Recently I was asked what was the most unusual pest related incident I ever dealt with during my time with Rentokil Ireland. The question brought me back about 20 years as it reminded me of an unusual incident which occurred back then.
I was working in our Limerick office when a lady with black frilly knickers in her hand approached me in the reception area. Instantly I assumed that I was being “set-up” by a friend or some staff member, but lo and behold that was not so. It was extremely difficult to keep a straight face as the lady explained to me her dilemma. During the conversation I noticed a gentleman pacing up and down outside the office door. The lady revealed to me that this was her husband. She assured me that the said pair of knickers was hers and that they were infested with crawling insects which were creating skin irritation to both her and her husband.
From a distance and on closer inspection of the ladies knickers (the ones in her hands) I could firmly establish that the knickers was indeed heavily infested with pubic lice/crabs Pthirus pubis. For those of you that are not aware of these lice they are a parasitic insect species notorious for infesting human genitals (not to be confused with headlice). The species may also live on other areas with hair, such as eyelashes etc. Gorillas and humans are apparently the only human hosts of pubic lice. The lice feed exclusively on blood. Pubic lice are a public health hazard where the carrier/hosts needs to seek medical advice rather than advice from Rentokil – its one of the few common pests we don’t actually treat for.
Eventually the husband seemed to garner up enough courage to shuffle into the reception area and join in on the conversation. To protect the guilty/innocent mans identify I will not reveal who he worked for but he had recently just returned from duties overseas. When I identified the parasites and explained the ways they could be transmitted I then encountered one of the longest silent staring sessions that I have ever experienced as both minds worked on overtime….
In the interest of keeping the peace I advised them that I was not 100% sure of my identification of the insects and would really need to forward same to our entomology department at our European Technical Centre for positive identification. This was accepted by all and we agreed to meet the following Monday in our offices. Surprise, surprise, neither of them turned up for the meeting.