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Joe Conlon: The Man Behind the Myth Behind the Legend

By | Mosquitoes | No Comments

INTRODUCTION

It is highly likely that many of you know Joseph M Conlon only from his role as Technical Advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association, a job he held for 20 years and retired from June 30th of this year. Others have known and loved Joe for his many outstanding presentations at our meetings, for his sense of humor, for his dedication to our profession and much more. But how did Joe get to where he is today? What and who influenced him? What chances did he take and what decisions did he make that resulted in such a successful career? And what were some of the more interesting, entertaining or instructional events along the way? Let’s take a look and see what we can learn from his experiences.

Joe was born and raised just south of Cleveland, Ohio, where his family lived on a 2.5 acre lot surrounded on three sides by miles of woodlands. He was the third of four boys and had no sisters. As a youngster, he loved spending time outdoors – and his parents probably loved it too! – flipping over rocks and logs to see what secrets they might reveal. This was the genesis of his interest in insects and other creatures.

‘YOU’RE IN THE ARMY NOW’ AND SO WAS SERENDIPITY

Joe Conlon - Army 1
Army Specialist 4 Joe Conlon official photo, after being named Third Corps and Fort Hood Soldier of the Year in 1975. The Meritorious Service Medal was awarded later for service during Operation New Life at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

After high school, Joe enrolled at the University of Dayton, which didn’t agree with him, so he decided to look elsewhere. He needed money and his best friend had joined the Army a year earlier, so Joe sold his car and most of his clothes and presented himself at the enlistment center. He intended to be a Psychology Specialist, but fate intervened, as the Army schools for that MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) wouldn’t open for 6 months. Still committed to signing up, Joe then perused a book describing various MOSs and the words ‘Preventive Medicine Specialist’ caught his eye, the duties of which included knowledge of snakes and insects. ‘Sign me up!’ This was 1974.

After completing Basic Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Joe attended Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. At his permanent duty station in Fort Hood, Texas, Joe was assigned to the Division Surgeon’s Office of the Second Armored Division – the famed “Hell on Wheels.” In 1975, as an E-4 (Junior Enlisted Army Specialist), he was designated the Chief Preventive Medicine NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) of a field hospital deployed to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas to support the relocation of 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. He was in charge of all base preventive medicine activities and had 7 senior enlisted working for him – quite a responsibility for someone so junior in rank!

Joe’s performance led to being awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) by Major General George Patton IV, the son of THE General Patton, who when presenting said to Joe, “You must have done something very special, son. I’ve never awarded one of these to any enlisted less than an E-8.”  Joe was the most junior person in the entire Department of Defense awarded the MSM that year and was also designated the ‘Soldier of the Year’ for the Fifth Army.

Joe Conlon - Image 2
SP4 Conlon (on right) receiving watch for being named Second Armored Division Soldier of the Year in 1975.

Joe Conlon - Image 3
Check received for being named Third Corps and Fort Hood Soldier of the Year in 1975. Upon being named 5th Army Soldier of the Year, Conlon received an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii to attend the opening of the Hale Koa armed services resort on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu in 1975.

GRADUATE SCHOOL: THE LIGHT COMES ON

After discharge from the Army, Joe attended Cleveland State University as an Environmental Health Major, taking courses that would easily transfer. While visiting Bowling Green State University, Joe stopped into the Biology Department and noticed they had a BS degree program in Parasitology and Medical Entomology. He signed up and completed the degree requirements in 1.5 years, then enrolled in the Master of Science program in the same department.

Joe’s epiphany came when he participated in a symposium on ‘How Insects Have Affected Human History.’ He was assigned to present a 10-page paper on Epidemic Typhus but instead drafted a 67-page treatise! He was hooked.

During graduate school, Joe served as Director for Wood County (Ohio) mosquito control services. Oh, and he was also the only employee! I wonder how the weekly staff meetings went.  Appropriately, this county is named for Captain Eleazer Derby Wood, US Army, who served alongside General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812. Joe’s tools of the trade were a truck, scooter, Flit-MLO (a refined petroleum oil used as a larvicide and pupacide), pyrethrum Tossits and ULV malathion. Finding a huge number of Aedes vexans larvae in a grassland pool, nuking them, and watching them succumb endeared Joe to mosquito control for life.

