Much of this article is based on the book, “The Rat Catcher’s Child” by Dr. Robert Snetsinger, and whole paragraphs are replicated here. The Rat Catcher’s Child is currently published by the publishing company of Pest Control Technology magazine. I heartily recommend ordering this book. I have barely touched the surface on the amount of information and insights available in "The Rat Catcher's Child". It is impossible for anyone in structural pest control to understand where we are and how we got here without reading this book…or talking to me. RK
Professional structural pest control is the art, science, technology and business that protects the health and comfort of mankind, and preserves his property from harm and destruction by insects, rodents, birds, weeds, wood destroying fungi and related pests.
At one time pest control was “science”! You would mix this with that and apply it according to directions and things died. That has all changed! Pest control has now become more art than science, even though we know more about pests and their biology than ever in all the history of our industry. This requires a great deal of personal knowledge and initiative. They attempt to call this Integrated Pest Management, but it is still just pest control.
Mankind has always been aware of the need to maintain good health and have a sense of well being. Pest Control, as one of the health related professions and traces its origins into antiquity. The Egyptians' used magic spells as a pest control technique in order to protect the mummies of their kings from poisonous snakes. They believed that some snakes spoke the Semitic language of the Canaanites and included the magic spells in inscriptions on two sides of the sarcophagus in an effort to ward them off. In these times pest control and was the domain of diviners, witchdoctors, priests and other practicers of magic. Pest control and related professions eventually emerged from the realms of magic and religion, but the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of the day consisted of spears and spells.
Medicine, in the broad sense, encompasses such professionals as physicians, surgeons, dentists, druggists, barbers, sanitation engineers, pest control operators and undertakers.
The religious text of the Mosaic Code of the ancient Hebrews created a concept of disease prevention that was more far-reaching than the after-the-fact treatments of physicians. Concepts that we easily recognize today, such as washing your hands before eating and washing after contact with the sick and the dead, were instituted for the first time in recorded history. We have a common understanding of all of these things now. Another concept introduced by this code was the elimination of parasites by eliminating certain foods from the diet, meat inspection, disinfection of the quarters of the sick, the elimination of dreck (dreck is dung and other filth, which were popular parts of formulas in ancient times) from the pharmacopoeia of Jewish medicine and recognition that flies were carriers of disease causing agents.
Hippocrates began the separation of religion, philosophy and science by declaring medicine to be “an art, science and a profession” yet he ascribed to the idea that “nature is the real healer of disease.” Since many times medicines merely relieve the symptoms until the body can heal itself there is a degree of truth in this. But by our standards and today’s understanding this was not entirely scientific and carries the taint of superstition to it, which for his time and lack of true scientific understanding that would be expected. But it was a start.
The Romans always felt that the Greeks were on a higher cultural plane than themselves, as a result they admired and mimicked everything Greek, continuing with much of Greek medicine, science, art and culture creating civil engineering feats that still marvel us today. The draining of wetlands, sewerage, indoor sanitation, central heating, the constant flow of fresh water into the cities via aqueducts (sections of which are still standing today) fed the baths playing an important role in good health.
All of this changed with the fall of Rome. The Christian church leaders of the time were as ignorant as the population they led regarding these matters. Church dogma contended that the poor should look forward to delivery from misery and sorrow only in life after death and that sickness and pestilence were punishments for sins and that only through fasting and prayer could health be restored.
The medicines of the Greeks, health codes of the Jews and engineering and planning of the Romans were replaced with paternosters and charms. The Monks and clerics were forbidden to practice medicine and science, and as a result, for all intents and purposes, these disciplines disappeared from Europe. Under those circumstances we can see how some poor woman collecting herbs to be the “healer” for her community would be targeted as a “witch” and burned at the stake. This is one of the many features of that very intellectually dark period know as the Middle Ages. Not only was this a time of intellectual darkness it was a time of personal filth. We could easily redub this period as the “Dirty Ages”, because sanitation and the health related arts were largely dismissed for more than 1,000 years.
Monks and other leaders of the church may or may not have been pious, but they rarely bathed and they stunk. Not only did they smell bad they were vermin ridden. They, like all others of this period in Europe had rotten teeth, vile breath, stomach problems, along with sores on their lice infested bodies. These men and women viewed cleanliness with abhorrence and call lice “Pearls of God”. They considered their presence a mark of saintliness. Some believed that a clean body and clean clothes meant an unclean soul. Others took on lice from the dead or less pious so they could suffer more in this life and insure greater rewards in the hereafter. When Thomas a Becket died it was discovered that he wore a lice infested wool undergarment. We must assume that this was a daily garment, unwashed and filthy. He must have truly stunk. And he was the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. Then again…everyone stunk back then.
