SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 29 signed into law AB 1788, “The California Ecosystems Protection Act,” which prohibits most uses of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). AB 1788 was passed by the California Legislature on Aug. 31.

AB 1788 prohibits most uses of rodenticides containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum or difethialone to reduce the poisoning of non-target wildlife until the re-evaluation by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is completed; the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) also will play a consultation role in the re-evaluation.

The bill was in response to studies that showed the detectable levels of SGARs in wildlife had not declined despite a consumer ban of the products in 2014.

The pest control industry, including the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), as well as other groups, had been working in opposition to AB 1788.

Chris Reardon, executive vice president of PCOC, said neither he nor PCOC members were surprised Newsom signed the bill into law, but they were disappointed. “Fear and emotion overtook fact and science,” he told PCT the day after the governor signed the bill into law.

AB 1788 includes numerous exemptions including wineries, breweries, warehouses, factories, agricultural sites, medical facilities, and drug and medical equipment manufacturing facilities, etc. Reardon and others contend that with these exemptions, AB 1788 really does not protect wildlife from SGARs as the bill’s sponsors touted. “Guess what: Places that are exempt, like wineries, are directly adjacent to wildlife. The sponsors got what they wanted, but the fact of the matter is this bill does nothing to protect wildlife,” Reardon said.

AB 1788 is expected to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, but Reardon said the California Department of Pesticide Regulation(CDPR) typically institutes a phase-out period for such matters. Reardon added that he has been working with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to get clarity on how this implementation will take place. He said the implementation could be challenging for CDPR because of the numerous exemptions/exceptions.

Reardon said California’s actions could have implications for the rest of the pest management industry. He said he would not be surprised if states such as Washington, Oregon and Massachusetts follow suit with similar bans. “For those states that think it could never be done, look at California,” he said. — Brad Harbison

ServiceMaster to Become Terminix Global Holdings, Sells Brands Franchise Business

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ServiceMaster Global Holdings announced that the company will change its name to Terminix Global Holdings and change its NYSE ticker symbol to “TMX” immediately upon the closing of the sale of its ServiceMaster Brands segment, and associated names and trademarks, to Roark Capital, an affiliate of investment funds managed by Roark Capital Management. The $1.553 billion deal was expected to close by early October.

Ponton

The company said the transaction will position the company’s two businesses, Terminix and ServiceMaster Brands, to pursue their own distinct strategies and growth opportunities. Terminix will benefit from enhanced management focus and resources for its global pest control business, while Roark Capital will provide ServiceMaster Brands with a strong and supportive owner to build upon its leading market positions and trusted brand names, the company said.

ServiceMaster Brands includes a portfolio of residential and commercial services brands such as ServiceMaster Restore, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, AmeriSpec and Furniture Medic, which operate through a network of franchised and company-owned businesses that generated $2,663 million in system-wide sales, and $256 million in revenue for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2020.

Terminix also announced the official start of its new chief executive officer, Brett Ponton. Naren Gursahaney will continue his role as non-executive chairman of the board of directors following his service as interim chief executive officer over the past eight months.

“I am excited to join the Terminix team,” Ponton said. “People are at the heart of this great business and leading brand, and I look forward to working closely with our executive leadership team, field managers and customer-facing employees, as I learn the operating procedures, culture and key customer dynamics that are so important to our success. As a pure-play pest control company we will greatly enhance our customer focus through service excellence, retention improvement and performance consistency, that will ultimately lead to increased shareholder value.”

 

Rollins Board of Directors Announces Executive Promotions

ATLANTA — The Rollins board of directors announced key appointments that it says will further strengthen the company’s executive leadership.

Gary W. Rollins has been elevated by the company’s board of directors to the Rollins board chairmanship. John Wilson, formerly Rollins president and COO, was promoted to vice chairman. Jerry Gahlhoff was promoted to president/COO of Rollins.

Wilson joined Orkin, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rollins, in 1996. He has held various positions of increasing responsibility, including technician, sales inspector, branch manager, region manager, vice president and president of the Southeast Division before being named president of Orkin in 2009. Wilson will assist with critical company projects at the direction of Chairman Gary W. Rollins, as well as coaching the company’s new generation of leaders, the firm said.

Gahlhoff came to Rollins in the HomeTeam acquisition in 2008 and has successfully managed several areas of the company with increasing responsibility, the company reported. He most recently led the Rollins Specialty Brands team of HomeTeam, Clark, Northwest, Western Pest, Waltham Pest and OPC pest control companies, as well as the Rollins human resources department.

“John and Jerry bring years of excellent experience and leadership to these new positions,” said Gary W. Rollins. “We are fortunate to have them assume a greater role in the direction and future of our company.”

Rollins also announced the election of Harry J. Cynkus as a new director of the company. Cynkus is the former senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Rollins, holding various positions from 1998 to 2015.

Gary Rollins stated, “We are fortunate to have Harry on the Board and will benefit from his extensive business and financial experience. We welcome him back to the Rollins family.”

