Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Add-On Services,” which was sponsored by Univar.
With the hectic pace of today’s world and the ability of technology to simplify their lives, today’s customers want their retail and service needs to be met as simply and hassle-free as possible. Whether seeking a product or service for home or commercial use, they don’t want to deal with a number of different providers. Most want to consolidate as much as possible and work with a limited number of knowledgeable, experienced professionals whom they can trust to take care of whatever needs to be addressed in their home.
This is particularly true with businesses such as pest control, since some homeowners have become accustomed to having one provider for several related services. They’d like to work with a company that can take care of their general pest control needs as well as periphery services, such as rodents, birds, wildlife, mosquitoes, bed bugs, or turf and ornamental services.
Palm Springs Pest Control provides customers with termite, bed bug, bird, bee and lawn and landscape services, said Owner/President Carlos Campos. The company began with general pest control services, then gradually added on. “The first step was to do pest control, then we added landscape, then termites,” he said. Why? “Because that’s what the customer needed. Every time we serviced, they asked about their plants and what was killing them.”
Providing add-on services has been significant in both retaining customers and gaining new ones. “It is a big factor in retaining customers. We offer a variety of services to core customers and get referrals because we are able to provide more services than just pest control,” Campos said.
The add-on services have also made Palm Spring Pest Control more competitive in its marketplace. “It helps in a very positive way because we don’t let companies walk away from us to go to another company that has a service,” he said. And it has led to positive growth as well, with Campos stating that business and profits have increased every year.
WHAT TO OFFER? Mosquito services have been an area that PCOs have found to be of benefit in gaining and retaining customers, particularly in areas where mosquito-borne diseases are a threat. “The Zika scare is driving everyone to think outside the box,” said Univar Public Health Industry Specialist Jason Conrad. Not only is it a service that a PCO can add with minimal cost, but often the same products and equipment can also be used for other public health vector control, such as fleas and ticks.
“I think mosquito control is great for any size company — you are going out to the customer anyway, so you will just be adding only 15 to 20 minutes for mosquito control,” Conrad said.
There also are times that current service can be expanded into an add-on. For example, you may already be providing bed bug services — but can you provide a fumigation option? Even though it is just a small part of its business used only when needed, Collins Pest Management has significantly increased its profits by adding this service with the help of Univar Industry Specialist Jeremy Jackson, who has helped more than 30 pest control companies go into bed bug fumigation service. “I’ve seen companies get a 600 to 700 percent return on investment within six months with bed bug fumigation,” Jackson said.
President Dan Collins said, “I got into commercial fumigation because my competition did it. I try to use IPM first, but sometimes you have to go beyond that. So, I added fumigation as a back-up for those situations where there’s no other answer.”
Because the company focuses almost exclusively on commercial business, Collins has found that he is able to work with other local pest control companies rather than compete with them. When a PCO is faced with a residential bed bug problem that cannot be eliminated by traditional means (such as extremely cluttered homes or apartments of hoarders), it can call Collins for the fumigation, receive a finder’s fee and retain the rest of the residential business. Collins also will refer residential customers to the companies who refer fumigation business to him.
Bed bug fumigation can be an expensive business to add on since it requires an investment in equipment, insurance and training. And it comes with certain restrictions and regulations that the PCO needs to understand ahead of time. But, Collins said, “It is very profitable once you make the investment.”
Intertec Pest Control Owner/President Greg Parker also has seen significant growth adding bed bug fumigation to his service offerings. Even with its higher start-up cost, Intertec’s first year revenue on the service was $190,000, he said. (See related story on page 69.)
This service also can be a higher expense than many customers can afford in a lump payment. But rather than losing those customers or having to wait on split payments himself, Parker contracted with a financial services company with whom customers could finance the service and make regular payments. “I can’t really afford to do it myself, so customers can go to our website and link to the financial company,” he said.
For the vast array of add-on services for which Univar provides assistance, “we’re seeing success across the board,” Conrad said. In fact, it’s not uncommon for an add-on service to increase a PCO’s annual revenue by 30 to 35 percent in a year, he said. “And if you start out and are not doing well, we will help,” Conrad added.
