The National Pest Management Association announced record-breaking attendance at PestWorld 2018, reporting more than 4,000 pest management professionals from across the globe convened in October in Orlando, Fla. This makes PestWorld 2018 the association’s most well-attended annual conference since its inception in 1933, NPMA reported.
“It’s no secret that PestWorld has proven itself once again as the premier pest management event in our industry,” said NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf. “With packed educational sessions and a sold-out exhibit hall, this year’s event demonstrated the industry’s desire for an event with emphasis on learning and networking.”
With expert-led educational sessions, attendees discovered the latest business trends and earned valuable recertification credits. Highlights this year included educational tracks covering recent trends in pest management, online marketing strategies and impactful thought-leader sessions.
Additionally, PestWorld featured inspiring General Session speakers Yossi Ghinsberg and Dennis Snow (see related articles, below). During his presentation, Ghinsberg delivered a message that no one can be courageous unless fear comes first; fear is the guide that shows you the way. Snow shared stories of his time working at Walt Disney World and offered attendees advice on how little moments of “wow” add up when it comes to customer service.
Stumpf added, “I am proud that PestWorld can be the platform for educating PMPs on the latest research and technology to ensure our industry continues to make a positive impact on society by protecting public health and property.” Next year’s PestWorld is Oct. 15-18, in San Diego, Calif.
Features - PCT on the Road
PCT and Syngenta recognized the 2018 Crown Leadership Award winners at NPMA PestWorld.
At PestWorld 2018 in Orlando, Fla., PCT and Syngenta took time to recognize five individuals chosen as 2018 Crown Leadership Award winners, during a special reception.
Honored this year were:
Dave Fisher, Rentokil Steritech, Reading, Pa.
Jerry Gahlhoff, Rollins Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
Karl Kisner, Univar Environmental Sciences, Austin, Texas
Dan Collins, Collins Pest Management, Evansville, Ind.
Dr. Faith Oi, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the awards program, which has honored more than 250 industry professionals since its inception.
It’s been 30 years since PCT and Syngenta began recognizing individuals who have contributed positively to the growth and development of the structural pest control industry, and I believe this year’s class carries on the tradition of that inaugural class, as well as subsequent classes,” said PCT Publisher Dan Moreland.
“Tonight, we’re going to honor a new class of deserving winners and their important accomplishments in our industry,” said Pat Willenbrock, head of marketing for Professional Pest Management at Syngenta. “A lot has changed in pest management over the last 30 years. Old techniques have made way for newer strategies; digital tools are changing the way we look at business operations; and new invasive pest species have required unique solutions.
“Thankfully, the dedication of our industry professionals, including yourselves, has been unwavering, and tonight’s winners inspire us all to improve pest control around the world,” she said. “Since 1989, the Crown Leadership Awards have been presented annually to pest management professionals, university educators, industry distributors and association officials who uphold the highest standards of industry ethics, while contributing their time and talent to a broad range of professional and civic organizations.”
In addition to recognizing this year’s winners, PCT and Syngenta once again presented a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to a past Crown Leadership winner, as voted on by previous Crown Leadership Award winners. This year’s winner was Dr. Austin Frishman, a longtime industry consultant, educator and mentor to numerous pest management professionals.
If you know of a member of the pest control industry you would like to nominate for next year’s awards, email Dan Moreland at email@example.com.
Comings & Goings
Departments - Comings & Goings
If your company has added new personnel, send a photo and press release to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2018-19 officers for the North Carolina Pest Management Association’s new board of directors includes President Bruce Roberts, A-1 Termite and Pest Control, Lenoir, N.C.; Vice President Clint Miller, Clint Miller Exterminating, Mt. Pleasant, N.C.; Secretary/Treasurer John Adkins, Four Seasons Pest Control, Danville, Va.; and Past President Donnie Shelton, Triangle Pest Control, Holly Springs, N.C. BASF announced the addition of two new sales representatives. Kyle Franklin is the new sales representative in the North Carolina territory. William Gettys will be the sales representative in the Alabama/Florida Panhandle territory.
