I’m Boruch Fishman and welcome to another episode of Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist,” Today Dovid will be giving us tips about how a homeowner can select a really good anti-roach over-the counter-pesticide. If you listen closely, you’re going to get the real scoop about what’s going on in cans of roach spray that are available on the market and…how you can determine which ones will help you. And now let’s join the interview in progress.
Boruch: So let me tell you, here’s the situation, at two different times I purchased two different cockroach sprays. I’m a homeowner, I’m not specially knowledgeable about pest sprays, I just went to two separate stores and asked at each place for the best pesticide against roaches that they had in the shop. At the first store I purchased a can of roach spray for about 6-8 dollars. The ingredients included 1.1% propoxur, .05% tetrametrin, 1% piperonylbutoxide, and .320% MGX. The other store had roach spray for about 8 dollars. Th spray had only .1% of MGX as opposed to .32% and it didn’t have the tetramethrin, but it had .03% of deltramethrin and .266% of cypromethrin. So I shopped at both stores and then I decided to purchase the roach spray at the first store. It was a bit less money, but it had greater content of the MGX, and it had much greater content of the piperyonylbutoxide. So I took the roach spray home and tried it out. It made a horrible smell, and wherever I sprayed it it made the coackroaches run out from their hiding place to another. But unless I made a direct hit on a roach it didn’t kill them, it didn’t kill a single one of them.
Dovid: Okay, lets do the interview.
Dovid: Let’s do the interview.
Boruch: This is the interview. I’m asking you the question and you’ll provide the answer. So I went out and bought the other product. I took it home and sprayed it. It didn’t have any smell but it started killing the roaches right away. They just started dropping over dead, and not just when I sprayed it, but all that day and the next day and the next. Whenever the roaches walked through the areas I sprayed on they died. And sometimes it took time for them to die but they seemed to walk out into the open and die, until I had dead roaches lying all over the place.
So the question is, how does a homeowner evaluate which of these roach sprays is effective and which one of them is essentially no better than a can of smelly water?
Dovid: You can’t, there’s no way to tell
Boruch: Okay, well let me ask you this. In retrospect, the one with Cypermethrin and Deltamethrin did the job, the one with Tetramethrin didn’t.
Dovid: Tetramethrin is what we usually use for ants and smaller insects.
Boruch: Is that right? Okay so you use Tetramethrin for ants and here they are putting it in roach sprays.
Dovid: All these sprays do work, the question is what is your expectation. If you are a homeowner who wants an insecticide that he can spray on roaches and they will die, there are chemicals that will do that. That is probably the least favorable way of doing pest control, Why? Because if you spray a bug and it dies, that is the only bug that is exposed. You do want to kill the bugs that are exposed, but you want to get to the nest and the colony, which is not exposed. So what you want to do is have a product that is delayed reaction, so that the bugs will interface with it and then bring it back to the colony, spread it around, and thereby kill all of the colony, which you don’t know where it is.
Boruch: The thing is, the spray that works for me, it does both. It kills a lot of the roaches immediately, but it also works as a delayed reaction type spray. I was away for 10 days, after spraying my apartment. When I came back, there were dead roaches everywhere. But with the other spray, that gave off the odor that never happened. There wasn’t a single time that it gave a delayed reaction kill.
Dovid: Well what you may have seen was that over time there were less roaches.
Boruch: I didn’t
Or it may be that the active ingredient takes longer, or it may be that you didn’t put the chemical where the roaches are going to get it.
Boruch: No, I put the spray in the same places as the other one. Now with the first spray, that had the Tetramethrin, which you say works really good on
Dovid: Wait a minute; let me explain how pesticides work. Pesticides are chemicals in a water base. After spraying, the water evaporates leaving behind the pesticide chemicals, which have adhered to various surfaces. When the roaches subsequently come in contact with the active ingredient, how they die will depend upon how they came in contact with the ingredient, and the extent of it.
Dovid: There’s no such thing as a product on the market in the pesticide world that doesn’t work, they just work differently.
Boruch: Okay, let me ask you what do you know about Cypermethrin?
Dovid: I use it every day.
Boruch: First let me tell the listeners that I live in a foreign country that may have different restrictions about use of insecticides. But on the can it says this is a “professional strength spray.” Can non pest control specialists use Cypermethrin in the United States?
Dovid: At some strength Cypermethrin is available to the public. The question would be professionally are you using a 0.5% or are you using a 1.5%. It’s a matter of how much insecticide you are using. Cypermethrin is a very good product and it’s just a matter of what strength is available for the public to use.
