Mattress Bugs: We’ve Realized a Factor or Two – PCT


Dr. Austin Frishman’s first job in the industry was as a service technician for Clover Exterminators. Here he shows his work shirt from those early days.

Mark Goodman, Regional Operations Manager for Plunkett’s Pest Control, shared a number of interesting case studies in a session titled “Troubleshooting Difficult Pest Problems”.

During the three day event, the training sessions were full.

During the three day event, the training sessions were full.

A PMP signs a card that Dr. Michael Potter is congratulated on retiring from the University of Kentucky.

Melinda Howells, Executive Director of KPMA, invited PMPs to sign a card on which Dr. Michael Potter has been congratulated on his upcoming resignation from the University of Kentucky.

Consultant Stoy Hedges hosted the “Cockroach House of Learning,” a multi-hour training session dedicated to one of the most important pests in the industry.

Ted Bruesch, Technical Support Manager at Liphatech, reported on “Lessons in Rodent Control of a Life” in his well-attended training session.

Tom Myers, owner of All-Rite Pest Control, discussed Defensive Termite Inspection and Documentation on the first day of the 49th Annual Short Course on Pest Control at the University of Kentucky.

Zach DeVries, assistant professor of urban entomology, told attendees he is excited about his new role at the University of Kentucky.

KPMA recognized Gary Blankenship, owner of Guarantee Pest Control, Lexington, Kentucky, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The University of Kentucky Pest Course Short Course recognized its corporate sponsors with signs in the exhibit hall.

KPMA President Keith Smith thanked Dr. Michael Potter for years of selfless service to the industry.

Rick Cooper, Senior Director of Technical Services at Terminix International, hosted a training session on Pest Identification for Non-Entomologists.

Dr. Michael Potter and Mrs. Ellen.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” – the subject of this year’s short pest control course at the University of Kentucky – could not have been more appropriate. That’s because the man in charge of leading one of the best regional pest control conferences in North America, Dr. Michael Potter, himself an industrial giant.

However, after 29 years as manager of the short course, Potter recently announced his retirement. While a firm retirement date has not yet been set, it will come sometime next year so that Potter and his wife Ellen can move to Eugene, Oregon to be closer to their adult children.

“I will retain the status of professor emeritus in our department (a vacant position) but will not maintain a physical presence in Lexington or the day-to-day duties of the department,” he wrote in an email after the conference.

“We didn’t make this decision lightly,” said Potter. In fact, he has been working on a succession plan with the university for the past two years, based on Dr. Zach DeVries, a protégé of Dr. Coby Scarf at North Carolina State University, culminating in Potter’s role as chair of the conference. In February, DeVries accepted a tenure track position as an assistant professor of urban entomology at the university.

During the opening ceremonies of this year’s conference, Keith Smith, President of the Kentucky Pest Management Association (KPMA) thanked Potter for his “generous contributions” to the industry and presented the avid fly fisherman with a trip to Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge in Emigrant, Mont as a token of appreciation for his work in support of the association. The five-day trip includes a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park and the Snake River.

Potter said joining the University of Kentucky was “the best decision of my life” and KPMA members had become his extended family. “Whatever good we did, we did it together,” he said. While Potter said he will miss running the conference, the university is in “really, really good hands” thanks to DeVries’ appointment.

“We feel like we have (recruited) the best young urban entomologist in the US, apart from none,” said Potter. “Zach works on all major living things so he will be of great help to this state.”

For his part, DeVries said he was excited about the prospect of building on Potter’s legacy and “continuing to advance the pest control industry. I really hope to follow in (Mike Potter’s) footsteps as best I can. ”

In other news, KPMA presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Gary Blankenship, owner of Guarantee Pest Control, Lexington, Kentucky. Recognizing the second generation PMP, KPMA Director Chris Christensen said, “When I think of Gary Blankenship, I think of selfless service to families and industries. Gary has always been a leader in our industry. ”

Blankenship has been the chairman of the association’s Pest Control Fund since 1996. In closing, Christensen said, “Gary and his wife, Lucy run a great business and are benevolent benefactors of a great group of employees.”

