Entomology Airmen have a wide mission, from responding to nuisance calls to preventing bird strikes. These Airmen are also responsible for keeping the food we eat safe.
“We assist public health with pest management to ensure food safety and prevent the spread of diseases that can affect the food supply,” said Tech. Sgt. John Hackler, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron entomology craftsman. “We make sure there are no significant arthropods or insects that could endanger the food supply.”
Entomology’s preventive maintenance program includes a weekly checklist of food facilities on base, such as Burger King, the food court, Subway and Club Five Six. Places are routinely inspected and monitored for pest prevention.
“We set surveillance traps and glue pads that attract a variety of pests, from cockroaches and rodents to flies,” Hackler said. “We test for a wide variety of things and based on the results, we can initiate a pest management program to eradicate any problems.”
Eradication methods include baiting, chemical applications and applying pesticides around buildings. Most problems can be prevented by controlling food and water sources with good sanitation practices.
Besides monitoring the food supply on base, entomology responds to a variety of nuisance calls.
“The majority of the calls we get include house flies, spiders and cockroaches,” Hackler said. “As soon as we get calls about cockroaches, we put out chemicals and bait to prevent them from gaining ground and breeding.”
Pests like ants attack immediate food sources, such as a dropped cookie on the floor or some crumbs on the ground, and return to their nest. Tips for preventing ants include patching holes in the wall, cleaning up after eating and having a central location for eating food at work.
“The big thing is sanitation,” Hackler said. “Ideally, eating should be centralized to one location and any trash consisting of organic material should be centralized as well. Eating at your desk scatters the food sources everywhere and cause outbreaks in different parts of the building.”
Entomology also helps out with the Bird Abatement Strike Hazard program.
“We control the weed population surrounding the flightline because it is a water source and a major attractor of wildlife when vegetation grows,” Hackler said. “You could have a 12-pound bird, like a hawk or a duck nesting out there, and if they get caught in an engine, it could be a threat to the safety of the pilot and cause great damage to the aircraft.”
Additionally, entomology Airmen prevent birds from nesting by setting traps to capture their food supply — desert ground squirrels.
They also apply herbicide to the fence line surrounding Luke to control the vegetative food source as well as assisting security forces by providing a clear view around the base perimeter. They also weed roots to eliminate hazards on runways and taxiways.
“I enjoy working with animals and dealing with the creepy-crawlers,” said Senior Airman Stephen Beeson, 56th CES pest management journeyman. “Most people don’t like to deal with it, but if we didn’t there would be a lot more animal-related incidents.”