Why Over the Counter Pesticides are Under Effective #whatbugsme

Why Over the Counter Pesticides Are Under Effective

Stop Spraying #whatbugsme

Knoxville Pest Control, German roaches

Picture by Shawn Turner

You quietly woke up in the middle of the night for a piece of pie turned the light on and the dreaded roach seems to have had the same idea.  What do you do? Well, like any red blooded American it is your responsibility to protect your family from the invading vermin. You head to the store to find a wall of OTC pesticide elixirs and potions all promising death to your new adversary. Which one do you choose? I’ll tell you a secret, check the active ingredients and often times the can of roach spray contains the exact product that is in the ant spray. If you were savvy with chemistry you would be surprised to find that most of the Active Ingredients are basically the same. So why not sell a can of bug killer instead of one for every bug? Oh, the almighty dollar is the answer. If they can get you to buy a can of ant killer, roach annihilator, and flea death, then the pockets of S.C. Johnson grow fatter and fatter. The worst part is they are ineffective. IF you do happen to get rid of your problem with these Over The Counter pesticides than you either got lucky or didn’t have a problem in the first place. Don’t believe me? READ THIS  I know, I know, the guy who wants to sell you a pest control service is telling you that you can’t do it yourself….sure, that’s totally believable. Well, give me just a minute and let me tell you why this is not just a ploy to get you to hire me.


bug bomb      Most of the products you can buy at the local Lowes or Walmart  have little to no residual properties. A pesticides residual refers to how long it will be effective. Look, you put just about anything stronger than water on a bug there is a good chance you are going to kill it. Heck, the water could even drown it. How is that for a eco-friendly pesticide? Most of the OTC products will kill a bug if you spray it directly on them. Now since this stuff is expensive don’t forget you can squish it for free or  $.001 worth of toilet paper. Then you don’t have pesticides on the sink for the cat to lick up. Contrary to popular belief, just spraying a bug will not fix the problem. You have to know what species of insect it is and their biology to truly eliminate them from your home. To make matters worse, often the ones you see are less than 10% of the entire colony. Depending on the pest you could be killing the workers and leaving the queen to just pop out more eggs that will grow up to attack your pie. The magic is in knowing what to use and where. Often times the ants in your kitchen will not be deterred by your Raid assault around the sink. The nest is elsewhere and that is the key.

     The dosage is the poison

The dosage is the poison. An aspirin a day may keep the doctor away but a handful is going to force you into his care. The same concept applies to pesticides. OTC pesticides don’t do much on the surface a bug walks on because they either don’t pick it up or it is inert by the time they go to clean it off of themselves. With a residual product, they get a higher dose by being exposed to it longer therefore working much better.  So why in the world would SC Johnson not use residual active ingredients in their product. You guessed it, the almighty dollar again. If it works a little, you figure that more would work better so you buy more. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. I’m sure their lawyers are also in on the deal to cover their assets. IF you use their product in an unsafe manner but it has no residual, then the threat is short lived, no one gets hurt and they don’t get sued. For me to use the “good stuff” on your home, I have to have several different licenses, certifications, and pay a bunch of taxes. Back to the almighty dollar again. [sigh]  Many of these OTC products boast residuals of 6, 9, or even 12 months! Every single study I have seen proves this to be a lie. Most of my professional products last a month or 3 months max. No matter what you use consider that as soon as it is applied it begins to degrade. Most people think the rain is it’s worst enemy but the truth is that the UV rays from the sun degrade a pesticide faster than rain. So how do they get away with this? Most of my concentrate products are mixed with water in order to apply. Many of the OTC products are oily and that will last for a while but it won’t kill the bug. The oily stain will probably be there for that long though. OTC wasp spray is extremely oily. This is not to kill the insects, but to coat their wings so they can’t fly away and sting you. Then the pesticide  has its way with them. So when you see them rain out of the nest be careful, they are not dead yet. So please just make a call before you go making it worse.


