M. Potter

Michael Potter
Professor Emeritus

Professional Profile

Dr. Potter’s education and research program at the University of Kentucky provides cutting-edge information and advice to homeowners, multi-unit housing, hospitality, health care, food and manufacturing industries, regulatory, legal, and consumer protection agencies, national and international media, and the professional pest control industry. Dr. Potter is a frequent industry speaker, writer and educator. He’s been an invited lecturer in almost every state, and has been Keynote Speaker at pest control conferences throughout the world. Mike’s also been the recipient of several awards recognizing career contributions to urban pest management. In 2011, the National Pest Management Association honored him with their Pinnacle Award. In 2012, he was inducted into the Pest Control Hall of Fame.


The mission of my urban entomology program at the University of Kentucky is to protect the health, food, property and quality of life of the public. The program provides information and assistance to citizens, businesses, institutions and agencies in Kentucky and beyond. 

Extension Activities

Much of my time is spent working with the professional pest management industry and their customers. On-site inspections are often made to assess pest problems and prescribe solutions.


Considerable time is spent helping clients with their questions.

Annually, the Entomology Department hosts the University of Kentucky Pest Control Short Course, recognized as one of the premier educational events in the industry. In recent years, about 500 practitioners attend from several states to hear the latest insights on pest management.

Short Course

Industry professionals attending the UK Pest Control Short Course (Photos by Tom Myers)

Information on pests of public importance is provided on our Department website in “ENTfacts: Insect Advice - Home and Health.” Our publications on termite control, bed bugs, brown recluse spiders, etc. are also listed at or near the top of Google™. Consumers and news organizations often cite these articles as being among the most useful on the Web. Publications are also written for the pest management industry, including the most comprehensive, current reference on termite control published in the Mallis Handbook of Pest Control.


Extension and industry publications provide useful information for householders and professionals. Photo: Mike Potter

Our extension urban entomology program is a leading resource for news organizations such as theThe New York TimesWashington PostWall Street JournalUSA TodayU.S. News & World ReportTimeBusiness WeekKiplinger’sReader’s DigestCNNDatelineand National Public Radio.


Insect pests often attract news media attention. Photo Mike Potter.

Applied Research

Termites inflict billions of dollars in damage annually and cause anguish to property owners. A primary research focus has been finding new ways to eliminate infestations. A seminal study showed that most buildings can be protected by applying certain termite control chemicals around foundation exteriors, with only minor treatment indoors. Benefits to consumers include lower cost, less disruption of household items, negligible drilling of floors, and reduced risk of exposure to pesticides. Partly as a consequence of this work, the U.S. EPA amended some termiticide labels to accommodate the more prudent use pattern, which has had a profound influence on the way termites are now managed in the U.S. and major termite regions of the world.


Left: Subterranean termites are serious pests throughout much of the United States. Right: The technician is performing a ‘perimeter-mostly’ termite treatment pioneered at the University of Kentucky. Photos: Mike Potter, University of Kentucky

Bed bugs are fast becoming the most serious urban pest threat in a generation. After a 50-year virtual absence, infestations are occurring in homes, apartments, hotels, dormitories, patient care centers, modes of transport, and elsewhere throughout the world. The University of Kentucky entomology department is working on the front lines of this pandemic and is considered one of the premier institutions for research, information and management advice. Faculty research partners in this effort include Drs. Kenneth F. Haynes and Subba R. Palli, and several graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.  

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs hiding in a bed room (left) and feeding on a human (right). Photos: Mike Potter, University of Kentucky

In 2006, we documented the first resistance to modern-day insecticides in U.S. field populations, which has had profound implications for management. We also published the first field trial utilizing existing products to control apartment infestations. Collaborations with several pest control firms have helped us establish test colonies and field sites for studying this important public health pest.