To kick off the educational portion of the program, Potter said the themes and speakers for this year’s short course were the “strongest” in his 29 years of working with the conference. “It is possible to see further when you stand on the shoulders of giants,” he noted, “and this year’s speakers are really giants in the pest control industry.”

The keynote speakers for the three-day event were Industry Advisor Stoy Hedges, who hosted a “Roach Control House of Learning,” and Industry Veteran Ted Bruesch of Liphatech, who shared “Lessons of a Lifetime” in rodent control.

“I started out in this business as a pest control technician (for Wil-Kil Pest Control),” Bruesch told participants so that he could understand the challenges the service staff face on a daily basis.

Bruesch said rodents are formidable enemies, but they’re not as smart as many PMPs think. “I hear all the time that I have a smart rat, but I don’t consider rodents particularly smart,” he said. “Your brain is the size of a lima bean and our brain weighs three pounds,” giving people a distinct intellectual advantage. Rodents have simply evolved over time and adopted unique behavioral traits that have enabled them to survive. According to Bruesch, three behaviors in particular have served them well and enabled them to survive. They include:

1. Neophobia: Rodents are naturally hideous animals. When PMPs introduce something new into their environment, such as a bait station, “they probably shy away from it,” notes Bruesch. “What can you do to get around this behavior? Bait, kill and repeat, ”he said. “I want you to think of a bait station as a source of food, not a bait station.”

2. Social hierarchy: “In a (rodent) colony, you will have a dominant man and a group of dominant women,” he said. These “alpha” rodents have access to most food and shelter because of their superior physical properties. Subordinates (“betas”) are in second place in the pecking order and “omegas” in third place. “The goal is to get rid of the alphas,” said Bruesch, by aggressively baiting and then eliminating subsequent rodents that filled that void and eventually collapsed the colony.

3. Food areas: By understanding the feeding areas of rats and mice, PMPs place bait stations in the right place. “When you’re dealing with mice, you have to put bait stations close together,” he said. “When it comes to rats, you really want these stations to be full (of bait).”

Regardless of the challenges: “I really believe that every rodent problem has a solution. You have to take the fight to the animal, “urged Bruesch. “You have to be aggressive.”

In one of the more informative sessions of the three-day event, Mark Goodman, Plunkett’s Pest Control Regional Operations Manager, shared a number of interesting case studies in a session entitled “Troubleshooting Difficult Pest Problems.” Goodman recalled a situation where a technician could not control a maggot problem in a large egg production facility.

“They called because maggots were crawling into their production area, a high stress situation,” he said. Visiting the account, Goodman asked the usual questions, but nothing turned out to be particularly unusual until he dropped to his hands and knees and began checking the silicone seals along a sterile hallway. “Eventually we found a plate on one wall with some loose silicone on it, creating a gap that led outside (the facility). Maggots climbed from a chicken manure outside and through the seal up a drainpipe. ” Lesson learned? “Sometimes you need to expand your scope a little,” Goodman said.

Other speakers on the star-studded program included Dr. Austin Frishman, owner of AMF Pest Management Consulting; Tom Myers, owner of All-Rite Pest Control; Rick Cooper, senior director of technical services at Terminix International; Marty Morgan, business development manager at Douglas Products; Mike Holcomb, Consulting Entomologist, Technical Instructions; Pete Markham, President of A-Mark Pest & Bird Management; Ray Johnson, founder of Johnson Pest Control; Dr. Michael Potter, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky; Stephen Gates, vice president of technical services at Cook’s Pest Control; Dan Collins, regional technical director, McCloud Services; Dr. Zach DeVries, Assistant Professor of Urban Entomology, University of Kentucky; and Gary Sigrist, CEO and President of Safeguard Risk Solutions.

The main sponsors of this year’s event included BASF Corporation and Oldham Chemicals. Other sponsors were AP&G, Nisus, Bell Laboratories, Syngenta, Bayer and Corteva Agriscience.

The University of Kentucky’s 50th Annual Short Pest Control Course is scheduled for November 10-12. Visit for future updates and registration information.

The author is the editor of the PCT magazine.