This article was crafted with the help of Rusty Markland from PestNow.

A day in the work life of a pest control technician is a busy one. Pest management companies service residential customers as well as businesses and corporate clients, but according to Rusty Markland, operations manager of PestNow in Northern Virginia, through it all a technician’s main focus is providing high-quality service.

Starting the Day

Thorough attention to detail is of primary concern in the pest control industry, so the first thing most technicians do every day is check their vehicle to make sure it is fully stocked and the chemicals and tools in their loads are secure. They also check their work assignments for the day and double-check them against the stock list for the vehicle to ensure that the products they have on board are appropriate for the jobs they have to complete that day.

And They’re Off!

To maximize efficiency and time management, technicians are usually assigned to tightly gridded areas organized by zip codes. Thanks to modern technology, service routing has become much simpler and more effective. Technicians’ routes primarily comprise appointments to perform regular pest control maintenance for the company’s existing customer base.

However, Rusty notes that other work may be assigned or called in to technicians during the day from new customers who are experiencing serious or persistent problems. These are often pest issues that could put the customer or the technicians at risk—for example, yellow jackets nesting in walls—and these cases must be addressed with a sense of urgency. “Existing customers are just as important as new customers, but because our new customers don't know us, we have to make sure the first impression is a great impression,” says Rusty. Sufficient time must be allotted to allow technicians to address unanticipated problems correctly while still meeting the expectations of their current customers.

Do I Have to Be Here for This?

Many pest control customers wonder if they need to be home to interact with the technician. Though it varies by company, customers generally don’t need to be present for normal maintenance work. Pest control techs will go about their normal treatment plans, and it’s great because customers don’t have to adjust their daily schedules; at the same time, it allows technicians some flexibility in how to work their scheduled appointments that day. However, for new accounts, warranty calls, and current customers who are having new pest problems, Rusty says it is best if technicians meet with the clients at the source of the problem. “We want that first interview with the customers in order to see exactly what they are dealing with,” he says. “And we want them to see how we approach the problem.”

Pets and children, though often eager to greet the “pest guy,” should be kept out of the way during treatments. Rusty recommends keeping them indoors when exterior treatments are being applied and having them remain there until the treated area is totally dry; depending on weather conditions, the drying process can take anywhere from one to several hours. If indoor areas are being treated, then technicians will advise the customer on the requirements of keeping pets and children out of the area, depending on the products that are being used. In any event, keeping the little ones out of the way will generally keep the treatment process running more smoothly and efficiently.

Science, Not Magic

While most pest control companies outfit their technicians with the latest industry equipment to help them organize and complete their work for the day, the job itself can still make for some long and difficult days. Many jobs require climbing ladders, balancing on roofs, or squeezing into tight crawl spaces—all difficult tasks that require stamina and dexterity. Many removal and remediation jobs also involve stinging insects, rodents, and wild animals, all of which pose a threat.

Moreover, treating a difficult case can require numerous visits to the same spots. “Pest control is based on science, not magic. There are no magic wands in our industry,” says Rusty, and all pests may not disappear with just one treatment. “Most people do not realize that the majority of all pesticides are ‘adulticides,’ meaning they will kill the adults but have little or no effect on the eggs, larvae, or pupae.” While a one-time treatment may lead a customer to believe that the pest problem is gone, once the life cycle of the problem insect starts again, the issue can re-emerge. This may lead an unsuspecting homeowner to think the treatment wasn’t effective, when in fact it usually takes a series of treatments to break the life cycle of any insect. A professional pest control technician will continue to pursue the problem pests until the customer’s home is insect free.

A Great Living

Rusty likes to point out that though the work of a pest control technician can be challenging at times, the job is very rewarding. There are always people in need of pest control, and solving the unique problems of each home has a significant impact on the residents’ quality of life. “Most people don’t realize the job’s potential,” says Rusty. The demand for skillful technicians will always be present, and the continuous call for them keeps the industry alive. Professional pest control technicians and inspectors help keep homeowners happy by maintaining pest-free homes.

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This spotlight article was crafted with the help of PestNow, a Pest & Termite Control Best Pick in Northern Virginia. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.