Robert's Rants
Robert's Rants
A personal blog on the Canadian pesticide industry and other pet peeves and interests

Does our lack of products make us work smarter? Or just harder? Part 1 of 2

I was looking at my latest version of PCT and was marveling at the number of products they have available to them for invasive species management (okay…pest control).  It would sure be nice to have half of the products they use.  Efficacy, bait shyness, resistance management and rotation would be words we could add to our vocabulary.

So why don’t we have all these different active ingredients and formulations?

There only one reason we work with limited resources…economics.

We don’t get registrations, or new product launches, simply based on ROI, return on investment, that suppliers will obtain in the Canadian marketplace.  It simply doesn’t justify the upfront spend.

We’re too small to make it worth a big companies time and trouble.

You would think a country with about 10% of the US population would have 10% of the pest management problems, and subsequently dollars.

Au contraire….

First look at our climate.  Without sustained warmer temperatures we miss the biggest US market with termite infestations, pre-treatment and control.  That’s half the market, so now we’re down to 5% of their value?

Then throw in all the other species they deal with in the southern US.

Fire Ants, scorpions, brown recluse and black widows.  All those fun things that aren’t just a serious pest, but a health risk to boot.

Toss in the mosquito market for good measure.  Sure Winnipeg has it’s swarms, and the “north” over run with Black Flies 2 weeks out of the year.

But have you ever been to the Everglades in July?  Those are mosquitoes.  Big ol suckers that will haul your children and pets away.

And they carry so many diseases and viruses that you have to spray…no ifs ands or buts.

So what’s that take the Canadian market to in overall value?

Rather small…tiny… compared to our Southerly neighbors. Not to denigrate the importance of pest management in Canada…it just points out that the overall dollars available make it difficult for a supplier to justify the spend to bring a product to market.

This isn’t a problem for products that don’t require government registration.  You can send the same piece of plastic you sell in the US into Canada without a problem (although you should have French, Inuit and Urdu on the label).

But for those in the PMRA managed pesticide industry, forget it.

Can any supplier justify a $250,000 expense, and trials and tests on each insect pest, to go into a market that might gross 10% of that amount per year?


And can you blame them?  Nope.

This leads back to my argument from a few months back.  Why manage pesticides at all in Canada, if the EPA is already doing the job south of us?  Can’t we trust them?

Isn’t a roach in Buffalo pretty much the same as one in Toronto or Hamilton or Windsor.

Are Vancouver Pharoahs a completely different beast than Seattle based ants?

But that won’t happen, no need to hope…

So it’s a plain fact that we won’t have the same tools as our good buddies, and even sister companies in the States.

We’re used to it, and it won’t change.

Now to my point.

So with the lack of new products, registrations, formulations and expanded labels, how do we manage to do pest control at all?

That’s the question.  And I’ll let you in on the answer next week!!!!

You read it here first. Invasive Species Engineer

That’s the winner.

Until the second entry comes in!

Invasive Species Engineer (ISE)

Maybe, maybe not, but I find it rather catchy, rolls off the tongue, and sounds so much cooler and loftier than Pest Control Operator.  Or Pest Management Professional….

Notice not one reference to ‘pest”.    A bonus!  No pest,  No pesticide,  no Pest Management Reg……whoops

And it fits our industry.  Think about it.

A multitude of different species that we have to deal now covered.  A multitude of different ways to tackle the problem, not just pesticides, also covered.

And generally speaking the fact an insect or animal exists isn’t ever a problem, as long as they don’t deter, impede, or decrease an individual’s quality of life.

And those invasive species can be part of any Phyla, Class or Order…we are involved with invasive species of so many different types it can make your head swim.

Invasive fish, insects, arthropods, rodents, mammals… (nice segue from making your head swim to invasive fish don’t you think).  When they invade on your quality of life.

Carpenters ants are beneficial….but not in the house.   Same goes for wasps, and raccoons (okay – they may not be beneficial).   Termites.  All play a role in this little planet.

I love spiders…

But when they destroy a house or your health or your crop or your food, then the tables turn.

It’s not just a pest, it’s a friggin’ invasive species.  They wanna live where I live, eat what I eat and that’s not gonna happen.  It’s even worse when you become the meal.

Invasive plant life…weeds…that can stay with the agronomists.  Remember, we’re engineers not farmers!  Kidding, kidding.  A kid from Kansas would never knock a farmer.

