PCT keeps a pulse on the industry with timely Reader Poll questions. Below is the most recent question for pest management professionals: Does your company offer tick control services?
PCT recently ran a wildlife control feature titled “Pricing Wildlife Control Jobs” written by Jack Ammerman. Ammerman is owner of Advanced Wildlife Control (www.awcpro.com), Genesee County, Mich. Visit https://buff.ly/2W1L7zP for an audio recording of this article read by Ammerman. And don’t forget that PCT’s Podcasts are now available on iTunes. Subscribe to the PCT Radio Network at https://buff.ly/2q58ug4.
Don’t forget to send PCT your best pest photo for a chance to win $500. PCT’s annual contest is your chance to be recognized alongside your peers for having taken one of the best photographs in the pest control industry. Photos will be judged on the three Cs: color, clarity and content. In addition to the photo, please provide: Identification of the pest; Location of where the photo was taken; Anything else unique about the photo or circumstance under which it was taken. Send this year’s entry* via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
c/o Brad Harbison
5811 Canal Road
Valley View, OH 44125
Deadline is Dec. 6.
*Important note: There is a limit of one photo per entrant.
The PCT staff recently returned from San Diego, site of NPMA PestWorld 2019, the association’s annual convention and exposition. PCT provided coverage of the keynote speaker presentations, educational sessions and NPMA updates. Visit “online extras” on the PCT Online homepage.
Editor’s note: Suppliers, if you have a technology-related news item or product you’d like to have highlighted in an upcoming issue, please send a press release and a high-resolution photo to email@example.com.
Bell Laboratories introduced its new iQ product line, powered by Bell Sensing Technologies (BST). iQ products integrate proprietary BST sensors that turn some of Bell’s most popular products into powerful 24/7 rodent data-gathering machines, the manufacturer says.
Using Bell Sensing Technology, PMPs now will be able to know everything about the rodent activity occurring at their accounts. When, where and how much activity will now be known in detail and will automatically be collected and archived to provide trend analysis and proof of the efficacy of a service. PCOs can provide their technicians the ability to know in real time where hot spots are occurring so more time can be spent addressing problem areas. Thus, technicians can be more effective and valuable, Bell Labs says.
The Express iQ, T-Rex iQ and 24/7 iQ are now available and will seamlessly sync with the Bell Sensing Technology smartphone app and portal. Bell says this first-of-its-kind rodent monitoring system requires no gateways or complicated and costly infrastructure. Highly customized Bluetooth sensors allow data to be gathered quickly onsite from each iQ device and then uploaded to the cloud directly from a smartphone or tablet. This is a complete rodent data gathering and management system with ease of use and a cost basis that will allow it to be used at any account, the manufacturer says.
“Bell Labs is excited to launch its new division, Bell Sensing Technologies, and our new iQ product line, which will bring to market a fully integrated, scalable rodent data gathering system. Our new rodent monitoring system will allow PMPs to efficiently use technology to achieve superior rodent control,” says Patrick Lynch, senior vice president of sales.
CSI has introduced the Precision Delivery System Featuring Doxem Precise Dry Flowable Cockroach Bait. This is a revolutionary dry flowable bait and dry flowable applicator that provides unparalleled efficacy, simplicity and profitability to the professional pest management industry, the company says. The Precision Delivery System (PDS) is an all new piece of equipment exclusively for PMPs. It is designed to apply Doxem Precise bait consistently, accurately and quickly, CSI says. Capable of reaching up to 24 inches into voids, the PDS makes it possible for deep pockets of pests to be easily eliminated.
Doxem Precise, the first dry flowable bait to feature the active ingredient indoxacarb, flows quickly and easily into voids, cracks and crevices, the manufacturer says. This proprietary attractant material is attractive and effective against a wide variety of cockroaches and other pests. Very little bait is needed, placements as small as 0.05 grams are effective at eliminating cockroaches, CSI says. Additionally, a single application of Doxem Precise can be effective for more than one year.
Insects Limited says pheromone monitoring just got easier with SightTrap, which puts cameras in PMPs’ traps and gives access to essential information and data on pest management companies’ computers and smart phones. ForesightIPM is the brain behind SightTrap, providing automated monitoring with at-a-glance analysis and trends that help PMPs head off problems before they develop, the firm says. The SightTrap is a remote pheromone monitoring device that will automatically record a daily image of pheromone traps.
