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. (edited:I have licensing in KS, OK, NE, MO. Had TX, but let it lapse) I moved to another pest management company, still doing what I love, AND I got to work with the manager who originally gave me a chance. Now, I am a solo operator.

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.(edited: Just passed OK & KS termite licensing)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 was 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.

My Christmas Wish

My Christmas wish is to get this blog started. I have no idea how to do this, but I’m willing to give it a try. Maybe by my birthday, next week, I’ll have some more of this figured out.

I needed a place to share my random thoughts, ideas, feelings about my daily pest control adventures. I have decided to share them with all of you, in this format. I’m more of a writer than a speaker, so this is probably where I’ll do best.

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For my first post, I’d like to talk about the 18 inch sanitation line in food plants.

These 18in lines are designed to give us- the pest control technician- accessibility to the multi catch traps, pheromones, ILT’s and the like. It also helps make cleaning easier. Some 3rd party auditing firms have this in the requirements.

I have repeatedly asked and told my customers that product can’t be blocking these devices. I need to be able to reach them. I don’t want to go more than the contracted service interval to inspect these devices. I think I have said something like “I’m not as skinny as I used to be”, to which I got a reply – “None of us are”.

Pests left in traps can lead to more pests. Some dermestids can feed on decaying rodents and other insects. It can also become a sanitation issue in itself. Potential contamination of product can occur.

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A customer of mine had warehouse staff that repeatedly pushed pallets too close to the wall. The forklift drivers have smashed a few devices. They have gotten better at leaving me space, but that damn #15 is still inaccessible after a month. I am curious what I might find when I am able to inspect it.

Looks like Santa can’t do anything about that, but maybe Baby New Year can help me out.

Merry Christmas, Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.