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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p8

I was once a professional exterminator (Terminix). At the time, we had these cans that would shoot really fricking far, and "insta-kill" wasps. It didn't have any staying power, however. It would just soak a nest, but of course, wouldn't kill any wasps inside (plus there's ones "out" that would eventually come back).
So yeah, that would cause us to get called out multiple times if we only used the spray. Here's what we would have to do. Each of us had a de-webber that would extend like, 10' or so. We also had our normal pressure-canister of bug-killer (the stuff that is preventative and lasts 30+ days or so). Using the dewebber, we'd knock the nest down, and then simply spray using our preventative on where the nest was. Wasps return home based on memory, so they'd eventually land in the preventative spray and die that way.

------- vietnam flashback follows ------------------

Biggest nest I've had to deal with was larger than a volleyball, and was on a mobile home. There was no "cover" for me, and there were an assload of wasps just flying around. Our dewebbers were bright yellow, and made a great target for wasps (better than us!). Every time I got close to this nest, however, wasps would not only go after my distraction-wand, but after me as well. So what to do if I can't get close to it?
I know that wasps need to have time to land before stinging. Also, we were required to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Our only exposed skin was hands and head. Most of us wore hats as well (Everything company-issued). I was a good distance away, so I just started running, with my wand joust-style up in the air aimed at the nest. The instant I hit it, a HUGE BURST of wasps exploded from the nest as it fell, and I swung my dewebber away from me as I turned and ran the fuck away from the huge mess I just caused. Of course, I was dragging the wand behind me in the grass, looking for wasps on my hands and trying to pay attention to anything in my hair or on my face. Once I was far enough away, I dropped the wand and checked my clothes for wasps. None of the bastards were on me, thank goodness. There were quite a few attacking the yellow tip on my dewebber, but those were easy to brush off into the grass. Looking back at the mobile home, there was a really large cloud of pissed off wasps I now had to deal with.

The majority of wasps are pissed off for not very long before they determine there's no threat nearby (cocky bastards), so I took this time to walk back to my truck, prepare my preventative spray, and then arm myself with one can in each hand of the insta-kill spray. I essentially respecced from melee to ranged.

The thing about the insta-kill spray, is that it knocks wasps out of the air immediately. They fall to the ground and sting whatever is in reach, before dying within two minutes after contact. This was a day I was grateful for wearing (steeltoed) thick workboots. Also, I taped the cuffs of my pants to my boots, to prevent any crawlers from getting up there (not likely with the spray, but why chance it).

So, I walked toward the cloud, guns blazing. My first spray knocked directly into the middle of the cloud knocked down a visible hole, so I just went all-out. I used up 6 cans of the stuff before most of the cloud was gone. The grass looked like it was moving; so many dying wasps exercising their stingers for the last time in their lives. The still active nest, lying on the ground was the final target, of course. Amazingly enough, it still held its round shape, except for a nice dewebber-sized dent in the side. Apparently paper doesn't hold too well to vinyl. I soaked that motherfucker until it was flat.

I finished off the massacre by spraying preventative spray all over the area where the nest was. Mind you, the whole time this was happening, wasps were returning from their scout-missions, wondering what happened to their castle-sized nest. Whenever a nest is knocked down, wasps will try to rebuild on the same spot, so eventually a nice gathering of wasps were getting covered in the spray. It's slow-acting, with the intent that the spray will "accidentally" be applied to other insect that touch each other. Good stuff, but damn it's slow.

The next month for my regular service call, I inspected the area. Not one wasp was in the area. Mission complete.

Also, still to this day, I have never been stung by a wasp or bee.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p7

Speaking of memorable stories:

One customer had a dead and just starting to rot squirrel in their driveway. They wanted me to dispose of it. I was brand-spanking-new on the job, and apparently we weren't supposed to take care of things like that. Oh well, too late. I put it in a trash bag and threw it in the back of the truck.

