Michael is a pest control officer who agreed to be followed for a typical day of seeing residents with pest invasions. Michael assured that it was a typical day of familiar calls. One general observation he made on several occasions indicated that, often, residents have much more control over invasion of pests than they think.
The first call of the day was a resident who was fearful that fleas had overtaken her house. Michael’s first action was to take off his shoes, revealing white socks. But even as he was doing this, something he often did while working inside, there were two other clues. The lady of the house was wearing shorts and bare feet. Her feet and legs up to her knees had at least a dozen red bumps; flea bites. Many had red rash-like shading, indicating frequent scratching. The other clue was her two dogs, both beagles and both were habitually scratching. He scooted across the carpet in the living room and then sat on the sofa to look at the bottom of his socks. They were coated with small, red-black specks –flea droppings — and even a few fleas. Just like that, he confirmed her fears: she had a flea infestation. He went back out to the truck, collected the gear to treat the house and proceeded to spray all over the house. Then, he instructed her on control techniques to prevent re-infestation: treat her dogs with flea repellant medication, give them weekly shampoos and check them frequently with a flea comb (he assured her they would enjoy the gentle grooming) and give her carpeting a good, professional steam cleaning.
The next call was for mice heard scurrying under the crawl space of the house. Some indication of their presence in the garage was found because of their droppings. He could crawl part way under the house and saw several mice running away. Michael laid baited traps in the garage and under the house, and sat with the homeowner for a moment to suggest that the ivy growing out of control against the foundation, open to the crawl space on one side, should be cleared completely at least six feet from the house.
The next customer thought they had a wasp nest tucked under the eave near the front entry. Michael determined right away that they were honeybees, not wasps, so he called a beekeeper to collect the bees to re-home them in a local, commercial hive. He gave the homeowner the beekeeper’s phone number. If the bees found that location once, they might repeat it
Michael’s day continued like that for two more customers, both of whom had minor issues easily solved. While everyone was appreciative of Michael’s efforts, he was disappointed that much of his technique would not have been necessary if residents took more responsibility for their home ownership. The upside of this downside was frequent opportunities to offer simple training so that residents could do much of the yeoman’s task of pest control.