In pest control, we are sometimes challenged with pests that are not naturally found in the areas we are treating, as can be the case with ghost ants. Ghost ants are normally found in mid and southern Florida, as well as Hawaii, but can be found anywhere in the country given the right circumstances. Climate-controlled environments in places like zoos where the natural living conditions of reptiles, birds, and insects are replicated create ideal conditions for ghost ants to thrive. They can be brought in the soil of plants for extravagant exhibits. These exhibits have realistic rock formations, tree limbs, logs and water features, all of which create voids, and cracks and crevices, giving ghost ants plenty of places to hide and little access for a pest technician to inspect.
If the environment itself wasn’t enough of a challenge, pest technicians are limited in the types of pesticide applications they can employ in order to avoid potential harm to the animals in the exhibits. Depending on the facility, there also may be a lengthy approval process to use the most effective products needed to treat the pests. These circumstances remove the benefit of a multi-pronged approach to pest control that is often used to best treat infestations.
In order to overcome these challenges, the technician must understand the goal of zoo management. A ghost ant infestation may not pose a serious threat to the environment, but it may be an annoyance. Some zookeepers may tolerate small amounts of activity. Others believe that the presence of ghost ants is a natural result of creating a realistic environment for the animals. And, some zookeepers simply may feel that true control is not possible. It’s important for the pest technician to identify his clients’ expectations and understand their perspective up front, before work begins. Communication with as many concerned parties during the bidding process as possible will help ensure delivery on the anticipated results.
INSPECTION AND TREATMENT. Following an initial assessment of expectations and restrictions, a thorough inspection of all accessible areas identifying trails, harborage and feeding areas will aid in determining the best methods to treat the area. The decision of what approach to take will be subject to approved products for use in the building and in relation to the animals. Sugar baits are a preferred option along trails in warmer, humid environments. Bait acceptance is positive if the activity level is high as the ants will be seeking a sugar source. Inspect these areas regularly to maintain the supply of the bait as long as the ants are accepting it.
This treatment alone can be extremely effective in reducing ant populations. Baits are, however, not always appropriate in areas where the housed species may be attracted to them, such as birds. PVC pipes or straw tubes may deter consumption of the bait by non-target animals, but they may be seen as playthings. Prior consultation with the keepers is essential as they have a better understanding of how animals may react to items in their environment.
Non-repellents may be an option in certain environments or if the baits are not achieving the acceptance needed to treat the problem. If the ants are trailing and foraging in plant beds and atrium areas away from the housed species, treating along trails and even baiting trails through a treated zone may be a useful method.
Pest control in zoos has its challenges, but the right strategies and working with keepers to understand the environments can lead to successful treatment. Knowing how and where ghost ants move within the facility and following up on active areas may keep them from contaminating the animal’s food source, allowing them to eat their meals in peace. This achievement alone could exceed all expectations.
A quality supervisor at Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, the author is an A.C.E. who has been in the pest control industry for 15 years.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.
More than 3,000 industry professionals (3,314 to be exact) from 80-plus countries traveled to Seattle, Wash., for NPMA PestWorld 2016 in October.
NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf kicked off this year’s show by updating members with results from the association’s recent strategic planning meeting P3 (Purpose, Plan, Progress). NPMA brought together 100 industry leaders to review NPMA’s mission and values; refine NPMA’s vision; and set NPMA’s strategic direction. The group spent hours examining demographics; the economic climate; regulations and legislation; technology and science; and political and social issues.
The end result of these discussions was a new ambitious vision statement: Every household and every business will use professional pest management services.
To achieve this goal, in the coming months and years NPMA will focus on: 1) members — growing and improving member benefits and programs; (2) public health leadership — ensuring that NPMA members are the trusted sources for protecting people, structures and lands from pest threats; (3) making quality consumer connections through PPMA and QualityPro; (4) continuing to engage with regulators and policymakers to increase NPMA’s influence with legislation and regulations.
