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Natural Choices for Pest Management

Green Shield Certified: Natural Choice Program CertificateIn the old days, a pest management provider would spray pesticides periodically to keep pest populations at bay. Then, as the dangers of pesticides became more and more apparent, many pest management companies began looking for more natural, eco-friendly methods of pest control. Today, green pest management companies use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to deter pests.

IPM techniques focus on minimizing the resources pests need to survive. Like all creatures, insects and rodents need shelter, food and water. By removing pest food sources and habitat, pest management professionals can prevent pest problems.

The most progressive pest management experts take IPM one step further by implementing a natural choice pest program. Basically, this means they avoid spraying non-organic substances. To clarify, IPM programs are generally successful at altering a home to be less conducive to pests. However, removing current pest populations can be a challenge, and IPM followers must occasionally return to older methods of spraying pesticides. Pest management companies that offer a natural choice option use non-toxic chemicals only; their anti-pest sprays are entirely organic.

Below, we list natural ways to make your home unappealing to pests. Following these tips is akin to establishing your own IPM program. If you’re already suffering a pest infestation, you may need to contact a pest management company that has implemented a natural choice program to spray non-toxic solutions.

Minimize Pest Habitats and Food Sources

  • Pest-proof your trash bins by ensuring they have a tight-fitting lid. Clean out trash cans and dumpsters regularly – the muck that builds up in the bottom of trash receptacles is like candy for many pests.
  • Remove pest-friendly debris from your yard. Clear gutters and window wells of leaves and other organic material. Take a tour of your home’s exterior, looking for any vines, shrubs or trees that are touching the home. Prune such plants back to eliminate easy entry access for pets. Insects are flexible – they’re as capable of thriving in organic detritus as they are of surviving indoors. Getting rid of weeds, leaves and other debris near your home’s foundation will decrease opportunities for pests to enter your home.
  • Composting can attract pests, if done improperly. To keep your compost bin free of pestiferous creatures, add new food scraps to the middle of the pile – bury them into an inner layer. Never throw fish, meat, bones, pet waste or dairy products in your compost pile, as these materials will soon become nesting grounds for maggots and other nasty pests. Do your best to keep each layer of your compost pile moist, and turn it every week or so to prevent nesting. The easiest composting setup from an anti-pest perspective is a bin that’s elevated on a stand. These bins are designed to be flipped upside down, making turning your compost a snap.
  • Stack firewood away from your home, and off the ground. This will decrease the chance that your woodpile will turn into a home for termites, carpenter ants or other pulp-loving pests.
  • Pet food often attracts pests such as ants. To prevent this, either serve pet food on an elevated bench, or create a “moat” to bar ant entry. This “moat” can be simple to create – just place your pet’s food dish in a deeper, larger container, and fill the space between the food dish and the outside container with water. (Most insects are incapable of crossing water.)

Block Pets from Entering Your Home

  • All windows and other openings should have screens.
  • Install sweeps on the bottom of doors, to block cracks at and around the threshold. Your goal is to have no light shining through around the outline of the door. To seal garage doors, use a rubber seal – rubber stands up to cold better than vinyl. Foam weather stripping may be used to seal sliding doors.
  • Fill small cracks and holes in the exterior with acrylic or silicone caulk. Larger openings can be filled with a matching exterior material, such as cement, wood, mortar or sheet rock. Don’t forget to seal utility openings, such as laundry vents, gas meters and outside faucets.
  • Repair all plumbing leaks, which increase pest activity in two ways: They provide a much-needed water source for pests, and they cause deterioration in nearby walls, making it easier for pests to enter your home.
  • All food storage containers should have an airtight seal to prevent pests from raiding your pantry.
  • Sweep up crumbs, and don’t let dishes sit overnight. Keeping a clean kitchen will reduce the amount of food available for pests.

You can find tips for taking a green approach to other aspects of home life at http://www.easyecoblog.com/.

Bed Bug Prevention Plan: The Latest Roommate Agreement

Sharing a living space with one or more individuals comes with an array of dynamics: Who will do the grocery shopping? The cooking and cleaning? These days, another such matter that needs to be addressed is the all-important topic of bed bug pest control. A bed bug infestation can develop rapidly and spread easily throughout the entire household; therefore, effective bed bug prevention requires the dedication of not just one but all parties involved.

