Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What makes an entomologist?

According to ESA member and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, there are nearly 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quintillion) insects in the world. More than one million different species of insects have been identified, but some experts believe that there may be as many as 30 million insect species in the world that have yet to be discovered and identified.

With that many insects it is a huge understatement that it takes a LOT of knowledge, training, and preparation to become an entomologist.  At a minimum, an entomologist is someone who has at least a 4-year degree in entomology. Most have earned a master's or PhD as well (over 70% of full ESA members (i.e., non-students) have earned a doctorate degree).

So the question becomes ... if a pest control professional wants to become an entomologist, how do they go about it?

The easy answer is to go to college. But -- with the daunting prospect of perhaps 12 years of education and many many thousands of dollars in tuition -- that's kind of a hard answer too.

Another path is to consider becoming an Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE). While you would not become a full entomologist, this may well be the next best thing. An ACE is someone who has documented their learning and knowledge of structural pest control by:

  • meeting the minimum qualifications of seven (five) years's experience*,
  • being a licensed applicator,
  • proving their mettle by agreeing to abide by the ACE Code of Ethics,  and
  • passing an examination of their knowledge of insects as it relates to urban pest management
  • Starting in 2014 an ACE is also going to have to start earning CEUs annually to maintain their certification.
I want to be clear that earning your ACE does not make you an entomologist. It makes you an Associate Certified Entomologist.This is not a degree equivalency, but it is a practical and proven way for a person to showcase their knowledge in pest control.

ACE is designed for those whose life path has led them down a more hands-on approach to education rather than a classroom setting. It is the future of pest management and any career professional who wants to meet the mark should be looking into it closely.

*  Post updated:  In October 2014 the Certification Board changed the requirement to five years' experience and added a new requirement for 2 letters of reference. Find the current requirements at www.entocert.org/ace.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New ACE exam content outline dissected: I&I - (Part 1 of 4)

Anyone who has been paying attention should know by now that the ACE exam is undergoing some improvements and the content outline is being updated. So far we've discussed (a) how the changes affect applicants, (b) what is a content outline, and (c) how to study for the new exam.

I thought it might be appropriate to dig in a bit on how the content outline is built.

There are 4 Knowledge Domains on the new exam. The first is Inspection and Identification which will make up 45% of the questions on the exam.

Under the I&I Domain there are four skills that a person should be able to perform if they are to become an ACE. Those are:

  • Inspect for evidence of pests
  • Inspect for conditions conducive to pests
  • Identify pests
  • Document and communicate findings of pest inspection and identification
Analyzed further for each skill ...

Inspect for evidence of pests - In order to perform this skill, a person would need this knowledge:
  • Tools available for inspection and appropriate uses  (e.g., flashlight, moisture meter, flushing agents)
  • Probable locations of pests
  • Types of evidence of pest presence (e.g., damage caused, egg types, frass)
  • Safety precautions (e.g., equipment, personnel)
Inspect for conditions conducive to pests - In order to perform this skill, a person would need this knowledge:
  • Tools available for inspection and appropriate uses  (e.g., flashlight, moisture meter, flushing agents)
  • Conditions conducive to pests (e.g., site, weather, ambient conditions)
  • Safety precautions (e.g., equipment, personnel)
Identify pests - In order to perform this skill, a person would need this knowledge:
  • Taxonomy and classification
  • Morphology
  • Biology (basic physiology, behavior, habitat, life cycle, reproduction potential)
  • Damage caused
Document and communicate findings of pest inspection and identification - In order to perform this skill, a person would need this knowledge:
  • How to explain pest thresholds and respond to customer expectations
  • Use, limitations and types of pest thresholds
  • What to document
  • How to document
  • Where to document
  • To whom to communicate findings
  • Adherence to ACE Code of Ethics

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Certified Science - October 2013

Certified Science
A Periodic ESA E-mail Service (and blog post) directed at ACEs and Urban-Industrial BCEs
October, 2013

The Entomological Society of America is the #1 source of scientific information for the urban entomologist. This email is a service of the Entomological Society of America for all Associate Certified Entomologists (ACEs) and Board Certified Entomologists (BCEs) who hold a specialty in urban and industrial entomology.

Here is a summary of some recent articles in the ESA journals that relate to structural pest management and urban arthropod pests. The abstracts are freely available online for all articles, though access to the full text will generally require member in the Entomological Society of America, in addition to your certification.

