General Pest Control

I am a first time homeowner and have recently scheduled quarterly pest control service. What should I do to prepare for the visit?

Your pest management professional depends on you and your observations to effectively control and eliminate your pest problems. Make a note of what you have seen, when you have seen it and the pest’s location in your home or home’s exterior. Mention all pest problems. Also tell your technician if you have recently completed any remodeling or repair work to your home. The technician will check for any pest entry points in your home. Tell your technician too what pets are in the household and if you have any health issues, and if children and/or elderly members are part of your household. These all determine the choice of products your technician will use and their placement. Mention any moisture or standing water too. Remember less than 35% of your home’s structure is accessible for inspections so your pest management professional will depend on your detective work as well.

My new home has an on-going pest problem. How long do I have to live with this?

No one can answer the "how long" question. It will depend on regular pest control and elimination of entry points, conducive conditions and the pest being controlled. Pests such as rats, mice, and many insect pests are often built into newly constructed homes. During construction, buildings are left open for extended periods of time and these pests have an open invitation to enter the structure. On-site materials provide harborage and workers often leave food scraps and wrappers behind, contributing to the population. Then as the building is completed, a few of these pests are trapped inside to explore and multiply.

If building materials were exposed to rain and moisture during construction, they often develop fungus and this attracts fungus-feeding pests including the foreign grain beetle and plaster beetles. These beetles feed on damp wood surfaces. Psocids are another fungus-eating pest that feeds on the back side of damp plaster and sheetrock walls and may enter your living space. In addition, some of the finish work could have been overlooked including caulking doors and windows and installing door sweeps and threshold plates. Check to see that caulking and door closures are in place. Vacuum and mop floors regularly to eliminate food particles that may attract pests. Pest control service is recommended to effectively control active problem pest populations.

Do pests plan to visit my home soon?

From a bug's perspective your home environment is stable and climate controlled. In spring and fall, when their external environment becomes less stable they will come inside.

Many insects cannot hold water in their bodies and are attracted by the moist mulch around your home. Centipedes are in your mulch eating arthropods, insects, earthworms, and slugs, while millipedes are feasting on decaying vegetation. Ants too are attracted to the small bugs present in mulch. Ants like living near the foundation and enjoy the warmth of the concrete foundation and they enter your home through hairline cracks. Rats and mice nest under slabs or in wall voids. Rats come inside along external utility access points in foundation walls. Even the Indian meal moth may show up inside your home due to mice and roof rats in your attic. These rodents bring seeds and plant food inside and the extra seeds attract moths.

Actually, the pests you see inside may be a symptom of a different problem. A key to control these unwanted pests is determining the conditions that ecologically led to your inside pest problem. Building design, lighting, plant beds, and other choices you make contribute to pest problems. Flat roofs, stucco, and adobe siding hold water and entice pests. Shady houses, limbs touching the house, foundation plants, flat boards on southern exposures attracting moisture, no rain guttering, and clogged gutters are all potential building problems that increase pest and fungal problems. Houses with no overhangs or today's modern construction without eaves allows water to flow directly onto the wood or siding. Over time, these boards will rot and pull away, offering moisture and an open entrance for pests.

Rats, ants, and roaches follow holes around sewer lines to come in and will not hesitate to cross water-filled plumbing lines. Lighting, growing in popularity for home safety, attracts flying insects to your home and these insects in turn attract spiders. Paint colors attract pests. Flies for example are attracted to a bright white home.

Soil type can affect flies, ants, and termite populations. Soil with high organic content -- your fertilized lawns or mulched beds -- will bring animals like skunks to the area to eat the grub worm population. Wood piles are attractive to pests and their predators. Shrubs and grasses around your home's perimeter can harbor pests. Landscape design should allow at least two to three feet of space between your home's exterior siding. Mulch in beds should be no more than three inches thick. Remove and replace old mulch. Do not pile new mulch over old mulch. Even plants in the home can harbor insects. Low areas in yards hold water and attract pests to the moisture. Lawns should drain away from homes and holes in the yard should be filled for a smooth surface to deter mosquito breeding.

Snakes, spiders, lizards, and ladybugs are our friends as long as they remain outside and eat pest populations. Yet these predators become pests when they come inside. Dogs and cats harbor blood-sucking fleas and ticks and their food and feces attract pests.

Caulk, nailing, loose boards, installing screens and automatic temperature-controlled foundation vents, adding mortar, replacing rotting wood, sealing wood, trimming trees, and an on-going review can go a long way in making your home less inviting to pests. Your pest management professional who practices integrated pest management can perform an essential annual "check-up" of your home and make an evaluation of both the interior and exterior, providing written documentation of problem areas and recommending changes to keep you pest-free.

How important is regular house cleaning for pest control?

Having treated restaurants and institutional customers with food service facilities has highlighted a number of cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation issues that can benefit homeowners. While almost 99% of your pest problems originate outdoors, once inside your home, sanitation and access to food and water perpetuate these unwelcome pest guests. Because both cockroaches and mice feed on the same foods we do, a dirty kitchen, poor food storage, and poor trash management act as breeding areas for these pests, allowing their populations to increase rapidly.

