Stories from the Pest Control team
Pest Control as a Career
PESTUK has recently appointed a trainee pest control technician, and we thought we’d include a little bit more information for anyone thinking of starting a career in pest control.
Firstly, it is a varied and interesting job, and you never know what’s going to turn up next. It is also a career that can allow a fair amount of independence for individual pest control technicians.
What Does A Pest Control Technician Do?
It’s more than just getting rid of pests! A successful pest control technician needs to be able to:
- Accurately identify pests and the source of any infestation
- Advise customers on the best method of treating pests, taking into consideration any pests, children, food facilities etc. that may determine different approaches
- Have a full understanding of the chemicals and methods used in pest control treatments, and ensure that they are always safely and with consideration for the environment
- Keep accurate records of all chemicals used and treatments carried out
Best Training for Pest Control Technicians
PESTUK pest control technicians are all trained through the British Pest Control Association (BPCA). This is the umbrella body that sets the standards for the pest control industry, and a BPCA qualification offers confidence and trust to customers using your service.
The basic entry level qualification is the RSPH/BPCA Level 2 Award in Pest Management which is awarded in conjunction with the Royal Society for Public Health. Successful pest control technicians will continue to add to their knowledge with various other specialist BPCA courses.
These include specialist areas such as:
- Bed Bug Control
- Urban Bird Control and Management
- Food Safety
- Using Rodenticides Safely Course
- RSPH Level 3 in the Safe Use of Fumigants for the Management of Invertebrate Pests
- Practical Equipment Usage for Insect Control
- Becoming a Field Biologist
- Becoming a Technical Inspector
- Emergency First Aid at
Pest Control as a Career As you can see becoming a pest control technician involves a lot more than being a “rat-catcher”. PESTUK Pest Control technicians are all BPCA qualified and are all committed experts in the field of pest control.
If you are thinking of a career in pest control, give us a call and we’ll try and give you the best advice.
If you have a pest problem that needs sorting out, call PESTUK now. Our team of skilled professionals can take care of any pest problems.
PEST UK is a local pest control company servicing the South of England for both commercial and domestic pest control problems. In 2013 we decided that we would give 1% of our profits to charity. (or £400.00, whichever was greater) This decision was made because we wanted to give something back, it is good publicity and also the fact that we are bombarded with people phoneing, e mailing and writing asking for charitable donations. The problem with the last point is that a lot (but not all) are bogus charities so even though they give a sob story you don’t know that the money is actually going to a charity. Even if it does sometimes a percentage of the donation will go to the salesperson who collected the donation. Anyway after we decided we would give 1% of our annual profits to a charity we looked for a suitable charity. Our criteria was that we wanted a broad charity that was not religious or restricted to a certain country and would be long lasting (not targeting a specific disaster or area). The reason for this was so that we didn’t alienate any of our customers.
Now you may think that this was easy, it isn’t. The only condition we applied was that we could use the charities logo on our website to let our customers know and to advertise the charity. We approached: Oxfam, Medcine Frontier, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Save the Children, Feed the Children, Barnardos (we have a contract with Barnardos & Guide Dogs for the Blind, Children In Need, Sport Relief and many more. None of these would let us use their logo unless we donated at least £50 000.00 or they said that their major sponsors (I think Boots was one) would not let any other companies use the charity’slogo. It was like banging your head against a wall. If they (the charities) had any sense they would ditch the major companies and concentrate on the hundreds of thousands of small to medium sized companies who combined would outstrip these selfish large companies with donations.
Operation Smile had no such qualms and our next years donation (due later this month) will be nearly double that of last year.
What do they do?
Operation Smile takes kids who are born with cleft pallets and do a simple operation that fixes it, which is life changing and in some cases life saving for the children affected by this condition.
Mel (PEST UK’s only lady technician) recently fitted a sewer valve and took photo’s to demonstrate how they work. These valves are a cheap alternative to digging up a sewer to fix a breach. In fact the price of the supply and fitting of a sewer valve can be cheaper than the price to put a camera down the sewer.
This year we fitted two valves to school in Wokingham. This school had rat problems for many years. We had advised the fitting of the valves at the start of the problem but due to cost and the poor faith in these valves they declined. After all these years and thousands of pounds spent on treatments, we fitted the valves and the problem was solved instantly. One of the pictures of the sewer that Mel has taken shows the sewer pipe has shifted. This can allow rats to escape from the sewer and burrow to the surface which can allow them to enter buildings.
A high percentage of rat problems in terraced and older properties are in fact sewer problems. The problem with terraced and blocks of flats is that, depending on the age and type of sewer, is that in these instances several valves may be required.
PEST UK charge £166.67 + VAT for the supply and fitting of a sewer valve. They are quite expensive to buy as the market is small but as their use increases the price should drop.
In Australia they are used to prevent snakes entering houses from the sewer via the toilet bowl. There is another advantage to fitting these valves, they prevent flooding of the type which happened to many hundreds of homes this last Winter where the level of the sewer rises and spills out of toilets ext into the house. As the sewer valve is one way, this is prevented.
Rats BPCA Advice
Pest Control in Spring:
Spring is nearly here and the weather is certainly warmer and this brings Cluster Fly enquiries, complaints about squirrels in lofts, reports of hornets, queen wasps and queen bumble bees emerging from hibernation. The call outs for rats and mice has already decreased but is slowly being replaced by these other pests. This trend will continue but will increase or decrease depending on weather. The rat call outs have not been as numerous as last year. At PEST UK we fell that this has not been due to a decline in the population of rats but a combination of mild weather and the recent flooding. This is probably bad news not only for pest control companies lack of income due to carrying out less rat treatments but it leaves more rats in the environment, rats that would be killed off by rat treatments and/or cold weather. I predict that the incidence of Weils disease will increase this year due to the extra water because of flooding and the larger number of rats in the environment. (Weils disease is transmitted in water and generally enters water via the rat’s urine.
I was watching the recent events in the Ukraine and saw the mounds of rubbish and abandoned buildings. These areas will be a breeding ground for pests, not only rats and mice but probably bed bugs, cockroaches and fleas as thousands of protesters are living in close proximity to each other in squalid conditions, probably with little or poor sanitation. The situation in Syria must a lot worse (from a pest control perspective) as the temperature is higher making life easier for all types of pests and introducing many more in the way of different types of flies and mosquitoes. These pests will transmit diseases leading to loss of life in these situation.
Recently at PestUK two of our technicians (Rick Pellen and Rick Null) have been completing some much needed bird proofing in Wokingham, Berkshire. Pictures of this are below. Having lived in Berkshire for over 25 years I was very familiar with the problem in this particular parade of shops, as pigeons have been fouling the pavement below the roof for approximately 10 years, so I was certainly very pleased to be the person who sorted out this problem. Using a small scaffold, we built 8 Nets over the course of a few days which now protects the ledges from being used for nesting by the birds. If you should have a similar problem in any of the areas that we operate in (West London, Berkshire, Surrey, South Oxfordshire or North Hampshire), we would love to help, and have several technicians who specialise in this type of work. We can carry out quotes and give you a written report with our recommendations usually within 24hrs.
Give us a call or have a look at our Birdproofing page for more information
As well as causing a slip hazard and generally being unpleasant pigeon guano can also transmit pittsacosis which is a serious lung disease that can be fatal. Feral or town pigeons are descended from Rock Doves who were diving out in the UK in the early part of the 20th century but as man erected large buildings providing numerous roosting and nesting sites for the birds. There numbers have increased in towns because as well as ample opportunities to nest and roost there is an almost unlimited supply of food from rubbish, waste and people feeding them. You have to understand their behaviour to control pigeons. Culling or shooting will only work if carried out on a regular basis and in a lot of cases this is undesirable due to public opinion.
