NEWS | Sept. 2, 2020

Pest management reducing disease and vectors on JB Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Cory Davis 628th ABW Public Affairs

The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management shop, works with mission partners and multiple units controlling the pest population at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

The pest management shop handles pests such as: palmetto bugs, mosquitos, filth flies, alligators, coyotes, and weeds on the flight line. If left unchecked, the common pests in any area can cause serious effects on a base and its surrounding community.

“You can have sanitation problems and diseases which can go rampant,” said Shanon Sheets, 628th CES pest management shop supervisor. 

Senior Airman Jasmine Bergsieker, a pest management journeyman assigned to the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron, said one of the most important responsibilities of pest management is enabling the mission to continue without fear of infectious diseases or pests.

“For aircraft inspections we have to go on the C-17’s,” said Bergsieker. “If an aircraft were to get a mouse on it then we would go on there and try to get it.”

Pest management works with many different units and mission partners here on Joint Base Charleston by getting rid of pests or exterminating and infestation. 

“We work with the joint base medical group in cases with bedbugs,” said Sheets. “In the mosquito fogging operations, we work conjunction with the National Guard Reserves. We coordinate through public health, public affairs, security forces and the Navy. 

The geographic location of Joint Base Charleston holds a set of unique operations that pest management handles. The Naval Weapons Station is located in an area where alligators can live, a situation Bergsieker has experienced handling in the past.

“Last year to preserve Charlie, the unofficial mascot of Joint Base Charleston, we had to remove some alligators,” said Bergsieker. “In one day we caught five alligators out of the Cooper River. It was unique opportunity getting to catch that many at one time. Not many other bases have alligators.”

Sheets said while the Naval Weapon Station is next to a river, it creates a place for many mosquitos to thrive. Pest management and public health work together to trap the female mosquitoes and send them to a lab to get tested. If there is a positive result then 510th Aerial Spray Squadron, a Youngstown Air Reserve Station out of Vena, Ohio, sprays the areas mosquitos live in to reduce the population and the threat of spreading a particular disease.

“Our mission is to help deter the mosquitoes by putting out larvicide to keep the baby mosquitoes from maturing into full grown adults,” said Sheets. “We're putting down a barrier treatment of chemicals on their landing and resting places. When they go during the day to rest in the shaded areas of vegetation and come into contact with the insecticide it kills them and we keep the population down reducing the spread of diseases.”

Sheets said even though it is a small career field, there are still important tasks being managed while at a home base or on deployment.

“We're a very small career field, probably less than 300 active duty Air Force wide,” said Sheets. “Most bases will have a pest control shop. Normally whenever deployments happen, we get sent in with the first or second wave of engineers. So we can do vector controls on new bases for rodents, insects, flies, scorpions, spiders, snakes and feral animals.”

Whether pests are here at Joint Base Charleston or anywhere else in the world, if there is a base, there are pests, and where there are pests, there is pest management.