Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

A trail of ants hap­pily me­an­der along the door­frame of Mark McDon­ald’s home.

‘‘They don’t bother me, they don’t get into the kitchen or any­thing so I just leave them all alone,’’ he says. ‘‘If I get spi­ders in­side my home I’ll just put them out­side – I don’t kill things un­nec­es­sar­ily.’’

It’s a sur­pris­ing stance for a man who makes a living as Auck­land’s ‘‘Bug King’’. The Pan­mure pest con­trol direc­tor is re­spon­si­ble for rid­ding homes of ro­dents, cock­roaches, fleas, spi­ders, wasps and flies.

It’s not the most glam­orous of jobs and a far cry from his pre­vi­ous ca­reer in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

‘‘There are a whole lot of pests out there and peo­ple don’t like them for what­ever rea­sons, so some­body’s got to do it and it might as well be me,’’ he says.

Pest con­trol tech­ni­cians must qual­ify for a li­cense to han­dle the prod­ucts they use.

McDon­ald de­cided af­ter 30 years of work­ing for some­body else to set up his own busi­ness five years ago.

He found a gap in the mar­ket for res­i­den­tial pest con­trol and the Bug King was born.

‘‘When I first started there def­i­nitely was that squea­mish fac­tor but now I’ll pick up a fe­male cock­roach and put it on my hand to show some­one the egg sack.

‘‘I’m hold­ing it up and they’re go­ing ‘ get it away from me’.’’

While spi­ders and ro­dents make peo­ple cringe, bed bugs and fleas tend to bug peo­ple the most, he says. ‘‘They re­ally get in peo­ple’s heads, they re­ally, re­ally up­set them be­cause you can’t get away from them.’’

McDon­ald says peo­ple are al­ways re­lieved when he turns up at their door.

‘‘Solv­ing peo­ple’s prob­lems is my favourite part of the job – we sell peace of mind. Peo­ple don’t ring us up be­cause they’ve got bed bugs, they ring us up be­cause they can’t sleep at night and they’re stressed out.’’

All species of cock­roaches tend to get tarred with the same brush but it’s the smaller Ger­man cock­roach that peo­ple need to be wary of, McDon­ald says.

The dis­ease-spread­ing crit­ters usu­ally in­fest peo­ple’s kitchens.

You’ve got a very bad in­fes­ta­tion if they spread through­out the house, he says.

That’s what he found af­ter get­ting a call to at­tend a va­cated rental prop­erty.

‘‘I opened the front door and it rained cock­roaches from the top ledge of the front door; they were vis­i­ble on the walls; ev­ery time you opened a door you could see them run­ning ev­ery­where.

‘‘We fu­mi­gated the house and when we re­turned the next day I lit­er­ally couldn’t see the car­pet be­cause there were so many dead cock­roaches.’’

McDon­ald ex­pects to get a bumper load of calls about rats this win­ter as pop­u­la­tions grow due to last year’s mild win­ter and a good sum­mer.

Ro­dents are al­ways the main prob­lem in win­ter but dur­ing sum­mer it’s flies and wasps.

Fleas and bed bugs bother peo­ple year-round.

‘‘Bed­bugs are be­com­ing more of an is­sue in New Zealand and that’s be­cause of in­ter­na­tional travel,’’ he says.

‘‘They’ve got noth­ing to do with hy­giene – to get a bed­bug you have to stay overnight some­where that’s got them or buy sec­ond­hand fur­ni­ture with bed­bugs in it.’’

McDon­ald ad­vises peo­ple to make sure they don’t leave any food ly­ing around, clean up any spills and have well-sealed bins to help keep pests at bay.

‘‘Pests are ex­actly like us – they need some­thing to drink, eat and some­where to live, so if you take any of those things out of play you’ve solved your pest prob­lem.’’

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