‘Meeting of the Minds III’ Draws Nationally Renowned Speakers to Chicago

‘Meeting of the Minds III’ Draws Nationally Renowned Speakers to Chicago

The Greater Chicago Pest Management Alliance’s (GCPMA) Meeting of the Minds III conference drew more than 270 pest management professionals to its meeting October 22, in Tinley Park, Ill.

November 9, 2009
Mark L. Hendrickson

TINLEY PARK, Ill. - Bed bugs, rodents, spiders and ants in the Chicago area had better be aware. That’s because pest management professionals (PMPs) there are better armed than ever before. The Greater Chicago Pest Management Alliance’s (GCPMA) Meeting of the Minds III conference drew more than 270 pest management professionals to its meeting October 22, in Tinley Park, Ill.

Bobby Corrigan hasn't met a rat he wouldn't like to follow. Corrigan, of RMC Pest Management Consulting, told GCPMA conference attendees that it has been a pretty exciting year, with three new rodent species being discovered.

Rick Vetter, an entomology research associate from the University of California-Riverside, provided a fast-paced and lively session on misconceptions about spiders. The first myth that Vetter addressed was 
that spider bites are a common cause of serious medical injury.  
"People are afraid of spiders and think they are a big health risk, but there are many things of much greater risk," he explained. Vetter provide examples indicating that every year 75 people die in lawn mower accidents, and 37 people die from falling vending machines. 
"Fatal spider bites are way down on the list," he said.

Each speaker at the GCPMA event receives a plaque as a measure or gratitude. Here, Michael Rust, professor of entomology from the University of California-Riverside, receives his plaque from GCPMA President Gary Pietrucha.


Richard Cooper, technical director, Cooper Pest Solutions, provided an update on bed bug detection and treatments. According to Cooper, bed bug infestations are not reported quickly enough. Too often, he said, infestations go undetected for several months or more, and become well established before they are encountered. One of the reasons for this is that bed bugs first inhabit areas with the least disruption in a room or dwelling. In a hotel room, for example, this is the area behind the headboard of the bed. While bed linens are changed daily, a disruption, the headboard is never moved and is just inches from a blood meal. Another reason is that some people have a delayed reaction to being bitten. One study noted that 46-percent of the participants did not exhibit symptoms until 7-11 days after the first bite. Others do not react at all. “Early detection a critical component in eliminating bed bugs,” Cooper said. “Within the first few weeks of an infestation, the population is isolated and localized, and it is not that difficult to eliminate them. The longer it goes, the more complicated control becomes, and as the population increases the individuals disperse away from the sleeping areas and can be found anywhere.”

Cooper mentioned that failure to eliminate all bed bug eggs is the single most common reason for failure in a treatment plan. Eggs, he explained, can be deposited by a female wherever she happens to be, even if the population is not in the immediate area. He also told conference attendees that the industry still lacks reliable methods for early detection, but that canine scent detection helps offset the limitations of a visual inspection only.

Despite the challenges, Cooper said there is reason for hope. “We are successfully controlling bed bugs in the field,” he explained. Among the proven methods are: vacuuming, which is effective for eliminating large numbers of bed bugs; steam penetration which can obtain lethal temperatures to a depth of 6 centimeters in cracks, and 2 centimeters in fabric; structural heat treatments that require a minimum of about 120-degrees for a few hours; mattress encasements that are designed to trap bed bugs inside where they starve and die; and, a circular device that can be placed under bed post legs to trap bed bugs whether they climb from the bed down to the floor, or from the floor up to the bed.

Bobby Corrigan, RMC Pest Management Consulting, provided a stunning narrative with accompanying slides of rat safaris — his street-level battles with rats in New York City. In one image, Corrigan is standing next to a large container filled with plastic trash bags that contained bulging, probing rats bound for disposal. In another instance, Corrigan described how one rainy night he and friends were heading out to dinner. While waiting at the curb, a rat popped out of the sewer and began ambling down the gutter, in the general direction of a fast food restaurant a couple of blocks down the street. Corrigan could not resist. He respectfully asked his friends to enjoy the night without him, and he began following the rat, taking pictures as he went. Sure enough, the creature headed for the fast food restaurant and began foraging for food in the accumulation of trash bags stashed behind the eatery. The experience tied nicely into Corrigan’s study of trash and the nutritional content in such a bag. He determined that a 60-pound bag of trash could feed 1,320 rats for one night, “offering them complete nutritional balance.”

Corrigan said he spends a lot of his time in New York City, where the action is not in an office. “It is out there in the world, just like everyone in this room.” He noted that PMPs are essential in ensuring a high quality of life. “Essential to public safety,” he explained, “is a firm but fair public health inspector and a dedicated PMP. We work together to protect public safety, the home that you live in, the food that you eat.”

For PMPs hired to do rodent work, Corrigan offered the following advice: “A big part of the job is in addition to trapping. You must make every effort to find the source of the infestation. If you are just putting out traps and bait stations, that is not rodent control; that is equipment application. Rodents are sophisticated animals, and PMPs must be more an investigator than an applicator.”

Finally, Corrigan suggested that PMPs regularly visit the web site for the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov). “I view this as almost an obligation that you have as a pest professional to keep informed. Just take 5 minutes during a commercial break in a football game,” he said. One can scan the site, search for topics under “pest control”, and get breaking updates on emerging infectious diseases, microbes and pests.

Other speakers included Rick Vetter, a research associate from the University of California-Riverside, whose topic included misconceptions about spiders, and the brown recluse spider in particular, and Michael K. Rust, a professor of entomology from the University of California-Riverside, who discussed integrated pest management practices in ant control. According to Rust, successful ant control begins with an accurate inspection and identification, and then the selection of appropriate treatments and bait. He also suggested that applicators target their treatments. “When working outdoors, we have to get away from using broadcast treatment applications. Sure, I like my spray rig, but it puts out a lot of material and some of that does not get where it is supposed to go,” he explained.

GCPMA is a relatively new trade alliance. Having formed in December of 2004, the Alliance now has more than 180 member companies, and shares best practices, furthers education, representation and professionalism for PMPs in Chicago and surrounding urban environments. Since its founding, GCPMA has provided certified training for more than 1,400 PMPs, helping them obtain continuing education unit credits.