A few months back I had an issue with carpenter bees. At first I though the issue was termites. Termites had been a problem at my house before. On the eve of our one year anniversary at what is now our old house (fyi…my family and I just moved a little over a week ago) we discovered termites in our laundry room. The worst of it was they hatched. The only good thing was that they were isolated to a small area of the house. There was little damage, but would necessitate years and years of termite maintenance plans.
So when I saw a bunch of wood dust on my deck, I immediately started to fear that the termites were back. Not only were they back, but they seemed to be immune to our termite control system that we had spends thousands of dollars on. The first thing I did was call up our termite control company. I’ll keep them nameless for now as I don’t want to send any bad press their way. They came over within a day and diagnosed the problem as carpenter bees and not termites. They also told me that my plan didn’t cover carpenter bees and worst yet that they didn’t cover carpenter bees under the pest plan. They did tell me one thing…guess what that one thing was? They told me that our carpenter bee problem was really bad.
At this point I’m kind of up a creek without a paddle. I have an insect problem that needs to be eradicated. I have no experience with eradicating the insect. I have no formal idea about how much damage my deck has sustained. I have no idea how bad it could get and how soon. Worst of all, at the time I was trying to get my house ready to put it on the market to sell.
I did some research and learned everything there was to know about carpenter bees, well that is as much research as I could find off of two or three queries from Google. I learned that they burrowed into the wood. I learned to look for round holes in wood that turned into 90 degree angles once inside of the wood. I learned about spraying certain pesticides and puttying up the wood so the bees were trapped and died. It turns out that I had an entire colony of carpenter bees. While doing all of this treatment I noticed a bunch of bees were hovering around a dying tree in my neighbor’s yard. The bees were two-timing both of us. They were nesting in the dying tree and eating on my deck. You know they old expression that you never sleep where you eat. Well, that’s apparent with carpenter bees as well. Eventually we got the county to remove the tree, my deck was fully treated and patched by me and the problem went away.
There’s something more though about the story. Remember how I said my pest control company that I had a termite plan didn’t have coverage for carpenter bees? Well I forgot to mention that I had a general pest control contract with them as well. The pest plan had hundreds and hundreds of families of insects and bugs that they covered on their plan. There were three in general that was prominent in my neighborhood that they claimed they couldn’t treat: mosquitoes, carpenter bees and wasps/hornets. Looking back, I paid about $65 every 2 months for pest control. The main pests that were troubling my house weren’t under my plan. I don’t think any of the hundreds of bugs on their list were indigenous to my area. Certainly, mosquitoes, carpenter bees and wasps/hornets were indigenous to my backyard. So at that end of day, I’ve got to say to myself what exactly am I paying for? I still have wood damage and tons of mosquito bites, not to mention the hornets are so big that my wife is scared to let my daughter play in our backyard.
In light of this little story, I think there’s something to think about. That’s specifically about understanding your audience. I don’t think our pest control company understands it’s local customer. First off, it’s one of those giant franchised company that exists all throughout the United States and Canada. Sadly they take a one size fits all approach to pest control. What works in New Mexico must work in Maine. Understanding your customer or your intended audience is the best way to succeed. It’s what keeps them coming back and wanting more. It makes them want to refer you to their friends, neighbors, etc…
I’ve since moved and I have a bug problem. I’ve got mosquitoes and bees (fortunately not carpenter bees). I even have a few chipmunks and mice prancing around my yard. I’m going to approach these problems a little differently. I’m going to work through these issues like I did the carpenter bees myself and try to find a company that can specialize in my needs. Let’s see how it works out…