Pesticide Isn't Always the Solution: Pesticide Alternatives in Los Angeles, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 @ 11:08 AM

Pesticide options 

Pesticides Isn’t Always the Solution

I am often asked to take care of a wide variety of pests in and out of homes.  There are times when pesticide isn’t always the solution to resolve every pest issue. Not all pests require pesticide to control all pest infestation.  As an organic pest control company our focus is resolving issues with the least toxic material available, when a pesticide is needed and only after pesticide options has been evaluated, which is referred to as Integrated Pest Management or IPM.

Unfortunately there are pest control companies that will be happy to take your money without identifying a pest issue first (illegal).  Some companies will treat for pest that really doesn’t exist or require treatment. Some pests don’t need pesticide intervention at all, and can easily be resolved through mechanical or sanitation changes.  Education of the general public is our most effective tool sometimes, but because their previous experience has left them with conflict of information, some companies find it easier to go ahead and take the money, spray and run rather than take the time to educate.

 Many clients want us to treat for pest, just because.  This could be based on what they believe to be true, it may be because they always had it done by others, or they are under the impression if they are paying for service they can have whatever they think is best.   Some of this comes from other companies that don’t follow regulations, some of it is bad information found on the Internet.

I want to focus a little more on the pest issues that for the most part can be addressed without pesticide treatment.  It’s what every Pest Control Company should be doing for their client, the public and the environment. 

Don’t always require pesticide:

  • Food Pests
  • Cloths Moths
  • Fruit Flies
  • Lice
  • Scabies

Mystery Pest, or NoSeeUms, as we call it really do exist; well maybe only in the minds of those that think they have them.  If you want to know more about this “pest” give a click for FREE downloadable document I have put together.

First up is:

Food Pest


Stored food pest fall into two groups...   Those that have them and those that will.  Most believe there food got infested from bugs in the pantry, which is partly correct.  Most grains have the ability to hatch the eggs that are already in the product before it went to your grocery store.  How can that be you ask?  Well, many whole grains can become infested with primary and secondary feeders such as weevils that “drill” holes in the seed and deposit their eggs which can stay dormant for long periods of time and hatch once they have made the travels to your pantry cupboard, leaving you with a packet or box of cast insect skin laced with pulverized grain that no longer looks like grain and certainly isn’t fit for human consumption.  On a side note, many complaints of a tummy ache can be caused by ingesting of the larval stage, which in some species have tiny barb-like hairs that irritate the stomach and colon.

So now that we know some pest came from the inside of the grain in this case, you certainly don’t want to “spray” your food do you?  The damage is done, pick it up and toss it out.

 Some species of pest hatch out into a moth, such as the common Indian Meal Moth.  The larval stage of the moth is what feeds on the product.  The adult moth will die once the food source has been eliminated.  Don’t stop with that one food because temperature and humidity has a lot to do with these hatchings, you should go through ALL your processed and whole grain products, opened or unopened  and inspect them for possible infestation as well.


Since the “trigger” often is temperature and humidity, you can keep whole grain and processed grains in sealed containers which allow you to keep any new infestations from spreading. You can also store in your refrigerator (under 72 degrees) if you have the capacity.

Fabric Pest 


Cloths moths are another common pest issue that can have many sources.  Most live on the garment of natural fabric such as wool, silks and fur to name a few.  Case Making Cloth Moths will build a cocoon from the very fabric they are eating making it almost impossible to see until it is too late. Again it is the larval stage that carries this cocoon around as it moves through your cloths.  The moth, as in the Indian Meal Moth doesn’t cause the damage, but likely the only evidence you see other than holes.  The moth are weak fliers and don’t like light, so often times damage is high before the homeowner finds their favorite suit or dress riddled with holes.  Again, “spraying” your fine garments isn’t something you really want to do.  Better option is to take infested items to your dry cleaner and then seal them in either a garment bag or a Space Bag and store until you are ready to wear it. 


A word about cedar and moth balls as control products.  These products are best used to keep infestations from starting rather than trying to rely on them to control an existing one.  Foggers have been suggested by some, but I do not recommend them for much more than holding down newspaper against the floor.  Again, why would you want your cloths to be covered in a pesticide?   

 Many clients are under the impression that Pheromone traps are for controlling cloths moths.  They are not; they are mostly used to determine which species and or the absence or presence of fabric pest.  I see these over used in closets, finding as many as 10 when 1 is what is recommended.  Sure they can be used to monitor control measures, but to see them placed in homes as the only control measure is inappropriate. 



Fruit flies are another common problem that is regularly mistreated.  Treatment that is often applied is for the result of the problem and not the cause.  Have you ever tossed a banana peel in your trash and let it sit for 1 day?  Fruit flies seem to spontaneously appear out of thin air.  Well, the cause is the banana peel and that is a sanitation issue.  Fruit flies need organic material to lay their eggs in.  Resolving this issue doesn’t require a pesticide, rather a flashlight serves this pest issue best. 

Drains, soda cans, drip trays under the refrigerator, greasy tile grout, dirty trash cans, spillage, the list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.  The life cycle of this pest is short, but the infestation can be high if allowed to continue to breed in whatever “muck” is available.  I just finished posting in my last Blog a short video on these pest in a restaurant that highlights their sources. 

Correct the sanitation issue and this problem disappears as mysteriously as it started.  If the adult fly population is heavy, certainly a non-residual aerosol can be used to knock them down.


I’m not sure where the practice of pouring bleach down drains started, but I see this used all the time in restaurants.  Bleach is a sanitizer not a degreaser and certainly not a drain cleaner.  Save it for your grass-stained socks.  

Head Lice 


Who hasn’t had a child or know someone who has had a child sent home by the school nurse with a note telling them there is an outbreak of lice?  Lice attach “nits” to the follicle of the Childs hair.  These parasites do not live off the body and don’t require any pest control intervention.  Wash their cloths and hair brush if you like, but treatment must be addressed at the source.  Many over the counter products work just fine and will resolve the problem just follow the manufacturer’s label.   

Bit of interesting info on the word “Nit Picker”.  Nit pickers were hired to pick the Nit from the head of an infected individual. Picking nits is slow, tedious, detailed work. The origin is from the literal act of picking nits. A nit, by the way, is the archaic name for lice. Therefore nit picking is "lice removal."



Human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. 

Consult a dermatologist, not an exterminator for treatment. Scabies generally will not survive off the human body for more than 2-3 days and require no pest control intervention. 

So, there you have it.  Hopefully you take away a different view of what is needed rather than what is wanted based on insect biology rather than trying to make a buck off a misinformed homeowner.

If you have a pest question, please feel free to ask me here with the link below, and I will be happy to assist you.  Allow me to do what I love, and love what I do.

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Tags: pest prevention, Pesticide options, Lice