Let me preface this by saying I will not be sharing locations or identifying details of clients, to protect their privacy and mine.

I work in an extremely underrated career servicing the people most don’t want to acknowledge. Whether it be removing a raccoon from a drug den, to fighting off millions of bed bugs in a care home. Every day brings new challenges and surprises.

My goal here today is to shed light on what is otherwise an often overlooked and stigmatized profession

Edit: 7:52pm Hey everyone it was fun being able to answer questions! However my phone is about to die! But feel free to keep asking and I will happily answer when I can!

Edit 1:52 am As much as I’d love to keep going, I don’t think my thumbs can handle it! It has been an absolute pleasure answering everyone’s questions, quite honestly I didn’t think there would be as much interest as there was, so thank you for turning something I debated not posting into a fun night talking about bugs! I hope I managed to answer everyone’s questions to the best of my ability and if you’re someone struggling with an infestation, please seek professional help if possible. It’s worth every penny for peace of mind and it’s usually cheaper in the long run!

And if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “yea I can do this” then I absolutely suggest you do! I have worked a plethora of career opportunities, and this has been the only one that has provided me satisfaction at the end of every day.

Sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite

Comments: 2490 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

thealbinorhino5041957 karma

What are the calls you most enjoy getting? Not from an emotional or fulfilling perspective, but like "oh man, this'll be an easy $100".

B5_V33433 karma

Wasp calls, not because they’re easy, but because they can be the most challenging and adrenaline inducing pest to tackle

alyssas11114314 karma

You’re like the crackhead’s Steve Irwin

B5_V31338 karma

that one got me

terry60021287 karma

Which hotel chains do you stay when traveling?

B5_V32305 karma

I mainly wear my hat and if they get nervous I don’t stay there. I usually check the room before getting settled though

CalypsoTheKitty1210 karma

Have you ever ended up accidentally introducing pests into your home?

B5_V32382 karma

Yes, I’ve been up doing 3 am bed bug treatments because one decided to come home with me

TreehouseJesus1028 karma

What's the most criminal thing you weren't meant to see? Stashed drugs, bodies etc?

B5_V31929 karma

I had someone casually living with a body

ilovemelongtime751 karma

I’m going to need more details. Nothing telling but just… details.

B5_V31754 karma

Guy passed out from an overdose, no one noticed for 2 weeks until I came in to do an inspection, let’s just say that’s one that I’m probably never going to forget

CiniMorgan_109808 karma

I recently had bedbugs and am now living in the purgatory of not knowing if they are all really gone or if there are a few left. I dont react much to the bites so that isnt a reliable sign.

What do you recommend for ongoing detection? I have interceptors on my bed legs, encasements, and a few sticky traps around the room.

Im also still getting apprehend (fungal spore) treatments, and intend to keep that up for at least 6 months. But that only gets them if they walk through it on the baseboard, right?

B5_V31902 karma

for peace of mind spend the money and have a dog go through your place, a dog can sniff out bed bugs with even higher accuracy than a bomb/drug dog (often times they're the same dog)

i_need_booty_pics331 karma

A dog specifically trained to smell them?

B5_V31280 karma

Yes, in fact humans can smell them! In high enough populations I can smell what I’m in for the second I enter the building.

They smell like a crayon, if they decided to make a strawberry scented crayon

Starkydowns798 karma

I’ve heard that starting your own franchise is relatively cheap. Have you considered going out on your own and starting one?

B5_V3890 karma

That’s eventually the plan!

moreRelevantBacon784 karma

How do you handle bees?

B5_V32746 karma

Gently, they’re harmless and fragile

eveningsand781 karma

For you, specifically, how do you prevent the little critters from following you home? E.g. how do you ensure you don't take a small collection of bedbugs home from work with you?

B5_V31153 karma

I have a heat chamber I put my clothes in, it maintains a temperature above 50C, my place is also treated with a fungal insecticide

sparklyjesus162 karma


B5_V3258 karma

bcgrappler773 karma

Exactly how afraid of bedbugs should I be?

