After 21 years in the pest control business, Clyde Swann knows a lot about roaches.
In fact, when he steps into a house he can tell from the smell alone whether a client has a problem with the little German roaches or the big American ones that fly.
“They smell differently,” the 52-year-old shrugged.
And apparently the American ones are easier to kill than the German ones.
After spending most of his career with Bermuda Pest Control, he opened his own business, Accurate Pest Control, in June.
Now his wife Anna handles the books and administration, and he does the actual killing of creatures such as roaches, spiders, ants, centipedes, and the odd rat.
If you have one of those difficult populations of ants that only seem to grow in numbers as you kill them, he can handle it.
“I love a challenge,” he said.
At his former job he was the specialist technician.
“I was the one who went out and did all the first-time jobs,” he said. “I experienced all the problems at their worst. I love to fix them.”
He remembers going into one house, where animals had been kept in the basement. There were rats skittering around the house. As he was closing up the windows to begin fogging, he looked up and saw that the ceiling was a sea of roaches.
“Roaches are attracted to heat and actually see in infrared,” he said. “I was the only thing hot in that room. So it wasn’t a very nice situation. That was one of the craziest things.”
So far, a lot of the smaller pest control companies in Bermuda have been very supportive, sending him clients to help him build up his business.
“They send me the clients they can’t get to,” he said.
There are different techniques involved in killing roaches, but he prefers to use bait. That means, most of the time, you don’t have to leave the house while he works, or even move things out of your cabinets.
“You never tent for roaches,” he said. “If you don’t kill them all, you stress the population and they breed faster.”
One of his most unusual tasks in pest control was collecting over 100 roaches for a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda fundraising event in 2014.
“Don Burgess wanted to put roaches all over himself to raise money for the charity,” Mr Swann said. “He was afraid of them. On the day of the event he got into a hotel laundry cart and they put the bugs on him. But the cart didn’t have a top, so the roaches were running all over the stage afterward. People were screaming.”
Mr Swann laughed at the idea of him collecting them again.
“No,” he said, “they’re all still living in Hamilton somewhere.”
Mr Swann said getting the company van through the Transport Control Department was the hardest thing about setting up Accurate Pest Control.
“That was a long process,” he said. “They do it once a month. When you apply for things, if you don’t get all the information to them, when you hand in the paperwork you find out there is something else you needed. Then you have to wait another month. I think it should be different. Having to wait another month can make or break you.”
He had to get a permit for the business to use and store pesticide chemicals, and a licence to operate.
He said when applied correctly the chemicals he uses are often safer than the cleaning products his clients buy on a daily basis.
“As long as you use it properly it is fine,” he said. “I am not going to apply anything in their house that I wouldn’t use in my own. I have been doing it for 21 years and I am fine.”
He draws the line at bees and butterflies.
“Years ago, we used to kill bees,” he said. “Then we found out their importance in the environment and we stopped. Now I don’t think any of the pest control businesses will kill them. If our clients have a problem we will call a beekeeper to deal with them.”
His price range varies depending on what is required and the size of the house. Some people want a one time treatment, while others require quarterly or bimonthly maintenance.
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