Anyway, I was talking to him the other day and he asked me about professional pest control service around his kids. He lives in a scorpion and spider prone area, and has had service from us basically since he bought his house, but wasn’t sure about pesticide around his kids. This is a great question that I’m sure would be on the minds of any new parent thinking about pest control. In fact, we get this question all the time.
So the basic question is: how big of a risk is a pest control service to my baby?
There are a million ways to talk about this—but for me the four basic points are:
If someone reacts to a pesticide, they are going to react for one of two reasons, toxicity or allergy. You see allergies most commonly around botanical materials (used heavily in organic services).
Toxicity is easy to predict. Toxicity is actually measured scientifically and using this measure, different materials can be compared. Not to dismiss the concern, but today’s pesticides have toxicities that pose far less risk than standard residential cleaners. Using standard cleaners, according to toxicity can be more risky than using pesticides.
Allergies are hard to predict, and can be even harder to figure out. Most of the allergies that I’ve seen are related to botanical pesticides, which are just pesticides derived from plants. Some people are still more comfortable with botanicals and I’m happy to use them, I think they are great products, but I think they are less predictable, so they aren’t my personal preference.
Residual is how long the pesticide is around, where it’s around, etc. Today’s pesticides for the most part are designed to breakdown in 30-60 days depending on the conditions. Treating once every three months, you are letting the material breakdown, and then re-applying so you don’t have the residual build-up. On another note, there are numerous pesticides that can be placed in stations and completely removed from the site when no longer necessary (this is a great feature of baits).
Bugs will continue to be a problem if they have historically been one. If you want to keep the population down, the best approach, especially to minimizing the tough predator bugs (predators tend to be the bugs people hate, like scorpions) is to treat regularly with small amounts of pesticide.
So here is how I put all this together.
- If you want to keep bugs away, you have to treat sometime. Treating regularly means less material has more effect because there are just fewer bugs to kill, and there are fewer predators (like scorpions) attracted to the area so you are dealing with pests that just aren’t as tough like ants and roaches (not tough compared to a centipede).
- Toxicity and allergies are the risks of treatment, and we want to minimize them, so keeping the treatment outside is ideal and completely practical using a regular pest control service. I know that people are going to use the yard, but kids tend to spend more time crawling around your baseboards than your foundation, so in that respect, its better. Also, remember, todays pesticides pose less risk than your household cleaners measured in simple toxicity.
- Using regular sprays outside should mean you don’t have to use sprays inside. In many cases we can effectively use baits indoors (remember removable) which are great from the perspective of exposure and residual because when the problem is gone they can simply be disposed of and there is no more exposure.
Basically, it’s a great concern, and something that a parent would want to pay attention to. If done right treatment shouldn’t pose a significant concern, and neither should bugs. I hope that helps answer some questions!
Thanks for reading and if you have questions you’d like answered I’m sure other folks do as well so feel free to ask any question you have and I’ll give you the best answer I know!