JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
Working diligently in a quiet corner of the base, Airmen with the 87th Civil Engineer Group Pest Control play a key-role in protecting assets across the installation.
Pest control specialists are responsible for trapping and relocating pests, preventing insect infestations and culling weed growth.
A typical day starts with checking traps around the base for damage causing pests - like raccoons and feral cats. If an animal is captured, it is typically relocated.
“We try to have as little impact as possible on the ecosystem, but some of these animals can cause a lot of damage to things like electrical wiring,” said Justin Jones, 87th CEG pest control specialist. “This is their home, we’re just sharing it with them. Its important to remember that.”
Occasionally, pest control Airmen are called to deal with insects like ants, wasps and bees. Suited up like an apiarist, they’re more than capable of dealing with bugs.
“Dealing with beehives and wasps is actually a pretty fun part of the job,” said Airman 1st Class Stephanie Curl, 87th CEG pest control specialist. “You have to have faith in the protective equipment and take necessary precautions. Bees are protected in New Jersey, so we relocate them. If you see a swarm of bees away from their hive, it means they are moving and they should be gone shortly.”
More than an eyesore, invasive weeds can damage infrastructure around the base. That’s where the pest control specialists come in. After mixing a heavy-duty weed killer, they take an all-terrain-vehicle and tackle the monumental challenge of staying on top of the endless growth.
“We share weed-killing responsibility with contractors who really only handle the roads,” said Jones. “It is an endless game of catch-up, especially in the spring and summer time - which is when the animals are most active, too. That’s definitely when we’re most busy.”
Pest control is among the smallest careers in the U.S. Air Force, but its member’s impact on protecting infrastructure and keeping service members safe from dangerous insects and animals cannot be understated.