BULLHEAD CITY — There are about 10 quintillion insects on the planet, but it takes a high level of expertise to control the insects that make their home in the Tri-state.
Michael Cavallaro is expected to begin work on July 1. He will assume the job previously held by Joe Iburg, who left recently to return to his native state of Georgia after about 2 1/2 years in the role.
Iburg was the city’s first pest abatement manager. That position was created through an agreement between the city and the Bullhead Pest Abatement District.
Cavallaro will be coming from Corvallis, Oregon. He has been doing post-doctoral work at Oregon State University in its department of environmental and molecular toxicology.
Seven people applied for the job, according to Bullhead City officials. Cavallaro and another applicant were chosen as finalists. Both toured the area and took close looks at the Colorado River. Cavallaro ultimately was chosen for the position.
Cavallaro and Iburg have been in contact so Cavallaro is coming in with some ideas about challenges unique to this area. Mosquitoes, blackflies (also known as gnats) and caddisflies are the common local bugs. Primary focus is on aquatic insects.
“Joe has given him a lot of great insights,” said Jeff Tipton, director of human services for the city.
Cavallaro has his bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in entomology. He earned his doctorate degree in environment and sustainability at Oregon State. He has been involved in research that includes caddisflies and is listed as a co-author of some research articles. A significant amount of that work went on along the Platte River in Nebraska.
Professionally, he has experience with aquaticentomology, insecticide toxicology and science communication.
And, “he’s very engaging,” Tipton said.
Tipton said Cavallaro’s ability to convey scientific ideas in clear language should come in handy. The region’s insects are of interest to residents and Cavallaro probably will be speaking to local groups about what he will be doing to control the insect populations.
The city’s first bug slayer — also trained as an entomologist — had more experience dealing with mosquitoes and blackflies than caddisflies. Cavallaro will start his new job with something Iburg didn’t — experience with caddisflies, Tipton pointed out.
Iburg sought out volunteers from permanent residents along the river to help with a caddisfly study. He also worked closely with Clark County Vector Control, Arizona Game and Fish Department, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Millersville University in Pennsylvania and others to address various insect situations along the river in Bullhead City and Laughlin.
It’s likely Cavallaro will continue at least some of Iburg’s projects.