B5_V31314 karma

If you use public spaces you should definitely be checking yourself routinely

db0company167 karma

How do you check yourself for bed bugs? I’ve never even thought about it

B5_V3329 karma

Check Every little seem and fold on your garments, body, and belongings, or just throw everything in the dryer on max for an hour

Named_after_color210 karma

You have no idea what that's going to do to my cotton shirts.

B5_V3822 karma

As a man I’m very familiar with shrinkage

athnme768 karma

First of all, you have my utmost respect for doing something that most of us wouldn't even dare to try and I do acknowledge that guys like you are working behind the scenes to keep the world running so be assured that you have at least my appreciation.

How did you start doing what you are doing as a profession? Was it a conscious decision you made or did you just stumble into it?

B5_V3680 karma

I actually fell into it! I lost my job a while back, and a small company offered hired me, I absolutely loved the work and eventually found myself in a larger company

474747474747693 karma


B5_V31066 karma

Most of the time treat others how you want to be treated and know how to read the room. I’ve only ever been threatened. But never have I ever felt in real danger

TastyBleach680 karma

Bro, ive been on reddit like 7 years (?) Definitely top 3 AMA ive seen.

B5_V3360 karma

thank you!

3nd_Game669 karma

What is the most dangerous mission you have completed?

B5_V31130 karma

Fumigations, probably the only thing that truly terrify me. They will kill you before you even realize it

TeslaSD563 karma

Why are my lips numb after the exterminator sprays our office?

B5_V31073 karma

Possible reaction, possible placebo, consulting your physician is your best bet

spottedram556 karma

I live in NYC . How am I getting waterbugs in my apartment? I hate them!! Where are they coming in??

B5_V31110 karma

The sewers probably, it’a NYC, that’s like hard mode for pest control

first_life488 karma

Do any bugs freak you out at all still?

B5_V31145 karma

Ticks, the thought of Lyme disease is terrifying

EnvironmentalClass55468 karma

What's a general tip you have for keeping my place bug free?

B5_V3875 karma

Eliminating gaps and cracks and preventative treatment plans are pretty affordable and a great start, but key is to eliminate sources of food and water for the pests

Hemagoblin431 karma

Are there any bugs / pests that you really don’t like dealing with?

B5_V3633 karma

Carpet beetles, they can be a nightmare

Axe-of-Kindness153 karma


B5_V3315 karma

Carpet beetles feed on organic compounds, finding where they’re breeding and eliminating that is key, constant vacuuming and laundry also helps. I recommend getting a professional in though if the problem is bad

Toledojoe406 karma

How do you avoid getting bit by animals, bed bugs, etc?

B5_V3487 karma

You can wear protective suits, but bites still occasionally happen

gumbi01378 karma

What was one of your most changeling assignment?

B5_V31062 karma

Having to rid a building of bed bugs when you could see bed bugs in the hundreds crawling down the walls in the lobby

tmluna01378 karma

Are you a fan of Dale Gribble?

B5_V3464 karma


x_cLOUDDEAD_x355 karma

Can you get rid of fleas in an average size apartment in one trip? And if so, using what method?

B5_V3461 karma

Lots and lots of vacuuming and an Insect grown regulator (can get at most vets). Essentially follow bed bug preparation guidelines

throwaway92715335 karma

Do you worry about being exposed to pesticides or other environmental contaminants, like mold?

B5_V3447 karma

All the time, I make sure to wear any safety equipment I can get my hands on

whichewomyn311 karma

Re: the demographic you serve; What's the most challenging extermination you ever had to perform?

B5_V31164 karma

I spent a year treating a unit for bed bugs, it was a challenge because the tennant had 3 distinct personalities, 2 of which hated me

LinkedAg297 karma

Had to come to the description text to confirm that you were an exterminator.... of pests, not just a retired/"ex" terminator like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

First, thanks for providing an extremely necessary - and under-gratified - service to society.

Where is the line between pest control and animal control? Mice and rats are usually associated with pest control, but where does that end and large animal control take over? Do municipalities regularly outsource large animal control to extermination service providers?