Haynes and Alvaro

Dr. Ken Haynes and Ph.D. student Alvaro Romero prepare to evaluate an insecticide. Photo: Mike Potter, University of Kentucky

Mosquitoes are a perennial problem for property owners in Kentucky and other states. A study conducted with UK colleague Dr. Grayson Brown’s laboratory revealed that populations of nuisance Aedes mosquitoes could be reduced by applying residual pyrethroid insecticides to resting sites of adult mosquitoes in residential yards. Potential disease-transmitting Culex mosquitoes, however, were unaffected unless applications were directed high into tree canopies. The seminal findings are important to mosquito managers throughout the country who are providing such services to homeowners.

Mosquito Trap

Becky Trout (MS 2006) and Jamee Hubbard (Ph.D. 2005) check a mosquito monitoring trap following a treatment. Photo: Mike Potter, University of Kentucky

The Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, is a frequent fall invader of homes and buildings in several states. Working with a team of allergists at the University of Louisville Medical School, we conducted the first study estimating the prevalence of ladybug hypersensitivity among people whose homes were infested. Results suggest that Asian lady beetles can be a significant cause of respiratory allergy in heavily infested homes, casting new importance on a pest formerly considered only a nuisance.

Asian Ladybugs

Asian lady beetles seek out protected places in homes to spend the winter. Photo: Mike Potter, University of Kentucky

Selected Publications 

Book chapters

  • Haynes K. F. and M. F. Potter. 2012. Recent progress in bed bug management. pp. 269-278. In: Advanced Technologies for Managing Insect Pests. I. Ishaaya, S. R. Palli, A. R. Horowitz (ed.). Springer,Netherlands.
  • Potter, M.F. 2011. Termites. pp. 293-441. In Handbook of Pest Control. (10th ed.). Franzak & Foster. Cleveland, OH. 
  • Potter, M.F. 2004. Termites. pp. 216-361. In Handbook of Pest Control. (9th ed.). Franzak & Foster. Cleveland, OH.
  • Potter, M.F. 1997. Termites. pp. 233-333. In Handbook of Pest Control. (8th ed.). Franzak & Foster, Cleveland, OH.
  • Potter, M.F. 1997. Controlling subterranean termites. pp. 251-56. In Troubleshooting Guide to Residential Construction. J. Light Construction (ed.), Richmond, VT.
  • Potter, M. F. 1995.  Biting and stinging pests. pp. 91-94.  In Entomological Society of America Handbook of Turfgrass Insect Pests. Entomological Society of America, Lanham, MD. 