Entry areas including porches and mud-rooms are often the first entry points for pests. Use a “Webster” or similar duster to keep baseboards and the corners of the ceilings clear of spider webs. In fact, the presence of spiders often indicates the presence of other pest populations that are attractive food supplies for the spiders. Toe-kick areas, baseboards, corners of floors, corners of ceilings, and door frames are popular areas for spiders to build their nests.

In the kitchen, family room or other locations where family members have meals or snacks, the smallest crumbs become a tempting meal to pests.With the normal traffic flow, crumbs and other food particles find their way into corners, cracks, and other crevices along the baseboard. As you vacuum, be sure to use the wand attachment and reach into corners and other crevices as well as behind large furniture. Do not forget to vacuum the cushions of couches, chairs, and other upholstered furniture. Follow your thorough vacuuming with damp mopping of all hard surfaces. Caulking all visible cracks could also make this cleaning job faster and easier in the future. Be sure the stove, walls, and cabinets around cooking areas are free from grease and that dirty dishes do not stand in the sink or on counter tops. Trash cans need a plastic liner to keep crumbs from collecting in the bottom. Trash should be taken outside to a secure highly-covered storage location daily.

In the laundry room, the warm moist environment can be an attractant to pests as is the lint and debris found behind washing machines and dryers. Using a long wand attachment, vacuum these areas thoroughly. Fill holes between washer hoses and drains. With steel wool and caulk the holes both inside and out so mice and rats cannot come inside. It only takes a very small passageway for rodents to enter your home. In the pantry, make sure you have proper ventilation and clean thoroughly and rotate food stocks. Pests often live in stored flour, meal, and other cooking products.Pests may be brought into your home in dried peas and beans.

Homes that are cleaned and vacuumed weekly can look to reasons other than normal sanitation for their pest problem. Often the problem is due to products brought into the home from outside into the living area or garage. Examples are paper, cardboard, newspapers, and wood. Grocery store items are often packaged in cardboard or paper and may harbor roaches or their eggs deposited there from food warehouses or from your grocery store. Remove all paper to control these inside pests. Also transfer any stored interior firewood to an outside location away from your home. Stacks of newspapers for later recycling, paper bags, and empty boxes can be harborage sites for roaches and should not be stored indoors.

As you put your summer clothes away and remove winter clothes from storage, be sure to thoroughly clean and vacuum your closet. If you noticed small holes in your wool coats or sweaters, you have a moth problem. Never allow clothing to lie in a neglected pile. Regular use of a strong suction vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to remove lint, hair, and dust from floor cracks, baseboards, air ducts, carpets, and upholstered furniture is important. Also keep closets and dresser drawers clean. Regularly clean rugs where they fit close to the baseboards and vacuum under the quarter round. Launder and dry clean or steam clean clothes and other items before seasonal storage since egg-laying clothes moths are attracted to soiled articles. Ironing will also destroy all stages of clothes moths. Your pest management professional will treat all cracks and crevices in infested areas with a residual insecticide and provide additional information and assistance.

Pest Proofing

Where are key pest entry points?

Ninety-nine percent of your pest problems originate outdoors, the remaining one percent of the pest problem inside your living area has been brought in on boxes and bags. Pests are often more common during the fall and winter as the weather turns cooler; they are seeking winter harborage and want to stay warm and dry. These fall pest problems can include mice, ants, crickets, wasps and bees, lady beetles, skunks, scorpions, raccoons, opossums, flies, many kinds of roaches, and even bats. In an integrated pest management program, the best way to prevent such pest from causing damage inside your home is to block their entry while trapping any pests already inside your living space.

First check all entry points to your home. If you have an attached garage, check the garage door seal. Does it fit tightly against the floor and sides? If not, consider new compression seals for the bottom and weather stripping along the sides. This will stop a major entry point for millipedes, crickets, and mice. Remain inside the closed garage and have another person outside the door shine a flashlight around all sides of the door to check for cracks or daylight coming through. Remember mice can squeeze through a crack as small as ¼ inch wide.

Make the same checks for all entry doors to your home. Your local home improvement store has a variety of weather-stripping and new door sweeps (for the bottom of your doors) to block pest entry points. Lights near your doors also invite flying insects to come inside. Re-locate fixtures or switch to a “bug free” yellow light.

Clean the window frames of debris, leaves, and dirt where pests hide. Seal cracks and gaps around windows, particularly on lower levels. Another way to test for gaps is to carefully move a lighted candle around all windows and watch for the flame to flicker. If it does, you have found a gap that needs to be caulked. While you are outside, carefully seal and caulk around water faucets, utility meters, lines, wires, dryer vent, and any other access points in your home. Repair any cracks or holes in the walls and the foundation.

