July 1, 2018

Pest Control

Birds are messy and keeping their cages immaculate is nearly impossible. In my case, this has resulted in a hard to control cockroach infestation. It is primarily hard to control because birds are extremely sensitive to pesticides, making the usual control with nasty poisons a bad idea.

Back in 2012, I had an exterminator visit -- he sprayed an encapsulated pesticide (but not in the room with the birds), and this was very effective. We agreed that with an almost constant supply of food, thanks to the birds, it would be all but possible to achieve complete control, especially in the room with the birds. When he sprayed I turned off the air conditioner and taped the bottom of the bird room door. The evaporative cooler is much less of a concern than the A/C since it pulls air from outside an forces it into the house. The A/C on the other hand recirculates house air, which is exactly what I did not want while spray and vapors might be airborne.

In 2018, I contacted an outfit called Century 22 pest control in Tucson. The fellow there declined to come to my home when he learned I had large parrots, but did his best to tell me all I needed to know over the phone. He recommended using 3 products to achieve control:

  1. A water mixed micro-encapsulated pesticide.
  2. An insect growth regulator.
  3. Paste bait.
The insect growth regulator was a new concept to me. It is a hormone that prevents juvenile insects from maturing into reproductive adults. If a person was patient, this product alone could be used to achieve control, perhaps with less toxicity that regular pesticides. This is not usually done, because customers demand fast results. The stuff I purchase is "Martin's IG (insect growth) regulator" I got a 4 ounce bottle. The usual mix is 1 ounce per half gallon, so this bottle will be good for 4 treatments.

The bait I used is "Abathor gel bait", which is .05 percent Abamectin B1. I have only been able to buy this as a box with 4 30 gram tubes, which is a ridiculous amount, probably enough to treat a large apartment complex.


Amazingly enough, you can order pesticides online, even at Amazon and have them delivered through regular mail without Hazmat procedures or any hassle of any kind. It seems unbelievable, but if you know what to buy and can read and follow instructions, you are in business.

Note that it is recommended to rotate pesticides to avoid developing insects that a resistant to whatever you are using. The recommendation is to hit each generation of insects with a different pesticide. This sounds great in theory, especially if you are a professional and can rotate whatever you use each quarter. For someone like me who buys the smallest quantity they can and mixes 1/2 gallon per spraying, this will be at the least wasteful.

I was advised to use an micro encapsulated pesticide. Encapsulated means that it is active to 90 days (so an exterminator could pay visits quarterly and spray this stuff). Two products were recommended. I went with the highly recommended Demand CS, primarily because it was available in 8 ounce bottles, whereas Cy Kick CS was only available in a 16 ounce bottle.

I went to "Do it yourself" pest control in Tucson and asked for these, and was sold Cy Onara 9.7 and told it was the same as the above, which is not true. It contains 9.7% Lamda-Cyhalothrin, just like Demand CS, but it is not micro encapsulated. The fellow at the store insisted it was, and continued to insist it was even when I returned it. 8 ounces sells online for $34. It may have worked just fine (it has a long lasting residual), but I asked for a micro encapsulated product, and I expected to get what I asked for.

Demand CS also contains 9.7% Lamda-Cyhalothrin, but micro encapsulated Lambda-cyhalothrin is a synthetic pyrethroid designed to mimic the naturally-occurring pyrethrins derived from the Chrysanthemum flower, attacking an insect’s central nervous system. The synthetic active ingredient, however, is less costly and has a long-lasting residual. This was expected to cost more than the non encapsulated Cy Onara 9.7, but I found it on sale for exactly the same price.

Cy Kick CS is less expensive ($42 for 16 ounces), and uses a similar but different chemical.

Here is the marketing copy:

The active ingredient in Cy-Kick CS is Cyfluthrin, a synthetic pyrethroid that attacks the central nervous system of target pests. Made to mimic the effects on insects of naturally occurring pyrethrum, man-made cyfluthrin has the advantage of remaining effective for up to 3 months. SmartCap Technology means Cy-Kick CS stands up to porous and highly absorbent surfaces such as concrete, while the polymer shell protects the active ingredient making it readily available to pests. When sprayed, Cy-Kick CS creates a thick barrier of microcapsules that is impossible for insects to cross without being exposed to a lethal dose of insecticide. Exposed insects pick up microcapsules on their hairs and body, triggering a rapid release of the active ingredient, resulting in death. Though Cy-Kick CS is tough on insects, it is very gentle on people and pets when used correctly.

Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Home repair pages / tom@mmto.org