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Seattle Pest Control and Home Services: 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 Incredibly Simple Steps To Make Sure Water Doesn't Ruin Your Home

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Let's face it, living in the Puget Sound area is pretty wet.  Our homes take a beating with the amount of rain they have to endure all year.  Water really is the enemy of your home.  Think about the design of your home, the slant of the roof, the siding and the gutters.  All of these elements are designed to move water away from the structure.  But, what happens when water sneaks past these design elements and comes to rest in your crawl space?  Well, a lot of damage can result when you have standing water in your crawl space.

I go to homes all the time to do pest control treatments and jump into the crawl space to find water pooling up and wreaking havoc on the structure without the home owner even realizing that it is there.  Standing water left unaddressed can result in ruined insulation, ductwork and not to mention the structural elements of your home.  It is a very big deal when water invades your crawl space.

It is for this reason that I want to give you two incredibly simple preventative steps that can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.


#1- Look in your crawl space!

Look, I told you it would be simple.  The vast majority of people that have had their crawl space ruined by standing water never even knew they had a problem until the pest control company, cable company, or plumber went down there for something else and discovered it.  You should pop the hatch on your crawl space door and look in there with a flashlight at least a few times a year (especially after a heavy rain).  Catching standing water early is the key to avoiding any major repairs.  Once you realize that you have a drainage issue with your home, you can start to think about preventative drainage systems like a French drain or sump pump, but you will never know you need one until you look!

#2- Observe where water runs off your property

Okay, this is pretty simple too.  When it is raining, you should probably do a walk around your property.  Does the water pool anywhere near the foundation or in the yard?  Does the property slope towards your home?  This was the case with the home that I moved into last August.  The property sloped straight towards a foundation vent and I didn't need to wait until the rain came to know that this would be a huge problem.  I decided to install a French drain before the rainy season and I have never had a problem with it.  By observing the water run off, you can sometimes easily catch major problems before they happen.

I warned you that it was going to be simple, but despite how simple these steps are, many people neglect them.  Don't be one of them and make sure that water is not ruining your home!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why You Are About To Get Ants In Your Kitchen

Seattle pest control company
If you were to step outside right now, you would see the fall leaves changing color and the chill of cold air.  Summer is over, fall is upon us and winter is close behind.  In the world of pest control that I work in, this is a quiet time.  Many of the pests that wreak havoc all summer long, decide to call it quits and wait until spring.  But, not all of them.

As a Seattle Pest Control Company, we find that the highest volume of our sugar ant treatments take place in the fall when the weather starts to cool and the rain comes pouring down.  This is because sugar ants start to move with changes in barometric pressure.  We have had plenty of that lately in the Puget Sound area, haven't we?  The driving rain and bitter cold start to move many pests inside, but especially the sugar ants. 

If you are looking to avoid having your kitchen taken over by ants, there are a few things that you can try. 


1)  Weatherize your home

If you were planning on doing this anyway, why not do it now?  Ants can fit in through the tiniest of openings, but lets not make it easy on them.  Gaps under the door or around windows can provide a quick access point for ants to come in.  By making it a little more difficult on them, you can stop them from establishing a nest and having to deal with it later.


2)  Do a preventative exterior treatment

Usually we do not recommend using store bought products for pest control because they rarely work, but when using it as a preventative measure, you greatly increase your odds of getting the job done.  Of course, the ultimate answer would be to call a pest control company, but if you want to try the do-it-yourself route, go pick up some Ortho Home Defense and spray the foundation of your home.  This will work as a good protective barrier and might help you avoid an infestation.

3) Start up a preventative maintenance program with a pest control company

This might not be as expensive as you think.  Our pest control company charges about $60 to $70 to do a quarterly preventative pest service and it will cover just about any pest.  Take a look at your budget and decide if this is worth it to you.  Obviously, this would be the best way to keep ants out of your kitchen.

Lastly, if you have any questions about ant treatments or just need a little advice, we would welcome your call!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Not To Do When You Have Fleas

Bremerton Washington pest control
Whether you have pets or not, you will probably experience a flea infestation in your home at some point.  You have probably tried a lot of things to get rid of them and maybe some of them worked for awhile and maybe some of them made things worse.  Let's take a moment to talk about things you should NOT do when encountering fleas in your home.

1)  Don't Set Off Flea Bombs
Probably the most counterproductive thing that you can do is start setting off flea bombs.  Unfortunately, this is the first thing that many people try in their do-it-yourself exterminating.  It seems like it should work, right?  You fog the whole house and get every nook and cranny, killing every flea in the process.  Only, it doesn't actually work.  A flea bomb is just a repellent with almost zero residual.  This makes it the equivalent of spraying mosquito repellent on your body while in the woods.  It doesn't actually kill the fleas, but just pushes them deeper into your furniture, baseboards, etc.  This can give the appearance that it "worked for awhile", but don't fool yourself.  It doesn't work!

2)  Don't Go Cheap On Flea Medication For Your Pets
When it comes to flea medication for your dogs and cats, you really get what you pay for.  You can run over to the dollar store and get flea medication, but don't expect it to kill any fleas.  Instead, spend the extra bucks and get some Frontline or Advantage flea medicine.  It will work great and will stop the pets from continuing to bring in more and more fleas.

3)  Don't Forget To Check The Crawl Space
It seems like a weird thing to suggest when you are dealing with fleas, but in realty the fleas may not be coming from your pets at all.  You could have other animals living under your home that are causing the problem.  For example, raccoons are absolutely loaded with fleas and home owners may not even realize that they have one under their house!  Also, rodents carry fleas as well.  If you don't take care of the source of your flea problem, you will have little success in controlling them.

Things That Are Worth Trying
If you are really stuck on doing the do-it-yourself route, you can try a few things.  If you want to get a product, your best bet is to try some of the powders that you put on your carpet.  They are not super effective, but are better than any other alternatives available to you.  You can also try vacuuming as often as you can stand.  Vacuuming will pick up flea eggs around the house and allow you to dispose of them outside before they hatch.  Lastly, throwing your linens in the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes can be effective in killing a lot of fleas.  Go ahead and give these things a shot and if they aren't working for you, be sure to give us a call and we can help you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What's A Vapor Barrier And Why You Need One?

$50 off coupon for seattle wa vapor barrier install
If you happened to look outside your window today, you probably noticed that the rain has returned to us.  We are used to this in the Seattle area, but it was nice to have it gone for a little while at least.  Of course you don't really need me to tell you that we live in a wet area of the country, but what you may need to hear is how all this moisture affects your home.  Water is the enemy of your home.  In fact, your entire home was built and designed to repel water.  You can look up and see the slope of your roof, gutters and siding and see how rain water is moved off of the house, what you don't see is how your water deals with water below your home.

What Is A Vapor Barrier?
A vapor barrier is simply a plastic sheathing that rests on top of the soil underneath your home.  Its purpose is to stop the wet, damp soil from releasing water vapors that rise up and infect the wood underbelly of your home.  By limiting the amount of moisture that can rise into the subfloor, it also cuts down on mold and fungus from forming.