Some believed that all life was sacred, and since man had the reward of Heaven and the pests did not, the “bugs” should be allowed to enjoy the only life they would have. Now under the dictates and demands of those enforcing the Endangered Species Act we believe all life except human life is sacred. Between 1989 and 2002, over five billion dollars was reported spent on individual endangered species.
Life style determines the outcome. No society can avoid the consequences of its way of living. The decline of medicine, the lack of sanitation and a pious cynicism as to the lot of the sick, the poor and the enslaved had its consequences. Famine, wars, epidemics of plague, leprosy, malaria, smallpox and tuberculosis decimated Europe. The Plague or Black Death appeared in China in 1334 A.D. It spread westward along the routes of the caravan and by boat to the Middle East, arriving in Sicily in October 1347 A.D. Within a few years, plague was rampant through out Europe. It is variously estimated that some 25 to 40 million Europeans died of the disease, about 50 % of the population. Needless to say, such carnage debilitated Europe. With the mentality they had regarding the “sacredness” of the lower species is it any wonder?
Pest control during this time was still very hands on. During the 1400’s “beaters” were hired to brush and beat furs and woolens to control moth larvae. Obviously this could only be somewhat effective, but given the vastness of the problem, any improvement probably seemed pretty good. In 1497, following the religious concepts of the time, the Bishop of Lausanne, Switzerland excommunicated June beetles. I don’t think the beetle must have been able to speak Latin.
What was life like in the 1500’s? I don’t remember from where I got these next few paragraphs, so I can’t accredit the author, but it isn’t my work. RK
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children- last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it - hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice rats, and bugs), lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof-hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's the reason canopy beds came into existence; along with the fact that there was no central heating in those days…just fireplaces. Even the finest homes were cold and drafty in the winter, this allowed them to enclose the bed for heat retention.
This quote appeared in the Blog Café Hayek regarding this letter. “Consider, for example, Thomas Babington Macaulay's description of life in the 17th-century Scottish highlands -- before anything beyond rudimentary commerce and industry reach there:”
“His lodging would sometimes have been in a hut of which every nook would have swarmed with vermin. He would have inhaled an atmosphere thick with peat smoke, and foul with a hundred noisome exhalations. At supper grain fit only for horses would have been set before him, accompanied by a cake of blood drawn from living cows. Some of the company with which he would have feasted would have been covered with cutaneous eruptions, and others would have been smeared with tar like sheep. His couch would have been the bare earth, dry or wet as the weather might be; and from that couch he would have risen half poisoned with stench, half blind with the reek of turf, and half mad with the itch.”Use of poisons has been with mankind from the beginning. Toxic chemicals are part of the make up of our earth. The extraction and concentration of toxic substances gained a quasi-religious dimension for early man. Death was mystery, poisons cause death, ergo those who produce poisons were venerated and probably feared. As the years went by pest control started to take on the outlines of a profession although their efforts were at best haphazard.
As we come down into the 1800’s we find that so many concepts of what constitutes modern pest control came out of Europe, especially Germany. Germany was further advanced with regard to chemistry in general than the rest of the world. As an example, when WW I started aspirin became unavailable because it was produced in Germany only. Bayer is still a major manufacturer of medications and pesticides. The fact of the matter is that pest control became a largely immigrant profession especially amongst the German and German Jewish immigrants.
In 1850 advertisements appeared in New York newspapers selling pesticides such as phosphorus paste, arsenic, strychnine, cyanide, pyrethrum and a number of disinfecting compounds were available. In addition….screening, netting, traps and fly paper were produced by American industry. The technology of the profession was nearly advanced as in Europe, because immigrants were arriving daily bringing additional knowledge with them. On the eve of the American Civil War, we find all elements of the infant pest control industry firmly established in the United States and it was based on effective chemistry.
The evolution of the pest control industry followed the advances in communication and technology. At this time secret formulas, lack of scientific knowledge, suspicion and animosity between competitors was the order of the day; especially since there was no national organization. In 1932 the first national publication for the structural pest control industry appeared, called the Exterminators Log. The name changed as the years went by. In 1938 it was renamed “Pests” and in 1939 became “Pests and Their Control” and then “Pest Control” in 1949 (which it maintained until recent years when it was renamed, Pest Management Professional) and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio; where it remains to this day, along with Pest Control Technology magazine, which was first printed in 1973.
This issue of organizing the pest control industry nationally began to be resolved in 1933 when The Society of Exterminators and Fumigators of New York City elected Bill Buettner. They weren’t the only ones who realized the need for a national association. In that same year The Associated Exterminators and Fumigators of the United States with executive offices in the old Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio agreed to hold a convention in Cleveland to make a very real attempt to form a national association. Clearly there wasn’t room for two national associations and in October of that year the associated Ohio group endorsed the New York group and formed what eventually became the National Pest Management Association. National representation was born.
