IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS entomologist to be inducted into pest management hall of fame

Topic(s): Announcements, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Phil Koehler sees his students as the reason he’s being inducted into the Pest Management Professional Hall of Fame.

“The thing I’ve done is provide opportunities for students, and they’ve pretty well stayed with the pest management industry in one way or another,” Koehler said. They attend pest management meetings around the world and interact with industry professionals.

Some will attend his hall of fame induction in Nashville, Tennessee, in October, an honor Koehler appreciates.

“This award is probably the highest award that you can get for contributions to the pest management industry worldwide,” said Koehler, likening the award to winning an Oscar. After all, the November ceremony is a black-tie event.

Koehler uses interest from two endowments to pay his students. He rattled off one name after another of alumni of his program who are now top executives with entomology companies. Koehler is equally proud of his former students who work in academia.

“By the time our students get done, they’re known for what they do, and they get employed,” Koehler said. “We have a good track record of our students going somewhere and staying in the industry one way or another.”

Koehler came to UF/IFAS 40 years ago after a three-year stint as an entomologist with the U.S. Navy in Jacksonville. While in the Navy, he worked with UF/IFAS Extension entomologists, and when they had a position open, he knew he wanted it.

Among his many accomplishments, Koehler was called as an expert in 1980 and found that the Formosan termite – the most destructive type of termite in the world – had infested a South Florida condominium. It was the first documented case of this type of termite in Florida.

As an urban entomologist, Koehler said he does research and Extension work on insects that people fear – cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs, ants and termites – things that destroy their quality of living and transmit disease.

“It’s a service industry unlike any other,” he said. “Technicians are almost a part of the family, going through every part of your house or business. They have seen everything. That’s part of their job. There’s no other service industry that’s that intimately connected with their customers.”

Koehler, at 68, has no plans to retire. He and his team – along with other UF/IFAS researchers — are working on new technologies to try to kill the mosquitoes that transmit the potentially deadly dengue and chikengunya viruses. He also has pending patents on a bed bug trap.

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Caption: UF/IFAS urban entomology Professor Phil Koehler, seen here examining termites in his Gainesville lab, will be inducted into the Pest Management Professional Hall of Fame. He credits his students and says many of those who have graduated from his lab are still in pest management — either in the private sector or in academia.

Credit: UF/IFAS file.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Phil Koehler, 352-392-2484, pgk@ufl.edu

 

 

 

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