NEWS | July 21, 2017

Pest management experts stress prevention, control, education

By Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Since the rise of civilization, pests have created safety and health challenges, often requiring a specialized team of experts to stop them.

Identifying, treating, and formulating preventative measures to control pests are what the entomology experts from the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Entomology and Pest Management Flight do best.

The unit’s four-man team of three military members and one civilian, say their main priority is safeguarding the military, civilians, families and infrastructure on base from pests that range from bugs to furry creatures. They do this through population control and management to help maintain a natural balance with humans and wildlife.

“There are animals, insects and even plants, that may pose a risk to human health and we are here to ensure people don't get injured or sick,” said Tech. Sgt. Melynda Winter, NCO in charge of Entomology and Pest Management. “Most people are aware of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile and the majority of our spring and summer months are concentrated on suppressing populations with the help of other agencies.”

Pest management works with the off base agency Charleston County Mosquito, in order to help battle the increased mosquito population during the hot and humid months.

“They help by performing the surveillance and larveciding on the drench spoil sites at the Naval Weapons Station,” said Winter.

Another challenge pest management faces is the additional influx of pests within or around base infrastructures caused by feeding wild and stray animals.

“When you feed a wild animal or stray cat, you are teaching them humans are a food source and over time they will lose the natural fear they have of us,” said Winter. “The babies they raise will learn this as well and each generation will cause an unnatural shift in the balance we have with wildlife. This balance keeps us and them safe.”

Winter said most people don't even realize the harm they are causing when they decide to leave food out for wild animals. They might think they are cute, want to be kind or want a closer look. 

However, once pests get too close and become a health and safety threat, Winter says they must be removed.

Pest management also advises base members to never feed an alligator. Alligators that are fed by humans will aggressively approach people looking for food. This could cause serious injury or even death.