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Let’s face it. Movies about bugs don’t make it to the big screen very often. However, many of the most recent insect-related films have Marvel to thank for making them come to life. Both the Ant-Man and Spider-Man franchises are currently producing films, but it was Ant-Man that was the subject of a new movie in July. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the follow-up to 2015’s “Ant-Man,” takes place in the Marvel Universe between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” The sequel hit theaters in early July.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” tells the story of Ant-Man superhero Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his new partner Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), aka the Wasp. The Wasp is the daughter of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, entomologist and original 1963 comic book Ant-Man. While Ant-Man is adjusting to his life as a superhero, he is partnered with the Wasp and given an urgent mission to rescue Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp. He once again dons his size-changing suit and must now learn to fight alongside his new partner.
MARVEL’S INSECT MANIA. Marvel fans are evidently curious about insect-inspired heroes and villains, as a number have been featured prominently throughout the Marvel Universe, both on television and in comic books. Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Yellowjacket, Dragonfly, Mantis and the Human Fly are just a few.
In Ant-Man’s case (and now the Wasp’s), his powers come from his physics-defying suit, which allows him to shrink down to the size of an ant while growing his strength exponentially. Plus, Ant-Man has a way with electronics and can telepathically communicate with other insects. But what makes the Ant-Man franchise truly special is that it highlights the unique abilities of ants, which will undoubtedly be of interest to PCT readers.
Just as Lang can pack a mean punch and topple bad guys in his tiny ant form, ants have a reputation for being uncharacteristically strong for their size — able to lift anywhere from 10 to 200 times their body weight, depending on the species. In fact, researchers for the Journal of Biomechanics report that the neck joint of a common American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times the ant’s weight.
Will Ant-Man be able to withstand the pressure of a mysterious new villain called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who is intent on taking over the world? Your guess is as good as mine.
MOVIE NIGHT. Marvel’s strategic release date for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” falls after “Avengers: Infinity War,” even though the events of the sequel take place before the newest Avengers film. Perhaps the studio hopes this placement will act as a sort of lighthearted remedy to the grim ending of the latest movie in the Avengers franchise (don’t worry, no spoilers if you still haven’t seen it, but be warned).
So head to the theater in July or August and find out if some fun and entertaining action with “Ant-Man and the Wasp” will improve your thoughts and feelings toward these critters we dedicate so much time and effort to keeping at bay.
The author is an Ohio-based writer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was at one of our neighborhood associa-tion get-togethers recently, and the subject of ticks came up. I explained yes, tick dis- eases have increased over the last few years, and it was a good idea to wear insect repellent when outside. One neighbor told me her daughter, after “much research,” developed her own all-natural insect repellent that works great and isn’t full of “nasty chemicals.”
I reiterated that the CDC and EPA have ex- tensively evaluated those repellents approved by EPA for safety and efficacy and most home-made repellents have little to no efficacy. She got mad at me! “My daughter knows what she’s talking about, and she knows it works!” she told me. While it may have been safe and maybe worked for her daughter, that certainly didn’t make it safe or effective for everyone else. You have probably been in the same position, so here are some of my favorite “home remedy myths” and any science behind them.
SONIC DEVICES. Sonic devices come up when I talk to people about pests in their homes. These have been around for decades and are sold in home improvement, big box stores and, of course, online. Decades of research have shown they have little to no effect against a wide array of pests. Kansas State University and Texas A&M have both done the research. Dr. Roger Gold from Texas A&M University was quoted in one article that he has “yet to see one work.” While some models claim to repel multiple species, I saw one that had a different size for mice, ants and cockroaches. The marketing sign said to make sure to buy at least one of each for each room in your house!
CINNAMON. I was in a home not too long ago that was having an ant issue. In the pantry, the homeowner had liberally spread cinnamon powder over much of the shelves and all around the edges of the floor. He must have bought out the local warehouse store of all their cinnamon! Out of curiosity, I asked how long the problem had been going on for and how long he had been treating it himself. He replied, “two months.” I refrained from asking how well it was working. If you Google ants and DIY, there are numerous websites touting the use of cinnamon powder, lemon juice and vinegar. There is research that actually shows these can work. The problem is the levels of oil that you need for any type of meaningful control are very high, much higher than you can achieve by dusting or spraying your kitchen.
As for liquids like vinegar, they do help clean up and mask the pheromone trails that ants leave, but most evidence shows it is a temporary fix and ants will soon be right back. So while there is some science backing up the claim for efficacy at massive levels, the practicality of achieving control is a myth.
