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Seattle Pest Control and Home Services: August 2013

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?

Free Inspection Coupon
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