Just as with romantic relationships, communication is critical when agreeing to share your living space with others. Cooperation amongst all involved to make a concerted effort toward bed bug prevention is the best way to hinder the appearance of these unwelcome visitors. Everyone in your home must agree to make bed bug control a priority and be willing to take a few relatively easy steps toward preventing an infestation.

The following steps and guidelines for bed bug pest control should be included in any prevention plan and agreed upon by all parties sharing a living space:

1. Minimize clutter in all living areas.

One of the most basic methods of bed bug prevention is to consistently manage and contain clutter across all spaces of your dwelling. Each person living in the residence should be committed to keeping dirt and clutter at a minimum, as these pests thrive in homes that offer numerous hiding places (such as out-of-control clutter). Some roommate situations may even benefit from a mutually agreed upon and consistent schedule for thoroughly cleaning the common areas of your home, such as the kitchen and living room. Of course, bed bug control is only effective if all roommates take responsibility for keeping their private living areas clean, as well.

2. Eliminate potential bed bug habitats.

Effective bed bug pest control also requires being careful of what you bring into your home. Second-hand finds from garage sales, thrift stores and especially free boxes on the sidewalk can all carry hidden bed bugs, which you more than likely won’t notice until the infestation has already taken hold. To be safe, it’s best for all roommates to agree not to bring secondhand items into the residence; if this can’t be avoided, however, then they should at least agree to thoroughly clean and inspect each piece for bed bugs before bringing it indoors.

Other bed bug prevention practices include sticking to furniture and items made of non-porous materials, as these pests are notorious for preferring to hide in items made of paper or wood rather than metal or plastic. And these unwanted roommates especially like to hide in headboards, so it’s best if all roommates agree to eliminate these altogether. It is also recommended that all mattresses and box springs be protected by bed bug-proof encasements in order to prevent sleeping areas from harboring an infestation.

3. Keep each other informed if an outbreak occurs.

If a bed bug outbreak does occur, it should be a top priority to immediately alert everyone living in your home. If you live in a rental unit, the facility manager or landlord must also be informed as soon as possible. Once it has been established that an outbreak has happened, action must be taken immediately for bed bug control and containment. All of the items in the infested area must be cleaned right away to remove all bed bug adults, eggs and larvae; at this stage, a professional bed bug pest control company is the only way to ensure proper elimination of bed bugs.

Once you and your roommates have devised a bed bug prevention agreement, it helps to post it in a common area such as the laundry room or on the refrigerator, to serve as an easy reminder for all residents. The unfortunate fact is that none of us are free from the risk of a bed bug outbreak. However, the great benefit to living with one or more roommates is that you can work together in your bed bug control efforts. As long as everyone involved is on the same page and committed to the cause, everyone’s risk will be greatly reduced, if not eliminated altogether.

3 Signs Your Hotel Room May Have Bed Bugs

Ritz Carlton Battery  Park Room 804 (2) by garybembridge, on FlickrYour vacation is finally here! You sprint out of town, check into your hotel and take an exuberant belly flop onto the hotel bed. No! Wait! Don’t!Bed bug pest control professionals would scream at this point. Bed bug control experts understand that hotel rooms across the country have reported bed bug problems, and there’s no faster route to a ruined vacation than a night with these blood-sucking pests.

But surely, you’re probably saying to yourself, bed bugs haven’t been found at the kind of high-class establishments I frequent. Bed bug pest control statistics would suggest otherwise. It’s true that in decades past, bed bugs were limited to flea-bag joints, but in recent years, five-star hotels around the world have been forced to arrange for bed bug control services. Even the Ritz-Carlton, perhaps the hotel most commonly associated with luxury, has suffered infestations. Rooms at the Ritz run from $695 to $4,500 – a hefty enough tab, you might assume, to completely eradicate any chance you could pick up an infestation. However, as the New York Times recently reported, the Ritz-Carlton brought in a bed bug pest control service last month after a guest in room 1005 discovered a bed bug.

Clearly, people in all socio-economic brackets should be well prepared to scour their accommodations for bed bugs. Below, we’ve listed bed bug control experts’ list of signs your hotel room may have bed bugs.

