True grit


June 15, 2015


Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian, BCE, Rose Pest Solutions

In PMP’s June issue, we let our stable of contributors share stories of “mystery jobs” from their past. Even the most experienced pro can be stumped occasionally, and not all pest problems have easy-to-identify solutions. Likewise, some pest problems turn out to not be pest problems at all.

PMP Contributor Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian, BCE, shared an interesting story about mysterious dark flecks and grit spread evenly across the top of a washer and dryer set in one customer’s basement.

“Under a lens, you could see [the grit and flecks] contained no insect parts, and didn’t appear to be the frass of any pest I recognized,” recalls Sheperdigian, vice president of technical services for Troy, Mich.-based Rose Pest Solutions. His first few guesses were likely the same any seasoned PMP would make: termites or ants.

“There was no ant activity and no evidence of termites,” Sheperdigian says. “But the grit and flecks kept recurring.”

Phantom pests? Invisible pests? Not exactly. Perhaps the best way to describe the solution to the mystery is “echoes of pests past,” which sounds far more paranormal and spooky than it actually was. Sheperdigian was lucky enough to be on the scene when important evidence came to light.

“During one of our visits, we actually watched the grit come drifting down onto the washer and dryer,” Sheperdigian says. It was the eureka! moment he’d been hoping for, and his CSI investigation came to a successful conclusion. Yes, termites were to blame — but termites long gone.

“As it turned out, there had been termites, years ago,” Sheperdigian says. While they’d been vanquished successfully, their telltale damage lingered above. “The grit and flecks were from old wood damage drying out and sifting down from between two joists. It was being dislodged by footsteps on the floor above.”

Case closed!

For more mystery pest stories from more industry professionals, check out page 14 of our June 2015 issue. And if you have any good mysteries of your own to share, we’d love to hear them. Email me at



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