Sean Bergmann, CEO of Seattle-based United Pest Solutions, is a second-generation pest management professional (PMP) who knows a thing or two about stinging insects after growing up in the business. He shares some insights with Pest Management Professional (PMP).
Q: What was the largest stinging insect infestation you’ve battled in your career?
Bergmann: My father started our company, so I have one story from my father and one from myself. The largest nest we’ve ever come across was a bald-faced hornet nest, that was 6 ft. wide by 8 ft. long, on the cross members of a telephone pole. It was higher than 30 ft. above the ground and in a precarious position.
That was back in the day when it was much more common to see PMPs not using personal protective equipment (PPE). He climbed up a ladder and got close enough to where he could shoot the nest with product and took care of it. He came through the process unscathed.
Many years ago, there was a nest in an attic space that was about 5 ft. in diameter and close to 3 ft. tall. I didn’t have any PPE so I had to treat as I could and not fall through the attic floor. I had a flashlight, which the yellowjackets are attracted to, so this situation was also a bit precarious. It was probably the largest nest I’ve personally come across.
Q: Can you recall the hardest-to-find group of stinging insects you’ve faced, and how you ensured you eliminated every one of them?
Bergmann: One of the toughest ones I’ve run across was a yellowjacket nest going in and out of a void area in an attic that had a skylight. I didn’t have access to the nest from the roofline and attic. There was no access to the nest. I had an idea of where it might be — most nests are associated with their exit point to the outside — but I wasn’t sure.
The only way I could try to pinpoint it was to drill through the ceiling below, inject an aerosol and listen for the nest. Then I could treat it topically with a residual liquid to ensure I got rid of all the stinging insects.
Based on my experience I was able to drill close to where I could get enough of the residual on after I used the aerosol.
Sean Bergmann’s Dos & Don’ts
■ Wear appropriate PPE, including bee suits and respirators.
■ Use the appropriate pesticide or other method for each case, not just the one you might be most used to using.
■ Set your expectations of the treatment process with the customer. You might not always take care of the problem the first time, and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
■ Don’t leave any exposed nests on the premises or the structure.
■ Don’t rush the treatment process.
■ Don’t underestimate the need for thorough technician training.
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