Enhance your industry vocabulary


July 6, 2020



The concept of “talking the talk” is nothing new. It is born of our daily interactions, experience and observation when dealing with other humans. Think about it carefully, and draw upon your own recollections.

Let’s say you were speaking with a mechanic about needed vehicle repairs; a contractor about work to be done; or an appliance repair technician about services to be conducted at your own home. It’s fair and reasonable to state that during these conversations, the professionals demonstrate their knowledge and expertise regarding their craft. The average consumer is not going to sign a service contract with any person who fails to adequately demonstrate suitable professional knowledge.

Similarly, every pest management professional (PMP) has the opportunity to demonstrate superior knowledge, expertise and professionalism when communicating and interacting with consumers on a daily basis. The opportunity to succeed in this arena is open to anyone who wishes to avail themselves of the various educational opportunities that are widely available and will set them apart from others.


Below are a few exemplary industry terms that may be added to any PMP’s internal glossary, with examples of their use. Learning the meaning of these terms and adopting their use in your industry-related daily vernacular will help you stand out as an industry professional:

  • Abdomen — The abdomen is the hind section of the insect’s body.
  • Aggregation — German cockroaches do not build nests. Rather, they occupy spaces together as an aggregation of multiple individuals. Bed bugs aggregate in a similar manner.
  • Antenna — Insects have a pair of antennae emanating from their heads.
  • Bacteria — Microscopic, disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, are transported by cockroaches and other pests.
  • Biologically sound — Vertebrate pest management methodologies must be biologically sound to suitably match the biology and behavior of the target pest. For example, the work we do to remove and eliminate raccoons from your home is different than what we might do to eliminate mice or rats.
  • Body parts — All insects have body parts, including a head, thorax, abdomen, mouthparts, antennae and appendages.
  • Cerci — Hair-covered sensory structures arising near the tip of a cockroach abdomen are called cerci. Singular: cercus.
  • Chitin — An insect’s exoskeleton is composed of a material called chitin. It is the same material as found in the shell of a crustacean (crab, lobster, shrimp, etc.).
  • Chitin synthesis inhibitors — Insects may be controlled via the use of CSIs, found in certain pest control products.
  • Compound eyes — Insects have compound eyes, which are made up of numerous individual ommatidia.
  • Conducive conditions — Areas that may be attractive to and utilized by pests are known as conducive conditions (sometimes referred to as “conditions conducive”).
  • Cracks and crevices — Insect harborage areas are often cracks and crevices found within the structure.
  • Ectoparasites — Ectoparasites are pests such as bed bugs, fleas and lice, that may live and feed upon the surface of their hosts.
  • Ecotone — Animal and pest activity tends to be greater along transition zones in the environment, known as ecotones.
  • Entomologically sound — The work we plan to conduct at your home is entomologically sound. This means that we consider the biology and behavior of the target pest prior to selecting and implementing pest management methodologies.
  • Environmentally responsible — The application of pesticides and other pest management work must be environmentally responsible.
  • Entry points — Part of our inspection process includes the identification of pest entry points.
  • Fecal deposit — Insects and other pest activity may be detected via the observation of fecal deposits or fecal matter.
  • Filiform antennae — A type of long, thin insect antenna.
  • Forage trails — Ants and subterranean termites travel along forage trails, which are established by the deposition of pheromones.
  • Formulations — Insecticides are manufactured in a variety of formulations for use by pest professionals. Examples include water-soluable granules, liquid, emulsifiable concentrate, and microencapsulation.
  • Galleries — Carpenter ants and termites excavate galleries in wood through which they travel unseen beneath the surface.
  • Geniculate antennae — A geniculate antenna is elbow-shaped, commonly seen in ants.
  • Harborage — Insects may hide in certain cracks and crevices called harborage areas.
  • Insect growth regulators — Insects may be controlled via the use of IGRs, found in certain pest control products.
  • Integrated pest management — In our view, the most important word in the IPM concept is integrated. This is why we use multiple methodologies in an integrated fashion to successfully resolve your pest problem.
  • Integument — An insect’s exterior surface may be referred to as its integument.
  • Mechanical transmission — Mechanical transmission is the physical transport of a pathogen by a pest to a human environ.
  • Metamorphosis — Insects develop via a process called metamorphosis.
  • Mouthparts — Insects have a certain type of mouthparts. The range includes chewing, piercing-sucking, sponging, siphoning and rasping.
  • Negative phototropic — German cockroaches are negative phototropic, which means they prefer to remain out of lighted areas.
  • Palpi/Palps — Many insects, such as cockroaches, have external sensory organs to taste their food that are known as palps.
  • Pathogens Pathogens are biological entities that cause disease. Cockroaches and certain other pests may transport and/or transmit disease-causing pathogens to humans or pets.
  • Pest-vulnerable areas — PVAs are those areas where pests may enter or harbor at your home. (Author’s Note: Credit goes to Dr. Stephen Kells, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, for using this term in his industry presentations.)
  • Pheromones — Chemical signals used by animals for various purposes are called pheromones.
  • Pronotal shield — The German cockroach may be identified by the presence of two longitudinal stripes on the pronotal shield.
  • Scientific facts — We need to rely upon scientific facts, rather than opinions.
  • Sclerite — The individual section of the insect’s integument, or outer surface, is called a sclerite.
  • Secondary pests — Pests that may be associated and/or caused by the presence of a target pest are known as secondary pests. Secondary pests may include fleas, dermestid beetles, flies, etc.
  • Spiracles — Insects breathe through structures called spiracles.
  • Stages of development — During metamorphosis, insects go through various stages of development, which are also called instars.
  • Target pest — To conduct successful pest management work requires that the biology and behavior of the target pest is considered such that the methodologies utilized are entomologically sound.
  • Tarsus — The tarsus is the final segment (furthest from the body) in the leg of an insect. The tarsus contains five sections called tarsomeres, and usually ends with one or two claws. (Source: Amateur Entomologists Society glossary)
  • Thigmotropic — German cockroaches are thigmotropic. This means that they prefer to hide in cracks and crevices where their body fits snugly.
  • Transition area/zone — The transition area or zone between one type of ecosystem and another is called an ecotone.
  • Translocation — Pathogens and other materials may be transported or translocated by pests.
  • Trophallaxis — Certain species of insects, such as subterranean termites, share food via a process called trophallaxis, either mouth-to-mouth (stomodeal) or hindgut-to-mouth (proctodeal).

Of course, the above is not an exhaustive list of industry terms that individuals might consider to enhance their professional reputation in communicating with customers. Some may be old hat to you, while others may be new.  You might even have additional terms that spring to mind. If so, I invite you to add to this list in the comments below.

BELLO is president of PJB Pest Consulting & Education based in Alpharetta, Ga. He has more than 40 years of industry experience.


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