From invasive species, such as the neglected ant and the Asian tiger mosquito to ways to become a qualified pest professional, taking in camel spiders, pseudo scorpions, the CEN quality standard, food safety and the inevitable regulatory sessions on the way, the Eurocido seminars had plenty of variety.
Unlike many events, Eurocido offers simultaneous translation into English; a great help for Pest ‘s editorial team, neither of whom can do much more than ‘please’ ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’ in German. Here are our thoughts on the sessions we attended.
Listening to Kai Gloyma from the State Office of Health and Social Affairs M-V in Rostock on the precise way to identify the neglected ant, Lasius neglectus, by measuring the length of the hairs on its back was interesting but it all seemed rather impractical for most pest controllers. However, Kai did volunteer to identify specimens that were sent in – probably a better route for most.
He also outlined the history of the species; it was only identified in 1990 and explained how it had spread around Europe, probably from origins near the Black Sea. It has now been spotted in 20 countries from Tenerife in the west to Kyrgystan in the east and from Israel in the south to Great Britain in the north (as reported on by Clive Boase at Hidcote.)
This spread has largely been thanks to human assistance – it hitches a ride in plant pots. Like Pharaohs ants, it builds large colonies with many queens spreading over wide areas. The colony in Rostock, one of four identified in Germany, covers more than 7 ha.
“Identification is the key to control,” he said. “Unlike when controlling black or brown ants, the use of one control strategy such as a gel product indoors will only be successful in the short term, if at all. Prepare yourself, and especially your customers, for the fact that to combat an established infestation of L. neglectus there is no simple solution.”
Cards of wasps’ eggs are available commercially for positioning inside warehouses with large cards providing up to four weeks protection are now available for professional users, he said.
However, it was only during the question session at the end of the presentation that the biggest barrier to extending the use of biological controls to pest control in the food industry became apparent. Hygiene regulations for food factories mean that even the tiniest piece of beneficial insect in the final product is judged to be just as bad as a tiny piece of a pest species. These regulations are set at EU level and are unlikely to be changed any time soon!
Just like the UK, the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus has not yet arrived in Germany but it is knocking at the door. It is already established in several European countries largely as a result of the globalisation of international trade.
As Dr Anita Plenge-Bá¶nig from the Institute for Hygiene and Environment in Hamburg explained, several import routes have been scientifically documented. The classical way is the transport of eggs with goods from countries with established populations.
Of particular importance are used tyres and special plants such as Lucky Bamboo. The mosquito lays its drought-resistant eggs in these and they are subsequently exported all over the world. Not only is the Asian tiger mosquito a nuisance biting insect it also has the potential to act as a vector for some nasty infectious diseases.
The German reputation for quality
Before that, Roland provided some interesting figures on the size and scope of the European pest management sector. He said that the European industry comprises more than 10,000 companies, which equates to more than 40,000 jobs and a turnover in excess of Euro 3 billion. The industry is responsible for protecting many billions more of EU business, for example, food processing accounts for Euro 993 billion, food retailing for Euro1,070 billion and food services for Euro 322 billion.
Turning to the CEPA CEN standard, he explained how it is moving forward at a pace. He outlined the background, the situation to date and the plans for the future. The CEN group has received over 300 comments from pest controllers and other interested parties such as animal welfare groups, NGOs, government departments and the like. These comments have been discussed and incorporated, but the sheer volume of work has caused some delays. The CEN technical Committee is to meet in March to discuss the revised text, and if in agreement, it will go forward to be accepted, a process that may take several months. It is therefore likely the standard will be published at the end of 2014, with the first pest control companies being assessed against it in early 2015
Whilst emphasising that the standard is voluntary he pointed out that it will benefit those businesses that complete the process, giving them a competitive edge.
But it will do more than that. “Our sector is not always judged very positively by the outside world,” he said. “Embracing this standard gives us a major opportunity to improve our image vis á vis the authorities and EU citizens.”