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Billy the Exterminator – hot, hip, and humane

Billy the ExterminatorNever thought I’d be cheering on an exterminator but A&E’s reality show Billy the Exterminator makes it easy. Billy Bretherton of Shreveport, Louisiana brings a rockstar cool and love for animals and the environment to a profession that has typically relied on poisoning humans, animals, and the earth. With his highlighted, spiked hair, sunglasses, black leather, silver studded wrist bands, and outgoing and friendly personality, Billy makes pest control attractive, fun, and soul-satisfying, if you can believe it.

A&E’s take on the show:

In this funny family docusoap about the zaniest pest removal company on the planet, we join Billy Bretherton and his family members as they are called to take care of Louisiana’s worst pest problems. And it’s a big business in the swamp-like state of Louisiana. Although there are numerous other pest control companies in the state, Vexcon is the only team that handles all types of animal removal. From tiny ants to giant snakes, Billy and his team have seen everything.”

Billy is well versed in pest control, having worked in the field of entomology with the U.S. Air Force in 1987, then training for 5 years with the industry’s leading entomologist and completing a two year correspondence course at Purdue University. He earned a masters certification for termite control at LSU and is now an Associate Certified Entomologist. He is an expert in the use of organics, non-chemical procedures & animal control. Billy founded the family owned, Louisiana-based pest control business VexCon and is joined on the show by his mama Donnie, his dad Big Bill, brother Ricky, and his wife Mary.

The reality show follows Billy and company on jobs that deal with wrangling all sorts of critters, from insects like fire ants, Mahogany wasps, Black Widow spiders, and bees to poisonous snakes, racoons, bats, wild turkeys, mice, beavers, possums, skunks, bobcats, armadillos, and alligators, to name a few. VexCon focuses on a humane trap-and-release approach using “Have a Heart” traps and they do not kill animals unless absolutely necessary, in which case they use only organic pesticides. Animals are released about 20 miles out into a forest or otherwise appropriate ecosystem.

From the beginning of the series, it’s clear that Billy is animal friendly and has a concern for the environment, as he shares that releasing animals that scavenge into the wild is great for the ecosystem. He’s always quick to explain the benefits of using humane and organic, non-toxic pest control techniques and products. For example, he uses silica gel for a major bee infestation which causes the insects to die from dessication – which is a physical death rather than a chemical death. Billy makes it cool to be kind with statements like “This is what makes being an exterminator gratifying. This is good stuff for the soul,” as he releases animals into their natural habitats.

VexCon logoThe show is as informative as it is entertaining, as Billy shares tips on tracking and trapping animals. When trying to locate bats inside a home, he looks for openings in the exterior roof line, and excrement and hairs on the ground below. When trapping most rodents he will use peanuts, as he says they have a stronger scent than most other nuts. Except in the case of rats, who happen to love cashews. What to do about a Black Widow spider infestation? Billy sprays them with VexCon’s mix of eugenol oils and fatty acids. Eugenol oils are extracted from the essential oil that comes from botanicals like cinnamon, bay, and especially clove and although he claims they are organic and non-toxic, like other essential oils, they may not be appropriate for those with chemical sensitivities, asthma, or other respiratory conditions. In addition to spraying the spider webs with organic insecticide, he recommends putting shades on windows and changing exterior lights from white to yellow to reduce flying insect activity outside the home, which the spiders are attracted to.

Our concern with the show is that Billy does promote organic pesticides as safe and non-toxic to humans when in fact, some organic pesticides like pyrethrins made from Chrysanthemum flowers are quite toxic, especially to those with existing health conditions like reactive airway disease (RAD) and chemical sensitivities. We caution viewers not to equate “organic” with “safe” and to always do your own research and tests with any product intended to kill insect or animal life, especially if using indoors and/or around small children and pets. Read more about how pesticides damage humans and the toxicity of organic pesticides. Nonetheless, we support the show’s main focus on humane trapping and releasing of animals into their natural environments. Bravo for A&E!

