Professional Strength


When I was eight years old I got my first bicycle.  I really thought it was something because it was a racing bike and it said so in bold white and gold letters right there on the gleaming metallic green frame.  My bike had to be a racing bike because it had all the things a racing bike had to have, swept back handle bars, shiny steel rims, a three speed shifter, front hand brake and it said “racing bike” right there on the side.  I was proud of my racing bike and would pull it out of the garage and wash it and wax it and oil the chain then go tearing around the neighborhood as fast as I could.  I wanted every one to know that I had a racing bike and it said so in bold white and gold letters right there on the side!

Well you can imagine my disappointment the first time I had my doors blown off by some kid on a five speed.  Suddenly my racing bike was just a bike, even though it proclaimed to be a “racing bike” right there in bold white and gold letters, right there on the side.

The other day in the lawn and garden department I was reminded of this youthful lesson. 

There it was, setting there in its gleaming white plastic container, “Professional Strength!” insecticide.  This must be the good stuff because it says “Professional Strength!” in bold letters right there on the side.  Besides it has pictures of dead insects, a handy spray pump, even a warning label and it says right there on the side, “Professional Strength!”.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Two things.

First, the things that are not said.  “Professional Strength!” is not professional formula.  Yes, it may have the same active ingredients, it may be a professional strength dosage, but the materials used to carry the active ingredient are usually drastically different.  Professionals tend to use products that are formulated to be more stable and remain on the surfaces they are applied to. 

For instance, if the active ingredient in an over the counter product is a liquid, then when it is applied to a porous surface like wood or concrete much of it is absorbed below the surface where insects will never come in contact with it.  Professional formulations of powders or crystals suspended in water however, will filter out and remain on the surface as the water is absorbed.  This actually reduces the amount of product needed because it stays where the insects can come in contact with it.

The second thing missing is the professional.  There is no such thing as “experience in a can”.  Use the wrong product on the wrong pest (ants in particular) and you can make the problem worse.

You can get professional results with over the counter products but you are going to need to do your homework first or be prepared for disappointment regardless of what the bold letters say right there on the side.

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