The Professional Insect Light Trap Challenge
We recommend that you put our traps side-by-side with the competition and see for yourself how traps perform. More importantly, claims being made for ILTs need to be questioned, seriously questioned, if science is to maintain a foothold amid the constant, and growing, onslaught of gimmickry. The struggle to establish pest management as an honorable profession requires professional equipment, a science, and knowledgeable practitioners.
Professionalism will require the jettison of the gimmicks and false claims, prevalent in this industry. Some of these claims have been recycled again and again, for so long, they have become false common knowledge, appearing even in the "bibles" of the industry. These false claims will continue to circulate until the gimmicks are actively hunted down and eliminated. The pest management profession and, more importantly, customers deserve better. Science insists that claims be footnoted, the research paper be available, and the research be repeatable.
Many in the pest management industry believe it is the supplier's place to test the equipment. What I am telling you, in all sincerity, is, it will never become a profession that way. Without a healthy regimen of skepticism, truth is never approached. Literature, pest management books, magazines, and conferences are awash with hearsay passing as truth. Hucksters think they can't sell ILTs without "a little marketing" (read "lying to customers"). It can be done. We've been doing it for more than four decades.
The food and pharmaceutical industries have done some good basic research, but none of it has been published. Professional ILTs catch more insects than anyone would imagine beforehand, and releasing the names and numbers of insects caught in their facilities (while it would be educational) is not the most positive of public relations ideas. The paradox is that flying insects get into every building, and it is the companies who are conscientious enough to have done their own ILT research which are most likely to have installed them properly, established the best control program, and have the cleanest, most insect-free facilities.
The published ILT research that does exist, deals mainly with the survey of agricultural pests in fields or flies in barns, or is false and/or misleading. Of the research that might be applicable to the professional use of ILTs, much is lacking in the control of variables such as:
Over the years, industry by industry, professional ILTs have gained credibility and acceptance. At the same time, there is good reason for justifiable doubt about the credibility of ILTs. It is a young, abused child of a science, continually harmed by half-baked sales schemes for one gimmick or another. What will it be in the future? The choice is yours.
Remember; be cautious. Turn a critical eye to any research. There's a lot of marketing out there posing as science and claims routinely exceed what science there is. Words should be chosen and listened to carefully. Unfortunately, most careful wording seems to be authored by marketing departments and salesmen, not sincere ILT engineers. Our industry is not alone in this. Short term, bottom-line interests seldom include ethics. Our profession should.
I am curious if students could benefit from and contribute by doing some of this research? There are many different environments where the use of ILTs needs closer study, food plants, pharmaceutical laboratories, hospital hallways, nursing homes, fast food restaurants, fine dining rooms, different types and various sizes...and a lot of variables. Simple answers are comforting and useful, but, remember, there are exceptions, nuances and more than one way to skin a fly. Let's debate about it and, thereby, show each other something new.
You don't have to be a Ph.D. to do worthwhile research. In fact, I don't know of a single Ph.D. or university scientist that really knows how to test ILTs. Scientific laboratories that offer ILT testing make basic errors, such as not considering the age of lamps they are testing.
Avoid gimmicks. Aim beyond the best. Keep lots of notes. I am always interested in sharing experiences with anyone considering earnest research. Call me (800) 643-0400 or (870) 932-6070.