Do I Already Have One?
Probably.  If your home is a newer home, then you should have a vapor barrier that is installed to code.  However, older homes sometimes do not have one and even if they do have one, it may not be up to code.  Currently, the code is to have black (not clear) plastic that is at least 6 mil.

How Do I Get One?
There are a few different ways to go about this.  First (and I recommend this) you can call and have Healthy Homes install one for you.  But, if you are the do-it-yourself type, you can probably roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.  If you do elect to go this route, you should by almost twice as much plastic as you think you will need.  For example, if you have a 1000 square foot home, you should by about 1500 square feet of 6 mil black plastic.  There is nothing scientific to installing it, but you do want to be sure to overlap your seams by 6-12 inches.  It gets tricky around the pier posts, but just cut slits and overlap the plastic. 

If this sounds like too much work (and it really is tough, dirty work) you can give us a call.  It might not cost you as much as you might think to have one installed for you and it can save you money later on by avoiding water damage to your crawl space.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Are Spiders So Bad This Year?

spider in Seattle Washington
At least 3 times in the last week I have had customers call and ask this question, "why are spiders so bad this year"?  Look, nobody likes spiders and it seems that they are out this year in higher numbers than in years before, so the question is "why"?  Is there something that is causing their population to increase or are we all just imagining it?

First of all, I think that I hear this every year, so I don't think the spider population is suddenly much higher this year.  However, it is a little bit higher than it has been in the past, so let's review the reasons why your home might suddenly be crawling with giant, hairy, disgusting eight legged freaks!

#1- Mild Weather Last Winter
We kind of saw this coming because of the mild winter that we just had.  Inclement weather greatly reduces the spider populations and we did not have much of it in the Puget Sound area this year.  It never really got all that cold and there wasn't much in the way of snow and ice, so spider populations carried over a bit.

#2- More Food Sources
Not only did more spiders survive our mild winter, but a lot of other insects survived as well.  This means more food for spiders and with more food, comes a higher rate of reproduction.  Remember, spiders are not all bad and they do keep other insects from getting out of control because they eat them all.

#3- Humidity
Remember how hot it was a few weeks ago?  Well, over the last few days we have seen a lot of rain and combining this with the heat creates humidity.  Insects thrive in humid climates and this only adds to my last two points.  The weather is creating an ideal environment for all pests (including spiders) and their food source has also increased.  This makes for a bad combination if you really hate spiders.

#4- Normal Seasonal Changes
As our summer winds down and it starts to cool, you can expect more spiders getting into your home to escape the cold.  October is generally the worst month for spiders (judging by the number of spider treatments we do as a pest control company throughout the month).  Usually by December there are fewer and fewer spiders and then February is the month where many of the eggs start to hatch.  So, if you are seeing a lot now, it might get worse soon.

If you want to get this under control quickly, just give me a call and I will gladly provide a pest control solution for you. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Is A Crawl Space Restoration?

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If you live in the Seattle area, you are probably aware that we have a bit of a rat problem.  Some areas have them worse than others and some home owners have them and aren't even aware of it.  This is because they are hiding out in your attic or crawl space.  Unfortunately, once they establish their home inside your home, they can do considerable damage.  This is where a crawl space restoration comes in.

In inspecting hundreds of homes in the Seattle, Washington area, I feel like I have just about seen it all, but you never really know what you are going to see when you enter a crawl space.  More often than not, this area is very neglected and in need of repairs.  The warmth of the insulation and relative seclusion of the space makes it a very desirable place for rodents and other wildlife to nest and breed, while home owners are blissfully ignorant that anything is even going on at all.  It doesn't take very long before your nice clean crawl space is contaminated with urine and droppings.


What is a crawl space restoration?

Some would argue that crawl space restorations are not entirely necessary and to that I would say, "it depends".  But, first of all, what is a crawl space restoration?  A crawl space restoration is a complete cleaning of the crawl space.  This will usually include removing all of the insulation, vapor barrier and sometimes even the duct work.  Once all of the contaminated material is removed, a high powered ULV fogger is used to decontaminate the area.  After that, new insulation, vapor barrier and anything else that was removed will be replaced.  That might sound kind of easy (it certainly isn't rocket science) but it is a grueling, dirty job.


When do I need one?

As mentioned, some people think that it is overkill to do a complete restoration and in some cases, I would agree.  Unfortunately, I have seen it abused within the industry.  There is one local pest control company that will remain nameless that has mentioned to me personally that they suggest a crawl space restoration at every home that they go to!  Now that is overkill!!  I ask my customers to consider a few facts and to make their own decision.  First, about 40% of the air that you breathe comes from underneath your home.  When your home is severely contaminated by rats, mice, raccoons or other wildlife, you can probably figure out for yourself what kind of air that you are breathing.  When contamination levels are high, there just is no other way to clean it up other than a crawl space restoration.


At what point do you consider contamination levels high?

This is merely a matter of opinion.  There is no surefire way to determine just how contaminated a space is.  For our company, we will not even suggest a crawl space restoration unless 25% or more of the insulation has urine or feces in it. 


How can I avoid needing a crawl space restoration?

The best way to avoid this costly project is always going to be prevention.  A contaminated crawl space did not end up like that overnight.  It probably took months if not years to get that way.  Having a pest control company look at your crawl space, even on yearly basis will avoid this problem in most cases.  We offer this for free (See Coupon above)

If you have any further questions on crawl space restorations or would like a second opinion, please do not hesitate to contact us.!home--healthy-homes-/mainPage

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Does Seattle Have A Rat Problem?

Rats in Seattle Washington
Believe it or not, there was once a time when you could not find rats in Seattle.  Of course back then, the city that we now call "Seattle" was not named yet.  In fact, it was not until Seattle was actually established as a port city that rats started showing up.  All of the ships that supplied goods and business and made the city thrive also brought us rats. Since then, the rodent population has been quietly getting growing and growing.

Nobody likes a rat.  They are unpleasant, disease ridden animals that infest our homes and businesses.  Yet, we do very little to stop them and many times we do things that just make it worse!  Back in 2010, the city of Seattle released its "Clean Alley" program where they replaced downtown alley dumpsters with new garbage bags.  The rodent population sure appreciated it and quickly started chewing through the new bags, bringing in all their friends.  This created a whole slew of rat problems for businesses and apartments downtown (as if it wasn't bad enough already).

This example would be an obvious reason for the spike in population, but there are plenty of more subtle examples that contribute to the growing problem we now face.  People leaving pet food outside or even a bird feeder in their backyard also draws rats.  When rats find a good food source, there reproduction increases as a result.  In the worst examples, rats will find their way into an attic or crawl space and contaminate the area causing thousands of dollars in repairs before a home owner even realizes that they are there. 


What Needs To Be Done

Warning, this is about to be a very self serving statement:  Pest control companies need to be involved.  What I mean is, if you see rats around your property, you should call a pest control company.  The products that you can purchase on your own are just not going to get the job done and professional treatments are needed.  People wait way too long to get rats treated by a professional pest control company and allow the problem to get out of hand.

If you notice rats roaming around a home that you are renting or your place of work, you should get the landlord or the business owner to call someone.  It is unhealthy to have this many rats living among us.