Campos recommends that pest control companies include add-on services from the very start. “If you decide to become an independent operator, you have to go all the way — pest control, termites, landscape,” he said. “You’ll be able to help your customers and have a successful business. Customers like that they can hire one company to do everything.”
UPFDA’s Golden Anniversary
Features - PCT on the Road
Nearly 100 product suppliers and industry stakeholders traveled to Chicago recently to celebrate UPFDA’s 50th anniversary, participating in a combination of educational and social events, topped off by a final night banquet featuring Hall of Fame football player Dan Hampton.
Fifty years ago, in an unremarkable conference room at the Continental Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Ill., a dozen forward-thinking industry professionals accomplished something truly remarkable. They formed the United Pesticides, Formulators & Distributors Association (UPFDA), a trade group representing the diverse interests of product suppliers serving the professional pest management industry.
Five decades later, one member of that distinguished group — Millard Oldham — returned to the “Windy City” to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of an organization that has faithfully advocated on behalf of this critical segment of the industry in both good times and bad.
“UPFDA has evolved over time (including a name change to the United Producers, Formulators & Distributors Association), but it has never strayed from its commitment of representing the interests of distributors, formulators and manufacturers in matters of importance to these key industry stakeholders who have played such an important role in the success of the pest management industry,” observed Executive Director Valera Jessee.
“A 50-year anniversary is pretty special,” she added, particularly for an industry trade group. “It means that an association has proven itself. It has delivered on its promises, adapted to change, and weathered economic ups and downs.” As a way of acknowledging its remarkable history, “we wanted to do something special for this year’s event that would recognize UPFDA’s many contributions to the industry and celebrate all those individuals who have contributed to the success of the organization,” said UPFDA President Karen Furgiuele.
Therefore, unlike previous annual meetings, this year’s Spring Conference featured a gala banquet on the final night of the two-day meeting. In kicking off the evening’s festivities, Furgiuele said, “I’m so proud of everyone for making this 50th anniversary so special because I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be around for the 100th anniversary,” causing the room to erupt in laughter.
The centerpiece of the celebration was an elegant five-course dinner and keynote address at the historic Drake Hotel featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Hampton, whose speech was generously sponsored by Bell Laboratories.
In introducing the all-pro defensive lineman for the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, Steve Levy, president & CEO of Bell Laboratories, said, “It’s only appropriate we have a Hall of Fame speaker since this is a Hall of Fame event.”
In an animated 30-minute address that was at times both humorous and inspirational, Hampton shared his thoughts about what it takes to create a championship-caliber team, whether it be on the gridiron or in the boardroom. “The ’85 Bears were special for a lot of reasons,” including a shared desire to be “the baddest team alive,” he said. “We strived for greatness.”
And there was no greater contributor to that legendary football team than running back Walter Payton, the “spiritual leader” of the Chicago Bears, according to Hampton. “Walter was special,” he said, the hardest working and most dedicated player on the team.
Hampton recalled Payton arriving at the team’s training facility every week bruised and battered after being the focal point of the opposing team’s defense on Sunday. Yet Payton was always the first one on the practice field, leading by example despite his star status. Hampton says he still misses Payton, who passed away in 1999 of a rare liver disease at the age of 45.
Hampton, like Payton, is no stranger to life’s challenges, losing his father in 8th grade and overcoming serious injuries following a 30-foot fall from a tree when he was only 12 years old, which confined him to a wheelchair for five months while he recovered. Hampton’s athletic prowess didn’t become evident until the 11th grade when his high school football coach convinced him to leave marching band to try out for the football team. Once he tasted success on the gridiron, Hampton never looked back, becoming an All-American football player at the University of Arkansas and the fourth overall player selected in the NFL draft in 1979.
Even after his pro football career ended in 1990, Hampton said he wasn’t ready to retire, instead choosing to pursue a new set of goals in his post-football career. “We all need four things in life,” he said. “We need something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for, and that’s where the goals come in. A goal is something that will make you do something exceptional,” a personal philosophy that has allowed Hampton to do just that, with his induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Following a break in the program, allowing Hampton to pose for pictures with conference attendees, Master of Ceremonies Tommy Reeves shared “50 Years of Memories” with his industry colleagues, mixing historical milestones with his patented sense of humor to create new memories for all those in attendance.