1. Online ratings indicate a bed bug pest control problem.

Don’t limit your bed bug investigation to the time you’re actually in the room – get a jump start by checking out online ratings before you go. You can simply Google your hotel’s name plus bed bugs, or visit the Bed Bug Registry, a user-created database of 20,000 bed bug reports across 12,000 U.S. locations. If a search of the Bed Bug Registry does turn up an infestation, be sure to check the date – it’s possible management may have eradicated the population through a bed bug control service.

2. You see a scurry of movement when you pull back the sheets.

Upon entry into your hotel room, leave your luggage at the door while you conduct a thorough search for bed bugs. Bed bugs most commonly travel by hitching a ride on luggage, so leave your bags at the door or place them in the bathtub until you’re sure the space is entirely free of these tiny vampires.

The first place to check, obviously, is the bed. Pull back the sheets, look at the mattress seams and inspect any cracks around the headboard. Adult bed bugs are rarely larger than an apple seed, while juveniles are comparable to a poppy seed. Their bodies are slightly flattened, and their color tends to be rusty red (adults) or tan (juveniles).

If you spot bugs while conducting this search, chances are the hotel has a bed bug control problem. However, because bed bugs move very quickly and tend to hide during the day anyway, you’ll need to look for one more tell-tale sign of their presence: blood-tinged droppings.

3. You find rusty blood stains on the sheets, mattress or elsewhere.

This last step is the one bed bug pest control specialists use. If you don’t see any bed bugs, look for their fecal trails: brownish streaks of clotted blood. Chances are that you won’t see any bugs at all, but if you see their poop trails, you know they are present.

For a thorough bed bug examination, use a flashlight to look around the headboard, under the sheets and mattress pad, under the mattress and box springs, and around the base of the bed. Because bed bugs can live anywhere that’s warm and in close vicinity to sleeping humans, you’ll also want to check the room’s furniture. Don’t forget to check the closet; remember, bed bugs hitchhike on luggage.

If you see no bugs or fecal stains, the room is probably free of bed bugs. Of course, if you wake up the next morning with bites in groups of three, or to find bloodstains on your sheets, the hotel definitely does have a bed bug pest control issue. And you could too, unless you are especially careful about how you treat your clothing and luggage. Bottom line: Don’t bring anything into your home until you’ve had a chance to thoroughly vacuum and clean it. Contact your local bed bug control company for more tips on how to avoid transferring a bed bug infestation from a hotel room to your bedroom.

[ Photo by: garybembridge, on Flickr, via CC License ]

7 Ways You May be Spreading Invasive Pests – Without Knowing It

Ask anyone at your local pest control company, and they’ll tell you that education is more than half the battle in pest management. This is true for the residential form of local pest control – i.e., keeping rodents and insects out of your kitchen, outbuildings and other occupied areas. But information is also power in controlling pest infestations that occur on a larger scale – such as across natural areas.

Ecologists study this second variety of pest problem, which can dramatically change a landscape without careful pest management. For instance, invasive plant or animal species from tropical locations often have no competition or predators in the United States. This allows them to spread like wildfire. In some places, widespread invasive plant species have changed diverse ecosystems into monocultures of foreign species. Entire food chains of native flora and fauna can be lost in such instances.

A similar phenomenon occurs when non-native invasive insect species are introduced into our national forests. The Asian Longhorned Beetle serves as an excellent example.  The female of the species bores into hardwood trees such as chestnut, ash, birch and poplar. The pupae later feast on the tree’s internal tissue – at first the layers just below the bark, and later on, the heartwood. Each mated female Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) drills between 35 and 90 holes and lays an egg in each one; you can imagine what kind of havoc this unleashes for the tree. It is believed that ALBs were introduced to the United States via shipping containers from China.

Below, we list ways that invasive species are often unwittingly spread. To help prevent the spread of these unwelcome flora and fauna, avoid these worst practices.

1. Poor Maritime Pest Management

Invasive maritime species are often spread by boaters who fail to clear their vessels of all organic debris prior to dropping anchor in a new body of water. To make sure you’re not spreading invasive species, remove all plants, mud, and other detritus from your boat before leaving the dock area. Additionally, you should drain your boat before leaving the access site. Finally, allow any equipment that touched lake, stream or ocean water to dry completely before putting your boat in the water again.