B5_V3239 karma

you're very welcome! the line tends to blur in the wild life aspect of things, generally when dealing with mamals larger than rats and mice you tend to cross paths with animal control

Untgradd295 karma

How can I make my detached garage absolutely inhospitable to all vermin without poisoning my dog / chickens / etc? Do you fuck with mice? How do I fuck with mice?

B5_V3446 karma

If you can can fit your pinky in a gap or hole, fill it with something nice can’t chew (copper mesh works great)

Robobvious263 karma

How do you deal with bed bugs without accidentally bringing them home with you? I hear they’re absolutely traumatizing to live with.

B5_V3434 karma

I can’t state enough how traumatic bed bugs are. Luckily I’m able to put safeguards in place to prevent hitchhiker’s although accidents do happen

raihidara228 karma

What is the best way to get rid of carpenter bees around your home? How can you tell if they have already gotten in your walls?

B5_V3338 karma

Contact a professional especially if your concern is structural damage, though pretty docile to humans they can cause havoc on structures

chr0nic21220 karma

How'd you get rid of a million bed buggers?

B5_V3438 karma

Heat! Turn that room into a convection oven! Anything over 50C for min an hour will kill ‘em

TNSxPAPA213 karma

Cockroaches, are they only in gross and dirty houses?

B5_V3614 karma

You may be surprised to learn that pests don’t discriminate, some of my worst cockroach clean outs have been in multi million dollar mansions with full time cleaning staff

LegendOfBobbyTables386 karma

I'm a former chef, and I just want to hijack this to say that if you're in an environment that German cockroaches enjoy, every restaurant is either infested, or pays good money to not be infested.

Before I will work for someone, I check for bugs in the kitchen. You can tell a bad owner from a good owner pretty reliably just by how clean and bug free their kitchen is or isn't.

B5_V3284 karma

You’d be surprised how some can hide it from regular folk

Im_Just_A_Lost_Cause108 karma

One place I almost worked at hid it well...until I saw it in a light bulb above their grill....a german cockroach. I made an excuse to bolt and didnt look back.. How did it get in the bulb...I know it's above the grease trap of the grill...but...how....

B5_V3191 karma

A German cockroach nymph is Damn nest microscopic, and grease had enough sustenance to sustain it through its life.

My biggest giveaway in any establishment is the fluorescent light housings. No one ever cares to clean them. And rid there was a problem, they usually show it

DrearyBiscuit201 karma

I have a rat problem outside. Had a local company come out 5 months ago and put down 4 poison traps. How long does this typically take to eradicate a colony?

B5_V3529 karma

You will never eradicate rodents outside, they will be here long after us. For every one we kill 10 are born. The goal is reduction not elimination

good_testing_bad200 karma

Whose been your favorite customer?

B5_V3703 karma

A year ago I solved a case for a family who were being terrorized by rats for over 3 years. To the point where the rats had chewed out their gas lines and almost blew the house up. Even today I still get cards and pictures of a now, very happy family

Bosticles189 karma

My house has an endless invasion of bugs. Not an infestation of one kind, just every dumb shit bug on the planet wanders in constantly. I try and seal every gap I can, but nothing works. Why is this happening and how do I get rid of these little bastards?

B5_V3242 karma

Check your door and window seals, if you see light a bug can get in. Also highly recommend a spray of the exterior to prevent outside invaders

Spacetweed183 karma

Oh man, this is just the AMA I've been waiting for!

How in gods name do I stop squirrels from getting in the attic? I've sealed off every opening just to have them chew back in. I've tried vinegar, hot sauce, literal pure capsaicin, and fake snakes, but the little shits keep eating the low voltage wires in the attic. What do you usually do with the little buggers?

B5_V3222 karma

You have to really seal them in, recommend using a metal grating over a mesh, they will eventually give up (also make sure there are no babies in your home)

FishInMyThroat181 karma

How much of what you do involves spraying stuff I could buy online and toss in a sprayer myself?

B5_V3593 karma

0.01%. My chemicals are in concentrate form and must me mixed in exact ratios otherwise you risk causing your target pest to grow immune. Also you need a license to even see the catalog

TakeThatPlant178 karma

I have read about extreme heat treatments killing bed bugs vs chemicals. What do you think?

