Syngenta distributors educational tour

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The day before the start of PestWorld, Syngenta arranged a visit for several of their international distributors to learn first-hand, how a pest control company in southern Florida operates followed by a visit to their research facilities at Vero Beach.

Over a dozen Syngenta distributors from across Europe, the Middle East and Latin America had the opportunity to spend the day before proceedings started at PestWorld on a Syngenta arranged educational tour. Hosted by Basel-based Robert Vink, Kai Sievert and Aurelie Baillet and accompanied by their North Africa and Middle East business manager,Yousef El Zaza, the group met bright and early for breakfast and then set-out on a very interesting, full-day excursion to southern Florida. 

Pest control in practice – Florida style
First stop was Slug-A-Bug. Like numerous pest control companies the world over, Slug-A-Bug began life as a one-man company in Melbourne, Florida back in 1982 and remains privately owned to this day. 

Now one of the largest regional pest control companies, it employs just over 40 employees but limits activities to just Brevard county, where they are based. Servicing activities fall into three groups: seven technicians covering turf and ornamental customers; three involved solely with termite control and ten technicians servicing pest control contracts. 

Welcoming the group, operations manager, Elliott Zace, was visibly taken-aback when the group was asked to introduce themselves and say where they were from. With individuals representing eight countries, Elliott declared the company had never had such a multi-national visitation before. However, the visitors were equally surprised by some of the practices undertaken at Slug-A-Bug. None more so when the subject of insect problems arose – as over 90% of Slug-A-Bug’s pest activities revolve around ants alone. 

What visitors to this part of the world forget is, southern Florida has a sub-tropical climate, so tropical ants feel right at home! With the port of Miami within close range, new invasive species have been introduced and are now making their way north up the State of Florida – big headed ants, tawny crazy ants, white footed ants and also ghost ants. 

Another factor unique to the area is its proximity to Cape Canaveral, the launch site of the USA’s space missions and home of the Kennedy Space Center. Asked if the company had now recovered from the economic down-turn of the last few years, in brief the answer was ‘almost’. With the closure of the Space Shuttle programme, thousands of highly paid individuals had lost their jobs, resulting in a down-turn in the local economy. 

Lively exchange 
As to be imagined, a very lively exchange of information ensured which was followed by a tour of the premises and a practical demonstration concerning the use of Arilon (indoxacarb) – a broad spectrum insecticide available for use in the USA for control of more than 20 pests both indoors as a spot or crack-and-crevice application, or outdoors as a perimeter application up to a 10-foot band. 


Home base of Slug-A-Bug in Melbourne, Florida

 Visitors examine the immaculate product stores. 
L to r: Fabio Paes (Astral Saude Ambiental, Brazil),
Matt Davies (Killgerm, UK), Silvia Albertazzi and 
Valentina Masotti (Colkim, Italy) with Enrico Bagarollo (Newpharm, Italy) behind

Randy Darrah extols the flexiblity of Arelon


The Syngenta group of distributors with Slug-A-Bug hosts
Innovation the quest at Syngenta
The afternoon was spent visiting the Syngenta research facility at Vero Beach. With a sub-tropical climate and 50-55 inches of rainfall annually, the 240-acre site offers ideal testing conditions for all of Syngenta’s business sectors – turf and ornamental, citrus, vegetables, field crops as well as urban pests. 

The role of Vero Beach is very much one of developing new uses for existing products, comparing formulation performance, developing competitor comparative data, monitoring resistance and, most importantly, problem solving and offering customer support. 

As Bob Cartwright, product biology lead for professional pest management, explained: “We listen to what customers want and put this together with what Syngenta can do. Innovation is key. We need to research what is going to be important five years from now.” 

To support this innovation colonies of some of the most frequently encountered pests are retained here – for example three species of cockroaches, four species of tropical ants and most recently colonies of flies. 

Pests on display
Guests had the opportunity to view these pests close-to as a series of practical demonstrations were laid-on organised by product evaluation manager, Dr Catherine Long. 


Syngenta research facilities at Vero Beach

Face to face with the pest enemy

This included displays of types of different surfaces used for testing residuality with a range of Advion (indoxacarb) ant and cockroach products, as well as, development work on Zyrox fly granular bait containing cyantraniliprole.

Watch-out for further reports from these two venues in forthcoming editions of Pest magazine.

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