Category

Tips & Inspirations

Top Rodent Control Target Markets

By | Pest Business, Rodents, Tips & Inspirations, Uncategorized | No Comments

Knowing the top rodent control target markets can give you a leg up on your competition. There is a great need for rodent management in both residential and commercial settings. As a pest management professional, consider the following target audiences for your non-toxic rodent management offerings.

Rodent Control Target Markets - Mouse

Top 5 Rodent Control Target Markets

  1. Residential, single family homes – single family homes with children or pets are an ideal target for rodent control services.  Although rodents infest homes in the city and suburbs, homes near wooded areas may be under more pressure from rodent infestations.
  2. Property Management – housing managers of apartment complexes, condo associations and homeowner associations are responsible for ensuring a pest-free environment for their tenants. Rodent management is ideal as to ensure the safety of children and pets who may inhabit some units.
  3. Education Facilities – such as child-care facilities and elementary schools, colleges and universities are required to follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines and use IPM rodent management techniques.
  4. Restaurants, Food Service & Food Processing Plants – rodent control is critical to restaurant operations. The food industry has very strict guidelines and no tolerance for rodents in their establishments. A rodent sighting in a restaurant can be extremely damaging to their reputation. Beyond that, rodents are dangerous pests known to carry food-borne pathogens and disease. Rodent management is critical to any restaurant and food establishment
  5. Warehouses – rodents can be very difficult to control in a large environment such as a warehouse but doing so is critically important in order to maintain a safe work environment for employees and ensure that products stored within the warehouse do not become contaminated from rodent pests.

Rodent Control Target Markets - Rat

Rodent control is important to many businesses but particularly to the one’s above. Keep these top rodent control target markets in mind as you develop your marketing materials!

Bobby Kossowicz is a content creator for the Catchmaster brand, learn more here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/bobby-kossowicz/

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

First, get more great content like this in your inbox – sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

Next, learn more about our rodent management tools here: https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/rodent-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about your pest management professional options from the National Pest Management Association here: https://npmapestworld.org/

Mosquito Season Arbovirus Update

By | Mosquitoes, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

In this 2020 mosquito season arbovirus update learn about the need to remain vigilant.

As Fall arrives in much of the United States and cooler temperatures prevail, there may be a tendency to minimize the threat posed by mosquitoes when in fact the opposite is true.  Several arthropod-borne viruses (known as ‘arboviruses’) transmitted by mosquitoes are still active. And the threat will continue until the first hard frost hits your area.

Mosquito Season Arbovirus Update - Map

2020 Arbovirus Update

At the time of this writing, there have been 49 cases of West Nile disease in humans in Miami, Florida.  Similarly, 26 cases of dengue fever in the upper Florida Keys.  Additionally, there have been 5 human cases of Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), 4 in Massachusetts and 1 in Wisconsin. Two human cases of Jamestown Canyon virus have been reported in New Hampshire. Finally, there has been a death from St. Louis encephalitis in California.

The current COVID-19 mayhem has impacted our national ability to monitor for mosquito-transmitted viruses.  Many surveillance programs, particularly at the state health department level, have been compromised as personnel, resources and funding have been redirected (and justifiably so) toward the pandemic response.  Additionally, practices such as social distancing and self-quarantining have reduced bodies in the workplace, where folks would be testing mosquito pools for viruses, as well as on the road, where folks would normally be out collecting the mosquitoes for testing or just doing mosquito control.  Overall, this has somewhat reduced the normal amount of information and knowledge we would have regarding the risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Therefore, CAPT Stan implores you to not let your guard down as the seasons start to change.  Please follow CDC’s guidelines at the link below to help protect you and your family.  Thank you.

https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services and blogs frequently on mosquitoes. In addition to his social media content you can find his blog archives here: https://catchmasterpro.com/?s=captain+stan

Mosquito Season Arbovirus Update – Additional Resources

Get our free mosquito management program guide when you sign up for our e-mail list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/mosquito-management-program/

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Discover our full line of Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Post-COVID Pest Management Tips

By | Pest Business, Rodents, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

Navigate changing conditions with these Post-COVID pest management tips. Small businesses feel the impact of the pandemic, even six months in.  Pest control is an essential service but is still impacted via the customer base. Pest professionals report home and business owners suspended or reduced their contracts due to their own financial impacts. In other instances, concerned or immune-compromised clients refused indoor services.

