Above Photo: Jeffrey Tucker of Entomology Associates told the 300+ attendees at "A Meeting of the Minds IV" that there are 129 known species of ants in Illinois. A vital element in effective control, he said, is correctly identifying the species you are confronting. "There is an art to pest control, and part of that art is placing the right product in the right location," he explained.
TINLEY PARK, ILL. — More than 300 pest management professionals turned out for the one-day “A Meeting of the Minds IV” conference sponsored by the Greater Chicago Pest Management Alliance (GCPMA) in early November. Attendees were treated to four nationally recognized speakers who covered the biology and behavior of pests such as cockroaches, ants and bed bugs, and growing insect issues in the greater Midwest.
Roger Gold, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, spoke on cockroach population management. “They are an annoyance,” he said, “and we can make money solving this problem for our customers.” However, Gold said that the annoyance factor runs deep. Cockroaches, he explained, are closely tied to allergies, particularly in children. These allergies can be life threatening, causing asthma and other respiratory problems. “Many people who work in cockroach control develop allergies. It’s important that you wear protective apparel, and it’s important that you use vacuums that have good filtering systems so you are not putting antigens into the air you are breathing,” he said.
Gold said that the secret to effective cockroach control is Integrated Pest Management. “It’s also the law, and a pyramid of opportunity to do things to help our clients solve their pest problems. We have many tools at our disposal. If it involves pesticides, that’s fine, but they should not always be the first thing we think of,” he added.
He also talked about a concept known as the “requisites for life.” That is, there are certain things that an insect must have to mature and reproduce. These things include water, food, harborage, a favorable atmosphere and other members of the species. According to Gold, if we can remove or contaminate one of those requisites for life, we can control any population. “The same approach works with cockroaches and with them we must start with sanitation. Just applying bait into a dirty environment will not work,” he said. In insect pest management, it’s all about sanitation. Gold said that pest management professionals couldn’t control the population unless they clean up the filth. But, how do you tell a client they need to clean up? It’s a touchy subject to be sure. One conference attendee raised his hand and said he poses this question: “How is my bait supposed to compete with your good cooking?” Another said he tells his clients, “We have to clean up and it’s going to cost X dollars for me to do it.”
In his presentation, “Ant Identification, Biology and Control,” Jeffrey Tucker, BCE, and president of Entomology Associates, of Houston, Texas, noted that there are about 129 known species of ants in Illinois, with six species being the most common: carpenter, pavement, odorous house ant, large yellow ant, small honey ant and Pharaoh ant.
According to Tucker, one of the basic essentials to effective ant control is correct identification of the species with which you are dealing. “You must know the species because ants nest in a variety of habitats depending on species. And, locating the nest is perhaps the best form of control,” he said. “There is an art to pest control,” Tucker said, “and part of that art is placing the right product in the right location.”
Philip Koehler, Ph.D., a professor of urban entomology at the University of Florida, had the tough agenda spot of being the speaker immediately after the lunch break. However, Koehler used an entertaining and informative approach to his presentation “Bed Bug Research and Control” to keep the audience totally engaged and asking questions throughout his 90-minute session.
Koehler clearly enjoys the subject and sharing his research exploits in which he involves graduate students extensively in his projects. In his presentation, Koehler discussed how important thorough inspections are in bed bug control. “To conduct a thorough inspection, you are going to destroy and dismantle everything in the room. And then, you still won’t find every bed bug,” he explained. In his research in searching a sample hotel room, his teams took about one hour to inspect each bed. “Even with an effort like this we won’t find them all. They are difficult to find and they like to aggregate. We once found 15 bed bugs hiding in the slot on the head of a drywall screw,” he said.
Bed bugs continued to be a topic of interest as Phillip Pellitteri, MS, began his presentation titled “Growing Insect Issues — A Midwest Perspective.” Pellitteri is a distinguished faculty associate who has run the Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1978.
“Fifteen years ago if I saw a bed bug it was a show-and-tell kind of thing it was so unusual. Now, all of you are getting 10 to 12 calls a week,” Pellitteri said. he also noted a greater occurrence of non-native species of insects showing up in the Midwest. “Every year I get two to five insects I’ve never seen before. There is always something new coming in, which is both frustrating and invigorating,” he said. Pellitteri said that weather patterns are changing where insects choose to live. “There is a change occurring in the distribution of insects. They are moving further northward because of a lack of significant cold weather,” he added.
Mark your calendars. A Meeting of the Minds V is scheduled for Oct. 27, 2011.
To learn more about GCPMA, visit http://gcpma.com/.