Master pest control technicians get the upper hand on bugs

By Tom Hallman

Pest control techniciansIt’s a class most Clemson students will never choose to take. But homeowners can be happy their local pest control operators signed up.

The Master Pest Control Technician Course draws pest management operators to Clemson each summer for an intensive five-day course in pest management and insect identification.

The course blends face-to-face lectures from Clemson urban entomology faculty with hands-on laboratory exercises that include insect collections and identification, application technology and inspection procedures.

Like any college class, homework assignments and tests are part of the bargain. In lab assignments, students are tasked to identify species of bugs by examining various body parts or egg sacs under a microscope.

“The smokybrown cockroach is especially tough to identify,” confessed Pat Zungoli, a Clemson Extension specialist in urban entomology and professor in the School of Agriculture, Forestry and Environmental Sciences. “It has characteristics that resemble other species in many respects.

“The distinction is somewhat sophisticated, but we call this a ‘master’ class for a reason,” she said. “It speaks to the level of professionalism that these pest control technicians have achieved.”

Bug in petri dishThe annual class was created for general pest control technicians, sanitarians and    in-house pest control professionals for schools, industrial sites and homes.

It’s an elective, not a requirement for pest control technicians; however, it does yield credits toward their recertification.

More than 150 pest control operators have completed the master class in the past 14 years, said Clemson Extension entomologist Eric Benson.

“It’s an intensive one-week course – definitely not for the feint of heart,” Benson said. “It’s top-level training and it’s been really popular. Most of the large companies have their own in-housed training, but that still leaves hundreds of smaller firms that don’t have the technical expertise for this level of training. For them, this is education they couldn’t get elsewhere.”

Learn more about the Clemson’s urban entomology program online:

www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/research/urban