Pest management professionals can monitor traps via computer or mobile device and automatically view the pre-identified insects and detailed trending data for each customer. Insects Limited says SightTrap provides another layer of customer service to PMPs’ customers outside of their normal pest management zones.
Lobster Marketing Group, an agency focused exclusively on providing marketing services to pest control firms, launched Local SEO with Buy Pest Control Online integrated with PestRoutes software — a provider of software for pest control companies.
The first page of Google’s search results continues to evolve, the company says, and pest control owners must react to remain competitive in their market. Google’s algorithm categorizes many “pest control” related searches as a location-based inquiry, and thus highlights local businesses through the Local Map Pack. To rank first organically in Google means a PMP’s listing will be shown halfway down on the page making Google My Business optimization now necessary for maximum exposure.
Lobster Marketing Group developed Local SEO with Buy Pest Control Online to support customers through this change, and with the goal of driving leads and low-cost sales for their business. Customers benefit from a professionally optimized Google My Business listing as well as lead, purchase and review reporting. Fully integrated with PestRoutes scheduling and payment processing, when Buy Pest Control Online is enabled it allows a firm the ability to schedule and sell services directly from its Google My Business listing through the appointment link. Those service details are then automatically added into the PestRoutes application.
Evolve, a software provider to pest control and field service management companies, recently unveiled the newest version of its software. “We are excited to bring the next evolution in field service management software to the market,” said Evolve President and CEO Chris Allison. “Our new software will help field service providers of any size streamline their operations, expand into new markets and turn their service business into a subscription business.
“This is a huge leap forward for the field service industry in terms of functionality and ease-of-use,” Allison said. “Nothing else comes close.” Some of the new features of Evolve include Copesan API integration, GPS gamification, dynamic customer price quotes, a customer API and more.
The cloud-based Evolve software suite combines both online and mobile applications that offer a wide range of features, including CRM, sales and estimating tools, smart scheduling, route management, mobile field service, a customizable forms builder, integrated credit card processing and a customer portal.
ServSuite says its Intelligent Routing module saves PMPs time and money. The company says by automatically building “perfect” routes that take into account multiple parameters, PMPs save on time, gas and labor. When putting together weekly schedules, ServSuite’s Intelligent Routing allows PMPs to factor in a range of variables: technicians’ shifts, breaks, holidays and much more. Once you have your ideal route setup ready, you can apply to all others. Having automated these tasks PMPs can optimize technicians’ time by building routes that are tailored to their schedules. Intelligent Routing does all the planning, leaving office staff free to focus on other tasks. Better organized routes enable your firm to provide faster services, which keeps customers happy, ServSuite says. Intelligent Routing has been developed with the field service business in mind, streamlining important tasks both in the office and the field.
Since 2014, Slingshot has been helping PMPs across the United States adapt to the on-demand economy. Slingshot services help clients elevate their brands, expand their customer bases, and instantly engage with current and potential customers — on any device, 24 hours a day, the company says. Slingshot is a complete customer engagement platform, providing 24/7 multi-channel sales, automated emergency notifications and in-depth analytics — all for less than the cost of a single full-time employee, the company says. Slingshot can integrate with PMPs’ CRM, streamlining workflow and instantly delivering new customers. Slingshot says it can help decrease hold times, increase contact rates and boost annual business by up to 40 percent.
New from VM Products, PestOptix is the first and only AI-enabled pest control system designed and built by PMPs for PMPs, the company says. VM Products says its proprietary software has been painstakingly trained to recognize and identify rodents, giving your pest management business maximum information only moments after image capture. It knows instantly when and where detection has occurred, giving you important information to service your accounts. PestOptix is the only platform that allows multi-pest recognition, including rodents, flying insects, crawling insects and larger animals, VM Products reports. It also provides convenient proof of service, which is ideal to include in customer reports, the company says.
Much more than a game camera, PestOptix interprets imagery and email alerts. With three regular flashes, it allows on-demand “push” image capture. The three infrared flashes prevent pests from being startled away.
The PCT staff just returned from San Diego, host city of NPMA PestWorld 2019. During the course of the event, we attended and provided editorial coverage of business and technical sessions, and we met with many of our readers on the exhibit hall floor. It was a productive three-plus days and our staff returned from PestWorld with lots of great ideas on how to make our magazine and website even better in 2020 and beyond.
