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Seattle Pest Control and Home Services: March 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to get rid of mice and rats before they wreck your house!

rodents, mice, rats, pest control, seattle wa, puget sound
Rats and mice are sneaky.  They squeeze into your home like ninja's when you are not looking.  Once inside, they invite all their friends and relatives and before you know it, you have a mess underneath your home.  And, while all these unwanted visitors are making themselves at home, you lay sleeping blissfully unaware.

Generally, by the time that you realize that you have a rodent problem, they are pretty firmly established.  People often see one rat or one mouse in their home and think "I have a rat" or "I have a mouse", but really for every one that you see, there are dozens that you don't see.  So, before we talk about what to do, you might have to come to grips with the fact that you may have a lot of rodents living with you right now.

In my experience as a pest control professional, these are the steps that must be addressed to get a rodent population under control.  Now, obviously the best thing that you can do is call me at Healthy Homes Pest Control and have me take care of your rodent issue, but for the sake of this article, I am going to teach you how to address them on your own first.

1- Act Quickly!  Rodents reproduce at an amazing pace (up to 72 babies a year) and every day that you wait in getting this under control, the problem is getting worse.  Also, rodents have no control over their bowel movements and leave fecal matter and urine everywhere they go.  This causes two problems.  First, they are contaminating underneath your home and up to 40% of the air you breathe comes from underneath your home.  Second, as their scent gets stronger, it becomes more inviting for other neighborhood rodents to join in on the fun.

2-Remove Food Sources:  Rodents generally are going to make their nests with 10-20 feet of a food source.  Maybe this is why they chose your home.  Do you have a bird feeder that they might be eating off?  Do you leave out cat or dog food?  Walk around the outside of your home and through your garage with this in mind.  If you find a potential food source, remove it!

3- Check For Entry Points:  A mouse only needs an opening as large as a quarter to get into your home, so this could be tough.  However, you should be looking for obvious entry points.  The most common entry points is from your foundation vent screens.  Check to make sure that they are intact, particularly in areas where wires come into the crawl space from the outside (thank you cable guy!).  Also, look for burrow holes and cover them up.  Rats make a burrow hole as big as a tennis ball and mice make on the size of a golf ball. 

4- Set Traps:  Ultimately, the best thing you can do is set up bait stations on the exterior, but with a pest control license, you will not have access to any bait that will actually work.  So instead, you are going to need to set traps under your home.  You will want to do this right away after sealing entry points because they are going to need to get food and you may have trapped them inside.  So, you need them to find the traps quickly so they don't die where you can't find them and stink things up.  When setting up traps, put peanut butter on it, but do not set it yet.  Give them one free meal and once they have eaten the bait, they are more likely to get caught when you set it later (this is especially important for rats).

5-  Clean Up:  Once you have done all these steps, you have given yourself a good chance of getting things under control, but if you have a bad infestation the traps are not enough and you will need to get some bait (I can help you with that if you live in the Seattle, Washington area).  If you did manage to get it under control, you are going to want to inspect for damage.  Check your air ducts to make sure they are intact, look for contamination on the vapor barrier and check the insulation to make sure it doesn't need to be replaced.  I would recommend decontaminating the whole area with a  bleach water solution to remove the bacteria and other contaminants.  If find a lot of damage, you might want to review my previous post "Do I really need a crawl space restoration".

I hope that this information helps you.  If you have questions on anything that I discussed today, I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave a comment or give me a call.  Again, if you are in the Puget Sound area and just want me to take care of your rodent infestation, I would I love to have you contact me.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do I Really Need A Crawl Space Restoration?