Again, this post is admittedly very self serving, but we do believe that rats pose a health risk and should not be ignored.  If you are dealing with rats, mice or any other rodents and needs some help, please give us a call.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

One Crazy Idea To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants

Sugar ants feeding on sugary substance
Okay, so you have sugar ants invading your kitchen.  They come in endless streams like rush hour traffic in Seattle and you need to know how to stop them.  Maybe you have tried a little bit of everything and nothing has worked.  In fact, many of the things that you have tried have made the problem much worse!  The truth is, these pests are hard to get rid of (even for pest control professionals), so you have your work cut out for you.  However, I have found one solution that just might help, but it is going to sound a little crazy.

First, let me just make sure that you are not doing something that will make the problem worse.  DO NOT use Raid, Black Flag or any other ant spray inside your home.  Sugar ants have a very negative reaction when you use any store bought sprays.  This is because anything that you can get over the counter is just a repellent based pesticide and repellents do not work on sugar ants.  What they can do is cause panic in the nest and trigger what is called "budding" within the colony.  Basically, this means that the colony will split and move to different areas and will then proceed to reproduce at a faster rate to replenish.  A better choice would be to use store bought bait products like "Terro" which will not have a harmful effect, but also is not the most effective. 

So, what is the crazy idea?

Give the sugar ants some sugar!

I know that it sounds crazy, but where are the sugar ants at right now?  Everywhere!  And, if you were to take a lid or small dish and put some sugary substance like jam or honey in it, where would the sugar ants be?  They would be going for that sugary substance!  Let's say you put that lid full of jam in an area less obtrusive and let the sugar ants crawl all over the stuff, wouldn't that be better than having them all over your counter?


Won't that make them reproduce faster?

Yes, it will make them reproduce faster with a good food source, so this is only a temporary solution.  The idea is to gather them in one place.  Within hours, you will see a flood of ants all going for the sugary substance and you will start to see trails form.  These trails can lead you to where their nest is at.

Okay, so how do I kill them now?

Now that you have their nest figured out and have redirected them to a feeding trough, you can do a couple of things.  If you want to be sure to get them wiped out, you can call me or you can now start using a store bought bait.  I realize that I just told you that the store bought baits don't work very well and they don't, but now you have their full attention.  The store bought baits just don't have the draw that gets the ants to take it back to the nests, but with this method, it might actually work.  Here is a product that you can buy from that seems to work pretty well.

If you try this and it still is not working, call me and I will help you figure out a solution.  In the meantime, best of luck in getting these things wiped out!

Photo credit: Jollyboy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Pests Are Out In The Seattle Area

Kitsap county pest control, bremerton pest control
It is a beautiful Friday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest.  The sun is shining in Seattle, Washington today and temperatures are soaring in the mid 80's without a cloud in the sky.  You were probably so busy having fun in the sun that you haven't even paid attention to the pests that are also enjoying the weather and are all over your home.  So, you just take it easy and let me give a few things to look out for this week and if you see them, be sure to give me a call.

Carpenter Ants:  If you see any large black ants, you are probably seeing a carpenter ant.  They are a wood destroying insect and should be taken seriously.  It is very common to see trails of them around your home when the weather is warm.  Since they do not actually eat the wood in your house (they just through it to make nests), you will see them gathering food like plants and other insects around your yard to take back to the nest.  If you see just one ant, know that others are not far behind.  Try following it back to its nest and you will see his friends.  If that trail leads back into your house, you are going to need to call me.

Wasps, Bees and Yellow Jackets:  These guys are everywhere at this time of year.  In fact, probably half of the calls I get are for one of them.  We are always happy to treat for wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc, but be on the lookout for honey bees.  Nobody really knows why, but they are dying off at an alarming rate.  We do not want to contribute to this decline and will not treat honey bees unless they pose a serious risk to humans.  Since about 3% of the population is fatally allergic to bee stings, we would have to exterminate the nest if it was in a high traffic area.  But, even in that scenario, we would probably first refer you to a local bee keeper to see if they could safely remove the nest.  If you have anything that is not a honey bee and need it taken care of quickly, safely and effectively, you can definitely give us a call.

There are  a few other pest issues that we have been hearing about this week, but those are definitely the most common right now.  I could go on, but like I said, it is Friday afternoon and the sun is shining, so I think I will call it day.  Enjoy the nice weather and be sure to call us for Seattle Washington Pest Control.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Puget Sound Area Ants And What To Do About Them

seattle pest control, kitsap county pest control, bremerton pest control
Ants are by far the most common phone call that we get for pest control in Seattle.  Sometimes these ants are just a nuisance and other times they are just plain destructive.  Either way, I have found that rarely do people know what kind of ant they are dealing with when they call us.  It's no big deal.  I mean, we can kill them either way, but I just think you should know if an ant is wood destroying or not to help you make a more informed decision about the health of your home.

Basically, if you have ants, you have about a 50% chance of having a wood destroying ant since there are mainly just 4 types of ants in the Pacific Northwest.  If you are an insect enthusiast, you will call me on this since there are actually several more types of ants, but we rarely get calls outside of the main four.  So, here they are:

Carpenter Ants
We start with carpenter ants since they are the most common.  Many people have carpenter ants for years and do not realize it because they just think it is just a "black ant" and is harmless.  However, if you have an ant that is larger than 1/4 inch, you got yourself a carpenter ant most likely.  These ants are a wood destroying ant and can do considerable damage if left unchecked for long periods of time.  They do not digest the wood, but excavate it to create nests and galleries.  For more detailed information on identifying Carpenter ants, click on this link from New Leaf Pest Control in Portland, Oregon.

Moisture Ants
Also a wood destroying ant, a moisture ant is smaller and much harder to identify.  They operate much like a carpenter ant, but are less destructive because they only are attracted to wood that is moist or rotting.  They are small like a sugar ant and are reddish in color.  The back of their bodies are almost translucent and shaped like a top.  If you see these types of ants, you should probably be on the lookout for water damaged wood.  Click here for more help in identifying moisture ants.

Pavement Ants
A very common type of ant found in driveways.  They are as small as a sugar ant or moisture ant, but have a very large head and smaller body.  They can be found inside the home, but tend to stay low on the ground.  They are less of a nuisance because they don't spread like a sugar ant does.  These ants are really easy to get rid of.  I found some in my driveway while watering the grass last night and will easily get rid of them with just one simple pest control treatment.

Sugar Ants
These are the hardest ants to get rid of.  Just about everyone will deal with sugar ants at some point in their homes.  They are strictly a nuisance pest and do no damage, but are extremely hard to get rid of.  They are the tiny black ants that are all over your kitchen and are attracted to anything sweet.  There are a lot of ways that you can make these ants worse if you try and treat them on your own, so I recommend reading this article. 

What To Do About Them

I have noticed that a lot of pest control companies in the Seattle area will come out to do a pest control treatment and charge you for each type of ant that you might have.  They can do a carpenter ant treatment and a sugar ant treatment and a moisture ant treatment (well, you get the point).  But, in reality each of these pests are treated in the same way.  There are different points of emphasis depending on the ant, but the products that they would use are the same, so don't let them charge you extra just because you have a few different types of ants.  No matter what type of ant that you have, it is always best to act quickly so that they do not spread and get worse.  You can also have a Seattle pest control company do a preventative treatment at the beginning of spring to decrease your chances of getting ants at all.  If you need help with any of this, especially if you live in Kitsap County, be sure to give me a call and I would be happy to help you!

