2013 Pest Control Conference Focuses on Safety, Latest Technologies and Trends for Professionals
Molly Keck speaking to conferencegoers during the Thursday morning keynote session.
Bart Foster working on identifying an insect during the insect identification challenge portion of the conference. Photo by Rob Williams.
John Muncaster from Polyguard Products talks to a participant about his products during a break. Photo by Rob Williams
David Saunders of Terminix shows the audience the proper way of disposing gloves after working at a job site. Photo by Rob Williams.
BRYAN, Texas -- More than 340 professionals in the pest control management industry gathered at the Brazos Center in early January to learn about the newest laws, regulations and techniques used in the pest control field during the 67th annual Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop.
The conference is held every year to allow pest control professionals to learn about the latest developments in the industry that they can apply to their businesses.
Wednesday’s session began with opening comments from Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale. Ragsdale commended the Urban Entomology group, led by Gold, for helping to keep the pest control industry safe and up to date with new regulations and laws that affect their daily operations.
“This group is an awesome group,” he said. “This conference helps the the more than three thousand businesses in the State of Texas to operate safely and to remain compliant with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the US EPA.”
Ragsdale then updated the audience on the status of the proposed new Urban and Structural Entomology building’s fundraising efforts and on various activities at the Department. After Ragsdale’s introduction, Larry Franke of High Sierra Education Service kicked off the morning sessions with a talk on requirements for apprentices and on the job training requirements for professionals.
The Jim and Marilyn Ivey keynote lecture was led by David Saunders of Terminix. Saunders covered several aspects of safety, including driving safety, electrical hazards, and fall hazards, and how to prevent them at the job site and workplace.
Saunders also covered how to keep safe by wearing the correct personal protective equipment while working. He demonstrated various items such as using respirators in enclosed spaces while applying pesticides and cleaning up at job sites, gloves and how to dispose of them properly, and the right eye and head protection.
Other presentations during the Wednesday session included topics such as insect growth regulators, general weed control, stored product pests and occasional invaders and key tree pests during the drought, as well as an exhibitors’ forum and a presentation on the drinking habits of Termites and pest management options by Niki Gallagher.
Between presentations, conference attendees browsed booths from various industry sponsors in the Exhibitor area of the center. Vendors also answered questions during the Exhibitor’s forum in the afternoon. This is the third year the conference held the Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) training course and exam. Sponsored by the Entomological Society of America, the ACE program is an enhancement to the pest management professionals’ credentials and marketability in the ever-growing pest control industry.
Thursday’s activities started with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Integrated Pest Management Program Specialist Molly Keck speaking on the basics of using social media in promoting their businesses. Professor and Extension Urban Entomologist Mike Merchant then gave an update on various insects that affected turfgrasses in the state.
Several concurrent sessions were also held that included such topics as bed bug research, fire ants and rover ants, cockroach biology and management, as well as structural fumigation. Attendees could also brush up on their insect identification skills by walking through the Entomology Graduate Student Organization’s Insect Identification Workshop and a short lecture led by Danny McDonald on identifying important ants in Texas.
Members also received lots of hands-on experience with three short courses in Rodent Control and exclusion in commercial food establishments, termite biology and control, and fumigation. All of the mini-courses were designed to help pest control professionals receive hands-on experience and learn the latest techniques. Each course consisted of a short classroom lecture mixed with demonstrations with actual equipment specific to the subject.