 I receive phone calls all the time from distraught home owners that were handed quotes for over $3000.00 for work needing to be done in their crawl space.  The question I am most often asked is, "do I really need this?"  After all, this is an area of the home that most home owners have never even looked at in their home and it sure is hard to fork over that kind of money without an understanding of what it is.  So, let me give you some information on what a crawl space restoration really is and you can decide for yourself if it is needed.
Typically, a crawl space restoration is quoted after rodents do damage under your home.  Many pest control companies offer this service and charge an arm and a leg for it because it is very hard work and a very dirty job.  Here are the things to consider when you are deciding if you really need to bite the bullet and have the job done:
-Rodents like to nest in your subfloor insulation because it provides the perfect environment for them (warm, safe and cozy).
-Rodents leave urine and droppings everywhere they go, so things can get messy under there quickly.
-It has been estimated that up to 40% of the air you breathe comes from your crawl space, so that's kinda gross.
-Rodents can carry up to 40 diseases according to the Center for Disease Control.
-They can also chew into air ducts, which will cause you to lose heat and add to your utility bills.
-Although it is rare, they can cause fires by chewing wires in your home.
-Lastly, and most importantly, once they establish themselves under your home, their scent becomes inviting for more rodents to join them, which can quickly escalate the amount of contamination in your crawl space.
With these factors in place, you can see how the argument can be made that you should get this done.  However, I am sad to say that many of these factors are greatly exaggerated by pest control companies in homes that I come to.  Home owners will have pest technicians telling them that it is much worse than it actually is and that is just wrong.  That is why it is so important to find contractors that you can trust.  If you want to find someone that you can trust, you can always call us at Healthy Homes Pest Control in Bremerton, Washington. 
Once you have decided to have this sort of work done, here are the items that are generally completed:
-Removal of contaminated insulation
-Removal of vapor barrier
-Dispose of contaminated material
-Crack and crevice sealing
-Entry point sealing
-Decontamination of crawl space with ULV fogger
-Vapor barrier installation
On a typical home, this service can run anywhere from $1000 to $4000, but we have seen outrageous bids by other pest control companies, so I would strongly encourage (whether you get a bid from another company or from us) get a second opinion.  There are no set pricing for this kind of thing within the industry and there are people that will just rip you off.
If you have found this information helpful and would like to ask some more questions, be sure to contact us.  We would be happy to help you or give you a second opinion.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How Much Damage Can Carpenter Ants Do To My Home?

$88 ant treatment coupon"I knew that I had little black ants, but I never knew these were carpenter ants".  That is what Lois was saying to me as we stood in her bathroom looking at the hole in the floor.  Her handyman son in law found the damage while replacing the linoleum and went under the house to find more and more damage.  She was a nice elderly lady that reminded me a lot of my grandma, so it brought me no pleasure to tell her that much of her subfloor had been damaged by carpenter ants and that it could potentially weaken the structural stability of the floor she walked on every morning.

For years she would see these black ants.  Some of them  were small and some big, but never did she know that what she was seeing every day was the Pacific Northwest's most common wood destroying pest.  It is a pest that can wreak havoc on a persons home and unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to poor Lois.  Have you seen them around your house?

First, if you see a large ant, the chances are that it is a carpenter ant.  Of course, there are a few exceptions, but I cannot tell you how many times we have encountered them and have home owners say that they had no idea that it was a wood destroying pest.  Here are a few distinguishing marks:

-Usually large and black.  If it is an established colony, you may see some with wings.

-They are polymorphic, meaning that they can come in all shapes and sizes.  Most types of ants are one size and do not have variations in the entire colony, but carpenter ants can be big, medium and small.

Carpenter ants are typically going to be looking for soft, water damaged wood, but not always.  If you have wood piles around the house that are starting to rot, you might be inviting them to come on over.  It is always important to remove any conducive conditions away from the house like wood piles or railroad ties.  People also ask us all the time if it is a bad idea to have bark dust around the house, but this is not what they are looking for, so don't worry about that.  Carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood that they are infesting like a termite does.  Instead, they simply burrow their way into it, making long, cylinder shaped nests.

A good clue that they are doing damage to your home is if you see their frass (basically the wood shaving that they leave behind when mining into your structure).  It has been estimated that an established colony can do up to $17 worth of damage each day!  At least, that is what I have been told ever since I have been the industry.

A typical carpenter ant treatment from a pest control company is generally going to run you anywhere from $100 to about $400 depending on the size of your home, so it is well worth it to have these destructive insects treated long before they give you a hole in your bathroom like I found at Lois' house.  If you would like more information on carpenter ant treatments, I would be happy to help you.  Also, for my blogger guests, I have included a $88 ant treatment coupon for you.  Go ahead and write down the coupon code ANT101 (no need to print it) and give me a call at Healthy Homes Pest Control and I would be happy to help you! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What NOT to do when you have bed bugs