I always enjoy attending the general sessions, which are hour-long presentations from outside-the-industry speakers. Many of these presenters are high profile and their stories are well known. Others, like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos creator Richard Montañez, who presented the Corteva Agriscience-sponsored opening general session, are less well known, but their stories are no less remarkable.
One day while working as a janitor at a California Frito-Lay plant, an assembly line machine broke down, resulting in a batch of Cheetos coming out plain. Montañez brought home a few bags, and with the assistance of his wife (a talented cook), began experimenting with different spices and powders. The couple’s inspiration was elote, a Mexican grilled corn made with lime and chili.
Through some persistence and knowing the right people, Montañez was able to pitch his idea to Roger Enrico, CEO of PepsiCo (parent company of Frito-Lay). Enrico agreed to a meeting (in front of executives and other management) the next time he was in California. This was an important leadership lesson that Montañez learned. Enrico led as a “deliverer” — someone who believes that your job as a leader is to develop people to their fullest potential.
I think this was great take-home reminder for PCOs in attendance. Enrico recognized that a good idea can come from anyone on the company’s team. I know there are a lot of successful PCOs who understand this, and they actively seek solutions from all of their team.
For example, I know of a pest control technician who made a cleaning device that gets into the nooks and crannies of rodent bait stations. He pitched this idea to management, and they were so impressed that they made this device a part of every technician’s toolbox. We hear similar stories every year as part of the PCT/BASF Technician of the Year Awards editorial coverage. Technicians understand their job, and they do it so well that they become relied upon for any number of reasons, including recommendations for routing, product selection, training activities, best management practices and many others.
The key for PCOs is uncovering their team members’ skill sets and talents and actively involving them in decision-making. As Mark Miller, director of enterprise marketing, General Assembly, noted in the Inc.com article “Where to Find Your Next Big Idea,” your workforce “can’t be a differentiator unless you tap into the ideas and the expertise therein. This is what I call collaborative innovation. Collaborative innovation means tapping into more than just a person’s knowledge, but also their unique skill set, personality, and mode of thinking and acting. More than that, it means actually utilizing these characteristics by harnessing the different ways that person exhibits them.”
As a footnote, upon my return from PestWorld I bought my first-ever bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. While I did find them tasty and interesting, they were a bit too uncomfortably hot for my bland Midwestern palate; I prefer the traditional, tried-and-true Cheetos.
The author is Internet/managing editor of PCT whose favorite snacks include Chili Cheese Fritos and potato chips with French onion dip.
Unlike many of the pests we protect food from, stored product pests (SPP) live in the food they are consuming. They do not travel from a safe harborage to a food source and then return back to their harborage — the harborage is the food source. The living preferences of species of SPP will vary based on its food preference — some will thrive in whole kernels of corn, others will prefer processed grains and others may choose a food source high in protein.
When we look at the food chain of custody, how food travels from harvest to end-user, we can pinpoint which facilities will be more prone to certain types of stored product pests based on the food they store or process. Grain silos may wrestle with weevils, which prefer a kernel; a commercial bakery may wrestle with flour beetles, which prefer processed grain; and a spice factory is at risk for cigarette beetles, which are excellent at making unappetizing food edible. Stores that sell dry pet food will find they’re at risk for all species of SPP, making them a challenging facility for pest management.
THE SOURCE. Infestations in a pet food store (or retail store selling dry pet food) most commonly originate from the following sources:
1. Food Itself: Despite best efforts, sometimes infestations will start at the pet food manufacturing plant. After processing but before packaging, stored product pests will take advantage of exposed food and begin infesting. The size of the infestation is dictated by how many individuals made it into the container, the temperature the product is stored at and how long the product remains in storage. As long as the infestation is contained in the bag, these are the easiest types of infestations to solve: simply identify and discard the product and its inhabitants.
2. Environment: The “wandering” larval stage of several species of SPP, particularly the warehouse beetle and the Indianmeal moth, are adept at leaving their food supply to find a calm, quiet place to pupate and become adults. Once they leave the food, they’ll look for a suitable habitat on the shelves or racking on which the food was stored. The infestation then becomes a “structural infestation” — removing the original source will not solve the problem. The resulting adults typically will find spilled food to make their home in and some species will bore into product and infest previously uninfested food. The same thing can happen during transport. A truck that carried infested product may become infested, putting subsequent foods at risk.