Post-COVID Pest Management Tips - IPM

What are successful businesses concentrating focusing on in these times? Here are 3 tips that can help.

3 Post-COVID Pest Management Tips

  1. Businesses are being forced to digitize. To reduce or eliminate personal interaction, businesses must utilize technology like never before. From digital marketing to text and email communications with clients, businesses are feeling the impact. Those who already embraced technology are well ahead of the game while others are racing to catch up. Now more than ever technology can help your business to thrive in this new pandemic business climate. Lean on your software and marketing partners to take your business to the next level with technology.
  2. Capitalizing on commercial rodent work. Offices, hotels and restaurants sat vacant for months during quarantine.  As a result, rodent populations increased. The food source depletion prompted increased foraging ranges. Pest professionals are finding a high demand to control rodents, cockroaches, flies and more in this post-quarantine world. Ensure your business is ready to take on this demand and seek out commercial opportunities by communicating the on-going importance of pest control. This approach can work even when buildings stand vacant.
  3. Have safety policies in place and communicate them to your customer base. Safety takes on new meaning for pest control companies during a pandemic. Now is the time to put protocols in place when it comes to indoor pest services. Face masks, social distancing protocols and surveying your customer prior to service at the home or office are all things to be communicated. It ensures your customer is comfortable with your technicians in their home or place of business.

While these are trying times for businesses, they are also a time of opportunity. Stay positive and aggressive in your marketing efforts. Use this time to increase your business’ digital capabilities.

Bobby Kossowicz is a content creator for the Catchmaster brand, learn more here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/bobby-kossowicz/

Additional Resources

First, get more great content like this in your inbox – sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

Next, learn more about our rodent management tools here: https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/rodent-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about your pest management professional options from the National Pest Management Association here: https://npmapestworld.org/

Top 5 Marketing Tactics for Your Rodent Service

By | Pest Business, Rodents, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

These top 5 marketing tactics for your rodent service can be vital to your success. Whether you are just starting out or perfecting your service, these 5 simple tips can help your business grow right now.

Top 5 Marketing Tactics for Your Rodent Service

Top 5 Marketing Tactics for Your Rodent Service - Knowledge

  1. Understand your market– Take a close look at the competitors in your area that are offering rodent services. Become familiar with your competitor’s service offerings and develop your own value proposition. Clearly explain why your service is more valuable to your clients.
  2. Advertise – What media does your target audience consume? In other words which websites do they visit or which magazines do they read for information? Where do they go to search for service providers? These are the places you will want to place advertisements for your services.
  3. Add Value – look for ways to offer value to your target audience.  Consider emailing them a rodent management eBook or a sample of private label glue boards branded with your logo. Include tips for placement to protect their home or business from rodents. Consider offering a free inspection service and follow-up with a rodent management plan to attack their problem.
  4. Focus on the customer experience – train your employees to go above and beyond with an account. Take time to talk with customers about ways they can reduce rodent activity on their property. Follow-up ensuring your service tactics are working. Finally, ask for a testimonial that you can use online and in your marketing pieces to help new customers feel confident in your services.
  5. Own the referral – once you have a happy customer don’t be afraid to ask for their referral and train your employees to do the same.  Offer the customer something of value, like a free treatment or percentage off their next service in exchange for their referral.  Remember, if you don’t ask the answer is always no!

Top 5 Marketing Tactics for Your Rodent Service - Referral

Bobby Kossowicz is a content creator for the Catchmaster brand, learn more here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/bobby-kossowicz/

Additional Resources

First, get more great content like this in your inbox – sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

Next, learn more about our rodent management tools here: https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/rodent-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about your pest management professional options from the National Pest Management Association here: https://npmapestworld.org/

Tips for Retaining Mosquito Customers

By | Mosquitoes, Pest Business, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

Keep your business strong through the end of the season with these 6 tips for retaining mosquito customers. As summer winds down and cooler temperatures arrive, your customers may not see as many mosquitoes and decide ‘hey, let’s save a few bucks and cancel that last mosquito service or two’.  This is a bad idea for a number of reasons and you and your team need to be able to explain why or you may lose revenue.