On a rainy day, gather your rain gear and head outside to check your gutters and down spouts. Are they draining properly and diverting water away from your home’s foundation? If not, clean gutters and consider adding longer downspouts. Standing water along your home’s foundation can create an environment favorable to termites, who love to eat wood. Moisture can also increase the presence of indoor mold and mildew. Now look up, just below your shingles. The vertical board your gutters are attached to is the fascia board. Just under this board is the soffit (a horizontal board which may contain vents). Are there damaged soffit or fascia boards at the roof line? These are popular entry points for unwanted mammals including bats, birds, mice, squirrels, and rats. Before you seal any holes, ensure all furry guests are gone to avoid trapping them inside your attic. Repair any damaged wood and close all openings. Ensure mesh screens behind all vents in your home and garage are intact and replace with fine-gage screen if needed.

From the roof, inspect attic vents, ridge vents, pipes, and chimney caps to ensure holes are sealed and screens are intact. Squirrels and raccoons like to enter your home through the chimney or roof vents. If trees and shrubs hang over the house, you are making it easy for them to jump to your roof.Trim trees and remove vines.

These “pest-proofing” activities are perfect weekend activity. If you do not have time or need help, call us at
to inspect your home for pest entry points and treat your home to prevent pests.

How do I pest-proof my home's exterior?

Late summer is the perfect time to make needed exterior modifications to prevent pests from gaining access. To control mosquitoes, it is essential to eliminate all sources of standing water around the home and landscape to discourage mosquito reproduction and development. This includes bird baths, tire swings, empty pots or planters, low places in the yard or driveway where water might stand, children’s wading pools, and clogged gutters. Check gutter drains and downspouts to be sure water is diverted away from the home. Gutters should drain water away from the foundation to discourage moisture build-up next to the home. Remove accumulated debris from gutters and roofs to prevent ants and other insects from breeding in the build-up. Check irrigation systems to be sure there is no puddling near the foundation or spraying onto the home. Divert the drip line from the air conditioner at least two feet away from the foundation.

Cockroaches easily enter your living space through gaps under doors as small as the thickness of a credit card. Shine a flashlight around and under your doors and windows. If the person on the other side can see light, then insects can gain access into your home. It is important that door plates or sweeps be well adjusted to eliminate those gaps and that other spaces in window frames are caulked. Repair torn screens anywhere on your property to prevent insect entry.

Night populations of beetles and moths are especially heavy in the late summer and will fly to white porches and flood lights. Use amber lights or turn off unnecessary lighting attached to your home or garage. Consider mounting outside security lighting on a free-standing pole, away from your entry doors.

Rodents, such as squirrels, can enter your home around soffits and gable vents. Seal these areas to ensure rodents and insects do not gain access to your roof or attic space. Plants and tree limbs near your roofline as well as vines on your home’s exterior are all pathways for pests. Also seal around conduits and piping entering your home. Crawling insects follow power lines or climb conduits and pipes to gain access to the home. Caulk all exterior cracks and crevices. Exterior dryer vent and flaps should be checked to ensure they are in working order. Seal cracks in this area to prevent rodent entry.

Keep garbage cans clean and lids sealed to prevent ants, roaches and flies from feeding and breeding in the garbage. Keep the garage door closed and make sure that the weather-stripping along the base of the door is in good repair. Also make sure vehicles in your garage have closed windows. Skunks, opossums and other mammal pests like to enter open vehicles. Leaving food scraps outside for the birds attracts a number of unwanted pests including squirrels, ants, and skunks. Make sure birdfeeders are located away from your home as birds carry mites and other insect pests on their bodies.

Prune excess vegetation touching the home, remove debris, clutter or woodpiles away from your home’s foundation. This discourages rodent nesting or insect colonization next to the home. Foundation plants should be at least two feet away from your home’s foundation. Also mulching around plants encourages pest populations. Eliminate or minimize your use of wood-based mulch products whenever possible.

Your pest management professionals will also alert you to other potential problems when they conduct your annual termite inspection or pest control service. For example, as they check under your home, they’ll watch for plumbing leaks and standing water and other moisture problems.

Pest proof         Pest Proof

What can I do to eliminate pests?

In exceptionally humid, rainy weather, pests are rapidly growing their families or colonies. Pests develop faster through their lifecycle stages in hot weather. For example, our mosquito season lasts through the end of October. Ants are also extremely active during late summer. Other pest issues include black cluster flies (who will spend the fall and winter in your attic), mice, small mammals including squirrels, opossums, and skunks and ladybugs (or ladybird beetles).

Common household pests, such as ants, cockroaches, and rodents, need food, water and a place to live. Unfortunately, your house provides them with these basic essentials. If you eliminate a pest’s access to any of these elements, you will help in controlling the pest.

As pest management professionals, our goal is to build pests out rather than continually spray pesticides in homes or offices. Building pests out simply means your home and office needs to be pest-proof. Conditions conducive to pests should be identified and eliminated.

Since pests come from outdoors, it is only logical to stop them before they enter your home. However, if pests are already inside, your pest management professional should first direct treatment to cracks, crevices and void areas. After the interior pest problem is eliminated, your pest service will focus on outside issues and will seal pest entry points.