At the end of the day, I remove the bag from my truck, and put it in the garbage can back at the office. I mean, this is a special garbage can made for disposal of hazardous things, so I figure that's the best place for it. I go on my happy way, thinking job well done.

Now, about a month later, during an office meeting, the branch manager starts telling a story about how the higher-ups decided to make a surprise visit at the branch, and how on that same day "someone" had put a dead squirrel in the garbage can. Needless to say, they weren't pleased (regardless, we were still the best branch in the region).

For my boss's birthday, I got him an emperor scorpion (big black thing). He fed it black widows. He also had a bug container that he kept black widows in (he collected them from jobs).

Oh yeah, one of his stories. He and his boss had to clear out a crawlspace of this really freaking old house. This place was bug-heaven, apparently. For example, they found an old roll-top desk that was literally crumbling. On opening it, a bajillion baby/spiders were exposed. Anyway, they had to clear out the crawlspace - so they remove the door to it (was inside the house I guess), and there literally wasn't a clear spot to go down; the entire entrance was webbed and had black widow spiders living under the door. My god, if I had pics of this, I would have so much karma...anyway...

They had to put on full-body suits, and just...well, jump down into it. I think they did the pyrethrin dust treatment - a machine that pumps out a ton of the dust, and kills on contact (preventative mainly). This thing pumps out a TON of dust. What it does, in short, is affect the nervous system, causing bugs to become overactive - that's a symptom that happens within seconds. So yeah, they're down there, and turn this thing on...basically have to crawl around the crawlspace and dust every square inch of it. So now you can imagine an innumerable number of pissed-off black widows crawling over these two guys. Fortunately the suits are pretty thick.

As you can imagine, when they finally finish and get out of the crawlspace, they're covered in black widows. He didn't say how they got them off, I assume their massive balls crushed all the spiders under their weight. Anyway, one of them did manage to get under his full-body suit and bite him on the shoulder. Left a nice big black-ish mark.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p6

Let me say this...avoid Mexican and Chinese restaurants/markets lol.

Ok here's by far the worst one I've ever treated:

Now, I was a tech in a major-ish city, and with that comes neighborhoods with the standard good and bad areas. The reason I say this, is because it seems like the health department has never heard of these mom and pop places. I swear I'm not racist, but this is just how things were. The Chinese and Mexican restaurants were filled with a grease-like substance. I mean, it coats the walls. The longer the establishment has been operating, the thicker the stuff on the walls is. I'm not talking about chains, mind you; they at least have some sort of cleaning schedule (not to say they're immune from infection, it's just...less). This is of course mainly noticeable in the kitchen area, so if you can somehow sneak into one, run your finger on the walls and you'll see what I'm talking about.

There's a Mexican food market in a bad part of town that has just signed a new pest control contract with us. I arrive there, and no one speaks a word of English. From high school, the best I can say is "yo hablo poco espanol" (high school also taught me Spanish swear words, but those weren't applicable on the job - one time I said "el cucaracha es muerte" and got a funny look). So anyway, the people there point at the walls, and it's obvious what I need to do. I need to burn the motherfucking place down. Unfortunately, that kind of treatment is not allowed by our branch.

Let me point out a tip about cockroaches: they like darkness, dampness, and heat. If you see a roach in the light, more than likely it can't find a hiding place - meaning that all the hiding places are already full of cockroaches. This place had roaches scattered all over the walls (they like to hang out around the top edges of rooms, and congregate into groups). One of the best prevention tips is to keep food in sealed containers, and to make sure there are no water leaks anywhere. There's a reason I mention this. Also, a common theme I see with (cheaper) Mexican and Chinese places is that they build furniture-things with these massive gaps at the joints. Whenever you visit a restaurant, look at where the wood meets, and you'll see what I'm talking about. You'll also spot roaches in there, too.

