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Seattle Pest Control and Home Services: June 2013

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.