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Pest Management: Suppressing pesky problems

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, sprays pesticides for Carpenter Ants May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base.  Carpenter Ants prefer wood that’s damp, such as that around windows or doors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, sprays pesticides for Carpenter Ants May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. Carpenter Ants prefer wood that’s damp, such as that around windows or doors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, checks live-capture traps in the ceiling May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. If the bait in a live-capture trap is gone and the trap isn’t triggered, this typically means the pest is too small and a different type of trap is needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, checks live-capture traps in the ceiling May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. If the bait in a live-capture trap is gone and the trap isn’t triggered, this typically means the pest is too small and a different type of trap is needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron pest management technician, brings live-capture traps to the edge of the Little Rock Air Force Base lake May 3, 2017. Animals tend to hide by walking along the edges of the lake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron pest management technician, brings live-capture traps to the edge of the Little Rock Air Force Base lake May 3, 2017. Animals tend to hide by walking along the edges of the lake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, grabs live-capture traps to use on a work call May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. The plastic live-capture cages are closed off so captured skunks can’t spray individuals from inside the cage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron Pest Management technician, grabs live-capture traps to use on a work call May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. The plastic live-capture cages are closed off so captured skunks can’t spray individuals from inside the cage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron pest management technician, camouflages a live capture trap with leaves May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. Most of these live-capture traps are baited with marshmallows as the smell attracts animals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th Civil Engineering Squadron pest management technician, camouflages a live capture trap with leaves May 3, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base. Most of these live-capture traps are baited with marshmallows as the smell attracts animals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Pest Management Airmen from the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron tackle some of Team Little Rock’s most persistent problem residents: vermin and insects.

Pest Management is in charge of controlling the population of pest species on base. The Pest Management team is responsible for spraying pesticides to keep plants and bugs from threatening structural integrity and capturing larger animals, such as raccoons, skunks and opossums from areas on base and releasing them into an area where they will be safe and not present a threat to the base populace.

“We’re responsible for most plant or animal related problems on base,” said Airman 1st Class Alexander Smith, 19th CES Pest Management technician.

A typical day for the critter catchers begins with a dead animal patrol. This consists of roaming the roads for any animals that met an untimely end the day prior and disposing of them in an appropriate location. Once the base is rid of decaying carcasses, their team checks their work orders, gathers the equipment they’ll need and tackles the rest of their day.

The morning preparation also includes safety inspections for the chemicals they use. Pest Management works with 19th CES Environmental Control, by checking in with them regularly to make sure that their chemicals are not overly harmful or have a high chance of impacting the surrounding area.

In addition to this, Pest Management regularly checks the weather. If the weather forecasts predict rain within the next couple days, Pest Management will avoid spraying to keep the chemicals from being washed away and affecting the environment.

Rainy days give the Pest Management Airmen time to take care of other duties, such as setting traps and spraying inside buildings to rid them of pests.

“The most common pests we encounter are ants, cockroaches and wasps, but some of the hardest animals to deal with are armadillos,” Smith said. “Their habit of burrowing underneath buildings and walkways can be very damaging and also make them very hard to capture.”

Capturing, instead of killing, is a priority for Pest Management. As such, they work with Environmental Control to assist them with information on which animals are endangered and should be transported to a more suitable location for their own good. They also capture raccoons, skunks, opossums and armadillos and release them to Holland Bottoms State Wildlife Management, per a pre-coordinated agreement with the site. “That’s something other bases don’t have,” Smith said.

However, the main “trouble makers” are intrusive weeds. They are nearly impossible to fully control and require vigilance and continuous treatments to keep them in check. While this is being done, the Pest Management team also ensures the Air Force remains good stewards of Little Rock AFB and its surrounding environment.

Though a job most would scurry from, Pest Management is vital to the cohesive and safe dwelling that both humans and animals share at Little Rock Air Force Base.

To contact Pest Management with concerns or questions, call (501) 987-6581.