Photo credit: Marshed / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Rat Populations Get Out Of Control And How You Can Stop It!

rat treatment, seattle, kitsap county pest control
Seattle has rats.  For those of you who have dealt with them before, this is an obvious statement.  But, for those of you living in the Seattle area that don't realize this yet, you will.  I used to work for a pest control company in Portland and we had some rats, but nowhere near what we are seeing here in King County!  Hundreds of years ago, there were not any rats in the area.  The entire filthy, disease ridden population was brought here on ships and has just kept reproducing until we arrived at the problem that we now have.

I go into homes everyday (especially in the city of Seattle) that are torn to pieces by rats and horribly contaminated. So, why are some homes so bad and other homes in the same neighborhood completely untouched?  How can you avoid an out of control rat problem in your home? 

The answer is usually prevention.  Here is a typical scenario that leads to big trouble for a home owner.  A rat gets underneath the home because a foundation vent was left open.  Once the rat gets in there, two things start to happen.  First, they start to leave feces and urine around, contaminating the crawl space and other rats become attracted to the smell.  Basically, the scent tells them that other rats are living under your home, so they can join them.  The problem gets worse and worse as the population grows.  Secondly, when female rats are in a place that feels safe and warm they reproduce at a faster rate and there is not a safer warmer place than in your crawl space.

So how do you stop this from happening?

Some simple prevention can stop this whole scenario from unfolding.  First of all, make sure that there are not easy entry points that they can get through.  Do a quick walk around the home and look for golf ball sized holes or larger.  Make sure that they are not getting in through a wide open screen and check for any burrow holes.  If you see possible entry points, you should probably call a Seattle pest control company to investigate underneath your home.  The last thing that you want to do is plug up their exit and have them die in the walls.  Secondly, remove any conducive conditions.  Conducive conditions would include food sources like pet food left out or things that they can hide in like tall grass, wood piles, etc.  If you were to just do those simple steps, you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in repair costs.

If you think you have rats under your home or in your attic, the very best thing that you can do is act quickly.  Every day you waste, the problem can get worse.  If you are hearing scratching or seeing other signs of activity, please give us a call as soon as possible and we would be happy to help you out!  Here a Seattle pest control coupon that you can use towards a rat treatment.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4 Clues That A Raccoon Might Be Living Under Your Home

wildlife control kitsap county,
A crawl space is a creepy place.  It is a dark and foreboding place that none of us really want to be in.  With the all the spider webs hanging down and the tight places, it seems like a perfect place for a horror movie (actually there has been a couple) and as uninviting as it seems, it makes a perfect home for raccoons or other wildlife.

If you think about it, they have everything that they need in there.  Your subfloor insulation provides warmth and makes the perfect bed when they tear it down and put it on the ground.  Also, it is safe because larger animals like dogs, can't fit in.  They love the place and quickly make themselves at home like in this Allstate commercial where Mayhem is a raccoon.

A raccoon can do a lot of damage very quickly and it can be dangerous to come in contact with a mother and her kits, so it is better to try and avoid this situation altogether.  Here are some helpful hints on how you can quickly recognize the signs that a raccoon might be living under your home so that you can do something about it.

1) Broken foundation vent screens

This should be an immediate red flag.  If you have a broken vent screen, you have left the door wide open for animals or rodents to get in.  Many times, cable companies will run wires under your home and simply punch out a screen and leave it open.  I have seen this a lot and it has cost home owners ton of money because of it.  If you have an open screen on your home right now, that is a problem that needs to be fixed right away.  You will want to have someone do an inspection to make sure something is not living under there before you patch the screen, so it does not die trying to get out.  Most pest control companies in Seattle will do this service for free.  As long as your screens are intact, you should not have a problem under your home.

2) A pile of poop

Okay, I will try and keep this clean.  Raccoons like to go to the bathroom in the same place.  They are pretty picky about it and won't just go anywhere like your dog will.  Once they pick a spot, they use it over and over again.  If you see lots of droppings in one area, this is a sure-fire sign of raccoons in the area.   If they are in the area, they are going to be looking for a home and you should be extra cautious to make sure that you do not have an entry point. Also, be careful about coming in contact with the droppings because they can carry roundworm egg that can be transmitted through their feces.  Although rare, this can be fatal, so be careful.

3) Your pets are freaking out

If you have a dog that is barking at one of your foundation vents, this could be a bad sign.  Raccoons will not get along with your pets and will make them extremely agitated.  If you recognize this, it might be time to start looking around for the other signs.  I had a raccoon outside of my house a few weeks ago and was alerted to it because the neighbor cat kept freaking out at night.  If they are roaming your neighborhood, then they are living somewhere.  Make sure that place is not in your home.

4) Hearing noises

So this would be the obvious one, but it is amazing how many people ignore it.  If you are hearing a scratching noise under your home or in your attic, you should always do something about it.  Too much damage can happen while you wait.

If you suspect that you have a raccoon living in your home and need Seattle area pest control, please give me call and I would love to assist you with that.  Or, click here if you need a Portland pest control company.

Photo credit: alasam / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

5 Ways To Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home

Bed bugs are upon us like an Egyptian plague.  They are showing up in homes all across the Seattle Metro area and causing considerable stress to the people they are feeding off.  Nobody really knows why bed bugs have made such a comeback, but theories abound.  Some people would site the fact that the highly toxic chemical "DDT" is no longer in use today, others would say that the bed bugs have evolved to a state that makes them resistant to many different things that used to kill them.  But, since they are here and we have to deal with them, let me give you some hints on how to not bring them home.

bed bug seattle washington, bed bug control, bed bugs

1.  Know what they look like
People call us all the time and "think" that they have bed bugs when they really have some insect that looks nothing like a bed bug.  Everyone should know what they look like so if you see one, you can kill it quick!  Unfortunately, bed bugs can hitchhike on your clothing from just about anywhere (move theaters, changing rooms, etc.), so you should always be on the lookout.

2.  Don't take home that perfectly nice piece of furniture marked "free" on the street corner
A big reason why people sell furniture is because it is infested with bed bugs and sometimes it is easier to get rid of it then to have a pest control company treat it.  You should be very leery about buying furniture from Craigslist.  You would not be the first person I talked to that bought something on Craigslist and brought home a bed bug infestation.  If you find a deal that you just can't pass up, take a look at it closely, especially crack, crevices and tight places.  Bed bugs leave fecal matter and shed their skin, so if you see anything like this, stay away!

3.  Don't let people crash on your couch
Obviously you probably are not in the habit of allowing random people to sleep in your house, but people get bed bug infestations from letting a friend spend the night all the time.  Especially if the person crashing on the couch has been crashing on multiple other couches recently.  I would just try and avoid this altogether if you can politely do so.

