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Pest-Ventures a Success Despite Volcanic Ash

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Delegates gathered for two days of pest-related presentations at the Pest-Ventures seminars held at the Yew Lodge hotel near Nottingham, UK, April 20-21. Frances McKim, editor of UK Pest magazine filed a report for PCT.

Frances McKim | May 3, 2010

Rodenticide resistance experts. Left to right: Dr Colin Prescott, Dr Dougie Clarke and Dr Alan Buckle
Imported from the USA. The use of Rodenatador machines is often more than explosive in the UK
The bedbug team of speakers. Left to right: Richard Naylor, Tony Bull, Clive Boase, David Cain and Adam Juson
Canine detectors. Basil (left) and Charlie with the Merlin team: Adam, Ann and Bernard Juson of Merlin Environmental

Editor’s note: Delegates gathered for two days of pest-related presentations at the Pest-Ventures seminars held at the Yew Lodge hotel near Nottingham, UK, April 20-21. Frances McKim, editor of UK Pest magazine filed this report for PCT.

NOTTINGHAM, U.K. — Delegates gathered for two days of pest-related presentations at the recent Pest-Ventures seminars. The program addressed issues currently being faced by the UK pest control industry. But one problem the organizers had to wrestle with was the loss of two speakers and several delegates, the furthest coming from no less than Australia, due to the air chaos caused throughout Europe by all that Icelandic volcanic ash.

The increasing problems of rodenticide resistance were featured extensively. Pest controllers may think of this as a new problem, but Dr. Alan Buckle of Reading University was quick to point out that anticoagulant resistance in the Norway rat was first discovered in Scotland in 1958. Traditionally tests for resistance simply involved feeding the caged animal on field strength rodenticides for an arbitrary period (normally four to six days). But as Dr. Colin Prescott, also of Reading University, explained: “Intuitively, survival of such a test provided evidence of resistance that would have a practical effect in the field, although results were dependant on consistent feeding in a caged environment, and for Norway rats this is often not the case.” In addition, these tests were long-winded and expensive.

However, by 2005, as a spin-off from warfarin resistance testing for humans where rats were used as the test species, researchers in Germany developed new and sophisticated DNA-sequencing technology. This identified which part of the genetic code of rats and mice carried the DNA sequence, or genes, is altered in rodents resistant to anticoagulants. These tests can now be undertaken relatively quickly and inexpensively.

Of great significance to the UK pest control industry, a consortium consisting of the leading UK rodenticide manufacturers has been formed with the aim of establishing the extent of resistance mutations in and around suspected hotspots using DNA from rat tails. The project is being led by Dr. Dougie Clarke from Huddersfield University, who also spoke at Pest-Ventures. He explained: “The study, which is about to start, will target 58 areas surrounding these hotspots and test 10 animals for resistance conferring mutations at each location.” This may not answer all the questions posed but will certainly be a scientifically-based step forward.

From the Wildlife Management & Licensing team of Natural England  (the UK government’s environmental watch-dog), Paul Butt said: “The use of pesticides play a vital part in dealing with pest infestations. It is a pest controller’s responsibility to ensure they are used correctly. If not these products run the risk of acquiring a bad reputation leading to their use being curtailed by legislation.” He also discussed the deployment of the sometimes hotly debated burrow destruction devices imported from the USA but used in the UK for rabbits, moles and rats.

Bed bugs, biological controls and birds took centre stage on the second day. Clive Boase of the Pest Management Consultancy gave an excellent talk reviewing the practical issues surrounding the range of bedbug monitors now available on the market. Richard Naylor from the University of Sheffield told delegates about the research he is conducting into bedbug harborages and dispersal strategies, whilst David Cain of Bed-Bugs Ltd impressed upon delegates the increasing geographic spread of this pest. On a practical level, Tony Bull of the London Borough of Hounslow detailed the work undertaken by the Greater London Pest Liaison Group in creating its good practice guides.

Stars of the show however were four-legged Basil and Charlie – the two bedbug detection dogs commercially used by Adam Juson of Merlin Environmental to detect this insect in hotels, cruise liners and the like. Although their use is now well established in the US, they are still something of a novelty in Europe. Tempting fate, as his dogs are not used to a large audience, they were set a practical test to display their prowess in the hotel lounge area. Fortunately their quarry was found and the audience very much impressed.

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