6 Tips for Retaining Mosquito Customers - Life Cycle

As the daylight grows shorter, mosquitoes prepare to enter something called ‘diapause’.  It is a very complicated and chemically sophisticated biological process.  Think of it as a resting stage, triggered by the environment, when bodily functions are shut down or greatly reduced.  They don’t quite go to sleep but almost!  Here are some talking points and tips to discuss with your customers.

6 Tips for Retaining Mosquito Customers

  1. Diapause is a mechanism that helps mosquito populations maintain a presence in an area and spread the next season.
  2. Even if a female mosquito has entered diapause, if the weather suddenly warms up in the fall, she may become active and seek a blood meal.
  3. Human pathogens, particularly viruses such as West Nile and Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, will overwinter in diapausing mosquitoes.
  4. Killing diapausing female mosquitoes will help reduce population numbers at the start of the next season.
  5. Overwintering harborages used by mosquitoes may be different than those used during the mosquito season. Examples are under sheds; in cellars, outbuildings, and crawlspaces; window wells; vents; and animal burrows.
  6. Finally, emphasize to your customers that your end-of-season service will specifically target these potential overwintering sites.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services and blogs frequently on mosquitoes. In addition to his social media content you can find his blog archives here: https://catchmasterpro.com/?s=captain+stan

Additional Resources

Get our free mosquito management program guide when you sign up for our e-mail list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/mosquito-management-program/

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Discover our full line of Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Mosquito Battles – Final Feed Mosquito Bait

By | Mosquitoes, Pest Business, Pestimonials, Tips & Inspirations, Trapping Tips | No Comments

Saving the Schools

In this version of Pest Management Professional’s Mosquito Battles series, Anaheim Union High School District’s Rich Kravetz controls the growing mosquito population in Southern California with Final Feed Mosquito Bait.

Anaheim, California was hit by more than just a heat wave in the spring of 2019. A new species of mosquito was flying about the city, darkening the normally sunny skies.  This mosquito – known as the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was targeting high population areas with tall trees and thick bushes, such as the Anaheim Union High School District.

Mosquito Battles - Kravetz

Rich Kravetz, an integrated pest management (IPM) technician for the school district, knows the importance of protecting schools from Asian tiger mosquitoes, a known carrier of West Nile virus and other illnesses. Kravetz is no newbie to the pest management profession – hit father has owned a pest control business for the last 50 years. Because of his background, Kravetz understands how much of an impact one product can have on the mosquito population.

Kravetz began using Catchmasters’ Final Feed Mosquito Bait in 2019, and has seen a huge impact across all 22 locations of the Anaheim Union High School District.

“We had a cloud of mosquitoes over Orange County and Southern California, so we were just looking for something to help alleviate or lessen the frustration with them,” says Kravetz, “We started using it in May, and we are already seeing huge results.”

Mosquito Battles - Final Feed

Kravetz has tried multiple different tactics to try to lessen the severity of the Asian tiger mosquito population around the schools, but has found that not much works to effectively rid the area of the pest – except for Final Feed.

“The product goes right on the shady bushes where the mosquitoes hang out, so the sweet draws them in and the garlic kills them,” he explains.

The non-toxic formula used in Final Feed makes it ideal to use around children, utilizing natural fruit juices to bait the mosquitoes and garlic to starve them. When paired with Catchmaster’s Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap, Kravetz says, the combination makes for the ideal mosquito solution for schoolyards.

Mosquito Battles - Ovi-Catch

Showing results with the product is also easy, according to Kravetz. Every female mosquito killed by Final Feed or caught by Ovi-Catch mosquito trap eliminates up to 1,000 future mosquitoes. The best part of using Final Feed around the schools for Kravetz is being able to communicate with the students, staff and parents that the IPM technicians are doing something that will have results. Kravetz recalls it having the most impact on a special needs school in the district.

Kravetz sprayed the property with Final Feed, and saw positive results almost immediately. Final Feed helps to control the mosquitoes, resulting in smaller populations. This allowed the children to spend more time outside with less of a risk to get bites from the daytime-feeding species.

Mosquito Battles - Garlic

“Anything I can do for them means a lot,” Kravetz says, “They’re so appreciative. When you get a smile from the kids playing outside – that’s real.”

A little goes a long way with Final Feed, so Kravetz is able to spray more sparingly and still impact the mosquito population at the school.

“I can’t recommend this enough,” Kravetz says of Ovi-Catch, “The buckets are out of sight from the kids and families.” Meanwhile, of Final Feed he says, “The smell is nice. It’s really a great product to have.”