4.  Keep things off the ground in your hotel room
Bed bugs are not necessarily "trying" to hitchhike, they just find a place to hide and take it.  Sometimes that hiding place is something that goes home with you like your suitcase.  People that bring them home generally leave their suitcase, shoes  or other items next to the bed on the floor.  Next time you stay in a hotel room, do the following things.  First, lift the mattress and look for bugs, fecal matter, or skins.  If you notice that the mattress has a bed bug encasement, that might be a clue as well.  Second, even if you don't see anything, put your suitcase and other belongings on a table as far away from the bed as possible.  If you want to be super safe, you can put your stuff in the bathtub.

5.  Wash your clothes when you get home
Sometimes you just can't avoid coming in contact with places where bed bugs are at.  Since they come from hotels, public transportation, airplanes, changing rooms and many other places you probably wouldn't expect, you need to be careful.  If you are in doubt, come home and throw your clothes in the wash and they will not survive.  Even the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes will get the job done.

Listen bed bugs are bad news and they are very costly to have a pest control company in the Seattle area take care of them.  The average bed bug extermination in the Seattle area is about $750 per room.  If you live in the Seattle area and need to get a pest control company out to help you, please give me a call.  You can also call New Leaf Pest Control if you are near the Portland, Oregon area.  Otherwise, I would appreciate your comments below.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Simple ways to keep your home rodent-free!

Puget sound pest control
Nobody wants rodents in their house.  They are creepy, they can carry disease and they can also do a lot of damage.  And, as much as we don't like them, there are a few things that we do that literally invite them into our home.

We inspect crawl spaces all the time that are infested with mice or rats without people even knowing about it.  Rodents would rather you are blissfully unaware while they are using your home for shelter and making babies.  Contamination caused by rodents is the number one cause for a home needing a crawl space restoration.  So, let me tell you some simple, no-brainer things you can do that dramatically decrease the odds of you getting rodents in your home.

#1- Stop feeding them!
If you have a bird feeder out in your yard, you also have a rodent feeder.  You are giving all of the rats and mice in the neighborhood a free meal and making it likely that they will move in with you.  If you just have to have the bird feeder, at the very least, install some kind of tray underneath to keep seeds from falling on the ground (Click here for more tips on keeping rodents away from bird feeders).  Secondly, keep an eye out for any other food sources.  Do you keep pet food outside, do you have a composter, is your garbage secure?  Ask yourself these questions and be sure to remove the food sources.

#2- Do some lawn maintenance.
If you don't cut your grass and trim your shrubs with any regularity, you might have some rodents hiding out around your home.  They seek out places that provide shelter from predators and your lawn just might be it.  So, break out the lawn mower.

#3- Check for holes around your foundation.
Rodents really want to get into your crawl space.  It is kind of the perfect place for them to live.  They have shelter, it is pretty safe and your insulation provides warmth and an ideal place to nest.  They can actually get into the crawl space by digging underneath your foundation, so look for the obvious signs.  A mouse will dig a hole about the size of a quarter and a rat hole will be about 3 to 4 times bigger.  If you are seeing these holes around your foundation, you might have a rodent problem.  So, what do you do about it?  Keep reading...

#4- Check for more holes in your vent screens.
Think of foundation vent screens as the door to your crawl space.  When your screens are damaged or missing altogether, you are leaving the door open for unwanted pests.  If you were to walk around your home right now and find just one vent screen missing, I would be willing to bet that you have something living under your home (rats, mice, raccoons, etc.).

What should you do?
All of these things are easy fixes that you can do yourself.  However, you might want to be sure that you don't have a rodent problem first before you start plugging holes and fixing vents.  You would not want them to die in the walls trying to get out and stink up your home.  You should call a pest control professional and have them do an inspection of your crawl space.  If you need a pest control company in Seattle or a pest control company in Portland, you can click on the links.  Both of these companies provide free inspections and their treatment costs for rodents are reasonable.

If you have any questions on taking care of these simple fixes or if there is anything obvious that I missed, please free to comment below.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to get rid of standing water under your home.

Water is the enemy of your home.  Take a few steps back and look at the design of your home and you will see how much of its design is to simply keep water out.  The roof is pitched to allow water to drain into the gutters and be taken away from it.  Siding is placed to allow water to flow off of it.  Even the soil surrounding the home is graded to allow water to be diverted away from the home.  Keeping water off of your home is the single most important aspect of keeping your home healthy.

So, what happens when the enemy of your home sneakily gathers under the home in pools?  It is easy to miss when standing water is down in your crawl space.  I mean, nobody really spends much time down there, so things like that are found all the time without home owners even knowing about it.

Is it okay to let it just sit there and wait for it to eventually evaporate?
No, that is not a good idea.  Water rises as it evaporates and those vapors make their way into your subfloor.  This can soften and damage the floor over time and cause some very expensive bills later on.  Most homes have a vapor barrier under their home which is a 6 mil plastic sheeting that covers all of the exposed ground.  The purpose of the vapor barrier is to stop moisture from rising from the damp ground under your home into the subfloor.  So, you can just imagine how damaging it is when you have a couple inches of water on top of that vapor barrier with nothing stopping the moisture from rising.

How do you get the water out?
You need to have it pumped out.  One way to do this is to set up a temporary sump pump.  You find the lowest point and place the sump pump in there.  You usually have to knock out a vent screen and run some temporary piping.  After you get the water pumped out, we can start to think about how we are going to stop it from happening again.

What system should I put in place to stop standing water from accumulating?
That would depend upon a few factors.  If you have definite low spot in your crawl space, we might advise you to install a permanent sump pump.  We install sump pumps in the Seattle area and recommend New Leaf Pest Control in the Portland area if you live in the Pacific NW.  We also may want to look into installing a French drain around your home if water is pooling in from outside.

Getting rid of standing water is really important, so if you are experiencing this, we would love the opportunity to assist you, even if you just want to ask a few questions.  We would love to help you decide which system is best for you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is Rodent Bait Safe For My Dog?

When I was in high school I had a really cool job at a veterinarian clinic.  This was great because I love animals and always wanted a dog growing up.  Unfortunately, my family only had cats growing up.  During my time working there, someone would always bring a dog in because it was sick after eating something it should not have eaten.  The veterinarian would call me into his office and show me an x-ray and say, "what do you think that is?"  And, I would try to guess if the object inside the dogs stomach was a shoe, a toy car, a necklace, etc.  Let's just say that I found out that cats are a lot smarter than dogs pretty quickly.

It is because of this reason that I understand when people are very concerned about me putting rodent bait around their house.  Their dog will eat anything and they are nervous about having to make an emergency trip to the vet.  So, I think it is important to discuss why rodent bait is the most safe and effective treatment you can do for rodents.

How About I Just Use Snap Traps?
This method will work if you have the patience.  The problem is that you can only kill one at a time with a snap trap, while with bait, you can kill dozens at a time.  The battle that you are fighting if you are just using snap traps is that you may not be able to keep up with their reproduction rate.  A female mouse can have 72 babies a year, so you might only be slowing things down a little.  Also, dogs and cats set snap traps off pretty easily when they try to sniff the trap.