B5_V3296 karma

Heats always the way to go

Duke_Newcombe170 karma

Your scariest Ralph Wiggum "I'm in DaNGeR!!" story from a job you did, please? It can be dangerous becuase of the pest, the people, the building, or some other factor--just that your life was potentially/almost asked of you that day.

B5_V3398 karma

A tennant I was doing a bed bug inspection for got raided by the cops mid inspection

B5_V3152 karma

I went into more detail in a previous reply, but essentially was doing a bed bug inspection on the unit, next thing I know police are busting down the door with guns

Jestdrum138 karma

What did you do with the raccoon? Is s/he okay?

B5_V3384 karma

He got some marshmallows and was relocated to a nice wooded area nearby

moveovahh128 karma

Is it true cold weather will also kill bed bugs? For instance, if it’s below freezing outside and you put couches or mattresses outside overnight, will that do the job?

B5_V3240 karma

Yes and no, it takes a very ideal set of circumstances for it to get cold fast enough to kill bed bugs, as they can enter a state of hibernation for a long time

AlpayY106 karma

How does working in these lower income neighborhoods affect you mentally? Had any clashes with clients?

B5_V3235 karma

I tend not to take things personally, but it can be hard sometimes, I just have to remind myself I’m meeting them in a bad situation

Several_Inspection7498 karma

Do you ever get phantom itches after a job? I feel like I would be scratching imaginary bugs all the time.

B5_V3262 karma

how do you spot an exterminator in a crowd? look for the one scratching

NotaHippyBus92 karma

Termite situation question: I've got Formosa termites in my home, but I've also got wood rot that I'm working to fix ASAP. All the termite companies I've called for treatment have refused because I have rot and they say they can't guarantee their work. I am poor AF and I'm doing all I know to do right now. Is there anything I can do to stall these termites till I can fix the house enough to get it treated?

B5_V3124 karma

I’m not sure about termites because we don’t get them here, but if there is a known problem in a city or county, sometimes there’s programs in place to help

mbart369 karma

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve seen on the job?

B5_V3186 karma

unfortunately a chest freezer filled to the brim with roaches and rotting meat

sexyhusband71454 karma

How do you dispose of bodies?

B5_V396 karma

Usually in the garbage. Pretty much the only place to in the city

cheoti52 karma

Got any interestingly crazy stories to share?

B5_V3316 karma

an aspect of the job a lot of people don't know about is the mental health side of it. sometimes a client is calling because they have bugs, sometimes its because they're seeing bugs. for some people suffering from mental illness, just me showing up can provide respite to things like hallucinations.

one client in particular was a bit of an odd duck, he struck it big in the education industry and bought himself a mansion in the middle of the woods, this place was a full on gothic mansion, complete with gargoyle statues, a hedge maze, if it could be featured in a cheesy Dracula flick. he had it. one day he decided to contact me with concerns of spiders, no big deal I went over, sold him a service and treated for spiders, the next week he calls me again for a re treatment, i go there, re treat and bobs your uncle.

he calls me about 6 more times over the course of 4 months with the same issue, spiders running rampant at night. at this point I came to the conclusion that the spiders were real, but only for him. after a while things quieted down with him, I was only doing the occasional exterior spray and had little to no direct contact with him.

until about 6 months later.
I get a knock on the door of my personal residence, sure enough I'm being summoned to court. turned out this crazy rich guy decided his maid was the one planting spiders in his home, and decided to fire the maid and sue the company she worked for.
Luckily reason overcame insanity and the courts saw he was clearly suffering. he ended up getting the help he desperately needed instead

Deedeethecat244 karma

My spouse's grandfather kept on calling someone in about bugs, it was dementia. He was treated with incredible compassion by the exterminator who was able to tell us that it was not bugs. He did things that made the grandfather feel better, gave us a heads up, and ended up not charging for at least one of the visits. He was a really good guy.

B5_V365 karma

I have a care home that pays me $50 a month to spray water on their baseboards. That’s the lowest I can feasibly charge them

gravitationalarray48 karma

How do you combat zombies?

