Keeping the mission pest free
By Staff Sgt. Shaun Emery, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 14, 2009
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- No insect is too big, no animal too large to escape the grasp of the 386th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management Office here.
From dogs and cats to spiders, snakes and scorpions, their job is to remove or re-locate wildlife before it negatively impacts the mission.
Four types of scorpions share a home with members of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. The most dangerous, appropriately named the Death Stalker, injects neurotoxins into its enemies. Snakes are no stranger to the desert either. While not all are venomous, the False Cobra can be harmful to people.
With access to anti-venom more than an hour away, steering clear of these pests and contacting the pest management office is important, said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Chalstrom, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pest manager, deployed from the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln, Neb.
Fortunately, for members of the 386th, insect problems decline during the summer months.
"They don't want to be out in the heat either," said Sergeant Chalstrom, "Most of the insects tend to come out at night, so that's when people need to be aware."
According to Sergeant Chalstrom, people also need to be aware of the cleanliness of work and living areas. Just like in the U.S., ants and mice converge on areas with available food sources.
"People need to pick up after themselves and properly dispose of trash and food," said Sergeant Chalstrom. "That can really help control the pest population."
Often when a person hears pest management, their thoughts drift to exterminators hunting down insects with tanks of poisonous chemicals on their backs. While that may be a small part of their job here, Tech. Sgt. Roy Takamoto, 386th ECES pest manager deployed from the 154th Fighter Wing, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, said that is not the primary goal.
"We don't like to kill anything unless it is absolutely necessary," he said. "Everyone thinks that's our job, but the object is to relocate animals back to their habitats, away from our areas."
That is especially true in the case of wild dogs and cats that roam around the base. Working with veterinarians on base and the local humanitarian society, pest managers strive to find homes for the animals through adoption.
"Unfortunately not every animal we find is fit to be adopted," said Sergeant Chalstrom "But we work together with our partners to find adoptable candidates a home."
Everyday pest managers here continue the battle to the 386th AEW mission rolling pest free.