Living Smart: What is Green Pest Control?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

When her young dog died of cancer almost four years ago, Chicago Angieís List member Amy Heineke started looking into green pest control. She never inquired about the pesticides her lawn technician used and wonders if they could have caused her petís untimely death.

Heineke now makes an effort to pay attention to the chemicals her pets encounter, and her new pest management company, highly rated Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management of Aurora, Ill., offers an eco-friendly plan that both she and her pets can live with.

According to Missy Henriksen, Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the most important aspect of green pest control is an integrated pest management approach. The process consists of inspecting the area, identifying the pest problem and then controlling it. The goal is to manage pests with minimal impact on people, property and the environment.

Integrated pest managementís main focus is determining why the pests are coming into your home and making changes to keep them out. Henriksen says pests need food, water and shelter to thrive. "You can get rid of the pests once theyíre inside, but if you donít take care of the food, water and shelter they will return," she says.

Brent Draper, owner of highly rated Greenix Pest Control in Dublin, Ohio, is a proponent of the integrated pest management method, and says a lot has changed in the industry over the years. "The old way was just spray, no matter whatís there," he says. "Now we get to the root of the problem."

According to Draper, a leaking faucet, pet food or an unkempt lawn may attract pests to your home. He says the goal is to find out the source of the problem and determine what needs to be done before applying products.

The NPMA offers the GreenPro certification for pest control companies who want to follow a green pest control regiment. GreenPro companies agree to inspect the property first, eliminate pest necessities like food sources, use pesticides in the appropriate manner and get the consent of customer before any traditional pesticide is applied. There are currently 152 GreenPro companies nationwide.

According to Dave Oeters, President of Chem-Wise, green pest control companies can still use pesticides, but they need to be applied in the appropriate manner. "The use of pesticides isnít the problem," he says. "Itís in the misuse of them when the issues arise."

Heineke says she expected to pay more for green pest control. "Typically youíd think it isnít going to work as well and itís going to be more expensive," she says.

But Heineke found the opposite to be true. She now pays $75 for quarterly treatment instead of the $100 she paid to the old provider, and she feels the green methods are working better.