2015 PMP Hall of Fame Spotlight: Dr. Laurel Hansen

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is comprised of Dr. Laurel Hansen, Dr. Phil Koehler, John R. Cook Sr. and Noad Corley. The magazine staff will induct these deserving candidates in an invitation-only black-tie dinner and ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 19, the night before the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2015 event gets underway. Our formal coverage of the inductees will be in our September issue, but between now and then, we’ll provide you with some informal factoids about them so you can get to know them better.

Dr. Laurel Hansen
Dr. Laurel Hansen

For example, Dr. Laurel Hansen, an entomology professor at Washington State’s Spokane Falls Community College, is passionate about ants. How ant-centric is she? Enough so that on more than one occasion, ants have instigated some minor brushes with authorities.

“I was doing Ph.D. work on ant trails,” Hansen recalls. “We were doing it at night because I was trying to illustrate ants are more active along their trails at night.”

Conducting this kind of night work required Hansen and her team to poke around in the dark with red lights. White lights would confuse or scare ants, while red lights don’t register with them, she explains. The homeowners of the property on which Hansen was conducting her research knew what the team was doing. But their vacation-time house sitter, not so much.

“We heard the sirens coming,” Hansen says. “Before we knew it, the driveway was blocked and we were surrounded. State troopers and everything.”

Hansen wasn’t rattled. She’d been down this road before, though in the past most run-ins had been with security guards or other lower-level authorities — or skunks and raccoons, which we imagine could be equally disconcerting.

Before the police arrived, Hansen suggested to her colleagues that she would simply go knock on the door and explain to the occupant inside — who had since shuttered the blinds — that important ant research was being conducted, which accounted for the red lights and the appearance of sinister nighttime creeping.

But colleagues quickly intervened.

“They were afraid whoever answered the door might have a gun,” she says. “We already heard the sirens though, so we just waited it out.”

Hansen was able to show the troopers her field notebook, which she explains “looks very official.” They wanted to flip through the notebook, which, in addition to proving her innocence, also provided them with a brief crash course on nighttime ant activity.

“The story actually made the local news,” Hansen says. “The headline was ‘Ants Up, Please!’”

Perhaps “Come Out with Your Ants Up” was already taken?

PMP would like to acknowledge the generous support of its Hall of Fame sponsors.