Boruch: We’re using .26%
Dovid: What I’m saying is that as a product it is very good. Now how it gets to the consumer is a different question. However, keep in mind there is no company that’s going to sell a product that doesn’t have some effect on the target, on the pest. No company is going to produce a product that the client is going to abuse. So the product I am going to buy is going to be at a strength that requires skill and expertise to use it. So some of the consumer pesticides, you could take a bath in it and nothing would happen, I guarantee it. Because they’re not going to put any chemical in the hands of a public who are not going to read the label and will abuse it.
Boruch: Okay, so you’re saying that at certain strength Cypermethrinis a professional strength chemical.
Dovid: Umhuh. Every chemical you have named is in my arsenal, and I have used it at one time or another.
Boruch: Do you use Cypermethrin at .26%?
Dovid: Every chemical you have named is in my tank.
Boruch: What about Deltamethrin?
Dovid: I’ll tell what these chemicals are. If you go back 20 years they had a product called Duraspan. They took Duraspan off the market about 5, 6, or 7 years ago. Duraspan was a product that was an offshoot of an excellent product that was taken off the market before Duraspan. Once they took that very good product off the market they had Duraspan, and once they took Duraspan off the market they came up with all these other products Tetramethrin, Cypermethrin and Deltamethrin, which are little Duraspans. Maybe some of them will have a little bit of Pyrethrium in it, a little bit of the real stuff; but all these things are synthetic Duraspan products. Instead of buying Duraspan at 10%, you’re buying products like these at .1%, a lot different. They made it a lot weaker so they could control it.
Boruch: Okay, now let me ask you, the Propoxur, what does that do?
Dovid: That’s another insecticide, getting into the petroleum distillates. It’s of the family of insecticides in the carbamate family, and its known for its quick knockdown effect. So by adding propoxur to longer acting insecticides you get both an immediate kill and a long-term kill. Regarding the odor, it has nothing to do with the strength of the product. I can show you a strong pesticide that is odorless, and a weak pesticide that has a strong odor.
Boruch: Going back to the insecticide with the smell, the four ingredients were Propoxur, Tetramethrin, piperonyl butoxide, and MGX. Of those four ingredients, which one was responsible for the smell.
Dovid:. Actually, all these products are oil based, and oil has a smell. So when they want to make an odorless product, they kept the oil based products out as much as possible. The oil, being a carrier, but it also has a smell to it. The oil also creates the gas which contributes to the ability of the pesticides to be sprayed. And that’s why on some of these products there is so little pesticide and so much inert ingredient that carries the product and allows it to be sprayed. I can actually make changes to the pesticide to take out the odor. I went to one ladies house who had young children around. I didn’t want to spread a noxious smell around the rooms so I added a tiny bit of baby oil to the spray Afterwards she said, “Oh,” what did you put in the spray it smells like a baby’s room.
Boruch: My experience was that the spray that has the smell did absolutely nothing.
David: One other thing to keep in mind is that not all products on the market work speedily. There is a popular product called Roach Kill. And the active ingredient in Roach Kill is boric acid. And there a million campaigns out there to sell Roach Kill. But what’s the problem? It takes three weeks of constant exposure before boric acid will kill a single roach. In the professional world, if I take three weeks to kill the roaches I’m fired, done deal. You want an insecticide that will make a roach flip on its back and die immediately. They don’t make those type of sprays anymore, they’ve taken them off the market.
So do people use Boric acid? Yes. They buy it and use it, and have white Boric acid powder sprinkled all over their house and it takes three weeks to kill the roaches. But as a professional, am I going to use it? No. My clients want their roaches dead in three days not three weeks.
Boruch: We have to end the interview at this point because of time considerations, but I have some final comments. Dovid is a professional, so he’s not going to come out and directly criticize anyone in his industry. But what he did tell us was that in least one roach spray that I found on the market has a killing ingredient that is effective against ants, and their touting it as a treatment for roaches. Other ingredients that are being added in are abrasive chemicals that make the roaches run from one place to another, but they are not killing them.
Now Dovid also noted that just because a spray smells bad to us doesn’t mean it works. The real killing agents are odorless.
The second point I want to make is that there are sprays on the market that really work. The difference between the two sprays that I used was like night and day. I live in another country, and I don’t know if you can get sprays at the strength that I used, when you’re shopping over the counter, but if you can look for a spray that has at least .26% Cypermethrin or at least .030% or more Deltamethrin.
Now third, don’t be fooled by the fact that one spray has more of one ingredient than another. The spray I used that didn’t work had more Piperonyl butoxide and more MGX then the spray that worked. But these are obviously not the killing agents.
Fourth, once you find a spray that works stick with it. Don’t think it’s your imagination or that you will use another spray the next time and it will be just as effective. Not necessarily true!
Well, that wraps it up for another episode of “Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist.” Folks, I’m Boruch Fishman, have a pest free day.