“We built this organization from the ground up,” Reeves said. “We’ve had a great run, but we’re nowhere near the finish line. Here’s to 50-plus more years of continued growth for all.”
Following a champagne toast, PCT Publisher Dan Moreland recognized all surviving past presidents of UPFDA with a special 50th Anniversary award recognizing their selfless dedication to the association. “Thank you for your service. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your professionalism,” Moreland said. “You have made a positive difference in the industry and in all of our lives.”
Among the past presidents in attendance at the Chicago event were Millard Oldham, Steve Levy, Rick Veatch, Tommy Reeves, Karen Furgiuele, Tom Eichler, Lon Records, and Tom Forshaw III. Those past presidents unable to attend included Larry Eichler, Bill Kenney and Tom Wright.
EDUCATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS. In addition to the banquet, the UPFDA Spring Conference featured a comprehensive educational program featuring Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, who congratulated UPFDA members on their commitment to the industry. “UPFDA has become a staple in the pest management industry,” he said. “Its strength is in its members. Thank you for coming back to Chicago for your 50th anniversary. May you continue to make our country a safer and better place to live in the next 50 years.”
Following Frerichs on the program was David Crowe, founder and president of DC Legislative & Regulatory Services, who shared his thoughts about the political and regulatory climate in the Trump era.
He indicated that much of the current political divide is a result of the financial crisis of 2008 and political parties that have “lost touch with their base.” In this climate, he said, there was one candidate — Donald Trump — who said, “the system is rigged, you’re getting screwed” and I’m the only one who cares about you.
Crowe said the only comparable time in American history was during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, a political outsider who, like President Trump, vowed to take on the status quo. “He did everything he could as fast as he could to undue (the accomplishments) of John Quincy Adams,” Crowe said. “He tried to keep Washington a small, provincial city.”
As a result, Crowe said, people shouldn’t be surprised by President Trump’s agenda during his first 18 months in office. “It shows his extreme dedication to do what he said he was going to do,” he said.
So, what does the future hold for the mid-terms? Crowe isn’t exactly sure. “I’m one of the few people who knows he doesn’t know,” Crowe said with a laugh. “It’s a crazy, crazy time. Everything about the current era is confusing.”
Following Crowe’s keynote address, Dr. Stanton Cope, vice president of technical products and services for AP&G, discussed the mosquito market, urging PMPs to customize their mosquito services for the account and the region of the country they’re located. Mosquito control, he said, “is not a one-size-fits-all” type of service. “One program in one part of the country is not (necessarily) going to work in another part of the country.”
Cope said “there’s a lot of opportunity” in the mosquito market, particularly for backyard mosquito services, but it requires PMPs to conduct a thorough inspection, identifying common and not-so-common breeding sites in the account. “The best thing you can do if you’re in that yard is to show the customer mosquito larvae. Show the customer what you found.” He also urged technicians to “look up” when conducting inspections. “Some of the biggest issues with backyard mosquito control are clogged gutters and tree holes,” he said.
It’s also important for PMPs to underpromise and overdeliver when performing mosquito work, being sure to position their services as mosquito abatement, not mosquito elimination.
Cope concluded his session by stating that mosquito control is a noble endeavor. “If collectively through our efforts, we prevent one family in New Hampshire from being destroyed by Eastern Equine Encephalitis. If we prevent one child in Thailand from dying a horrible death from hemorrhagic fever, or one expectant mother…from having a child with birth defects…we’ve done our job.”
In yet another session, former U.S. Congressman Bob Dold, a fourth-generation PMP with Rose Pest Solutions, shared his thoughts on “Understanding Consumers of Professional Pest Management Services.” Dold pointed out that the target market for PMPs are women, who make the majority of purchasing decisions in the home.