Interior issues include checking air conditioning filters monthly. Keep the filters clean and adjust thermostats properly to prevent mold and mildew build-up. These fungi serve as attractive food sources for tiny insects. Rotting wood also encourages wood-destroying insect populations, particularly termites.

Also check for plumbing leaks. Seal all gaps around plumbing pipes behind cabinetry and dryer vents with an appropriate caulk or filler. Fill gaps around electrical outlets too. Do not let water accumulate anywhere in your home. Replace grout around bathtubs and toilets. A complete seal will prevent water seepage and ensure silverfish and ants cannot enter.

Repair cracks around windows, baseboards, and any holes in walls or floors. Even the smallest hole can provide a pest entry point. Check for and drain any water in the water heater or refrigerator drip pan. In the attic or basement or crawl space, eliminate all unnecessary clutter. Make sure attic gable vents are screened to prevent bird or mammal entry.

Cockroaches and mice love cardboard, remove all cardboard boxes to prevent insects from nesting. Use plastic storage containers instead. In the kitchen, store all open food containers in tightly sealed containers or in the refrigerator to prevent any pantry pests. Dispose of paper bags and boxes you bring home from the grocery store or market. Vacuum carpet and mop floors weekly or more frequently to remove other attractive food debris. Dust ceiling corners and wood molding frequently to knock down spider webs. Remove garbage daily to a sealed exterior container. Pet food should not be left out overnight. Mice, rats, and cockroaches are particularly attracted to pet food and prefer it to other pest control baits.

My elderly mother lives alone and says she is being bitten by bugs at night. None of her visitors have been bitten and two pest control companies have been out and have found no insects or spiders. What could it be?

If your pest management professional has thoroughly inspected her home (basement, living area, sleeping area, attic and yard) and has found no pest problems (including evidence of bed bugs or other difficult-to-locate insects), have your Mom take a piece of clear tape and carefully catch one or more of the bugs at night. She can place the taped specimen in a plastic bag to save and show to her pest management company for identification. Most companies have microscopes, field guides, and other specialized equipment to magnify and identify pests. Until a pest is positively identified, a pest management company cannot ethically or legally treat her home. Other issues to consider are skin irritations including dry skin, bacteria, food allergies or a rash from new cleaning products, cosmetics, laundry products or medications. Her dermatologist and/or internist may be needed to make a medical diagnosis. Finally, some individuals may develop a “delusory parasitosis” and no pest problems are actually present in the home.

Pest Entry Points

Where do most pest problems originate inside my home and why?

Approximately fifty percent of all pest problems occur in kitchens for obvious reasons. Pet food, unsealed food and crumbs and cooking scraps attract pests as do moisture sources from sinks and drains. Many people also eat in the kitchen leading to more attractive crumbs if the kitchen is not thoroughly cleaned after each meal. Twenty percent of pest problems occur in bathrooms. Pests prefer warm temperatures and humidity and the bathroom typically meets both criteria. Leaky faucets and gaps around plumbing lines serve as entry points and hydration for pests. The remaining thirty percent of pest problems in homes occur in living areas -- dens, playrooms, and family rooms -- where families congregate and snack. Be sure to thoroughly vacuum corners, under furniture, and between cushions of furniture to remove food particles.

We continue to have a problem with flying insects inside our office. We don’t have visible holes in doors or windows. Where could they be coming from?

Check mop buckets and cleaning rags. Mop buckets should be emptied after each use and wet mops and rags should be thoroughly cleaned (to remove any food residue) and stored to dry. Wet mops and rags are popular breeding grounds for fruit flies. Does your pest management professional take out the plastic liners inside your garbage cans and inspect underneath them? Plastic bags often split or tear and food can leak inside the can under the liner and serve as a harborage site and breeding ground for flies and other insects.

Flies may be entering through your main entrance. Check your dumpster. Flies inside a building are often traced to flies attracted to and breeding around outside dumpsters. Your dumpsters should be located 50 feet or more from outside doors (and 75 feet away if your business is a food facility). The dumpsters should be on a thick concrete pad that has foundation toes on the outside. Check your landscaping around the building as well and reduce vines and branches touching the building. Caution employees about eating and spilling food on the property.

Our home inside and out seems to be overrun with insects. Our pest control company sprays several times a year but in the fall yellow jackets, lady bugs, fleas, fire ants and other bugs show up. What can be done?

Fall is a key time to see more pests. Rain earlier in the year influences the fall pest populations. When winter approaches, many insects and rodents will make your home "their home." As a homeowner, you must make your home difficult for rodents and insect pests to access by pest proofing your home and maintaining a clutter free yard.

Since our winters are not bitter cold, we do not experience weeks of frozen ground and snow. Pest populations are not significantly reduced. But there are a number of pest proofing steps that should be at the top of your "to-do" list. These steps will reduce the need for indoor chemical applications. Some examples of pest proofing your home include caulking around windows and doors, replacing torn screens, sealing all foundation holes, raking and removing leaves, cutting grass and weeds, and moving fire wood away from all structures. The caulking and sealing activities will have an added benefit in savings on your winter heating costs.

