All posts by Mike Sperling

What to Know about Fireplaces, Chimneys and Pests

We often think about having a cozy fire during the cold winter months. We often envision being curled up with a loved one under a blanket watching a favorite show, reading a book, or just getting lost in the flames’ dance. Unfortunately, the fireplace and the connected chimney are two of the most common places where pests can hide or get caught unexpectedly. Let’s take a look at the pests that are most common, the signs of a fireplace pests, and what you can do to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place. Get back to enjoying your fireplace as soon as possible.

Most Common Fireplace Pests

If you have a fireplace, you know that it can be a welcome place of rest and relaxation in the winter. The same goes for pests! Chimneys and fireplaces are a quiet, safe, and warm place to nest, hideout or, sometimes, get trapped by accident. The most common pests that find their way into fireplaces are:

  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Rodents

 

Signs of a Fireplace Pest

Many times when there is a pest, (or a family of pests) taking shelter in your fireplace or chimney, there will most definitely be red flags or signs of an infestation. Here are the most common signs that you have someone other than Santa Claus in your chimney.

  • Droppings – All animals leave droppings near or around their nest. If you have a bird, bat, or squirrel living in your chimney, you may notice droppings in and around your fireplace, or even outside your home. The smell alone may key you off to an unwanted visitor.
  • Noises – Many homeowners report hearing scurrying, frantic flapping, or squeaking in the chimney. These noises could be the signs of rodents scurrying around, birds who have gotten trapped frantically trying to find a way out, or the sounds of wildlife making themselves at home in your chimney.
  • Pet Panic! – Many times, the presence of a pest in your chimney or fireplace will be just enough to set off a pet such as a dog or cat to act excitable. Look for those reactions.
  • Tracks – Some pests will venture into your home from the chimney and eat your food, or leave tracks or urine marks. Be on the lookout!

Prevention

One of the best ways to keep pests of all varieties out of your chimney is by shutting the flue after using your fireplace each time. Another method of keeping pests from entering your home via the fireplace is to install a door to your fireplace. If you suspect that you may be harboring pests in your fireplace or chimney, call us at Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

How to Check for Winter Pests: Follow This Checklist

Just when you thought that all the pests had died off, begun hibernating, or found a place to “overwinter,” you notice that you may have a pest problem. If your first thought is, “But it is winter, I didn’t think pests came out in the winter,” you would be wrong. Many times pests have the natural survival instinct to find a warm, safe place to spend the winter. Unfortunately for many New Englanders, that place may be your home. In order to avoid pests this season, we have created a quick winter pest checklist to help you prevent pests from finding a way into your home.

 

  • Seal all cracks and holes on the outside of the home. This includes examining the foundation, vents, utility pipes, plumbing pipes, and any openings that could allow a pest into your home.
  • Don’t forget the chimney! While you are looking up, check out the roofline to be sure there are no gaps or openings.
  • Replace and/or repair loose or rotting weather stripping or caulking around windows. Remember to look under doors, too! A door sweep is a quick and economical solution that will keep out the cold air and pests.
  • Keep firewood away from the structure of your home to avoid harboring nests too close or having the wood pile become a “bridge” of sorts to your structure.
  • Store all pet food indoors so as not to attract wildlife.
  • Keep bird feeders in locations where raccoons, skunks and other pests cannot access them.
  • Store the food in your pantry in strong plastic containers or glass containers that mice and rats can not chew through. In addition, keep your pantry clean and free of crumbs/spills.
  • Keep garbage tightly sealed outside your home.
  • Remove or trim branches that are touching your home, as they can become a way for pests to get inside.

Stay safe and warm this winter. As always, if you spot a pest problem, contact us at Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

 

How to Pest-Proof Your Holidays

Something magical happens when a home is decorated for the holidays. Be it the twinkling lights, the decorated tree, or the fire blazing in the hearth, there really is nothing like this time of year. For many homeowners, the biggest worry during this season is the ever-growing gift list. As experts in the pest field however, we know that there are other worries. Some of these include unwanted guests just waiting for the right opportunity to hitch a ride into your home on items such as: your tree, decorations, or firewood. Read on to find out how pest-proof in order to make sure they don’t ruin your holiday cheer.

The Holiday Tree

Christmas trees, wreaths, and fresh garland are often cut from local farms and sold as decorations this time of year. An exhaustive (and gross) study by Science Daily has shown that, while your tree may be beautifully adorned with lights and ornaments, there could very well be up to 25 thousand insects, mites, and spiders sound asleep inside the tree. In order to avoid these pests coming out once they feel the heat of your home, here are a few steps to take prior to bringing your tree indoors. Inspect the tree for signs of pests, looking along the tips of branches and deep within the tree.

