By Lisa Iannucci, Contributing Writer
For Wayne Walker, pest control services manager for the University of Florida Department of Housing and Residence Education, maintaining pest-free apartments has been an international problem. The Graduate and Family Housing apartments, which consist of 980 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and houses primarily international students, has always had a greater number of issues with stored product pests than other campus apartments. Drug store beetles, cigarette beetles, saw-tooth beetles, merchant beetles, rice weevils, and granary weevils had become pesky residents of the building over the years. While Walker received only a limited number of complaints about the pests, he wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery.
“They normally infest the products either when the grain is stored or when the final product is stored,” says Walker. “The insects can move into the raw grain at the grain mill or processor or move into the products when the finished packaged products are shipped from the producer through a distribution system. Many of our grain product dry foods travel through many warehouses and distribution centers on their way to our pantries.”
At any of these warehouse and shipping areas the packages can become infested. Walker says that the lifecycles of many of these insects are sufficiently long enough to allow them to spend six months or longer in a package prior to becoming a major noticeable issue. “Add to that the fact that these items can get pushed to the back of our pantry and not used quickly, the insect problem flourishes without discovery,” he says.
He used this opportunity to hone his team’s pest identification skills and utilize the campus entomology department. Walker came to realize that the Maxforce FC Roach Bait Stations kept in the kitchen cabinets for preventative cockroach maintenance, were also attracting and killing the stored product pests.
“For years I would find the beetles and weevils dead on the shelf under or inside the Maxforce roach bait stations,” said Walker. “I would look for additional problems, check the dried goods in the apartment, and not find any evidence of live insects. Each occasion of an infestation of stored product pests only required me to get rid of the bag of origin and the remainder of the problem would be solved by the bait stations.”
With years of evidence and results, Walker told his Bayer representative of his findings. The Bayer research team tested the product on stored product pests and found conclusive evidence that Walker had made a new discovery. Encouraged by these findings, Bayer went on to test Maxforce FC Magnum Roach Killer Bait Gel for control of pantry pests as well. With EPA approval, Bayer has since amended the labels on both products to reflect the breakthrough Walker had made years ago in University of Florida apartments.