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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

10 Questions with a Pro (AKA: Seeing the light)

Introducing the second episode of the series: ten questions with a pro. Every other month, I’m interviewing a “pro” to find out what they do, how they do it, and how it helps pest control efforts. Today, we are talking with the amazing Dr. Stuart Mitchell from PestWest.

1. Give us the quick version of what you do?

Technical support for the PestWest USA team, consulting for proprietary clients (pest control and public health), expert witness, and perpetual student.

Chelle: knowing how many degrees you have, I can attest to the perpetual student part, it's so impressive!

2. What got you into this, how did you get into pest control?

MANY years ago, I graduated with a Physics degree and wasn’t sure what sort of career to pursue. A friend, who was in the pest control industry, suggested I visit with a PCO. And the rest is history.

3. What’s one thing you wish people would know or understand better when it comes to pest control?

It’s an amazing industry with wonderful people. Whether one is an aspiring or established entrepreneur, science and biology geek, tradesperson, or a combination, the pest control industry offers significant career opportunities.

Chelle: Amen to that!

4. What do you think the biggest challenge for pest control companies is right now?

With the current economy and the resultant competition between numerous employers for fewer qualified candidates, there is a significant challenge in recruiting and retaining career-oriented employees.

5. What changes do you predict in the next 5-10 years?

A reshaping of the pest control industry through inimitable acquisitions that integrate pest control companies, manufacturing, distribution, and other “outside-the-box” business types. Additionally, a significant increase in applied science technologies, such as continuously improving business and logistics software, Apps, API, AI, IoT, LMS, and numerous acronyms YTBD.

OMG FTW! I agree that science will play a bigger role and I'm really looking forward to it.

6. You work with insect light traps, explain that like you would to a five-year-old.

A: Have you ever seen flies moving around on a window during a sunny day or dead flies in a windowsill? Or flying around an outdoor light bulb at night? That’s because flies naturally like to move toward light. Insect light traps create a special kind of light that flies not only like, but naturally love to move toward. Flies get too close to the light and get caught in the trap!

7. What do you think people get wrong about light traps?

Generally, the misconception that light traps are a stand-alone control method for flying insect pests. Additionally, missed opportunities of “reading the revealing story” on every light trap glue board.

I totally agree with this, I see so many folks confused on why their "fly program" isn't working when all they have is light traps.

ILT DIRECTLY over food = bad!

8. All tools are affected by how you use them. What are your tips for using ILTs.

Don’t use the “oh, here’s an electrical outlet” theory of ILT placement.” Sometimes, for optimal ILT placement, an electrical outlet or power source may have to be installed by a licensed electrician. It is suggested to use ILT deployment best practices.

Deploy ILTs to maintain line-of-sight then height

• Deploy ILTs noting area of coverage as a function of the inverse square law

• Deploy ILTs to draw flying insects away from sensitive spaces

• Deploy ILTs >10 feet from food contact surfaces

• Deploy ILTs as to not be a hazard to people (>1 m from work spaces)

• Deploy ILTs as to avoid competing light sources

• Deploy ILTs away from fans and air vents

• Deploy ILTs in flanking positions

• Deploy ILTs to operate 24/7/365

• Deploy ILTs to be accessible for servicing

• Deploy ILTs as to not be damaged by fork lift trucks

• Deploy ILTs as to not emit UVA light through windows

• Deploy ILTs to intercept flight paths of insects (noting air currents and food or fetid scents)

• Deploy ILTs that are appropriately designed for the environment

• Deploy ILTs with dedicated power sources (some systems may require hard-wiring by a licensed electrician)

• Deploy ILTs as to protect from damage, theft, and sabotage

• Deploy ILTs per “archopestology” or changing architecture

• Deploy more insect light traps!

This is amazing and I'm totally integrating the word archopestology into my daily vocabulary. There really is a lot to consider when placing ILTs and doing it well will certainly give you better results.

9. What new “stuff” is PestWest working on that we can look forward to?

A novel LED filament lamp technology called Quantum® X. A lamp with 432 LEDs and Argon gas cooling that emits at 370 nm or UVA light at 360°. An LED lamp that equals the attraction effect of conventional fluorescent UVA (FUVA) lamps. LED lamps with a specially designed LED glue board, in the new, and now available, Mantis® Qualis ILT.

That is a slick looking ILT, I'm excited!

Doc never "drones" on, he will always bee himself!

10. If you were any of our pest species, what would you be and why?

A: As only the occasional pest, I think it best for me as a busy Honey bee.

11. (Bonus!) Any last words?

With 40 years in the pest control industry, I am still learning! Never lose your yearning for learning! “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”-Benjamin Franklin

If you want to learn more about the great PestWest products, you can find them here. If you want more info from Doc Mitchell, he can be reached at:

Who’s going to be next on our “10 questions with a pro” series? You are just going to have to keep reading to find out. You know that we send a newsletter every week so you can get the blog post and more great info delivered to your inbox, right? You can reach me anytime (well, maybe not anytime) to help with your pest problems.

Lagniappe - if your light trap isn't working, maybe you could try this?

Urban pest consulting

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