It’s exciting to see a major cable television channel promoting an extermination company that is good for animals, people, and the planet. Although they do not actively seem to market the green aspect of the company and instead focus on the zany personalities and Heavy Metal attire of the VexCon family, we’re hoping that Billy and company will make the humane trap-and-release pest control approach popular and increase consumer demand for organic and non-toxic products. Go Team VexCon!!

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Watch episodes:

watch Season 1 Episode 1 now:

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posted by earthwalker on August 18, 2010 | tags: , ,


  • AmityJohnsonVetere

    October 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I LOVE this show and how humane he is towards animals!

  • Bobbi

    August 26, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I LOVE the show because of the humane treatment of pest animals and some insects. We have a problem with Pigmy Rattle Snakes in our yard. One bit one of our dogs and he died a few weeks ago. I would love to know more about the Garlic Snake Repelent that used on a show last week. I don’t want to lose any more pets.

  • wendy may

    May 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    watching your show got me PEAKED! knew i was on the rite track with some things naturally, but i learned SO MUCH & am now trying 2 try 2 learn 2 be more organic. had no idea of your credentials! & KUDOS of you involving your FAMILY in your endevours. without them we wouldn’t be who we are, right?

  • Nancy Laprade

    October 14, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Hey, Billy I really love your show, but I have unwanted house guest and need your advice on how to get rid of them. I live in a condo and my neighbors upstairs have shared their house guest (roaches) with us. Last week I watched your show with a older man living in a trailor that was infested with roaches and you got rid of them using something better that chemicals. The family above me has little girls and I don’t want to expose them to the chemicals from roach foggers. So can you please tell me what you used and give me some suggestions the get rid of my house guest without using chemical. Please help ASAP! Thanks Nancy LaPrade

  • earthwalker

    October 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for leaving a comment on the Planet Thrive website. Billy the Exterminator is not affiliated with our website at all; we just wrote a short review of his show. If you’d like to contact him, please email him through his website: Best, Julie

  • Nikki

    May 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    How is it humane to blow silica packet contents into a bees nest, killing all of the bees slowly by drawing out their moisture. Gosh I hate this show. How ignorant to treat a disappearing species like that.

  • Dave

    June 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Total ignorance. Bees are dying off and with them goes one third of our food. You call yourself Planet Thrive and yet you call killing bees cool…what’s the deal?

  • earthwalker

    June 9, 2014 at 12:33 am

    We did not say killing bees is cool. What is cool is to find an extermination company that does not use toxic pesticides and insecticides as a first recourse to “pest” control, and to see them being promoted on mainstream television. Their preferred method of managing “pests” is to trap and release. Yes, we think that is really cool. Please don’t make us the enemy. Obviously we don’t think killing bees is cool. If that is what you got out of this post, then you missed the whole point.

  • earthwalker

    June 9, 2014 at 12:36 am

    No it sucks. Their preferred method of managing bee hives is to relocate them. They only use silica when relocation is impossible. It’s better than using toxic chemicals that harm people and other plant and animal life in addition to the bees. But obviously, the first choice is to relocate a hive to another location. That is not always possible, unfortunately.

  • Mel

    March 17, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    He only kills bees when he has too, he also tries to relocate them.

  • what foods do roaches like

    May 27, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    If you have one female roach and she lays 400 eggs in a year and those 400 lay 400 that
    is 160,000 cockroaches from one female roach and how many homes and restaurants have only just one.
    Your infant doesn’t want to eat contaminated food, all they want
    to do is crawl on the ground and then place their hands, toys or anything else
    that thhe roach has touched, into their mouths, and BING,you child just ate roach poop and dead, rotting squirrel body that the roach just walked
    on. Keep in mind that most of the chemicals aren’t wonderful
    for our health either.

  • Eartha

    May 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    ‘ Trim shrubbery, plants, and trees at least 6 to 8 inches from your home.

    These small insects can get into your house with food products, laundry, crates,
    clothes, etc. First Steps to Roach Control – The absolute first thing most people
    will tell you is to lay out some sticky traps, they are just
    like the ones you find for mice.

  • terry

    October 18, 2015 at 11:03 am

    What is a good product to get rid of racoon’s and skunks. They keep getting in garage where cats sleep and eat. We set traps but the racoon’s have figured out how to set traps and steel the food what is best for them

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