Burns Pest Elimination of Phoenix, Ariz., celebrated Gary Blair’s 15-year anniversary with the company in appreciation for his ongoing service and commitment to excellence.
Truly Nolen Pest Control promoted Thomas Gee and Cyndreka Harvard to managers. Gee will manage the Saddlebrook (Ariz.) service office, while Harvard is at the Houston (Texas) office.
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One-Stop Truck Shop
Features - Trucks & Equipment
PestFleet brings together four suppliers that provide PMPs a turnkey solution for buying and managing vehicles.
Buying trucks has traditionally been a logistical and financial challenge for PMPs. Shopping for trucks, caps and sprayers, and then bringing them all together for local installation, was time-consuming and sometimes difficult. Then some industry veterans came up with a solution: a new turnkey concept called the PestFleet program.
“Once you get more than 10 trucks, fleet management can become a nightmare,” says Tommy Reeves, vice president of Oldham Chemicals Company. “Dennis Bowe [senior director of fleet and commercial sales at Truck Accessories Group] and our equipment design team started talking about the potential for bringing all of the parts of this process together. Dennis envisioned smaller operators buying and managing their fleets more efficiently — similar to how the big companies do it. Offering financial as well as logistical support could mean that PMPs would pay less out of pocket, while saving a lot of time and effort.”
Four partners — Nissan, Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, Oldham Chemicals Company and SnugTop — joined forces to offer the PestFleet program. The PMPs taking advantage of the program say it’s a whole new way of managing their fleets.
“We’ve purchased a lot of vehicles in the past and had our own process for titling, licensing and managing our fleet, so I know what enormous effort it takes to work through all the details,” says Matt Mehr of Hawx Pest Control, who has bought 100 Nissan NV200 vans through the PestFleet program this year and plans to buy up to 100 more for his 12 offices across the country. “I want my people focused on servicing accounts. Being able to lift fleet purchasing and management responsibilities from our local offices and place them in the hands of specialists has been a great advantage for us.”
Here’s how PestFleet works:
Nissan provides a selection of trucks and vans — offering a sizable discount to NPMA members. Most PMPs are choosing the Frontier compact pick-up, the full-size Titan pick-up or the NV200 compact cargo van. “The Frontier is popular for busy metro routes, because it has a tighter turning radius than larger trucks. The NV200 offers added security by sealing the equipment in the back where no one can get to it. And the Titan is great for companies that need full-size trucks on the road,” says Travis Duncan, manager of regional fleet sales at Nissan North America. A five-year, 100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is an additional benefit of buying the Titan or NV200, he says.
Snugtop provides a commercial-grade fiberglass topper with built-in aluminum toolboxes and LED lighting. The SnugTop Cab-Hi topper protects equipment and keeps tools within easy reach. The fiberglass construction is stronger than aluminum and 40 percent lighter than steel, says Bowe. “The lighter weight increases fuel efficiency, and the premium hardware and finish ensure a long service life. Plus the protective clear coat prevents oxidation even in very hot climates,” he adds.
Oldham Chemicals Company provides a top-of-the-line 40- or 25-gallon perimeter pest spray rig. “Our reputation for high-quality, reliable sprayers comes from our commitment to building equipment we would want to use ourselves,” says Reeves. The spray rig included in the PestFleet package is no exception. The fan spray wand provides an even 80-degree fan spray at approximately 1.25 GPM, and an adjustable cone jet wand adjusts from a cone pattern to a pin stream.
Mike Albert Fleet Solutions sources the vehicles, arranges to have all of the components installed (including a vehicle wrap, if desired), and offers financing and fleet management solutions. Mike Albert helps PMPs choose the ideal vehicle for their needs and provides flexible financing options for buying or leasing. The firm coordinates the installation and delivery, provides title and licensing support, and then supports PMPs with ongoing fleet management services.
