Carol Kauscher's two business cards rely on motorcycles. One features a cartoon roach in high-top shoes, waving a red flag and leaning against a cycle. The other card uses a picture of Kauscher, owner of Roach Annihilation, on her own set of wheels. She's not out to join Hell's Angels. It's just her way of making pest control a friendly topic.
Kauscher says her business specializes in "earth-friendly" methods of extermination. This means no spraying of pesticides, which Kauscher says are unnecessary. Her goal, she says, is to get rid of bugs, whether they're roaches, termites or some other pests, without harming humans with chemicals.
"People know those sprays are not helping," she says.
Bigger extermination companies use these earth-friendly methods, but they still rely heavily on pesticides.
Earth-friendly methods are lesser-used because they involve "more time-consuming labor than some of the spraying," Kauscher says.
The "bug lady," as she is sometimes called, first heard about these methods when she was working as a supervisor at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. There, she oversaw 11 pest-control employees.
"We had a great deal of resistance because of the smells and the fumes," Kauscher explains.
One of the residents told her of a special food product that attracted insects. By eating it, the bugs would die. Kauscher has sworn by this treatment since 1991, constantly doing research and learning about other earth-friendly methods of pest control.
In order to work in pest control, Kauscher needed a license and had to pass a state exam, or rather several of them. There are separate licenses for roaches and termites. Kauscher is licensed in Ohio and Indiana for the control of roaches, termites and ants, among other bugs, and mice and rats.
Many of the techniques Roach Annihilation employs involve food paste and edible substances that do not have the odors and fumes. The substances are laced with boric acid, toxic to roaches and other pests but harmless to humans.
Often, Kauscher squirts the food paste into cracks and crevices with a gunlike device. With 66.7 percent inert ingredients being attractants, the food paste draws roaches out of their hiding places, dying within five hours after ingesting the substance. This method is called baiting. It prevents roaches from burrowing deeper into the walls or escaping into other apartments, one of the problems caused by using pesticides.
Also by using pastes, Kauscher rarely needs to make return trips unless there is an overinfestation.
"Most of it is good for a year as long as there is no spraying, fog or bombs for six months," she explains.
Termites pose another problem. Kauscher comes back monthly for termite infestation until the problem is solved. Plastic pegs with a wood block inside — similar to several systems for termites now in use — are placed into the ground. Tiny holes allow the termites in to feed. The termites carry pieces of the wood back to their colony. The small amount of poison applied to the wood is enough to wipe out the colony. But it takes some time for the wood to be eaten, so Kauscher must regularly check the pegs for signs of activity.
"My guarantee is to come back until you are satisfied," she says.
Kauscher claims that is rarely necessary. Another product she employs for termites, Jecta, is squirted into wood with active infestation. Jecta fuses and absorbs into the wood. Its poison has long-reaching effects.
"Any insect that comes into the wood in the next 25-40 years is dead," she explains.
Ants pose another problem for homeowners. Ants look for different nutrients depending on the season.
"Ants like sugar in the spring," she says. "They're mating. They're active. In the fall, they're looking for protein. They need energy to make it through the cold weather."
Small traps can be laid, containing food pastes for either season. Often times peanut butter is on one side, mint jelly on the other giving ants whatever they're looking for. The clear top of the trap allows Kauscher to keep an eye on its success. She sometimes lays down Nibban, a granule mixture, that works much the same way as a paste. But as with the roaches and termites, there also are gels to squirt into the cracks and crevices to combat ants.
Bugs never bothered Kauscher. She grew up in the country in Wisconsin. But some cases of overinfestation have managed to affect her. Kauscher was called by an elderly woman who was confined to her bed. She complained that the noise from the roaches was so bad it kept her up at night. When Kauscher arrived at the woman's home, she saw that a chair sitting next to the woman's bed had roaches swarming around its legs. Even more roaches were crawling on the woman herself. Though the problem was severe, Kauscher was able to eliminate it.
Occasionally, Kauscher employs a special filter, essentially a vacuum backpack, to suck up the pests. The bugs die upon containment. Roach Annihilation also uses glue boards. In addition to bugs, these boards also can be used for mice and rats. Like the paste, they attract pests with their various substances. Some merely trap their victims; others kill them.
"We use the sticky boards so we can monitor," Kauscher says.
But it is necessary to save the insect so she knows she's treating the problem in the right way.
Kauscher says she's simply doing what eventually will become standard as the area of earth-friendly products continues to expand. And to combat termite infestation, building companies are treating wood before the houses are built. So Kauscher keeps abreast of developments.
"I'm always reading, always studying, looking for the least toxic, most earth-friendly methods," she says. "Some day, they'll stop a lot of the sprays." ©