Consult with your pest management company for additional ways to pest proof your home. This is just a reminder that pesticides are not always the answer to your pest problems. Our customers hire us to solve their pest problems, not just to spray chemicals.

Can pests enter my house through weep holes in my homes’ brick foundation?

Yes. Weep holes are a common entry point for pests. A weep hole can be gaps between bricks in external walls or even the small openings in window framing. Weep holes serve two purposes. The first is ventilation of the internal wall cavity. Without ventilation, mildew, rot and dampness can reduce the life of the internal wall components including studs and wall board. The second purpose allows drainage of water that enters the cavity resulting from capillary action, condensation, damage, or storms and flooding. This water needs to escape outside the structure.

Although they are necessary, weep holes do provide an entry for many insect pests and rodents, especially as temperatures cool down and pests seek a place to stay warm. Bees, wasps, roaches, spiders and even small snakes find refuge in weep hole cavities.

Homeowners and commercial building occupants often resort to sealing these holes with materials such as silicon caulk, plastic, steel wool, paper, even mortar to prevent pests from gaining access through weep holes. This restriction of airflow in the wall cavity often causes moisture problems, inviting termites, mold, wood decay and other wood destroying organisms that can result in very costly repairs. We find the best way to block pests from entering weep holes is by using small mesh screen or inserts available at area hardware stores. Applying a residual insecticide first can be useful to both control and deter insect pests.

As a reminder, mice need only 1/4 inch openings to enter a building, a rat only ½ inch access, and most insect pests need only 1/16 of an inch wide space to enter a building. Weep holes come in various sizes, and can allow for most any of these pests. Using the right materials can prevent pest entry while protecting your home at the same time.

Is it possible for stray animals or other pests to enter my home through our dog's pet door?

Yes, it is. An opossum entered a customer's home. With no other obvious entry points in the home's foundation, and no open crawl space doors, windows or vents, the family's dog door was the only possible entry-point. Remember to close off the door securely when not in use or in the evenings when your pet has been out for the last time. Unfortunately, other pests can enter during the day as well.Small mammals including opossums, squirrels, rats and mice seek harbor, especially in the fall and winter, and could easily enter you home via the pet door. Consider a new pet entry door that has controlled access via a receiver your pets can wear on their collars. This can prevent entry by stray animals.

What are the technicians actually doing under my house?

You will see your pest management professional don their coveralls, kneepads, and bump hat, gather tools, and disappear under your house, in your basement, or behind your flower beds.

They are assessing the presence of active termite infestations as well as determining any conditions that might encourage termites to be attracted to your home. First, your technician will crawl under the home to the furthest corner. They may place a sticker and write the date on an exposed stud. They will shine their flashlight and examine all walls and surfaces for the presence of mud tubing indicating termites tunneling from the ground up to your home’s wood surfaces. After the technician destroys these tunnels, then a note will be made on a graph of your home indicating their presence. With a moisture meter and visually, your technician will note any leaks, standing water, and presence of wood decay fungi. The presence of fungi signals a moisture problem. It may be due to inadequate ventilation or a small crawl space with less than eight inches between the ground and your home’s sub floor.

With a digital camera or cell phone, your technician may make photos to share. These become part of the company’s records of your home. These graphs and photos show changes over time. If areas are inaccessible, your technician may make an entry way to view the area. This is common for additions and porches. If moisture from the ground is present, your technician may recommend a vapor barrier of heavy plastic to cover a major portion of the exposed earth to reduce moisture. If vents are not present on all sides of your foundation, or if they are spaced more than 15 feet apart, your technician may discuss adding extra ventilation. If vents are not able to reduce moisture under your home, power vents with an electric fan to reduce moisture may be needed.

Your technician will examine plumbing pipes and ductwork for any leaks and condensation. Areas around support piers will be thoroughly inspected. Debris, particularly wood and scrap cellulose materials will be removed as these, invite hungry termites. If there are snake skins, animal remains or droppings, you technician may recommend closing holes in the foundation and effectively securing the access or basement doors.

Outside the technician will study the exterior wall searching again for active termites and their mud tubes as well as areas that need correction. These area, include mulch placed too close to foundations or wood in contact with soil.

A copy of your yearly inspection report will be provided and your technician may follow up and discuss the findings. If termites are present, the technician will discuss treatment options with you.

When your company treated my home, I noticed the technician looking all around my home and looked like he was also using a number of different products. Why?

There are three categories of primary targets that can harm people or damage structures. The industry refers to these as primary targets and they include insects, non-insect arthropods or spiders, and rodents. Because they originate outside but can complete their life cycle indoors, with you, the control techniques our industry uses are specific to the target pest. To control cockroaches, for example, gel-based bait is often used. Rats and mice may be trapped with glue boards, traditional mouse traps, or with baited food blocks. Just as the products used vary, the placement of the products varies too depending on the stage of the pest’s lifecycle. Your technician is also looking for the resource site – where egg laying and juvenile insect development may occur. This is normally outside, in your mulch. He or she will also locate the interception site or the location where the pest and your home meet.

Do I need new foundation vents?

