One if by Land, Two if by. . .Vent?

Annual Rodent Control Issue - Annual Rodent Control Issue

Yankee Pest Control was called to take care of rodent issues at Boston’s Old North Church, one of the country’s most important landmarks.

August 9, 2017

Posed in front of the Paul Revere statue are (left to right) Galvin Murphy, Sr.; Sheila Haddad; Tom Dobson; Galvin Murphy, Jr.; and Brendan Walsh.

By Brad Harbison

As a longtime resident of Boston, Galvin Murphy, Jr., always has had a great appreciation for the area’s historical significance, including landmarks such as the Old North Church (read more about the church below).

When Yankee Pest Control was contacted by the church to take care of a rodent issue, Murphy knew they would need to develop a program to delicately handle the church’s history.

“Our job was to inspect and put together a pest control program for a rat issue they were having in their administrative building, gift shop, garden, and church, and a mouse problem in the sexton’s house,” Murphy said. (A sexton is a person who oversees a church’s maintenance needs.)

Murphy was taken to the basement of the church, which contains a crypt that is 300 years old. “Walking above in the church I had no idea I was walking atop the resting place of over 1,100 people entombed in this very small space with 37 large tombs,” he said. “This was certainly one of the most memorable events of my 20 years in this industry, and certainly a first.”

From a historical vantage point, the crypt houses the first captain of the USS Constitution, British soldiers killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and nearly 50 “strangers.” That tomb houses 35 children and 10 adults that died in the city’s streets from disease such as smallpox, yellow fever and plague. “While standing and taking in all the history I was brought back to reality by rat droppings lining the tops of the crescent-shaped brick tombs,” he said. “Now we established the problem, how were they getting in?”

Murphy said that determining the rats’ entry points into the church was not nearly as challenging as it could have been, considering the church is in one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods. On the exterior of the church, virtually on grade with the sidewalk, there were about a dozen vents no bigger than two courses of bricks — perfect entry points for rats. “I couldn’t help but think what type of architects they had 300 years ago and they certainly didn’t consider IPM in their plans! Come to find out that in the heat of August, even in the 1700s, having 1,100 people entombed in an unventilated space could prove to ensure the air would always be nice and ripe. Lo and behold the vents are a brilliant idea and a mainstay at the church.”

After inspecting the church, Murphy realized that this was going to be more than any rat job. “It was going to be our team involved in preserving history for the people of Boston. This was perfect grounds to show that our industry puts the importance of community involvement and the preservation of our national treasures before revenue.”

A bait station placed beneath a plaque that explains the significance of the signal lanterns of Paul Revere.

Assisting Yankee Pest Control was Bell Laboratories, which donated more than a dozen EVO Express devices, and Sheila Haddad, vice president sales-East, Bell Laboratories. The EVO Express devices were installed on the exterior of the administrative building, in the crypt of the church and around the gift shop.

“We did not install any material abutting the exterior of the church. We also utilized the low profile of the Protecta LP bait station below a shed on the right side of the gift shop,” Murphy said. “We were able to bait burrows directly, exterior and interior bait, and interior trap.”

Other products donated by Bell Laboratories and used on site included 12 T-Rex snap traps, which were used along with Contrac Blox, Fastrac pellets, and Ditrac tracking powder.

Follow-up service, Murphy said, included multiple services scheduled within the first two weeks of the program.

Murphy said he was proud to be a part of this team effort to preserve an important part of his city’s and his country’s history. “We were able to take this as an opportunity to help an active congregation and as a piece of American history to do our little part with no financial burden to the Old North Church.”

The author is managing editor of PCT magazine.