What It's Like to Be an Exterminator

Mitch Shipman is proud to be pesty.


   Native Kansas Citian Mitch Shipman, 42, has owned and operated his Blue Beetle Pest Control company for 14 years, building it from scratch to be among the top of its kind in the area. At any given time, you can spot the company’s cheerful 16 blue Volkswagen Beetles, plus six other company vehicles, all around town, arriving at businesses and residences to dispense bug-killing knowledge and expertise. Shipman, a Rockhurst University grad who lives and works in Brookside, likes to put it this way: “We’re basically like Sherlock Holmes, putting clues together to figure out what insect it is, where it’s located and how to get rid of it. Like today, we had an ant issue on the third floor of a commercial building. How are they getting in? Where is this coming from? Is there a nest in the wall? We are professional hunters.”

   ● His joy in killing bugs stems from being a hero of sorts to his customers. “People are very excited to see you,” he says. “They have an issue, and it’s like, ‘Please help me solve my problem.’”

   ● Toughest bugs to get rid of? Bed bugs. “They are professional hiders,” he explains. “That’s how they survive. They don’t fly. They don’t run fast. You really have to do a lot of work to try to find that hiding spot.”

   ● He’s encountered quite a few hoarder homes in 14 years. “Those are the most difficult ones. Sanitation is huge when it comes to pest control. You’re trying to treat and then you have boxes and magazines everywhere, and all those are hiding places for insects like roaches.”

   ● The strangest request he’s received was to exterminate pigeons — and, jokingly, husbands! — but his company doesn’t kill pigeons or snakes or other wild animals, referring those calls to Animal Control. And he doesn’t kill endangered honeybees, referring those folks to a professional beekeeper. But his extermination service does extend to rats and mice. “Typically, people with pets have the most problems when it comes to fleas or mice,” he notes. “They have dog food and the water bowl that’s out. Those are food sources for mice.”

   ● And how about those pesky oak mites? “When it comes to spraying, you have to power spray the entire tree. But if you have a large oak tree, the power sprayer can’t get that high, and you literally have to soak every leaf. So if you have a gigantic tree, it’s extremely difficult to treat. And then, the pesticide doesn’t last that long. The best thing to do is trim the trees as much as possible. If you reduce the tree, you’ll reduce the oak mites.”

   ● People live longer because of pest control, Shipman notes, making insect extermination a noble profession. “When we have cleaner food, more abundance of food because nothing is destroyed by pests, less bacteria being spread, better chemicals, it ties into people living longer. I love giving back to society, helping people live longer, having clean restaurants to eat in, protecting homes from termites.”

   6301 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64113, (913) 333-7378, bluebeetlepest.com.

Categories: People