In the Field: Light Makes Right
The Squirrel Evictor helps Massey Services rid structures of pests — squirrels, feral cats and roof rats — quickly, cost effectively and safely
|Jul 1, 2006
Pest Management Professional
Tom Jarzynka, training and technical director for Maitland, Fla.-based Massey Services, notes that Massey does not jump on new-treatment bandwagons. Rather, the firm tests new products, analyzes the results and then tests some more. In the case of (the Evictor Strobe Light), Massey and its commercial division, PrevenTech, found the innovation helped the company rid pests — squirrels, feral cats and roof rats — quickly, cost effectively and safely.
"This tool fits in with Massey's commitment to environmental responsibility," Jarzynka says. "There's no toxicant involved, no harming of the animals, and yet we accomplish the goal of pest removal."
The Evictor Strobe Light is a strobe light available in two sizes. The 175,000-candlepower unit, 10K, covers about 900 square feet, while the 1 million-candlepower model, 100K, covers 1,600 square feet.
Jarzynka says it's simply a matter of placing an appropriate number of Evictor Strobe Light units in darkened areas such as attics, crawlspaces or wall voids, and letting the lights go full bore. Flashing 90 times a minute, the units won't blind target pests, but they do provide a major annoyance — driving pests out of unwanted areas in a matter of days.
"Bill Earl, the gentleman who designed the strobe light system, is a handyman who was running into squirrel problems — but this applied technology also works well on roof rats and feral cats," Jarzynka adds.
Jarzynka recommends that for long-term installations, an electrician hard-wire the units so they can be turned on and off with a switch before technicians enter the areas.
"Believe me, the lights are just as nasty for you and me as they are for pests," he says. "In training, we'll keep one on for about four cycles before people say: 'OK, we get it. You can turn it off now.'"
Usually, Massey technicians install the lights, check back in a couple days to ensure the pests left, do minor exclusion work to ensure the problem doesn't reoccur, remove the lights and charge a fee.
For accounts where complete exclusion is not really an option, Massey sells the customers the units and then performs monthly service calls. The service includes checking the lights, moving them around where warranted, doing exclusion work and replacing the bulbs once a year. The strobe tubes within the units can run for up to 10,000 hours.
"Placement of the strobe lights is key," Jarzynka stresses. "If there's a wall in the area that can throw a shadow, the units are not able to give off the full effect. That's why the customers trust us, as professionals, to check on the strobe light systems' progress and to know when and where to move the units."
While Massey Services has found the units to be successful in a variety of situations, Jarzynka notes they brought relief to a problem flea account at a suburban hospital. The 2,500-square-foot building's underground service tunnels were infested with fleas. Massey's Preventech team traced the source to a population of feral cats taking up residence in the 4-foot crawlspace underneath the tunnels.
"We tried using traditional traps, but this simply harvested the population," Jarzynka says. "We would catch a few, but the remaining ones became trap-shy and the next thing you know, they would have a litter and were building the numbers back up."
Using traps also brought unwanted attention from the public.
"You hide traps as best you can, but it was not uncommon for someone to let the trapped feral cats free," he says.
There were about six feral cats living in the crawlspace when Massey technician Rick Hoffman installed two Evictor units on site. Hoffman dangled the strobe lights from the ceiling with eye hooks so they could cast light downward, reaching into most dark corners.
"The rectangular building is about 7,500 square feet, and the two lights' zone of influence was about 3,200 square feet," Jarzynka says. "We started at one end and kept moving the feral cats down the length of the building, along with the wall of light. The strobe lights are very repellent; they put pests in duress."
Jarzynka notes that while residential accounts can see a pest reduction within as little as 24 hours, the size of the hospital account and the deliberation with which the firm took to ensure it was a one-time process took about 10 days. Once the feral cats left the crawlspace, the hospital's service engineers took responsibility for replacing the sidewall vents, which had been damaged over time and were the cats' entry and exit points. At that point, Hoffman was able to perform a flea treatment he knew would have staying power.
"A hallmark of the Evictor Strobe Light is that target pests go and live where they're supposed to live," Jarzynka says. "This technique just runs them out of where they're notsupposed to be. We were essentially just moving the cats out into the courtyard, where they would no longer pose a flea problem in the tunnels."
Gooch is a Medina, Ohio-based freelance writer. She can be e-mailed firstname.lastname@example.org