2. Buying Non-Certified Produce or other Products

Each country has its own standards for examining fruits and vegetables for invasive species. To prevent the spread of agriculture pests and other invasive species, fill out all customs declarations forms completely. Do not illegally import produce or other products.

3. Not Buying Local Firewood

Here’s a surprising form of local pest control: buying firewood near where you plan to camp. Otherwise, if you bring firewood from home, you could be introducing invasive species, which often lay eggs or remain dormant in woodpiles.

4. Planting Quarantined Species

To protect native areas, state and federal officials restrict which plants and animals may be imported. For instance, Hawaiian officials do not allow certain palms to be imported, since the extremely damaging red palm weevil has spread around the world mainly via nursery stock.

5. Failing to Inspect Hotel Rooms for Bed Bugs

As every local pest control company can tell you, bed bugs can now be found in nearly every American town. They spread via travelers, who unwittingly tote them from bedroom to bedroom. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on luggage, bedding, the cloth seats of public transportation vehicles, and even clothing. Therefore, you can help prevent the spread of bedbugs by checking hotel bedding for bed bugs. You should also check for bugs and eggs on your own luggage and other belongings once you return home.

6. Buying Imported Flowers for Valentine’s Day

Invasive species have been known to hitchhike into the United States via imported exotic flowers. Many of these cut flowers enter the U.S. through Miami’s airport, where inspectors find an average of 90 species every day that could pose a danger to plants on American soil. So keep your Valentine’s Day flower shopping local – pest control professionals will thank you.

7. Not Wiping off Your Hiking Boots

The seeds or eggs of invasive species can get stuck in your hiking boots. If you don’t wipe them off before you leave a natural area, the invasive species can be transported. To prevent this phenomenon, wipe off your hiking boots before getting into the car – on both ends of the journey. Equipment moved from the woods should also be cleaned off.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Better Pest Control

Home organizing often scores high on homeowners’ lists of popular New Year’s resolutions. As your local pest control company can tell you, poor organization can also lead to pest infestations. Without an organizational system, it’s easy to let things pile up around your home. Cleaning becomes difficult as the piles grow, and unclean environments attract pests.

The following resolutions will help you enjoy a pest-free start to the New Year:

1. I resolve to clean out my pantry.

Many a home pest inspection has turned up a kitchen pest infestation. Kitchens naturally draw pests because they hold our food scraps. From a pest’s point of view, the human kitchen provides a continuous source of food in the form of crumbs, sugary drips, savory globs and all manner of edible detritus. Of course, pests are much less likely to invade a clean kitchen. For this reason, your local pest control company would recommend putting away leftovers and wiping up food scraps as soon as possible.

If you’re like most homeowners, the visible areas of your kitchen are fairly clean, but the pantry is a veritable cornucopia of crumbs. Because they’re dark, generally undisturbed and full of the starchy foods pests love, pantries can easily become an insect or rodent breeding ground. Resolve to clean out your pantry at least once this year.

2. I resolve to seal my home’s exterior.

No one can be perfectly clean all the time. There will be nights when you’ll want to leave those dishes for the morning. If your home is well sealed, pests are less likely to enter in the first place – so you won’t have to battle ants or cockroaches just because you wanted a night off. One takeaway message from nearly every home pest inspection ever conducted is this: It helps to winterize your home by sealing its exterior.

Pests such as ants, spiders, beetles, cockroaches and rodents invade homes through cracks and crannies in the exterior. These openings would not be large enough for the average person to notice. Ant tunnels are miniscule; even a larger pest like a rat requires only a quarter-sized hole to gain entry. Home improvement stores offer any number of products that can be used to seal up homes. Many of them are spray foams that will expand to tightly seal up any space. If you just don’t have the time to winterize, your local pest control company can usually seal up your home for you.

3. I resolve to store firewood away from the home.

Not all pests enter homes directly; some hitch a ride. Firewood is a favorite vehicle for pests such as termites and carpenter ants. These and other wood-gnawing pests are happy to eat through your home’s main beams, so keep them out by practicing good woodpile pest prevention. Keep firewood outdoors, at least twenty feet away from any inhabited building. Be sure to burn the oldest logs first, to prevent pest populations from gaining a hold. If you do find a pest infestation, do not spray your woodpile with a pesticide, as many pesticides are toxic when burned. Instead, call your local pest control company for a home pest inspection.