Following Stumpf’s comments was the opening ceremony, which included an appearance by members of the World Famous Fishmongers of Pike Place Fish Company, who shared some of the company’s customer service and employee empowerment success stories. This session was sponsored by Bayer. At the opening ceremony’s conclusion, attendees proceeded to the exhibit hall where they checked out the latest offerings from industry suppliers.
A photo review of the event appears on these two pages. For additional coverage, visit www.pctonline.com.
Being an outsider in the pest control industry has not stopped former pilot Dan Morgan from meeting Canada’s growing bed bug problem head on — and finding great success. Morgan, who founded Toronto-based GreenTech Bug Heat 11 years ago, has once again entered uncharted waters by making the jump to television.
Morgan and his team at GreenTech recently appeared in an episode of the CMT Canada reality TV program “Billy Goes North,” which stars Billy Bretherton, a PCO from Louisiana who starred in “Billy the Exterminator,” a reality show that ran from 2009 to 2012 on A&E. Bretherton’s newest TV project, “Billy Goes North,” follows the subculture icon as he traverses through Canada tackling the “biggest, baddest pests and wildest animals of the Great White North.”
As the show’s website states, “Billy travels from cities and suburbs to rural towns, farms and into the wilderness. From wolves preying on livestock and beavers flooding country roads to evicting porcupines from a northern cottage and escaped exotic animals running amok, no job is too difficult for Billy. Along the way, Billy teams up with local exterminators who have earned their stripes handling the North’s wildest beasts.”
ABOUT GREENTECH. In choosing GreenTech as one of the firms to follow, the CMT Canada producers honed in on a fast-growing company that has earned a reputation for being a top bed bug control company in Southern Canada.
GreenTech has come a long way since Morgan founded it in 2006. An airline pilot for 35 years, Morgan launched several business ventures to occupy his time while he was not in the air. In 2004, he launched Royal Forest Laundry, a successful laundromat. One of the trends he observed was customers needing to get items laundered due to bed bug problems.
“What I was finding out is we were a lot of people’s first point of contact — not pest control companies,” Morgan said. “We would refer customers to a pest control company, but I didn’t like not having an answer and not having a solution for them.”
After doing extensive research on bed bugs and getting the proper training and certifications, he launched GreenTech in 2006 as the laundry firm’s bed bug division. GreenTech uses heat treatments to control bed bugs, and will supplement those treatments with traditional pesticides when necessary. “One of the things I’ve observed is that bed bugs are different from mice and ants because it’s an emotional issue. You spend time counseling people. It’s not uncommon for people to be crying on the phone [to us].”
While Morgan and his team have training and certifications to perform all types of pest control — not just bed bug work — he has chosen to focus only on bed bugs. “That goes back to my flight school training. We are very focused on doing one thing well.”
In fact, Morgan recently sold his laundry firm in order to devote himself fully to his bed bug business. GreenTech now has seven employees and Morgan says the company generates yearly revenue “in the seven figures.”
TV OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to appear in “Billy Goes North” came from “out of the blue,” according to Morgan.
“I got a call to do a screen test in downtown Toronto. I met with a producer and read on camera and it went really well,” Morgan said. “For the most part, the show deals with larger animals — wrestling with raccoons and other shenanigans like that — but they wanted bed bugs too because they transcend geography and socioeconomic life in Canada. They are a problem not just in urban areas in Canada, but in northern regions too.”
After the producers approved Morgan as an on-air bed bug expert, the next step was finding a “camera worthy” bed bug infestation. A few months after meeting with producers, Morgan found such an account. A large (4,000-plus square foot), 85-year-old house that had been re-purposed for multi-unit rentals had a severe bed bug problem that Morgan estimated had gone unreported for at least one year.
For this particular treatment, Morgan and his crew used heat (140°F), which can permeate difficult-to-reach areas and kill bed bugs and their eggs.
Morgan said being a part of the filming was a great company-wide experience and the former pilot developed a kinship with Bretherton, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who performed pest control at Air Force bases. “People shouldn’t pass judgement on him. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was extremely knowledgeable and a consummate professional.”
Learn more about the show at http://www.cmt.ca/show/billy-goes-north.
The author is internet editor and managing editor of PCT. Contact him at email@example.com.