B5_V3176 karma

Good cardio and a shot gun

Rubcionnnnn45 karma

Have you ever dealt with drug addicted insects?

B5_V3154 karma

No, but I did once have a meth addicted rat

Fingerdrip39 karma

How safe for pets and kids are the chemicals that your average big retail extermination outfit uses that they may spray around doors and your baseboards for preventative measures? What are they using? Anything I should know?

B5_V378 karma

Any chemical that I use is moderately safe for animals once it is dry. Saying that I wouldn’t go licking exactly where I sprayed. As for what chemicals they are using that depends on the technician and situation, but most certainly requires a license to use them

thisisnttakeone36 karma

Do you exterminate people or just animals?

B5_V3219 karma

No you need to call a terminator for that

thenordicbat29 karma

What's the grossest thing you have encountered, and how long did it take for you to mentally "tough it up" with really disgusting places?

B5_V373 karma

i one time had to steam treat a sofa that was encrusted in human feces and vomit, I wouldn't say you ever really toughen up. you just learn to deal with it differently. there are still some things I haven't been able to get used to that I encounter often

DaRealML23 karma

Isnt that thing a big bio hazard, woudlnt throwing it away and burning it be a better choice?

B5_V364 karma

For most yea, for some it’s all they have

mishaunc27 karma

When you come home at night, how do you make sure that you are not bringing bedbugs along with you? Do you change at work and they sanitize your clothes? Do you wear your clothes home and then change in the garage? Do you need to worry about bringing home bedbugs on your hair? Do you just go on home and figure that it will be fine and just change whenever you feel like it? I’ve always wondered that about people who fight bedbugs, thank you for letting me ask!

B5_V3176 karma

So, just for you I’m going to lay out my procedure from start to finish.

Before I get on site I remove anything from my pockets I can’t live without, I make sure to wear white socks, and tuck my pant legs into my socks, if it’s a really bad case I’ll usually wear a tyvek suit and tape the legs to my boots. During service I make sure I only touch things with my hands and the bottom of my boots. Everything I touch usually gets vacuumed first. After a job I go outside, carefully undo my suit and roll it off my body. That goes into a plastic bag and tied up. Then I go top to bottom, taking off my boots and checking them thoroughly, then go through my pockets, any items I brought in, ect until eventually I check my ears and comb my hair out. My truck is treated with a fungus that only infects bed bugs spreads like wildfire. When I get home I step into a small hamper, strip completely and place my clothes in a box that’s kept a roughly 55C. Then I do a check of my body cavities and shower. For added measure my place has bed bug pheromone lures placed strategically with monitors, along with more of that fungus and mechanical barriers.

Hope that helps satisfy your curiosity!!

NeitherStage115958 karma

In short you decontaminate pursuant to the protocols used in The Andromeda Strain.

B5_V365 karma

Crichton himself couldn’t decide a better protocol

Discoveryellow25 karma

How often do you find yourself saying "sorry" as an American stereotype of Canadians goes?

B5_V325 karma

Way to much

Mythril_Zombie25 karma

Have any tips for Pantry Moths?

B5_V360 karma

Remove infested sources, and start portioning stuff in sealed containers from now on

Leo_Ascendent25 karma

I have an open ceiling basement (you can see the pipes, values, etc), what's the best way to keep the Midwest creepy crawlies (centipedes, silver fish, spiders) to a minimum?

Do specific plants help (I've read mint is a repellent)? Smells?

B5_V352 karma

best bet? finish the ceiling.
the unfortunate part of open ceilings it they provide lots of little cracks and crevices for insects to hide in.

a key thing for reducing centipedes is to reduce what they're eating, seeing a lot of them may be a sign of a bigger problem

stevejerkel22 karma

I currently work for a very large company that has a pest division. My pest guy talked me into checking them out over a year ago and I ended up applying and taking a job in their kitchen, pools, laundry division.

How do you feel about coming in contact with chemicals used in your line of work? Any good stories of interacting with the locals in your neighborhoods you service?

