RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) continue to be on the radar of pest management professionals in Southern California following confirmation of two more infestations — one from a house in La Verne, Calif., and the other from a house in Hollywood Hills, Calif. The findings were confirmed by Dr. Chow-Yang Lee and researchers from his lab at the University of California, Riverside Department of Entomology.
As previously reported by PCT, Formosan subterranean termites (FSTs) are not native to Southern California nor the United States. Still, in California they have been confirmed in pockets, and many entomologists and pest management professionals believe they may be underreported in the Golden State.
The recent FST discovery in La Verne came after ProCraft Pest Control, Upland, Calif., was called by one of its customers about a large termite swarm. It turned out the swarm was coming from the next-door neighbor’s home. That homeowner, who owns a lumber company, built his home with numerous railroad ties. ProCraft owner Mike Furlong theorizes that some of the railroad ties may have been transported from a location that does have Formosan subterranean termites.
Furlong was alerted to potential FSTs by ProCraft service technician Luke Miller, who services the home. “I decided to send it in (to UCR) because it didn’t match,” Furlong said. “Just a lighter color throughout, and that doesn’t fit drywoods and other subs we see. And the wings looked off. The coloration was off substantially.”
Lee was out of the country, but his lab technician, Sen Miao, performed the measurement and molecular identification. Lee then checked the outcome of the ID and confirmed that they were Formosan subterranean termites. “Basically, what we did was examine the morphology of the sample under the microscope and then carried out analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA,” Lee said.
Furlong said that his customer’s home was immaculate and also built on a slab (no crawlspace), so he did not find any damage, but that ProCraft will be closely monitoring that property for FSTs in the future.
In addition to the Formosan termites found in La Verne, an FST infestation was confirmed in a Hollywood Hills home. The termites were sent to UC Riverside by the homeowner after first identified by Orkin technician Isela Munoz and then by Orkin inspector José Ernesto Aguilar. After receiving the sample, Dr. Siavash Taravati from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) visited the home, where he found more dead Formosan termites in the storage area in the loft. However, no signs of active infestations were evident during a visual inspection or when he used Termatrac, a device that detects tiny movements in the wood using microwaves technology.
“It’s an all-wood old house with [Formosan subterranean termites] first found flying in a loft around a standing light near a storage door,” Taravati said.
Taravati said that some minor damage was found in the landscape on the buried portion of the fence downslope, “but we don’t know if they are from Western subterranean termite or Formosan. On the upslope, dense cover plants were found but the wooden retaining walls were intact. The house also has many small damages from drywood termites based on their shape and presence of hexagonal fecal pellets.”
Taravati added that he inspected the crawlspace of the Hollywood Hills home and found no evidence of FST damage and that the nearby landscape soil was relatively dry, except for a few spots near sprinklers. — Brad Harbison
Climate Change Means More Mice for Parts of the U.S., Canada, Researchers Report
OXFORD, Ohio — Warmer temperatures and milder winters in Eastern Canada, as well as the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the U.S., have been a boon to populations of the white-footed mouse.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Susan Hoffman, associate professor of biology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, said the rodents have migrated past a transitional forest region that has long served as a dividing line for many species. She said the white-footed mouse has expanded “surprisingly fast” in North America — about 125 miles in 30 years, which is 15 times farther than previously expected.
Hoffman is an expert in tracking the distribution shifts of small mammals, and the white-footed mouse, in particular, due to environmental factors like climate change.
Historically, the white-footed mouse thrived in an area ranging from the Tennessee Valley to the northern Atlantic Coast. But already it has expanded its northern limit into Québec, said Hoffman. By 2050, she predicts the mouse population will migrate further north as the warming climate pushes its preferred forest habitats farther north.
Humans also are responsible for unintentionally moving the mice to new locations in cars, boats and recreational vehicles, she said.
More mice in and around homes and businesses will mean more work for pest management professionals. In addition to being a nuisance and causing food safety issues, the white-footed mouse is a natural reservoir for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. — Anne Nagro
Neonic Bill Awaits California Governor’s Signature
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At press time, California PMPs were waiting to see if California Gov. Gavin Newsom would sign AB 2146 into law. The bill passed the state’s Senate in early September and Newsom had until Sept. 30 to sign it.
If passed, AB 2146 would prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for nearly all non-agricultural uses. Specifically, it would ban the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran and acetamiprid on non-agricultural crops.
AB 2146 was introduced earlier this year by assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan as a pollinator protection measure. In a press release, Bauer-Kahn stated, “Our pollinators are threatened. We know the cause, and it’s time to take action. The European Union has already banned many of these pesticides altogether, and it’s time to catch up to the rest of the world in protecting bee and human health. AB 2146 will curb harmful neonic contamination without limiting farmers.”
The Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC) says that AB 2146 ignores years of scientific research and recommendations from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). They are joined by a coalition of groups including NPMA and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), among others.
RISE spokesperson Karen Reardon told The Independent that RISE opposes this type of measure because (neonicotinoids) are thoroughly vetted, tested and regulated by the EPA and California DPR. Both government agencies have determined neonics are safe, if used according to their labels.
