email: roadarch@outlook.com

Pest Control Signs & Statues

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The photos on this page were moved here from my Signs section to accompany an article I've written for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal magazine.

End-O-Pest [gone]
Houston, TX
Rox-Ex Exterminating Company
Fort Worth, TX
End-O-Pest was established 1947. This sign was probably from the 1950s or 1960s. This photo is from 2006. In 2008, the sign was badly damaged by Hurricane Ike and destroyed soon after that.

Rox-Ex Exterminating Company was established in 1950. This sign is most likely from then. I would love to know what kind of neon shapes were supported by the spikes on top of the sign. [map]

Robert's Termite & Pest [gone]
Austin, TX
Western Pest Services
Mountainside, NJ
Robert's Termite & Pest was founded in 1959. This neon cockroach was installed on top of the company's plastic box sign. It was built around 1996 by Evan Voyles. He restored it in 2009. This photo is from 2011. The sign was still there in 2016 but gone by 2017. For more, see this website.

Western Pest Services was established in 1928 in Newark, NJ as the Western Exterminating Company. The name of the company has been tweaked a bit over the years. I don't know when this Mountainside location was built. The sign appears to be from the 1950s. The company now does business in eight states in the Northeast. For more, see this website. [map]

Pied Piper
Exterminators [gone]
San Jose, CA
Bug Out Service
Jacksonville, FL
Peninsular Pest Constrol Service
Jacksonville, FL
Pied Piper Exterminators was established in 1935. This sign obviously had neon originally. The cute plastic piece was probably added much later, replacing a neon image. This photo is from 2008. By 2011, the sign was gone.

Bug Out Service was established in 1963. This sign was probably from then. It is visible from the Arlington Expressway. [map]

Peninsular Pest Control Service was founded in 1954. While the bottom panel of this sign exclaims "Home Office", there never were any other locations. This sign was built in 1966 and is visible from I-10. The height of the sign including the poles is 161 feet. The text panels are about 20 feet wide. The word "Peninsular" is composed of incandescent bulbs and is outlined with neon. The other letters on the panels are lit with neon. On top of the text panels, there is an animated depiction of a man firing spray at a bug. The company calls him the "Penny Man." His arm operates the spray gun in three part animation. The spray itself is also animated. The bug is composed of neon tubing installed on a metal grid. When the revolving man faces the bug, the bug's neon turns off indicating that it has been killed. The company had to fight keep the sign when the local sign ordinance changed. The sign is serviced every month or so to keep it in full working order. For more, see this website. [map]

Atomic Pest Control
Memphis, TN
Mack's Pest Control
Nashville, TN
Atomic Pest Control was founded in 1958. This sign is probably from the 1960s. [map]

Mack's Pest Control was founded in 1944. My guess is that this sign is from the 1970s or so. [map]

Paramount
Pest Control
Pomona, CA
Paramount Pest Control
Los Angeles, CA
Paramount Pest Control was established in Los Angeles in 1935. In 1938, the company developed a mascot which was inspired by Western Exterminator's Little Man. The two companies were neighbors as well as competitors. Paramount's Doc Kilzum started out as a sketch drawn on a cocktail napkin by the company's owner. The character is still used in the company's advertising today. The well-dressed doctor carries a medical bag with his name on it. In his other hand, instead of an oversized hammer, Doc holds a small, spray-emitting object. This magic wand like abstraction of pesticide was thought to be a less violent depiction of vermin killing. In 1951, the company successfully trademarked the character and the slogan "All His Patients Die."

This neon pole sign depicting Doc Kilzum was built and installed at the Los Angeles office in the 1940s. The 10 foot tall sign shows the life-sized, smiling doctor waving his instrument of death at the rats below him. The neon rats were originally sequentially lit. The animated, orange neon tubing which represented the spray is now missing. Also missing is the fifth, dead rat which was shown lying on its back next to the doctor's shoe. At some point before the 1960s, those dead rats on both sides of the sign were painted over to make the sign less gory. The sign was no longer lit by then and the painting may have been done by a company employee. There is no evidence of porcelain enamel and it is believed that this was always a painted sign. Doc Kilzum's coat, bag, and the text panels were most likely painted black originally.

The company expanded over the years and still has offices in Northern California, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. However, this was the only neon sign with a representation of Doc Kilzum built for Paramount. When the Los Angeles office moved in 1964, the City would not issue a permit to install the Doc Kilzum sign at the new location. It was thought that the sign would be a dangerous distraction to drivers. The company's larger and older text panel sign, shown above right, was allowed to be installed at the new location. It remains on the building although Paramount no longer has an office there. [map]

The Doc Kilzum sign was in storage from 1964 until 2013 when the Museum of Neon Art received a tip about the sign's existence. The sign was donated to MONA and is currently at the museum's storage facility in Pomona. It will eventually be restored and displayed at the museum in Glendale, CA. The estimated cost is around $12,000.

Smithereen Exterminators [gone]
Franklin Park, IL
Smithereen
Exterminators [gone]
Midlothian, IL
Smithereen Exterminators was established in 1888. The company has had several offices in the Chicago area over the years. The seven foot wide pole sign, shown above on the left, was installed at the Chicago office in the 1940s or 1950s. The company's owner designed the sign. According to one source, there were three other signs built like this one. Two of them were demolished with their parts used to repair this one while the third sign was destroyed. The sign was moved from Chicago to Franklin Park by the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s, clear plexiglass covers were installed to protect the sign's neon tubing. When the Franklin Park office closed in 2014, the sign was still operating. It has been in storage since then, awaiting management's decision about where to display it. For more, see this website.