Ok, this is a Mexican market. It's in a strip-mall, so it's likely that any infestation has already reached the other neighboring stores. It's literally impossible to stop this infection, but I won't be told I didn't try. They have exposed food lying on counters. I'm talking meat. They leave it sitting there all day, and overnight, exposed. In the back of the store is a very small bathroom with a toilet, and water dripping from some random spot in the wall, with water on the floor. Oh yeah, all the walls in the store were half-finished, meaning that the front of the store had sheetrock, but there was nothing behind the walls (except the normal side walls and back of the store). There is a drop-ceiling, with about a foot of space between that and the real ceiling. So we're talking hiding spots everywhere.

They let me into the store, and expect me to treat everything like it is. The chemical we used at the time for roaches was on-contact nasty stuff. We had to wear respirators and gloves, since any contact with skin was bad. Let me say it would be illegal for me to treat around exposed food and water sources. I turn around and try my best to tell them that food needs to be covered and stored...fast forward an hour or so, and everything is finally set - food has been moved into plastic bins (lol), and water has been cleaned up in the bathroom. I can finally get to work...mind you, the store closed at 11pm. The employees wait out front for me to finish since they have to lock the door when I'm done.

So yeah, I find where the main counter meets the wall, and take a flashlight to the crack. Queue the part where several roaches freak out and try to escape the light, which consists of running out into the exposed light. Yep, this is where I'll start. I shoot into the crevice, and flood out an innumerable amount of the little bastards (oh yeah, another thing I forgot to mention - we needed to tuck our pants into our boots and tape them to prevent roaches getting in). There's roaches crawling all over my legs almost immediately after I spray just this one area. Spraying that one crevice also flushed out a black stream of roach-shit - normally roach droppings are around the size of a grain of sand - this was...black colored pest control fluid.
From there, I go around the perimeter of the store, hitting the edge of the floor and ceiling. The drop-ceiling part needed pyrethrin dust (since it was a hollow space), so I needed to put a puff up in there at every ceiling tile. By this time, the walls were literally moving. Roaches were covering all of the plastic sheets covering the store's product (also dropping from the ceiling). I go behind the fake-ish walls, and by this time, they are nothing but moving masses of black. Normal treatment is just perimeter, but I switch the sprayer to "fan", and just crop-dust the walls. For some reason, the bathroom didn't have any roaches in it by the time I got that far (besides the ones I brought in that were crawling on my clothes). Also yeah, I had to constantly flick them off my neck and face. Thank goodness they don't bite. Also, every step I was taking had at least a "crunch" or two.

I end the treatment, and go out the front door. The lady sees that I'm finished, and walks straight in the store, all the way to the back, and turns off the lights. She then walks through the store through the front door and locks it. Even though she has just walked through the seventh level of Hell, she acts like it's just a standard stroll in the park.

They called me back the next night...its impossible to explain that these treatments need time to work, but meh, it's a good excuse to survey the damage. Dead roaches have been swept into piles along the walls. Food was back on the counters, still exposed, with dead roaches lying on the other tables and shelves in the store. The back area wasn't even bothered with, so it was just a carpet of crunchiness. The workers had moved in stock boxes into the back, and apparently just stacked them on the roach-carpet. I opened one of the boxes, and sure enough, it was infested. Welp, I tell them that they need to put the food away properly, and then do a light perimeter treatment...even off that, roaches were still crawling out of the cracks. I finish up without any other issues.

A few days pass, and I'm meeting with my boss. He tells me that they had called the next night, and that he personally went out there to see what was going on. He could tell I treated everything, and noted that the roaches were still left all over the place, without proper cleaning. He said he got the hell out of there, laughed, and called the Health Department.

I drove by there a few days later out of curiosity and they were closed.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p5

I mentioned we service in the winter...heh can't believe I forgot about this one.

Randy had to occasionally ride around with other techs as part of his training - mainly to observe and write up reports about how we did service. I pick him up at 6am, and only have 4 stops on my list for the day. Shoot, we'll get this shit done in an hour, tops. The thing is, these stops are up in the mountains. As I'm driving up there with him, it starts to snow.