AND THEN…THE NAVY: SERENDIPITY, THE SEQUEL

After finishing his master’s degree, Joe hoped to continue his education with a famous acarologist at the National University of Ireland – he really just wanted to play the Irish golf courses! – but that did not work out. And what good fortune for the United States Navy! In the meantime, his wife Diane was doing some virology research. Her major professor was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserves and in the course of conversation, the professor asked Joe if he had thought about becoming a military entomologist. Joe knew nothing about this potential career field.

He went to see the military recruiter in Bowling Green, who happened to be from the Navy. There was no Army recruiter in the office. His academic record was impeccable, his prior Army performance was sterling, he knew how to kill six-legged things and he needed a job. “Sign right here, Son!” And the rest, as they say, is history. Among many other things, Joe’s Navy experience emphasized for him the profound effects that mosquito-borne disease has on populations and economies around the globe.

Joe Conlon - Image 4
Lieutenant Junior Grade (o-2) Joe Conlon graduates from Naval Education and Training Command, Newport, Rhode Island, 1982.

That is a brief look at Joe’s beginnings and career track. More importantly, let’s now examine how and when he developed some of the many skills and abilities that have served him so well.

SENSE OF HUMOR AND SINGING VOICE

Joe’s sense of humor is, well, unique! His jokes and folksy expressions – none of which can be told here – are funny, no matter how many times you hear them. This great gift came from Joe’s father, Francis Patrick Conlon (known as ‘Red’), who hailed from a small village in County Fermanagh, Ireland. Joe learned early on in his career the value of lacing his training sessions and public speaking with humor, but more on that later.

Joe’s grandmother, who spoke with a thick Irish brogue, was an indentured servant in Northern Ireland and, according to Joe, ‘hilarious.’ She had a wealth of Irish sayings including this one: “You’ll get nothin’ the sooner for waitin’ awhile.” Right! I agree completely! Joe claims that this phrase actually makes sense, which is worrisome in itself.

And if you have never heard Joe sing ‘Danny Boy,’ your life experiences are incomplete. This is not surprising, as Joe’s father, an Irish tenor, sang on northern Ohio radio. At the tender age of 8, Joe performed as a soloist at his church for weddings and funerals, earning a few extra bucks. He did that until he was 14. Wow! Oh, also at age 8, he appeared on Romper Room to sing ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from My Fair Lady. So, early and often, Joe was performing in public, growing more and more comfortable in the limelight.

WRITING SKILLS

Joe’s writing skills are second to none, and his command of the English language is impeccable. This did not come easily, however. As a sophomore at St Ignatius High School in Cleveland, he was required to write a 125-page, double-spaced term paper on ‘My Philosophy of Life!’ Yep – 125 pages!  According to Joe, the Jesuits were big on writing skills. No kidding!

The first paper Joe wrote in graduate school was returned in a sea of red ink by his major professor, Dr C Lee Rockett (known as ‘The Rockettman’) which left Joe crushed. At St Ignatius, he had developed a rather florid writing style – wouldn’t this be necessary to fill 125 pages? – but The Rockettman would have none of it! Joe took this mentoring to heart and benefitted from it, requiring no edits on his master’s thesis, ‘The Ecology of the American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variablis (Say) in Northwest Ohio.’ Thank goodness he saw the light for mosquitoes! One regret of Joe’s: “Sometimes I wished I would have attained my doctorate, as it would have lent more credibility to my work as the face of the AMCA, but my heart wasn’t into research.”

He learned to get right to the key points, which served him well in his military career as well as during his tenure with AMCA. Just take a look at the many Position Papers, especially those for AMCA’s legislative efforts, that he has written over the years: powerful, succinct, highly readable and each no more than one page – which is the key to getting them read by busy Congressional staffers.

PUBLIC SPEAKING

Joe is one of the best public speakers you will ever hear. Period. Whether it is a technical presentation, a scientific oratory, a fascinating historical piece or a roast of AMCA’s Board of Directors, you can be sure Joe’s recipe will contain a base alloy of excellent content sprinkled with poignant stories, lessons learned and excellent slides, with humor folded in throughout.