3. Exterior: Some species of SPP are prevalent outside. A pet food store is attractive to these pests and if it has unsealed openings/food spillage, it may become infested.
MINIMIZE RISK. Steps that will decrease the likelihood of developing an infestation:
• Sanitation: Since SPP live in food, the most effective way to remove/limit them is to remove food sources. In a pet store, this is best achieved via thorough cleaning of shelves/racks. While the entire pet food store may be at risk, the source isn’t the entire pet food store. It’s the small forgotten places where food debris has gathered. Hard-to-access areas have food debris build up, an excellent hidden habitat for SPP.
• Minimize Voids Where Food Collects: Shelves and racking should be installed to have as few food-collecting pockets as possible. The u-channels common in racking design are notorious for collecting and hiding debris that warehouse beetles infest. Voids in peg boards and under shelving collect fallen food, attracting several species.
• Follow First-In, First-Out: Proper stock rotation is one of the best ways to minimize risk. SPP need food, but they also need time. It takes about 30 days to go from egg to adult for most species in an ideal environment. The sooner the product is off the shelves, the less time there is for an infestation to grow. Forgotten product that sits undisturbed for months is left to provide harborage to generations of SPP. Depending on the species, we may not even know they’re in the product because they have no need to leave. These items bring so much risk to the facility because when they do need to leave the product to find food, they’ll begin infesting the structure and even more products.
• Inspect Incoming Product: Often there’ll be clues that a product is coming into the store infested. Employees trained to identify these clues can flag or decline product before it hits the shelves. Evidence may include seeing adult or larval stages of the insects, webbing (in the case of stored product moths), shed larval skins, pupal casings in the seams of bags, or small holes where larvae have bored in or out or adults of some species have chewed through.
• Preventively Freeze Product: Stored product pests are temperature sensitive and are most prolific in warm climates. Very high temperatures and very low temperatures slow the insects down and eventually kill them. Freezing can be an excellent way of killing insects in potentially infested food before putting them on the shelves. If a store has the means, identifying consistently infested brands or types of food and implementing a freezing protocol before putting them on the shelves can significantly reduce risk.
• Preventive Chemical Application: Residual chemicals, which kill the insects upon contact, can have a place in stored product pest management, but choosing where to apply needs to be carefully considered. Since the insects live in food, and we cannot apply residual chemical to food or packaging, we’re limited to cracks and crevices that the insects may or may not encounter. Insect growth regulators can be an effective tool against Indianmeal moths and warehouse beetle larvae, which wander away from food to pupate.
• Seal Entry Points: Indianmeal moths, warehouse beetles and flour beetles (as well as secondary feeders such as foreign grain beetles) can have outdoor populations. Ensuring doors are kept closed and sealed will help in keeping pests outside.
CONTROLLING POPULATIONS. Due to the sensitive nature of a pet food store (particularly one that also sells pets or allows pets to roam the aisles), controlling infestations beyond the preventive measures previously listed can be challenging. Sanitation will consistently play a part in control: as long as there is food available for a SPP pest population, there is a place for populations to retreat to. Cleaning one area where we’re seeing activity doesn’t necessarily eliminate the population; the population may move to another area. Diligent sanitation efforts are necessary. Outside of sanitation, control may be partially achieved through ultra-low volume treatment, which will kill exposed adult stages of the pests. This will not affect the juvenile stages in the food itself, though, making it a temporary solution.
Fumigation can achieve control, though this is typically costly for retail stores. One tool that is being used more frequently against Indianmeal moth populations is mating disruption. This solution saturates the air with synthetic Indianmeal moth sex pheromone, camouflaging the actual female’s sex pheromone. The male is unable to find her and the two eventually die of natural causes without reproducing. When Indianmeal moth is the target pest, this method has proven to be effective.
Pet food retail environments are vulnerable to SPP and that puts brand reputation on the line. A proactive pest management program with a strong emphasis on sanitation is the most effective way of protecting food.
Anna Berry is training manager/entomologist for McCloud Services and a Board Certified Entomologist. She is also a member of the Copesan Technical Committee (CTC).
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.