Mosquito Battles – Additional Resources

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Get our Mosquito Management Guide here: https://catchmasterpro.com/mosquito-management-program/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

In addition, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Finally, get tips for your business by following us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ap&g-co-inc

Mosquito Control Inspections – Top Overlooked Breeding Sites

By | Mosquitoes, Pest Business, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

When it comes to mosquito control inspections are important. The key to a successful mosquito service is a thorough inspection, done on each visit to the customer’s property.  If all mosquito breeding sites are not identified and either eliminated or treated, your customers will not be happy and you will waste time and money on callbacks.

Mosquito Control Inspections - Top Breeding Sites

The ‘usual suspects’ for mosquito breeding include bird baths, buckets, kiddie pools, kids’ toys, discarded trash, used tires, etc.; basically, anything that will hold water from bottle caps to an abandoned swimming pool.  However, some breeding sites may be ‘cryptic’, that is, hidden or not very obvious.  Let’s take a look at some of them:

Mosquito Control Inspections – Top 9 Overlooked Spots

  1. Water-holding plants, such as bromeliads – it is not likely these can or will be removed but they can be treated with a larvicide.
  2. In-ground drains – ask if the customer has an irrigation system that utilizes in-ground drains. These often hold water and a high content of organic matter, perfect for foul water-loving mosquitoes such as the Northern and Southern house mosquitoes. 
  3. Corrugated plastic tubes – these are often attached to downspouts to pull water away from structures. The ends usually curl up and hold just enough water to cause trouble!
  4. Large piles of leaves – adult mosquitoes will rest in damp piles of leaves, and some leaves are large enough to hold water.
  5. Clogged gutters – some folks have full-blown botanical gardens growing in their gutters!
  6. Treeholes – remember to look up! A large treehole can hold lots of water, and many species of mosquitoes will breed here.
  7. Abandoned rodent bait boxes – these can hold water and are like the Ritz-Carlton to mosquitoes!
  8. Drainage saucers under potted plants – recommend that your customers set their pots on bamboo sticks or rocks to increase the drainage. Drainage saucers are breeding heaven, especially for the Asian tiger mosquito and yellow fever mosquito.
  9. Tarps – these always sag, collect water and organic debris, resulting in a ‘Mosquito Motel’!

The presence of mosquitoes on a property means a majority of species are breeding nearby. As a result, your mosquito control inspections are important. Keeping both the usual & unusual breeding sites in mind when on a property will give you a leg up with your customer!

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services, learn more about him here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Get our Mosquito Management Guide here: https://catchmasterpro.com/mosquito-management-program/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

In addition, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Finally, get tips for your business by following us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ap&g-co-inc

Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap Ingredients

By | Mosquitoes, Tips & Inspirations, Trapping Tips | No Comments

The ingredients in our Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap optimize performance. The trap, built for research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), utilizes mosquitoes’ breeding habits against them. In particular, the trap mimics traditional breeding sites to draw the mosquitoes into the container and trap them on a glue board. Removing 1 female mosquito can eliminate up to 1,000 future mosquitoes field results indicate that capturing up to 30% of egg-laying female mosquitoes can decrease populations by 80%. Clearly, the trap can be a great addition to any mosquito management programs.

Therefore, placing the trap correctly and using the right ingredients as an attractant will go a long way to determining success.  First, some basics on trap placement. Traps should be placed in areas on a property that are conducive to mosquitoes.

Areas on a property to place Ovi-Catch mosquito trap

  1. Cool
  2. Shaded
  3. Moist
  4. Out-of-the-Wind

Above all, the key for ingredients is pretty simple, the smellier the better. Additionally, if possible prepare your mixture of the ingredient plus water a few days in advance. This will allow the mixture to get smellier and will produce more immediate results.

7 optimal Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap ingredients

Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap Ingredients - Icon

  1. Alfalfa hay
  2. Rabbit food pellets
  3. Stagnant water (from ponds, lakes, irrigation ditches, streams or rivers)
  4. Oak leaves
  5. Dry dog food
  6. Brewer’s yeast
  7. Grass clippings

Additionally. be sure to monitor your traps for performance over time. If one ingredient isn’t working don’t be afraid to switch it up & happy hunting!

Finally, did we miss your go-to ingredient? Let us know in the comments below, happy to update the article and add your tip!