Pest control | Bed Bugs | Seattle Washington
Bed Bugs suck!
Bed bugs are creepy. They are like tiny little vampires that crawl into bed with you and suck your blood. You feel violated, grossed out, maybe even angry and all you want to do is set your house on fire and walk away. Yes, they are frustrating. Yes, they are nasty. But, there are ways to get rid of them that don't require a gallon of gasoline and a box of matches.
First, let me just say that the fact that you have bed bugs does not make you a dirty person. It is probably not your fault that you got them (unless you are allowing complete strangers to crash in your bed, then it probably is your fault). Most likely, you were unlucky enough to have one hitchhike its way back home with you from a hotel you were staying or from sitting in a chair where they were nesting. So, don't buy into the stigma that there is something to be ashamed about because there is not. You got them. That's it. Let's deal with it.
Now, these little blood sucker are unfortunately very hard to get rid of. It is my opinion that it is near impossible to exterminate them without some of the stronger products that require a pesticide license to purchase. This article is NOT about how to use mint seed oil and cedar chips to get rid of bed bugs because I have never seen those methods actually work. At my company, we believe in "Green" pest control and use it whenever we can, but natural pest control products are just not going to cut it. That is not to say that the products that I am going to suggest to you are in any way "unsafe", they are just not the plant based products that we might suggest on a different, less difficult pest. Also, a can of raid or a bug bomb is not going to get the job done either and is actually just a waste of money. It just will not work. What I am suggesting is that you call me or someone like me in the pest control industry to get this problem handled for you.
But, regardless if you take that bit of advice, I at least want to walk you through some things NOT to do when you have a bed bug infestation
-Don't wait too long to get a professional out to treat. Bed bugs reproduce quickly and you can have a small problem turn into a big problem in just a couple of weeks. The bed bug infestations that I have gotten rid of the quickest are the ones that just started. If you allow them to reproduce and get deeper into the cracks and crevices of your home, it makes in exponentially harder.
-Don't throw away your mattress. If it is really bad, we might end up suggesting this, but not in the beginning. It is unlikely that all of the bed bugs are confined to the mattress anyway and by hauling that big mattress through the house, you are potentially spreading the infestation all over. Usually a mattress cover is an excellent idea and will be even more effective than throwing the thing away anyway.
-Don't sleep in a different room. Bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide and will follow you. So, instead of having an infestation in just one room, you now have it in two or three. This sounds horrible, but staying put is the best thing for you. Once you apply pest products , the best thing you could do is stay in your bed and let the disgusting things come to you, cross the spray and die a few days later.
-Don't use bug bombs. I already mentioned that these are not going to work, but more than that, they are actually counter productive. Basically they just kick out a light repellent with very little residual. It rarely ever kills any bed bugs and then just pushes them deeper into walls, cracks, crevices, etc making it even harder to get them under control later on.
-Don't freak out. I know that this one is hard because they are so creepy. I believe that the hardest part of a bed bug infestation to get rid of is the mental agony. Long after they are gone, you will think you still feel them crawling on you. Try to stay calm and know that we will get these suckers under control. If you call me, just know that I have never come across an infestation that I couldn't get exterminated. So, even know you feel super creeped out right now, we can beat these guys!
I hope that this advice is helpful to you. If you are ready to contact me to help you get it under control or just to ask a few questions, I welcome the call. Also, mention that you read this article and use the coupon code (BB 222) and receive $50 off your bed bug treatment.  Or, you can use the coupon above with coupon code (BB 101).

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to kill sugar ants fast!

The Extremely Annoying Sugar Ant
In my line of work, sugar ants are the most common pest issue that I deal with.  They don’t do any damage and they cannot hurt you, but they sure can be greatly annoying.  Just about every home is going to be invaded by these pesky insects eventually and it is better to learn now how you are going to deal with them until waiting until they are heavily upon you.

For starters, sugar ants are a type soil ant (meaning that they come from the ground, of course).  By the time that you see them in your house, they have probably left their cozy home in the ground and made a cozier home inside your walls.  But, if you want to stop these guys from getting in there in the first place, you can do a preventative exterior spray around your home.  If you are going to spray it yourself, I would recommend Ortho Home Defense, but if you want to bring out the big guns, I would recommend me (Healthy Homes Pest Control).

If you were not lucky enough to stop the problem before it started, then that would explain why you are reading an article titled “Getting rid of sugar ants fast!”, so let me get down to the basics.
First, sugar ants only want 3 things from your home and those are warmth, food and water.  You want to eliminate as much of these as you can.  We will go ahead and give them warmth because you kind of like that about your home too, but eliminate any food and water.  Do a deep clean on your kitchen and search any sticky sweet left overs that they might be going for.  Make sure your food in your pantry is tightly sealed and be sure to clean any grease around your stove and oven.  When you use your sink, wipe up the residual water.  Sometimes these two steps can cause them to move on to another home…  But, not usually.