PCOC Executive Vice President Chris Reardon told PCT that the association “is in the process of discussing potential amendments that would be helpful to our industry, but they are not finalized yet. We continue to work with a coalition including California agriculture and NPMA to ensure we find a suitable solution.” — Brad Harbison
Arrow Exterminators Acquires Apex Pest Control
ATLANTA — Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators has acquired Apex Pest Control, marking its sixth straight acquisition in Florida.
Headquartered in Rockledge, Fla., Apex Pest Control provides pest and termite control and lawn services to approximately 25,000 residential and commercial customers in 30 counties from its offices in Orlando, Tampa, Brevard County, Jacksonville and Miami-Dade/Broward County. The company has strong relationships with home builders and provides pre-treatment services to the construction industry. The family-owned and -operated firm was established in 1985 by Pete Eldridge. The company has grown to a family of 78 team members and reported 2021 revenues of just under $10 million, placing Apex at No. 76 on the most recent PCT Top 100 list.
All Apex team members will remain with the company, along with the entire Apex Pest Control management team.
“We are very pleased to have merged with the Apex organization, which has a great reputation for service in the state of Florida,” said Emily Thomas Kendrick, chief executive officer of Arrow Exterminators. “These new offices give us 45 service centers throughout the great state of Florida and a total of 165 offices in the country.”
Eldridge added, “We’ve been a family-owned business since 1985 and have established ourselves as one of the most trusted pest control companies in the state. Our team of pest control technicians share hundreds of years of combined experience, so it was important to me to find a company like Arrow that will treat this team as well as I have for these many years.”
Kemp Anderson Consulting represented Apex Pest Control for this transaction.
Apex also was represented by The Law Offices of Mark Ruff.
Bentley Discusses This Summer’s Bug Populations on The Weather Channel
FAIRFAX, Va. — Dr. Michael Bentley, director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), recently appeared on a segment for The Weather Channel to discuss how this summer’s combination of extreme heat and rainfall might have been responsible for increases in disease-carrying insects in parts of the country.
The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) helped Bentley secure the appearance with the release of its Vector Sectors list of U.S. cities with the highest risk of disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks. The video, provided to PCT courtesy of PPMA, can be seen at https://www.pctonline.com/article/npma-bentley-weather-channel-appearance/.
Cook’s Pest Control Opens New Sales Center
DECATUR, Ala. — On Aug. 18, Cook’s Pest Control held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for its new Cook’s Sales Center, located at the corner of 5th Avenue SE and 13th Street SE. The 4,765-square-foot building originally housed the Cook’s Museum of Natural Science from 1980 to 2016. In the last few months, the facility has been totally renovated and modernized to accommodate as many as 50 sales specialists who will connect with prospective customers via telephone, internet and social media channels throughout the Southeast.
“I’m very thankful for the way our Cook’s team has been able to grow and pivot throughout the different decades,” said Brian Cook, president and CEO of Cook’s Pest Control.
“As you know, these days people are wanting to do things in a more efficient manner. It is our goal to better serve these prospective customer using current technology and connectivity here at our new sales center. This new facility boasts a lot of good features to help our staff members to better operate in a comfortable and collaborative manner. Training, support and teamwork are a big part of it. It’s truly exciting.”
Cook commended the company’s team members who helped to bring the project to fruition. These included Ricky McCollister, director of facilities and construction; Sam Gregory, sales center manager; and Jerry Baker, vice president of sales.
“In early discussions about this concept, we had considered placing a network of call centers throughout our company’s various markets,” said Baker. “Ultimately, we concluded that it should be located here at our headquarters in Decatur. It just seemed like a natural fit when we considered the great support, structure and team members who were already centered here. I have great confidence in the leadership and staff here at the sales center. They’ve been doing great work already.”
NPMA Announces Lifetime Membership Honorees
FAIRFAX, Va. — The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) announced Lifetime Membership has been awarded to Laura Simpson, Steve Scherzinger and W. Jay Nixon for their careers of service in the pest management industry.
“It brings me great personal joy to recognize three colleagues I have looked up to with the distinction of Lifetime membership with NPMA,” said Justin McCauley, president of NPMA. “I’m proud the board chose to honor the selfless contributions they have made supporting NPMA and advancing the pest management industry on behalf of the entire pest management industry.”
“Working with Jay, Steve and Laura has been a pleasure throughout my career with NPMA,” said Dominique Stumpf, CEO of NPMA. “I am incredibly grateful for their commitment and leadership that helped drive progress the industry needed.”
Simpson graduated from Louisiana State University and began a career in pest management with Dugas Pest Control. In 1996, she succeeded her father as president of the company, growing it to become one of the largest independently operated pest control companies in Louisiana before selling the company to Rentokil in 2018. A mother of three boys, she has helped her son enter the industry; Jeremy Clark is currently the district manager for Dugas Pest Control.
Simpson served as president of the Louisiana Pest Management Association and the National Pest Management Association and in numerous other volunteer positions throughout her career. She was honored by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report as an Influential Woman in Business and won the Paul Adams Award of Excellence from the Louisiana Pest Management Association in 2018. She also was recognized with the Women of Excellence Award in 2014 by NPMA.
