Dr. Brian Forschler is a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., where he also serves as principal investigator for the Household and Structural Entomology research program. We check in to learn more about his 30-year career, which endures as he continues to teach courses on urban entomology and integrated pest management at undergraduate and graduate levels, and share his expertise with regulators and manufacturers.
1. What motivated you to become an entomologist?
I’ve always had an interest in the outdoors. I quit college after four years because I got a good
job at a brewery. About 10 years later, because of my brewery experience, I managed a winery along the Ohio River, where I sprayed the vineyards for Japanese beetles. In the heat of the summer, watching the beetles drop I thought, there’s got to be a better way to manage these things. I went back to school to study entomology, figuring there always would be a need for somebody who knew something about bugs. When I graduated, the University of Georgia was starting its urban entomology program. I applied for it and long story short, got the job.
2.What can the pest management industry do to help support entomology students?
Student internships are an excellent way for the industry to connect with some of the brightest stars coming through the university system, and let them know what the job opportunities are. Companies that are really supportive of internships often hire student interns as employees later. Entomology grads are absolutely awesome at setting up protocols and training in-house for larger companies.
3. You currently serve on the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials’ (ASPCRO’s) Termiticide Label Review Committee. What impact does advising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and termiticide registrants have on the products pest management professionals (PMPs) use?
The EPA and registrants have always welcomed science-based opinions, especially if they support their positions about pest control. The pest control industry has had a long relationship with university research programs. Regulators didn’t. Now, ASPCRO is one of the premier meeting places for researchers and regulators. It has been really good to see the regulatory community connect with the research community. Communication opens eyes and doors for compromise, agreement and understanding.
4.Why is research important to regulators?
It is not usual for policy to be written by people who have no clue what this industry does. They’ve never seen a termite treatment. They don’t know what a technician does in a commercial kitchen for cockroach management. That said, I’ve always found the regulatory community to be receptive to discussions, particularly at the level of the EPA.
One of the great things my involvement with ASPCRO led me to was conducting training sessions for EPA employees. The quality of their decisions, from our perspective, improved greatly.
5.What are some of the ways entomology departments serve the pest management industry?
The pest management industry is a people industry. It’s about establishing and keeping relationships with your customers. Universities with an extension component can assist with the correct identification of pests. If the extension office can’t provide an answer, the insect ID experts at the university can. Insect identification is certainly a service that’s available through county extension offices in most states, and the industry should take advantage of it.
Entomology departments with an outreach component go to schools and fairs to reach the general public. A number of entomology programs have training centers that offer hands-on training. On top of that, they will provide training at state and national meetings. The bottom line: A pest control company that is in close proximity to a university’s entomology department needs to contact the folks there and establish a relationship.