Published on 07/29/98

New Training Center to Help Georgians Control Termites

A new University of Georgia training center will help pest control inspectors and operators stay ahead of home- wrecking termites.

The Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center opened this summer at the Georgia Experiment Station in Griffin, Ga. The Georgia Department of Agriculture established the center through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.

Changes in the way Georgia homes are built and treated for termites prompted the new center.

"Pest control operators fought termites 10 years ago with chemicals that left a lasting protective barrier around homes," said UGA entomologist Wayne Gardner. He coordinates the training center. "These chemicals were taken off the market because they were found to cause cancer."

Without these insecticides, shorter-residual products must be applied more often. Gardner said the new products are much safer. But they don't last as long.

"Now," he said, "certified pest control operators must periodically check for infestations and damage."

Men at 
house foundation
Sharon Omahen, UGA CAES

BUILDING THEIR KNOWLEDGE Pest control operators look over the new training facilities at the Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center in Griffin. This facility provides a single site for inspectors and operators to be trained on several types of foundations without traveling. (Photo Courtesy the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Pest control operators have to deal with new building materials, too. "They have to know how to spot termite damage in all types of materials at the earliest stage possible," Gardner said.

In the past, pest control operators were trained by going from one home site to another. It was the only way trainers had to show how to inspect and treat different materials.

"The new training center includes a home foundation built from every type of material now used in construction in Georgia," Gardner said. "From stucco to block to brick to poured foundation -- they're all on display here."

Now pest control operators and state inspectors can be trained on one site.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin called the new center an investment. It will pay "great dividends," he said, to the people of Georgia.

"The largest investment most people ever make is their home," Irvin said. "This center will assure Georgians that if a pest control operator comes into their home, he will have been trained and will know what he's doing. You shouldn't have any fear of harm to your home, your pets or your family."

Termites damage more homes than storms and fires combined. Each year, Georgians spend $56 million on termite control and damage repair.

"It's smart business to have a licensed pest control operator inspect your home or business regularly," Gardner said.

"When you saw a pest control van in your neighbor's driveway 30 years ago, it was a sign of poor housekeeping," he said. "Today, it's poor housekeeping not to include pest control in your maintenance regimen."

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.