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Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Techletter, a biweekly training letter for professional pest control technicians from Pinto & Associates.
On a carpenter ant call, one of the main things you need to determine is whether the ants are nesting inside or outside. If you’re able to interview the customer, you can gain a lot of useful information that will point you in the right direction. Here’s a list of nine questions you should ask the customer — and why they’re important — if you have the opportunity:
1. Has your home been treated for carpenter ants before? An earlier treatment may have failed, or a nest might have been missed.
2. When did you first notice the ants? If the indoor activity has been going on for some time, the chances are greater that the ants are nesting inside.
3. How many ants do you see? Large numbers of ants foraging inside makes an indoor nest more likely.
4. Do you see the ants indoors year-round? Ants are not active outside during winter months in cooler climates. If ants are found indoors in the winter, it likely means an indoor nest. In cool climates, if carpenter ants are seen only during warm months, it’s more likely that they are foraging in from outside.
5. Where do you see the ants most often? If ants are regularly in a room that does not have food, there’s probably a nest nearby. If the activity is in a bathroom or near another moisture source, the nest is probably very close. If carpenter ants are mainly seen around an outside kitchen door, they’re probably coming in from outside looking for food.
6. Have you had any wet wood, broken pipes or a leaky roof in the last year or two? If so, where? A structure that has had water-damaged wood or moisture problems is much more likely to be infested by carpenter ants than a building that is dry. Even after the moisture problem is resolved, carpenter ants can continue to nest in the softened wood.
7. Have you seen any ants with wings inside? If carpenter ant alates (swarmers) are seen inside, the nest is almost certainly within the structure. It would be rare for swarmers from an outside nest to end up inside. An indoor nest that produces swarmers has probably been there for at least three years.
8. Have you heard any strange noises inside the walls? Carpenter ants in the nest make a rustling sound sort of like crinkling cellophane. If you hear this with your ear next to a wall, you’ve found the nest.
9. Have you noticed any little piles that look like sawdust? If so, where? Carpenter ants keep their nest galleries clean by pushing excavated wood, dead insects and other debris out through a tiny slit. These “dump piles” are usually located just below the nest site. If no dump piles are found, it doesn’t necessarily mean the nest is not inside. The piles could be inside a wall void and not visible to the customer or the PMP.
The authors are well-known industry consultants and owners of Pinto & Associates, publishers of Techletter.
Since the dawn of man on earth, flies have been the bane of his existence. They have taken his blood, contaminated his food, transmitted his diseases, generally annoyed him and disturbed his peace of mind. Flies are the fourth largest order of insects on earth, totaling more than 160,000 species. A number of species can be found in urban environments, and a few species, including small flies and filth flies, are common pests in and around structures.
Pest management professionals play an extremely important role in public health, which includes fly control. The management of flies in and around structures is just one aspect of the valuable services pest control companies provide.
PCT’s Virtual Fly Control Conference, to be held June 24, will offer tips to minimize fly infestations in and around homes and businesses. Cost to attend the event is $99.
Pest management professionals can attend from their home or office. Sessions and speakers include:
In this comprehensive educational session, Board Certified Entomologist Stoy Hedges will offer practical advice into the biology, behavior, identification and control of the most commonly encountered species of small flies and filth flies. With more than 40 years of practical field experience servicing restaurants, multi-family housing, commercial kitchens and food-processing facilities, Hedges is uniquely qualified to provide valuable tips and tricks to pest management professionals for successfully managing these ubiquitous pests.
In this informative session, learn how Cook’s Pest Control sells and services its mosquito control customers. Speaker Kristen Stevens received both her master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, where she was a student of Dr. Phil Koehler conducting cutting-edge mosquito control research.
By Brad Harbison
Bob Richardson, staff entomologist at McCarthy Pest Control, St. Charles, Mo., was announced as the winner of this year’s PCT Best Pest Photo Contest for his photo of a feather-legged fly taken at the University of Missouri Extension Center, St. Peters, Mo.
“I really like photographing insects there because the master gardeners grow such a wide variety of flowers and plants that draw insects in,” said Richardson, an associate certified entomologist (ACE).
Richardson, who used a Nikon Full Frame D600 (with a Sigma 150 mm macro lens) to photograph the fly, said there are two outstanding features of this photo. “The colors on the male are outstanding, and I really like the way the feathers on the legs came out in the photograph.”
