Dr. Nicky Gallagher on Pest Expert Chats, Episode 5: Cockroaches

Dr. Nicky Gallagher on Pest Expert Chats, Episode 5: Cockroaches


Welcome to episode five of Pest Expert Chats,
a podcast series in which PCT interviews members of Syngenta’s technical services team to
learn about recent pest control trends and pest control solutions from Syngenta. In this
episode, I’ll be speaking with Nicky Gallagher, the technical services manager for the northeast
and northwest for Syngenta. Our topic is cockroaches. Nicky will review challenges with this line
of work and also discuss treatment strategies, including Syngenta’s SecureChoice℠ Cockroach
Assurance Program. Nicky, thanks for joining me. Hi, Brad. Glad to be here. Well, we’re excited to have you and we look
forward to getting your perspective on this topic. So Nicky, how have cockroach control
services evolved over time in both residential and commercial accounts? Yes, good question. I think, you know, it’s
also important to think that cockroach control really is and remains an essential service.
When we look at our top insect pests, ants always take that number one spot. But cockroaches
are still such an important, essential service and it’s not that they’re just unpleasant
for their aesthetic reasons, but they’re also a really important health concern. They can
come and contaminate our food supplies, they smell terrible and they’re most prevalent
issue is the concern around related asthma issues. So the need for cockroach control
really does remain the backbone of our pest management industry. But if you look at our cockroach programs
today, compared to 1980s or prior, there’s been a big shift, and I think that’s primarily
been driven through the combination of our advanced knowledge of cockroaches and how
our technology has advanced as well. In the technology, I mean formulations and active
ingredients. So our industry has made these great strides in understanding the critical
components in the biology and behavior of cockroaches. Now, I think there’s still lots
to learn, but understanding the biology of a target past is always that first step in
finding their weakness. So today we no longer rely on single chemistries
that are just broadly applied in large volume. And today we can make insecticide applications
that are much more targeted and smart. And that’s because we’re taking advantage of the
biology and behavior of the pest, and I think the biggest example of that is through the
use of bait technology. And Nicky, that are really kind of dovetails
into my next question here, talking about new technology in baits in particular. What
are some of the factors that have driven the widespread acceptance of baits as the preferred
method for controlling cockroaches? Brad, another good question. So baits are
a preferred type of formulation, especially for the control of cockroaches. And I think
we have this precise placement in areas that are away from contact with human populations,
especially children. We’re typically looking at a reduced rate of active ingredient, and
this all poses less risk for consumers and the environment compared to some other formulations.
So when we’re using bait, the biggest advantage though is this high success rate and the level
of control that we achieve when we incorporate it into our program. And often, not always
the case, but maybe a little bit more flexibility with a bait that preparation of a site might
not be as critical. It’s still important, but there can be some cases where minimal
prep, we can kind of get away with minimal prep. I think with baits, we have a much better
ease of use, a lot more flexibility in the account type, whether it will go from commercial,
residential, to schools — bait can play a role in all of those. And with all of the
new chemistries that we have today, and the different matrices, we continue to evolve. So we have baits that are extremely attractive
and give this high success rate of control. And because, again, tying this back into the
biology and behavior of cockroaches, some of our baits have this added advantage where
we have transfer of baits through the population. An example of that: when Advion® Cockroach
[Gel] Bait was first brought to the market in about 2006, that contained the active ingredient
indoxacarb. That’s the only documented cockroach bait to not only have horizontal transfer,
which is the transfer of active ingredient from cockroach to cockroach, but we actually
get tertiary transfer, so we can take it one step further. I think in the paper that was
published from Purdue [University] on that work, they showed that one cockroach had the
potential to kill 53 other members of the population. Yeah, that’s really interesting findings from
Purdue [University] and some great insights there, Nicky. As great as these baits are,
though, as with anything else, they have to be applied correctly. What are some of the
more common mistakes that you’ve observed that PMPs make when applying baits, both in
residential and commercial accounts? Yeah, I think sometimes it’s not that the
PMP is necessarily making a mistake. I think sometimes a PMP’s hands can sort of be tied,
and they have restrictions from the account in what they can and cannot do. So there can
be a lot of challenges just based on that alone. But I think it’s important to always
remember that no product by itself is a silver bullet. Now I’ve seen our cockroach baits
do some pretty amazing things and provide some spectacular control in very challenging
situations. But I would never promote a single product to be used by itself. So for me, my key steps are communication
with the customer is key, getting that cooperation from them. And then when using bait, make
sure the cockroaches like the bait. Are they accepting it? And if you do a little pre-test
and they’re not excited by the first bait that you put out, give them a little taster.
Hopefully the technician can have a couple of other baits in their back pocket to work
with and they’re not necessarily restricted to just one bait, that they can see if bait
number two is more attractive. And then I think another important component
there is the concern of under-baiting: not putting enough cockroach bait out there according
to the infestation level. And I think the key part that helps with that is the addition
of sticky traps and using that to monitor the population. So putting out appropriate
numbers of monitors, and that will help locate harborage points and help guide to place baits
in the appropriate places. But then it’ll give you an idea of how large the population
is, and then guide you to how much bait would be appropriate, and then also help determine
the frequency of your follow up here, whether you should be coming back in a week, two weeks