Additional Resources

Get our free mosquito management program guide when you sign up for our e-mail list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/mosquito-management-program/

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Along with Ovi-Catch, discover our full line of Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Additionally, Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services and blogs frequently on mosquitoes. In addition to his social media content you can find his blog archives here: https://catchmasterpro.com/?s=captain+stan

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Integrated Pest Management Tips for Re-Opening

By | Insects, Mosquitoes, Pest Business, Rodents, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

Integrated Pest Management Tips for Re-Opened Accounts

Learn how to be at the top of your game with these top 5 integrated pest management tips for re-opening. With people heading back to work and accounts opening their doors the opportunity for pest professionals has increased. Without regular maintenance there is a chance the pest pressure at previously closed businesses may be at an all-time high. Think about a re-opened account as a lake that has not been fished in awhile or a well-beaten deer path in the woods. Opportunity abounds, but where to start? Keep these 5 integrated pest management tips in mind when first visiting a re-opened account.

Top 5 IPM Tips for Re-Opening

Top 5 Integrated Pest Management Tips for Re-Opening - House

  • Exterior inspection – like any good pest detective your work in a re-opened account will start with the exterior. As a result, a thorough inspection is vital. If the business or property has been closed for an extended period of time it is likely that basic property maintenance has been neglected. Look for any piles of debris, like trash, leaves or lawn clippings that may have accumulated. They may provide food and harborage to pests. For mosquito prevention look for any standing water. Inspect the structure as well as cracks in foundations for gaps in doors may have grown. Exclusion work is likely to be required. Here is a helpful article with the top 5 areas for exclusion in a home: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/top-5-areas-for-exclusion-around-the-home/
  • Don’t miss the forest for the trees – as a pest pro you are trained to look for minute details in an account but now the reverse might be true, and the bigger details may be more prominent. This may be especially relevant for rodent activity. With months of unimpeded activity, telltale signs of rodents are more likely to emerge. These signs include:
    • Droppings
    • Strong Odors
    • Gnaw Marks
    • Tracks or Rub Markings

Be mindful of conducive conditions

  • Drains and water systems – if an account has been closed for awhile chances are the water has been drained. Therefore, the presence of moisture around drains or other water systems may be an indication of an underlying condition, like a leaking pipe or clogging. Here’s a pro tip – to monitor for small flies found in many commercial accounts use one for our 100FF Fruit Fly Glue boards inverted above a drain. This will allow you to diagnose any flies that have found a food source during closure.
  • Sanitation opportunities – with fewer people at work there is a possibility that normal, everyday sanitation has been neglected. This could include examples like leftover trash to floor and surfaces that have not been mopped or swept for some time. Look for signs like mold or staining and provide sanitation recommendations. Not only will this educate your customer it may provide the opportunity for add-on surfaces.

Don’t forget your toolbox!

  • Use the right tools – install monitors, like our 100i & 288i Insect Monitors in areas where insects and rodents might be. A lot has likely changed since you were last in the facility and monitoring will allow you to establish a new baseline. Monitoring will not only tell you what species have flourished but they will also tell you where they are at. If pests have flourished, consider utilizing a tool like our Catch Zone Pest Boundary Roll. With 60 feet of catching power it is ideal for hotspots and clean outs.

In a lot of ways, visiting a re-opened account may feel like a regular maintenance check, just on steroids. Therefore, it may feel daunting but focus on the basics first. With pests flourishing in the absence of human activity the key is to look for the basic signs, both small and large, that will inform your integrated pest management program.

Integrated Pest Management in Re-Opened Accounts – Additional Resources

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

Learn more about mosquitoes from the National Pest Management Association here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Finally, get COVID-19 updates from the NPMA here: https://www.pestcontrolcoronavirus.com/

The Untold Story of Sir Ronald Ross

By | Mosquitoes, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

The Untold Story of Sir Ronald Ross by Stanton E Cope

It is highly likely that many of you have heard the name Ronald Ross, and perhaps you even know a bit about him. In the history section of almost any medical entomology class or textbook, we learn that Ross, a British physician of Scottish descent, is credited with the first successful demonstration of the transmission of malaria parasites (in birds), and that he was guided in his studies by Sir Patrick Manson, generally considered the Father of Tropical Medicine.

