Conference Offers Training Opportunities for Pest Management Professionals

Dr. Bobby Corrigan speaking in front of crowd at Brazos Center

Dr. Bobby Corrigan speaking to participants about rodent control. Photos by Rob Williams

Hundreds of pest control professionals convened at the Brazos Center to learn the latest in pest control and pest management strategies during the 73rd meeting of the Texas A&M Pest Management Conference and Workshop on Wednesday, January 16-Friday, January 18.

The 73rd annual workshop allows pest management professionals and to learn the latest innovations and rule changes affecting their businesses. The workshop featured experts in controlling pests in urban and other settings.

The conference opened on Wednesday with a welcome by Dr. Ed Vargo and keynote speaker Dr. Bobby Corrigan. Corrigan spoke about the latest rodents that are invading homes and businesses and the latest control methods pest control professionals can use.

Allison Cuellar also gave an update on the latest changes in state rules and regulations affecting the industry and Phillip Shults spoke about field and workplace safety. Other sessions included bed bugs and the latest updates in termite biology and management, hot topics in pest control, and weed control in Texas lawns.

Erfan Vafaie speaking to the group on lawn and ornamental pests.

Erfan Vafaie speaking to the group on lawn and ornamental pests.

Other activities included a vendor’s showcase during the Wednesday afternoon sessions where vendors could speak to participants about their products and a special 8-hour technician training course conducted by Dr. Don Renchie. During the breaks, participants could visit with more than 30 exhibitors in the exhibition area.

Extension Program Specialist-IPM Erfan Vafaie opened Thursday morning with his talk on the major insect pests of turf and ornamental plants and how to control each pest. Concurrent sessions were then held for the rest of the day on topics such as kissing bugs, structural and commodity fumigation, biting and stinging insects, and how to control perimeter pests.

One of the new features the conference added this year included a special panel session on Thursday with members of the Professional Women in Pest Control. Moderated by Janet Hurley, members Betty Thornton, Jennifer Sweeney, Dr. Janis Reed, and Rachel Maldonado.

Bob Davis showing participants of the commercial kitchens mini-session. Photo by Janet Hurley

Bob Davis showing participants of the commercial kitchens mini-session tools to help control pests in and around kitchens. Photo by Janet Hurley

The group spoke about topics such as how to encourage more women to work in the pest control industry and challenges they face in the industry today and how to improve recruiting and outreach.

Other presentations on Thursday included research on termites, pest ants, using RNA interference for controlling ants, and using phorid and other decapitating flies to control fire ants. Participants could also test their insect identification knowledge during “The Ultimate Challenge” and could learn the latest from the Technician and the Associate Certified Entomologist testing and trainings.

During Friday’s sessions, participants received specialized instruction with three short courses in bed bugs and bed bug control, pest control in commercial kitchens, and fumigation of both commercial and residential structures.

All of the mini-courses were designed to help pest control professionals receive hands-on experience and learn the latest techniques. Each course consisted of a short classroom-type lecture mixed with demonstrations specific to the subject.

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