And today’s women are “leading busy lives,” he said, so it’s up to the industry to make it easy for them to purchase professional pest management services. “We have to make it easy for them to do business with us,” he said. “If a prospective customer tells you, ‘I have to talk to my husband,’ then you haven’t made the sale.”
Dold said PMPs sometimes forget we’re in the people business. “If we’re not connecting with people, we’re the ones who are going to fall by the wayside.” As a result, it’s essential PMPs and product suppliers alike constantly seek feedback both from current and potential customers. “Trying to make yourself relevant is often the key,” he said. “And part of that is understanding your consumer.”
BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS. Prior to the educational sessions, the UPFDA Board of Directors met to discuss the business of the organization. UPFDA Treasurer Cisse Spragins indicated UPFDA’s financial situation is stable thanks to members staying current with their dues and the success of the annual spring conference.
In a related matter, the Board also approved a $1,250 contribution to the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), which will be holding its annual meeting in San Antonio in late August.
AMVAC’s Ron Johnson, representing the Advocacy/Ethics Committee, indicated there are no advocacy or ethics issues at this time requiring UPFDA’s attention, although members remain concerned about the role of Amazon in the sale of illegal or mislabeled pesticides, including the breaking down of bulk packaging so pesticides can be sold in smaller quantities.
MGK’s Scott Riley, who chairs the Liaison Committee, shared that UPFDA will be holding its Fall Board Meeting in conjunction with the ASPCRO Annual Conference, Aug. 20-21, in San Antonio, Texas. “San Antonio is a good location for a meeting and it affords us an opportunity to meet with the regulatory community,” he said.
In addition, Donna Giacalone of Bug Stop Inc., who represents UPFDA on the NPMA Board, said the association recently announced a restructuring of its membership dues, which will take effect in January 2019. She indicated there will be no dues increase for Allied Members.
THANKS FOR COMING. UPFDA Executive Director Valera Jessee said the 50th Anniversary Spring Conference would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of corporate sponsors including: AP&G, AMVAC, BASF Professional & Specialty Solutions, Bayer Environmental Science, BedBug Central, Bell Laboratories, Bug Stop, Inc., Corteva Agriscience, FMC, Gardex Chemicals, Forshaw Distribution, Liphatech, Oldham Chemicals, MGK, Paragon, Neogen, PCT Media Group, PMP magazine, Syngenta Professional Products, Target Specialty Products and Zoëcon/Central Life Sciences.
“We are indebted to each of these organizations for their financial support of the Spring Conference,” she said. “As a result of their generosity, we were able to attract an impressive array of speakers and experience a 20 percent increase in attendance at this year’s conference. The issues we discuss, the relationships we develop, and the products and services we provide, make a positive difference in the industry.”
“Thanks to everyone for wanting to make this such an outstanding event,” added UPFDA President Karen Furgiuele. “This is everyone’s organization, and everyone has worked for its benefit this year.”
In one final piece of news, UPFDA announced its Annual Meeting will be held at NPMA PestWorld on Oct. 24 in Orlando, Fla., and its Annual Spring Conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas, at the Hyatt Riverwalk on April 23-25, 2019.
For additional information about the organization or to become a member, visit the UPFDA website at www.upfda.com or call 770/965-6972.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Entomology Today, a project of the Entomological Society of America with the goal of reporting interesting discoveries in the world of insect science and news from various entomological societies. To learn more, visit www.entomologytoday.org.
We know the moon can do it, but what about a swarm of locusts?
On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, denizens of North America looked skyward to witness a solar eclipse — the first in which the path of totality would cross the contiguous United States since 1979. Those who have witnessed a full solar eclipse say it defies description.
Likewise, those who have witnessed a swarm of locusts say it is also a bewildering sight — deemed a “plague” since biblical times — and popular descriptions often allude to the darkening of the sun in the midst of such a swarm.
So, is it true, or just hyperbole? We turned to an expert entomologist to try to find out.
Hojun Song, Ph.D., is an associate professor of entomology, specializing in arthropod systematics and biodiversity, at Texas A&M University. Among his current research portfolio is a National Science Foundation-funded project examining the evolution of locust species to understand why some form large swarms and others do not. Locusts are a type of grasshopper species that, under the right conditions, shift from a typically solitary lifestyle to a “gregarious” one, in which they gather, breed prolifically and migrate en masse. Two widely studied species are the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) and the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria).