But who was this person? What did he really want to do with his life? And how did the confused son of a dominant father end up a Nobel Prize winner in a profession he avoided and loathed as a young man? Let’s find out. This article will not regurgitate all of the scientific and professional accomplishments of Ross, but instead, is intended to provide a snapshot of the unique and fascinating foundation upon which his career was built.

Ronald Ross was born in Almora, India, on the fringe of the Himalayan Mountains, on May 13, 1857. He was the eldest of 10 children of whom 9, remarkably, survived to adulthood. His father, Brigadier General Sir Campbell Clay Grant Ross, was stationed in India where the Ross Family had connections for over a century. Ross’s mother was Matilda Charlotte Elderton, of whom he wrote “like all mothers…ours was the best in the world.” Judging from his own account in his Memoirs written in 1923, Ross appears to have experienced the typical life of a British child in India.

EARLY EFFORTS AND FAILURES

In April of 1865, when he was nearly 8 years old, Ross was sent back to England for schooling. He lived with his father ’s sister and her husband, also an Army officer. For the next 9 years, Ross attended various schools, including a boarding school, where he was grounded in the classics, became proficient in mathematics, and studied drawing and music. He also indulged his interest in natural history, star ting a book “which should contain a description of every known species of animal.” He read the Bible and studied noted authors such as Pope, Milton and Shakespeare.

By age 17 (1874), Ross’s career goal s focused on being an artist or joining the Army or Navy. However, his father had other ideas for his eldest son. In Ross’s own words, “my father had set his heart upon my joining the medical profession and, finally, the Indian Medical Service, which was then well paid and possessed many good appointments….but I had no predilection at all for medicine and like most youths, felt disposed to look down upon it.”

Ross enrolled in medical school at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London after being delivered to the front door by his father personally, but his academic efforts were diluted with writing drama and poetry, composing and playing music, and teaching himself to play the piano. In 1879, after 5 years of insincere effort, Ross failed to qualify in medicine. Then, he made a fateful decision. Threatened with losing his father’s financial support to continue his medical school efforts, Ross instead took a job as a Ship’s Surgeon, something that he had qualified for while in school.

During the next two years while crisscrossing the Atlantic, he was able to study for his medical exams while engaging with a cross-section of human it y bound for a better life in the United States. At one point, he performed an above-elbow amputation without any skilled help. Ross was so moved by this whole experience that he started writing a tale called ‘The Emigrants’ but he never finished it.

MARRIAGE AND EARLY STUDIES ON MALARIA

Ross finally joined the Indian Medical Service and served in India and Burma until 1888. By this time, pay in the Service was average or below and opportunities for promotion were scarce due to a plethora of junior officers. Also, the medical work was slow so Ross had plenty of time to devote to tennis, golf, writing dramas and studying mathematics and philosophy. This was not, however, Lieutenant Ross’s ‘cup of tea,’ and depression set in. In 1888 he returned to England on furlough. His life was about to change drastically.

Ross met and married Rosa Bessie Bloxam in 1889. After a brief honeymoon in Scotland, he really began to apply himself to his chosen profession and concentrated more and more on sanitation, as he had seen first-hand its importance in India. He received a Diploma of Public Health from a newly-established curriculum in London, the first member of the Indian Medical Service to do so. Also, he took a two-month course in the fledgling discipline called ‘bacteriology.’

Ross saw 1889 as a turning point in his life. Even though he was a romantic, he did not attribute it in any way to the presence of his new bride in his life. In fact, Ross rarely mentions her in his Memoirs. Instead, writing about the years immediately before he met Rosa, he states “ for six years, I had toiled outrageously at almost everything, sparing neither body nor mind; solitary toil which I never mentioned to my friends. Now [referring to his depression in 1888] had come the reaction…I could work no more – nor even play; my ponies browsed unsaddled, my books rested unread. Then, moreover, my faith died – the greatest of all faiths, the faith in labour; and I was overcome with the horror of the cui bono. What was the use of anything?” Cui bono is Latin for ‘ to whose benefit.’ The marriage produced 4 children; 2 boys and 2 girls. The eldest child, Campbell Ross, was killed in battle at age 19, shortly after the start of World War I.

With his new wife, new diploma and new training in tow, Ross returned to India with renewed enthusiasm, and he dove right in. He took with him several bacterial cultures and he began to study mosquitoes. One of Ross’s weaknesses, however, was his ignorance of the published literature. In 1880, a French Army physician named Alphonse Laveran first observed malaria parasites in human blood, and his discovery was widely known.