But again, this skill did not come easily; it developed slowly over time through a series of experiences. While delivering a “boring” paper on his Master’s research at the Ohio Mosquito Control Association meeting, his first professional presentation, Joe, who admitted he was scared, looked up to see The Rockettman standing at the back of the room, feverishly slashing across his throat – the universal sign for ‘stop talking NOW!’ Joe kept right on talking, rambling incessantly. Many of us have had similar experiences.

Under what circumstances did Joe become the excellent speaker that he is today?

As a Medical Entomologist in the US Navy, Joe taught many classes on insects and their biology and control. These were often given to civilian pest control personnel who may have 25 years of experience or more, so you had better be able to entertain them or you will never educate them. Joe learned how to do that. Dr Andy Beck, a civilian training instructor for the Navy, taught Joe, and many other young Navy entomologists, “Don’t tell them what you know, tell them what they need to know.” That 13-word piece of advice has been Joe’s speaking creed ever since.

He attended many, many meetings and studied the speakers and presentations intently. Joe noted the positives and negatives, emulating the former and avoiding the latter in his own talks. That strategy seems to have worked out pretty well. Before Joe really became comfortable speaking at meetings, one of his fellow entomologists, who recognized his ability, would sign him up to speak without asking him first. This demonstrates, again, the old adage that sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission!

The defining public speaking event for Joe – at the AMCA 1992 annual meeting in Corpus Christi – was when he first gave his legendary talk on his experiences while deployed to the Middle East for Operations Desert Shield/Storm. In one of the most memorable moments of his professional career, professor of microbiology “Harvey Scudder told me that my presentation on Desert Shield … was the best talk he had ever heard.” The presentation was wildly successful, so much so that speaking requests poured in after that.

Sometimes at meetings, Joe would literally squirm in his seat if a speaker was violating any of ‘Conlon’s Tenets of Public Speaking.’ And this happens quite often. So, what did he do? He put together a great talk on ‘How NOT to Give A Presentation,’ and it was a highly educational and humorous effort. And in 2006 he published the information in Wing Beats: http://www.nmca.org/conlonwingbeats.pdf.

The confidence that Joe gained from these and subsequent speaking events gave him the panache, aplomb, and ability to speak without fear, on radio and television as well as testify before the United States Congress. It also helped that he was always prepared and knew going in that he was the expert.

VENOMOUS ANIMALS EXPERT

Joe Conlon - Image 5
Joe Conlon in the desert outside of Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield in, 1990.

It may surprise you to know that Joe is a venomous animal expert of some repute. In 1976 while in the Army, he moonlighted at a serpentarium in San Marcos, Texas where on one occasion, he rescued a mother and her two children from a highly venomous snake known as the Cape cobra (Naja nivea) of near record length for the species. The creature somehow had escaped from its enclosure and had the family trapped in a corner of the viewing room! Holy reptiles, Batman! Joe sprang into action and during the fracas, suffered a near-fatal bite that required hospitalization, during which he had to be revived three times. For his actions, he was nominated for the Carnegie Medal for Heroism – the highest honor for civilian heroism in the United States and Canada. Not surprisingly, Joe declined the honor. Understandably, this incident had a lasting impact, as it demonstrated the power of Nature and imbued in Joe an appreciation for potentially lethal creatures that remains to this day.

About fifteen years later during Joe’s Navy career, he was sent to Operation Desert Shield (Google it, youngsters!) to provide, as Joe refers to it, “venomous critter oversight.” The US forces had heard tall tales about the snakes, camel spiders and ticks found in the Middle East, and there was much apprehension. Joe’s presence eased the angst to a great degree – and gained him material for one of the great presentations of all time – as he provided classes on venomous snakes and arthropods throughout the theater. In addition, because of his language skills, he translated a key to the scorpions of Saudi Arabia from the original French.

And resourceful? Joe’s middle name (not really!). No cameras were allowed many of the places Joe went, so he improvised by using a Kodak Instamatic camera that he clandestinely secured in his armpit whilst snapping away. Hey, come on! He needed the photos for his future presentations. As far as we know, the integrity and security of the mission was not compromised. The lesson here? Broaden your skill set and you will have many more opportunities in your professional career. Adventure awaits!

