Protecting your home and preventing pest infestation is a yearlong effort, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be on guard 24/7. We spoke with Robin Mountjoy of Connor’s Termite & Pest Control, a pest control company serving Northern Virginia homes and businesses since 1944, about some of the most effective pest control methods as well as the importance of calling a professional when dealing with pests.
First Line of Defense
One of the most effective ways to keep bugs and other pests out of your home is by simply keeping your home clean and in order, including closets, crawlspaces, and attics. Reducing clutter in these dark, low-traffic areas removes the potential for insects and other pests to make a home there. Mice and rodents are strongly attracted to dry, pliable materials such as cardboard and old boxes, and they generally find these types of materials to burrow in wherever they lie.
According to Robin, “Reducing moisture and sealing entry points prevent many pest issues. Avoiding wood piles such as firewood placed too close to a home is also recommended—this is a billboard for termites to come into your home.” Keeping your home and its exterior free of clutter is an integral step in defending your home from pests.
Know Your Opponent
Pest control requires a continuous line of defense from all types of insects, and the type of irksome intruder can depend on the time of year. “Spring brings carpenter bees, while late summer brings bees and crickets. Fall brings crickets, mice, squirrels, and stink bugs, while winter brings mice and other invading pests seeking shelter from the cold,” Robin notes. Two year-round pests are notorious though: ants are primarily the most common menace, and termites are the most destructive.
How to keep up with this frequently changing offense? Think like a pest. “All pests need three things: food, shelter, and water,” Robin says. “Some need more of one than the other, some prefer different food at different times of the year, but most pests need all three. So with this in mind, when the weather shifts, so do the needs of the pests.” Stay a step ahead of the game by updating pest prevention strategies as part of your seasonal home maintenance.
Pay Attention to Warning Signs
Damage caused by invading pests doesn’t manifest overnight or arrive with a loud racket. Sneaky bugs and rodents often leave tell-tale signs that they’ve invaded the premises. Whether it’s a pile of wood dust or left-behind droppings, pests inadvertently let you know when they’re in or around the house.
“Different pests leave different warning signs,” Robin says. “Termites may leave mud tunnels, warping wood, or puckering drywall. Mice leave droppings and rub marks. Ants, crickets, and spiders are usually visible.” If you can’t tell the difference between an isolated issue and a serious problem, it’s best to bring in a professional.
You’re Not Alone
Many homeowners think that a simple trip to the local hardware store and a stock of spray cans filled with insecticide will take care of a minor insect or rodent problem. However, what might appear like a small family of pests could actually be a major issue for you and your home. Robin’s advice is to call a professional from the beginning.
“Many homeowners think they can save money by doing it themselves, but in the end they have made the problem worse,” Robin explains. “Ask for a full inspection and tips on how to maintain your home and prevent such infestations.” For termite infestations in particular, homeowners should always have a termite contract. “Termites are not something homeowners can effectively treat on their own. Canned insecticide and other products tend to be contact killers and do not get to the source of the problem. A professional knows the biology of the pest and can prescribe a unique treatment that will eliminate the issue.” Robin stresses the importance of calling a professional if there’s even a question of termite activity, and she reiterates that a home should always have a termite contract—no exceptions.
Treatment on a Pest-by-Pest Basis
When your home is host to unwelcome insects and rodents, no two solutions are alike. “You do not treat an ant infestation as you do a termite, cricket, or stink bug infestation,” Robin says. The severity of the infestation, type of infestation, and damage caused to your home are all taken into consideration by the pest control specialist.
Robin outlines the measures a pest control technician will take in an initial visit: “There is no such thing as a typical service call in our business. We will spend most of our time on the exterior of the home inspecting, excluding, and treating to prevent pests from entering the house. This will include several trips around a home while performing different tasks. A Webster is used to knock down insect webs. Caulk and other products would be used to close entry points and treat cracks and crevices of windows and doors. A technician should do a full perimeter treatment of the exterior of a home.”
Three Keys to Success Against Pests
For every homeowner strategizing a pest prevention plan, Robin recommends three important things to keep in mind:
1. Expert evaluations are essential. A professional company continually trains and improves the technicians’ “tool box” for alleviating and preventing pest infestations. This is through education, training, and efficient equipment.
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2. No two kinds of bugs are alike. Expect and investigate pest-specific solutions.
3. Pest control service is only as good as the application and products that are used. The lowest price or the highest price does not determine the service; the testimony of a company is important. Make sure you understand a company’s methods and process for extermination, rather than deciding simply on price.
This spotlight article was crafted by a Pest & Termite Control Best Pick in Northern Virginia. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.