One of our judges also was impressed with the detail in this photo, noting that the angle at which it was taken “gives the image an opportunity to breathe. It brings an ‘artistic feel’ to the image.”
With feather-legged flies, Richardson said, the females will deposit their eggs on a stink bug (usually); the larvae will then burrow into the stink bug and feed, which will kill the stink bug.
A 48-year industry veteran, Richardson had been a finalist in the PCT photo contest four straight years. “I purchased the equipment to photograph insects a number of years ago, and I have been perfecting my style over the years. The insect world can be quite beautiful and when you combine that with flowers and other [environments] where insects can be found, the results can be stunning. I was hooked immediately,” he said.
Richardson wins $500 from PCT. In addition to the winning photo, finalist photos are showcased in the following photo review.
By Brad Harbison
Despite fears related to the COVID-19 outbreak, just under 400 industry professionals made their way to our nation’s capital in early March for the National Pest Management Association’s Legislative Day, lead sponsored by FMC. This attendance mark is comparable to most Legislative Day events (normally just over 400), according to NPMA.
As NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf noted, “For more than 30 years NPMA has hosted Legislative Day to provide our members with an opportunity to have candid conversations about the issues impacting their businesses on a daily basis. The impact that these meetings have is priceless.”
Throughout the two-day event, NPMA members met with their respective committees, heard from high-profile keynote speakers about political issues in Washington, and visited their congressional representatives to make their voices heard on a pair of important issues that impact them and their business. Highlights included:
RAISING AWARENESS. Legislative Day attendees encouraged their congressional representatives to federalize pesticide preemption and oppose the ILLICIT CASH Act.
Preemption. Regarding preemption, for a number of years NPMA and other groups, have been urging Congress to codify the exclusive role of state lead agencies as pesticide co-regulators with EPA. Currently, 44 states have preemption, meaning the state lead agency preempts the local government when it comes to determining how pest control products and services are employed. In states without preemption (Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky [for ag uses only], Maine, Maryland and Nevada) localities in these states can and do have different regulations. This impacts the ability of the pest control industry to do business, and creates a patchwork of regulations in places pest management professionals may work in a given day or week.
NPMA Director of Public Policy Jake Plevelich said it was important to federalize the issue because many states that do have preemption are vulnerable. For example, Plevelich mentioned that Colorado legislators will be considering a bill to repeal that state’s preemption law, and that EnviroPest President Kevin Lemasters will be attending an upcoming hearing about that bill.
ILLICIT CASH Act Opposition. Attendees also asked their congressional representatives to oppose S. 2563, “The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings Act (ILLICIT CASH Act).” This bill would require small businesses with 20 or fewer employees to provide personally identifying information to the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
GRAHAM, HORNER RECOGNIZED. NPMA used Legislative Day to recognize a pair of women who have made significant contributions to the pest management industry.
Suzanne Graham, director of government affairs, Massey Services, was recognized with the FMC Legislative Day award.
The award is presented annually to individuals who have distinguished themselves in the pest management industry through various activities — particularly legislative involvement — and through their contributions to advancing the industry.
Graham has been active in regulatory and legislative issues for both the National Pest Management Association and the Florida Pest Management Association. This includes developing and nurturing relationships in the important homebuilding sector. In 2019 she was inducted into the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) Hall of Fame and was presented with NPMA’s Women of Excellence Award at PestWorld 2019.
Dan Carrothers, commercial director for FMC North American Professional Solutions, recognized Graham with the award, commenting, “To say Suzanne is deserving of this award is a complete understatement.” Carrothers added that Graham has “dedicated 25 years of her life to bettering the industry.”
Graham was unable to attend Legislative Day this year due to illness, but Massey Services’ Adam Jones accepted the award on her behalf.
Marie Horner, Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, Ga., was recognized as the fifth PestVets ‘Veteran of the Year,’ during NPMA Legislative Day.
A veteran of the United States Air Force, Horner has been involved in the pest control industry for nearly 20 years, including the last five with Arrow Exterminators, where she serves as vice president of government affairs and industry stewardship.
FMC’s Tom Wharton recognized Horner, the first female recipient of the award, prior to the Legislative Day luncheon and keynote debate featuring Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, noting that Horner is “dedicated to supporting homeless and disabled veterans through her volunteer work at Servant Center, a non-profit transitional housing program dedicated to improving the lives of veterans, and giving back as a mentor to the Queen’s Foundation,” a statewide non-profit to help transform the lives of young, underserved middle and high school women in North Carolina.