Strangely, Ross soon began to preach on two themes regarding malaria: (1) that the vast majority of supposed malarial fevers were really intestinal in origin (referred to by Ross as ‘intestinal auto-intoxication’); and (2) that Laveran’s so-called ‘parasites’ were really nothing more than blood cells misshapen by faulty techniques used to examine them! This was quite a brash statement from one who only recently became relatively proficient at microscopy.

The year 1894 arrived, and with it a year’s furlough to London for Ross, his wife, and two daughters. On April 10th, Ross met Sir Patrick Manson. It was the beginning of a relationship in science and friendship that both men needed and from which the world benefitted. Manson’s contributions to Ross’s efforts may be summarized as follows:

First, he convinced Ross of the correctness of Laveran’s observations, even showing him malaria parasites on several occasions. Second, he spoke with Ross many times about his theory that malaria parasites were somehow transmit ted by mosquitoes. Third, and most importantly, through an extensive and well-preserved series of letters between the men, which in their own right are a literary epic, he helped to sustain, guide and challenge Ross through more than three years of frustrations, discoveries and difficult conditions in India.

Manson harnessed Ross’s unique talents, curiosity and insatiable appetite for work to a significant purpose, and kept him focused on the ‘main thing.’ Also, he knew that others were close to revealing the secrets of malaria transmission, and he pushed Ross to succeed, and soon. The following quotation from one of Manson’s letters illustrates this nicely:

“I was terribly disappointed for I thought you had fallen sick, or that you had got a check, or that you had given up the quest. Above every thing, don’ t give it up. Look on it as a Holy Grail and yourself as Sir Galahad, for be assured you are on the right track. The malaria germ does not go into the mosquito for nothing, for fun or for the confusion of the pathologist. It has no notion of a practical joke. It is there for a purpose, and that purpose, depend upon it, is its own interests – germs are selfish brutes.”

THE GREAT DISCOVERY AND THE NOBEL PRIZE

After leaving Manson and returning to India, Ross began his quest with a handicap that would have easily overtaken a lesser man – ignorance of almost everything he needed to know! As previously mentioned, he had taken a short course in bacteriology. He was self-taught in microscopy and did not know the literature so he was unaware of a new staining procedure that would have likely saved him hundreds of hours. As serious as these deficiencies were, they were trivial compared to his total lack of knowledge concerning mosquitoes!

His task was simply stated – to study Plasmodium, not in humans, but in mosquitoes – but incredibly complicated, and he encountered almost every possible obstacle. His major contributions over the next three years may be summarized as follows:

First, he demonstrated that volunteers who drank water contaminated with infected mosquito adults and larvae failed to contract malaria. Second, on August 20, 1897 he observed developing human malaria parasites and their characteristic black pigment in the stomach wall of Anopheles mosquitoes, which he cal led “dapple-winged.” For years after, Ross referred to this date as ‘Mosquito Day.’ The third and most significant contribution made by Ross came about courtesy of the British Army, for about one month after Mosquito Day, he received orders to an area where there was no human malaria. Ross was incredibly disappointed and frustrated by this at first. Some months later, however, this ever-resourceful scientist was able to demonstrate the full avian malaria life cycle using sparrows and Culex mosquitoes.

Ross’s experimental career ended in 1899 when he retired from the Indian Medical Service, perhaps so that he would not have to be away from his daughters, who likely would have been sent back to England for schooling. I shall have more to say about this later.

Ross was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901, but he did not win. He was nominated again in 1902, and it was suggested by some that he share the award with Laveran, but Laveran did not receive his Nobel Prize until 1907. Ross was one of 42 well-qualified candidates, a list that was pared to 3 finalists. They were Ross, Pavlov of ‘Pavlovian response’ fame, and Niels Finsen, who worked on phototherapy of tuberculosis. Ross won, and his monetary award amounted to 141,846 Swedish crowns, then equivalent to about 7,880 pounds sterling, which was a considerable sum in 1902. Ross received his Nobel Prize on December 10, 1902, in Stockholm from the King of Sweden, Oscar the 2nd.

