Davis advises post-WWII PMPs


October 15, 2018

With profiles of this year’s PMP Hall of Fame class, we felt it was appropriate to spotlight remarks fellow PMP Hall of Famer Professor John June Davis made at a North Carolina State Entomologists Association meeting in St. Louis, Mo., on March 28, 1946. (Why they met in Missouri has been lost to history.)

Davis, who was inducted in 2000, brought entomology knowledge, research and standards to the pest management profession. From his position as head of entomology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., he lifted up “bug killers” to pest management professionals (PMPs) through education and training. He had been aligned with our industry since the early 1930s, so when a summary of his remarks was published in the July 1946 issue of what was then known as Pests magazine, he had the rapt attention of readers.

‘The future is very bright’
Titled “Post-War Insect Control Problems from the Viewpoint of Pest Control Operators” and appearing just 10 months after World War II ended, Davis’ article noted the future is very bright for those who keep up-to-date on developments, those who find use for these new materials and equipment in their operations, and who use them with skill.

Keep in mind that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was developed in 1939 by PMP Hall of Famer Dr. Paul Müller (Class of 2004). Historians agree it was a big reason why World War II was the first U.S. war in which insect-carried diseases like typhus and malaria “killed fewer people than bullets and bombs.” (Source: LivingHistoryFarm.org) But before its U.S. ban in 1972, DDT also was marketed to housewives for home use and to communities for fogging mosquitoes. Other new technologies, such as sodium fluoroacetate (1080), also were turning heads, both on the professional and consumer markets.

Davis highlighted this development in his remarks, noting that while new insecticides which have been so thoroughly publicized will enable the public to do their own service, forgetting perhaps that correct application is far more important the chemical, it could actually lead to more demand for professional service once the DIYers fell short of expected results.

Other issues Davis brought up in 1946 that still resonate in 2018 include:

Urban congestion and housing shortage has aggravated pest problems and as a result there is already a demand for better sanitation. This will call for increased pest control service.

Perhaps the present poor construction of buildings and poor grades of materials, especially lumber, that are available will have an important bearing on insect and rodent problems.

The Food and Drug Administration has already increased its activities as to insect and rodent contamination in food processing plants, and this is certain to call for a greater need for the advice and service of the pest control operator.

It is our opinion that there is an increasing field for consultants, and branching out into other fields of pest control, such as spraying of shade trees and shrubs, and large scale fly and mosquito control programs.

And our favorite:

More and more the pest control operator is being faced with the possibility of state legislation, which may be very exacting. We should do more toward having available model laws, and entomologists and pest control operators alike should be on their toes to prevent the enactment of state legislation which will be intricate and unsatisfactory.

Davis concluded his remarks by noting that the future of pest control depends on better and more ethical advertising and sales. Again, he points to the DIY hurdle we still face today, where he relates a story about a Marshall Fields department store sales clerk trying to sell a Chicago PMP on the benefits of a store-bought DDT bomb.

It seems to me, Davis concluded, that along the lines of factual publicity John Q. [Public] could be materially helped by the entomologists.


About the Author

Photo courtesy of Danielle Pesta

Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager at North Coast Media, the parent company of PMP magazine. She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.