Editor’s note: Alain VanRyckeghem, longtime technical director for Insects Limited, passed away on Nov. 28, after a nine-month battle with brain cancer. He was 55 years old. David Mueller, president of Insects Limited and founder of Fumigation Service & Supply, penned the following article in memory of his colleague and friend.
Many of you knew Alain for his professionalism as a world class stored product entomologist and pheromone chemist. Some of you knew him as a neighbor and kind friend. As the Technical Director for Insects Limited for over 20 years Alain was an inventor, a gentle co-worker, and someone that could look beyond the problem and see the whole picture.
I personally met Alain in Toronto Canada when he brought his Sir Sandford Fleming College class to a pest control conference in 1984. His students admired Professor Alain. As their instructor they learned many skills that someday would provide them a livelihood with quality companies throughout Canada. This college course was an example of how our industry can train and educate students to step into a field of professional pest management.
A few years later I was asked to perform a methyl bromide alternative fumigation at the Quaker Oats Company in Peterborough, Ontario. Here I found Alain working with me side by side for the entire fumigation. At one point at 4:00 in the morning we were taking gas readings and I asked Alain if he would like to come to Indianapolis during this summer break and work with Insects Limited. He thought about it and told me he would like to take me up on it. He immediately became an asset to our company. His technical skills from Sir Sanford Fleming College and Trent University, where he received his BS in Entomology, were evident immediately. After the summer Alain went back to Canada to instruct the next class of students. During that year he and his friend Bruce found out that the college was disbanding the Pest Control curriculum. Alain came to Indy the next summer and we discussed a full-time position with Insects Limited. The next twenty years working together were bountiful. New pheromone traps, new educational presentations to local, national, and international groups showed his skills as a professor and educator. His professional writing for our company newsletter (Bad Bugs), the Mallis Handbooks of Pest Control, trade magazines, and scientific papers will be a part of his legacy. His way of speaking to an audience made you want to come back and listen to more. We all learned from Alain.
After several years in the US, Alain met a wonderful lady named Christina, a horse-person and a soft-spoken, caring nurse from upstate New York. Alain was blessed to find such a mate. Neither one of them spoke a negative word. Never. Their care of dogs, horses, and their garden were their pastime.
Alain and Christina traveled the world with the Fumigants & Pheromones conferences and personal trips. They experienced Africa, Europe, Australia, Latin America, and all around North America. The beauty of being an entomologist is that your passion is found everywhere. Alain cared about the science of insects. Condolences can be made to Alain’s wife Christina at (firstname.lastname@example.org). An Alain VanRyckeghem Student Scholarship in Entomology is being established.