"In that Landing Test, we had a landing count of about 30," he says. Instinctively I began scratching my arm. "Yeah I know it gives you the heebie-jeebies. … I guess part of it is psychological."
Did he know what he was getting himself into when he applied for the job?
"Yes, I thought it was a job I could get since I had pest control experience. And besides somebody has to do it, we've gotta make sure that we're providing this kind of service to the public," he said.
Espaniel recognized that landing tests are not an exact science. I pointed out that since he's alone, he doesn't know how many land on his back. "This is a rough estimate … but it gives you a pretty clear indication of how bad it is out here."
There's an alternative: light traps, which rarely give as good an indication of an infestation.
And there's a certain satisfaction in destroying mosquito colonies. "Nobody likes mosquitoes. You see your cockroach and ants at home. But mosquitoes actually enter your space, and cause pain and discomfort and keep you from going outdoors … so there's satisfaction in knowing that by spraying you're helping people get outdoors more."
And here's the answer to the age old question:
Why is it that I sprayed all over, but still the relentless, remorseless pests kept coming?
"Because they find the areas you haven't spayed. They'll find those spots," he said. "I saw a couple on your shirt just now, and then you stained your shirt wiping them off."
Indeed I did.
Heavy rains this spring and summer created countless breeding grounds that spawned mosquito infestations all the way up the eastern seaboard. It means it's been an especially itchy summer for mosquito inspectors -- calamine anyone?