Drones: Innovative Technology for Use in Precision Pest Management – PCT Online

Pest control companies are using drones for a variety of reasons, including location or imagery analysis and precision quality control.
Drones have made a sizeable impact on businesses since they became a mainstream, affordable tool for a variety of applications including capturing videos and photos in hard-to-reach areas. 
And the drone industry itself continues to grow. Estimated by Forbes Magazine to be at least $52 billion by 2024 – and that appears to be on the low side of projections – the drone business is in full swing and applies to almost every industry that has a segment outdoors.
For example, drones have dramatically changed how films are made, allowing magical shots from the sky to be made by any filmmaker who can rent a drone. Gone are the days of renting a helicopter to get those shots. In addition, drones can fly in areas helicopters never could, creating new shots and new angles never before possible.
In pest control, drones are incredibly useful for two reasons: (1) location or imagery analysis and (2) precision quality control. For example, drones can follow the tunnels and trails in major rural locations to track burrowing animals. Checking rooftop areas or simply getting a “birds-eye view” of a location with a lot of surrounding foliage can be assisted with drone technology too.
Jeffrey Weier, recently retired technical director of Sprague Pest Solutions, hasn’t been using drones yet, but his firm is considering utilizing them as a new tool.
“We have not (yet) but we have thought and talked about using them. Drones would allow us to see areas like rooftops or ceiling areas for evidence of rodents,” Weier says. “They could allow us to find entry points for rodents and would be particularly useful for roof rats.”
As they become more usable in pest control, drone use can increase, Weier added. “A technician in a large warehouse, without access to lifts could effectively inspect the ceiling area for evidence of activity. Outdoors, drones could be used to look for activity at night, when it is not safe to be on roofs, when rodents are most active.”
According to Rebecca Salas of Bug Bandit, which hasn’t used drones yet as a tool, they have promise to provide much support to technicians as they integrate more into the marketplace.
“This is a new solution to many issues that every pest control service provider encounters on a regular basis,” she said. “For difficult jobs where technicians might not have complete access to an invasive pest, drones could be the perfect alternative.”
Possible future uses for drones might include helping technicians spread certain products on a more widespread basis, such as granules or even liquids based on weather conditions and on the size of the drone itself.
Drones are not without issue though, flying them requires skill and in most locations, regulatory approval.
Weier says there are concerns with drones, including “having the skills to operate one. Younger technicians may have this skill set. (Also) FAA regulations and local restrictions and privacy concerns.” All of these need to be considered when implementing drones as a regular part of a program.
Accuracy is a consideration that newcomers to drone usage will have to learn more about, Salas says. “With any kind of technology, comes challenges. The argument of relying on technology, not being completely dependable is very accurate,” she said. “There’s a number of issues that could occur – failure to properly function, or not having the access to these technologies because of the expensive cost that’s put on these devices.”
 
This technology allows technicians to focus on utilizing stations with electronic connections that can be monitored via cell phone applications – and most importantly can allow real-time notifications when there’s a rodent issue.
In the last few years new technology introduced in the pest control industry has been propelling the continued development of related products that are evolving year to year. One of them is electronic rodent monitoring (ERM).

This technology allows technicians to focus on utilizing stations with electronic connections that can be monitored via cell phone applications – and most importantly can allow real-time notifications when there’s a rodent issue.

Now this doesn’t mean each notification requires a technician driving out 30 minutes to check one station. However, if that location is on or near a scheduled route, a technician can service it immediately (instead of waiting for the next scheduled visit). This provides greater service to the customer and literally allows for more knowledge-sharing, which in commercial food-handling settings is essential due to quality control audit restrictions.

While they are not currently using EM products, Centereach, N.Y.-based The Bug Bandit is considering testing a few of them, The Bug Bandit’s Rebecca Salas said there are many positives once you choose the right solution for your company.

“The benefits of using EM products may be having the ability to provide information without the need of always being on-site, having something that’s able to remotely track and send information out to a technician, such as when a trap, bait station, or other tool has been activated by the rodent you’ve been sent out to retrieve allows for a quicker response from technicians,” Salas said.

Salas added that improved time management and the ability to focus more efforts on investigative measures are other reasons electronic rodent monitoring appeals to her.

Along with that is “making the most out of time management and giving your company and technicians the time to focus efforts on more investigative measures instead of spending time to go check on empty traps that aren’t bringing anything in,” Salas said. “A better use of time and focus with using EM’s could expand the ability to implement real IPM strategies and identifying entry points instead of just the location of where the pest got trapped, which in turn can help complete a rodent job by effectively being able to close off those entry points and prevent the return of the same issue in the future.”

Sprague Pest Solutions, Tacoma, Wash., has been testing and utilizing some devices as part of its control programs, says Jeffrey Weier, the company’s recently retired technical director.