4. I resolve to carefully check food packages for bugs.

It’s disgusting, but many pests enter kitchens via packages of food. Pioneers had to be wary of cigarette beetles in their flour supplies; today, we must still keep a vigilant lookout for pest invaders in prepackaged food. Indian meal moths, for example, love to enter homes in this way.

To avoid bringing food pests into your home, you should carefully inspect any packaged or bulk food before placing it in your grocery cart. Look for gnawed plastic, tiny eggs and webbing, especially in the corners of plastic packaging. If a home pest inspection turns up infested packages, you should throw them away in outdoor trashcans. Next, thoroughly clean out your food storage area, throwing away any other infested food stores you find.

5. I resolve to minimize the use of toxic pesticides.

Around the world, more and more consumers are choosing organic produce. A similar revolution is sweeping the pest control world. Many homeowners are choosing to contract with a local pest control company that uses comprehensive environmentally sensitive pest control methods. Yesterday’s pest fighters relied upon pesticides to battle infestations. While these sprays were certainly effective at killing insect populations, they could also be toxic to other nearby life forms, such as family members and pets. Indeed, several studies have linked pesticide sprays to learning disabilities such as ADHD.

To eradicate pests while guarding the earth and your family members, it’s best to partner with a local pest control company that uses Integrated Pest Management. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a green approach to pest control that involves understanding each pest species in order to prevent breeding and remove individual pests, and using this information in conjunction with the available pest control methods to manage pests with the least possible hazard to people and the environment. You can think of it as working with nature, rather than against it.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Moving in with Your Holiday Guests

Suitcase’Tis the season… for bed bug infestations? One would hope not, but the truth is, from Poughkeepsie to Portland, bed bugs spread via human travel. And travel increases dramatically during the holiday season. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of long-distance trips rises by 54 percent during the Thanksgiving holiday alone.

Holiday guests may pick up hitchhiking bed bugs in hotels or on airplanes; even those who simply travel across town may bring bed bugs with them. Fortunately, you don’t have to imitate Ebenezer Scrooge to protect yourself from bed bugs this holiday season. Don’t hole up in your home out of fear; instead, follow the bed bug pest control methods described below.

Move beds away from the walls.

Bed bugs are rascally little critters. Instead of lounging around in bed, they scurry into walls and baseboards during daylight hours. Then, as night approaches, they emerge to feed on the blood of their sleeping human hosts. Moving beds away from walls leaves one fewer place for bed bugs to hide.

Tuck in sheets and blankets.

Thankfully, bed bugs can’t jump or fly. Therefore, one simple method of bed bug pest control is to tuck in sheets and blankets. Obviously, bed bugs hiding on guests’ luggage will still be able to climb up bedposts, but tucking in bedding eliminates one easy route to the bed bug kitchen table.

Store suitcases away from bedrooms.

Seattle and Portland pest control professionals recommend having guests unpack their bags, which should then be stored away from bedrooms. This will prevent bed bugs from migrating from luggage to beds.

Use light-colored bedding to aid bed bug detection.

From Paris to Portland, pest control professionals look for one tell-tale sign of bed bug presence: “blood spots,” tiny specks of bed bug poop that are dark in color. Bed bugs leave their feces near feeding grounds and hideouts. Dressing beds with white or pastel sheets facilitates easy identification of blood spots. If you find such spots, contact a local bed bug pest control company immediately.

Encase mattresses and box springs.

Entomologists recommend encasing mattresses and box springs in vinyl or polyurethane covers. Specially made bed bug pest control encasements provide a barrier that bed bugs cannot cross; and if they cannot burrow into the mattress between feedings, it is less likely they will be able to survive.

Remove clutter.

Provide a hook where guests can hang up coats and other items. Set up a luggage rack or small table for your guests. Eliminate any unnecessary clutter. This will minimize the places where bed bugs can hide between feedings.

Thoroughly clean guest quarters after guests have departed.

After your holiday guests have left, place bed linens in plastic bags, carry the bags directly to your laundry room, and immediately place bedding into your washer. This will prevent bed bugs and their eggs from being spread throughout your home. Throw away the plastic bags, placing them in your outdoor trash.