I do believe this is an important part of the story and cannot be left out. One of the real driving forces for this action was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration which demanded that business, through its trade associations, establish codes of fair trade practices which had provisions for minimum salaries for employees; determine the number of hours per week an employee could work; insure fair prices for an industry; and prevent unfair competition with an industry. It was generally believe that if an industry failed to produce an acceptable code of its own the bureaucrats at NRA would impose one which would be less acceptable.
Eventually the Supreme Court of the U.S. found this to be unconstitutional, but it was too late, many of the socialist policies of the New Deal became the standard, exacerbating the depth of the depression causing it to become the Great Depression. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the formation of a national organization.
Ohio and New York pest controllers brought this industry together because of the vision of a few good men. There is no doubt that Bill Buettner, the first president of the national association, cast a giant shadow. But that was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants who were willing to put the own interests aside for the good of an entire industry. Those people were from Ohio and New York! Some of those families are still in the structural pest control business in Ohio. The passion and dedication these giants had for our industry was and is shared even now. It is almost like a form of osmosis amongst Ohio pest controllers and permeates our state association to this day; and we have a very real sense of founder’s rights!
Even our newsletter, The Standard, has received praise from no lesser light than Harry Katz, by saying that;
It is a shame that only Ohioans get it. It is really worthy of national distribution. You did a good job of researching material for the Cancer story. I will use some of it in a cancer story in my column in our Village newspaper. Something special about Cleveland: that is where the son of a Cleveland PCO started the Pest Control Magazine.
Harry”In 1962 Rachel Carson published her book, Silent Spring. Carson’s ability to spin a tale was truly amazing. Even though just about everything she said was either false, misleading or inaccurate the EPA still praises her as an environmental saint, in spite of all the studies that have clearly discredited almost everything she stated or claimed or predicted. EPA’s web site states:
"Silent Spring played in the history of environmentalism roughly the same role that Uncle Tom’s Cabin played in the abolitionist movement. In fact, EPA today may be said without exaggeration to the extend4ed shadow of Rachel Carson. The influence of her book has brought together over 14,000 scientists, lawyers, managers, and other employees across the country to fight the good fight for “environmental protections.”
Skeptics then and now have accused Carson of shallow science, but her literary genius carried all before it.”So it was her literary genius and not her scientific genius that did it. At least EPA got that right. However, this book was the basis for the ban on DDT and gave the impetus for the formation of the modern environmental movement, which must be held responsible for tens of millions of deaths and billions of cases of unnecessary afflictions that could have been prevented.
In 1970 Richard Nixon stated that he had taken steps to get rid of DDT and formed the EPA. He did this to strip the United States Department of Agriculture of legislative authority regarding pesticides. They knew the science did not justify a ban on DDT and were against it, hence Nixon’s corrupt actions.
The irresponsible ban on DDT can be blamed not only on Richard Nixon, (although he bears the burden of blame) but William Ruckelshaus as well. When judge Sweeney ruled against those wanting to ban DDT he stated that DDT wasn’t a carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man and did not have a deleterious effect of wildlife, President Richard Nixon was furious and stated that he was going to do everything he could to overturn that decision. Ruckelshaus, a “closet” environmentalist and the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency appointed by Nixon, banned DDT even though the judge who sat through a scientific hearing on DDT — a hearing that Ruckelshaus did not attend — ruled that it should remain in use.”
It has been claimed that Ruckelshaus was not responsible and that two court decisions required EPA to ban DDT, but Sweeney’s decision vacated those orders and it was Ruckelshaus who ultimately made the decision to ban DDT; which he admitted two years later to an audience of environmental activists by acknowledging that there was no science to justify the ban and therefore made a political decision.
We have come a long way down that road of regulations. “The Federal Register, which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of 78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001.” As a result we have continued to lose important tools. In 1996 the Food Quality Protection act passed and we lost important organophosphates and carbamates, and now we have bed bugs reaching epidemic proportions. I keep hearing about the increase in ticks. What happens when children start coming down with Lyme disease on a regular basis? What is EPA’s answer to all of this? Integrated Pest Management (IPM)!
IPM was the brainchild of a number of entomologists, who pioneered the concept in the early 1960’s, including Ray Smith, Dale Newsome, Charlie Lincoln and Bill Luckman, according to George Rotramel, PhD. However it would appear that the whole thing was triggered by an article in the agricultural science journal Hilgardia, (Hilgardia 29: 81-101, 1959) which you will find cited and quoted unendingly in papers up to and including the latest papers regarding pest control solutions in agriculture.