“We have used multiple electronic rodent monitoring systems. In some cases, we did short tests with some they are being used as part of our services. All systems currently work well in some ways and poorly in others. Communication issues are common. A major issue is data aggregation with the additional information gathered. Pricing and business models are also issues. There is a huge potential upside that has not been achieved yet.  When these systems allow technicians to focus more time on inspection and analysis, they will move us to a higher level of pest management and then we can integrate the additional costs of these systems.” 
Jeff King, owner of Pest Rangers, Hanover Township, Pa., has tested many product solutions several years ago but isn’t using them now. He says, “While it makes sense to have this technology available most clients, we have opted out of it due to cost.”
King said time savings are the No. 1 benefit of using electronic monitoring. “The negatives are the upfront and ongoing costs associated with it. Whether its components to provide cellular services, batteries, or replacement costs of damaged equipment these add up over time. We have had discussions with many of our clients where we believe it could be beneficial to deploy such technology, but they have opted to stay with manual checks. It’s possible, in time, clients will be forced to adopt the technology by regulations. We are prepared to service those clients if they’re ever forced to move.”
 
 
West Nile virus cases are being reported with greater frequency in recent weeks. Here’s a look at West Nile virus reports from a variety of media sources compiled by the PCT staff.
West Nile virus cases are being reported with greater frequency in recent weeks. Here’s a look at recent West Nile virus reports from a variety of media sources compiled by the PCT staff.
TEXAS. Two cases of the West Nile virus have been reported in El Paso, health officials confirmed on Aug. 16, KFOX14/CBS4 reported. The patients include a man in his 60s, living in the zip code 79932 with no underlying health conditions and a woman in her 80s, living in the zip code 79936 with underlying medical conditions. Both patients are currently in the hospital receiving treatment. (Source: KFOX)
CALIFORNIA, Earlier this week, Orange County reported its first case of West Nile virus after a man tested positive, KABC reported. Details surrounding the man’s condition weren’t immediately released. It’s also unclear of what portion of Orange County the resident resides in.  West Nile virus has already been detected throughout Los Angeles County. Three dead crows in North Hills tested positive for the virus, but LA County has not yet reported any human infections. (Source: KABC)
Jenkins has been promoted to director of sales, while Aranda has been promoted to branch manager for Bryan/College Station.
AUSTIN — ABC Home & Commercial Services of Austin has promoted Bo Jenkins to director of sales. Jenkins graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014, and has nearly 10 years of experience in the pest and service industry. Jenkins, the third generation of ABC, has been the branch manager for ABC’s Bryan/College Station office since 2017, overseeing all sales and operations for pest control, lawn and tree, AC and heating, plumbing, handyman, exterior cleaning, and holiday and event lighting services. He has continually grown the Bryan/College Station year after year, growing the office by 180% in his five years.  Bo is active in NPMA, served on the Texas Pest Control Association board, and has been active in the Bryan/College Station community.
As the director of sales, Jenkins will oversee and lead all sales efforts for ABC’s service lines in Austin, Bryan/College Station, Corpus Christi, Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio. The service lines include: AC & heating, appliance repair, electrical, exterior cleaning, handyman, holiday and event lighting, lawn and tree, pest control, plumbing, pool, and water quality. “I am excited for the next chapter in my development and to drive growth and sales for ABC across all markets and services,” said Jenkins.
“We are very excited to have Bo back in Austin,” says Bobby Jenkins, owner of ABC. “His skillset, fun personality, and leadership are things all employees respect and we look forward to seeing how he leads and streamlines all sales efforts.”
Omar Aranda has been promoted to branch manager for Bryan/College Station. Omar has been with ABC for over four years, most recently in Residential Sales. “Omar is driven and loved by all customers, and we look forward to seeing him continue to lead the high growth we’ve been seeing in Bryan/College Station,” said Bobby Jenkins.
 
Apex, a PCT Top 100 company, is Arrow’s sixth straight acquisition in Florida.
ATLANTA — Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators has acquired Apex Pest Control, marking its sixth straight acquisition in Florida.
Headquartered in Rockledge, Fla., Apex Pest Control provides pest and termite control and lawn services to approximately 25,000 residential and commercial customers in 30 counties from its offices in Orlando, Tampa, Brevard County, Jacksonville and Miami-Dade/Broward County. The company has strong relationships with premier home builders and provides pre-treatment services to the construction industry. The family-owned and operated organization was established in 1985 by Peter (Pete) Eldridge. The company has grown to a family of 78 team members and reported 2021 revenues of just under $10 million, placing Apex as No. 76 on the most recent PCT Top 100 list. 
All Apex team members will remain with the company, along with the entire Apex Pest Control management team.
“We are very pleased to have merged with the Apex organization, which has a great reputation for service in the state of Florida,” said Emily Thomas Kendrick, chief executive officer of Arrow. “These new offices give us 45 service centers throughout the great state of Florida and a total of 165 offices in the country.”
Eldridge said, “We’ve been a family-owned business since 1985 and have established ourselves as one of the most trusted pest control companies in the state. Our team of pest control technicians share hundreds of years of combined experience, so it was important to me to find a company like Arrow that will treat this team as well as I have for these many years. I had the opportunity to talk to a number of other acquirers, but none of them could match up to Arrow, especially when it comes to people. It is true what I heard when I called references before the sale — Arrow really knows how to do people well.”
Added Tim Pollard, Arrow’s president and chief operating officer, “We see many benefits from this merger, as Apex has significant insight into the building industry in Florida, which will play a large role in our continued growth. Apex has built a valuable business and a loyal team, as well as a reputation for serving both customers and builders, and we look forward to working with this great group of professionals.”
Kemp Anderson Consulting represented Apex Pest Control for this transaction.
Apex was also represented by The Law Offices of Mark Ruff

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