How does being a certified entomologist help you in your profession at Modern Pest?
I believe that being a certified entomologist gives me more credibility when working with clients. It’s another level beyond state required certification.
What are some of the things you look for when identifying different types of insects?
It varies greatly with the specific specimen you are looking at. We look at things like coloring, the shape of the body, number of nodes between body segments on ants, antenna shape, length, the number of segments. We ask questions like, does the antennae form a club at the end? We analyze things like wing length, the structure of the veins in the wings, and many other details like that. Each insect has specific unique characteristics that are crucial for identification purposes.
Have you ever come across anything you could not identify?
Absolutely. Some things are extremely difficult to ID. Mites are a great example of that. In those situations, there are resources available to assist with identification. To begin with, we have two other certified entomologists on our team. There are also numerous outside resources available through other industry contacts, such as the National Pest Management Association. We also utilize the UMaine Cooperative Extension, which can provide assistance as well as verification of what I believe a specimen to be. I may not always be 100% confident in my ID, and at times, need to get another opinion.
What types of insects are dangerous to people in Northern New England?
That’s kind of a tough question, as many insects can be “dangerous” to some extent or another. We don’t have a lot of insects in New England that most people would think of as being dangerous. We do occasionally encounter black widow spiders which usually are shipped in on fruits, building materials, etc. but there is actually a species of black widow, the Northern Widow, that is native to New England, that we find occasionally. Realistically the most dangerous insect in the world is actually the mosquito, due to their ability to spread diseases. We had low numbers of incidents of serious disease transmission from mosquitoes in New England, but it does occur. Things such as EEE and West Nile. Ticks also are a serious health concern because they spread Lyme disease, which can be a very debilitating disease, particularly if not diagnosed in a timely manner. Powassan is another virus spread by ticks that is quite rare, but there was actually a case in Maine in 2013 that caused the death of a woman in the Camden area.
There are many insects that, in large infestations, can trigger asthma and emotional stress. This can be caused by an infestation of roaches, bedbugs, or similar insects, and can have serious indirect health effects on some people.
Are there any types of insects that are beneficial to humans?
Yes absolutely, we’ve all heard the stories about honey bees and how important they are for pollination of crops, but in fact, most types of bees, wasp, etc. contribute to pollination and can be considered beneficial. They should only be considered a pest when their location causes issues when interacting with people. There are many insects that are beneficial in gardens. For example, insects are frequently part of the diet of other animals, like birds and rodents and. Even termites or carpenter ants that we basically think of as a structural damaging pest can be beneficial in a natural environment. Insects should only be considered to be a pest when they are in a place where it is undesirable for them to be.
What are some things people can look for to help them spot an insect issue?
There are obvious simple things, such as just noticing their presence, like carpenter ants foraging inside your house, but beyond the physical sighting of insects most leave some sort of tell-tale signs of their presence. Often that would be the presence of their droppings, shed skins or larval cases, blood spots on bedding from bedbugs, webbing inside of a container of food product, etc.
Why can’t people just treat their own issues with all the products available off the shelf?
It’s important that people understand that all pesticides pose some risk. Even natural or organic products that are used as pesticides can be hazardous if not used properly. Not all pesticides work effectively against all pests. Identification of the pest, and understanding their biology and habits are an important part of controlling a pest infestation.
Our team members are thoroughly trained in all of these areas and know what products to use, where and how to apply them in an effective manner while minimizing the risk to people and pets.
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After all the years you’ve been doing this, how often does something surprise you?
You just never know what you’ll encounter from one day to the next. After decades in the pest management industry in New England it’s not too often that I am surprised but it could happen anytime. With the global economy of goods and people easily traveling around the world now, it’s very easy for insects to be introduced that we’ve never encountered in the past. I think about the vessel that came into Portland Harbor several years ago infested with weaver ants, the couple of occasions of finding drywood termites, or the Asian Needle Ants that we dealt with last year in a restaurant in southern Maine.
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None of these are insects that you would typically expect to encounter in New England. There are many insects that we do deal with now that we really didn’t encounter years ago when I started in this industry. I actually enjoy that aspect of my profession. There have been a few times where we have found pests that just shouldn’t have been here, such as European Red Ants, and there really was no protocol for how to manage them. I had to develop a program specifically for them. The protocol I developed for them is highly effective and is now what is recommended for treatment by a leading researching at the University of Maine at Orono (UMO).
There has been a lot of press lately about the use of pesticides and their dangers. What aren’t we being told by the media?
We aren’t told about the benefits of pesticides, the fact that the proper use of pesticides as part of an integrated pest management program (IPM) is essential to protect our food supply as well as people’s health and property. The judicious use of pesticides can be credited with saving millions of lives by controlling insects such as mosquitoes that vector disease. The biggest danger from most pesticides is actually the misuse by people who aren’t trained and don’t understand how to use them properly.
What’s the advantage of preventative maintenance over just calling someone as needed?
An ongoing preventive program of IPM reduces the need to apply pesticides. It helps to identify conducive conditions that a pest is likely to be attracted to, gain entry through, or develop in, so those conditions can be corrected before a pest infestation develops. Frequent, regularly scheduled inspections help to identify pest activity when populations are smaller and easier to manage. Based on this type of information from an ongoing program we can assist our clients to help maintain their homes and businesses in a pest free manner while reducing the reliance on pesticide applications. If you wait until an infestation is present it will take more time, material and will mean increased cost associated with eliminating the pest.
What’s the craziest pest situation you’ve ever encountered?
Wow! After 38 years that’s actually a very difficult question. I’ve seen lots of weird things and situations that would probably be difficult for most people to even imagine.
I’ve seen cockroach infestations that were so bad that the roaches were pouring out of moldings around ceilings and dropping on the floor like it was raining roaches while it was being treated.
I’ve also seen a bedbug infestation that was so bad that they were inside the kitchen cabinets. There was also the minivan that was completely loaded with roaches. There was also the time where rats had overrun a store that had been closed for a year and all of the products, (groceries, etc.), had been left on the shelves. It looked like a bomb had gone off from the damage the rats had done. While we were doing service there the rats were running all around us and you could hear them inside of the walls and ceilings. It was so bad that they had become scattered all through the neighborhood and were scurrying through the parking lot in the middle of the day. It was bad enough that they held a special town meeting where I had to go to discuss our plan to deal with the rat situation. I won’t say it was bad, but let’s just say that a state inspector who met us at the site wouldn’t go inside the building with us.
If you are considering receiving help to manage a pest issue, Modern’s professionals are courteous, knowledgeable and highly trained. But what customers’ value most is that Modern’s professionals show up on time, call ahead on appointments and explain the work that they do – each time. Call 1-800-323-7378 or go online for a quote today!