A few weeks ago, my son Trey and I were sitting outside enjoying one last bonfire and having a friendly debate, ranking the Star Wars movies. As we were each trying to prove our points, yellowjackets starting attacking our beverages.
Trey hates spiders and insects. He hates bugs more than Trekkies despise Star Wars fanboys. He hates them more than a Sturgis biker dislikes wearing a face mask. He loathes pests the way critics hate Adam Sandler movies. He dislikes them so much that I had to find him an office job to keep him inside.
As we were swatting the pesky jerks out of our drinks, Trey asked me, “Dad, what’s your least favorite pest to treat?” I scrunched up my eyebrow, grabbed a pen and started to write a list.
Full disclosure: My family is a bunch of nerds. I’m not kidding: We once listed our Top 20 movies of all time, with 20 honorable mentions. Who does that? So, in honor of the Schopen family tradition of ranking things, I’m going to list my least-favorite to most-fun pests to service. And, at the end, I’ll rank my Star Wars movies, too.
10. Brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys). They invaded our market about 10 years ago, and they are a nightmare. We can kill them, but they are relentless. Seal up a window; they’ll come down the fireplace. Close the flue; they’ll get into the attic. Repair a screen; they’ll come through a weep hole. We make a lot of money on these stink bugs, but we also spend countless hours on the phone talking to our clients because they saw one on the living room ceiling six months ago.
9. Rats (Rattus spp.). I know it’s a badge of honor for a lot of pest pros to kill rats, but they also can be frustrating. A rat that won’t go near your snap traps or bait will cause you to have many sleepless nights. You may recall how I got stuck in a crawlspace once with Norway rats (R. norvegicus) — after I broke my flashlight. So, I have more than one reason to hate rats.
8. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis). Fleas aren’t that hard to control or get rid of, but the clients can make it a disaster. They don’t clean their homes; they don’t treat their pets; they don’t vacuum; they don’t want to pay for the service, etc.
7. Camelback crickets (Rhaphidophoridae). Also known as cave crickets, they jump on you in dark places. They jump on you. They jump on you. They jump on you. They jump on y …
6. Spiders (Araneae). Our coverage area encompasses hundreds of bodies of water and several rivers. Spiders are everywhere. We love to coach our clients on proper landscaping to reduce webbing on the home.
5. Carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.). Carpenter bees can be difficult, and they can cause extensive damage to clients’ homes, especially log cabins. I love swatting them out of the air with a tennis racket!
4. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius). Yes, they’re gross. Also, there is a risk of taking them home, and the treatment process can be overwhelming for clients. But on the flip side, the videos you show your pest control friends are awesome; the money is fantastic; and it’s rewarding to help a desperate family.
3. Eastern yellowjackets (Vespula maculifrons). Today’s products have made yellowjacket work almost boring. But the money is super, and the five-star reviews usually pour in from grateful customers after yellowjacket jobs are completed.
2. House mice (Mus musculus). When you solve a mouse problem for a client, especially when you find the main entry point, it is incredibly satisfying. Mouse jobs also pay the best of all our work
1. Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.). Kaaaachiinngg! There is a Motown song by the O’Jays called “For the Love of Money.” You know the lyrics: “Money, money, money … money!” I love carpenter ants. They are our No. 1 income producer. It’s really cool when you find a pocket of them in a wall.
Now, My Star Wars Rankings
Pete Schopen’s official Star Wars rankings, from best to worst:
1. Episode IV – A New Hope. The original is still the best for me. So memorable.
2. Episode VII – The Force Awakens. So many new and great characters, such as Kylo Ren.
3. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. There wouldn’t be a Star Wars franchise if George Lucas had laid an egg after A New Hope. But he didn’t. Great movie.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The standalone prequel to A New Hope is fantastic. I love it.
5. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Lucas finished the original trilogy with a great ending. Who doesn’t love seeing Princess Leia in a futuristic bikini?
6. Solo: A Star Wars Story. Another standalone movie that does a great job setting up A New Hope.
7. Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Lots of people hate this movie, but I like it. I love the pod races.
8. Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. Lots of great action, but the ending? Bleh.
9. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. The battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin is epic. Not much else.
10. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. I love the tension between Rey and Kylo Ren. The movie was just OK.
11. Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Ewan McGregor is great. But I found the love story between the older Padmé and younger Anakin to be creepy.