BUSINESS SOLUTIONS. “We help business leaders plan for the future and deploy customized fleet strategies. How many miles do you put in? What’s the right time to replace vehicles? What are your plans for growth?” says David Bieber, director of sales and strategic markets for Mike Albert. “We also offer telematics to facilitate route optimization, and maintenance and fuel management so that technicians know exactly when and where to stop. We give them fuel and maintenance cards so they pay nothing out of pocket; instead, the business owner gets one monthly invoice with all maintenance and fuel transactions in one place so they can track spending, prevent fraud and make informed decisions.”
Mehr says, “I’m really focused on making sure my vehicle spend is where it should be. Before PestFleet, I was concerned about financial leaks resulting from inefficiencies in our procurement and maintenance processes. But now, we have goals in place and are proactively working toward them. In addition to getting great terms and a good buy, we now have ongoing access to fleet management data that helps us understand where we can be more efficient and how we can help our people be more productive in the field.”
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine.
Make Way for Biopesticides
Features - Research Update
Far from conventional, bio-based products are more pest-specific, less toxic, and pose a lower risk to non-target organisms and the environment. They’ll be an important tool in your toolbox sooner than you think.
When it comes to insecticides, the broader the label the better. That’s been the view of pest management professionals for decades; one that’s about to get up-ended.
New biopesticide products — microbials, genetically modified organisms and products using RNA interference — are being fast-tracked thanks to advancements in technology that have opened the doors to development.
These products promise to control pests more effectively and with less risk to non-target organisms (birds, mammals), beneficial insects and the environment by harnessing the power of fungi and bacteria, by modifying insects to use like Trojan horses and even by disrupting how insect genes work.
As a result, they’re super-specific with the ability to target not just mosquitoes, for instance, but a particular mosquito species.
Nor are these insecticides decades away from commercialization. In fact, they’ll likely be available within years; some are entering the marketplace now.
That doesn’t mean conventional chemistries and enabling technologies like bait and delivery systems will go away, said Michael Scharf, an entomologist at Purdue University. “I do believe, however, that having these additional tools will open up market niches and give the industry more chances to be effective in fewer visits,” he said.
A Fungus that Kills Bed Bugs
A microbial biopesticide called Aprehend uses the fungus Beauveria bassiana to kill bed bugs. It is available in 49 states with regulatory approval in California and Canada expected in 2019.
The fungus is a natural disease of insects and it’s been used in agricultural and horticultural products to control aphids, whiteflies and thrips for more than 20 years. But it didn’t make its structural pest control debut until Penn State entomologist Nina Jenkins proved its efficacy on bed bugs and paired it with a special formulation for indoor use that she developed over three decades.
It starts working on contact when bed bugs pick up fungal spores by walking through strategically treated areas, such as bed legs, box springs and where baseboards meet walls. The spores readily germinate on the insect’s cuticle, penetrate into its blood system and begin to grow, using the blood as a food source. The bed bugs start dying in three days; most are dead within seven days.
The oil-based formulation sticks the spores to surfaces and keeps them from drying out, allowing for a three-month residual. It also helps spores work their way into the softer membranes of the bed bug cuticle and traps moisture generated by the insect’s respiration, which assists with spore germination. Because the pests immediately start grooming after contact with the spores, “they even rub the stuff into their compound eyes, so that’s another soft entrance point for the fungus to go in,” said Jenkins. The spores easily transfer among bed bugs packed tightly in harborages, which spreads the fungal disease throughout the population.
Aprehend requires fewer applications than conventional chemicals (generally one versus two or three), and “it does allow you to use a completely non-chemical approach” in controlling the pests, said Jenkins. PMPs who are following the label have achieved “incredible success” in bed bug control, she said.
Jenkins plans to introduce a similar fungus-based product to control flies in animal production facilities. Another area of development is controlling malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes that Control Mosquitoes
Coming soon is the day when controlling mosquitoes will be done with…mosquitoes.
In fact, MosquitoMate based in Lexington, Ky., received U.S. EPA approval last November to sell Wolbachia-infected Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger) mosquitoes in the District of Columbia and 20 states.
Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacterium commonly found in insects but not in certain species of mosquito. When the infected males mate with wild female mosquitoes, the resulting eggs do not hatch, which ultimately crashes the population. The company offered its mosquito control service to homeowners in Lexington last summer and is exploring ways to work with PMPs for the 2019 mosquito season.
In addition, MosquitoMate recently completed field trials of its Wolbachia-infected male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which were released in the city of South Miami. Jimmy Mains, the company’s chief scientific officer (who began this research as a Ph.D. candidate at University of Kentucky), is still analyzing the results of the trial but “we’re very enthusiastic with what we’re seeing” in terms of control.
The company also is developing a new technology that involves dusting adult male mosquitoes with the Insect Growth Regulator pyriproxyfen. When released into the wild, the dusted male mosquitoes transfer the IGR to breeding sites and to females, who likewise introduce it to breeding sites when they lay their eggs. Field trials have shown “significant declines in adult population densities” of mosquitoes, said Mains, who plans to submit this technology for EPA registration in late 2018.
Other companies are using genetic engineering to control mosquitoes. Oxitec of Milton Park, U.K., is testing the effectiveness of sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that were released in the Florida Keys. These mosquitoes, sterilized using genetic controls, compete with wild males for female insects. If a female mates with a sterile male, it will have no offspring, thus reducing the next generation’s population.
The company also is developing a new strain of self-limiting Anopheles mosquito to combat the spread of malaria, and is engineering insects to arrest major agricultural pests like the olive fruit fly and diamondback moth.
On another front, a team of researchers from Imperial College London used gene-drive technology to crash populations of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae in the lab within 7 to 11 generations. A gene drive is a genetic engineering technology that can spread a particular set of genes throughout a population of a specific species.
In this experiment, scientists used it to block the mosquito’s reproductive capacity and spread female infertility. Lead researcher Andrea Crisanti said it will be 5 to 10 years before mosquitoes with gene drive are tested in the wild.
Ant Bait that Disrupts Genes
Within four to five years, PMPs may be using RNAi-based baits to control ants, according to John Killmer, CEO of a St. Louis-based start-up called RNAgri.
RNAi stands for Ribonucleic Acid Interference (see sidebar below). It was discovered about 15 years ago and involves silencing very specific genes in a particular organism, in this case to kill particular species of ants.
The high level of selectivity of RNAi is both a blessing and a curse, said Killmer. “The blessing is that it is so specific that it will not harm beneficial insects or harm insects that you want to keep, like indigenous versus introduced species. The curse is that the selectivity is such that closely related species may not be killed by just one RNAi,” he explained.
As such, Killmer’s bait likely will feature more than one RNAi sequence in order to target a range of household ants, such as Argentine, carpenter, Pharaoh and odorous house ants, as well as fire ants. He sees the bait formulation being similar to that of current ant gel baits on the market.
RNAi molecules are sustainable and “benign from a toxicological standpoint,” which is important to homeowners with children and pets, said Killmer, who is seeking a partner to help commercialize the ant bait for professional and consumer markets. He also is collaborating with Monsanto (now Bayer) on agricultural and bee health applications.
One of Killmer’s achievements is overcoming the high cost of producing RNAi. “The first few grams of RNAi that were used in testing were tens of thousands of dollars a gram if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a gram,” he recalled. He’s since developed an efficient way to make the RNA and has reduced the cost to less than a dollar a gram.
That’s significant because RNAi is “powerful stuff,” only requiring nanogram amounts to kill insect pests, he said. Killmer also is working with a university researcher to use RNAi to control mosquito larvae.
Mixing It Up. The most effective biopesticides may be ones that combine technologies, such as RNAi plus an entomopathogen like fungi, an area the research community is pursuing with “much interest,” said Purdue’s Scharf.
His lab recently published the results of a study that screened 57 double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) sequences from the Eastern subterranean termite for possible use as an RNAi termiticide.
“We found that while a small fraction of dsRNAs are effective, none are effective at the level required for market success. The take-home message is that there is more work to do to bring the concept to reality,” he said.