The Influence of Fipronil on Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) Feeding Beyond Treated Plots
Abstract: A small-plot field trial was conducted to examine the area of influence of fipronil at incremental distances away from treated plots on the Harrison Experimental Forest near Saucier, MS. Small treated (water and fipronil) plots were surrounded by untreated wooden boards in an eight-point radial pattern, and examined for evidence of termite feeding every 60 d for 1 yr after treatment. Circular areas of 0, 0.28, 1.13, 2.55, 4.52, 7.07, and 10.18 m2 around the treated plots were installed to evaluate feeding damage by termites on the boards. (Full abstract here)
Authors: Shelton, Thomas G
SourceJournal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Number 5

Detection of the A302S Rdl Mutation in Fipronil Bait-Selected Strains of the German Cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae)
Abstract: Extensive usage and heavy reliance on insecticides have led to the development of insecticide resistance in the German cockroach, Blattella germanica (L.). Six field-collected strains of B. germanica from Singapore were used to investigate resistance to fipronil and dieldrin. The three strains (Boat Quay, Cavenagh Road, and Ghimmoh Road) with greatest resistance to fipronil were subjected to selection with fipronil bait up to the F5 generation. Synergism assay and molecular detection of a target site mutation were used to elucidate the mechanism of fipronil resistance in these strains. With the exception of the Cavenagh Road strain, all parental strains were susceptible to dieldrin. This strain exhibited resistance to dieldrin and fipronil ... (Full abstract here)
Authors: Ang, Ling-Hui; Nazni, Wasi Ahmad; Kuah, Meng-Kiat; Shu-Chien, Alexander Chong; Lee, Chow-Yang
SourceJournal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Number 5

Colony Breeding Structure of the Invasive Termite Reticulitermes urbis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
Abstract: Invasive species cause severe environmental and economic problems. The invasive success of social insects often appears to be related to their ability to adjust their social organization to new environments. To gain a better understanding of the biology of invasive termites, this study investigated the social organization of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes urbis, analyzing the breeding structure and the number of reproductives within colonies from three introduced populations. By using eight microsatellite loci to determine the genetic structure, it was found that all the colonies from the three populations were headed by both primary reproductives (kings and queens) and secondary reproductives (neotenics) to form extended-family colonies (Full abstract here)
Authors: Perdereau, Elfie; Velonà Alessandro; Dupont, Simon; Labédan, Marjorie; Luchetti, Andrea; Mantovani, Barbara; Bagnères, Anne-Genevieve
SourceJournal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Number 5

Models to Predict Mortality of Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) Exposed to Elevated Temperatures During Structural Heat Treatments
Abstract: Novel thermal death models were developed with certain assumptions, and these models were validated by using actual heat treatment data collected under laboratory conditions at constant temperatures over time and in commercial food-processing facilities where temperatures were dynamically changing over time. The predicted mortalities of both young larvae and adults of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst), were within 92‐99% of actual measured insect mortalities. (Full abstract here)
Authors: Jian, Fuji; Subramanyam, Bhadriraju; Jayas, Digvir S.; White, Noel D. G.
SourceJournal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Number 5

Molting Process in the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
Abstract: This study describes the behavioral and histological changes that take place during ecdysis in the Formosan subterranean termite. The molting process was described in four distinct phases, starting with the peristaltic contraction of the abdomen to the complete shedding of the exuvium. Although individual termites still managed to go through the molting process when isolated from their nestmates, it required more time for the molting individual to complete the process than when aided by its nestmates. Histological observations were made on termites during the intermolt period, the premolting or fasting period, the pre-ecdysis and the ecdysis periods, and on newly molted individuals. Symbiotic protozoans were voided at the beginning of the premolting/fasting period. (Full abstract here)
Authors: Xing, Lin; Chouvenc, Thomas; Su, Nan-Yao
Source Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Volume 106, Number 5

American Entomologist
ACEs have full access to the online edition of this publication by logging into the ESA website. Some of the pest-management-related articles in the latest edition are:
  • A Summer Without Monarchs - Gene Kritsky's short review of where all the monarch butterflies are this year
  • This Study Sucks! - Gerry Wegner, BCE examines bed bug control using vacuum technology
  • Arachnophobic Entomologists: When Two More Legs Makes a Big Difference - Rick Vetter and a great article on entomologists who just don't like spiders

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A very good month for pest control certification

There were several big ACE Prep Courses last month with over 50 PMPs testing for their ACE. As a result of these classes and those who tested without a prep course, more than 30 new people are now ACE-certified.

I'm often asked if you need to go to a prep course to take your ACE. The short answer is "no", but many people find that it is a good way to hone their knowledge and get them into a "test-taking mindset".

It worked well for Clark who now has 14 new ACEs on the books. ACE certification is a personal designation, but we like to list the company that the PMP is affiliated with as well.

Here are the names of all who passed their ACE in the past month. Our congratulations to all (and their employers for having such talented PMPs on staff)!

