a day in the life of a pest controller

A day in the life of a Pest Control Technician

How does your day start?

First thing is to turn on my tablet and look at my list of jobs, I normally have about 15. I then use an app to plan my route, always making sure I take into account jobs with a specified time or specific customer needs.

Then I go outside, log into my vehicle app and do my safety checks. At London Network of Pest Solutions (LNPS), safety is taken very seriously. Our vehicles are an integral part of our working day and so we perform these checks every day, not quarterly or whenever we remember. If I find something is wrong, it’s reported and rectified as soon as possible.

Is your job repetitive?

Most of my work is domestic and based in East London, but it’s not repetitive. In fact, it is very varied, that’s one of the best things about being a pest control technician. I deal with a variety of pests – mostly rats, mice, bed bugs and cockroaches – either as initial treatments or follow-up visits. Most of my work involves rodents but there is usually at least one bed bug treatment every day.

There is also great variety in the types of property I get to visit and the people I meet. Most people are lovely; from all over the world. It isn’t unusual to be offered something lovely to eat and, in fact, it can be difficult to leave without eating their fabulous food.

So, while there are similarities in what we are trying to achieve, the places we go, the people we meet and the pests we have to deal with are changing all the time.

What happens during an average visit?

Every job is different, but a good example might be visiting a house with a mouse problem.

The first thing I’ll do is kit up, normally knee pads and gloves. Then I’ll carry out a full inspection and conduct a ‘guided’ questioning of the customer. It’s important to gain all the information you can about an infestation, which is why the most essential piece of kit in your bag is a good torch, and the second most important thing is a spare.

A good nose is also essential. Mice nests have a distinctive smell – a bit like damp digestive biscuits. They are made of chewed paper and can be about the size of tennis balls. This should make them easy to find, right? Wrong. Smell can guide you to the right place, but it can still be impossible to find the actual nest. The spaces under plinths and floorboards can be a good place too start but, if I can’t find them, I always follow my dad’s advice (a professional pest controller of 30 years’ experience), “If you can’t find them down here, look up there.”

You are not just checking for nests but any sign of mouse activity – droppings, gnaw marks and smear marks. These are all good indicators of a mouse run.

Invariably you won’t find the nest and so now it’s time to move onto stage two. Again, safety first and so I’ll carry out an environmental risk assessment. These are fairly new to the industry, but I think they are really important. They help focus the mind on safety and they help to open up a dialogue with the customer.

Stage two involves finding ways to ‘proof’ a property against the rodent. At LNPS, we place a lot of importance on proofing properties. However, while it is at the top of the hierarchy of control, it won’t get rid of your mouse problem if they are already in the home. Therefore, we need to use rodenticide baits and contact gels. We use these differently – contact gels are only used on obvious established mouse runs and bait should only ever be placed in tamper resistant bait boxes. Bait boxes are then only placed in mouse run areas that are inaccessible to children, animals and the customer. We always need to consider practicality and safety.

Once you have carried out the baiting you may well be able to back this up with some temporary proofing to encourage the mouse or mice towards your box.

What about the customers?

Perhaps the most difficult part of my job is giving people advice about good housekeeping. I must be very diplomatic and explain to them that a mouse needs 3g of a food a day and they must be getting it from somewhere – breadcrumbs in the toaster, food bins, grease around the cooker.

As professional pest controllers we can only help the customer with proofing and eradication techniques, it is up to the homeowner to create a house that doesn’t attract more rodents. That means good housekeeping.

Ending the day

The final part of any visit is the report. I don’t know why, but over the years I have often found that technicians rush through this. Personally, I am proud of my job and proud of the way I operate. The process isn’t difficult, just pretend you are writing a story and take the customer on a journey – why I attended, what the customer told me, what I found, what I did, where I have placed the bait, what the customer needs to do and when I will be back. After that, it’s time for a signature and I’m off to my next job, but not before a quick discussion about dinner and the aforementioned delicious snack. If you want terrific food, domestic callouts are always better than a high street chain!

What’s it like working for LNPS?

I have worked for several pest control companies over the years, including both of the most well-known ones, and I can confidently say that working for LNPS is a breath of fresh air. For a start, unlike some companies, where the manager will say things like, “I would never ask my staff to do something I wouldn’t,” and then switches their phone off at 5pm on a Friday, our Managing Director, Paul Cooper, always has his on. That makes a big difference as a pest control technician because you always know you have support. In fact, Paul has won awards for his management style and that is probably how I first came to hear about LNPS.

At my induction, I was handed a brand-new kit, a new van, PPE and, of course, I was DBS checked. Pradeep Lawrence, one of the other directors, made it clear that nothing was too much bother for their employees. What I particularly liked was there was clearly great support but also a degree of autonomy. They have a saying, “if you have not got a piece of kit, it’s because you’ve forgotten to ask for it.” When I need something for a job, I can always get it from the stores. The impact this has on productivity is underappreciated in some other companies.

Then there are my colleagues, a great bunch of guys who are all very supportive of each other and who are always ready to help out with advice, or by taking jobs off your hands.

Michael Marbe

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