What is the job of a Pest Controller?
The job of a Pest Control Technician is to achieve and maintain pest-free conditions in and around buildings such as apartments, houses, offices, food factories, hospitals, supermarkets, shops, schools.
In order to achieve this objective, pest controllers need to continually assess the environment, i.e. the conditions which are conducive to pest infestations, and report any issues to the building manager / owner. For instance a hole under a door is a potential mice access point and is likely to result in an infestation sooner or later if not dealt with. If the bottom of a bin is left dirty, it is only a matter of time before Fruit Flies lay eggs in it.
So the main area of pest prevention is to identify potential issues and get them resolved before an infestation occurs.
Pest controllers spent most of their time travelling to various locations not only to inspect and prevent pest infestations from occurring, but also to actively eradicate pest problems, both outdoors and indoors.
Using their knowledge of pest biology and behaviour, Pest Control Operators assess the extent of an infestation and use a variety of tools and equipment to manage the pest problem. These include: mechanical traps, cages, bait, insecticides (liquid, aerosols, foam, dust, smoke, fog), rodenticides (paste, grain, wax blocks), bactericides, heat and cold treatments.
The modern professional approach to pest control, combining all different methods to prevent infestations, is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategy
What are the main pests in Ireland?
In Ireland, Pest Controllers deal mainly the following pests in urban areas:
- black ants
- clothes moths
There are many other pests to be controlled but not as often. These include pharaoh ants, fleas, carpet beetles, stored product beetles, pest birds.
Our expert Ciaran recently gave advice to The Independent on the main pests affecting Irish houses. For link to the article Click Here.
What skills are required to become a Pest Controller?
Formal and written Skills
As reporting and keeping records is an essential part of day-to-day operations, good writing skills are necessary to communicate issues, advice and recommendations. Leaving Cert. is usually sufficient.
In order to perform effective work Pest Controllers must integrate a lot of knowledge about pest biology and pest management techniques. Furthermore, since January 2018 Pest Controllers in Ireland must get a licence (a "PMU number") in order to use biocides, which can only be obtained upon successful completion of the Lantra qualification "Level 3 Award in Pest Management Services - Trained Professional User".
Pest Controllers handle potentially harmful substances and work with contaminated materials. Safe application of biocides and knowledge of legislation restricting the use of certain pest control methods in some areas must be achieved. It is therefore necessary to enrol into in-house training and formal certified courses & diploma.
Continuous Professional Development
In order to keep their licence, Pest Controllers in Ireland must be a member of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) scheme and update their skills through a variety of activities, e.g. in-house and formal training, conferences and events, reading/studying Pest Control magazines, watching training videos, etc. For more details about CPD Click Here.
Skills - Communication
In addition to formal knowledge about pest management and biology, pest control operators need to be to have the ability to communicate effectively with customers, e.g. analyse pest issues, determine appropriate solutions, reassure customers and getting them to co-operate in order to achieve control, etc.
Skills – DIY aptitudes
As most pests are hiding, it takes strong DIY aptitudes and initiatives to access to hiding / breeding areas. For instance it may be necessary to bore or cut openings in building (plasterboards) or concrete surroundings, insert borescope inspection cameras, spray nozzle, open manholes etc.
Health & Fitness
Pest Controllers need to bend to look under appliances, squeeze in small spaces, crawl in attic without floor boards, climb up and down ladders etc. therefore fitness is essential.
Certain health conditions may also be a problem for carrying out some routine work, e.g.: allergy to wasp sting; asthma; various phobias such as fear heights, insects, spiders, mice or rats.
Working hours and working conditions
While the main working week is Monday to Friday, 09:00-17:00 for scheduled work, Pest Control is also an emergency service. Pests may occur at any time of the day, night, and weekends! (e.g. rat getting access to a restaurant kitchen, late in the evening or very early morning). In some cases it is not possible for a Pest Controller to postpone an emergency call situation.
Moreover, some customers are at work during the day and cannot accommodate a visit other than early morning, late afternoon or Saturdays.
Pest Control workers usually work alone and drive a Company van with treatment equipment to various sites. They would visit 6 to 10 premises on average during their work day.
The work can be unpleasant at times (e.g. removing dead animals), but wearing protective equipment and tools makes it much easier. These include overalls, gloves chemical / smell filtering face masks, litter pickers, etc.