Delusional parasitosis or am I just paranoid?

Spend any time in the pest control industry and your bound to run into people who have their imaginations get the best of them about insects. This ranges quite a bit and since I’m not a psychologists I’m not really qualified to tell you if the person who sees two earwigs on the kitchen floor & thinks they’re being over run is nuts or that the guy who has about 1000 german roaches perusing his counter tops each night and say’s “they aren’t that bad” is ready for a sit down with Dr Phil either. No, I won’t venture to what I think of a persons psyche and I’ll tell you why.

While I literally HATE the old adage “The customer is always right” I can’t fight the truth in the words. That doesn’t mean they are correct all the time, it is more of a statement of their position of power in the service / customer relationship. Start arguing with a client and let them know in no uncertain terms just how wrong they are and see how long your ‘said’ relationship lasts– Thus the truth in the words. Of course good customer relations is finding ways to express yourself and get what you need and keeping the customers ego in mind as well.

But what can you do with the truly irrational? The ones so far up the spectrum that no amount of help you give is ever enough. I’ve run into many cases like this over the years and I can’t tell you how many wasted hours I’ve spent on the phone, at the home inspecting or time looking for answers that even if I did find them I knew would do no good.

Here’s a link to a story where a woman is convinced she had ‘Black flies’ eating her flesh and with just this short read you can see just how many top level people she got involved in her case. I can tell you that she must have been one ‘squeaky wheel’ cause she got a lot of grease and the people she was able to wrangle up aren’t known to get involved in a whole lot of situations like this.

Al Hoffers Termite, Lawn & Pest control was the company called out to get rid of this dreaded pest and free the woman from her flesh eating woes. I don’t know Al personally but I do read his blog and it’s easy to see he knows a thing or two about this industry. If you’d like to see exactly what Al did which is so important in a case like this click the link and see the very short story. It even has a video and you get to see the woman in question. Although it doesn’t mention very much of what the pest control operator did for her there is something KEY that he did not do and it is from a pro like this we should all take a lesson. I’d love to hear what you think of Al’s decision and if it was the best one to make or if you think he should have gone another route. Let us know what you’d do or have done in situations like this, just comment below. I’ll update this article soon with my thoughts and hopefully we’ll all learn a little something about Delusional parasitosis and the best way to handle it. Believe it or not, there are cases lurking around us all the time and it’s best to know ahead of time how to handle it correctly.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Vonda

    I believe he handled it well. Cannot treat for something that cannot be identified. I would let the city and county officials handle the ID of the pest if I could not. As far as telling them to leave, I would have also. At least while their case is being investigated. This is more than a pest issue that needs to be handled very delicately since it is also a health issue that could lead to legal problems. I personally would not want anything to do with it besides following up on the ID issue of the insect.

  • Kudo’s to Vonda,

    While it’s tempting to treat something just to ease someone’s fears you truly are walking on a legal razors edge. Remember – the label is the law and if a pest is NOT listed on this document then the product should not be used. As Vonda said this needs to be handled delicately and just like Al she is correct.

    Thanks so much Vonda
    You’re a credit to the pest control industry!

  • Mel

    Here is a case where nothing was found. How about where an inspection produces a target insect fleas, bedbugs, spiders etc but the customer suffers from delusional chemophobia? Do you spend hours trying to convince them they will survive the treatment of refer them to your worst enemies business? LOL

  • Oh man-THAT’S a GREAT OBSERVATION! I’ve had (as I’m sure you have) tons of those folks as well. I think I could make a pestcemetery tpic of this subject and have 100 articles in no time.

  • Mel

    I’d like to see more articles educating the public that not all chemicals are bad and not all natural things are good and healthy like the media, educators and others claim.

  • I’ve got some relating a little of what you say, mostly in ‘my opinion topic’ I believe. It’s a great subject and sadly one not embraced even on the pest control forums I pop into_ you’d think that might be a spot where you’d hear more support for what built the industry to what it is today.

  • mel

    I know you write regularly regarding this subject and I have read most if not all of the postings but none that gives it a label such as delusional chemophobia. I work with an amry retiree. His duty was chemical warefare. He calculated how much bifenthrin it would take to kill a human his size. I cant remember the amount a quart? I know I was suprised. Yet the internet researching public believes touching a drop will harm them. Despite knowing they will not be harmed you, most others in the undustry take precautions not to treat personal belongings, crack and crevice treatments, avoiding and drift. It took a while for the term parasitosis to be identified and utilized by your everyday dealing with the public tech. I wish there was more being done to combat the problem instead our industry catering to unrational fear. Don’t get me wrong I know how to overcome objections using facts but each year Im having to defend myself more frequently. What used to be a once a month “is it safe”? Has now become a several times a day “is this natural”? Yes it is I only use the best natural subtances arsenic, strychnine, and ricin.

  • Mel, you are very insightful and perhaps I should write more on the subject because I deal with it quite a lot. Most times it is just a comment like-“Don’t you worry about dying with that stuff?” I refer to my table salt analogy a lot but maybe it’s time for a new one. I’m sure you have but maybe for others–I did write this plus some others in ‘safety topic’. I know I talked about how much it would take to kill a dog (probably in flea section) which was 9 ounces I think but I can’t find the article. But I will put some things together cause you’re right-it’s an important aspect of this industry.