  • Shake the tree vigorously before bringing it into your home.
  • Vacuum up pests using an attachment.
  • Spray the tree with water if an outdoor source is still available.
  • If the tree is badly infested, return the tree for another one.
  • Do the same for garland and wreaths that could be harboring mice, spiders, and beetles.

Firewood

As we have stated in current blogs on our sister company website, Pro-Tech Lawn Care,  Firewood Pests can be a huge problem. Be sure to follow some simple guidelines when using firewood in your home. Just like with bringing in a tree, be sure to inspect the wood for pests, shake and bang the wood vigorously, and use the oldest wood first – first in first out rule. Be sure to store the wood far from the structure of your home.

Decorations

Every year, we take out the holiday decorations to adorn the mantle and living areas. Many times, homeowners find that critters have gotten into the boxes or made nests around them, as they are usually only accessed once or twice a year. We suggest the following safeguards so that pests do not find a way into your decorations.

  • Inspect all boxes before opening.
  • Use thick plastic containers that mice and rats can not chew through.
  • If you store your boxes in a shed or garage, open them outside before bringing anything indoors.
  • If you find boxes with droppings, chewed openings, or nesting sites, this could be a sign of rodent activity.

If you have signs of pests that have found their way inside your home this holiday season, call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

Are Skunks Misunderstood?

We all know the distinct foul odor of skunks. In fact, many of us can identify that pungent odor from fairly far away. The smell is enough to make even the strongest among us feel ill and burn our noses and eyes. It is no wonder they have a reputation that precedes them. But is that reputation really just a misunderstanding? Let’s take a closer look at skunk behavior and what it means if you have a smelly visitor on your property, or heaven forbid, in your home!

Skunks are easily identifiable by their unique black and white striped appearance and fluffy tail. These adaptable and opportunistic animals inhabit most of North America, from southern Canada to Mexico, and from coast to coast. Skunks thrive in many different habitats, as long as food and shelter are available. They rarely travel more than two miles from their established dens, and a skunk will typically settle down within two miles of a water source.

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that when they encounter a skunk it is purposely trying to spray them or their pets. In fact, skunks, like many animals are more frightened by humans than anything else. A skunk has usually entered your yard or property to gather food either from your garbage or grill area. Usually this food is intended for its young or other family members.

Studies by the Mass Audubon Society have shown that skunks use their spray as a defense mechanism when trapped or pursued. Given the opportunity, however, they would prefer to walk away from danger and spray only as a last resort. Additionally, skunks will give a warning that it’s about to spray by arching its back, raising its tail high in the air, turning its back toward the enemy, and stomping its front feet. Should you and a skunk meet “face-to-face,” stand still or slowly back away so the skunk doesn’t feel trapped.

The National Wildlife Federation reports that a skunk may emit a mere whiff of odor to repel a minor annoyance or, when fleeing a predator it can’t see, release a cloud of foul musk that can stop a pursuer in its tracks. For its most intense, targeted attack, a skunk twists into a U-shape so that both eyes and rump confront the threat, then aims a stream of noxious liquid right at its enemy’s face. Gagging, pain in the sensitive membranes of the nose and mouth, even temporary blindness can result from a direct hit. All of this is done as defensive measure to protect itself and/or its young. Self defense is a common characteristic of most wildlife.

So, you decide. Are skunks malicious or just protecting themselves? If you have a skunk problem on your property, call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

 

Avoiding Apartment Pests

Apartment living is ideal for people who are not ready to settle down in one area or are saving for a downpayment on a house. Unfortunately, living in a rental means dealing with a management company or landlord whenever there is a problem such as a leaky faucet, clogged plumbing, or an invasion of pests. While owners of the property are legally bound to deal with these types of problems, including pests such as mice, rats, bed bugs, cockroaches, and the like, there are some steps you can take on your own to help your situation. Here are a few suggestions of how to deal with apartment pests.

  1. Clean Often – Living in an apartment complex many times means you have to share close quarters with people who are loud, cook with strong smelling ingredients, and leave behind a mess. Keep your area as clean as possible including: taking out the garbage and cleaning out the barrel regularly, wiping down your kitchen of crumbs and spills, keeping pet food bowls away until needed, and sweeping areas that can harbor crumbs and food items.
  2. Avoid Secondhand Furnishings – While finding a deal on a mattress or sofa may seem like a great idea at the time, these items may be harboring bed bugs and other pests that you do not want to bring into your home.
  3. Organize your Pantry – Since the kitchen area is a big draw for pests of all kinds, get your food items organized in your pantry. Store cereals, rices, and other food boxes in plastic containers to avoid attracting pests hoping to find a food source. Clean the pantry often and get rid of old items.
  4. Request Repairs – Check under your sinks in both the kitchen and bathroom(s) for potential leaks or drips that could be attracting pests. Call your property management team and request a repair in a timely manner.
  5. Check Packages – Whether you are returning from travel or are expecting a box from Amazon, check all packages for hitchhiking pests that would love to make their home inside your home.