Will My Dog Die If It Eats The Bait?
A dog would have to eat a whole lot of bait in order for it to be a lethal dose.  The dosage that is needed to kill a rodent is a way smaller than what would be needed for a dog for two reasons.  First, they are obviously a lot smaller and require a smaller dosage.  Secondly, a rodent cannot throw up.  If they eat the poison, they cannot get it out of their system, but a dog will get sick and throw up.  This means that a dosage of a couple grams could be fatal for a rodent, but not have much of an effect on a dog.

Where Will You Put The Bait?
Despite the fact that it would require a larger dosage for a dog to be affected by the rodent bait, we still place them in areas where the dogs will hopefully not get to them.  The boxes that we use for our pest control company in Seattle, Washington are made out of a hard plastic and only open with a key.  They call them "tamper proof" boxes, but I have seen dogs that can chew through anything, so placement is very important.

What Are The Signs Of Rodenticide Poisoning?
The purpose of this blog post is not to convince you that rodent treatments can never be harmful, it is just to point out that they are probably safer than most people think.  Still, if you have rodent treatment performed at your home, you should always be aware of what to look for in case your dog does eat the rodenticide.  Typically, the dog will show signs of lethargy and be vomiting and have diarrhea.  It may also become disoriented and by panting a lot.  If you see any of these signs, we would recommend getting them to the veterinarian as quickly as possible to get a vitamin K injection.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you.  If you have any questions about rodent pest control or if there is something that I have missed, please leave your comments and I will try and address them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are Pest Control Treatments Safe?

I get asked a lot of questions when I answer the phone for my Seattle pest control company.  Sometimes those questions can be random, like a couple weeks ago when I was asked if I could come and get rid of someone's llama!?  But, one question that is always the same is when people ask if the products that we use are safe.  It is a great question to ask.  You want to get rid of your pests, but you want to make sure that the smaller members of your family stay safe, right?  We all want that, so let me go over why doing pest control at your home doesn't need to worry you. 

First of all, if you are at home, take a look at the walls around you.  You should see that your walls are covered in chemicals!  That's right, your walls are covered in paint, which is a mixture of chemicals.  We all need to realize that there are chemicals all around us and that anything can be toxic if you have enough exposure to it. 

Many people believe that pesticides are especially toxic because they are obviously designed to kill something.  I think that would be true in some cases.  A lot of the pesticides that were used in the past were just plain nasty stuff, but the majority of products today really are advanced.  For example, one of the products that we use for ants will only activate if ingested by an exoskeleton species, meaning it is harmless to humans or pets (unless you have pet bugs).  There is a lot of science behind the pest control industry nowadays and it is designed to keep you safe.

Green pest control has been the trend recently and for good reason.  Many of the products most commonly used today are derived from plants.  These products (in my opinion) are just as safe as newer non-green products, but it is always nice to go the eco-friendly approach whenever possible.  This, by the way, is our method of choice, but we do sometimes rely on other products as well.

No matter what approach a pest control company goes for, it is important that the treatment is done correctly to keep you safe.  We always recommend that you go with a licensed pest control professional that you can trust.  As long as the person that you hire to do your pest control is responsible, you are not putting anyone in your family at risk.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.  I will be posting my next blog that talks specifically about pet safety when using rodenticides in about a week since that would take a little more time.  Until then, please let me know if I can help you with anything.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Do I Get Rid Of Fleas?

Puget Sound pest control, flea treatment
Nobody likes fleas.  Your dog hates them, your cat hates them and you are not so fond of them either.  They are tiny little blood sucking parasites that really serve no purpose in life other than to annoy us.  So, how do you get rid of them?  I am glad that you asked!

First, it is important to know what not to do. 

Do not use bug bombs:  Admit it, you've used them before haven't you?  It seems like they should work, right?  Shooting toxic chemicals all over the place seems like a logical place to start to kill them off, but it is a waste of time, money and the clean air inside of your home.  Bug bombs just do not really work.  The chemicals contained in them have basically no residual and mostly consist of repellents.  What they can actually do is cause the fleas to move deeper into cracks, crevices, wall voids, etc.  This may afford you some momentary relief, but does not address the problem.  Plus, it is just plain nasty stuff that gets all over your home. 

Do not wait too long to address them:  If your pets have not been treated with flea medication, go get them treated.  You sort of have to do this.  If you do not, it is going to be really hard to get it under control later.  Do not go cheap on the flea medication.  I would recommend using Advantage or Frontline.  Fleas greatly prefer feeding on your pet than on you, so don't let them get away with it.  Treat the pets first!

Here are the things that you should do:

Get a pest control treatment:  Well, of course I am going to recommend this, but in all honesty, I have never seen a store bought product that works very well.  I have been to very few homes to treat for fleas without seeing several cans of various flea control products including bug bombs, carpet dust, aerosol cans, etc.  I bet the combined cost of what people spend by trying to avoid calling the professionals is more expensive than what it would cost to just get the home treated in the first place.  We provide Seattle pest control for fleas starting at $88.00 for example

Vacuum often:  Vacuuming does a couple of things for you.  Number one, it picks up their eggs.  Unlike some other pests that have eggs that adhere to something, flea eggs just roll right off the backs of your pets and can show up anywhere.  Vacuum often and empty the bag or container outside.  Number two, vacuuming causes the eggs that are missed to hatch quicker because of the mechanical vibrations.  If you have recently had a pest control treatment, you want those eggs to hatch quickly while the spray is fresh.

Know that fleas don't just come from pets:  A lot of people get fleas and do not have pets.  If you are experiencing this, there could be something going on in your crawl space or attic.  We have often found rodents or other wildlife (particularly raccoons) in these areas of homes that are having trouble with fleas.  These animals are usually covered in fleas and can bring the problem to you without you even knowing about it. 

Fleas can be tricky to get rid of on your own.  If you want some assistance or just need someone to get advice from, I would be happy to help.  Please contact me or post a comment below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Green Pest Control Really Means

green pest control, seattle wa
What does it mean to be green?  Being green is suddenly the popular thing to do in business.  Many companies have jumped on this band wagon simply as a marketing campaign and especially in the pest control industry.

First of all, it is not a bad thing when companies try to be green (even if there motives are not the best).  It is important for all businesses to be conscious of their impact on the environment.  But, since being "green" is such a broad statement, I thought it would be helpful to narrow down what it means when a pest control company claims to be eco-friendly.

There are some companies that say they are Green and even have the word "Green" in their name, but do absolutely nothing to back it up.  They use the same products as pest control companies that are not green at all.  On the other end of the spectrum, you have companies that use only natural and/ or organic products like mint seed oil, cedar chips, etc.  Although these methods sound nice and clean, they are more costly and hardly work at all.

At Healthy Homes Pest Control, we stand somewhere in the middle.  We believe in being eco-friendly and customer safety is always our highest priority.  We have established a way of doing pest control that is safe, effective and mostly green.  Many of our products that are used the most are organophosphates (which are products that are derived from plants).  For example, the product we use most often comes from a chrysanthemum and we also use some natural products like Diatomaceous Earth. 