ROSS vs GRASSI

I would like to briefly examine the rift (to put it mildly) that developed between Ross and the Italian investigators, particularly Giovanni Battista Grassi. The Italians began work on transmission of human malaria in the middle of July 1898. By this time, Ross’s proof was complete and partly published. The Italians were well aware of what he had done and they knew that two main tasks remained: (1) demonstrate that the parasite of human malaria had a cycle in the mosquito similar to what Ross had shown; and (2) identify the mosquito that transmits human malaria parasites.

Essentially, the Italians followed Ross’s exact line of investigation, but used Anopheles mosquitoes and human parasites. When their work was published, Ross was stung to anger as he felt he was not given adequate credit. And in my opinion, he was right. But once the quarrel escalated, the simple truths were cloaked and twisted by pas s ion and jealousy. Here is the essence of the turmoil: 1) Ross might have completed his proof with human malaria, but he did not – the Italians did. 2) Ross speculated that the “dapple-winged” mosquito probably was the culprit – the Italians proved it. 3) Ross was the first to demonstrate the entire life cycle of the malaria parasite. 4) Ross is not entitled to the whole credit for the whole proof because he did not finish it in humans.

To quote Gordon Harrison from his book ‘Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man,’ “…it makes no sense or justice to couple the names of Ross and Grassi together as co-discoverers – as is often done – without noting the very large difference between the explorer at the helm and those who rode his decks and helped make a landing.”

Space does not permit us to examine the last 30 years of Ross’s life, but here are some of the highlights. After retirement, he returned to England and became a lecturer at the new school for tropical medicine at Liverpool, where he championed tropical medicine education in Britain. He later held the Chair in Tropical Medicine. In 1911, he was knighted, and in 1912, he moved to London to take up a consulting practice.

Much of the rest of his life was concerned with public health programs against malaria. His efforts to improve public health in general were unending. He traveled extensively to undertake malaria prevention campaigns, and during World War I he was appointed consultant in malaria to the War Office. His abrasive personality of ten got in the way of progress, however. In 1926, the Ross Institute of Tropical Hygiene was opened. The aim was to promote research on tropical medicine and to stimulate control measures for malaria. Ross was its first director, and remained so until his death.

Sir Ronald Ross passed away on September 16, 1932, at the age of 75. The cause of death was listed as “ illness.” Imagine that! He outlived all 6 of his younger brothers and one of his 3 sisters. Lady Ross died from heart disease almost one year before her husband. Ronald did not attend her funeral, as he was likely distraught and definitely very feeble, having suffered a stroke. Sir Ronald and Lady Ross were inter red in Putney Vale cemetery in southwest London.

SUMMING UP

So how should the world remember Ronald Ross? How should we, in the mosquito control profession and field of public health, think of him? The answer, although complicated, is clear in my opinion. He was a dedicated, highly intelligent scientist who made great discoveries. He was a renaissance man, for sure, schooled in the arts and music. He was passionate, inquisitive, and romantic. He could be cantankerous and difficult with friends and others, without a doubt. Even his relationship with Manson cooled over the years, in par t due to Ross ’s feud with Grassi.

Rightly so, he fiercely defended his character and scientific achievements. Despite receiving many awards and honors during his life, he felt embittered that he did not receive monetary reward from his country for his malaria work and he petitioned the British government on this subject and on behalf of other scientists. He wrote three novels, numerous poems, dramas and other literary works. He was a mathematician, a musician, and he loved nature. He was an epidemiologist and sanitarian. Sir Ronald Ross found his professional niche later in life, and once comfortable there, he excelled in his work and sought affirmation of what he had accomplished. Likely, we would all do the same under similar circumstances. I would like to end with the poem that Sir Ronald drafted on Mosquito Day, and finalized a few days later, after realizing the importance of what he had just seen under the microscope:

This day relenting God Hath placed within my hand A wondrous thing; and God Be praised. At His command, Seeking His secret deeds With tears and toiling breath, I find thy cunning seeds, O million-murdering Death. I know this little thing A myriad men will save. O Death, where is thy sting, Thy victory, O Grave!

REFERENCES

Harrison, G. 1978. Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man: A History of the Hostilities Since 1880. EP Dutton, New York. 314 pp.

Ross, R. 1923. Memoirs: with a Full Account of the Great Malaria Problem and its Solution. John Murray, London. 547 pp.

All quotations are taken from this book except where noted.

Disclaimer: The views contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I thank Dr Graham White for providing much of the background literature and FB for encouragement in completion of the manuscript.