When washing anything that may have come in contact with bed bugs, use the highest possible temperature settings. As any Portland pest control professional can tell you, bed bugs can’t survive heat over 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature must be sustained for a minimum of thirty minutes to be effective. Indeed, to destroy bed bug eggs, 120-degree heat must be sustained for a solid hour. (Bed bugs themselves can’t survive more than thirty minutes of such temperatures.)

Finally, practice good bed bug pest control by thoroughly vacuuming your home. Once you’re done, immediately double-bag the vacuum bag and throw it in the outdoor trash.

Be vigilant for signs of bed bugs.

Stay on alert for a couple of weeks after your guests have departed. Look for live bed bugs or their exoskeletons. Mattress seams, carpet edges and the undersides of sofa cushions are favorite hiding places for live bed bugs. Also, keep an eye out for blood smears and fecal dots around baseboards, heating vents, sheets, mattresses, underneath box springs and behind headboards. Finally, if you and your family discover mosquito-like bites, especially after sleeping, you can bet that your guests left a bed bug pest control problem.

If you find any of these signs, contact a Portland pest control company immediately. Time is of the essence in bed bug pest control, since females lay eggs extremely rapidly. Fortunately, Portland bed bugs tend to hover around the beds of their hosts, so you can prevent an infestation from jumping to another room by acting quickly.

[ photo by: jetalone, via CC Attribution 2.0 ]

Common Winter Pests – and How to Prevent Them

MouseWinter is not generally known as the most active month for pests. However, any winter home pest inspection will likely reveal at least a few unsavory house guests. Just as humans huddle indoors to escape winter’s chill, insects and rodents are attracted to our heated homes, where they can usually find food (i.e., human food scraps) in addition to a respite from the cold weather.

Once these pests find a safe, warm place, it’s not unusual for them to stay active throughout the darkest, coldest time of the year. Those who provide Portland and Seattle pest control would recognize the following critters as common winter pests. We’ve also provided a few tips to help you reduce the chances that bugs and rodents will invade your home this winter.

Mice and Rats

From St. Louis to Seattle, rodent control doesn’t stop during the winter months. Mice and rats are masters at squeezing through tight spaces in building exteriors. And once they’re indoors, any food that isn’t securely stored is likely to be added to their menu.

To prevent rodent infestations, schedule a home pest inspection during the autumn months. A Bellevue or Seattle pest control professional will be able to identify cracks and crannies that mice and rats will be able to squirm through. (Generally, mice can fit through holes as small as a dime, while rats only need openings with the diameter of a quarter!) With this information in hand, you’ll be equipped to repair damaged screens, loose doors, insulation around pipes and any openings that could provide rodents entry.

Even if your home is sealed up tight, it’s possible that a rat or mouse will still be able to gain access – remember, these intrepid little creatures are willing to gnaw through even wire mesh to find a cozy winter home. To starve any rodents that do make their way into your home, keep a tight ship; eliminate clutter, immediately clean up crumbs and spills, and store extra food in sealed containers.

Cockroaches

Roaches survive all four seasons; in fact, cockroaches are so tough that many people believe they will “inherit the earth” if humanity destroys itself in nuclear holocaust. (Cockroaches can indeed withstand up to fifteen times the amount of radiation required to kill a person.)

Like rodents, cockroaches will be attracted to food in your pantry, so your best defense is to keep a clean kitchen. Seal food up tight. vacuum regularly and ensure your garbage can has a tightly fitting lid. Because cockroaches are attracted to sources of water, you should also repair any leaky faucets immediately. Finally, diatomaceous earth can eliminate cockroach populations, as long as it stays dry.

Pantry Pests

Meal moths and other pantry pests will also be attracted to your winter food stash. These pests prefer dry foods such as cereal, flour and birdseed. Take the same precautions as listed above to prevent meal moth infestations. If you do happen to spot larvae or webbing near your foodstuffs, take immediate action: Deep clean the entire area and throw out any infested food.

If meal moths and other pantry pests are infesting your home despite the fact that you’re cleaning religiously, arrange for a home pest inspection. Seattle pest control professionals will be able to pinpoint problematic areas of your home as they complete the inspection.

Ants

Ants may be the most common of winter pests. Odorous house ants are tiny black insects; they emit a nasty smell when squished. This species prefers sweet foods and proteins. Keep your kitchen floors and counters immaculate to prevent infestation, and check the area where you store pet food, which is like a tasty treat to house ants.