The Bug Man, Inc. in Little Rock, AR. Both were certified on 10/2/2013
Mr. Dwight Howard, ACE
Mr. Gerard Laborde, ACE

J&J Exterminating Co, Inc. in DeRidder, LA.  Both were certified on 10/2/2013
Mr. Adam D. Woodard, ACE
Mr. Bryan D. Gaspard, ACE

Clark Pest Control in Lodi, CA.  All were certified on 10/2/2013
Mr. Ethan Bechtel, ACE
ESA mailed out over 30 new ACE packets this month!
Mr. Ryan Cowler, ACE
Mr. Gerry Delabra, ACE
Mr. Chuck Ehmann, ACE
Mr. Bill Haga, ACE
Mr. Jerry Hauser, ACE
Mr. Bill Houdashell, ACE
Mr. Eric Howell, ACE
Mr. Gary Koeppen, ACE
Mr. Matthew Kolb, ACE
Mr. Douglas Lipsie, ACE
Mr. Fred McCarn, ACE
Mr. Rob Roy McGregor, ACE
Mr. Michael Parker, ACE

Lady-Bug Services, Inc. of Amarillo, TX. All were certified on 9/24/2013
Mr. Brent Guy Berg, ACE
Mr. Brad Turner, ACE
Mr. Bradley Logan Weiss

All were certified on 10/2/2013
Mr. Jeffery G Hargrave, ACE, (Orkin LLC), Scott, LA
Mr. Richard Rainey, ACE, (SPLAT Pest Control of Baton Rouge, LLC), Baton Rouge, LA
Mr. Jarrod Wayne Horton, ACE, (Anti-Pest Company, Inc.), Shreveport, LA
Mr. Kevin Viator, ACE, (Kevin's Pest Control Inc.), New Iberia, LA

All were certified on 9/24/2013
Mr. Chris Landry, ACE, (Orkin Pest Control), Odessa, TX
Mr. Victor L. Markle, ACE, (Markle Pest Management & Tree Service), Mesquite, TX
Mr. Ron Dawson, Jr., ACE, (Dallas Ft. Worth Pest Control), Dallas, TX
Mr. Warren T Remmey, Jr, ACE, (Spider Man Pest Control, Inc), San Antonio, TX
Mr. Jared Chrestman, ACE, (J.C.'s Terminix), Lubbock, TX

Was certified on 9/20/2013
Mr. Robert M Ward, ACE, (Rose Pest Solutions), Lansing, MI

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to study for the new ACE exam

Does this sound like you:  You're thinking about applying to become an ACE and then you heard that the content is changing. Arrrgh!  What do I study now?

First ... relax. We think that you'll find the new exam content is not substantially different from the current exam content. What changed is a move to a more logical structure and one that has been validated by interviews with and survey responses from hundreds of pest management professionals across the United States.  Essentially, there are just four main areas now. They are (in no particular order):

  • Inspection and Identification (45% of the exam)
  • Monitoring (12% of the exam)
  • Selection and Implementation of Control Methods (28% of the exam)
  • Evaluation (15% of the exam)

Within each of these "domains" there are skills that a person should be able to competently perform if they are to become ACE certified. This is what you are going to test on. For example, under the Domain "Inspection and Identification", the skills needed are:
  • Inspect for evidence of pests
  • Inspect for conditions conducive to pests
  • Identify pests
  • Document and communicate findings of pest inspection and identification

Remember, the full content outline of what you need to study to pass the new ACE exam is on the ESA website. 

What pests are on the exam?
The structure for the new exam is that you'll find the pests covered are discussed within the Domains outlined above. In other words, you might find a question about bed bugs in a Monitoring question or an Evaluation question. But you would not find a question about bed bugs that does not relate to one of the 4 Domains. The pests covered are (in no particular order):

On the new content outline (found by following the hyperlinks above) you'll find these topics broken down further. The list of actual creatures covered is on the content outline in order of decreasing likelihood of occurrence on the exam. If an insect or arthropod is not listed it should not appear on the exam as the main subject of a question.

Regarding non-arthropod pests, you'll only find them on the exam to the extent that they intersect with entomology. In other words, though a competent PMP should know a lot about the biology of rats, the focus of the ACE program is going to be more on the fact that a rat can harbor a variety of pests and introduce them into the house.

Study Resources:
But you want a book, don't you?  Many of the current books that people have been using to study for the ACE will still be relevant. Of these, the Handbook of Household and Structural Insect Pests is perhaps one of the better tools. As of this writing, the full list of currently recommended study materials is this:
ESA is currently working on a single resource which will become the official study guide for the new ACE exam. No release date is yet known*. In the meantime, read the content outline, study the resources you have, and maybe attend an ACE Prep Course.

* This section of the post has been updated. The study guide which was originally expected to be ready by 2014 has been delayed.