Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 90

27 February 2018

Top 5 weird and wonderful pest call-outs

Feature technical | PPC90 March 2018

“There’s nowt so queer as folk,” as our friends in the north often say. As pest controllers, we’re well-placed to confirm this piece of ancient Yorkshire wisdom.

We regularly work in people’s homes where you just never know what you’re going to find. Pests often bring out anxieties and phobias that can push otherwise normal people to the edge of reason and sometimes beyond. Most of the time it’s pretty routine, but every so often, circumstances come together that leave you speechless and wondering ‘what the hell just happened?!’

Guest writer Asa Goldschmied, Founder and Director of Proton Environmental, shares more...

1. Not an electric toothbrush!

That's not an electric toothbrush

I was getting a room ready to treat for textile moth in the fitted carpet and clearing things out from under the bed – clothes, shoe-boxes, bags – the usual stuff. Then, sticking out from a small black fabric bag was what looked like the end of an electric toothbrush. I quickly realised it was something far more intimate – oops!

The last thing you want to do is embarrass your client. So what do you do? Put it back afterwards where you found it? Leave it on the desk? Hide it somewhere else? Before I’d had a chance to think, it got worse. She was coming up the stairs with a cup of tea!

I panicked and quickly put it in my toolbox (aptly so, as one of my colleagues later remarked). When she had gone, I opted for putting it into a shoe-box with some other things and making it look like I’d never seen it. Crisis averted, but I’ve never looked at that toolbox in the same way since.

2. Stuck in the middle

Pest controllers get to see quite a slice of humanity in our day jobs

I arrived at a family house to carry out a bedbug treatment. The lady said that one of her children was still in bed so could I do that room last and she would try and get her up. Over the following half hour, I could hear that things were escalating into a blazing row!

It culminated with the tearful mother shouting, “The nice man’s come to help us, and you’re behaving like this!” The daughter then appeared at the top of the stairs. To my surprise, she was not the teenager I had assumed, but an adult. And she had dragged her mattress out of the room and was pushing it violently down the stairs, knocking pictures off the wall, and screaming obscenities at her mother.

I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I offered to leave and come back a bit later. The mother agreed, apologising as she shut the door behind me. Then on the return visit, everyone was as pleasant as could be and the argument was never mentioned – maybe I imagined it all...

3. Alternative medicine

lea-ridden fox back to health with homoeopathic remedies

I found one of my clients trying to nurse a mange and flea-ridden fox back to health with homoeopathic remedies. 

4. Getting on a first name basis

First name basis with the rats

Another one of my clients had got so used to the rats around his home, he’d named them all. 

5. Classic ‘delusory parasitosis’

Classic delusory parasitosis

Soon after I qualified, I went out to the house of a man who was sure that a recent visitor’s dog had left him with an infestation of fleas on his body and in his home. I wondered if all might not exactly be normal when, on being welcomed into the house, I had to step over a pair of discarded y-fronts on the hall floor.

As I inspected the room and particularly the bed where the client said he saw them all the time, I couldn’t see anything at all. Before I had sprayed anything, I asked him to come in and see if he could point out any fleas. Sure enough, he started pointing at bits of fluff, marks on the walls. He had even saved a piece of sticky tape on which he had ‘caught’ them and “other bugs” too. All I could see were bits of grit and toenails.

He was dumbfounded, angry, and upset that I couldn’t see them as he could see them everywhere! His distress was very real, and I could only try to soothe his concerns and recommend that he goes to his GP. But without doubt, it was an early lesson for me about dealing with vulnerable people.


Send us your experiences!

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Asa-GoldschmiedAsa Goldschmied
Proton Environmental

1 March 2019  |  PPC90


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