Treat Thy Neighbor As Thyself

In my craft, (pest control), I have absolutely no problem performing in front of anyone and quite literally,  I have. From huge business tycoons, famous people, other pest control professionals all the way to the sweet little person who lives alone and isolated deep in the National forest. It’s actually pretty easy, everybody gets treated the same. It’s part of the Golden Rule. You know that one where we all at least acknowledge as something to shoot for in life. “Do unto others as you you have them do unto you.”

There is one caveat however to this rule and perhaps I’m not alone. That is my neighbors. No other person challenges the Golden Rule more for me than those who live closest. There is really no other group that demands more for less, is less forgiving or who invades upon my sanctuary (my home), with little to no regard of my time, my peace or my schedule.

I wonder If I Am Alone.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I’ve been doing pest control for 30 years- I’ve had great neighbors for far longer. I in no wise wish to cast serious aspersions or act like this little dilemma of mine is the end of the world or even ruins much more than a few minutes of any given day. I have much greater prizes to catch in life than waste too much time on trivial things. However, being that I write about all things pest control and seeing how this is a reoccurring theme no matter where I live…here are my observations and thoughts.

First; There are so many great things about my neighbors I’ve had / and have over the years. Everything from dog sitting to house watching and being there in a pinch. In 06 our area was hit with 4 or 5 pretty serious swipes of hurricanes. One was so bad we went without power for 2 straight weeks. (29 days in all that season-ugh)  On my little street we banded together and made the best of everything we could. While I was away at work one neighbor tore down 180 feet of my damage fence and put up new. My other neighbor- who we didn’t get along with at all–long story– was over in the middle of the night making sure we were ok after her huge tree fell on our property. Later, without power and her water supply to zero we both buried the hatchets (for the time being) and I ran a hose over the fence with my generator powered well water. It was truly the Golden Rule and the greatest commandment in action.

Something Changes When It Comes To My Service

No matter where I’ve lived my neighbors have always known what I do. Hard to not notice a bug truck in the drive day after day.  And, as is so often the case, the need for pest control comes up in their lives so you’d think I’d have at least one route day filled with those who are closest right? Nope, not even close.

Without an exception EVERY neighbor I’ve had has approached me about my service.

In all my years as a pest control operator I have never had much more than a one shot opportunity with any of them. They see me pull away everyday, they see me come home. They are often curious and ask so many questions about my business and how and why am I so busy. That’s when I tell them of my route, you know–the reoccurring business that I’m building?

Without exception, we give the same opportunity to them as we do any other potential client. Once given,  they just look at me with a blank stare. It’s as if all the conversations about “how many customers I have & wow you must be so busy cause you just got a new truck and who’s the new guy etc.” just go out the window. That may be fine for those across town but for them? Nah– I gotta bend all the rules.

A Neighbors Business Costs A Lot & The List Is Long

Now I have gotten some work over the years but as I said, nothing consistent. In fact most of what I’ve been allowed to do has been emergency work at discount prices.

bee help at the neighbors yard for fire ants when one neighbor was having a party that weekend. $25

Large bees nest that was attacking tree trimmer and neighbor. Free. Bees and wasps could make the list 20 or more times. This pic shows my neighbors emergency and the empty bucket where the tree trimmer jumped for his life trying to escape angry bees. “Jerry to the rescue” #freeagain

$200 full drill basement termite job. I had to drill and relinquish commission. In my own company I’ve done soil treats where they just buy the chemical. (termidor) One neighbor thought I was ripping him off because of course he went on ebay and found that the bid prices were about $100 bucks less.

Fleas, fleas fleas. Every neighbor has had these many times over the years and I’ve been the one they were screaming at after a 12 hour day that they couldn’t wait!!! From free to just $25–

Roaches-lots of roaches- At the most $25 & maybe a beer, but usually free and even pissy attitudes when my ‘one time’ didn’t work. (which was always explained)

Rats, pantry pests, birds, bats etc… this list is way too long for just one article.


I could go on and on but truthfully what I find most disturbing about my neighbors and pest control service is that they get it from other companies and they do so with no problem or thoughts toward me. Nothing ‘hurts’ worse than seeing another pest companies truck in their drive and watching them drive off with a check. WTH?? How is it that they call someone else and actually pay full price for something knowing I’m right there? Incredible!!!! Especially when this is after all the many times I’ve been there for them at all hours of the day doing the same if not more for them. I’ll admit this used to bother me a lot more than it does now. I would stew about it quite a bit but after all this time, perhaps I’m more thankful now that they do choose someone else other than me. But–that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun and torture them just a little…

It’s almost comical when I approach them and ask about the service they got. As if they thought I couldn’t see. “Had swarmers in the front living room?” I asked one such neighbor. Shocked that I could tell what drill marks were he fessed up and told me he called a national company. Just last week my Dr. neighbor had in ground yellow jackets so bad he couldn’t get into his car. At least he did get a price but apparently $250 for instant 8pm service wasn’t good enough…he waited 2 days and got 6am for over 3 bills. Haven’t seen him since, huh? Even have one who uses a local company. Met the tech once at a convenient store one day. He said to me, “I like your house.”- I questioned him on how he knew where my home was being it’s on a dead end private street. He laughed and told me my neighbor requests service after 9 am only because she knows I’m never home that late and she doesn’t want us to know.  I guess I don’t mind but this same neighbor had me doing emergency work at their business not long ago. Gnats, which was something their home tech knew nothing about and she was amazed I solved the problem in one visit. 😉  Well, this list goes on as well and I’m always amused at the dynamics behind it if and when I finally find out….and I do find out. Still, I wonder.

Still Wondering

Do my neighbors look at me as over priced, not competent, greedy, too close, what? The times I’ve done work have always been successes. I have guarantees, I have techs if they thought they’d be embarrassed, I even have a real life billing dept. and people who depend on the work I provide. I’ve been there at 7am- spur of the moment during my private time-countless hours on the phone-walked away without charging-given them traps or products etc. etc. —  still, after all this time I haven’t quite got the neighbor thing figured out.

Well, all in all I have great neighbors and if my cat is in a tree I’m sure they’ll go to any length to help me out. But, a bug in their home, termites swarming? Who knows. I guess the best I can do is smile and be thankful, oh and maybe keep this motto in mind just for good measure.

To Know ones self is wisdom but to know ones neighbors is genius

Minna Antrim

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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  • GT

    my father ran a landscape company. So naturally, growing up I worked with him through my middle school/high school years. One of those things that made me go “Oh dad” and roll my eyes was his policy on friends & neighbors.

    He just flat out refused to do them – unless it was on the “buy me a beer” barter system.

    It seemed like a wasted opportunity to me and we weren’t in the position to turn away any business. dad did the skilled labor, I dug holes, mom ran the books. We were as small business as it gets. But as I grew and transitioned into pest control, I’ve decided to adopt my dads philosophy. Dealing with neighbors and friends is just a recipe for disaster, every time I’ve “sold” someone I know personally its ended up awkward at best, and relationship ruining at worst. Once money gets involved (and contracts) the dynamic between the guy you BBQ & drink beers with changes and I’m not sure why it has to be that way – but it does.