Plan Now for This Summer's Pests

Old solutions are being phased out; new technologies are arriving.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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It may still be the dead of winter (at least for you northerners), but it’s the perfect time to meet with your pest management contractor to make a plan to control this spring’s and summer’s bugs and rodents.

“We’re coming through the coldest months and looking forward to spring – so will the insects,” says Jim Sargent, director of technical support and regulatory compliance at Copesan Services Inc. (www.copesan.com), Menomonee Falls, Wis. Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies across the country.

“This is a really critical time for food processing plants to look at what worked last year and what didn’t,” he continues. “You should already have had a meeting with your pest management company to review 2009 and make plans for 2010.”

Sargent says there are a number of signs that indicate 2010 could be a worse year for pests than 2009 – including the phase-out of some reliable chemicals, changing regulations and generally a forecast for a warmer summer.

Sargent and others we talked to were returning in mid-January from the 74th Purdue (University) Pest Management Conference. One of the regulatory changes discussed at the conference is that many outdoor pesticides can no longer be used more than 50 ft. from buildings. “If you’ve been detecting rodents more than 50 ft. from your plant, sooner or later you’re going to have to change your treatment,” says Sargent. The ban goes into effect whenever the allowed-use label on your treatment changes, and some pesticide manufacturers already are changing their products’ packaging. All affected products must be relabeled by 2011.

Another chemical/regulatory change, even slower in coming, is the phase-out of methyl bromide. Because the fumigant depletes the stratospheric ozone layer, the amount of methyl bromide produced and imported in the U.S. was reduced incrementally until it was phased out Jan. 1, 2005 – although some “critical use” exemptions persist. Regardless of how long those last, methyl bromide is destined to disappear in the U.S. soon; it already has in Europe.

Dow AgroSciences (www.profume.com), Indianapolis, developed a drop-in replacement: ProFume gas fumigant. “It’s a broad-spectrum fumigant that controls all life stages of the insects,” says Elisha Priebe, marketing specialist. In addition to controlling red flour beetles, Asianmeal moths and other insects common to food, grain and ingredient storage, “A great side benefit is it also provides rodent control,” she adds.

 Moth
The Asianmeal moth, a leading pest among stored products, can be controlled with new pheromone technology in that little (1x2 1/2-in.) dispenser.
 Warehouse
A male Indianmeal moth in a warehouse will exhaust himself flitting from one pheromone dispenser to another, preventing him from mating with a female.

Dow AgroSciences also has developed software, a Precision Fumigation Tool, that allows each fumigation to be optimized. “You plug in planned exposure time, targeted pests, site specifics and you can determine exactly how much to use,” Priebe says. Or you can alter the downtime – whether the fumigation needs to be done in a single day, or if the plant can be closed over a long holiday weekend – to determine how best to fumigate. “You can track its progress in real time, and it provides documentation,” she adds.

Insect interruptus

A new technique that has several pest control companies excited is mating disruption using high levels of pheromones. An overdose of the same sexual hormones that have been used to attract insects to glue traps can confuse bugs so much they cannot find females to mate with.

Most female bugs put out pheromones to attract males for reproduction. A little pheromone on a glue trap can catch a lot of insects.

“Some of us pest control companies noticed that, the more traps [with pheromone attractant] we put out, the fewer insects we saw – not at all what we expected,” says Jeff Weier, technical director at Sprague Pest Control (www.spraguepest.com), a Copesan partner in Tacoma, Wash. Research subsequently showed that an extremely high level pheromones confused male insects, preventing them from finding females. They flew around so much looking for females they became exhausted and did not reproduce in their short adult life spans.

“Indianmeal moths, for example, don’t feed as adults, only the larvae do, and the adults only live a few days,” says Weier. Whereas the average pheromone trap uses 1mg of pheromone, the pads use 380mg of pheromone. At such high doses and placed in strategic spots in a warehouse or plant, these pads are effective in disrupting mating.

“The pheromone has to be specific to the species you’re trying to control,” adds Ron Harrison, director of technical services at Orkin Inc., Atlanta, which also uses this mating disruption technique. Indianmeal moths are one of the prime targets, because they’re “probably the No. 1 stored-product pest in the world,” he says.

One 1x2-in. pad can cover 10,000 sq. ft., depending upon ceiling height and other physical factors, says Harrison. Since the adults only live about 15 days, an entire generation can be prevented with these pheromone pads, which last months.

However, with different generations on different schedules and since this is not a kill technique, it could take time to eradicate a population of insects. It’s probably best used in facilities or areas of facilities that do not require a zero tolerance of the targeted insects.

The technique only came into use during 2009, but is quickly becoming widely accepted. It makes fumigation or other chemical treatments unnecessary – and, as a result, is an accepted practice for organic certifications.

Orkin uses the Cidetrak IMM system from Trece Inc. (www.trece.com), Adair, Okla. Trece says the product is effective on Indianmeal moths, tobacco or cocoa moths, almond moths, raisin moths, mediterranean flour moths, and possibly other species.

It works constantly, not just in a single application, does not require a production shutdown and does not expose workers (and ultimately consumers) to toxic chemicals. And although it doesn’t kill the current generation of bugs, it’s very effective when used with a reduced chemical program.

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