Dr. Nan-Yao Su, the University of Florida entomology professor will be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame in appreciation of his extensive work in termite research and control. Dr. Su’s innovative research on population ecology of subterranean termites and slow-acting control agents and his resulting patent, “Methods and Systems for Detecting and Controlling Subterranean Termites” gave Dow AgroSciences the confidence to move forward to co-develop and launch the Sentricon® System. In October, Su will join the likes of Thomas Edison as well as Robert Cade, the inventor of Gatorade. The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame honors those who have tried to better Florida and society through continuous, groundbreaking innovation, according to its website.
For Certified Sentricon Specialists ™, the extent of Su’s contribution to the pest control industry is evident. Phil Howard, Global Project Leader for Urban Pest Management for Dow AgroSciences, has worked with Su and the Sentricon System since 1995. He recently reflected on the early days with this innovative product.
In 1995, Howard says he was coordinating a meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where Sentricon was introduced. He had been aware of Su’s work.
“Termite baiting was so different from what the industry had experienced in the past,” Howard explains. “It took a lot of sharing of data to support that termites continuously and randomly forage for food —and that termites will feed on the bait and carry it back to their nest mates. We were in a new area of research and we had to debunk long-held beliefs. It seemed that progressive PMPs never got tired of listening to Nan-Yao share his research and how termite biology can be used to eliminate entire colonies.”
Howard admits that in the beginning, he — and many others — were skeptical of this new idea for termite control.
“It seemed so simple after we understood how termites actually behave,” he says. “It took Nan-Yao’s understanding of termite behavior to unlock the technology. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I kept expecting there to be something about Mother Nature that we didn’t understand. But the technology always worked. Over the years, through continuous innovation, we have removed the amount of labor it takes to service the system and maintain structural protection.
“For me, this really hit home in 1997, when we started working on solving the Statue of Liberty’s termite problem. Nan-Yao was asked to consult, and we quickly eliminated the termites infesting the island. It has been termite-free ever since.”
In the 20 years since the introduction of the Sentricon System, it has protected 2 million structures, including historical sites such as the Statue of Liberty, the White House and Independence Hall. This invention has made such a big difference in the United States and worldwide, that the Sentricon System was awarded the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2000.
“The Sentricon System has revolutionized termite control,” Howard says. “It once took hundreds of gallons of termiticide applied around a structure to provide some level of protection to a home. Sentricon is limited in its impact to the environment, non-intrusive to the home and provides continuous protection of the homeowners’ greatest investment. A win for the homeowner, a win for the PMP and a win for the environment.”
Howard says he’s happy that his colleague is getting this honor from the state of Florida.
“Nan-Yao is so deserving of this recognition,” Howard says. “He is passionate about his research and has shared his knowledge around the world. He didn’t just change termite control in the U.S., he impacted it around the world.”
To hear Su describe how Sentricon works, watch this video: