Pros: works as advertised, keeps ants and other crawling insects out of the treated area
Cons: Doesn't work on flying insects
I've seen a lot of bad reviews on this product, and I think I know why.
READ THE DIRECTIONS:
Intended use: Use as a preventive treatment to create a bug barrier, keeping bugs out.
Key words: preventive treatment. This is NOT a can of RAID. You're NOT supposed to run around looking for the little beasties and spray them with the stuff.
Why I bought it:
I have a 9 yo Siberian Husky, and my wife has 2 adorable little Maltese/Shih-tsu pups. Our dogs are used to free-feeding, that is where you simply make food available to the dogs and they eat it when they are hungry. The problem is how to make the food available to the dogs while keeping the bugs from helping themselves.
In the summer in my area, we have ants. LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of ants. Leaving anything edible (such as dog food) outside unguarded for more than 5 mins will usually mean coming back to find it crawling with ants. I also had ant trails all over my patio, going up my porch and generally claiming the area immediately outside my house as ant territory.
How NOT to use Home Defense Max
I have tried spraying Home Defense Max directly on the ants, and it does kill them but not right away. It seems that some users expect the same instant gratification you can get from using a can of RAID ant killer (or similar), and then are very dissappointed when whatever insect they want dead doesn't immediately go into convulsions on contact. This is not a bug kill spray and the intended use of the product is NOT to spray it directly on the insects. The problem solved for me was keeping the ants out of the areas we want to use without having to constantly do battle with them. If you want a product to help you kill bugs on sight this is not the right stuff to use.
OK, so how do you use Home Defense Max?
I want to keep bugs OUT of my living areas. Especially ants. This includes the kennel and patio, outside areas that aren't enclosed. I sprayed around the perimeter of my patio and kennel. NO MORE ANTS. I haven't seen ANY ants in the area, and that's a really significant statement around here. I also haven't seen any other crawling insects in the area, which is an added bonus.
I have left the dog food in the open all ant season, and the ants do not go anywhere near it anymore. I have NO idea how this stuff works. I don't care, because it gets the job done.
I sprayed Home Defense Max around the perimeter of my house as well, just because my wife wanted it. I haven't had problems with insects inside the house prior to this, so I can't really say how effective it was. But based on how well it worked on the patio, I'm sure it didn't hurt.
Doesn't work on flying insects
I was truly amazed for the first week or so after using Home Defense Max. I was leaving the food outside at all hours, and nothing was eating it but the dogs. I was elated...then the yellow jackets came. Apparently, yellow jackets also like dog food. They just fly over the nice little perimeter I made and have a picnic. Well, I don't blame ortho for this, I can see why it wouldn't be effective on flying insects.
I'm also not sure how effective it is on roaches, since I've never seen a roach in my house. But if you have an area you want to keep ants away from, this stuff works wonders.
I have pets and bought the product for use around dogs. Ortho Home Defense Max is advertised as safe for use around pets and children. The instructions clarify that you should wait for it to dry after application before letting people and pets in the area, and it is NOT safe for use around fish and other aquatic organisms. If you have a pond or fish tank, you need to be extra careful it doesn't get in the water.
According to the MSDS, this stuff is relatively benign (at least as far as pesticides go):
EYE EFFECTS: Practically non-irritating
SKIN EFFECTS: Non-irritating
CARCINOGENICITY: Not listed (In the body it states that: "The overall absence of genotoxicity has been demonstrated in mutagenicity tests with bifenthrin.")
You can see the MSDS and EPA studies on wikipedia.
I did get some in my eyes from splash back while applying to the windows around my house. The spray gun that it comes with can put out a surprisingly heavy stream, which makes it easier to reach high areas but requires a little more caution. It stung a little, but otherwise didn't faze me too much. Still not a good idea; so learn from me & wear safety glasses when you apply.
It has a slight chemical-like odor when wet (when first applied), but after it dries I can't smell it at all.
The package states it will create a shield for "up to 12 months", and that seems about right. Whenever ant-season comes around I am quickly reminded it's time to re-apply because the ants start to take over my patio again. Re-applying Ortho's Home Defense Max still does the trick though, so I'm not really complaining.