Eliminating bed bugs can be tough. They are expert hiders, and finding all of them in an account is sometimes impossible. Additionally, they can be very hard to kill, because they are often resistant to conventional insecticides. Because of these challenges, utilizing tools that can find and kill bed bugs is critical for success. In my most recent publication in the Journal of Economic Entomology, Dakotah Todd, Dini Miller, and I designed a field study to evaluate the efficacy of the fumigant sulfuryl fluoride at eliminating all life stages of bed bugs in two extremely challenging scenarios. In one scenario, we hid bed bugs throughout vans including in the stow-n-go seating. In the other scenario, we packed cargo trailers to 85% capacity with common household items and hid bed bug in plastic bags, behind wall sockets, in book cutouts, and more. In all scenarios and replicates, we killed 100% of the bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adults proving that fumigation is an effective tool against bed bugs in these hard situations.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a science based form of pest control that utilizes surveillance, prevention, multiple control techniques and evaluation of the plan to sustainably manage pests. My recent publication reviews some urban entomology research published in 2019 and how those studies could contribute to IPM plans in urban environments.
Defense mechanisms of insects are just as diverse as the different types of insects themselves. Bombardier beetles have a unique mechanism that involves mixing two chemicals created by the beetle in a special chamber located inside its abdomen, expelling the molten hot liquid that results at the threat and escaping to safety. Unexpected situations arise that threaten the safety of individuals and corporations all the time and having a carefully executed emergency plan can be the difference between success and failure. Crock-pot has recently exemplified success when their public relations division quickly and compassionately handled the sudden and unexpected consumer outcry against them after one of their company's products was depicted malfunctioning and subsequently hurting a character on the fictional show This Is Us. Crock-pot, a name synonymous for the slow-cooking kitchen equipment it makes, could have lost significant marketshare if they had not executed their emergency plan effectively and efficiently.
Fireflies are beetles that have a rare ability to produce a flash called bioluminescent, and the males use this flash to find a female on the ground. Each species has a unique flashing pattern that they use to distinguish themselves from other species of fireflies active at the same time. Being able to find a clear signal amongst endless noise can drive success in business as well. For example, in the $25.6 billion toy industry fortunes can be won and lost, and figuring out which toys will trend throughout time versus burn hot and fast as a seasonal fad can influence decisions and success. Legos first hit the market in 1949 but are the flagship product of The Lego Company, the world's most profitable toy company. However, fads such as pog or fidget spinners may have generated fast revenue, neither toy was the winner compare to legos.
In the 1970s, the United States government released the Asian ladybug, Harmonia axyridis, to control aphids threatening crops and forests. This exotic beetle is larger and more aggressive than most native ladybugs, and the superior predator now threatens the health of many populations of native ladybugs in many regions of the country. Superior marketing can also mean success for a product launched second to market. For example, Hydrox cookies released their chocolate sandwich cookie four years before Oreo. However, due to the poor choice of "hydrox" eliciting thoughts of hydrogen peroxide with consumers and Oreo's superior marketing, Oreo is the undisputed market leader in the chocolate sandwich cookie market.
Katydids use camoflouge to escape predators and have evolved to uniquely blend in with their environment. These insects have an outer wing that has been modified to match their surroundings by mimicking leaves and other plants allowing them to go undetected to survive and thrive. Looking like the objects around you to survive in a competitive environment is a success tactic in business as well. Private label items frequently leverage the assets of major brands to influence consumers' buying decisions. For instance, walk down the medicine aisle of Walgreens and notice the similarities between the packaging of Vick's NyQuil and Walgreens Cold & Flu medications.
Monarch butterfly caterpillars live on poisonous plants called milkweed, and throughout the caterpillar's life, it slowly stores-up the poison it consumes due to eating the plant. When the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly, all of the stored poison gives the Monarch butterfly its characteristic orange coloring and protects its from predators by giving it a bitter taste. Similarly, small wins matter in life, and an accumulation of consistent, small wins can lead to major change. For example, equality for LGBT individuals began in the early 1970s when the Library of Congress reclassified books on the gay liberation from "Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes" to a classification with less negative connotation. From there, gay politicians such as Harvey Milk were elected to office and these small wins snow balled into marriage equality in 2015.
Mosquitoes find a person to bite by using multiple sensory tools in a specific order. First, they detect a person by sensing the carbon dioxide being exhaled, and as they move closer, they switch to visual cues to hone in on an appropriate target. Finally, when the mosquitoes are very close to a person, they use thermal sensing to solidify their decision before they decide to try to bite. In business, using the appropriate tool at the right time can be key to timely success. For instance, when submitting a paper for publication, initial drafts can be created using the Microsoft Office suite of softwares. However, once the article has been accepted for publication, different softwares must be used to ensure proper formatting of the text and resolution of the tables and figures. Finally, the publisher of the article will use a completely different set of tools to create the final layout.
What suite of tools can you use for your next project to guarantee success?
Insecticides do more to insects than just kill them including, but not limited to, reducing the number of young they have, decreasing their longevity and causing them to eat less. Unique end points or new uses for a product can lead to novel claims and a competitive advantage. For example, aspirin was intended as solely a pain reliever, until researchers discovered the drug's life savings effects during a heart attack. Now, Bayer is synonymous with aspirin.
What nontraditional use can you explore with your product to revitalize the brand?
Most locust live a solitary life until environmental conditions are right (i.e.: excess of green vegetation, increased number of individuals in a population), which triggers a morphological and behavioral change allowing them to swarm potentially causing public heath and economic impacts. Anticipating factors that affect your market can help prevent your product from failing. For example, if Blockbuster could have predicted consumers' willingness and preference to digital content, they could have altered their business model and maybe stayed in business.
How can predicting the market enable you to anticipate changes that could make or break your product?
Bug Lessons Blog
Welcome science communicators and bug nerds!
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