Beaufort News

Mosquito man finds another career working with Homeland Security

David Arnold isn't allowed to tell you much about the second career that followed his first as Beaufort County's first mosquito control director.

Suffice to say, he hasn't been bored working for Clemson University and helping the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other state agencies thwart agro-terroism risks in South Carolina.

"I dealt with plant and animal diseases that could be used by the bad guys," said Arnold, 63. "I can't really get into a bunch of it, but I can say South Carolina agriculture is in a lot better shape today than it was when I started."

His work as a bio-security assessment coordinator is just one of many jobs Arnold has had since retiring from mosquito control in 2002. But many still will remember him as the man who spent 28 years making this neck of the marshy Lowcountry habitable for humans ... and inhospitable to winged scourges.

Arnold, a Lexington native, earned undergraduate and master's degrees in entomology from Clemson, and helped launch the county's Mosquito Control Department in 1974 after state and federal funding for mosquito control dried up.

He still can remember when the mosquitoes were so thick at night it was hard to breathe, let alone stand still.

Arnold's passion for battling bugs began at a young age. His father, Frank, was a medical entomologist for South Carolina and had David identifying mosquito species by age 5.

Arnold planned to retire when he left his county post in 2002, but within a year, he was on the Internet looking for a new way to put his entomology background to use.

In 2003, he found a job working with Clemson Regulatory and Public Service Program on a special assignment and stayed for four more projects before moving back to Ridgeland in 2005.

He worked with systems that made it easier to identify crop dusters and what they are spraying. He also worked with South Carolina's fertilizer licensing and permitting systems "just to ensure the safety of the supplies used in the agricultural market."

Today, he still does some mosquito control work and enjoys "doing the jobs nobody else wants to deal with" though his Ridgeland entomology business, Arnold's Services.

He likes setting his own hours, picking his own clients and "not having to get involved in politics " as he so often did working at Beaufort County.

Arnold also tackles projects outside the realm of typical pesticides and is working on a patent for a biting-fly control trap that would target insects like sand gnats, yellow flies and horseflies.

"Being able to solve a problem and stop one specific insect in an environment and not hurt others, I take pleasure in that," Arnold said.

Arnold also enjoys spending time with his wife, Marjorie, and visiting his son in Phoenix and daughter in Atlanta.

"I just can't sit still," he said. "Someone told me I had an interesting life, and I'd say that's accurate."