NEAR MISSES

By his own admission, Joe has no business being alive. During his tenure in the Navy, he was involved in two helicopter crashes, both of which should have been fatal. By the way, remember that helicopters don’t really fly – they just beat the air into submission!

The first accident was in the African country of Gabon while he was on a site survey for a field hospital. The aircraft fell onto a hut, the fuel tank ruptured, and two residents lost their lives, but no one on the aircraft was injured. Remarkably, one of the passengers, a pilot who worked for the US embassy in Zaire, turned out years later to be a teacher of Joe and Diane’s son, Brian, in elementary school in Fleming Island, Florida. And no, I am not clever enough to make that up.

The second episode occurred in Maracay, Venezuela during a high-visibility effort by the US Navy to assist in controlling a dengue fever outbreak. High viz, you say? It was coordinated through the US Department of State and during the effort, Joe met the President of Venezuela and flew on a helicopter with his two daughters. Anyway, due to a series of circumstances, another helicopter on which he was conducting adulticiding literally slammed into a powerline, with the impact shattering the windshield and sending the wounded bird autorotating down, where it landed harshly into the parking lot of a supermarket on a Friday evening. All on board should have perished but it wasn’t the time for Joe or the others. He was taken to a local clinic to have a small piece of plexiglass from the imploded windshield removed from his eye.

Experiences such as this change your whole perspective on life. I should know: I was in the second accident with Joe!

BRINGING IT ALL HOME

Joe Conlon - Image 6
Joe Conlon at his desk in his home office in 2003.

As with many of us I suppose, some of Joe’s success was pure serendipity but most of it was built on a broad platform of keen interest, varied experiences and the ability to learn from mentoring, mistakes and misgivings. What really jumps out is that he worked hard, followed his passion, and didn’t give up: a recipe for success!

Joe Conlon - Image 7
Joe Conlon wearing a Vitamin B-12 patch, being fed upon by mosquitoes during a “Today Show” shoot at the USDA laboratories in Gainesville, Florida in 2008. Dr. Ulrich Bernier is in the background, in addition to “Today Show” reporter Janice Lieberman.

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/

This article has been published with permission from Wing Beats Magazine https://www.floridamosquito.org/Public/FMCA_Publications/Wing_Beats.aspx

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 ful 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/

Distribution of Mosquito Species

By | Mosquitoes | No Comments

The distribution of mosquito species can vary wildly by location.There are about 3,000 species of mosquitoes known in the world.  In the insect universe, this is a relatively small number compared to estimates of over 500,000 species of beetles! In North America, there are about 175 species of mosquitoes; some are quite common while others are rarely encountered.

Distribution of Mosquito Species in the US

In the United States, the number of species by state is quite variable, as shown in the map below.   Hawaii, as expected, has the fewest species with 8 while Texas and Florida lead the way with 85 and 80, respectively.  The differences are in part driven by the amount of biodiversity within each state.  The greater the biodiversity, the more types of habitats for mosquitoes are available.

Distribution of Mosquito Species - Map

So, mosquitoes are not randomly distributed across the United States nor within an individual state.  This principle also applies to the properties of your customers.  Adult mosquitoes are fragile creatures, subject to dessication (drying out) and death if exposed to harsh environmental conditions.  Therefore, they will be found primarily in areas that are widely known as Captain Stan’s ‘Big Four’.

Captain Stan’s “Big Four” Areas Where Mosquitoes are Located on a Property

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

If you target the Big Four for your treatments, not only will you kill the mosquitoes but you will save time, money, use less product, and better protect the environment.  Happy Hunting!

Distribution of Mosquito Species - Chart

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/

Mosquito Distribution – 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/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover 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/

The Untold Story of Sir Ronald Ross

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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.

National Pest Management Month

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April marks National Pest Management Month.  The designation highlights the professional pest control industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, property and food from the diseases and dangers posed by pests.  Each year is a reason to celebrate pest management but in these extraordinary times we have even more reasons to give thanks.

