure to explain the possibility of necessary drilling led to him repairing and repainting the rooms in question … at his own expense. “Lost my butt on that one.”
4. Ants are crafty. Expect the unexpected. “A client under contract was continually seeing Argentine ants in the kitchen and bathrooms of the structure,” said Tyler Weant, president, Elium Exterminating, Spencer, N.C. “Our technicians had covered all their bases. A barrier had been established around the house. The entire home had been inspected and treated with no signs of pocket nests or isolated ant colonies.” After four months of repeated callbacks Weant took in a team to troubleshoot the situation. “Finally, one of the techs looked around and noticed a large satellite dish about 50 feet away from the structure in a group of pear trees.” When the technician returned from inspecting the dish he announced that he’d solved the problem. “The old dish sitting in the yard had been installed with conduit leading from the dish, underground, all the way to the house,” Weant explains. “The ants were trailing up the pear trees, onto the dish, into the conduit and underground into the structure.” The satellite dish was dismantled conduit removed, and the ant problem was solved.

5. Spraying only in very specific problem areas may not be as effective of full structure treatment. Scott Jones, owner, Kill-More Pest Management, Prestonsburg, Ky. explains: “A home we treated kept calling us out as colonies were budding throughout the home. By spraying only in certain areas we allowed the colony to move around.” Now Jones insists that all jobs require treatment of the entire structure. If there’s customer pushback, Jones and company won’t take the job.

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