If you're like most people, the sight of an insect or rodent in your home will have you dialing your exterminator before it has time to scurry behind the sofa. And once pest control arrives, chances are you cover your eyes and ears until their work is done and your home is pest-free. But instead of bugging out, listen up! There's plenty to learn from your exterminator, from the best ways to prevent future infestations to how to handle the ones you already have. We spoke to pest control professionals across the country to find out what they wish you knew. Read on for their best pest pointers.
1. A tidy kitchen alone won't make your home immune to infestations.
While many insects and rodents are attracted to food, open bags of chips and dirty dishes on the counter aren't the only things that make your house a bug magnet. "Moisture, as well as food, plays a big role in the attraction and sustainability of pests," says Bob Young, a division service manager for Terminix in the Northeast. "Leaving moisture sources around the home or having areas where moisture may pool can attract pests." He recommends keeping gutters unclogged and making sure that downspouts direct water at least 3 to 4 feet away from your home's foundation. Additionally, decorative pools and baths should be drained regularly.
2. We can do a lot for you, but we can't do everything ourselves.
Your exterminator will make every effort to successfully eliminate your pest problem, but if you don't cooperate and do your part, you can't expect a successful outcome. "It can be frustrating when a client doesn't follow advice to keep their garage door closed or fix their screen window," says Dr. Harrison. And don't always assume that a treatment wasn't successful if you happen to spot a critter later on: "If you have a roach population in your house, I can guarantee I'll get rid of it. But I can't guarantee that tomorrow when you're at the grocery store you won't pick up another and bring it inside with you."
3. On the other hand, we wish you wouldn't try to fix the problem yourself before calling us.
"There are a lot of bug and rodent treatments available at your hardware store that leave a lot of room for misapplication," says Shay Jones Runion, vice president of professional development at Arrow Exterminators in Atlanta, Georgia. "In many cases people will use too much product or pick up the wrong treatment for their problem." She warns that certain treatments can make the problem even worse; for example, over applying product can contaminate baits that exterminators lay down for treatment, which makes their services less effective. And bug bombs that people often mistakenly buy to treat bedbugs will just end up scattering the pests around your home.
4. Even if you don't see pests in your home, you're not necessarily in the clear.
"Winter is the time of year when rodents want to move indoors—they like to be anyplace that's comfortable for people," says Keith Willingham, vice president of technical services at Western Exterminator Company in Anaheim, California. So even if you don't have a rodent or insect problem right now, it's a good time to set up exclusionary measures. Young recommends placing a tight-fitting weather-strip on the bottom of all doors, ensuring attic and foundation vents are equipped with ¼-in. hardware cloth, and installing insect screening over windows, utility vents and other areas where small pests can slip in. Also seal up any holes or cracks in your home's exterior: Large openings should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk. Your exterminator can also perform these services for you.
5. You don't need to worry about the treatments that we use.
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