Your home's foundation must have proper ventilation to maintain structural integrity. Improperly ventilated foundations are subject to a build-up of moisture eventually leading to expensive damage from mold, mildew, fungi, damp rot, wood decay, unhealthy air, and warped floors. Water, in any form, can be extremely destructive to a house. Houses must "breathe-out" trapped moisture. This moisture comes from cooking, washing/drying clothes, watering plants, taking showers, sweating or leaking plumbing or air conditioning pipes, clogged gutters and downspouts, improper grading, and humidifying the air during winter. Termites and carpenter ants are attracted to warm, moist, dead air environments found in crawl spaces or unfinished basements.

Your pest management professional can install replacement foundation vents that provide ventilation to reduce moisture.The temperature-controlled, automatic foundation vents have a bi-metal coil that open and close automatically without electricity. The vents are fully open at 70 degrees and completely closed at 40 degrees. You never have to manually cover or close the vents or remember to open them. You can eliminate a household task while helping to prevent frozen water and sewer pipes and potentially reduce energy bills.

The latest foundation vents have two screens that prevent entry by insects and other animals such as snakes, rats, opossums, mice, and skunks. With professional grade vents, not available from hardware superstores, you can achieve a customized look and fit for your home. The vents are available in several colors to coordinate with your home's exterior.

Replacement foundation vents are installed by carefully removing the old vents and excess mortar. The vents are then secured to the foundation. Both one and two-piece units are available to ensure an airtight fit. Vents are installed on a minimum of three sides, and preferably four, and are placed every 15 feet and within at least three feet of each corner of your home.

In extreme cases of moisture and humidity in crawl spaces, your pest management professional may recommend electrically powered foundation vents. This vent has both a thermostat and humidistat controlling a small fan encased in the vent's housing. Ducts may also be used for hard to reach moist areas. The fan creates negative pressure, pulling air through the foundation. Powered vents are installed on one side of the foundation, with temperature-controlled vents on the other sides.

Foundation vents may be used in combination with a polyethylene vapor barrier. This plastic film is placed over 80-90% of the floor of the crawl space preventing moisture from seeping up through the ground to rot subfloors while leaving enough uncovered space to reduce sweating. These moisture control steps can extend the life of your home and minimize structural defects caused by excessive moisture to the foundation.

Are pests international?

While our area has a wide variety of pests, it is interesting to know other countries have pest control challenges as well. In a company exchange program, Enviroguard and our British affiliate, exchanged pest control technicians for ten days to compare operations and observe pest control differences in the United States and United Kingdom.

Because of the extreme traffic congestion in London, expensive parking tolls, and the £5 (about $8) congestion fee to enter the city center by car, technicians who work in the city do not drive their service vehicles. Instead, they park at the closest train station and board a train to London. They carry their pest control supplies in a backpack, and walk, ride buses, or take the underground tubes to service their clients.

Our British counterpart concentrates primarily on institutional clients where most U.S. firms serve a large percentage of residential clients. In a London restaurant, our technician spotted a very familiar pest – the German cockroach. Roaches were active in a cleaning supply closet and the British technician had used bait gel and suggested management fill holes in the closet where the roaches had gained entry. In England, pest control companies use “tent” glue boards with gel bait for insects but if larger glue boards are left where a rodent or other vertebrate may get caught, they must check them every eight hours. Copies of reports must also be sent to the UK Health Department.

Each British commercial customer has a pest control notebook required by the British Health Department which is kept in the manager’s office. This notebook has dividers for the pest control contract, diagram of the establishment with all treatment points indicated, methods used for treatment, product labels and manufacturer’s material safety data sheets, areas to record employee sightings of all pests, and a copy of each of the technicians monthly report. They are often referred to as "pest sighting logs."

Another familiar pest was spotted at the loading dock of the Chelsea sorting office of the Royal Mail Service where four employees had been stung by wasps. For our British company, this was actually a seven-day response call. When calls for service come into the office, they are tagged with a required response time from the client. This can be range from a minimum of four hours upward.

In England, our employee visited Hever Castle, built in 1270, and fully restored in 1903. The Castle suffered from an infestation of the “death-watch-beetle.” This wood-destroying pest attacks old weather-worn wood. While England does not have termites they do have other wood-destroying organisms. At the London Palladium Theatre, technicians inspected the orchestra pit under the stage for a mouse after an odor had been reported. The dead mouse was found and removed following their prescribed procedures: turn a plastic bag inside-out, place your arm inside the bag and cover the mouse with the bag, grab hold of the mouse pulling it out with the bag allowing the bag to engulf the mouse as the bag becomes right-side out. This bag is placed in a zip-lock bag and in a plastic container for disposal.

At a large exhibition center in Earl’s Court several technicians met, obtained ID badges from security, and inspected the complex of food vendors, exhibition halls, and meeting rooms. One food vendor had a downstairs storeroom with pallets of food against the wall, preventing technicians from performing a through inspection. Two UK technicians prepared their report, discussed it with center management, had it signed and filed it in the notebook on the premise. The U.K. company provides free pest control services in exchange for the use of two rooms on a lower floor of the complex for storing chemicals and supplies. The technician can stock their backpacks with these readily-available supplies.