     Almost all the OTC pesticides you have available at wally world are in a class of pesticides that are repellent. They usually will kill on contact but they repel more than anything. After you spray your kitchen for roaches or heaven forbid bomb it, you will see dead ones and they might go away… for a while. What actually is happening is you are repelling them or pushing them deeper into the walls, cracks, and even into other rooms. They hang out there for a while and regroup only to come back with a force. Your response, spray more and the cycle continues with no solution. This also causes resistance which I will deal with in the next section. Bed bugs don’t want to be far from the food which is you. However I often find them nesting at the ceiling because they have been repelled from the bed by something you have sprayed. I also see roaches in weird places for the same reason. You are not fixing anything, just moving them around. So please just make a call before you go making it worse.


     When the doctor tells you to take all the antibiotics he means it. Some of you have stopped taking them when you began to feel better and your body doesn’t get the full benefit of the antibiotics. This causes whatever sickness you were trying to kill out to limp away and grow stronger. Then the next round of antibiotics doesn’t work on the new stronger strain of bug. This happens in the same way with pesticides causing resistance. We are seeing this in 2017 with the explosion of flea calls. The pet treatments that have worked well for years are not working anymore. Now everyone has fleas. Like taking any drug, you build up a resistance to it and need more to get the same effect. I see this when someone has used OTC products too much or incorrectly and they have created super bugs. Now they want me to kill it with my magic wand. What you have to understand is that if it takes more to fix it then it could cost you more. And that’s on top of the money you already wasted on products that not only didn’t work but made it harder for me. Luckily I have more options than OTC does. My tool belt has products in it that do things like prevent insects from molting, birth control, and kills them by affecting biological aspects that we don’t have. This makes it safer to use around you and your dog. So please just make a call before you go making it worse.


      Be honest with me, did you read the label of that bed bug spray can before you used it all over your  daughters bed? Did you know it is illegal to use it in a manner inconsistent with it’s labeling? Most don’t bother to read the directions. Insert man joke here. In Tennessee, the label is the law so whatever it says to do and not do, you must do. These labels have to be approved by the EPA and are there for your safety.  This is also why OTC products don’t have  long residuals, you won’t read the label. If there has to be pesticides in your home, you want them to work and be safe for your kids and fur babies. The professional products and equipment allow for more effective treatments using less product, in places where no one can come into contact with them. The professional treatment is safer than your OTC can of Raid.  And if something does go wrong, which it almost never does, the Pest Control Operator is responsible and knowledgeable to remedy the situation. If you screw it up and hurt someone or damage property you have no one to turn to but yourself.


Dust is one of the worst examples of OTC pesticides. Most dust products work by the insect walking in it , getting it on their feet then ingesting it when they clean themselves. Some pests don’t clean themselves (like bed bugs) so it would be worthless for them. Also any time a customer has used dust they always use way too much. This causes several problems. The first is the bugs avoid it all together because you have mounds of it out. The second problem is that applied incorrectly, that dust is kicking up into the air and you are breathing it in, not good. Every time your air turns on, you open a door, or the fan on the refrigerator turns on it stirs up that dust. Even if you used a “safer” dust like diatomaceous earth, and even if it is food grade, it wasn’t designed for you to breath in. Stop using dust all together. The one that annoys me the most is Borax.  It is soap people! Not a pesticide. It sounds like Boric Acid but it is not. It is not going to kill your pests and it will hurt you breathing it in. So don’t forget it getting on your food and on the baby bottle nipples etc. Just stop. If any of these dusts get wet they clump up and you now have piles of hard rocks stuck to your counter. How are you going to clean that up without making a mess? You can’t vacuum it up, the vacuum will just spit  most of it back into the air where you don’t have a choice but to breath it in. It must be gently swept up and disposed of in a sealed container. So please just make a call before you hurt yourself or someone else.


Still don’t believe me? That’s o.k. My goal here is to sell you a pest control service. However I would rather you do nothing, than try to treat it yourself.  Even if that means you don’t hire me. Clean up and alter your environment to make it less hospitable to pests rather than try to spray the bugs. I often tell potential clients that no matter who they call or don’t call, STOP SPRAYING!

Phoenix Pest Control serves Knox and Blount counties in East Tennessee.

Knoxville pest control, Maryville pest control, phoenix pest control TNCall or text today for your FREE Diagnostic Inspection

(865) 455-8571 Blount

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Aaron Veal