In the course of that work, Song has seen one locust swarm with his own eyes, on Socorro Island in Mexico.
“It was a rather small swarm, but enough to make it a surreal experience,” he says. “You have millions of locusts flying above you. All you hear is their wing flaps. Because it was a small swarm, it was not like a cloud and it certainly did not block the sun.”
But what about the big swarms? Song offers some back-of-the-napkin calculations to estimate whether locusts could genuinely block out the sun:
“A very large swarm can contain up to about 80 million locusts in a square kilometer, and the size of swarm can reach up to several hundred square kilometers. Let’s do some calculation. Each locust is about 6-8 centimeters (cm) in body length, with a wing span of 8-10 cm. For simplicity, let’s just assume that each locust in flight can occupy about 64 square cm (8 cm body x 8 cm wing).
“If there can be as many as 80 million locusts in a square kilometer, that means there can be 8,944 locusts in a linear kilometer (calculation: square root of 80,000,000 = 8944.27191). If we line up all locusts wing to wing, the total length would be 0.71552 kilometers (km) (8,944 x 8 cm = 71552 cm = 715.52 m = 0.71552 km). Likewise, if we line up all locusts from head and abdomen, the calculation will be the same, 0.71552 km.
“This means that the physical area occupied by 80 million locusts, if they are all next to each other horizontally and vertically, is just a little bit over 51 percent of a square kilometer (0.71552 km x 0.71552 km = 0.5119688704 square km).
“Of course, locusts do not fly side by side touching each other’s wings, and the swarm is three dimensional, meaning that some locusts fly above others. Eighty million locusts per square meter is a lot of locusts, but they are not dense enough to block the sun.
“I think that, even with a very large swarm, with the size reaching several hundred square kilometers, you should still be able to see the sun without any issue.”
So, there you have it. A swarm of locusts is no solar eclipse.
But locusts do eat, so the impact that 80 million of them (again, that’s just per one square kilometer) have on vegetation and crops can be hugely destructive. Song’s research seeks to understand the roots of their swarming behavior, in hopes of better informing potential control efforts.
“There are more than a dozen locust species around the world, but we really don’t know much about how and why they swarm, except for two well-studied species, the desert locust and the migratory locust. Swarming locusts have evolved multiple times and different locust species have different mechanisms for forming swarms. And what we have learned from these two species does not necessarily apply to other locust species,” Song says.
“Locusts are the only mass-migrating pests that can have a very quick devastating result to people. In this day and age, we still do not have a very good way to predict and manage these pests. This intrigues me quite a bit,” he added.
Dealing with invasive species in our industry has become more and more common. Some of the more notable ones, such red imported fire ants, Africanized honeybees, Asian lady beetles, brown marmorated stink bugs and Formosan subterranean termites, to name a few, have become common, if not even daily, occurrences for us in the industry. Take a moment to look up only the list of invasive insect species, not counting mammals and reptiles, and it will blow your mind how many of them you deal with all the time. As the world becomes smaller through travel and commerce, the risk of new, non-native species being introduced into the U.S. is always a possibility.
The Turkestan cockroach, Blatta lateralis (Walker), also known as the “red runner” or “rusty red” cockroach, is an invasive species found primarily in the southwestern United States. WAIT! Before you say, “Well, this doesn’t concern me; I don’t live in the Southwest,” read on. Turkestan cockroaches are a native species to areas of the Middle East through Central Asia. Their distribution includes countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, southern Russia, and now, the United States. But, how much of the U.S. they have already moved to and how far can they go, we really don’t know. That’s the thing that can be fascinating and, to some degree, unpredictable when a non-native species is introduced into an environment. How will they adapt to environmental conditions to which they have not been previously exposed? Will the new conditions restrict them or allow them to flourish even more robustly than before? What effect does their emergence have on other established species?
