Friday, November 30, 2012

ACE Prep Class Opportunity in Dallas Dec 12

The first ACE Prep Course to be offered at the
ESA Annual Conference happened November
15th in Knoxville, TN. The next day 25 PMPs
successfully passed the exam in both Tennessee
and in Georgia. While not required prior to
taking the exam, many feel the class
is a great confidence booster.
This fall has seen a record level of interest in the Entomological Society of America's (ESA) certification program. Thanks in part to booths at the recent Bed Bug Summit in Las Vegas, NV and then again at PestWorld in Boston, MA many PMPs are learning about the program and signing up for certification exams. On November 16th alone, approximately 25 new ACEs were added to the Certification rolls.

A lot of you that I've talked to over the years have expressed interest in applying for the ACE program, but are a little nervous about the exam. This is understandable, especially for most of us who haven't taken a test in a few years. If you find yourself in that position, there are two excellent opportunities to prepare.

On Wednesday December 12 Dr. Bob Davis and I will be offering the ACE Prep Class at The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. If you are interested and planning to go for ACE certification in the next year you are welcome; but you should sign up soon because we only have room for 15 more participants.  Class time runs from 8:30 am until approximately 2:00 pm. After the class, at 2:00 pm, we will give the exam to anyone who is pre-approved to take the test (see below).  Anyone planning to take the exam  should bring either a laptop or iPad with wireless internet capabilities.  The exam is only being given online, and my office does not have enough computers to provide one to all test takers.  No CEUs will be offered for this class. If you would like to participate, contact my assistant, Kaye Garrison (972-952-9201 or to sign up and get directions.

One more thing about this date... but first, sit down and hold on to your chair. As an incentive to see more PMPs here in Dallas take the plunge and get certified, there will be no fee for this class. If you're one of those waffling about whether to take the plunge, you'll never have a better, more economical opportunity. Because of the limited class size, we will be giving first priority to those who will be taking the test that day, so don't delay.

If you miss this chance, or Dallas isn't your kind of town, a second prep class will be held Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in College Station, TX. Dr. Bob and I will be offering the prep class again as part of the 67th Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop. The Prep Class starts at 10:15 am on the 9th, and the ACE exam will be given the next morning at 8:00 am. This course will earn you one Gen. CEU (Other), one Gen. CEU (IPM), and one Pest and one Termite CEU in Texas, as well as four technician credit hours. For more information about the meeting, cost, and how to register, go to

What Is Certification?

If you haven't heard of the ACE program before, it is a certification program for PMPs with at least seven years of experience in the pest control industry. There is a certification exam to be passed, much like a doctor must pass their board exams to be certified in a specialty area. Those who qualify and pass the exam are qualified to call themselves Associate Certified Entomologists (ACEs) and include the certification initials on their business cards or business advertisements.  As government agencies, schools and the public learn about certification, you can expect more and more people to want to hire a company with a certified entomologist on staff. The certification program includes both ACE (7 years experience, no college degree requirement) and BCE (Board Certified Entomologists, must have a degree in entomology or related science) options. There are over 500 active ACEs in the U.S. according to the ESA.  For more information, check out the ESA Certification website.

How Do I Get Approved to Take the Exam?

Anyone who wants to take the ACE exam must first apply for certification, pay the application fee, and be approved by the ESA office.  To start the process go to and complete steps One and Two by Friday, December 7. You do not have to pre-qualify to take the course without the exam.

How Do I Prepare?

One last thing.  If you're planning to take the ACE exam at one of these venues you should study now. The prep course alone is not enough to get most folks through. For suggestions on how and what to study, familiarize yourself with the study outline at the ESA website. Pay special attention to the detailed list of pests and competency areas linked at this page. I recommend circling every subject you feel rusty on, and using the recommended study materials to bone up especially on those points. There is even a practice exam on the website.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hackberry psyllids in homes

These nipple-like galls on hackberry leaves protect a small
insect called 
Pachypsylla. In the fall the insects emerge and
may invade nearby structures.
Insect species that specialise in invading homes in the fall are almost as predictable as the cooler weather itself. A number of insect species, like paper wasps, multicolored Asian lady beetles, box elder bugs and cluster flies are already pretty well known to the pest control industry. But nature is full of surprises, and there's always an obscure insect or two that can surprise you.

Pachypsylla adults (about 1/8-inch long) are commonly
found at this time of year indoors, around windows.
This year seems to have been a good year for one tiny invader, at least in the north Texas area. It's the hackberry nipplegall maker, Pachypsylla celtidismamma.  If you've ever noticed nipple-like swellings on hackberry leaves, you already know a little about this insect. Pachypsylla is a genus of homopterous insects in a family referred to as psyllids (SILL ids).  The specialised Pachypsylla grows up only inside galls that form on hackberry leaves.  Like other gall makers, Pachypsylla adults lay their eggs on leaves, which then start to swell around the egg or developing larva, forming a gall. After feeding on the gall tissue all summer, Pachypsylla adults emerge in the fall.

Unfortunately for fastidious homemakers, or the unprepared PMP, these adults commonly enter structures at this time in their search for a warm place to hang out (and, perhaps, catch some football or prime time TV).  This week I've had multiple reports of Pachypsylla home invasions here in north Texas.  Most calls are accompanied by deep concern by homeowners that these tiny insects might be harmful.

You can tell your customers that hackberry nipple-gall insects are pretty harmless.  They do not bite and do not eat clothes (and don't hog the remote!). Apart from needing to be vacuumed up from windowsills occasionally, these insects shouldn't pose too much of a problem; however I suggest an application of a pyrethroid insecticide to the outside frames of windows and doors.

These insects are small. Adults are 2-3 mm-long (about 1/8-inch) and just a little over 0.5 mm wide. With the average window screen mesh about 1.5 mm apart, these guys can easily slip through screens. Recommend to your client to check the tightness of seals around windows and doorways, the most common points of entry.

If Pachypsylla invasions are a regular occurrence at an account, suggest that the property owner remove nearby hackberries and replace them with another well-adapted tree.

According to the Encyclopedia of Insects, the exact mechanism by which insects induce plants to form galls is still poorly understood, but it involves chemicals applied to or injected into the plant that influences plant growth hormones.  In the case of Pachypsylla, the plant responds to its springtime egg laying by forming  round, nipple-like galls on the undersides of developing leaves.  Each gall surrounds a growing Pachypsylla nymph.  In the fall mature adults emerge from these galls and search for a protected site to spend the winter. There is only one generation per year.