National Pest Management Month - IPM

6 Reasons to Celebrate National Pest Management Month in 2020

  1. Pest management is essential.  Especially with Americans spending more time at home the need to protect living spaces is more important than ever.  It’s no wonder service vehicles continue their routes, undoubtedly the protection they provide is essential for our way of life.
  2. Pest management professionals are tenacious.  Even with uncertainties they continue to rise each morning and provide peace of mind in the services they provide.
  3. Pest management is versatile.  With the need for disinfecting services clearly on the rise, many pest control organizations have adapted to work this into their service offerings.
  4. Pest control organizations and their employees are generous – as evidenced by donations of personal protection equipment to front line healthcare workers.
  5. Many pest control organizations are local businesses.  With over 20,000 organizations nationwide the industry accommodates companies of all sizes.  With uncertain economic times ahead it stands to reason that support of local businesses will be important.
  6. Pest management professionals protect the future.  As our times change so to will the challenges pests present – like rodents in large cities.

These are just some of the reasons to celebrate the pest management industry during National Pest Management Month.  We are proud to salute all of the hard-working individuals that go to work everyday to protect our homes, schools and businesses.  Thank you for all you do.

And this month we would also like to extend that thank you to the production and shipping team at Catchmaster.  They continue to amaze us everyday with their commitment to produce the quality products that pest management professional rely upon.  Without a doubt, they do this even in the face of adversity.  Thank you!

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

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Mosquito Feeding – Different Hosts and Different Times

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Mosquito Feeding Schedule

Knowing the mosquito feeding schedule of the pests on a property can inform your IPM plan.  There are about 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, with about 175 in North America.  What do all these mosquitoes feed on, and when do they feed?  Let’s take a look.

Mosquito Feeding - Bite Graphic

6 Mosquito Feeding Fun Facts

  1. Most species never bite people. They prefer instead to feed on large mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.  One type of mosquito feeds on earthworms and leeches!
  2. One species, the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, takes >95% of its blood meals from humans. This is part of the reason why it is such an efficient vector of several viruses including dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and Mayaro.
  3. Mosquitoes such as the Northern house mosquito Culex pipiens, will feed on birds and humans so they are dangerous vectors of some viruses such as West Nile virus, which is normally maintained in birds.
  4. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they require blood to produce eggs. However, both male and female mosquitoes require multiple sugar meals per day for energy.  They usually get these meals from plants.
  5. The majority of species bite during the early evening and at night. However, some of the most vicious biters and most efficient disease vectors, including the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito, bite mostly during the daytime.
  6. PMPs should always ask their customers what time of the day they are being bitten. This information can drive appropriate control efforts and save time and money.

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/

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

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover 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/

Pest Maintenance – 6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Service Accounts

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

Even without access to customers’ homes there are steps to maintain pest maintenance.  Certainly nothing replaces getting access to a commercial or residential account.   However, pest maintenance helps you bridge the gap.  Undoubtedly, this shows your customers value once access returns.

6 Pest Maintenance Tips to Service Accounts

  • Provide glue boards to your customers along with instructions on where to place them.  Hot spots include kitchen sinks, attached garages or basements.  Not only does this help ward off unwanted invaders, you now have a blueprint for how to service once you have access.  Pro tip – if you have extra office time get started with private labeling.  Here is an article on some of the benefits of private labeling: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/private-label-pest-products-your-marketing-secret-weapon/
  • Conduct a thorough exterior inspection.  Let your inspection dictate your schedule to systematically address identified issues either immediately or over time.  Even if your customers do not move forward right away it provides a road map for continued service when things eventually return to business as usual.  Perform proactive exclusion services.  Here is an article that identifies some external hot spots: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/top-5-areas-for-exclusion-around-the-home/
  • Consider your exterior trapping options.  Use weatherproof snap traps like our 605 Easy Set Snap Traps in bait or trapping stations around the  perimeter of homes to head off pests.  Additionally, our 611 Dual Action Twin Catch is a great tool to install in sheds and attached garages.  The trap heads off both crawling insects & unwanted rodents.

Don’t Forget the Mosquitoes!

Pest Maintenance - Fun Facts

Undoubtedly, nothing replaces a thorough inspection as part of your IPM plan.  However, even without a thorough internal inspection there are plenty of steps you can take to keep lines of communication open with your customers.  Building up goodwill can go a long way once business returns to normal.

Pest Maintenance – 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/