Who Do You Think You Are?!

I’ve been asked many times what makes me qualified to assess the insect situation. This usually happens when I am new to an existing customer or facility. That customer doesn’t know me, so they don’t trust me ….yet. I don’t mind explaining how I came to my conclusions.

I’ll be happy to tell you, too.

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I had been working in a flour mill for a large company. In 8 years, I had been tasked with every non-salaried job in the facility. There was a union bid sheet placed on the bulletin board for Plant Sanitarian (aka- in-house Pest / fumigator). I knew nothing about pest control and didn’t really care. All I saw was the awesome hours… 5a-130p. Sign me up!! I won the bid.

Now what? I had to test & take practicals for both general pest and fumigation. Passed on the 1st try. Whew! In 2008, the State of Oklahoma gave me licensing. Two more years of working “in house”, and I transferred to another location.

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There wasn’t an opportunity for me to do pest control, so I went back to mill production. I found myself missing this pest control thing. I attended CEU classes to keep the licensing that I’d worked so hard to get. While working at the Kansas location, a manager from a company who had done fumigation for our facilities, came to talk to me about working with him. I applied. Got hired. That’s when I began to learn what IPM was REALLY about. Now, this is starting to make sense, even when it shouldn’t.

I stayed at this company for 7 years. They helped me get licensing in Kansas & Nebraska. I’m currently working on 3 more states. I have moved to another pest management company, still doing what I love, AND I get to work with the manager who gave me a chance.

In 2018, I became NWCOA certified as a Bat Management Professional, Master Technician, certified by Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association, and passed my Associate Certified Entomologist exam on the 1st try. I don’t know how it feels to win the lottery, but seeing my A.C.E. score had to be pretty close.

My specialty is stored product pests. I can spot a flour beetle, granary weevil, warehouse beetle from 10 paces. I don’t understand ants or termites. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I DON’T know. Every day for me is like a science project and detective work, all in one. Some days are overwhelming, but I come armed with my NPMA Field Guide.

Now that you know who I am, Let me tell you who you are…. or who you could be.

A PEST MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL.

Please don’t think less of yourself because you have no experience, or limited experience. Not sure how to get started? Apply for a job. Ask us questions. Any PMP worth their salt will talk past the point of annoying. It’s because we love what we do.

County extension offices have pamphlets and classes. Your local library has dozens of books on the subject. But nothing will give you the truest feel as doing a ride-a-long with a technician. I took advantage of a sister company for a ride-a-long when studying for my A.C.E. That was an eye-opener because residential pest management is foreign to me.

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You’ve probably seen the local pest management company come to your home or place of business. We’re you dismissive? Don’t miss an opportunity to expand your knowledge, or just gain basic information. I’ve never met a service technician who wasn’t willing to let customers shadow them. We genuinely want to help.

Anyone, anyone can do this. Men, women. Young, old. You are using IPM techniques every day in your own home. “Really?”, you say.

Did you shut the door? Fix a screen? Add security lights outside? Clean the food debris from the counter? How many of you store flour in the freezer? While this might not be Integrated Pest Management at a corporate level, it still qualifies as IPM. These are simple examples of exclusion, deterrent, sanitation, proper storage.

We are all equipped with 5 senses. Four of them.. sight, touch, hear, smell… can be your best weapons while servicing accounts. I’m hesitant to include taste, but some funny smells can mimic a taste. Who wants to taste something relevant to pest management anyway? 🤢

See, talking past the point of annoying. No offense meant. I’m doing it. You can, too. My friend Amanda is proof. Now, grab that fly swatter.

Melisa, A.C.E.

Published by Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.

My career in pest management began while working in a flour mill as the “in-house” technician in 2008. I am certified in multiple states including a DOT CDL/HazMat. I began working full time as a fumigation-pest control tech in 2010. I achieved my Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) in 2018. I have a Master Tech certification from Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association. I hold a Bat Management certification from NWCOA. Every day, I realize how much I DON’T KNOW. My goal for this blog is to share my every day experiences from the field and to make us all think outside the box for solutions to make pest control make sense.

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