Airmen and their family members may come to mind when thinking of Luke Air Force Base residents, but one group that most forget about is pests. However, it’s those nuisances that are the top priority for the Airmen at the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management office. Their mission work is to control the pest population and make sure pests don’t get in the way of Luke’s mission.
Pest Management, also known as entomology, manages the control of such populations on base, according to Staff Sgt. Andrew Carr, 56th CES pest management journeyman. The shop handles a variety of such including cockroaches, ants, bees, mosquitoes, bed bugs, feral cats and dogs, birds, snakes, gophers, and invasive plants like weeds, he said.
At pest management there isn’t a typical work day, because every day brings something different.
“We recently handled an underground bee hive by the flightline,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Hulke 56th CES/PM apprentice. “We spent the day digging trying to get to the hive with the goal of extinguishing the bees with soapy water, which eventually suffocates them.”
It’s not only a nest of bees creating work, the Airmen have also been fighting a gopher population.
“You may not know it, but gophers are a true problem at Luke,” Carr said. “They cause safety hazards to Luke personnel since they dig up holes and unsuspecting people would step in the hole and injure themselves.”
To lower the population, the Airmen survey the area around Luke for signs of gopher holes then set traps in order to humanely kill them.
“Last year alone we killed about 400 gophers,” Carr said. “It’s important to control these rodents, because if we don’t, they can wreak havoc on people’s quality of life and affect the Air Force mission.”
While the four Airmen in pest management do their best to control these populations, it is also important for Luke personnel to be proactive to help the cause.
Carr offered tips to help with control.
“Be vigilant, if you see something that doesn’t seem right give us a call right away,” Carr said. Do not feed stray animals, practice good sanitation at home and work, throw away garbage regularly and practice good personal hygiene to prevent bed bugs.
For more information about ways to prevent infestation, call (623) 856-3961.