• Chelle Hartzer

Another National "Holiday" (AKA: Pest management saves the world!)

When I started college, I wasn’t really aware of entomology. I switched my major to entomology after my second year. My very first entomology class, I was hooked. I was amazed at the sheer number of species of insects, the diversity, and the adaptations insects have. Since then, I have worked with social insects, crops, food, zoos, museums, and more. I have worked across structural, urban, and medical entomology. I’ve been in research and industry. Since April is National Pest Management month, let’s take a look at the diversity of pest management.

I was talking with a new contact recently. When I said I worked in pest management, they said, “Isn’t that dangerous? Don’t you use a lot of chemicals?”. There is still an impression for some people that pest management is about spraying “chemicals”. The truth is, if done correctly, the amount of treatment needed with a pesticide is minimal. A good program looks at all the underlying factors that can cause pest issues and address those. Factors such as food source (sanitation), entry points (exclusion), trapping, and even habitat reduction can have a big impact on pest populations. By using an integrated strategy, we can use less pesticides yet be even more effective.

Pest management saves your favorite foods. From farm to fork, pests want to feast on what you want to eat. For example: corn. Many pests like corn earworm (actually a moth) and corn rootworm (actually a beetle) chow down from top to bottom of the corn plant, damaging the plant so it produces less and directly damaging the kernels of the corn as it is growing. Assuming this is managed, the corn is harvested and put in storage. Now the weevils have their chance at the stored kernels and the flour beetles may go after the fines and broken kernels. If it makes it past this stage, the corn is transported to a mill to be processed. Now there might be issues with other grain beetles like foreign grain beetles or sawtoothed grain beetles. What product makes it un-infested past this stage now has to go to a factory that is going to make tortillas. Still more stored product pests enter the picture here including Indian meal moths. It’s not done yet! Now it goes to your favorite taco bar and restaurants are susceptible to all those pests and more like cockroaches and flies. That’s just one single product, not to mention the steak, cheese, lettuce, and all the ingredients in the salsa that’s going on the taco!


Pest management saves your health. So many pests can transmit diseases. Worldwide, the humble mosquito kills nearly a million people a year by vectoring pathogens that cause malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and much more. Ticks vector many diseases and of particular concern in the US is Lyme disease. Flies and cockroaches can spread food-borne diseases. While not a major issue now, the black plague killed millions in Europe: spread by fleas and rats (though there is now some controversy on that). Pest management professionals, employing integrated techniques, can reduce pest populations, thereby reducing the risk of disease transmission.

And pest management saves your structures. Wood destroying insects, particularly termites, are estimated to cause billions of dollars of damage every year to structures. That doesn’t include other types of wood damage like furniture, boats, or even raw logs and lumber.


That’s just a sampling of some major benefits of pest management. Ultimately, a good pest management plan should focus on prevention when possible and implementing multiple tools to manage pests. If you have had pest issues, continue to have pest issues, or want to know more about how effective the pest management plan you have in place is, contact us to learn more about how we can help!


Lagniappe:

Your favorite sweater? Clothes moths love it too!

Like your furry pet (Max the cat!)? – veterinary pests.

Art lover (I am)? – so many museum pests.

Happy that pot is becoming legal? – greenhouse and stored product pests are happy too.

Have taxidermy items? – hide beetles, and meal moths, and more!