Rincon-Vitova’s Roots

I’m glad we’re setting up a blog for Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc., sharing what we have learned about biological pest control. I want to launch with a post about my dad, Everett J. “Deke” Dietrick, and the circumstances that led him to go into this business.

Entomology had long been the study of dead insects and ways to kill them. During the 1950’s, pesticide companies controlled most research about pest control and researchers were (and often still are) rewarded for playing with statistics to prove that biological insect control doesn’t work well enough. In Deke’s words, “They were burning the books.”

By 1960, Deke had learned enough working on some extensive biocontrol field surveys at the University of California. Seeing no honest biocontrol projects left to work on, he quit. Instead of continuing in the research work, Deke started developing mass-production methods for beneficial insects. He soon was on call for farmers and customers, putting their doubts about predators and parasites to rest. He called himself a “free-enterpriser.”

Rincon-Vitova was always out there, promoting non-chemical methods while every other organization tried to suppress the same knowledge in order to survive. My father said, “You couldn’t get it anywhere else” referring to the field observations and successful experiences of Rincon-Vitova’s pioneering “supervised control” consultants.

Following his inspiration and his open-door policy, national and commercial insectaries were built from Mexico to Pakistan to the former Soviet Union. Today Deke is grateful to see the expanding interest in biological methods. The Association of Natural Bio-Control Producers honored him in 2005 for outstanding contributions to commercial biological control.

Watching my father at work on so many fronts while I was growing up, I understood his mission to show farmers how to control pests without poisons and nothing seemed more meaningful for me than helping him. I am so grateful to be doing what I can to expand and extend his legacy.

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