Recently there was an article in a NM paper about how a pest control company injects pesticides into the walls of homes to control all the pests that hide in the walls. Someone asked me if this was something they should consider. The answer is NO.
First, there are very few pests that nest in our walls. Some ants will come in from the outside and if they find ample food and water in the home, they may nest in a wall. This would include odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile), little black ants (Monomorium minimum) and one or two other species. All you have to do is get the ants properly identified and then put out a bait they like. They will take it back into the wall and kill the queen and colony. Pesticides aren’t necessary. Who else nests in walls? German roaches in urban/ghetto areas may nest in walls, but the American and Oriental roaches we have here in NM prefer areas with access to water. A wall would be too dry for them to nest. Centipedes, scorpions, spiders and other pests may get into a wall, but they won’t stay there very long. The only real pest that you will find in walls are subterranean termites, and the treatment method they use won’t affect them. It may be possible to get a wasp nest in a wall, and if that is the case, this method may help. However it wouldn’t be necessary to treat all the walls in the house.
Why else is this a bad idea? If there were bugs in the walls they could get into your house. If the bugs could get into your house, so will the pesticides. Do you really want someone pumping pesticides in your walls that will come into your home and threaten the health of your family and pets? Nobody may get sick right away, but the pesticides can build up in your body or your children’s bodies and comprise your health.
So why would anyone want to pump pesticides into your walls if there aren’t any pests there? The answer is the same as why did we spray baseboards in homes for many years. It is perceived value. The industry sprayed baseboards to supposedly kill all the bugs that ran along the baseboard. Of course very few bugs actually ran along the baseboard. The real reason that baseboards were sprayed was to kill time in the customer’s home to make it look like they were getting their money’s worth. Most companies don’t spray baseboards anymore, although a few still do. Power spraying the perimeter of a house was also widely used, but now is frowned upon as it has no real value and they tend to kill more beneficial insects than pests. It is particularly silly when the pest company sprays around your home in the middle of winter.
If baseboard spraying, power spraying and pumping pesticides into walls isn’t effective pest control, then what is? In reality, pesticides should never be used in a home unless you have an infestation of a pest. In many cases, pesticides aren’t necessary then. If someone wants to spray your baseboards or pump pesticides into your walls, ask them to sign a paper stating that they will accept financial responsibility if anyone in your family or your pets get sick from the pesticides. If they agree to that (and they won’t), then you can consider it.
The best thing you can do to control pests is to pest-proof your home. You can do this yourself with my book, Pests (or Guests), which is available free on this website. Some companies will help you do this. I will send you a free copy of my latest book “How to Pick a Safe & Effective Pest Control Company” Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you in PDF format.