or maybe this is an account where you can just come back once a month. And Nicky, sort of on the subject of using
different products: what role does bait rotation play in cockroach management programs? Yeah, again, another good question. So I’ll
take it back to our history at Syngenta. Advion Cockroach [Gel] Bait was developed in 2006,
because at that time, aversion was really an issue for the entire pest management industry.
The formulation in Advion [Cockroach] was heavily research and evaluated over several
years before it was even launched. We were looking at combining certain food ingredients,
and the combination of ingredients that could potentially trigger aversion. So this included
testing on dozens of field-collected strains, and if you look at Advion Cockroach today,
it actually continues to be the number one cockroach bait in the market, which I think
is a testament to the quality of the development and research behind it. However, as part of our stewardship for new
technology at Syngenta and to avoid any development of resistance and maintain our market leadership,
we have to continue to evolve and stay ahead of the cockroaches. So not only is the development
of new matrices key to avoid aversion, and that’s when the cockroaches continue to find
food ingredients not necessarily attractive anymore, they won’t feed on bait that they
are averse to, but also the addition of new active ingredients is essential to prevent
physiological resistance. And that’s when we see decreased susceptibility to the active
ingredients. So, for a bait rotation program, we have to
have new matrices as well as new active ingredients. And we recommend rotating approximately every
90 days, and that’s because we’re following the life cycle of German cockroaches. So when
it comes to resistance issues, we’re really just talking about German cockroaches, and
their life cycle is 90 days. So if you rotate approximately every 90 days, you’re going
to avoid the build-up of any potential resistant genes in that population. And Nicky, you mentioned a little bit about
the biology and behavior of cockroaches. Maybe we can touch on that a little bit more, though.
What do PMPs need to understand about cockroach biology and behavior to successfully control
these pests? All of it, right? I think there’s probably
too much that we could ever cover in this conversation, Brad. But I guess just to simplify
I would suggest that identification is key. And that goes for any pest, whether we’re
talking about cockroaches or ants, especially with the world that we live in today. There’s
always the potential for new invasive pests and we have new cockroaches in certain parts
of the country that we’re having to learn about and understand what its biology is,
what its reproductive rates are. Will the gel baits that we have available today, are
they just as attractive to these new cockroach species, or is a granular bait formulation
more attractive versus a gel formulation? So I think identification is key, because
then it leads into the next steps and taking advantage of those weakness points and knowing
where to find them. If it’s a cockroach that likes more humid, moist areas, we know to
look in those particular areas. So just things like that I think are really the key first
steps, Brad. Sure. And Nicky, want to talk a little bit
about the new SecureChoice Cockroach Assurance Program. Can you tell us how this program
works, and how does it sort of take the guesswork out of cockroach control? Yeah, so cockroaches are so well-known for
being difficult to control, and our SecureChoice Cockroach Assurance Program combines an integrated
pest management approach along with proven products for a comprehensive cockroach control
program. So we developed the SecureChoice Cockroach IPM Guide, and that walks you through
three phases of the cockroach treatment. So you start off with the initial visit, and
then you transition to follow-up visits, and then into your continued maintenance and prevention
section. So this guide outlines the best practices for critical components of an IPM approach
for cockroach control, such as the inspection and the monitoring, and then also gets into
that 90-day product rotation to help manage insecticide resistance and bait aversion. And our program also features multiple active
ingredients and formulations to help along that resistance management program. So, for
example, it would recommend using Advion WDG insecticide, which contains indoxacarb, and
then you could use that along with Optigard® Cockroach Gel Bait, which contains emamectin
benzoate. So those are, in themselves, are also two different active ingredients that
you can use in combination, but at the 90-day point, if there was still activity going on
or you’re just in your maintenance phase and doing a preventative application, you could
then switch to Optigard Flex liquid insecticide, in combination with Advion Evolution Cockroach
Gel Bait. So we have this combination of non-repellent liquid insecticides that can actually be used
in tandem with gel baits for a more thorough control. The assurance part of the SecureChoice program
is that we guarantee a reduction of at least 90% of the cockroach infestation during the
first four visits over a 60-day period. And if that reduction is not achieved, Syngenta
will provide the needed Syngenta products for any re-treatments. Great. Well, thanks Nicky, for that explanation
there on the SecureChoice Cockroach Assurance Program. Maybe the final question I have for
you is just kind of forecasting ahead a little bit. What do you see cockroach control looking
like in the future, maybe five, 10 or 15 years down the road? Yeah, a good question. I don’t think baits
are going away anywhere anytime soon. And I know at Syngenta, to us, we put a lot of
resources into testing German cockroach strains from across the country, and across the globe,
actually, and testing different food ingredients to make sure our matrices continue to be very
attractive and that predict what the next best formulation is going to be. And to make
sure that we’re going to have good, broad-spectrum control, not of just German cockroaches, but
all of the other prevailing cockroaches that we have to control, and as well as these new,
potential invasive pests that we have to now worry about as well. So new food ingredients
and new active ingredients, as well with completely new modes of action to help with that resistance
management program. Well, those are some fascinating insights,
and it’ll be interesting to see how some of your forecasting ahead, how that’s going
to look like when the time actually comes, so I appreciate the insights, Nicky. Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me! Great. And I want to thank all of PCT’s
listeners for tuning in today, and have a great day.

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