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Rid Yourself of Pesky Varmints with Pest Control Services

Pest Control Basics Pest control refers to the regulation or management of another species defined as a pest, usually because it is believed to be detrimental to a person’s health, the ecology or the economy.
Pest control is at least as old as agriculture. In order to maximize food production, it can be economically advantageous to protect crops from competing species of plants, as well as from herbivores competing with humans.

The conventional approach was probably the first to be employed, since it is comparatively easy to destroy weeds by burning them or plowing them under, and to kill larger competing herbivores, such as crows and other birds eating seeds. Techniques such as crop rotation, companion planting, also known as intercropping or mixed cropping, and the selective breeding of pest-resistant cultivars also have a long history.

Many pests have only become a problem because of the direct actions of humans. Modifying these actions can often substantially reduce the pest problem. For instance, raccoons cause a nuisance by tearing open refuse sacks. Many householders now use bins with locking lids.
Houseflies tend to accumulate wherever there is human activity and are virtually a global phenomenon, especially where food or food waste is exposed. Similarly, seagulls have become a pest at many seaside resorts. Tourists often feed the birds with scraps of fish and chips, and before long, the birds become dependent on this food source and become aggressive towards humans.

Chemical pest control dates back 4,500 years, when the Sumerians used sulfur compounds as insecticides. The Rig Veda, which is about 4,000 years old, also mentions the use of poisonous plants for pest control. And the ancient Chinese and Egyptians are also known to have used chemical pest control. But it was only with the industrialization and mechanization of agriculture in the 18th and 19th century, and the introduction of the insecticides pyrethrum and derris that chemical pest control became the method of choice. In the 20th century, the discovery of several synthetic insecticides, such as DDT, and herbicides boosted this development. Chemical pest control is still the predominant type of pest control today, although its long-term detrimental effects led to a renewed interest in traditional and biological pest control towards the end of the 20th century.

Professional Pest Control Experts
If you have a pest control problem that you do not want to handle on your own, you may decide to turn to a professional. Selecting a pest control service is just as important as selecting other professional services. Look for the same high degree of competence you would expect from a doctor or lawyer. Pestcontrol companies generally divide into two categories: insects and small pests that may be exterminated or treated in some environmentally friendly manner; large rodents and larger animals that are to be captured and released.

When store bought remedies fail to work, you need the help of a professional. They will have different chemicals to work with, some restricted by law to professional use, as well as specialized traps and poison containers designed for specific target species. Many offer more environmentally responsible methods and solutions. Experts can also do regular inspections, especially if you have a termite problem.
Try to trap some sample insects before calling an exterminator. That will allow them to focus directly on the critters you want to control.

Choosing a Professional
How can you be sure that the pest control company you hire will do a good job?
Before you choose a company, get answers to these questions:
1. Is the company licensed? Most state or local agencies issue state pest control licenses.
2. Make sure the pest control operator ’s license is current if one is required in your state. Also, ask 3. if the company’s employees are bonded, meaning that the company reimburses you for any loss or damage caused by the employee.
4. You may want to contact your state pesticide agency to find out about its pesticide certification and training programs and to ask whether periodic recertification is required for pest control operators.
5. In addition, possession of a city license (where they are issued) is one more assurance that the company you are dealing with is reputable and responsible.
6. Is the company willing and able to discuss the treatment proposed for your home? Any company, including those advertising themselves as “green,” should inspect your premises and outline a recommended control program, including: the pests to be controlled, extent of the problem, active ingredient(s) in the pesticide chosen, potential adverse health effects and typical symptoms of poisoning associated with the active ingredient, form of the pesticide and application techniques.

The Pests
Winged carpenter ants are not necessarily a threat to your home. Ants often fly into homes through open doors and windows or into crawlspaces and attics, lose their wings and crawl around indoors looking for a place to set up a colony. Finding a few large ants indoors concerns homeowners and they frequently jump to the mistaken conclusion that the house is infested. The chance that a lone queen will locate a suitable nest site is small. But, if a colony is successfully started it will be several years, at least, before the colony is large enough to be noticed and cause any damage. This is why yearly inspections are so important – to detect and eliminate any colonies before they have a chance to grow large enough to do damage.