Scherzinger, a University of Cincinnati graduate, was the third generation of his family to work in pest management and he has two sons ready to take the reins of Scherzinger Pest Control as he retires. A past president of both the Ohio Pest Control Association and NPMA, he has served in numerous volunteer capacities to develop new resources and advance the industry.
Scherzinger received the PCT Crown Leadership award in 1996 and the NPMA Pinnacle award in 2008.
Nixon and three others bought the American Disinfectant Company in 1983 and rebranded as American Pest Management. During the next 40 years, the company expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Nixon supported State Department facilities, traveling the globe to provide expertise and services to U.S. consulates, embassies and ambassadors. He also supported the University of Florida’s entomology department in its work to document all of the 3,000+ species of termites of the world. His support helped the school’s entomology department document more than 1,000 species.
Nixon served as president of NPMA (then the National Pest Control Association) and has been recognized by the University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology as a distinguished alumnus.
Massey Services Announces Acquisition of Peninsular Pest Control Service
ORLANDO, Fla. — Massey Services announced that it has acquired Peninsular Pest Control Service.
Peninsular Pest Control, also known as “Critter Gitter,” is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. The company provides residential and commercial pest control, termite and landscape services to 30,000 customers throughout Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra.
“We are pleased to welcome the Peninsular team members and customers to the Massey Services organization,” said Tony Massey, president and CEO of Massey Services. “Peninsular Pest Control is a second-generation, family-owned organization that has been providing superior service to customers for nearly 70 years. We look forward to carrying on their legacy of total customer satisfaction for years to come.”
Massey Services was founded in 1985 in Orlando, Fla. The organization now has 177 locations company wide.
LR Tullius represented and acted as exclusive financial adviser to Peninsular Pest Control on the transaction.
BHB Pest Elimination Launches First-Ever Billboard
NEW YORK — BHB Pest Elimination of New York City recently launched its first-ever billboard advertising campaign, which has brought in an abundance of publicity and business, according to owner Michael Broder. The billboard reads: “Killing it Since 1969,” which was the year the company was founded.
Broder has witnessed BHB’s growth from the beginning, as his father, Benjamin Harrison Broder, was the founder of the company. His father originally began treating individual apartments in New York City, but eventually business expanded to much more. BHB took on restaurants and other food establishments, hotels and property management. During the last couple of years, BHB has been growing outside of the New York City area and has opened an office in New Jersey. The purpose of the billboards is to drive up business in these newly serviced areas, Broder said.
Before the billboards, Broder said BHB’s best source for finding new customers was word-of-mouth referrals and face-to-face advertising at trade shows.
“Our satisfied customers have been some of our biggest advocates,” Broder said. “You know, it’s building a relationship with the customer.”
The decision to use billboards this summer was already paying dividends, Broder said.
“Just from putting the sign up in front of the building, I cannot believe how much new business we were able to get just from that,” Broder said. “Seeing the effect of people just literally walking in and calling us as they drive by was proof enough that we needed that.”
During the past few years, BHB has put a tremendous emphasis on marketing, after previously struggling with online advertising — specifically SEO. Moving forward, BHB plans to continue to focus on marketing through social media.
“You’ve got to get your name out there, and we’re looking to do more and more of that,” Broder said. — Halle Dray, PCT editorial intern
Rockit Pest Announces Acquisition of Hired Killers
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Rockit Pest acquired Hired Killers Pest Control, Greenville, S.C. Hired Killers has served Upstate South Carolina residents for more than 36 years. Ross Woodall Sr., founded the company, which was passed on to his son, Ross Woodall ll, and has been under his leadership since 2015. Hired Killers has won the “Best of the Upstate” award by Greenville News for 15 years and is A+ rated by the BBB.
“Hired Killers is a perfect complement to our organization, adding density to our rapidly growing footprint in greater Greenville,” said Ryan Bradbury, CEO of Rockit Pest. “South Carolina continues to attract families and businesses looking for a better life and working environment and boasts one of the strongest and most durable economic growth rates in the nation. Rockit has rapidly become one of the largest pest control companies in the state and we warmly welcome the Hired Killers team to the Rockit family.”
Ross Woodall II added, “When considering selling my company, the two key factors for me were knowing that my employees were joining a team that would continue to support them, and that they would have opportunities for growth. It was also important to me that our customers would continue to receive the premium level of service that they deserve and expect. It was an easy decision in choosing Rockit Pest. They gave me the sense of trust and confidence that our employees and customers are in great hands.”
Could a Virus be Used to Kill Invasive Fire Ants?
SAN DIEGO — A small study suggests invasive fire ants could be controlled by Solenopsis invicta virus 3.
An article in June’s Journal of Invertebrate Pathology explained how researchers successfully reduced wild Florida populations of imported fire ants. During the evaluation, the researchers observed a seven-fold reduction in nest numbers, as well as an equally significant reduction in nest size.
“Laboratory tests have shown that Solenopsis invicta virus 3 may be an effective natural control agent against its host, the red imported fire ant,” the co-authors wrote.
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