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Cutting-Edge Urban Pest Control Discussed at Latest ICUP Conference

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Nearly 300 delegates from 32 different countries came to Zurich, Switzerland, July 20-23, for the 8th International Conference on Urban Pests (ICUP), where attendees learned about and debated recent pest control findings

Frances McKim | August 5, 2014

Editor’s note: Nearly 300 delegates from 32 different countries came to Zurich, Switzerland, July 20-23, for the 8th International Conference on Urban Pests (ICUP), where attendees learned about and debated recent pest control findings. Frances McKim, editor of Pest magazine, filed the following report.

ZURICH, Switzerland — Held only once every three years, ICUP events are like no other. A lack of commercialism is one noticeable difference, which means there is no exhibition to attend and few marketing and sales delegates promoting their products.

So what is there? For three days all the delegates had the chance to listen to more than 60 presentations, attend participative workshops and a visit a poster session on virtually every urban pest possible. But the formal talks are only a small part – what is unique is the opportunity to meet, mingle and debate with all those present. This format is obviously popular, as in the opening session Dr. Bill Robinson from the Urban Pest Control Research Center, Va., one of the two individuals who makes this event happen (the other being Clive Boase from the Pest Management Consultancy in the UK) asked for a show of hands as to who had attended an ICUP event before – there were few hands not raised. In fact, several delegates had attended all seven of the previous events over a 21 year timeframe.

But this does not mean ICUP is attended only by seasoned researchers, as the organizers go out of their way to attract a new, up-and-coming audience, with generous registration concessions for students. In addition, the organizers laid-on a special one-day workshop, with simultaneous translation into German, for local pest control individuals.

Chairman of the organizing committee this year was Gabi Müller from the health and hygiene department of the City of Zurich. Her team certainly did an excellent job and all delegates felt very relaxed and well-cared for. Carrying the torch forward to the 2017 event is Matthew Davies, technical advisor for Killgerm Chemicals, UK meaning the 9th ICUP is to be held somewhere in the UK.

While the range of pests covered at the conference was extensive, some pests in particular featured more strongly – mosquitoes, ants and hardly surprisingly, bed bugs.

In the opening plenary session, Dr. Reiner Pospischil, who was part of the organizing committee, presented an excellent review of the 21-year history of ICUP while also highlighting the growth of certain insect pests during this period, in particular ants and bed bugs. While our means of tackling these pests has improved, he closed by saying:
“A world without pests will never be achieved. Pest management will be an important task in the future.”

From the U.S., Dr. Mike Potter of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Dini Miller from Virginia Tech, both gave excellent presentations. From these the “take home message” is very much that although our knowledge of this pest has increased significantly, the war is far from won!

Despite this research it became clear from the presentations that there is a lack of any sort of universally recognized testing protocol. Stephen Doggett from the Department of Medical Entomology at Westmead Hospital, Australia, brought this debate to a head in one of the workshops. He started off by asking how bed bugs had made it onto product labels – was this a matter of history when the recommendations were drawn up years ago? Today, when companies are testing for efficacy, what sort of bed bug strain do they test on – susceptible or resistant? How are resistant strains defined? What procedures are used to undertake the tests? With no ‘standard’ these requirements are open to interpretation. Those present in the workshop struggled with answers.

Very worrying, Kevin Hinson from Clemson University, S.C., presented on Clemson’s evaluation of a range of natural-based bed products available to householders for DIY treatment. His results were very variable and the authenticity of the claims made on the labels highly questionable.

Proceedings of the event were available upon registration and can be bought at CHF 35 (around $39) plus postage (cost dependant on country) from Gabi Müller, the chairman of the organizing committee at email: gabi.mueller@zuerich.ch.

 

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