However, there are times where we need to lean on other approaches that are not considered "green".   In the past several years, there have been huge advances in the science behind pesticide formulations.  The last generation of pesticides were just plain toxic, but the newer generation is smarter and more targeted in their approach.  I personally believe that many of the non-green options are safer than the green options.  For me, again, safety is the bottom line and trumps being "green" in my book.

The products that we use are only part of why we are green.  It is also a way of doing business and living life.  We created are business model with this in mind and do our best to lessen our impact on the environment in our day to day operations.  This includes our treatment methods as well.  We use an approach called integrated pest management, which basically means that we tailor a  specific treatment plan to each individual home.  We are not out there just "spraying", but applying the appropriate amount of product to eliminate the pest issue.

So, if you are looking for something 100% natural and green, that may not be us.  There are plenty of companies out there that can help you with that.  However, if you are looking for an eco-friendly, safe pest control company, that is what we are.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How To Avoid Bringing Bed Bug Home From A Hotel

What is the first thing you do when you step into your hotel room?  Turn on the TV, start unpacking, maybe get right to stealing those little soaps?  Last night I stayed in a place that was not exactly the Ritz and the first thing that I did was to start looking for bed bugs.  There is no sense in making myself comfortable if I find the creepy little blood suckers.  So, let me tell you what I did and what you can do avoid bringing any home with you.

bed bug, seattle bed bug, pest control seattle
First of all, hotels are notorious for having bed bugs.  It really isn't their fault.  With so many people coming and going, it is bound to happen and it doesn't matter if it is a nice hotel or like the flea bag place I stayed last night.  They can be anywhere and you should always check before getting settled.  Here are some things you need to know:

1- What they look like:  You really can't find them if you don't know what you are looking for, can you?  You are looking for something about the size and shape of a watermelon seed (pictured to the right).  They are round and flat and can be anywhere from a amber color to red color depending on when they last fed.  They also shed their skins and leave feces behind, so be on the lookout for all of that.

2- Where to look:  Bed bugs will usually nest within about 5 feet of their host (that means you!), so look around the bed.  If that is not quite the powerful insight you were looking for when you opened this blog, let me explain further.  They are typically going to try and find a tight place that they can squeeze their flat bodies into.  Check the seams of the mattress carefully and inspect the baseboard.  Sometimes, you can find them by just lifting the mattress and there they are.  I have even seem them nesting in an alarm clock next to the bed.  Wherever they are, they are almost always in a tight spot, so keep that in mind.

3-  Tell-tale signs:  When a bed bug bites, it will leave behind a little drop of blood.  Although, hopefully your sheets were changed from the last guest, you can sometimes find tiny blood stains on the bed spread.  Also, if you take the fitted sheet off and notice a bed bug encasement (basically a linen zipped up bag that goes over the mattress that bed bugs cannot get out of) that is a clue that they have at least had them in the past. 

4-  What to do if you don't find them:  I didn't bother putting in here what to do if you do find them because I would assume you would get a different room or a different hotel all together.  But, if you don't find them, I still would not assume that you are in the clear.  Bed bugs can be tough to find and you should not take any chances.  The way that people bring bed bugs home is when they hitchhike on your suitcase or other belongings.  So, don't leave your bags on the bed or right next to the bed.  You should put them on something high like a table or dresser.  If you want to be really safe, you can put your bags in the bathtub.

If you follow these steps, you are going to have a good chance of coming home pest free.  If you are unlucky enough to not come home pest free, I would suggest you call Healthy Homes Pest Control in Seattle, Washington.  We will help solve your problem or at the very least, give you some advice.  I hope that this has been helpful to you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What To Do About Water In My Crawl Space.

Having water in your crawl space can mean trouble.  There are a lot of things that can cause damage to your home, but nothing is more damaging than water.  Think about how the outside of your home is designed.  Think about the pitch of your roof, the shingles and the siding and you will see that its primary purpose is to keep water off the house.  But, water on the outside of your home is easy to spot.  Some of the most damaging water accumulation happens right under your nose.  Or, more precisely, right under your home in your crawl space.

Water accumulates in the crawl space a few different ways, but once it gets there, it doesn't really go anywhere.  All crawl spaces are damp, dark places and getting a crawl space to dry up can take awhile.  Also, in order for a crawl space to dry up, water vapors rise, which can soften and damage the structural members of your home.  In almost all cases, it is critical to pump water out by installing a sump pump. 

How to install a sump pump

This is a very dirty job and grueling hard labor.   It consists of digging trenches that flow toward a sump basin.  These trenches are typically at least 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide and are filled with corrugated piping and gravel.  The basin itself will need to be deep enough to install a submersible sump pump.   The water remediation is pretty simple, water flows through the trenches and toward the lowest point where the sump basin and pump are installed.  Most pumps are designed to automatically kick on when the water reaches a certain level and then pumps it into an exterior drain (typically by tapping it into the drainage system that your gutters are hooked up to).   Doing this job always reminds me of what it must be like to dig your way out of prison.  You are wet, muddy and have to use little tools to dig because it is such a tight space that you are working in.

Vapor barriers

Sounds easy, huh?  After your done putting in the drainage system, you no doubt will have to replace your vapor barrier (black plastic covering the ground in your crawl space).  A lot of companies will go through and tape all the seams of your vapor barrier and make it look all pretty, but keep in mind, you have a water problem and want it to drain properly.  A vapor barrier does you no good if you have standing water on top of your vapor barrier, so make sure that the seams overlap, but are not taped.

Listen, water in your crawl space is bad news and it is very tough work to rectify it.  If you have this issue under your house, I would welcome your call and I can get a bid in your hands or at the very least, offer you some friendly advice.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Black beetles are covering my home! What do I do?

Do you remember that Alfred Hitchcock movie, "The Birds"?  An innocent little town starts to notice that there are a lot of birds around.  No big deal, right? Well, then the birds just keep coming and coming and then they start attacking people!  This is what one of our recent customers felt like was happening to her last week, but it wasn't birds that were frightening her, they were black beetles covering the side of her house.

She had Box Elder Beetles and they were everywhere!  Maybe you have them too.  They are disgusting black beetles with long legs, long antennae's and orange/red marking on their back.  It is right about this time of year that we start to see them congregate on the side of our homes.  Luckily, they do not do any damage and they will not harm you like Hitchcock's birds, although they have been known to "buzz the tower" by flying close to your head.  So, that can be unpleasant.

Mostly though, they are just unsightly when you see thousands of them on your home crawling around.  All they really want to do is lay in the sun and make babies (what a life, huh?).  Before long, a small problem turns into a very big problem because of how fast they reproduce.  You will start to see more and more of them on the south side of your home, facing the sun and when that side fills up, they start moving to the west side.  We have seen homes so completely covered that you can barely see the siding on the home!

With so many of the bugs on the outside, they can start to show up inadvertently inside of the home as well.  Even with a closed window, they often squeeze their way in, bringing the infestation into the home. 

Fortunately,  despite the large numbers of these beetles, they are still fairly easy to get rid of.  There are basically three options:

Option #1:  Do nothing and wait for them to die off on their own (not recommended).
You can wait them out and they will eventually go away since they are a seasonal pest.  This option requires that you don't really care what the outside of your home looks like, but if you can stand it, this is the cheapest way to go about it.