 

Need more suggestions for how to prevent or rid your apartment of pests? Check back with our blog and call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

Most Despised Pests

It is no secret that bugs, critters, and pests are despised by almost everyone. There are many, many reasons why these pests have become unwanted including behaviors such as: biting, stinging, invading living spaces, tunneling within woodwork, or even damaging the structural integrity of a home. What are the most despised pests? Here are the top five that homeowners commonly name.

 

  1. Termites – Although these small pests are helpful to our ecosystem when it comes to breaking down decaying plant matter, don’t forget that a colony of termites can severely damage wood structures including your home! Termites win a high ranking in the “Most Despised List” due to the financial impact these colonies can cause. Latest statistics put annual damage between $1-2 billion!
  2. Bed Bugs – These blood feeders rank high on the list due to the fact that they not only hitchhike their way into your home and take over beds, furniture, carpeting, and upholstered items, but they also suck your blood while you sleep, leaving itchy bites and rashes. Bed bugs are hard to remove if a comprehensive treatment program is not taken, and can haunt you in your sleeping hours!
  3. Mosquitoes – These buzzing, biting, nuisance pests can be found just about anywhere. Along with being a royal pain when you are trying to entertain outdoors, these pests can carry diseases that can impact your health for months and even years to come in the form of West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Be sure to protect yourself and your property every mosquito season.
  4. Wasps and Hornets – While bees are an important part of our ecosystem and are needed for pollination and the strength of our environment, some bees are more aggressive and pesky than others. Wasps and hornets make our list of the most despised pests due to their aggressive nature and tendency to attack when they fear their nest or colony is in danger.
  5. Cockroaches – Fear and revulsion of the dreaded cockroach is a story that is as old as time itself it seems. Cockroaches have been around forever and harbor a stigma that the area where they live and scavenge is unclean and unliveable. This is not the truth at all. The cockroach makes our list this year due to that stigma and creepiness factor.

 

Do you have any of these “Most Despised Pests” making inroads at your home or on your property? Call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321 to have your home or property inspected and treated. Our sister company Pro-Tech Lawn Care can also help with pests outside your home and in your trees and gardens.

Bed Bug Prevention

Last week we examined the common and not-so-common places that bed bugs can infest. We discussed the higher frequency of bed bugs being found in mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. We also looked at other locations that may provide food and shelter such as: buses, taxis, libraries, movie theaters, airplanes, schools, and retail stores. Given this alarming information, what can you do to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride and setting up shop in your home?  Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers who can catch a ride right into your home. In order to prevent this, here are a few precautionary steps to take to ensure that this does not happen.

  • Launder clothing and baggage immediately after traveling to a hotel. Even the highest quality hotels can harbor these pests.
  • When traveling, check your mattress and other furnishings before you sleep the night in the room. Educate yourself about the physical indicators of bed bug infestations. Also keep your clothing and baggage up off the ground and away from furnishings. If you suspect an infestation, contact the management of the establishment and inform them of the problem.
  • Keep clutter to a minimum. Bed bugs rely on hiding places, so the less that is cluttering your home, the fewer places they will find safe haven.
  • If you enjoy shopping at second hand stores for furnishings, rugs, or clothing, be sure to inspect all items before you bring them into your home. This includes pulling out drawers of dressers and checking the undersides.
  • When using shared laundry facilities, be vigilant. This may include transporting items to be washed in plastic bags.
  • Cover your mattress in a safe plastic encasement. While this can help prevent an infestation, it will not stop it once the infestation has begun.
  • Check all used items that enter your home. This includes old computers, appliances, clothing, and gaming systems where bugs can easily hide.
  • If you are moving, do not use the moving blankets that are provided by the company. Either supply your own or require that they be cleaned prior to your move.
  • Be wary of public places that could harbor these pests. When changing at a clothing store, keep your clothes off the floor. When using public transportation, check out the seat and surrounding area.
  • Seal your home so that bed bugs can not enter or at least travel from room to room.

If you suspect that all of your vigilance has failed and that you do have a bed bug problem, seek professional help to eradicate the problem quickly and discreetly. Call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

Bed Bugs, Not Just for Beds!

For years we have been warning our clients about bed bugs in mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. We have discussed the “hitchhiker-like” nature of these creatures and how easily they can cling to an item that you are carrying and make their way into your home. Still, many people are unaware that the term bed bug is a complete misnomer due to the fact that they are not only found in beds but in some pretty common places that we all frequent. Read on to learn about the other locations you should be wary of in regard to bed bugs.

