The Eradicator was a thermal fogging device based on a
patented method of treatment which had been proven in a Texas Tech University study to
have the highest efficacy rate of any fire ant treatment on the market. These scientific
results are the basis for the EPA registered label making this the only treatment which
can claim that it is for the "ERADICATION" and not merely "control" of
fire ants, "wherever found"!
My friend, Bruce Devlin, was approached by the distributor
of the original technology, called the "Earth Fire Injection System", to be a
spokesman for the product. He was offered a dealership in return for his
endorsement. Bruce brought the opportunity to me in 1994 and we decided to pursue
it. We traveled to Las Vegas to meet with the distributor, who was selling
dealerships on a county-by-county basis. We negotiated a deal for the rights to the
entire State of Texas. On the plane ride home I told Bruce and my partner, Tim
Hagan, that I believed the distributor would be out of business within 1 year due to their
marketing approach being totally wrong for this type of product. It was my opinion
that if we simply focused on building a better brand for the product, the patent holder
would come to us to take over the product distribution. I was wrong! It only
took 6 months.
My partner, Tim secured some venture capital from one of
his ex-clients and Bruce and I called upon Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Rick Perry, who
referred us to his top campaign contributors, who also became investors in the company.
We then set out to re-invent the hardware. The original devise consisted of a
5-gallon, 45-pound backpack that fed the chemical to a wand which housed the heating coil
and propane. We contracted with Curtis Dyna-Fog in Indiana to engineer a
light-weight devise using aerosol cans and eliminate the bulky, heavy backpack. They
designed the self-contained, 11-pound device shown in the picture above.
Using an ordinary bottle of propane (like camp stoves use),
the thermal fogger heats pesticide from a 16 oz. aerosol can into a dry vapor. When
injected into a fire ant mound, this vapor penetrates every cavity of the subsurface
colony killing all of the queens before they have an opportunity to escape and
recognize a few feet away. The active ingredient in the pesticide is Resmethrin, a
pyrethroid deadly to fire ants, but less toxic than ordinary table salt. A 16 oz.
container will treat approximately 25-30 mounds.
The primary difficulty with this business was that the EPA
would only allow this product to be used by licensed pest control applicators. They
refused to give us a label that would have permitted this to be used by ordinary home
owners, even though Burgess, a manufacturer of Mosquito Foggers that you can buy in Home
Depot, uses the exact same chemical and thermal fogging technology for open-air injection.
As of this writing, the patent on this technology would
have expired and I am not sure if this product is still available anywhere in the
marketplace. Curtis-Dyna Fog continued selling the injectors under the name,
"Ant Bear" after we dropped the license to the product.