Pest control management prevents wildlife interference

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For thousands of years, pests have been wreaking havoc on society. Ultimately, stopping them is not just about spraying chemicals and laying down traps; people need to be educated on pests and how to deal with them. At the end of the day, education about preventing, treating for and controlling these nuisances can go a long way.

Fortunately, the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management shop is available to help Whiteman residents in that process. Entomology - the study of insects, rodents and fungi - is the bread and butter of this group.

"Entomology is the branch of zoology that studies insects. As Pest Management professionals we are in the business of studying and controlling insect, vertebrate and weed pests," said Staff Sgt. Robert Lopez, NCOIC of the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management shop. 

What many people may not realize about pest control is that in order to deal with a particular creature, one must recognize what it is.

"First, we have to identify the pest before we formulate a plan to control it," said David Neuman, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management technician. "For example, if we have flies in an office, what type are they? Where do they breed? What do they feed on? What's attracting them to the area? We have to identify the pest and the favorable conditions that are contributing to the overall problem."

Education about how to deal with certain species can ensure public health and safety. A raccoon searching for food in a trash can represents a significant public health risk, but one that can be mitigated by simply securing the can lid with a bungee cord. Knowing how to prevent these furry raiders from scavenging from trash cans helps prevent the spread of disease, and is just one example of how individuals can contribute positively to a cleaner community.

"People are concerned with pests biting. What they don't realize is these species carry parasites, such as fleas and ticks, which also carry hosts, such as tapeworms." said Neuman. "So it's not just one issue with one species."

Most people often resort to one of two solutions - traps or chemicals. However, after several traps and chemicals have been used, pests are still bound to return. People must know the reason the pests are there, where are they likely to stay, and how and why they keep returning.

"Integrated pest management (IPM) involves pest surveillance and identification. This will determine our courses of action - biological, physical, cultural and even chemical, if needed," said Marc Watson, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician.
"For example, if we have a mouse problem in a facility, we want to take care of the immediate problem, [so we] set some traps to capture them. This is just a Band-aid, though. We want to also inspect the facility to find what may be attracting them, where they may be entering, and then correct the problems to prevent further entry."

The main goal of pest control is to decrease chemical usage and educate individuals, said Lopez.

Making simple adjustments is a great way to solving a pest problem. Finding entry points and removing food from an area are some basic steps individuals can take. Other solutions may be caulking or sealing holes, cleaning and sanitation, eliminating favorable conditions or attractants. When it comes to chemical use, baits are best. They may take a little longer to take full effect, but are very safe and pest specific. Always follow product label instructions.

"If you place a bowl of candy on your desk during the summer time, you are going to attract ants," said Neuman. "We can treat for the ants, but unless you remove the food source, they will keep returning."

Sanitation and cleanliness are the keys to maintaining a healthy and balanced environment. Chemicals and products are temporary, education lasts a lifetime.

For more information, or to make an appointment for more personalized help, contact the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management Office at 660-687-6367.