Wasps & Rats in Flats:
We were called out today to remove a wasp nest is a house. At this time of year any wasp nests will be occupied. Dormant is the wrong word to use as a wasp nest is never re used. It is not uncommon for a new nest to be built on the side of an old nest as the site of a wasp nest is very important. If the approach (when the wasps fly into the entrance) is prone to gusts of wind or in an exposed position this can lead to the nest dieting out. The early stages of a wasp nests hang in the balance until a ‘buffer’ of worker wasps (these are sterile females) are produced. It only takes a gust of wind to slam the Queen Wasp into the building and the nest will die without her. Bumble Bees have a similar Queen system but the workers have the capability to produce a new Queen Bee should the original Queen Bee die or get killed. There is not need to remove a Wasp Nest and many are situated in cavity walls or other inaccessible places but some people prefer removal.
We are currently carrying out a rat treatment on two modern blocks of flats in Reading, Berkshire. We have identified a broken seer. We are assuming it is broken as there are rat hoes in the grass above the pipe and rat activity in the sewer itself. We can also see that the rats are getting into the buildings via the gas pipes. The outer wall of modern large blocks of flats are not load supporting so the foundations are not that deep leaving them susceptible to rat ingress. At PEST UK we see this quite often, rats getting inside modern blocks of flats.
Ladybirds & CRB checks:
At PEST UK we have had a busy start to February 2014. As well as an increase in rat and mouse enquiries we are due to start a substantial pigeon netting installation in Wokingham, Berkshire.
Nick Browning of PEST UK has taken pictures of hibernating Ladybirds in a loft space. These Ladybirds are ‘new pests’ for England. Ten years ago these Harlequin type of Ladybirds were rare in the UK but now they have taken over from the smaller native Ladybird. The main difference from a pest control point of view is that where the native Ladybird hibernated outside in small groups or individually, the Harlequin species hibernate in large numbers, similar to the Cluster Fly. People complain about ten in houses as they come into hibernate in the Autumn and again when they start to leave in the Spring. As far as I know they feed on the same food and as their food includes small insects and aphids they probably do a lot of good even though many people complain about them because they seem to be displacing the native ladybird and the nuisance they can cause in building.
As we deal with Schools, nurseries, care homes, clubs, homes for vulnerable people and many similar sites all pest control technicians have to be CRB checked. Not only does this cost but dealing with the CRB people is a nightmare. They are very unhelpful and we are spring hours on the phone trying to sort out the CRB checks. These have to be constantly renewed. In my opinion they are a necessary part of a professional companies tasks. If pest control companies want to promote a professional image and remember pest control technicians will go into peoples houses as well as schools, care homes etc then the pest control technicians must be honest and trustworthy.
Squirrels & Queen Wasps:
We had a difficult situation today. Yesterday we set fen traps and poison in the loft of a block of flats for a Housing Association in Caversham, Reading, Berkshire for a reported squirrel problem. Late last night a squirrel was caught in one of the fen traps.
It was not ‘miss caught’ as occasionally happens, but there was some sounds of banging a in the loft as the squirrel died. The lady living there was very distressed and left a message on our answer phone telling us this and saying that she would be staying the night elsewhere as she was so distressed. Today Rick Pellen of PEST UK visited the property. The squirrel had been caught cleanly around the neck so death would have been swift.
The lady was not pleased and said she would be reporting the matter. She asked why we couldn’t use ‘pellets’ as another company had done before. We did, in fact, have bait in the loft but as is quite common with squirrels, it was untouched. Even when the bait has had peanut butter or chocolate spread added to make it more attractive , it can still take weeks for the squirrels to feed on poison bait.
In this case the customer wanted the squirrels gone quickly, so we used a legal method (fen traps) as well as the only poison allowed for squirrels (Warfarin) and the treatment worked.
It is unfortunate that the squirrel was trapped at night when the customer was home, and we understand how upsetting it was for her to hear. If the squirrel had been trapped while she was out, she would not have had to suffer this distress, and in fact would probably have been pleased that it had been dealt with so quickly and efficiently. It is difficult to balance the needs of us humans in our homes with the pest who inadvertently end up causing us problems,but that is life and death.
We are getting more enquiries regarding Queen Wasps, which are being reported as Hornets or Queen Bees. These Queen Wasps are emerging from hibernation, not properly but often when they are disturbed by artificial light and/or heat. Naturally they won’t be coming out of hibernation for a couple of months yet.