The trucks we are assigned are not 4wd. They're Ford Rangers from 1980 something. They have no power to them at all. Fortunately we carry chains, but we figure we'll put them on at the first stop (since we're almost there). Well, suddenly I have to drive up a steep hill in the snow, and make a left onto a sideroad up the hill. There is quite a bit of traffic coming down the hill, so I take up the middle lane, and sit there with my signal on. A rather large semi-truck pulls up behind us, needing to turn on the same road. Finally, and opening, and I slowly hit the gas. We're not moving. The tires are spinning, but we're just not going. Randy hops out, gets behind the car, and starts pushing. It's successful, but, we're now in the middle of the opposite lane, and cars are trying to stop going down a hill.

Randy turns on his Hulk powers and pushes us into the side road - a sliding car nearly kills the poor man, but he's running and it barely misses him. He's yelling "GO GO GO" as I go on the side-road, and I see why; the road is covered in snow, and goes up another hill almost right away - if I stop, we're probably going to slide back into traffic. So yeah, I'm trying to build up speed, and Randy is running as fast as he can beside the car, trying to catch up and hop in. We barely make it up the hill, and he says to stop in order to put the chains on. We hop out and get to work on the chains. Randy stops and says, "I think you pissed off the truck driver." I look, and sure enough the semi driver is cussing and putting his chains on his semi in the middle of the street - there is no way he can get any traction to pull onto this side-road.

We finally make it to the first stop. This is in a neighborhood further into the mountains, and the snow has been continuing nonstop the whole time. Randy helps pull out some of the equipment, and we treat as best we can around the house. This whole time we can't believe how awful this is going. I mean, it's really coming down. At the third stop, the snow has built up to be as high as half the truck height.

The next two stops are similar, but nothing exciting happens - just an assload of snow, shoveling, and pushing a truck around (even with chains haha). It's around 6pm, and the last stop is back down at a low elevation - it's a rough drive going down, but I swear, the instant we drop below a certain point, there is NO SNOW, and it's literally 60 degrees. The last stop is a self storage spot, and Randy sits in the back with the sprayer while I drive around each building.

He marked my report "pass" with no other comments.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p4

So yeah, there were bad places, right? Here's the worst residence I treated. This is pretty bad, so advance-warning.

Part of my route covered a "not a safe part of town" residential area. At the time, I was a young, naive white kid in a pest control uniform. Scared shitless, I've been given this one-time-treatment contract for this...shack.

It's a duplex, but, one side doesn't have a roof. My contract is to treat the whole thing, too. I walk up, and this guy with no shirt, and this LARGE gauze bandage on his stomach answers the door. He doesn't answer it cheerfully. I say I'm here to treat for bugs, and suddenly he lights up and is the friendliest person one could ever meet. He calls his girlfriend(?) over to point out where they saw bugs (specifically roaches). This side of the duplex is fairly clean and well taken care-of, however, they have a teenage boy that "lives" in the other part of the duplex. I'm lead to a door that opens up into the other side.
When you open a door into a residence, you should not be hit in the face by the sun at noon. I give my best "wat" expression, and she motions me to go in. She won't enter the place, and for good reason. There's dog-shit all over the floors. Undisturbed dog-shit. Apparently the son had a pet dog, and the dog squat down wherever it felt like on the floor, and not the fenced in yard outside. I'm talking mine-field here.
The bedroom had a mattress with one yellowed sheet. I couldn't tell if that was the natural color, or the dog/owner had just simply pissed the thing all over and left it like that. That was all that was in the bedroom (besides dog-shit). I hope you haven't forgotten that I've mentioned there isn't a roof on this side of the duplex, because, it's still not there. This dude literally camps out under the open sky every night.
The kitchen had no doors on the cabinets. You know what? I literally can't describe anything else in this place, since there literally wasn't anything else in this place, besides missing doors, a mattress with a yellow sheet, and did I mention dog-shit?