Invasive Species Engineer…sounds better all the time.

Maybe I should copyright the term.


Surgeon was taken, and might be pushing it.   And I like trains.

Maybe simple saying we are bug killers understates and undersells what we really do?

I’m kinda thinking I’ll start my own association, with just  one member, of Invasive Species Engineers.

AND!  I’ve even got my Association name.

Global Union of Invasive Species Engineers!   GUISE.

Even sounds right, as we all know it’s a man’s industry!  Ouch, sorry dear.

AND, an Association needs a leader….

Since I’m an Invasive Species, and non-profit, I’ve nominated myself as Executive InVader!    After heavy negotiations with myself, I’ve set my salary at $250,000 with a new Jag and 4 months vacation.

So watch this spot for your membership package as I need some help with the salary.

What does the word “Pest” mean to you?

I think I found the problem, or what’s been bugging me on our industry’s name…

Pest Management Professional, or Pest Control Operator.

“Control” is now Management….”Operator” now Professional.

Maybe it’s simply the word “pest” is too associated with the word “pesticide”?  I’m the first to tell you there is nothing wrong with either the word, the product or the usage. But that doesn’t fly with everyone.

And working solely with pests doesn’t do our industry justification.  Do you think?

Like back when there used to be “Agricultural Chemicals”.  You pretty much knew it was pesticides.  In the States we used to have the Midwest Ag Chem Association, the Southern Ag Chem Assoc…..MACA, SACA, WACA, NACA etc etc.   (You should be retired if you remember that.)

Was it really the Canadian Ag Chem Association???

But now it’s Crop Life.  And Crop Life Canada.

Brilliant!  No more mention of chemicals…. or pesticides.  And the industry is focused on nurturing and ensuring the viability of crops.  Life….not death of an insect or weed.

And how about RISE?  That’s a great association name.  Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment.  Members are ag chemical, pest control and turf companies.  Major distributors.  Major purchasers.  But focused more on the consumer side of the business.

But all members are concerned about running their business while keeping a Sound Environment at the fore front.

Maybe in the effort to re-shape our industry image, the focus should have been on a different word, not so much “Control”  or “Operator” but the word “pest” itself.

So let’s take the “Pest” out of pest control…

When you submit your prize winning entry…anyone who has eliminated the word “pest” gets a bonus!

Maybe an extra case of Impact!?!

Maybe not…

Name Our Industry Contest! It needs more IMPACT!

A fellow traveler on the plane the other day asked what I did for a living, and I had to say I’m sell products for pest control to professional pest control companies.  Including pesticides.

Surprisingly they didn’t begin throwing their cold hard Air Canada buns at me, accuse me of destroying the planet, or causing their future generations to grow three heads and a tail.

Like anything…the average person understands that pesticides have a benefit to society, and can accept our role as a valued contributor to society.  The average person on the street buys billions of dollars of Raid and Off every year.

I could say “I protect your food, shelter and health, your standard of living, your quality of life”. That would really make an impact.

That would be so much better…and very very true…but put that in a name…

The PMP Industry, that’s us.  The softened term the NPMA launched years ago, instead of Pest Control Company, or Pest Control Operator (answering the phone for the local termite colony?).   But really, what’s wrong with Pest Control?

Pest Management Professional.  Sounds nice, real technical, “management” and “professional” in the same name even!  Not much impact though.

We need more IMPACT….something cool, sexy, hot, catchy.  Zing!

When I call you up as the cockroaches are running over my pizza I don’t want you to “manage” the situation…I want those ###@@### stopped!

We also all know that Management doesn’t do anything….and I want control…action…flame throwers!

(Oops…guess I’m in management though).

And “Professional”?  That just means you charge more!  But can you be Unprofessional Pest Control?

So since PCO wasn’t really well liked by those in the know, and PMP is too soft and doesn’t convey what we do, I’m starting a contest for the best new name for our profession and industry.

We need something snappy, something kids and the new generation of tweeters and texters and otherwise lazy individuals can relate to.

And you get extra points for having the acronym spell something groovy.  (SPMOA rolls right off your tongue)

So send me an email to put forth your suggestions…serious or not.

Here’s the contest rules:

Gardex Customers only, as many entries as you like!  You should know my email address by now.  If not send me an email and I’ll let you know…

I pick the winner.

I pick the prize!  But I’m leaning toward a case of the new IMPACT roach bait!