The Turkestan cockroach was first reported in the U.S. in 1978 at Sharp Army Depot in Lathrop, Calif. Shortly thereafter, in 1979, they were reported at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Other reported sightings through the early 1980s in Arizona and Southern California were documented, as far east as Fort McPherson in Georgia in 2005. OK, so let’s put two and two together. Middle East. Military bases. Yep, you guessed it. Transport of military equipment and supplies from the Middle East is the most likely explanation for the initial introduction.
The next question is, “What will the potential distribution pattern across the U.S. look like?” Well, the distribution pattern could be literally as wide as the internet. Turkestan cockroaches have become popular with reptile breeders as a food source for their animals. You can go online and have 25 to 35 Turkestan cockroaches shipped right to your home for less than $10. (Except in Florida, apparently. They think they have quite enough cockroaches already!) The attraction of this species of cockroach is its hardy, easily maintained nature. It is also unable to climb smooth surfaces, and breeds rapidly in large numbers. This could be the first time in history that an invasive urban pest species is widely distributed through the internet by sales of live insects.
So what’s the big deal? It’s just another cockroach, right? Not quite. The Turkestan cockroach has become the primary peridomestic cockroach in the Southwest United State by displacing the Oriental cockroach. This has been achieved in a relatively short amount of time, probably due to the Turkestan’s relatively short time span to mature from an egg to adult. In addition, the female Turkestan will produce many more oothecae during her life span than the Oriental cockroach.
BIOLOGY. Adult females produce between 2 and 25 oothecae over their life span. The male and female nymphs go through five molts, maturing into adults in an average of 222 days. In lab settings, many of the adults live for at least 13 months after being paired together. These reproductive and life span rates under the right conditions may well outcompete other common peridomestic cockroach species, such as the smokybrown and American, as it has done to the Oriental cockroach in the Southwest U.S.
In Arkansas, there has been a dramatic increase in sightings, as well as the size of the populations found since 2013. We went from two known locations (both near a U.S. Air Force base), to 29 cities, with some reporting multiple locations within the city, in 2017. I’m sure there has been some distribution of the species during this time; we also may have improved our identification process, which may contribute to the sudden apparent explosion in sightings.
Most of the information published about Turkestan cockroaches lists outdoor locations as the most common places to find them, such as water meter boxes, center block walls, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants and, occasionally, sewer systems. While this holds true in many cases, we are just as commonly finding them in relatively large numbers on the interior of structures, under and behind baseboards and door frames, wall voids, around hot water tanks and sinks, around floor drains and coolers of bar areas, and even in drop ceilings. Could finding large populations on the interior of structures be an adaptation to the regional environmental conditions?
TREATMENTS. Some of the published material on Turkestan cockroaches, as well as interviews with PMPs in the Southwest U.S., claim bait formulations are readily accepted. In our region (Arkansas) where Turkestan cockroach activity has been found, we have had inconsistent acceptance of baits. Several different gel, granular and dry flowable formulations have been tested. One observation was that only the males would show any interest in the bait, while other populations seem not to be attracted to bait products at all. With bait formulations not performing reliably across the board, we have shifted our treatment strategy to dust formulations, primarily in harborage voids. This approach has provided the most consistent treatment results for our clients. However, the main drawback to this method is the fact that you may flush out 40 to 50 cockroaches that are each 1 to 2 inches long.
CONCLUSION. In our industry, you never know what’s on the horizon. Maybe that’s what makes it so enjoyable for so many of us. It will be interesting to see how Turkestan cockroaches move across the United States over time and adapt. Could they possibly become a mainstay pest in our industry? Or, does Mother Nature’s checks and balances kick in and Turkestan cockroaches fade away into obscurity? Time will tell and lessons will be learned, of that there can be no doubt.
Reference: Life History and Biology of the Invasive Turkestan Cockroach, Tina Kim and Michael K. Rust, Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Issue 6, 1 December 2013, Pages 2428–2432.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.
Christian Wilcox, A.C.E., is the technical director for McCauley Services in Central Arkansas. He is chair of the Copesan Technical Committee, serves on the NPMA Technical Committee and is an ESA member.