“I’d rather not have to kill anything,” Barry said as he loaded the trap with a bright blue block of poison about the size of a fist.

Barry Sharp has spent the last four years as a pest control officer for Pembrokeshire County Council going around domestic and commercial properties, including homes and schools.

“Pest control isn’t about killing things, it’s about controlling things,” Barry said.

“There’s a place for everything in this world, but rats inside your house or school isn’t one of them.

“If there’s a problem it should be dealt with, but we don’t want to kill for killing’s sake.”

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I had arranged with the council to spend the day with him as he went around his route, which today meant mostly checking and baiting rat traps.

Part of his job, he said, is to try to educate people, to avoid issues returning.

I asked Barry about some of the worst incidents he had seen, Barry showed me a series of pictures from various properties he had attended.

There were pictures of houses covered in bin bags – dirt and grime everywhere.

Under counters at a primary school, rats had hidden macaroni used in art projects for food.

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“I had a chap once, and it’s like he was living with them,” Barry said. “The rats were living in his house.

“He was a well-educated man. They would run across in front of the telly pick up a piece of fruit and run back. He left food on his bed overnight - I have no idea why - rats had eaten it overnight.”

On our first stop of the day, a man in Keeston had uncovered a wasp’s nest in a weep hole in his garden wall.

“If the nest was further away, I’d say you should leave it,” Barry told the homeowner, again stressing his desire not to kill unless necessary.

Because the nest was next to the front door it was agreed the wasps would have to be dealt with.

“I have been stung several times, even with the suit,” Barry said after kitting himself in a protective white suit with a mesh hood, the kind you see beekeepers wear.

“Normally the sting goes away after an hour or two, but sometimes it can last for days just coming on for an hour at a time.

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“I’ve had it swell up my arm and I had to go to Withybush for antibiotics – my colleague has to carry an Epi-pen with him now.”

After the blast of poison, Barry invited me out to take a photo. The air filled with an angry hum, all bearing down on Barry, the wasps swarmed in their hundreds.

Within 15 minutes the air was still again, the hum gone, except for a few remaining wasps lazily drifting in the air.

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Barry showed me the wasp’s nest, quite a small one he said, it was about the size of a large grapefruit. As he touched it, it seemed to crumble like burnt paper.

Everywhere we went people called out to him, asking for advice, most of them called him “Barry the rat-man”.

“People trust the council,” Barry said. “I have had people say, ‘my mother is vulnerable we trust you to do it.’”

Barry described his job as being like a detective, he talks about looking for entrance points, signs of where animals have been.

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He goes over telltale marks of a rat – greasy patches where they’ll have rubbed themselves, chew marks, droppings.

“Anybody can place poison, it’s looking to see how they got in and then proofing that is the hard part,” he said.

But sometimes, there is no easy answer to where the pests get in, and Barry’s can only put down poison and hope for the best.

“Quite often you will never find out, which might mean those people are vulnerable to them coming back.

“As much as possible I try to stop it.”