I do a perimeter treatment, and do what I can as far as a normal treatment. I bait for roaches in the cracks, and finish up this side. Alright, got this done. I open the door back into the "civilized" part of the duplex, and the man that had the gauze on his stomach was now lying on the couch, gauze removed, and preparing a new pad. This guy had no skin on his stomach. A visible cut-square of flesh was just missing, and the fat-layer was just there, exposed to the open air (no blood, mind you). He started talking to me like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, "See any bugs?"

I finished treatment of the place, and the amusing part of it all? I saw 0 bugs in the entire place. I never got a return service call to the place either. I assume the dog-shit half of the duplex had scared away all the bugs, causing them to move into a better part of town.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p3

Ok, this one client was batshit insane. He lived out in the middle of nowhere, and his place was powered by generators. I mean, if you met this guy in real life, you wouldn't suspect a thing, but the instant you saw his mobile home out in the middle of nowhere, the first thought that would cross your mind is "I'm not leaving this place alive".

He had this rusty barb-wire fence surrounding his property, and he had signs saying something like "You're under surveillance" (memory is foggy on what exactly they said - they were generic warning signs of "keep out", but with more conspiracy theory themed wording). There was a weedy, narrow dirt path leading up into his place...oh yeah, he had one of those large metal swing gates. He was nice enough to already have the padlock unlocked, so I could open it. I didn't see any cameras, but his place was easily visible from the front gate. I mean, if the guy had a sniper rifle (assuming he did haha), he could easily get a clear shot straight down to whoever was messing around with his gate. This was one of the times I was glad there was a giant "Terminix" logo plastered on the side of my truck.

Oh yeah, another worry? No address letters. I mean, at the time, there was no GPS or Google maps. We had these large map-books of the area, and the best detail they got was just a scribbly line with the name of the street. You want "Dead Bodies LN"? That's in Square I-4. Good fucking luck to you if you find it, because the map drawer didn't even bother driving up that road. So yeah, I had to "guess" that I had the right place, most of the time for first visits. After that, it was easy to spot-memorize locations.

So I drive up there, knock on the door, and the guy answers. Really nice guy, and kinda nerdy. He invites me in, and there's hardly anything in the place. I mean, he had these HUGE antennas on top of the place, and of course, crazy-person signs all around the outside, but the interior was spotless (everything was decorated brown...linoleum floor, panel walls, countertops). No dogs, which I kind of expected from these out-of-the-way places. He gives me a quick tour, and in one bedroom, he has this massive server room (has about 7 computers under a fold-out dining table, with 3 monitors on top, also has wires running up to the antennas). Never bothered to ask what it was (fearing for my life as it is at this point), but yeah, suspicious much? You bet. The guy didn't even have a tv in his place.

So yeah, getting to the actual pest story. He wants a normal treatment, but he wants me to get rid of a possum living under his mobile home. At this point, who am I to say no, even though this was after I found out we don't deal with "animals". I figure I can scare the thing away and then tell the guy to seal up any holes in the skirting.

He takes me out back, and he has this fire-pit made of cinderblocks. Apparently he burns his trash in it. Anyway, what he did was, he came home one night and heard something rustling in his garbage can on his back porch. It was empty at the time, so he lifted the lid, and there was a possum at the bottom, just staring up. The crazy son of a bitch lit his fire-pit and dumped the possum in there. Of course, the animal didn't like that one bit, so it jumped out and ran right under his house, still having bits of flaming paper stuck in its fur. He said he's left the can open several nights since, but it hasn't jumped back in, even with "bait" (who can blame it haha).

He removes a panel, and I crawl under - immediately, I see light coming through a hole in the skirting, and make a note of it. I crawl around, and shine my flashlight, but I never do find the damn thing. I crawl back out, and inspect the skirting around the outside. There's scratchmarks and "chewing" at every corner of the place. I assume this is an outpost that gets attacked by zombies every night, by the looks of it. I tell him the problems, and he agrees to fix it.