B5_V356 karma

I approach them like you would a nuclear bomb, I've had one exposure and that was enough to scare me.

and one time I got to jam out on guitar with a bunch of the local homeless, that was pretty wholesome

HeatGunHere21 karma

In March, I hired a professional like you to tent the house and fumigate. He said I should not have to deal with termites for at least ten years. He provided two years warranty. I know fumigation won’t protect after it wears off. How can he say that I should be suitable for another ten years when termites can come back a week after? What stops them from coming back for years?

B5_V345 karma

fumigation only works during the fumigation, thats the beauty of it. unfortunately, like in every industry, not everyone is honest

DylanRayQueen21 karma

How do I get rid of mice? Like big ones

B5_V339 karma

Big mice or rats? First step to getting rid of them is finding where they’re coming in and sealing it

r0b0tr0n208417 karma

Given the fact that insects play a crucial role as pollinators, do you ever attempt to re-home beehives you remove?

B5_V380 karma

I do not personally, since I am not a bee keeper and would probably accidentally kill them. So instead I contact local bee keepers to come and take the colony

TECH_what_the_HECK13 karma

Is your name Dale Gribble?

B5_V320 karma


robster90908 karma

Do you ever have to use rifles or guns ?

B5_V316 karma

I’m my company they’re mainly used for bird control

dkizzy3 karma

I've heard of paramedics getting sick from fentanyl just from touching wallpaper that had some on it. Have you seen anyone complain of head pains and stuff with quick onset from your line of work?

B5_V313 karma

Accidental exposure is a serious risk with all drugs not just fent, I never enter a job without gloves and I don’t touch things unless I fully intend to

saml012 karma

Question about termites. Do the outside traps actually lure termites out or is that bs? Why would termites leave a warm, food filled structure?

Why can't wood inside houses be treated for termites anymore even with some precautions?

B5_V38 karma

I’d love to provide insight but termites are extremely rare in my part of Canada, but from what I hear over the border they’re a real nightmare

Forever_Bored2 karma

Last year I had a few ants in the summer. A couple of ferro liquid traps laid down and no more ants. This year I saw ants digging under the wood in the from porch outside (none were inside) laid out ferro right by entrance. Next day lots of dead ants.. But.. Next day it seemed they moved their base indoors! Ferro traps got little to no attention! I tried borax and sugar and peanut butter as well. No interest! I then bought that advion gel the small ones seem to go for it but the bigger ones just ignore it. My last attempt is going to be some ant granuals I saw on Amazon. There has been way less ant traffic but I'd love them to be all dead. Am I screwed? Should I keep up my fight? Or call a professional?

B5_V33 karma

With ants it can be tricky, depending on the species killing them to fast or using the wrong pesticides can cause budding, meaning they make new colonies

Salzberger1 karma

Have you seen the Pesticide episode of Creepshow? Your description sounds just like the synopsis for that episode.

B5_V32 karma

I have not, but I might just check it out

rightascensi0n1 karma

Do you use a lot of diatomaceous earth at home?

B5_V32 karma

Generally not, it’s not great to breath in, and I have access to better.

Most people are using DE wrong and are risking lung damage

zlance1 karma

Ok, stupid question, but like if you see a fair amount of carpenter ants in your house that’s made of wood and they live in trees next to your house, are they nesting in the house? The other exterminator I called was just like “meh lemme spray around your house”. And they were seen toasted in the house like all dying and stuff but like I still see them a month later

B5_V31 karma

That’s a tough one to say without seeing it in person, but good chance it would be all of the above

ClayWhisperer1 karma

Is there a way to get rid of a nest of carpenter ants in the base of a tree? The ants have a satellite nest inside my house, but their main nest is in that tree and I don't know how to get rid of it. Even if I hire someone to cut down the tree -- which is big -- they would just all run away to a new tree.

Is there some kind of poison that would do the trick?

B5_V35 karma

Granular baits on the outside, liquid on the inside followed by an exterior spray to stop the travel

RealEight-1 karma

We call them junkies, vagabonds, nutters and criminals where I live. How do you get bonded to dispatch them?

B5_V39 karma

I call them humans, everyone was someone’s child at some point, not everyone has the same opportunity we do