Carpenter ants are a nuisance by their presence when found in parts of the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, living room and other quarters. When 20 or more large winged and/or wingless ants are found indoors, in the daytime near one location, it is possible that the colony is well established in the home and the nest may have been extended into sound wood, sometimes causing structural damage. They do not eat wood, but often remove quantities of it to expand their nest size. However, if only one to two large wingless ants are erratically crawling, they may simply be foraging for food with the nest located outside. Outdoors, they are frequently seen running over plants and tree trunks or living in moist, partly rotten wood stumps.

Winged termite reproductives flutter off in search of suitable nesting sites. They don’t often enter homes from outside. When a site is found the pair start a new colony. Termites require wood as a food source. Subterranean termites require wood that is usually buried in the soil.
Colonies start slowly but eventually may extend their colony into structural wood by way of mud shelter tubes (“mud tubes”). Subterranean termites often are detected by the presence of these tubes extending from the soil into the structure.

The bottom line – the presence of winged termites or winged carpenter ants, unless it occurs indoors, does not, in and of itself, increase the threat to your home. Stay vigilant and do your yearly, or twice-yearly, inspections!

Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees sometimes become a nuisance outdoors when they fly very erratically (hover) around the heads of people, causing fear. Homeowners complain not only about the aggressive nature, but about the round holes bored into wood trim near eaves and gables of homes, fascia boards, porch ceilings, outdoor wooden furniture, decks, railings, fence posts, telephone poles, siding, shingles, dead tree limbs and other weathered wood. Initial damage is minor, but new tunnels may be excavated and old ones enlarged, causing considerable wood damage. Also, the yellow, coarse sawdust from borings beneath their entry hole contain their waste materials, leaving unsightly stains.

Powder Post Beetles
The larvae of these beetles reduce timbers to a mass of very fine, powder-like substance. The adults do very little damage. There are four types of Powder Post beetles in four families: Lyctidae, Bostrichidae, Anobiidae, and Cerambycidae. Adults do little damage; it is the larvae that do the major part of the damage. They go through a complete metamorphosis: adults, eggs, larvae and pupa

Rats
Rats are dangerous! They can ruin your food, destroy things in your home and start electrical fires. Rats and their fleas can carry disease.

The humane method of live trapping would be done by a pest control pro. Extermination is also best done by pest controllers, however if you try it yourself use these steps:
The best trap is the large, simple, cheap wooden “snap trap.” They are sold in hardware stores.

To use the trap:
BAIT IT with pieces of apple, potato, raw bacon or with peanut butter spread on a cotton ball.
ATTACH IT firmly to the ground or solid place to keep the rat from dragging the trap away.
PLACE THE TRAP near where you have found the droppings. Make sure the trap is safe from people, children, pets or animals that could get hurt from it.

POISONS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED for rat control, because children or other animals may eat it by mistake. Also, poisoned rats can die in hard to reach places causing a very bad smell.

DEAD RATS must first be wrapped in newspaper, or placed in a plastic bag before putting it in a tightly covered garbage can. Injured or sick rats must be killed, then wrapped and put in the garbage can. Try not to touch the dead rat. Use gloves if possible.

WASH YOUR HANDS WITH HOT WATER AND SOAP AFTER GETTING RID OF DEAD RATS! (even if you used gloves)

Mice
Mice can live several years, and make up to 65+ babies.
You can kill them in a snap catch, you can catch them in live traps and release them in the wild, or you can poison them. The first photo shows a special poison protection system. There is a little entry on each side and the bait is in the middle of a sealed box. This keeps your pets and kids safe from the bait. Professionals will even use boxes that require a key to open if you have small kids around. One entrepreneur has invented a snap trap that has a lever to allow you to open the trap without touching the mouse.

There are two important things about mice that will help you to set your traps successfully. Mice are almost blind, hence they don’t go more than 6 to 8 feet from their nest. If you see droppings, they are living in the area. And secondly, because of this sight problem, they tend to hug the walls when they walk. Knowing this, you should place your snap traps pointing right into the wall and tight up against the wall so they literally stumble into the trap. For the live traps, or the poison boxes, be sure to set the entrance doors right against the wall. They will go in without even realizing it. Three inches away it is going to take some mighty fine cheese to get them to wander out to your trap.