 

Michigan Resident Believed to Have Contracted EEE

LANSING, Mich. — A Barry County resident is suspected of having contracted eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Barry-Eaton District Health Department announced on Sept. 15.

Preliminary test results indicated the patient had EEE. This human case is in addition to 22 confirmed cases in horses from 10 counties. Michiganders were urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the suspected EEE case along with nine confirmed cases of West Nile virus.

“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS.

“MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes.” Source: MDHHS

 

University of Kentucky Announces Online Pest Control Training Series

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky announced it will hold a series of webinars this fall in place of the university’s annual Short Course, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Since we aren’t able to meet in person, we’ll be running an eight-week online training program from October through December (every Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST). We’ve got a great lineup of speakers which may be of interest to those on a national level, especially since the online format will allow those outside Kentucky to listen in (and possibly get credits).”

Topics include: COVID-19 and Pest Control; Occasional Invaders and Pest Proofing; Pest Identification; New Products and Technology; Social Media and Pest Control; Technician Training; Termites; Cockroaches; Ants; Bed Bugs; Spiders; and more.

Speakers include: Jeff White (BedBug Central), Dr. Faith Oi (University of Florida), Mark VanderWerp (Rose Pest Solutions), Dr. Karen Vail (University of Tennessee) and more.

Credits have been requested from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan. Other states can be requested by notifying the conference organizers.

Full program and registration information is available at www.kyshortcourse.org.

 

J. Occi/Rutgers Center for Vector Biology
Live larval bat ticks (Carios kelleyi) removed in 2019 from big brown bats in Mercer County, N.J.

Bat Tick Found for the First Time in N.J.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A tick species associated with bats has been reported for the first time in New Jersey and could pose health risks to people, pets and livestock, according to a Rutgers-led study in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

This species (Carios kelleyi) is a “soft” tick. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are an example of “hard” ticks.

“All ticks feed on blood and may transmit pathogens (disease-causing microbes) during feeding,” said lead author James L. Occi, a doctoral student in the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We need to be aware that if you remove bats from your belfry, attic or elsewhere indoors, ticks that fed on those bats may stay behind and come looking for a new source of blood. There are records of C. kelleyi biting humans.”

This soft tick species, a parasite of bats, is known to be in 29 of the 48 contiguous U.S. states, and was confirmed in New Jersey as larvae collected from big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). This is a new addition to the list of New Jersey ticks.

While the public health risk remains unknown, “finding them on New Jersey bats was an unusual event that prompted bat specialists to contact us. Maybe these ticks are becoming more common,” said senior author Dina M. Fonseca, a professor and director of the Center for Vector Biology in the Department of Entomology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

In other states, C. kelleyi has been found infected with microbes that are harmful to people, pets and livestock. There have been reports of this soft tick feeding on humans, and the bat that hosts them regularly roosts in structures such as attics and barns, underscoring the need to learn more about them, the study says.

“This tick belongs to the family Argasidae, known as ‘soft ticks’ because their body looks leathery and soft,” Fonseca said. That is in contrast to the “hard ticks” (family Ixodidae) that the public is more familiar with.

Scientists in the Endangered and Nongame Species Program of the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found the tick larvae on bats last year. Technically, this is not the first time a soft tick has been reported in New Jersey. In 2001, a related tick species — Carios jersey — was found in amber in Middlesex County. That specimen was 90 million to 94 million years old.

“The next steps are to collect more soft tick specimens and test them for disease-causing microbes,” Occi said.

Rutgers coauthors include Andrea M. Egizi, a visiting professor in the Department of Entomology. Scientists at the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Smithsonian Institution and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research contributed. Source: Rutgers University

 

NPMA’s Women in Pest Management Forum, Global Bed Bug Summit, Go Virtual

FAIRFAX, Va. — Two National Pest Management Association events — the International Professional Women in Pest Management Leadership Forum and the Global Bed Bug Summit — have been changed to virtual events.

Bayer is the premier sponsor of the Professional Women in Pest Management event. “Although we had hoped to meet in person, with the increase of women entering our industry, we feel that it’s necessary to host this conference in a virtual format as to not lose momentum on this important initiative,” said Dominique Stumpf, NPMA CEO. “Working together with Bayer, we are developing a unique virtual program addressing topics that are even more relevant in the current climate as they relate to breaking barriers, successfully navigating the workplace and the future of work due to digital disruption.”

The Leadership Forum will take place virtually, Nov. 9-10. Learn more at http://womensforum.npmapestworld.org.

Additionally, the 2020 Global Bed Bug Summit will be held virtually. BedBug Central is the premier sponsor of the event. “The Global Bed Bug Summit is an incredibly important specialty meeting for our members who provide bed bug services,” Stumpf said. “We are confident that our attendees, exhibitors and supporters will find great value in this meeting as we shift it to a virtual platform.”

