Pest management rids base of nuisances

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Rats, mice, snakes and insects - the uninvited and unwanted pests harboring in cracks and crevices throughout the year. The truth is these creatures are a part of nature and will find their way into the lives of numerous people across Malmstrom.

To combat the infiltration of these nuisances, the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron pest management four-man team scours the base and the 13,800 square mile missile complex searching for just that: pests.

"We survey and control for pests and disease vectors that could affect human health or damage government property," said Tech. Sgt. Freddie Belton, 341st CES NCO in charge of pest management. "Pests range from various insects and rodents to snakes and weeds around the base and missile complex."

According to Belton, their team uses special equipment to disperse pesticides, which include insecticides and herbicides, while ensuring compliance with local, state and federal laws and directives.

Belton said because the government is trying to cut down on the use of pesticides, spraying the chemicals tends to be a "last resort" through integrated pest management. Also before spraying, the team coordinates with fish and wildlife services and public health to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

The team has numerous ways to rid buildings of unwanted rodents including traps and cages, as well as special vacuums for the removal of certain insects.

However, one of the larger problems here is invasive vegetation.

According to, invasive plants are considered non-native to the ecosystem and their introduction is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

The invasive plants the team mainly battles at Malmstrom are Canada thistle, dalmatian toadflax, spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, hounds tongue and field bindweed.

These plants tend to produce a large amount of seeds that spread across the base and missile complex by way of animals, winds or humans, causing problems near the launch facilities and missile alert facilities because they are located near farmers' crops.

"We do a lot of spraying out in the missile field," Belton said. "It's a big part of our mission to take care of the missile field through vegetation control."

Aside from spraying around the base and the missile field, pest management surveys food facilities to check for pest infiltration. If anything is found, the team may have to bring the pest back to their office to view it under a microscope and verify the species.

If it comes down to spraying insecticides, the team needs to be able to identify the creature to be able to use the right chemicals to correct the problem.

"If we see anything at the food facilities that may be a problem, we would point out the discrepancies to prevent the pest problem," Belton said. "But these facilities are kept clean."

Belton and his team contribute to Malmstrom's mission by keeping the base and missile complex pest-free which allows Airmen to focus on nuclear support and deterrence 365 days a year.