- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

Brian Scott hears a lot of titles when he knocks on doors. "Most often, the kids will say, 'Hey mom, the bug man is here,' or I'm just called 'the man.'"

Not as prestigious as his real title of service technician, but Mr. Scott said it's how customers of the Falls Church office of Dodson Brothers Exterminating Co. Inc. see him.

"I'm the guy who takes care of people's problems with bugs, rodents and common peststhat's all that matters," he said, after pulling up to his first stop at a single-family home in Arlington.

Mr. Scott said he is trying to familiarize himself with his customers and adjust to his new job with Dodson, which he started two weeks ago.

"It takes time to get to know your customers, know what they need and build a trusting relationship," said Mr. Scott, who used to be a service technician for Connor's Pest Control in Springfield, and before that with Entech Pest Elimination Co. in Upper Marlboro.

At the door, Tracy Donlay held her 2-year-old son, William, and immediately asked how much spraying Mr. Scott planned to do in her home.

"I just want to limit the amount of residual spray inside," Mrs. Donlay said, concerned about her children's health and safety.

But Mr. Scott, 31, and a 10-year veteran of the pest control industry, said he prefers to limit inside spraying and concentrate on targeting the entryways that insects and vermin use.

"The idea of spraying all of a house or fogging or bombing is all in the past," said the Wheaton resident. "Nowadays, a technician can solve the problem by spraying target areas and setting traps at the entry points for the bugs."

Mr. Scott first checked the attic, kitchen, bathrooms, basement and garage, the most likely spot for insects. "The first part of any call is checking the building and seeing what treatment is needed to take care of the problem," Mr. Scott said, and that generally takes 15 to 20 minutes. "I love the challenge of having to find infested areas."

Once he made a diagnosis, Mr. Scott brought in from his truck a granule mix made up of orthoboric acid to kill the ant nests and a residual spray, cyfluthrin and petroleum distillates diluted in water, to kill other general pests, such as silver fish, crickets and spiders.

"Most of the formal training I received while working at my job with Entech was learning what you're using, how to use it and that you always read the label," he said.

Wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles, Mr. Scott sprinkles some granule ant killer in the attic, sets down sticky pads to trap the crickets in the basement and sprays the residual mixture inside and outside the house.

"Some people say it's cruel to use the sticky pad," Mr. Scott said. "But they're the same ones who want the bugs gone, and the only way to truly get rid of crickets is to use the trap," he said. The sticky pads also serve as a monitoring device to check the traffic of crickets during the next quarterly service call.

With animals, Mr. Scott uses a baited trap and then relocates the animal. "Most of the time with animals, depending on the type, it's more relocation than extermination," he said.

During another routine check at a house in Falls Church, Mr. Scott does an exterior perimeter spray of the house to prevent bugs from forming nests or creating holes.

"I also leave the owner some suggestions if they're gone about things that are putting their house in danger of infestation," he said, pointing to a wood pile next to the garage. "That is a definite haven for bugs and vermin, and it'll go on my report for the owner."

Like most exterminators, Mr. Scott has his share of horror stories. "At this one inspection about six years ago at a restaurant in Chinatown, I put my hand on one of the stoves to check underneath," Mr. Scott said. "I felt something nibbling my hand and when I look up there's this big rat, at least 8 inches long."

Mr. Scott took care of the rat, hitting it over the head with a nine-iron golf club he used to carry in his company truck while working for Entech. "It was pretty normal then because we'd set a trap and then hit the rat over the head, but now I set a baited trap and usually relocate the rat," Mr. Scott said.

The best part of the job is taking care of the problems on site, he said. "I like knowing that when I leave, hopefully, the problem leaves with me," he said. "A lot of customers are really counting on me to help them feel more comfortable in their office or home, and it feels good to give them that security."

Mr. Scott said he normally works a 12-hour shift, servicing 12 to 15 calls, which range from 40 minutes to an hour each. This week, however, he was doing around 27 service calls per day to make up for the Labor Day holiday.

While there have been unpleasant inspections, such as one at a Clifton restaurant in which he tucked his pants into his socks to keep roaches from crawling inside his pant legs, Mr. Scott said he continues to love his profession as much as when he started helping a high school friend at Entech do service calls.

"This job is definitely for people who love it, who have a knack for it and want to do it," he said. "Otherwise, there is no other reason for even going into a building that has bugs spilling from every direction."

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