Pest control on the air-waves – broadcast on Radio 4 on 31 December 2013

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Billed as the Fourth Emergency Service – pest control was the subject of this half-hour radio programme.

As part of the Shared Experience programme series transmitted on Tuesday 31 December 2013 on Radio 4, Fi Glover set-out to explore what makes those who undertake practical pest control tick.

As is often the way with such programmes, she deliberately encouraged her guests to relate the most extreme stories they could produce. With a warning broadcast before the start of the programme about ‘graphic descriptions of dead bodies’ one wondered what was going to come next.

The programme can be listened to on the BBC iPlayer – click here

For those not wanting to sit through the full 28 minutes, first-up was David Cain of London-based Bed Bugs Ltd who admitted on national radio that he has ‘a passion for bed bugs’! He relayed the story of the conditions found within one old gentleman’s flat which he was called-in to treat. He estimated that they were over 150,000 bed bugs in the bedroom alone. As he was a hoarder on an industrial scale, they needed to remove over 350 bin bags full of materials.

The reference to dead bodies came from Killgerm’s technical director, Professor Moray Anderson, who relayed his experiences of being requested to assess the maggots in dead bodies to help establish a time of death – in other words forensic entomology.

The other contributors, Ian Thomas from Bristol Pest Control, added their tales of rat infestations and waste high piles of pigeon droppings in a Kidderminster church came from Midlands-based Graham Rees from NBC. The problem of gulls in urban environments was discussed by Peter Rock, the gull expert from Bristol University.

Interviewer, Fi Glover, admitted that simply talking about insects made her scratch and itch. She was also keen to know where all the female pest controllers were. David Cain caused more than a little surprise when he advised the group he had a female pest controller who, as part of her job, was available to sleep in a client’s bed to, in effect,act as a human lure to test for the presence of bed bugs.

Moray Anderson added a sense of realism pointing out that whilst society was very intolerant of pests, they were equally, if not more so, intolerant of the use of insecticides. Something of a dichotomy. He said that a whole raft of myths had grown-up around pests, which the public at large was only too keen to accept.

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