To understand where bed bugs hide, you need to know a little about their behavior and physiology. Bed bugs are fairly small at a quarter of an inch long for adults and 1-5 millimeters for the nymphs. That means that crevices, corners, nooks and crannies are all fair game for hiding spots. In addition to size, bed bugs are stealthy creatures that feed on human blood in a “hit and run” pattern. They come out (usually while you’re sleeping) only to feed. Right after their feast, they scurry back to their hiding places until it’s time for them to make another food run. Being fairy close to their meal is, therefore, important. Bed bugs will stay within 5 feet or so to their food source (you).  As an infestation grows, they do tend to spread further away from the main feeding area, though.

Within Your Home

While bed bugs are most commonly found in places like your bedroom, specifically in and around the mattress, box spring, and bed frame, they can hide in other places within your home. This includes: luggage, walls, clothes, furniture, dressers, couches, pillows, carpets, pet beds, curtains, wall sockets, the laundry room, and even behind wallpaper. According to a study of infested living environments conducted by the University of Kentucky, this was the breakdown of the most frequent places where bed bugs were found to be hiding:

  1. Box Spring (34.6%)
  2. Couch and/or Chair (22.6%)
  3. Mattress (22.4%)
  4. Bed Frame and/or Head Board (13.4%)
  5. Other (3.1%)
  6. Walls and/or Ceilings (2.3%)
  7. Baseboard (1.4%)
  8. Dresser and/or Night Stand (0.2%)

 

Out and About

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common locations of infestation outside of your home are places like apartments, dorm rooms, and shelters. There have been locations in the news recently that add some rather alarming locations to that list. Some recent reports put bed bugs in places like: movie theaters, libraries, trains, buses, taxis, retail stores, schools, day care centers and, most alarmingly, medical settings.

Bed bugs are not just for beds anymore. Do you know what to look for and how to prevent an infestation from happening in your home? Stay tuned for next week’s blog about bed bug prevention. If you suspect you have an infestation, call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

 

Squirrels 101

Squirrels may be fun to watch with their crazy antics and fun jumping maneuvers, but boy can they be a major pain if they find their way into your home! Fall can be an especially trying time for homeowners plagued by a horde of squirrels because this is the time that these critters are stocking up on food and looking for a safe place to spend the winter. The combination can lead to headaches for homeowners, so here is our quick guide on squirrels to help you out.

What do squirrels eat?

Squirrels are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and plants. Many homeowners long believed that their garbage was safe because there were no nuts hiding inside the barrels. Once you have seen a squirrel climb up a tree with a piece of pizza between their front teeth you will know that your garbage is fair game. Keep your garbage, pet food, and grill drippings clean and secure.

Where do Squirrels nest?

Most of the time, these frisky creatures live in tree cavities where they can easily access the food and water in their environment. Unfortunately, during the colder winter months, they sometimes attempt to enter structures that can provide higher levels of protection and warmth. Inspect your home annually to ensure that there are not access points for these critters to enter your home, including the chimney cap, vents, soffits, and gaps in the siding.

What are common squirrel behaviors?

Squirrels are tricky in that they can outsmart many animals and even seem unafraid of humans. They are, however afraid of owls, so some homeowners attempt prevention by placing a plastic owl around the yard. In addition, squirrels give birth to their young about once or twice each year. The number of newborns can vary depending on the species. If you begin to notice droppings, chew marks, and messes in your attic, garage, or crawl spaces, then you may have a squirrel problem.

Do you have a squirrel problem that you need fixed? Call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

 

Rodent Awareness: The Danger

Last week, we examined the red flags and prevention techniques to avoid a rodent infestation in our blog Rodent Awareness Week: Red Flag and Prevention Techniques. This week we are examining why being vigilant against an infestation is a smart idea. The health and safety of the people living in your home is vitally important. Let’s examine the danger of having these pests living in the same space as humans.

The Risks

Rodents pose a number of health risks to you and your family. Our nation currently faces a growing level of mice and rat infestations in our cities and towns. More than 1/3 of American homeowners (37%) have seen a rodent in their home in the past year. Rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of live or dead rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, and through rodent bites. In addition to contracting diseases from touching or living around these rodents, diseases can be spread from the mites, ticks, and bugs that feast on rats and mice.

The most common danger of having a rodent infestation is the spread of food-borne illnesses like Salmonella, as rodents contaminate surfaces throughout the house and will look to get into your kitchen cabinets and food prep areas. Other diseases include:

  • hantavirus,
  • salmonella,
  • allergies & asthma,
  • tularemia,
  • plague,
  • rat bite fever,
  • lymphocytic choriomeningitis
  • leptospirosis

These diseases put you and your family at serious risk for falling ill. Along with this worry, rodents can track in other pests from outside like fleas and ticks. This opens up your family to a variety of other disease and risk factors. Needless to say, rodents are dangerous to your home and your loved ones, and should be handled by professionals. If you suspect a rodent infestation, call Pest-End Exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.