Q and A with Bert The Bug Man
MEET BERT SNYDER
PALMETTO EXTERMINATOR’S GRADUATE ENTOMOLOGIST AND RESIDENT “BUG EXPERT”
Bert Snyder, Vice-President of Palmetto Exterminators, was fascinated by all things bugs from a very young age. Bert’s father, Bud Snyder, spent over 50 years in the termite and pest control industry and instilled in Bert a love of the science of insects. Bert graduated from Clemson University in 1990 with a degree in Entomology, which is “the study of bugs.” He has been working at Palmetto Exterminators since graduating from Clemson. We sat down with Bert in an informal interview so that Palmetto’s customers and prospective customers can learn a little more about Bert and his experiences with bugs. This will be the first in a series of blogs that will educate the consumer about insects and what to look for when choosing a termite and pest control company.
What is your first memory of bugs?
I believe it was on a camping trip and my dad collecting and showing me different types of bugs at our campground.
When did you decide you wanted to be an entomologist when you grew up?
It was always in the back of my mind but I did not make the final decision until my Junior Year at Clemson at which time I changed my major from Electrical Engineering to Entomology.
What is your favorite memory of studying entomology at Clemson?
The students and staff in the Entomology Department -the people working, doing research, and teaching in this field love nature and are truly passionate about what they do and enjoying teaching others.
Is working in the termite and pest control industry what you thought it would be?
No, working in the termite and pest control industry is not all about spraying chemicals and killing bugs. This industry involves educating people whether we are educating employees or customers about the pest world and how the life cycle of pests and humans are connected. The insect world is something most people know very little about and they do not understand how technical this industry really is.
Why is it an advantage for a termite and pest control company to have an entomologist working for the company?
Having an entomologist on staff gives a company the ability to be confident with knowledge and gives the company’s employees a base understanding of insects that you can build on with everyday experiences. There are a lot of people in the pest control industry who are not very well trained or educated. A company that has a person on staff with a degree in Entomology sets the company apart from the rest of the industry.
What is the most common “bug complaint” that you hear from customers?
It is not about any one particular bug. Being in the south it is more “Wow, there are a lot of bugs here.”
How has the termite and pest control industry changed in the last twenty years?
The actual services we perform for our customers have not really changed in the last twenty years. However, we are seeing big changes in the technology available for us to use, which enables us to inspect, communicate, educate, and document our findings better and of course, kill bugs more effectively! Customers should always be wary because some people use technology to misinform the consumer.
What is the craziest insect infestation you have seen in your years in the industry?
At a newly constructed elementary school we were called in to treat for black widow spiders. As we treated hundreds of black widow spiders were flushed out of the cracks and crevices. It looked like something out of a horror movie. I was very surprised that children had not been stung more at the school prior to our treatment.
What is the biggest misconception the consumer has about the termite and pest control industry?
That all companies are the same. Unfortunately it is relatively easy for an individual to pass the licensing tests and start their own business with very little experience. Companies are just not the same – most companies do not have an Entomologist on staff; most companies have not been around for more than 50 years. Consumers need to do their research and ask the hard questions. Read the contracts – compare the coverage. Keep in mind that about 90% of existing pest control companies are very small and operate out of an individual’s home with no real office, staff or knowledge.
Bed bugs have made a resurgence recently and are certainly talked about a lot in the media, what do see as the next big bug story?
There is a ground swell developing in our industry with the ever expanding and growing Formosan Subterranean Termite populations in the U. S. More and more consumers are saying, “If I had only known” after experiencing an extensive Formosan infestation with serious and expensive damage.
Stay tuned for more conversations with Palmetto Exterminators’ own “Bert The Bug Man.”