Bigger Bugs

Features - New Technology

PMPs find accessible ways to take quality photos without expensive equipment.

August 11, 2016

Correctly identifying insects is crucial for pest management companies. Label the wrong bug and it could lead to wrong treatment and a waste of time and money for all parties involved.

Smartphone cameras — usually the easiest way for technicians to take pictures of tiny specimens — sometimes don’t make the grade on quality.

“If they didn’t (get close enough) you couldn’t tell what it was,” said Jay Bruesch, technical director at Plunkett’s Pest Control in Fridley, Minn. “If you magnify a bad image, you just get a bad image with bigger pixels.”

Bruesch said clients were asking for a faster and better way to have insects identified. The solution was to trade in fuzzy photos of infestations for quality pictures with a lens he clipped onto his smartphone.

The Mpow 20x macro lens clips onto any Android or iOS smartphone and zooms in 20 times more than a typical zoom-in function on a camera, which is great for taking pictures of insects. Technicians can now take better photos in dark, tight spaces without a professional camera or a flash.

“We have a lot of clients in the food-processing industry and if they found a complaint and somebody sends a picture or an insect in, they need to know in a hurry what that insect is,” he said.

(Left to right) The Mpow 20x macro lens, the fisheye lens and the .36x wide angle lens.
Mark Sheperdigian from Rose Pest Solutions in Detroit, Mich., shared this technology in a committee meeting that Bruesch attended.

“I went onto Amazon and bought myself one and played with it and sure enough you just clip it on to the lens of your smartphone and it will take a really nice 20 power image of an insect,” Bruesch said.

After Bruesch saw the lens’ guarantee for better pictures and faster identification, he purchased 500 Mpow lenses for his staff and clients in February. The Mpow 20x macro lens comes with two other lenses, a fisheye and .36x wide angle lens, but Bruesch said his only interest is the 20x macro lens.

If technicians send in clear, sharp pictures, Bruesch said an entomology staffer can identify them quicker and the problem on site is solved faster for clients. In addition, there is less risk of misidentification and incorrect treatment.

“We’ve gotten lots of comments from our technicians,” he said.

The quality of pictures the company’s entomology staff has received are significantly better since they distributed the clip-on lenses, Bruesch said. He added that any pest management company can benefit from this equipment.

“Technicians send in better specimens for your entomology staff to look at and your clients have a way of quickly sending you a picture of an insect that might be bothering them,” he said. “The entomologist staff likes it because they’re not looking at a fuzzy image anymore. Technicians love them because they have fast help when they need it.”

The author is an editorial intern for PCT magazine.