His friends jokingly call him “Terminator” or “Bugsy.” It’s a nickname that exterminator Eric Homan good-naturedly accepts. As an expert with Waltham Pest Control, Homan is part of a team of state-certified technicians who are a nuisance critter’s worst enemy. Homan, 27, who specializes in larger animals like bats, squirrels, raccoons and rodents, also is frequently assigned to eradicate insects: ants, wasps, roaches and bed bugs.
“A lot of homeowners mistakenly think I’m a killer of some sort and want to go and just eliminate everything. But I’m a real nature lover to begin with, which is why I find this industry really fascinating. I have a healthy respect for how resourceful pests can be,” said Homan. He spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about successfully fighting the battle against vermin.
“Pests don’t care whether you have $2 in your bank account or $15 million. I do a large percentage of my work in Wellesley, Sudbury and Newton and have some very high profile customers, including a $7 million dollar house where the clients are only there twice a year. The mice pick up on this absence – that’s a lot of square footage where they can freely roam – and they move right in.”
“This time of year is definitely Rodent Central no matter where you live. A lot of animals are looking to hunker down for the winter months and will try to get into houses anyway they can. Squirrels will chew holes; raccoons rip soffits right off the house.”
“This is a highly regulated trade; Massachusetts is probably one of the more difficult states to get a pesticide license. I have an applicator’s license and Problem Animal Control (PAC) certification that allows me to trap large animals and euthanize if necessary. I kind of fell into this career; I was aimlessly taking courses for a liberal arts degree and working in a dead-end retail job. Then I saw an ad for pest control, and since I grew up on a pond, fishing and playing in the woods, I thought it sounded right up my alley. That was seven years ago, and I’ve seen all sorts of bug and varmint scenarios. I have my share of pest horror stories, including a sweet lady in Tewksbury who had bats in her attic. I didn’t even make it up the stairs when I could hear their trademark clicking sound. The bat guano was at least five inches thick and there were bat bugs – kind of like bed bugs, but they breed on bat stool – crawling through the vents. Bats are federally protected species so you can’t trap or kill them; I had to pinpoint their entry points and install a one-way door so they could exit but not re-enter. I sprayed down the area with bleach and cleaned up all the droppings. Of course, most jobs are much more routine and not so intense. People are usually pretty grateful when you can help them get rid of the unwanted visitors from the outside.”