There are a few things that you can do that will actually be counter productive that you would not expect.  First, any over the counter bug spray will contain a repellent and these will cause havoc in the sugar ant nest.  Basically a repellent causes the queen to panic and start reproducing at a higher rate because she thinks the nest is under attack.  If you have ever sprayed ants with Raid and killed them and then found even more ants a few weeks later, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Secondly, it is helpful to avoid any citrus based cleaning products because they are drawn to that.
In my opinion, the best approach to treating these nuisance pests is baiting, baiting and baiting.  All those ants that you see swarming your counter are looking for food to bring back to the nest and a good bait can be very effective.  Again, I can bring the more effective stuff, but if you want to go it alone first, I would recommend Maxforce because it has an active ingredient of Fipronil which works awesome.  It is hard to find, but here is a link to it on Amazon.

Once you have your kitchen clean and dry and have your bait out, you want to just let them do their thing.  Believe it or not, you do not want to kill them.  It is better if they just take the bait back to the colony and die off that way.  Lastly, if you find trails leading to a food source that you do not want them in, you can wipe the trails off with Windex.  This will erase their pheromone trails and hopefully cause them to make new trails leading to the bait.

If all else fails, you can always call me at Healthy Homes Pest Control.  Even if you live out of state and I could not possibly treat your home, I would still be more than happy to give you some more advice.  Good luck!

See this article on!

Critters are looking to make your home, their home

In the Pacific Northwest, we long to see the sun this time of year.  We endured months and months of dreary rain, while on just a few occasions, the sun teased us, poking its bashful head out from behind the clouds.  We want to see more of it and to see our cold soil start to warm and our flowers start to bloom.

Seattle is beautiful in the spring, isn’t it?   Birds chirp their morning songs and bees work furiously in our gardens.  Yes, there are lots of birds and bees, and most particularly when it comes to wildlife.  This is when raccoons, opossums, skunks and many other types of critters make their babies and the soon-to-be Mama’s of these babies are looking for a nice warm place to give birth.

Unfortunately, your crawl space is the perfect spot for this to happen.  It is secluded, safe and warm.  Now, bringing life into this world is a beautiful thing, but it is also kind of a disgusting thing at the same time and you don’t want it to happen under your house!

These critters will tear apart your air ducts, pull down your insulation and make a mess of your vapor barrier.  Trust me, you want no part of this under your house.  This will cost thousands to repair and can really bring a significant amount of contamination.

The good news is that it is fairly easy to avoid.  It takes a pest control professional to get them out, but it takes very little to keep them from getting in.  What you will need to do is walk around your home and look for entry points.  Since these animals are as big or bigger than a typical cat, you are looking for large openings.  This is almost always in the form of a missing screen on your foundation vents.  Go along your foundation and try to lightly push in the screen to check if they are damaged or loose.  If you find anything that could possibly be big enough for a critter, here are a few steps to follow:

1.  Put a crumpled up piece of newspaper in the opening.  If you check the area the next morning and the newspaper is pushed into the crawl space, a critter probably went under your home.  If it is pushed out, then a critter may have come out of the crawl space.

2.  In either of these cases, you probably have a critter living under your home and you might want to give me a call at Healthy Homes Pest Control to be safe in checking out the area.

3.  If the newspaper stays in place, you may decide to fix the screen yourself.  I do this using 1/4 screen mesh and small 1/4 self tapping screws.  These can be drilled directly into the plastic part of the foundation vent or you can use masonry screws and go directly into the foundation.  In both cases, it is better to do this from the crawl space for aesthetic purposes.

If you have any issues with wildlife that you do not want to handle on your own, I would be happy to assist you.  Shoot me your questions and comments.

How I can Keep Your Home Healthy

Hi!  My name is Craig Maki and I am the owner of Healthy Homes Pest Control and Home Services.  In my line of work, I fix a lot of big problems that have to do with my customers’ biggest investment, their home.  Most of the time, these problems can easily be avoided with just some simple preventative measures.  The purpose of this blog is to help home owners avoid bigger problems later on.  Tune in weekly and we will look at some things that you can do quickly and easily to avoid some of the most common, (easily avoidable) problems that can seriously affect the overall health of your home.