There is a vintage window sign at Smithereen's headquarters in Niles, Illinois. It is not known where this window sign was originally installed or when it was built. It is six feet wide and is still lit at night. If there were any other signs built like this one, it is the only one that still exists. [map]

In 1996, two neon rat signs (see second photo above) were produced for the soon-to-open Midlothian office. However, the city's mayor prohibited the signs' installation even though a permit had been issued. He didn't want rats associated with his community. Those signs were then installed at the Franklin Park office and a new sign depicting a Pied Piper was built for Midlothian. Around 2015, the Midlothian location closed and the neon was removed from the sign which was covered with white panels. For more, see this website.

The rat signs have been in storage since the Franklin Park location closed. Rats are no longer used for the company's signs or advertising. The Pied Piper is now the official mascot. In 2001, the word "Exterminators" was dropped and the company was renamed Smithereen Pest Management Services.

Western Exterminator
Los Angeles, CA
Western Exterminator was established in 1921 in Los Angeles. In 1931, the company's Little Man mascot was created by Vaughn Kaufman for a Yellow Pages phonebook advertisement. At that time, the character was named Kernel Kleenup. However, he was usually referred to as the Little Man with the Big Hammer. The mouse that the Little Man scolds didn't have a name until many years later.

The company moved to a new location in downtown L.A. in 1936. The new Art Deco building had two bas-relief images of the Little Man and mouse. By 1940, there was also a large neon sign installed on the roof which featured the characters and the company's slogan at the time "We Live to Kill Bugs." Unfortunately, that building was later demolished and the sign is long gone.

In 1952, Western Exterminator moved its headquarters to another location. At that time, this enormous neon sign was installed on the side of the building facing the Hollywood Freeway. It is well over 100 feet long and has neon channel letters and 21 running rats. In addition, there is a painted depiction of the Little Man that is roughly 20 feet tall. The neon rats were animated until the 1960s when the City complained that they were too distracting to motorists. However, the rats and the rest of the sign have always been lit. The company has a contract with a sign shop which keeps the paint and neon in great shape. [map]

Western Exterminator
Burlingame, CA
Western Exterminator
Phoenix, AZ (now Riverside, CA)
2012: 2016:
Western Exterminator
Santa Ana, CA
Western Exterminator
Long Beach, CA
Western Exterminator
Las Vegas, NV
Western Exterminator
Oxnard, CA
Western Exterminator
Buellton, CA
In the early 1960s, Bob Strom, the son of the company's owner, produced four fiberglass statues of the Little Man. From this point onward, the mouse has been portrayed wearing a hat and bib and holding a knife and fork. These statues are 17 1/2 feet tall and are now displayed in Burlingame, Long Beach, Santa Ana, and Riverside. The statue in Riverside came from Phoenix. It had been there since around 1974. By 2014, the Phoenix location had closed and the statues were gone. As of 2016, the Big Man is still laying on his back in the Riverside office's lot. The mold for these statues was destroyed in a fire in 2012.

Smaller versions of these statues were also produced in the 1960s. These statues of the Little Man are not accompanied by mice. There are about 14 eight foot tall statues which are used for trade shows and displayed on trailers at various company offices. Some of them are kept at the company's current headquarters in Anaheim.

17 1/2 inch tall statues were produced the company's trucks. However, they are being phased out since they are frequently stolen or broken. The Little Man's hammer on these statues has a spring handle which makes the hammer bob around when the truck is in motion.

In the early 1980s, the mouse statue was stolen from the Burlingame location. A reward of 100 pounds of cheese was offered in the newspaper for the statue's return. At that point, the character became known as Menace Mouse. The statue was returned anonymously with a broken tail and fork. It was repaired and reinstalled. For more, see this website. [map]

In 1964, there was a renaming contest for the Little Man. The winning name was Inspector Holmes. However, that name never really stuck and the company continued to call him the Little Man. In 2010, the character was renamed Mr. Little for the company's website but most people still call him the Little Man.

The trailer in Santa Ana displays one of the 17 1/2 foot tall statues. [map]

The Long Beach statue is one of the 17 1/2 foot tall versions. It is installed on top of a sign next to I-405. It has been there since at least the early 1970s. [map]

The Las Vegas location has an eight foot tall statue on top of its sign. For more, see this website. [map]

The trailer in Oxnard displays one of the eight foot tall statues. [map]

The 17 1/2 inch tall statue in Buellton is located at the Mendenhall Museum.

More Pest Control Signs:
T.Y. Gibson Pest Control (Macon, GA) [map]
National Exterminating Supply (Chicago, IL)
Rose Exterminator Co. (Chicago, IL)
Ohio Exterminating Co.: 1, 2 (Columbus, OH)
Honest Lou's Exterminating (Philadelphia, PA)
Kotler Exterminating (Memphis, TN) [gone; private collection]
Holder's Pest Control (Houston, TX) [gone]
unknown business (Montreal, QC)

More Pest Control Statues:
Giant Insects
Giant Mice & Rats

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Companion Page
Main Signs Page