Because the company provides services throughout the entire country of England, each technician uses a hand held computer to transmit information to the office and expedite the paperwork processing.

Our US employee spent another day with a rural technician who drives his company vehicle to service distant clients. In a building under renovation, rats nesting in the bank beside a stream had made their way up the steep banks and onto the client’s property. In addition to placing bait traps throughout the area, the technician recommended the installation of a loose fabric fence as a border between the stream and their property. The fence was placed several inches into the ground and stood about two and a half feet tall and prevented rodents from climbing over it and onto the property.

At an Indian Restaurant, whose cuisine is popular in England, the technician found an open back door creating fly problems and a broken manhole cover that was an entry passage for rodents. The technician noted the maintenance problems in their report.

At an historic London theatre, a group of technicians inspected a clothes moth infestation. Moths were eating the wool costumes and scene props. The company used a pheromone dust bait system developed by a research scientist at a British university. This sex pheromone in a special powder base is placed in trays in strategic locations throughout the theatre. The pheromone attracts only male moths, which fly into the special holders for the trays. The moths get the powder on them and are unable to shake it off. They leave the tray giving off the female pheromone scent. As a result, the female moths will not mate with them. Only male moths are attracted to them. These males realize these are not female moths but only after they have gotten the powder on them. The end result is the moths do not mate and the infestation dies in a few weeks.

Pigeons are another major pest problem. The Lord Mayor of London was concerned with the growing pigeon population and the diseases they transmit. For some clients, a British company installs a series of sharp plastic spikes around window sills and ledges to prevent roosting. In Trafalgar Square, a popular roosting site, a more powerful predator, a hawk, is used to frighten the pigeons away. Entrepreneurs who sold pigeon food to tourists had to switch their product line to selling human snacks.

A final pest, the urban fox, is in the inner city due to expansion and building in the countryside. Since there is no predator for the fox and fox hunting has been outlawed as a sport, sharpshooters are used to kill the fox.

While the pest populations varied, both companies have similar business philosophies of using the least amount of chemical treatments necessary while emphasize quality work and customer service. Both technicians agreed the need to control pests is constant both in the U.S. and the U.K and in other countries as well.

Outside Lighting

My outside security light is attracting flying bugs and they are coming inside. Help!

Pests are highly attracted to light and outdoor lights near home or building entrances attracting not only flying insects but also crawling ones. If possible, move your light fixture away from your entrance. Consider placing your light on a pole so it will shine on your entrance but not be directly above your door. Most power companies in our area will install lights on your property but away from your door. Your electrician should also be able to relocate fixtures. If you cannot move the fixture, modify your light source. Choose sodium vapor lights instead of mercury vapor lights or the normal incandescent lights for outdoor use. The light spectrum from the sodium vapor lights is less attractive to insects. The yellow "bug" bulbs also work on the same principle. Some people add bug-zappers to their entrance thinking this will take care of the problem. This only serves to attract more insects. Another option is to change your lighting fixture to a motion-senor type. It will only come on when you are walking to the door. It also provides an added security feature while limiting the amount of lighting time for attracting unwanted insect pests.

Why did my pest management technician point out the peeling paint on my home?

Peeling paint can be an indication of an underlying moisture problem. Water from rain, runoff from the roof, or runoff from gutters comes in contact with the wood or siding in your home. Wet wood swells and bursts the paint layer. Later when the wood dries and shrinks, it will crack the exterior paint. This moist unsealed wood will attract pests. Correcting moisture problems and adding a fresh coat of paint periodically will completely fill wood pores and prevent wood boring beetles from laying their eggs in the pores. Paying attention to any changes in painted surfaces is very important.


I have a new home. What landscaping tips do you recommend to minimize my pest problems?

As you landscape, consider the size of your plants and trees when full-grown. Typically trees are planted too close to your home and as they grow, they may touch your home’s exterior and roof. These plants add moisture which can lead to wood decay. In addition, these plants are an entry point for ants and rodents. Vines or trained ornamental trees on the side of a home are also not recommended for the same reason. If you install an underground sprinkler system, check to be sure the sprinklers are positioned away your foundation. They should not wet your home or direct any water near your home’s foundation. Do not use railroad ties or wood timbers for plant beds and keep mulch at least 12 inches from your foundation. Also do not allow plants to obstruct foundation vents because the air flow and cross ventilation are important for keeping wood dry and free from wood-destroying termites.

We have a new office and will be landscaping this spring. Are there any tips to avoid landscaping with the wrong plants that attract pests?

Mice and rats are attracted to ground covers such as juniper and ivy and they climb bushes that grow against exterior walls. Mound-shaped shrubs provide good hiding places. Opt for “wineglass-shaped” shrubs with an open, visible trunk or base that will not provide a hiding place for mice. Avoid thorny bushes which provide a protected hiding place. Thorny bushes are difficult for your pest management professional to inspect. The thorns also capture food debris and other trash. Choose smaller plants and consider their mature size when selecting them. Do not allow branches to touch the building. Use plantings at least 24 inches from the foundation where possible and leave a space between the foundation and your mulch and plants. This should control moisture at the foundation which can act as a pest attractant too. Finally, avoid blooming plants near entryways and public areas to minimize bee and wasp activity that could result in painful and allergic stings to employees and customers.