Option #2:  The Do-It-Yourself spray (worth a try).
If you have access to a power sprayer, this might be worth trying.  Mix in some dish soap with your sprayer and blast away.  Box Elder Beetles don't like soap and it will work as a deterrent and also have the added benefit of cleaning your exterior (if you do go this route, be sure to test the soap in an inconspicuous area to make sure that it does not stain).  This will not kill the beetles, but can keep them at bay for awhile.

Option #3:  Have a pest control treatment (of course I am going to recommend this).
If you are looking for a solution that is tried and true, you can call me or another pest control company to treat your home with a product that will kill and deter them.  Usually they will start dying off within  a couple days after a treatment and the problem will be solved.

If you are dealing with a box elder infestation and would like some help, please give me a call.  I would be happy to answer any questions for you or schedule a time to come over and treat for you.  Also, mention that you read this whole article and since you managed to stay awake during it, you should get your home treated for 50% off.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What spiders are venomous in the Pacific Northwest?

First of all, every spider is capable of producing venom, but not all spiders pose a threat.  Just because a spider looks big and creepy, does not mean that it can actually hurt you.  In fact, most people will tell you that the typical Daddy Long Legs spider is the most poisonous spider in the world, but its fangs are not long enough to pierce a humans skin.  This "fact" is actually completely untrue.  Their fangs are too short to do any harm, but they are not venomous to humans and not even really insects for that matter.

So, don't believe everything that you hear. 

Luckily, here in the Puget Sound area, we really do not have too many spiders that we need to worry about.  They are kind of gross and you may want a pest control company to come and get rid of them anyway, but the purpose of this article is to inform you of how rare "poisonous" spiders are in our area and help you to identify these spiders when you see them.  So, let's get started:

Black Widow Spider:  Most people know what a Black Widow Spider is or at least have heard about them.  They are not common in our area, but can be brought here from warmer climates to the south of us.  In all my time in pest control up here, I have only come across a handful of these types of spiders in the past decade.  There are quite a few sub-species of black widow spiders that you will not need to worry about that have a large rear end.  Sometimes they will even have a white hourglass marking on them that is indicative of a male Black Widow.  However, these spiders are not the poisonous types.  What you will want to look for is the prominent red hourglass shape on the underneath side of the abdomen.  They will usually hang around under furniture or in other dark places.  If you see a spider that fits this description, I would recommend giving us a call, but again, they are very rare.

Brown Recluse Spider:  These types of spiders are also very rare and typically are found in the southeast areas of the United States.  You will want to look for a few distinguishing marks that will let you know if have a Brown Recluse.  They have a prominent "violin" shape marking on their back and are often called a "Fiddle back" because of this.  This in itself, is not enough to determine if it is in fact a Brown Recluse because other non-poisonous spiders have similar markings.  Also, if you get close enough, a Brown Recluse has only 3 eyes (most spiders have 8).

Hobo Spider:  If you are going to worry about a spider, this is the only one that is somewhat common to this area.  They are large, brownish spiders that can do some damage with their bites.  Typically, they are identified by a V shaped pattern on its back.  They also do not have different colors on the joints of their legs like most spiders do and they have a lighter colored stripe running down their sternum.  They are easily mistaken for what is known as a "Giant House Spider".  These creepy spiders are about the same size as a Hobo Spider and look remarkably similar.  In fact, in treating for Hobo spiders, I would say 3 out of the 4 times people think they are seeing a Hobo, they are actually seeing a non-poisonous Giant House Spider.  Either way, they are definitely creepy and should be treated since they are hard to tell the difference between the two without looking under a microscope.

Most people choose to have treatment for spiders because they creep them out, but it is important to know that most spiders cannot typically hurt you.  If you don't care if they can hurt you or not and just want them gone, please give me a call.  Also, if you have a spider that you think might be one of the spiders listed above, you can send me an email with a picture and I will help you identify it.  If you have any questions or need any other help, we would love to assist you.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Am I Hearing Noises In My Walls?

Have you ever seen the Ghost Adventures show on the History Channel?  It is one of my favorites, but I can never seem to decide whether it is real or fake. They have ghosts caught on camera, ghosts threatening them by name and even a ghost throwing a brick at them in one episode!  It seems almost too crazy to be true.  One thing that I always chuckle about is how many times they say in a quick, startled voice, "did you hear that?!" with big eyes as they walk around their haunted houses.  I am not a drinker, but if I was, that would be a good drinking game, taking a drink each time they say that.

Sometimes it can be just as creepy when you are sitting at home and you hear strange scratching noises inside your walls.  Chances are that it is not a ghost, but it still is kind of disconcerting.  So what could it be?

It is likely that it is a pest issue, so there are a couple of things that we are going to need to ask in order to figure this out.

#1- Where are you hearing the noises?
#2- When are you hearing the noises?
#3- What does it sound like?

Noises in the attic:  Generally, when people call a pest control company to come out and inspect, we will find either squirrels, rats, raccoons or birds in the attic.  If you are hearing a scratching noise at night or early in the morning, I would suspect rats or mice.  If it is during the day, it would likely be a squirrel or bird.  Larger animals like a raccoon or opossum will make a lot more noise and can often be heard thumping around in the early morning hours.  If you are hearing little footsteps scampering around up there, you might not have anything in the attic at all and it might actually be on the roof.  When a squirrel runs on the roof, it can make a lot of noise and make you think it is in the attic (this would be the best case scenario).

Noises in the walls:  You can pretty much rule out anything bigger than a squirrel here.  Most of the time if you are hearing something in the walls, it is a mouse.  I have heard a lot of people say that it "makes too much noise to be a little mouse", but sure enough, it usually is.

Noises in the air ducts:  Most of the time when you think you are hearing something in the air ducts, it is actually not in the ducts, but just running on top of them.  If something was in the ducts, it would probably be a rodent and it is usually not a place that they like to be when your heat kicks on.  If they were in the ducts for any length of time, you would start to smell their urine when you used your heating or cooling system (yuck!).

Noises in the crawl space:  This is the most common place in the home to have critter activity.  Generally, if you do have critters in your crawl space, they can go a long time without be detected since most of us do not frequent this area of the home and their noises do not travel very well in an insulated crawl space.  If you are hearing something, you can rule out birds and usually even squirrels.  Depending on how loud the noises are, it is probably a rodent or something larger like a raccoon, opossum, cat or skunk.  The first thing, that you want to do is walk around your house and look for entry points.  Check your foundation vent screens and if you see one missing, you know you might have something large down there.  If you do not find any obvious opening, you might have rodents (a mouse needs only an opening the size of a quarter).  I do not recommend going in the crawl space to inspect unless you know how to deal with wildlife.  If you pop in unannounced on a mama and her cubs, it could mean trouble.

Other things to consider:  If you are always hearing the noises in the exact same spot each day, there is one other thing to consider.  Carpenter ants will make a scratching/ chewing noise when they excavating wood, so that is another possibility.

Listen, dealing with strange noises in your home can be frustrating and alarming and if you need help, I would love to assist you.  I am available to take your call at Healthy Homes Pest Control, even if it just is to answer a few questions.  Let me know if I can help you!