Women in Pest Control by Jim Dunn of PEST UK:
I was slightly taken aback when I found out that my new work colleague Mel was actually a woman, not a man, as it got me thinking that we are in fact a very male dominated profession. Back when I started in the business in 1991, my very first trainer at National Pest Control was a very nice lady called Rhiannon, but I was told that she was one of only two female technicians within the company as against over sixty men. five years later I began working for Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council under the tutoring of veteran pest controller Charlotte Reason, and now there is Mel. But it is a pretty poor return, after 22 years and 9 companies in the business these are the only women I have EVER worked with.
So why is this? After all there are plenty of women in “dirty hands” professions such as cleaning, nursing and others, so why not pest control?
I have a theory on this. I have noticed over the years that there is very little sex equality in the field of fear of rodents, as a general rule of thumb, the ladies tend to be terrified of our 4-legged friends. It is not unknown for the mere mention of rats, especially, and mice to a lesser degree, to send women reaching for the suitcase and moving out. But I have never known a man to do this.
This does not seem to be the case with other beasties. I have two friends who will evacuate the room if a spider should appear, and plenty of guys will fly into a panic at the sight of a wasp, so why should rodents be any different?
The simple answer is that I don’t know. It is one of those illogical facts that defies explanation. I always try to explain to clients that in 22 years of encounters with rats I have never been challenged, attacked, jumped at, or bitten by one. In fact without exception, every rat I have ever seen has turned tail and run away. By comparison I have been stung by bees or wasps 27 times!
But then most phobias are without common sense, be they rodents, heights, closed spaces, snakes [my girlfriend’s favourite], clowns, water or whatever.
to end on a personal note, like most technicians I am frequently asked if there is anything I am afraid of and I always give the same answer:- Over the years I have killed rats and mice with my hands, had cockroaches dropping down my shirt and crawling up my legs, walked from a building covered in fleas, been knee deep in pigeon cr*p and had those 27 stings. None of this has phased me, but if I should arrive at a house and there is a dog barking I will back off. If it is barking and boisterous I will not come in until it is out of the way and my heart has slowed down a bit!
So maybe I should understand the fear of all those ladies standing on their chairs while Rowland and Mickey do their worst and just accept the fact that there will never be many woman in our business, at least the ones I have worked with have all been pretty good.
Operation Smile & PEST UK
Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity, working with a team of dedicated medical volunteers who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Operation Smile – aka ‘the smile charity’ – works in over 60 countries to provide surgery for cleft palates and cleft lips to thousands of children who would otherwise be subject to a life of misery and rejection – often unable to eat, speak, socialise or smile. Operation Smile has over 5,000 dedicated medical volunteers , providing free dental care, speech therapy and counselling where needed. Operation Smile believes that “dignity begins with a smile”. So now, by letting PEST UK get rid of the pests in your home or business you can, quite literally, help put a smile on someone’s face. Isn’t that enough to make you smile too? PEST UK donated £400.00 to Operation Smile on 12/12/13. PEST UK will donate £400.00 or 1% of annual profit (whichever is greater) to Operation Smile every year.
What do PEST UK get out of this?
First we like to share our success (or failure) and we feel that some people (not all) will choose a company that donates a percentage of their profits to charity as opposed to one that does not. Although there are many other reasons to choose PEST UK over any other pest control companies apart from our charitable donation.These reasons are; fully qualified technicians who as well as being BPCA qualified are CRB (Criminal Record Bureaux)) checked and members of the PROMPT/BASIS scheme that awards points for ongoing training on a rolling basis. PEST UK is also a full member of the BPCA (The British Pest Control Association).
A Pest Control Contract is not expensive. Not only will it protect the health and safety of your employees, it will also protect your reputation. Most prosecutions happen to smaller companies. Remove the worry and leave pest control in the hands of experts.
If you are regularly experiencing pest problems, maybe a Pest Control Contract is better. That peace-of-mind knowing that there is an expert team just a phone call away!
Take a look at our Pest Control Contract page, or call us now on 0800-026-0308