Arrow Exterminators CEO Emily Thomas Kendrick accepted the award for Horner, who was unable to attend because she had recently fractured her heel after a misstep that occurred while she was filming cockroaches.
NPMA’s PestVets was created five years ago and its goal is to promote the recruitment of veterans to member companies and supports those recruitment efforts through various industry education and training opportunities. Prior to the presentation, NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf discussed NPMA’s PestVets program, noting that for this year’s PestVets “Day of Service” at PestWorld, the group did cleanup work on the USS Midway in San Diego.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS. Several business-related sessions were held during Legislative Day. NPMA’s Allie Allen moderated a panel discussion on hiring and retaining employees titled “Winning the War on Talent.” The panel included Sara Cromwell, Abell Pest Control, Etobicoke, Ontario; Leila Haas, Sprague Pest Solutions, Tacoma, Wash; and Daniele Collinson, B.O.G. Pest Control, Edgewater, Md. PCT Publisher Dan Moreland shared results of a pest control industry workplace satisfaction survey by PCT and NPMA that was sponsored by BASF.
PCT and BASF recognized Technicians of the Year Alonzo Ferguson, Massey Services, Orlando, Fla.; Jake Vollink, Rose Pest Solutions, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Robert Woodson, ABC Home & Commercial Services, Corpus Christi.
Legislative Day was capped off by congressional visits and MGK’s Headquarters on the Hill, which included appearances by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson.
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With the upcoming Presidential election, NPMA assembled a lineup of Washington insiders to provide their insights, including an FMC-sponsored keynote debate between Politico’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Sherman, who recently spent time on the campaign trails of both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, said the Democratic Party is gambling that whoever they nominate will be able to “rev up” the Democratic base to “get rid” of President Donald Trump, and that the President’s base is “equally revved up” to keep him in office. He says the 2020 campaign will be decided by that 5 to 10 percent of voters who will have to determine if they believe the central argument of Trump’s candidacy and presidency, which is “he was uniquely qualified to do the things that other people could not, would not, or were unqualified to do.”
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Washington Post op-ed columnist Michael Gerson also discussed today’s political climate in a session sponsored by Corteva Agriscience. Dean said that if Biden wins the nomination, his choice of a running mate will be important and he needs to appeal to the Democratic coalition, which includes women, minorities and voters under 35. Dean also said that he is looking forward to seeing how millennials will reshape the political landscape in coming years. In many instances, he said, even those who favor liberal positions on issues like climate change and gay rights, may turn away from the Democratic Party because they want to shrink the size of government and they don’t like big institutions.
David Wasserman, house editor for the Cook Political Report, provided his political observations in a keynote presentation sponsored by Control Solutions, Inc. One of Wasserman’s claims to fame was a 2016 article in which he explained how Trump could win the White House while losing the popular vote. Wasserman shared some of his methods for gauging how a certain geographical segment of people will vote. For example, his research showed that Democratic candidates did well in areas that had Whole Foods, while Republican candidates performed well in areas where Cracker Barrel restaurants were located.
Copesan Services announced an $8,750 contribution to two key charitable organizations providing scholarship funds and research support to the pest management industry — Pi Chi Omega and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Foundation for research — through its annual charity raffle.
Sponsored by Syngenta, the 2020 fundraising raffle was held in conjunction with February’s Copesan/Terminix Commercial National Accounts Conference, in San Diego. This event was attended by members of the Copesan Partner network, pest management suppliers, and National Accounts staff attendees who raised $4,375. “We’re honored to be able to give back to the important research and education initiatives these organizations support thanks to the continued generosity of the many Copesan, Terminix and industry attendees together last month,” said Aric Schroeder, VP of National Accounts for Copesan and Terminix Commercial.
Copesan matched the amount raised in San Diego for a total donation of $8,750 to be equally divided between Pi Chi Omega and the NPMA Pest Management Foundation for research. Pi Chi Omega, a pest management professional fraternity, provides multiple scholarships each year to deserving entomology students at universities across the country and around the world. The Foundation has been providing grants for the research, development and refinement of pest management tools and techniques for over 30 years.