BORIC ACID. Many DIY recipes call for mixing boric acid with water (and sometimes sugar) for cockroaches. This myth actually has some fact behind it. Cockroaches that feed on boric acid do die. Unfortunately, most applications by non-PMPs are misapplied. People use WAY too much, which cockroaches avoid, or they apply it in the wrong places, so cockroaches never come in contact with it. It is fact that it will work, but it is myth that the “average” person will get reasonable control when applying it themselves.
BED BUGS & LAVENDER? As I was research- ing this column, I came across one that I had never heard of before. A blog claimed “lavender oil is a characteristic blood sucker repellent.” While I could find nothing to back up the claim on bed bugs, a research paper out of Italy earlier this year showed limited efficacy (at high levels) against kissing bugs. Due to the lack of any type of published scientific research, this one falls squarely in the myth column!
FINAL THOUGHTS. As professionals, we have the ability to protect people’s families, homes and health. That service isn’t free. Yet there are numerous examples that say DIY pest control can save you money. Some money-saving “experts” say you can save by doing pest control yourself. But with all the products I see people buy (and the inevitable calls after months of fruitless attempts), how much do consumers really save by attempting it? Many of us have likely seen the person in front of us at the checkout line buying multiple cans of “bug bombs” (Home Depot 3-pack for $9.97!) which can work if used in the appropriate manner for the appropriate target pest. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the news reports when things go very wrong with these DIY products.
While we can do our best to educate our customers and explain the value of our services, there will always be those that choose to believe they can do it better and cheaper themselves. To that end, the quote by American oil well firefighter Red Adair sums it up: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
The author is Rollins’ technical services manager.
As pest management professionals, we are not new to bed bugs. In fact, 99.6 percent of pest professionals have encountered bed bugs in the past year, according to research from NPMA and the University of Kentucky. As we have learned, heat treatments continue to be the most effective method when eliminating bed bugs, especially heavy infestations.
Even though heat treatment services are the most effective solution to bed bug problems, common mistakes can occur when performing these treatments, potentially resulting in a heat treatment failure.
The next time you are preparing a heat treatment service, consider these five tips to guarantee the first bed bug heat treatment gets the job done.
1. Know your equipment. It is key to ensure the equipment you are using is equipped to heat the space you are treating. Remember, the equipment has space and size limitations. If you are attempting to treat a space larger than the recommended capabilities, additional equipment will be needed. Ensure you are familiar with the equipment and check with the manufacturer for specific capabilities.
2. Examine the structure. When searching for physical evidence of bed bugs, it is important to focus on the type of materials used to make up the structure. If a space has concrete floors, it is much harder to raise and hold the lethal temperatures. Concrete absorbs heat, so it takes time to heat the space to 135°F and keep it there. Other elements, such as if a room has air flow, will also aid in a heat treatment’s success.
3. Investigate the space. When pest control professionals get a call for bed bugs, the first step is to go to the residence to investigate the situation. It is important to search every piece of furniture to verify what is infested. It is also important to inspect rooms or apartments to the left, right, above and below the space. Bed bugs are known to transfer easily, even through wall voids.
4. Prepare homeowners and residents. It is very important to prepare residents before a bed bug heat treatment takes place. By providing a pre-treatment checklist, you can ensure that residents will have their homes ready and will know what to expect before and after the treatment.
Verify that the checklist you provide to clients includes all pertinent information for bed bug heat treatments. Confirm that the checklist states that certain items like aerosols are removed and that the home is free of clutter prior to the treatment. The resident should not have any trash, food left out, pet waste or other unsanitary items present. The easier it is to access the bed bug infestation, the more successful the treatment will be. It is also helpful to conduct a walk-through with the client before the treatment so they are aware of what items will need to be cleaned or moved.
Always be honest and open with your clients. Realistic expectations will allow everyone involved to fully understand the treatment and next steps. For clients with severely infested units, be sure to communicate that additional treatments may be required for complete control.
5. Give recommendations to clients after the heat treatment is performed. As important as the pre-treatment checklist is, the post-checklist is just as critical to overall success. Among other things, clients must know that whatever items were taken with them on the day of treatment must be washed in a washer and dryer upon arriving home. This will ensure that if any bed bugs were present on the items when they were removed, they are properly treated and eliminated upon their return to the environment.
With bed bugs out of the infested home, it is also important to investigate where the client may have picked up these bed bugs. Playing detective is a great way to ensure the client does not encounter the same infestation and bring bed bugs back to their home again.
CONCLUSION. Keeping these tips in mind, your next bed bug heat treatment service is positioned for success. Knowing your equipment’s capabilities and providing clear communication and realistic expectations to the client is key and will ultimately make all the difference in a treatment’s overall success.
Jared Woerth is special services manager for Wil-Kil Pest Control. He is also a current director and past board president of the Wisconsin Pest Control Association.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.