Squirrels
Many people don’t want to see harm come to small animals. Squirrels are attractive little animals that can be urged to move on without recourse to violence.

The problem is that the opening they use to enter your home will also allow access to bats and insects that are not as benign. And their droppings accumulate. This increases the potential for human disease and allergic reactions.

So get out the mothballs and spread them around the attic or where ever the animals have taken up house. Squirrels don’t like them. This will not hurt them, because they will not eat them, just move on. Or get some large humane traps and take them out of your attic. Then you can repair the damage and seal the access hole.

The longer you wait, the more incremental damage they will do, and the more expensive and difficult it will be to get them out.

Preventing Pests
Pests seek places to live that satisfy basic needs for air, moisture, food, and shelter. The best way to control pests is to try to prevent them from entering your home or garden in the first place.

You can do this by removing the elements that they need to survive. Take the following preventive actions:

Remove water. All living things, including pests, need water for survival. Fix leaky plumbing, and do not let water accumulate anywhere in or around your home. For example, do not leave any water in trays under your houseplants, under your refrigerator, or in buckets overnight. Remove or dry out water-damaged and wet materials. Even dampness or high humidity can attract pests.

Remove food. Store your food in sealed glass or plastic containers, and keep your kitchen clean and free from cooking grease and oil. Do not leave food in pet bowls on the counter or floor for long periods of time. Put food scraps or refuse in tightly covered, animal-proof garbage cans, and empty your garbage frequently.

Remove or block off indoor pest hiding places. Caulk cracks and crevices to control pest access. Bathe pets regularly and wash any mats or surfaces they lie on to control fleas. Avoid storing newspapers, paper bags, and boxes for long periods of time. Also, check for pests in packages or boxes before carrying them into your home.

Block pest entryways. Install screens on all floor drains, windows, and doors to discourage crawling and flying pests from entering your home. Make sure any passageways through the floor are blocked. Place weather-stripping on doors and windows. Caulk and seal openings in walls. Keep doors shut when not in use.

Environmental Responsibility
Non-chemical alternatives are available for getting rid of some pests.

These are dependable pest control methods that do not contain artificial or harmful chemical pesticides. Non-chemical pest control methods really work, and they have many advantages. Compared to chemical treatments, non-chemical methods are generally effective for longer periods of time. They are less likely to create hardy pest populations that develop the ability to resist pesticides. And many non-chemical pest controls can be used with fewer safeguards, because they are generally thought to pose virtually no hazards to human health or the environment. An example of a harmless pest control is simply to trap vermin and release them elsewhere. Other methods require some knowledge of biology, botany and chemistry.

Biological Controls
Pests themselves may be eaten or otherwise controlled by birds, insects, or other living organisms. You canuse a pest’s natural enemies (predators) to your advantage. These “biological controls,” as they are called, take many forms: beneficial predators such as purple martins and other birds eat insects; bats can eat thousands of insects in one night; ladybeetles (ladybugs) and their larvae eat aphids, mealy bugs, whiteflies, and mites. Other beneficial bugs include spiders, centipedes, ground beetles, lacewings, dragonflies, big-eyed bugs, and ants. You can install a purple martin house in your yard. You can also buy and release predatory insects. They are available from sources such as gardening catalogs, magazines, and nurseries. Ask your local garden association for information on how to attract and protect beneficial predators.

And example of a parasitoid is the miniature wasp that lay their eggs inside the eggs or bodies of insect pests such as tomato hornworms. Once theeggs hatch, the offspring kill their insect hosts, making parasitoids highly effective pest controllers.

Biochemical pesticides include pheromones and juvenile insect hormones. Pheromones are chemical substances released by various organisms (including insects) as means of communicating with others of the same species, usually as an aid to mating. Pheromones lure pests inside a trap. Juvenile insect hormones interfere with an insect’s normal growth and reproductive functions by mimicking the effects of compounds that occur naturally in the pest.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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