[PCT on the Road] PMPs as ‘Public Health Protectors’ a Focus of Kentucky Short Course

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The 43rd annual event, held last month at the University of Kentucky, was aptly titled ‘Pain, Pests and Pestilence.’

November 22, 2013
Brad Harbison

 New Invaders Discussed

Ric Bessin, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, presented a brief, but very important update on a trio of invasive pests. Bessin reviewed the spread of three pests to Kentucky and neighboring states: brown marmorated stink bugs; kudzu bugs; and spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). While these pests are primarily devastating to crops and vegetation, they can be household pests and have shown the potential to become more widespread.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The theme of the 43rd annual University of Kentucky Pest Control Short Course, held in early October, was “Pain, Pests and Pestilence,” and during the three-day conference a special emphasis was placed on the role of pest management professionals as protectors of health — both physical and mental.

“Besides being a nuisance, we know that pests can affect our quality of life and our health, but they also can mess with our emotions,” said University of Kentucky Entomologist and Researcher Dr. Mike Potter. “As an example, a recent survey found that nearly one-third of the population would rather have a root canal than a bed bug infestation in their home.”

To further illustrate the public’s bed bug fears, Potter shared with attendees an email he received from a Colorado homeowner, whose home was completely surrounded by floodwaters, yet he was more concerned about a bed bug he found in his bedroom. “He said, ‘I can deal with the flood. I’m pretty handy. But I can’t deal with the thought of having bed bugs.’”

Bed bugs once again took center stage at the Short Course. One of the highlights of the show was a “Bed Bug House of Learning” moderated by NPMA Technical Director Jim Fredericks. A makeshift bedroom, built by Mark Myers of Forshaw Distribution, provided attendees with valuable visual training of what is involved in almost every aspect of bed bug work including: inspection/client preparation (presented by Wayne Wickemeyer, Permakil); canine inspections (Darren Bowman, Perfection Pest Control); monitoring devices (Scott Robbins, Action Pest Control); vacuuming, steam and encasements (Maria Miller, Paragon); heat treatments (Matt Blake, OPC); and pesticide treatments (T.J. Neary, Insect Technologies).


Relating bed bugs to the conference’s theme about pests impacting people’s mental and physical health was a session presented by Dr. Jerome Goddard, Mississippi State University. Goddard reviewed the human bed bug bite classification system created, and also how humans scratching bed bug bites can lead to skin trauma and subsequent infections such as MRSA.

A bed bug panel discussion led by OPC Pest Control’s Donnie Blake featured Erich Hardebeck (Permakil); Keith Smith (Action Pest Control); Kathy Heinsohn (American Pest); Tim Leatherman (Perfection Pest Control); and Shawn Rich (E-Town Exterminating). It also involved active audience participation. Among the frustrations shared by PMPs was a lack of client cooperation in not following protocols; technician burnout; and concerns about sustainability of bed bug work. However, it is still a service in demand and has helped many PCOs replace revenues lost from other services being down. The lively discussion illustrated that there is still no consensus on whether bed bug work is “a gravy train or freight train” for PMPs.


The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted at bharbison@giemedia.com.

Visit Online Extras on the PCT Online homepage for additional photos from the UK Short Course and for more coverage of the event.