but a screen door or other solution,
Earning the Right to
Most exterminators are certified. For example, in California, a licensed employer/operator gives competent apprenticies an "applicator's certification examination" after a few weeks of training. Those who then choose to become licensed pest controllers can study, on their own or at seminars, to pass the state "field representative esamination," and may later get an operator's license.
No formal educaton is required for the operator's license test, but it calls for a good working knowledge of biology, chemistry, and from two to four years of on-job-experience.
While going through a training program, pest
by JO COOPER
Art Gibbs has been contolling pests in Pasadena, California, for 41 years. He specializes in eliminating bees, fleas, roaches, and ants.
Other pest controllers zero in on termites. Some "tent" a house, then fumigate with lethal gas to get rid of the pesky critters. Some drill holes into the wood or siding and use liquid or dust-type chemicals. There's the Tallon Pest Control business in Redondo Beach, California, which is experimenting with freezing the termites to death.
And then there's Ben, a 4-year-old beagle, who is a member of the Termite and Dog Detection (TADD) Company. Ben works in Washington, D.C., sniffing and listening for termites.
Ben's job is specialized, but pest controllers in general take
on a variety of tasks. They
prevent the spread of insects, such as ants, cockroaches, silverfish, and termites. They also rid homes of rats and mice, and unwanted skunks, birds
and bees. many service not only homes, but warehouses, restaurants, food stores, hotels---any building with quantities of wood, wooden furniture, books, boxes, wallpaper, cotton
fabrics, and other food for hungry invaders.
Pest control begins with a thorough inspection of the property. After they identify the pest and determine the degree of infestation and exactly what the problem is, pest control operators select the proper treatment. Pesticides are carefully regulated by the government. Commercial applicators are required to be licensed and/or certified and meet training requirements to handle these pesticides. Often, the treatment is not a pesticide
controllers just out of high school earn starting salaries of about $175 to $200 a week, depending on geographic location.
To qualify for the job, applicants must be at least 18 years old, in good health, and free of ailments such as asthma, bronchiitis, and back trouble. They have to be able to bend, kneel, crouch, and crawl. And they have to be friendly, tactful, well-groomed, responsible, and , of course, very careful
The Ins and Outs,
Upsides and Downsides
Most of the work is clean, but sometimes it is necessary to crawl into dirty or dusty places to treat hard-to-reach spots. The work is both outdoors and indoors. Says Art Gibbs: "It's about 50/50. Especially if I go for fleas. I normally treat both in and outside."
As a rule, pest controllers work eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. Sometimes the
weather and the part of the country you work in can affect when---and how much---you earn.
Washington and Oregon have greater problems with carpenter ants, because of the rainy, cool weather. Houses on the United States southern border have a 90 percent to 100 percent chance of termite infestation. Maine has only a 10 percent rate.
"In California," Gibbs explains, "business starts picking up in April and goes right through to November. You still have an ant problem in the winter, but it's pretty hard to spray when it rains."
"About two and a half years ago, my brother Joe came up with the idea," says Jay Tallon. "There are a lot of people who just don't want chemicals used in their environment. Maybe the owner has a tile roof, exotic birds, or large, expensive foliage plants right near the house. They would be damaged with the fogging process. Then our "blizzard system" is the best way to go. We drop the temperature of the wood to 20 degrees below zero with liquid nitrogen."
Pest controllers usually use the tenting method to fumigate. Three or four work together and cover the house with tarpaulins. Some tarps are 60 to 80 feet long and 20 to 30 feet wide. Long bags filled with sand, called sand snakes, hold the tent in place. The lethal gas stays inside, at a
concentration, for approximately 24 hours. Then,
workers put on respirator/gas masks and go inside and open the windows to let the house air out for another six to eight hours. Sometimes they use fans. Always they use
For Ben, the Nose Knows
And Ben the beagle? How did he get into the business?
Back in the late '70's, an animal behaviorist, Robert Outman, had his house inspected for termites. He was told they could only find the ones they could see. Outman decided there must be a way to train a dog to work with inspectors, using the dog's superior powers of hearing and scenting to supplement human visual skills. Outman studied entomology for two years while he bioengineered his training methods. In 1979, after testing a number of breeds, he chose the beagle for its intelligence and small size. Training begins when the pups are 5 weeks old and continues for eight months to a year.
.There now are 50 dogs in the TADD Service Corporation. "We lease the dogs to pest controllers throughout the country," Barbara Bernard, TADD office manager, explains. "One of our people accompanies the dog and trains the handler for three weeks, then goes back every 45 to 60 days and audits the dog to make sure it;'s still
doing a good job."
.It seems to be a rewarding job for humans and dogs alike. Pest controllers really are courteous, conscientious eliminators.
For More Information
Entomological Society of America
4603 Calvert Road
College Park, MD 20740
Brochure: "Discover Entomology," single
copy free; enclose self-addressed, stamped
business size envelope.
National Arborist Association
174 Rte. 101
Bedford, NH 03102
Brochure: "Career Opportunities in Tree Care,"
single copy free; enclose self-addressed,
stamped, business-size envelope
National Pest Control Association, Inc.
8100 Oak Street
Dunn Loring, VA 22027
Fact asheet: "Pest and Termite Control
Operators," Single copy free; enclose self-
addressed, stamped, business-size envelope.
Vocational Biographies, Inc.
P. O. Box 31
Sauk Centre, MN 56378
Reprint: P-5-10 "Pest Controller," single copy
Chronicle Guidance Publications, Inc.
Aurora Street Extension
P. O. Box 1190
Moravia, NY 13118-1190
Occupational Brief; #372 "Pest Controllers."
single copy $3, prepaid.
from Ralph Cooper, April 27, 2008