Journal Articles

  • Goodman, M.H., M.F. Potter and K.F. Haynes. 2012. Shedding light on IGRs and bed bugs. Pest Control Technol. 40(8): 38,40-43, 44-46.
  • Potter, M.F., K.F. Haynes, J.R. Gordon, E. Hardebeck and W. Wickemeyer. 2012. Dual-action bed bug killers. Pest Control Technol. 40(2): 62,63,65-8,75, 76
  • Zhu, F., S. Sams, T. Moural, K.F. Haynes, M.F. Potter, and S.R. Palli. 2012. RNA Interference of NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase results in reduced insecticide resistance in the bed bug, Cimex lectularius. Plos One 7(2): 10pp.
  • Potter, M.F., K.F. Haynes, M. Henriksen and B. Rosenberg. 2011. The 2011 bed bugs without borders survey. (Cover Story). Pest World. Nov/Dec.: 4-15.
  • Potter, M.F. 2011. The history of bed bug management – with lessons from the past. American Entomologist. 57(1):14-25.
  • Potter, M.F. 2011. Termite inspectors: a unique breed. Pest Control Technol. 39(2): 58,60,62,64.
  • Potter, M.F., B. Rosenberg and M. Henriksen. 2010. Bugs without borders: defining the global bed bug resurgence. (Cover Story). Pest World. Sept/Oct.: 8-20
  • Potter, M.F., K.F. Haynes, K. Connelly, M. Deutsch, E. Hardebeck, D. Partin and R. Harrison. 2010. The sensitivity spectrum: human reactions to bed bug bites. Pest Control Technol. 38(2): 70-74.
  • Romero, A., M.F. Potter and K.F. Haynes. 2009. Evaluation of piperonyl butoxide as a deltamethrin synergist for pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs. J. Econ. Entomol. 102(6): 2310-2315.
  • Romero, A., M.F. Potter and K.F. Haynes. 2009. (Cover Story) Are dusts the bed bug bullet? Pest Management Professional. 77(5): 22,23,26,28,30.
  • Romero, A., M.F. Potter and K.F. Haynes. 2009. Behavioral responses of the bed bug to insecticide residues. J. Med. Entomol. 46: 51-57.
  • Potter, M.F., A. Romero and K.F. Haynes. 2008. Battling bed bugs in the USA. Proc. Intl’ Conf. Urban Pests. Budapest, Hun. 401-406.
  • Potter, M.F., A. Romero, K.F. Haynes and T.. Jarzynka. 2008. Bed bugs, heat and hotel rooms. Pest Control Technol. 36(10): 106, 108, 109, 112, 114, 116, 118, 120-21.
  • Potter, M.F. 2008. The history of bed bug management: lessons from the past. Pest Control Technol. 36(8) 12pp.
  • Potter, M.F. 2008. Bed bugs: understanding and control (2nd edition). Pest Control Technol. 36(6).
  • Potter, M.F., K.F. Haynes, A. Romero, E. Hardebeck and W. Wickemeyer. 2008. Is there a new bed bug answer? Pest Control Technol. 36(6): 116, 118-24.
  • Haynes, K.F., A. Romero, R. Hassell and M.F. Potter. 2008. (Cover Story) The secret life of bed bugs. Pest World. Jan/Feb: 4-8.
  • Potter, M.F. 2008. (Cover Story) The business of bed bugs. Pest Management Professional. 76(1): 24-40.
  • Potter, M.F. 2007. (Cover Story) The state of termite management. Pest Control Technol. 35(2): 38-40, 43,44,46,49,51,54, 56.
  • Potter, M.F., A. Romero, K.F. Haynes and E. Hardebeck. 2007. Killing them softly: battling bed bugs in sensitive places. Pest Control Technol. 35(1): 24,25,27,29,30,32.
  • Romero, A., M.F. Potter, D.A. Potter and K.F. Haynes. 2006. Insecticide resistance in the bed bug: a factor in the pest’s sudden resurgence? J. Med. Entomol. 44(2): 175-78.
  • Potter, M.F., A. Romero, K.F. Haynes and W. Wickemeyer. 2006. Battling bed bugs in apartments. Pest Control Technol. 34(8): 44-52.
  • Potter, M.F. 2006. Mystery bites: diagnosis and management. Pest Control Technol. 34(6). 7pp.
  • Potter, M.F. 2006. The perfect storm: an extension view on bed bugs. Am. Entomol. 52(2): 102-4.
  • Potter, M.F., K. Sharma, H.L. Pence and S.B. Muldoon. 2006. Ladybugs are a new source of allergy. Pest Control. 74(3).
  • Sharma, K., S.B. Muldoon, M.F. Potter, and H.L. Pence. 2006. Ladybug hypersensitivity among residents of homes infested with ladybugs in Kentucky. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 97(4): 528-31.
  • Potter, M.F. 2005. A bed bug state of mind: emerging issues in bed bug management. Pest Control Technol. 33(10): 82-85,88,90,92-93,96-97.
  • Hubbard, J.L., R.T. Trout, G.C. Brown, and M.F. Potter. 2005. Do backyard mosquito sprays work? Pest Control Technol. 33(5).