One of the authors of that paper Vernon M. Stern wrote and article in 1985 in “This Week’s Citation Classic” commentaries where-in he notes;
“The reason this paper has been widely cited is that, by 1959, the world of pest control needed drastic improvement. This paper was a significant first step and laid the basis for all that followed. An author commented recently, “Economic entomology has had nothing quite so fashionable as integrated control. It gathered momentum from its very breath. It was all things to all entomologists. Above all, it acquired the characteristics of a religious movement, with its own priesthood, faithful following, and body of doctrine. Such, indeed, was its strength.” (Source) Jones D. P. Agricultural entomology (Smith R. F, Mittler T.E. Smith C.N. & eds.) History of Entomology. Palo Alto, California: Annual reviews, 1973, p. 307-32In an article “Renaming (Redefining) Integrated Pest Management: Fumble, Pass, or Play?”, authors Tom A. Royer, Philip G. Mulder and Gerrit W. Cuperus of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University Stillwater, Oklahoma 74048. In the American Entomologist "Postmarked: Extension, U.S.A.", Volume 45. Pages 136-139 commenting on the book;
He went on to say that during the 1960’s “the entomological concept of integrated control was broadened considerably and soon encompassed nematology, plant pathology, and weed science. This entire field now includes not only biological and chemical control, climatic factors, plant growth analysis, and modeling as well as social ramifications and political aspects. As a result the term “integrated pest management” largely replaced our term “integrated control”. Today, BS, MS, and PhD degrees are offered in this subject. About 20 (in 1985) states now require agricultural pest control advisers to be licensed.”
“Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century (National Research Council 1996) stated that the authors “thoroughly examined integrated pest management (IPM) and exposed some valid criticisms regarding its implementation. After reviewing the book, we asked the question: "What compelled the authors to re-invent and rename IPM?" We are convinced that the genesis of ecologically based pest management (EBPM) was predicated on a genuine concern about how IPM is practiced. However, we concur with Kogan's (1998) view that IPM practitioners, educators, and researchers should be troubled by the introduction of "repackaged" substitutes with new acronyms because the identity of this fully developed, already recognizable archetype [IPM] may be undermined.”It is clear from this article the authors believe “IPM must be able to be defined in a viable framework.” In other words, it first must work to control pests and it must be “economically feasible and socially acceptable.” Although it appears clear that the authors are in favor of seriously reducing pesticide use, their comments are important because it is obvious from their concerns that IPM was designed for, and is only practicable in agriculture and constantly redefining IPM to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean is counterproductive.
Even those definitions that aren’t clearly agricultural in nature show that it is obvious from the content it doesn’t apply to structural pest control. Most importantly, none of them exclude the use of pesticides, with the determinant factors being the applicators understanding of the problem and his judgment as to what should be done. This may be a good time to list some of the many definitions of IPM.
IPM is based on threshold limits, which establishes an economic basis for the application of pesticides. So many pests in a field do so much damage and when that damage passes an economic threshold of losses it is more economical to apply pesticides. That’s IPM! And even in agriculture where IPM can be scientifically defined it isn’t really practiced because it is time and labor intensive to do the surveys and expensive.
So then, what is the threshold limit for cockroaches in a restaurant or ones home? How about bed bugs, fleas, rats, mice, ticks, ants, termites, etc? They answer is zero. There is no such thing as IPM in structural pest control. EPA bureaucrats have another program they push called Green Pest Control, which is ever less definable than IPM. In point of fact there are only two states, Georgia and California have any definition.
APSCRO (Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials) sent out a survey to find out if any states had a definition for green. “Georgia’s definition is that “Green Pest Management can best be defined as a service that employs and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach while utilizing fewer of the earth’s resources as a part of a larger effort to reduce human impacts on the environment”. California’s report of a definition of GPM referenced their existing definition of integrated pest management and did not elaborate further on GPM.
These states are using a defining term to define a term. They can’t do it any better than they were able to define IPM. There will be no end to the changes or demands. Pest control isn't a methodology, it is a practice. Well, IPM and GPM aren't methodologies either; but neither are they a practice. Both IPM and GPM are ideologies disguised as methodologies and that is why they are so hard to find a single definition, which I believe is a Sisyphean task.
We are replacing science with mysticism when we work to "become one with the biosphere" as the green movements demand. EPA has been a virtual lava flow of scientifically dubious regulations from its inception. It is clear to anyone who wishes to see that the EPA was born in corruption and operates behind a curtain of lies, just like the Wizard of Oz. Where will all of this take us? I believe that bed bugs are the tip of the iceberg, for no society can avoid the consequences of its way of living. We cannot continue in this direction without serious consequences. Mankind must alter his environment in order to survive. Even those ignorant ancients with their magic spells recognized this as a basic truth. They at least had an excuse; they were ignorant.
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