Do not forget lighting too. Even a small light can be seen by pests for miles. Bright security lights are often beacons to attract insects in large numbers. Insects attracted to lights at the building perimeter often find their way inside. Sodium vapor lights are less attractive to pests than mercury vapor lights. Flood lights shining onto the white wall of a building will attract the most insects. A darker paint color for your exterior walls will help reduce pests.

I live in a neighborhood with a number of vacant houses for sale and many that have been foreclosed. I am concerned about the potential for pest breeding grounds because some of the yards are really grown up. What can be done?

When houses in neighborhoods sit empty they potentially provide a safe haven for insects and small animal pests. Mosquitoes, ticks, stinging insects, rats, mice, snakes and squirrels, readily take refuge in vacant homes experiencing neglect. Squirrels and raccoons could easily take over attic space. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, abandoned swimming pools or bird baths. Yards with overgrown weeds attract rodents that carry ticks. Rat populations thrive in areas that are protected by tall weeds and structures that are not disturbed, the list goes on. Eventually these growing pest populations will spill over onto your property. I recommend that you contact the property owners. If that is not possible contact your local health department. Finally, contact your pest management professional and have a perimeter control program started on your property. Call us at 706-965-9078 today and we will dispatch a technician.

Conducive Conditions

Why did my technician remove scrap wood from the crawl space?

Wood-destroying organisms exist in nature to break-down and recycle wood. The wood in contact with the soil under your house is attractive to termites. Once termites consume this scrap wood typically left during the construction of your home, they will forage for other wood to eat and will move to your home’s foundation. To prevent termites in your home, your pest management professional will remove all wood and other cellulose-based materials. In fact, this is standard, required procedure for a termite treatment. Your technician will note any other problems including wood-to-soil contact, moisture problems or leaks. If any termite mud tubes are present, they will remove these tubes.


My technician warned me about my thick mulch and dead stumps around any house making it hard to prevent pests. Why?

Most mulch is organic, decaying wood which is attractive to pests as a nesting area. Most homeowners add more mulch to flower beds each year, creating a thick layer that harbors and hides a number of insects and even mammals and will also hide the work of termites and other wood destroying organisms that are moving toward your home. Rotting stumps in your yard are attractive habitats for pests too – particularly termites and carpenter ants and can be their primary or a satellite colony. The expense of stump removal is often justified to eliminate these damp and decaying habitats. As for mulch, pest control guidelines specify mulch should be raked back at least 12 inches, and preferably 18 inches from the perimeter of your home.

You may want to use rock fill in blower beds instead of nulek. Many homes are pouring a small concrete sidewalk around the home’s perimeter and then placing foundation plants and beds on the outer side of the walkway. This concrete sidewalk can discourage the entry of pests, like ants, mice, squirrels, and rats who normally travel unnoticed along branches of foundation plants to enter your home. This extra space allows room for pest control inspections, painting and other important home maintenance. Because plants need moisture, moving the plants further from your home removes this moisture source. Dry, sound wood is less habitable to carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, and wood boring beetles.

How concerned should I be about buying mulch? I've heard mulch from other areas may contain termites?

A number of articles have warned of possible movement of Formosan termites since the time of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This species of termites can eat 1,000 pounds of wood or wood products per year, compared to our native termites who can consume approximately seven pounds of wood in the same period. Formosan termites are feared for a number of reasons. Researchers at the University of Hawaii found these Formosan termites could completely consume an entire home in a period of two years.

Formosan subterranean termites have been found in Hawaii, coastal regions of Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, California, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Most of the mulch in Louisiana and Mississippi and other regions is quarantined and remains in the area. Mulch for sale in our region has either been fumigated or heat-treated to destroy Formosan termites. Your mulch purchases should be safe from Formosan termites.

However, mulch can contain other wood-destroying organisms and insects. The presence of decaying, moist mulch around your home's foundation is always an attractive harborage for pests. If you do use mulch, remember to rake the material 12 to 18 inches from your home's foundation. Enviroguard will also treat your mulch and the perimeter of your home to ensure these pests remain outside.

Pet Waste

I remind my children that their task is to pick up pet waste from our three dogs in the back yard. They feel the waste is biodegradable and even fertilizes the yard. Is this correct?

From a pest control standpoint, fecal material from outdoor pets and from mammal pests (raccoons, squirrels, or opossums) can serve as either a harborage or breeding site or even food source for unwanted pests. The yard should be cleaned at least weekly and the waste disposed to prevent an uncontrolled pest population. Firewood and lumber stacked outside should also be moved from the yard and stored off the ground and away from the home, preferably in a clean, dry location. Minimize excess quantities of these wood products which are attractive to termites. Dog houses should also be washed and sanitized periodically to discourage fleas and ticks.

Trucks and Mouse