The guy initially signed a 1 year contract, but after my visit, he immediately cancels his service. He never paid his bill, either.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p2

Most embarrassing story? Yep, here it is:

Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? Yep, I was, and still am. I honestly can not for the life of me remember why I had to get up on this client's roof, but I did. It was a two-story house, so there was no way I could even get to the edge of the roof without panicking, and had to basically just sit on the roof and scoot around.

Wait I remember now, they had a wasp nest in one of the air-vent thingies up on the roof. The bastards were flying down into it and were somehow getting into the house, but the made a nest in the top outlet of it. Yeah, painfully easy to treat. Shoot em and run. Of course, it was toward the peak. The whole time, I'm scooting around on my ass, mind you.

The thing about roofs is, shingles aren't smooth. They're rough. So, scooting around on them, that's gonna cause some fabric issues. I don't even notice that there's an issue until I give the customer the invoice, walk away from her to my truck, and sit down. I feel the truck seat, so I reach down, and feel bare-ass skin. Customer never said a thing for following visits (however, she did say I was the best tech they ever had, since I got rid of the wasp problem haha).

One of the tips is to keep spare clothes in the truck, due to unforseen situations. Yep, this was a situation, so I drove off, parked the truck in a non-public-visible area, and changed my pants in the truck. The roof had shaved some skin off as well, so I had a nice scar that lasted quite a long time as well.
Ok related, and I swear this is just a myth-story told to pest control tech-noobs:

Tech answers the door, and a lady answers the door wearing nothing but a robs / nothing at all. Fucking lies, that never happened on my route.

We're not allowed to take tips, by the way. However, if you offer us water or food, you're basically Jesus in our eyes from that point forward. Skimpy clothing would probably not be minded as well, but I'm still convinced that's made up.

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Pest-Control "War Stories" Series, p1

On Reddit (a place full of viruses and pornography), I had posted some "war stories" of when I worked as a Pest Control Technician for Terminix.  They got an amazing amount of positive responses, so I'm putting all of them up here for the 2-3 spambots that hit my site to have something to do.  Enjoy!

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I used to be a pest control tech, and Mexican and Chinese restaurants are the worst, especially the "cheaper" quality ones. If the arcade machine is any indication of the restaurant, you probably shouldn't read this if you want to continue eating there without feeling paranoid and sick.

There's usually a layer of "grease" on the walls, especially in the kitchen. If you go into the bathrooms, you'll probably notice lack of care and/or unfixed water problems. One common trend is that there are a ton of dark crevices. You know what likes grease, water, and dark crevices? Roaches. The next time you're there, keep an eye out, and see if you can see in the cracks. What's even worse, is if you spot any roaches out in the light, especially along the top edge of the walls against the ceiling (if you notice groupings of black specks, that's roach shit), that means that the roach has ran out of hiding spots, since they're already filled with roaches. They like dark, damp, and heat. At night, they travel all over the restaurant, getting into any exposed water and food.

A fun trick you can try to check on your local restaurant - buy some small glue traps (it'll say for mice and whatnot). Set one up in a hidden spot, like behind the toilet. If you can go there the next day and check it, it should be clean. If there are any roaches (or even mice) on it, GTFO. Now, if you leave it there a week or a month, it should catch spiders and possibly ants...those aren't bad, and more common than you think (spiders are good!). It should NOT be full of roaches.

In fact, at the table you sit at, take a look under the table. There should be no roaches...if there are, there's a rather severe case of infection at the place. You can also check around the booth seats, and any of the cracks in the shoddy craft booth dividers. Roaches tend to stick by food sources, so they'll be in the kitchen, and to a lesser extent, bathrooms. If they're out in the seating area, that's really bad, I mean, it means they are overflowing from the kitchen. It could also mean that they don't clean the dining area very well - common occurrence to have them in the dining areas of buffets.

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