The virtual Summit will take place on the same dates, Dec. 1-3, and will feature the latest bed bug research and education presented by industry thought leaders.

The Global Bed Bug Summit provides pest management professionals with the information they need from a legal, technical, business and customer-oriented perspective so they can not only eliminate bed bug issues, but also create an environment of trust between themselves and their customers. The virtual Summit will feature a 24/7 tradeshow offering participants access to the latest bed bug products and technologies, increased engagement with industry experts, and CEU opportunities.

Learn more at www.npmapestworld.org.

 

Bird Barrier Announces Upcoming Online Training

CARSON, Calif. — PMPs interested in bird control can become bird control certified in 24 hours by attending online training courses from Bird Barrier. The company is offering online training courses through October. With new sessions on “Solar Panel Protection” and “Recurring Revenue,” Bird Barrier is covering a wide range of topics, including selling and estimating projects, in-depth looks at Optical Gel and StealthNet, and general overviews on products and techniques, the company says.

Classes are structured in hour-long sections with full question and answer time available.

Learn more online at http://info.birdbarrier.com/training.

 

Texas A&M’s Mike Merchant Recognized by Entomological Society of America

DALLAS, Texas — Retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service professor of urban entomology Michael Merchant, Ph.D., has been named an honorary lifetime member of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).

Honorary membership recognizes significant contributions by ESA members who have served for at least 20 years. The recognition comes with complimentary lifetime membership to the ESA and lifetime registration to the society’s annual meeting, of which Merchant has participated annually since joining in 1982.

“I feel immensely honored by this recognition,” Merchant said. “It’s a testament to some of the great work we’ve accomplished through the ESA and a satisfying honor at the end of my career.”

Michael Merchant, Ph.D., leads training for a group of school pest management professionals.

In August, Merchant retired from a 31-year career with AgriLife Extension, where he was based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center in Dallas. During this time, his professional efforts reached across the state as he trained AgriLife Extension county agents, the public and pest management professionals on structural pest control, turfgrass and ornamental plant insects. He also provided comprehensive lessons on entomology for public health.

Aside from organizing and conducting learning programs around urban entomology, Merchant’s research with AgriLife Extension addressed control issues for many specific pests including fire ants, scale insects, spiders and scorpions, among others.

His research also covered the economics and implementation of integrated pest management, or IPM, in Texas schools, where IPM is required by law.

Merchant is credited with expanding IPM in all aspects of entomological teaching across the state, and industry professionals say he is synonymous with IPM training in Texas.

“He is a distinguished leader in both the study of entomology and with extension programming,” said Kim Engler, education and technical trainer with ABC Home & Commercial Services, San Antonio. “His attention to detail and striving to provide science-based research to the general public helped shape my career by providing the fundamentals for being a good scientist.”

Merchant is a coauthor of the ESA publication IPM for the Urban Professional: A Study Guide for the Associate Certified Entomologist, and he established the IPM Experience House training facility at Agri-Life’s Dallas center.

“IPM House is the only training program of its kind in Texas, and it is an effort to ensure that our state has some of the most safety conscious, educated and effective pest management professionals in the nation,” Merchant said.

The “house” contains a series of mock real-world environments for training pest control professionals. They include a restaurant dining area, a nursing home bedroom, an industrial kitchen, a cultivated landscape and a residential living room, kitchen and attic. The facility also houses a bank of microscopes and learning materials for pest ID.

An outpouring of congratulatory remarks followed the ESA’s announcement of Merchant’s honorary membership in September.

“Throughout my tenure in industry, I have used Dr. Merchant’s blogs and printed materials to support conversations with homeowners,” said Janis Reed, Ph.D., entomologist and technical services manager with Control Solutions Inc. “I could always count on Mike to be succinct, factual and use language any reader could understand. Having the large breadth of topics he’s covered over the years to use helped me to communicate with folks by using a reliable source of information.”

Merchant’s volunteer roles with the ESA over three decades have included student-contest judging, helping to establish the Southwest Branch Insect Expo for grade schoolers, chairing and serving on multiple committees and organizing entomological symposia.

He also was the first president of the ESA’s Medical, Urban and Veterinary Entomology, or MUVE Section, which focuses on how insects affect humans, domestic and wild animals and the urban environment. Prior to this, he served five years on the ESA Certification Board, including two years as director.

It was in the director role that Merchant led establishment of the Associate Certified Entomologist, or A.C.E., professional certification program, which complemented his co-authored guide. The ESA credits this initiative for helping to build current A.C.E. membership to more than 1,000 from zero in 2004.

“His dedication and support of the certification programs for the ESA stands out,” said Bob Davis, Ph.D., entomologist and technical specialist with BASF. “Mike recognized that professional credentialing for pest management professionals could serve an important need for the industry.”

Merchant joins May Berenbaum, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Mike Ivie, Ph.D., Montana State University; Gary R. Mullen, Ph.D., Auburn University; and Lisa G. Neven, U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS, in receiving honorary ESA memberships in 2020.