The laboratory of pests

scientists working in laboratoryA work colleague – Richard, had the opportunity to escape his usual office environment and travel to the laboratories of our Research and Development team. Here he shares his experiences of that day with us.

In a quiet little industrial estate somewhere in the south-east of England, there are some very nasty things breeding… huge cockroaches, swarms of flies, moths and other pests.

Before you start to panic, rest assured that they are all safely under lock and key at Rentokil’s state-of-the-art laboratories.

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to visit the labs and see some of the remarkable work done by Rentokil’s scientists.  As I spend most of my work time sat behind a computer, it was great to get out there and see what’s being done at the frontline to control pests – even if it did mean coming uncomfortably close to some rather unpleasant creepy crawlies.

Thankfully, the cockroaches and other pests are kept under glass – mainly in large jars with lots of their favourite food, in rooms artificially kept at a temperature and humidity as close to the creatures’ natural environment as possible.

Some of these pests, such as house flies, are quite common while others like the tropical warehouse moth are rarer in the UK. But all of them have the capability to cause people problems. That’s why the work done at these labs is so important.

I was fortunate to see some of the remarkable products that Rentokil’s scientists are working on to control pests. Obviously I’m sworn to secrecy over the exact nature of many of these until they hit the market, but one that is already benefiting customers with stored food products is our Moth Pheromone Disruption system.

This system uses pheromones to disrupt the reproduction of stored product moths by confusing males, making it more difficult for them to find females, thus reducing their numbers. Offering continual preventative control of a moth population using non-toxic methods with no risk of pesticide contamination of the products being stored.

We rigorously test all our products, with this testing taking place in a separate part of the building to where the insects are kept. To ensure there is no cross-contamination, anyone going from one side of the labs to the other has to pass through a special ‘air shower’. Standing in a cubicle with jets of air firing all round you is quite a weird experience but it ensures all our test results are accurate.

It really was a fascinating visit, but in truth I’m glad to be sat back at my computer now, far away from all the flies, moths and cockroaches.

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