Carpenter ants are also active during the winter months; these are larger than odorous house ants. Another way to identify their presence is to look for small piles of sawdust, which carpenter ants discard as they build their tunnel homes. Because carpenter ants are difficult to eliminate, it is best to call a professional Seattle pest control company to eradicate them.

Insects and rodents are extremely hardy critters. Indeed, certain insect species have been known to survive temperatures as low as 90 degrees below zero! Fortunately, you can prevent winter pest infestations by following the tips listed above. In general, the best methods for preventing winter pest problems are keeping a clean home and winterizing your home’s exterior by sealing up any openings.

[ photo courtesy of: Chika, on Flickr ]

Residential Pest Control for the Autumn Months: Preparing for a Pest-Free Winter

spot the mouse in the woodpilePortland pest control service providers report that fall is the season when pests start squeezing through nooks and crannies in search of a warm place to nest during the cold winter months. Once they’re inside a home, these pests usually settle into a state of hibernation, waiting for the temperature to warm up so they can lay their eggs and bring a new generation of baby pests into the world. This pattern applies even in relatively temperate places like Portland.

Pest control service providers report that year-round residential pest control begins with a home pest inspection to find and seal off places where pests can enter a building. Homeowners can complete this inspection themselves or hire a Portland pest control service to carefully winterize their homes against pests. Here are some essential autumn pest control tasks to prevent your home from being invaded this winter:

1. Caulk windows. Rodents can squeeze through incredibly small gaps. A grown mouse, for instance, can fit through a dime-sized hole, and a rat only requires a hole the size of a quarter. These animals are limited only by the size of their skulls, which are the only body part they cannot collapse to fit through small spaces. Residential pest control best practices include walking around your home, looking for any holes that could be entry points for rodents. The areas around windows are especially susceptible to holes. As you winterize your home, caulk around the inside and outside of all windows.

2. Seal crawl space entries. Portland pest control service providers can vouch for the fact that crawl spaces often harbor pests. Check the entry to your home’s crawl space to and eliminate any gaps that could allow pests in.

3. Install door sweeps or weather strip entry doors. Mice, rodents and insects can often fit underneath doors. As you conduct your home pest inspection, take a close look at your home’s exterior doors. If there is any space underneath them, you should install door sweeps or even entirely new doors with weather strips to keep pests out all winter long.

4. Clear away all vegetation and debris from the areas around your home’s foundation. Just like humans, pests require food, water and shelter to survive. Vegetation in the area around your home serves as an enticing food source for insects, which may discover entry points into your home.

5. Seal cracks in your home’s foundation. This goes along with eliminating any cracks that pests might be able to squeeze through to avoid cold winter temperatures.

6. Screen or cap chimneys. Pests are persistent! Even if you seal off all cracks around the bottom portion of your home, they may be able to gain entry via the chimney. Nuisance birds are especially fond of this approach. Screening or capping your fireplace is therefore an excellent method of residential pest control.

7. Caulk any openings where exposed plumbing enters your home. You will also want to check for and seal any gaps around air conditioning units and other utility pipes.

8. Trim tree branches near your home’s exterior. Tree branches can act like bridges, allowing pests to gain entry to your home.

9. Store firewood off the ground and away from the house. Cockroaches and many other insects love to live in firewood, which provides protection from the winter elements. To prevent insects from infesting your firewood pile, Portland pest control service experts recommend storing it off the ground. You’ll also want to keep your firewood away from your home to reduce the likelihood that pests will migrate from the firewood to your residence.

10. Never leave food out in the open. Ants, cockroaches, rodents and many other pests are attracted to human food. Quickly clean up all food scraps to reduce the likelihood of pest infestations.

11. Screen outdoor vents. Rodents won’t be able to fit through exterior vents if you put up screens.

12. Secure all corrugated metal siding, trim and molding. These places are common entry points for pests.

The coldest time of year is an excellent time for “nesting.” Both humans and pests enjoy having a warm, safe nest for the winter months. Homeowners can enjoy their own pest-free domestic bliss by following the tips listed above. An added benefit of completing this pest control winterization is that your home will probably be better insulated against the cold once you’ve finished sealing off all cracks and holes.

[ photo by: ToddBF ]