  • Potter, M.F. 2004. Bedbugs: understanding and control. Pest Control Technol. 32(8): 13-17.
  • Potter, M.F. 2004. Termite tendencies. Pest Control Technol. 32(2): 34-36, 38-40, 98.
  • Potter, M.F. and A.E. Hillery. 2003. Termite trench warfare. Pest Control Technol. 31(2): 42-55.
  • Potter, M.F. and A.E. Hillery. 2003. Nonrepellent strategies for odorous house ants. Pest Control. 71(5): 32-34.
  • Potter, M.F. and A.E. Hillery. 2002. Exterior-targeted liquid termiticides: an alternative approach to managing subterranean termites in buildings. Sociobiology 39: 373-405.
  • Potter, M.F., A.E. Hillery and S. Sims. 2001. (Cover Story) Termite inspections: active or inactive? Pest Control Technol. 29(2):32-34,42.
  • Potter, M.F. and A.E. Hillery. 2001. Thinking ‘outside’ the box. Pest Control Technol. 29(3):68,69,72,74,76,78-82,84,112.
  • Potter, M.F., E.A. Eliason, K. Davis and R.T. Bessin. 2001. Managing subterranean termites in the Midwest with a hexaflumuron bait and placement considerations around structures. Sociobiology. 38: 565-585.
  • Potter, M.F., E.A. Eliason and K. Davis. 2001. Targeting termites with baits. Pest Control Technol. 29(7):58-60,63.
  • Potter, M.F., T. V. Myers and C. Asberry. 2000. A watery termite tale. Pest Control. 68(2):54,56,60.
  • Potter, M.F. and R.T. Bessin. 2000.Termites and public attitudes. Pest Control Technol. 28(2):38-43,46,48,50,52,56.
  • Potter, M.F. and A.E. Hillery. 2000. The new termite killers. Pest Control Technol. 28(5):54-63.
  • Potter, M.F. 1999. (Cover Story) The changing face of termite control. I. Pest Control Technol. 27(2): 23,26,28,30,110.
  • Potter, M.F. 1999. The changing face of termite control. II. Pest Control Technol. 27(3):32-34,36,38,39,42,90.
  • Potter, M.F. and R.T. Bessin. 1998. Pest control, pesticides and the public: attitudes and implications. Am. Entomol. 44(3): 142-47.
  • Potter, M.F. 1998. Do-it-yourself termite baits: do they work? Pest Control Technol. 26(10):34,36,38.
  • Potter, M.F. 1997. Overview of diffusible wood preservative use by the U.S. pest control industry. Proc. 2nd Intl Conf. Diffusible Wood Pres. Mobile, AL. pp. 7-13.
  • Potter, M.F. 1997. Termite baits: a status report. Pest Control Technol. 25(2) 24-26, 28,29,35-37,97,105-106,110.
  • Potter, M.F. 1997. Controlling termites. J. Light Construction. 6: 47-52.
  • Potter, M.F. 1996. Talking “termites” with customers. Pest Control. 64(4) 42,44,46.
  • Potter, M.F. and R.T. Bessin. 1995. People, pests & poisons: an attitudinal survey. Pest Control Technol. 23(6) 84,88,92,93.
  • Potter, M. F. 1994. Still fighting termite retreats? Pest Control 62(2) 45-48.
  • Potter, M. F., T. V. Myers, and T. Blake. 1994. Termites and foam: a field report. Pest Control Technol. 22(2) 34, 38,39,40,44,46.
  • Potter, M. F. 1994. The coming technology: a wild ride. Pest Control Technol. 22(10) 35-45.
  • Potter, M. F. 1993. The trend towards termite foam. Pest Control Technol. 21(3) 46-52.
  • Potter, M. F. 1993. Diagnosis, management of powderpost beetles. Pest Control Technol. 21(4).
  • Potter, M. F. 1992. Pesticide application: a self-portrait. Pest Control Technol. 19(6) 72-74.
  • Potter, M. F., J. P. Hardy, and S. E. Richardson. 1990. Foam Technology: effective new tool against subterranean termites. Pest Control 59(6): 72-77. 

University Extension Articles

  • Potter, M.F. Bedbugs.
  • Potter, M.F. Termite control: answers for the homeowner.
  • Potter, M.F. Protecting your home against termites.
  • Potter, M.F. Termite baits: a guide for homeowners.
  • Potter, M.F.  Powderpost beetles.
  • Potter, M.F. How to pest-proof your home.
  • Potter, M.F. Ant control for homeowners.
  • Potter, M.F. Carpenter ants
  • Potter, M.F. Cockroach elimination in homes & apartments.
  • Potter, M.F. Eliminating spiders around homes & buildings.
  • Potter, M.F. Brown recluse spider.
  • Potter, M.F. Ticks & disease in Kentucky.
  • Potter, M.F. and M. Beavers.  Public health pest management: a training guide 

Revised: Mar 18, 2012