Many critical factors in recent years have been significant contributors to driving pest control businesses and the industry on the whole towards developing less toxic solutions. The EU Biocidal Products Regulation, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and a host of other stringent legislations have been at the core of regulating the use and development of new biocidal products in the market which has prompted a drive for innovative, low-toxic alternatives.
On the other hand, businesses have been reacting to rising consumer expectations with many of them becoming increasingly aware of the potentially damaging health and environmental effects arising out of the overuse of pesticides.
There has also been significant maturity in the pest control industry that is in a constant state of research and development, looking for more effective and sustainable solutions that will benefit the planet on the whole.
These are just some of the compelling reasons that are driving change in the pest control sector. Another fascinating aspect from the perspective of innovation is that many of these driving forces have emerged at a time when advancing technology has further enabled the creation of less toxic solutions that are more effective and targeted as opposed to specific chemical solutions still prevailing in some parts of the world.
A changing landscape presented by the Internet of Things and connected technology
Automation of pest observation has been a driver for new developments in the pesticide industry which, at present, is looking to embrace the Internet of Things for changing the way in facilities can be monitored. Connected devices and traps can now be installed for 24/7 remote monitoring, preventing periodic physical monitoring by the technicians for the presence of pests.
In case they do pay a visit, technicians are not required to spend time in checking the traps, instead utilizing these hours in the development of less toxic, preventive strategies for mitigating risks.
Bespoke monitoring solutions such as thermal imaging enabled drones are also being used for surveying large crop areas in the field of agriculture. The technical capability of hyperspectral imaging and thermal heat software fitted on these drones is high enough for viewing localized infestations microscopic details. This way, you can treat pest problems on the smallest of areas with low-toxic solutions and prevent them from spreading.
Use of predictive analytics
The new monitoring methods being implemented will also present you with new datasets on parameters that were never monitored before. The aforementioned drones can monitor chlorophyll levels in plants and predict damage before it actually takes places.
It’s not necessary that you have to use the collected data in isolation. It can be used as an overlay with public data sources such as weather records for creating a predictive model on pest behavior specific to different parameters. Such a sophisticated predictive analytic technique will also enable these targeted treatments to be applied in localized areas rather than as a blanket treatment. This will be a major plus over the use of chemical pesticides.
With the right support and application of innovative technology, the use of harsh chemicals can be done away with altogether.
Developments in the field of non-toxic heat treatments
It’s ironic to think that some of the recent innovations that have taken place are merely enhanced ideas from a few centuries ago. Early settlers in 18th Century Australia developed rudimentary techniques where heat could be used for eliminating insects. Modern technology has simply borrowed this idea and scaled it up with the intent of commercialization.
Sprays often fail to penetrate the hard, outer shells of insects. The use of a heating mechanism kills the insect from inside by dehydrating and damaging the essential physiological processes. This prevents the insects from developing any resistance to spray chemicals that could otherwise be passed on as resistant genes to their offspring.
Heat also kills the various life stages of the insects without the need for going any higher than 60 degrees Celsius. While it rapidly kills pests, the temperature is not high enough to result in any form of structural damage to objects or buildings.
Biopesticides too have seen a lot of advancements
Low-toxic innovation is being driven by a lot more than merely data and hardware. New organic-compound solutions are also being developed for repelling and destroying pests. One example is a fungal spore that attaches to the exterior of a cockroach, germinates, bores through its outer shell to reach the body cavity before multiplying and eventually killing the insect.
Such solutions are zero-toxic towards mammals and can be highly effective even when used in low volumes. Also, unlike chemicals, pests cannot develop resistance to the spores thus providing humankind with a solution to the long-standing problem of pests adapting to chemicals and passing on the resistant genes. This also allows new chemical-free solutions to be implemented without severely impacting the environment. As a matter of fact, there are several sites that have taken the Integrated Pest Management approach such as low-risk chemicals, and also no pesticides at all.
What does the future hold for such low-toxic innovative measures?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to interact with the pests instead of just killing them, similar to what is done with mice? Technologies are being developed that can not only pick up the high-frequency sounds made by mice but also send messages to them, signaling them to stay away from the area. While this may seem like science fiction, it’s not all too uncommon to find today’s science fiction becoming a reality tomorrow, is it?
One thing about the pest control industry is pretty evident – the demand and need for low-toxic pest control will only increase over time. The push is likely to come from increasing regulations and greater demand being created by more environmentally-aware and conscious consumers. It can also be said with certainty that new, innovative and continually evolving solutions will help create a bridge between the demand and supply for safer, greener pest control methods.