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What makes bed bug jobs so difficult isn’t just the pest but complications that can include the building construction and condition, clutter and even getting access and occupant cooperation. The answer for Gregory Pest Solutions is to be able to match the challenge with a total toolbox that includes structural fumigation.
“Our approach is to find the most efficient way to get the job done,” says Derek Johnson, regional manager based in Greenville, South Carolina. “If it’s a motel room with a low level of infestation, then we will use insecticides and steam. For larger jobs or more severe infestations, we turn to heat or fumigation along with residual insecticides. We like to offer customers options.”
For Gregory, fumigation is the best way to ensure a 100 percent kill.
“With heat, we get 96 to 98% efficacy,” Johnson says. “With a monitored fumigation, we can guarantee 100% that no bed bugs will be alive. If we didn’t have fumigation as an option, there would be some jobs that we could not guarantee.”
Johnson says his confidence in fumigation is based on starting his career in fumigation. While a technician can be trained to make a pesticide application in two months, and any company could buy a heat unit, structural fumigation requires specialized training and skills.
“Fumigation does require paying attention to detail, but it is especially valuable when conditions challenge using heat or the infestation is severe. Those conditions can include heavy clutter or a building having concrete floors and walls that absorb the heat. If it’s a large multifamily building, fumigation is likely to be our primary recommendation if more than half the units are infested.”
While Gregory fumigation crews typically tarp jobs in Florida and South Carolina for drywood termites, the tape-and-seal method for bed bug fumigations works fine in areas not having tarps or when tarps are not advantageous, such as for construction features like ridge vents around the perimeter of a house.
“Wrapping a house is an art form, plus you have to get the tarps up on the roof, but you can instruct anyone on how to tape doors, windows and vents,” he says.
Another feature in the company’s bed bug toolbox is its canine unit, which includes six canines and four dog handlers. Canine inspections confirm the presence and location of bed bugs, but also can be useful post-fumigation.
“We fumigated a five-story assisted-living complex with 225 individual rooms. To make sure we were 100% successful, we brought the tenants back in one by one to give the dogs a chance to inspect them and their bags before they could go back to their rooms. That helped us make sure no bed bugs came back in with them.”
While a full toolbox is necessary for bed bug success, Johnson says how those tools are put to work also is important.
“Who decides what’s the right thing to do? In our company, technicians serving an account can see the need for a bed bug service and sell it, or we have a full sales staff that reports up to the branch manager. We’re structured so there will be no silos and we are a very open in communication. So, if there is ever any question about the best solution, there won’t be any hesitation to reach out to get the advice or help needed.”