Pest Control 101: How to Protect Your Home Against Pests | HTH 011


back to another episode of The How-to Home Podcast. Today we’ve got Pat Cops
from Orkin with an episode that’s truly going to make your skin crawl. Welcome
back to another episode of the how to home podcast. My name is Aaron Massey and
joined as always by Tracy Pendergast. Our guest today is Pat Cops an entomologist
and technical manager with Orkin. Thank you so much for being here.
you for having me. Really appreciate being here.
topic today is pest control. Something that I am always in the midst of with my
home, and I really want to pick your brain about some pest control options out
there, some of the best practices. There’s so many different pests across the
country regionally and even city to city that the average homeowner deals with
on a day-to-day basis. I think having somebody with your background here is
just going to provide a ton of knowledge for the audience and my for myself.
really excited. Is it normal to be this excited to talk about bugs?
is for me. Because you’re an entomologist it is.
It’s very exciting.
feel like everyone, this is the struggle everyone deals with. I’m excited to
get some tips.
did you get into it? First of all, I’m very curious. How did you get into
entomology and background in what you’re into?
I was one of those kids that used to watch the ants, when I was a kid and run
around and look at all the different critters being raised out in the country.
I had a lot of access to critters. Brought just about everything home, raised
all kinds of different pets that probably shouldn’t have been considered pets
even crickets and things like that, bring them home, try to keep them over the
winter, and just enjoyed being around critters. It was a natural thing to me to
think about studying entomology.
00:01:48] you never know, you never know where you’re going to end up. Do you
want to … You pulled some facts about pest control?
sure did.
want to dive into a few of them?
would love to. They’re highly disturbing first of all. Over 56% of homeowners
have had a problem with ants in the last year. That’s not a surprising fact.
actually would think higher than that for ants because-
here in California it is higher. If we’re talking nationwide that’s probably
the right number.
a good point, yes. A single flea can lay up to 25 eggs per day while everyone
hold on to your hats. A single rat can have up to 84 offspring per year. One
single rat can have 84 offspring.
in mind that the offspring that the rat is having can also reproduce within
that year as well. The numbers can be exponential.
Termites. They can cause an estimated five billion dollars worth of structural
damage per year. That is not good. We are definitely going to talk about
termite prevention and how to deal with it if you have the issue because that’s
terrifying. Lastly many pests including rats, mice, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks
can carry potentially deadly or life-threatening illnesses. I know that’s
definitely a fear locally with mosquitoes where I live. It can be pretty scary.
very uplifting to think about all these pests and the stuff that they carry.
the disease issue is a concern, certainly as the climate changes and we get new
and invading pests coming in and exotic diseases. That’s something we need to
be careful that we’re looking at closely, and make sure we deal with that as it
comes up. Want to go back to that rodent piece just for a minute. It’s been
said, and you can find this information online and it’s actually true, is about
20% of all fires in homes of unknown causes are caused by rodents.
through the wires.
through wires and things like that. I’ve actually experienced that situation
where I’ve gone in and seen where that has happened. Rodents not only is the
disease issue mission critical where when we’re trying to manage a rodent
population in a home, but also just the physical structure protecting the property
itself. The home it’s critical too that you take care of the rodents.
Pat, we are so excited to have you here, so we can talk about prevention and
healthy ways to take care of all of these things.
we dive in too deep, I want to ask you about your questions. Before we do that,
I just want to remind everybody that we have our voice mailbox set up that you
can call in and leave a suggestion or comment or question for people like Pat
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dive into some questions because obviously pest control is a very diverse and
wide range episode. We could go into one specific bug for an entire episode
probably, but let’s talk about some very common household pests. Like what are
some of the things or some of the critters are rodents that you encounter most
you mentioned termites already. Certainly, that one is pretty common. We do see
that in a lot of homes, and in California, we have both the dry wood termites,
which could invade from the top of the house and come on down, and we have
termites that come up though the soil. We have more termites here than you
would get in most locations in the continental United States, probably with the
exception of Florida and the Deep South and you got a lot of terms activity
there as well. Then we have other pests that are pretty common. We were talking
about spiders really before the start of the show. That’s one of the most
common pests that we deal with. They’re various spiders that cause issues,
things like black widows or brown widows here in Southern California. Less
common in other parts of the country, but in other parts of the country, they
have things I brown recluse spiders.
most homes, we don’t really need to worry about either of those that much. It’s
more the spiders that get in can be an annoyance and cause a lot of webbing in
the home and so on, makes an unsightly mess and that will be your cellar
spiders. Sometimes they’re called daddy long legs. They’re pretty common, we
get those coming in all the time. Then ants are another big pest that
homeowners experience. Ants, various species of ants cause different things or
do different things when they get into homes. Some of them will nest in the
home. Most don’t. They actually nest outside in soil and come in because
conditions are appropriate for them to come in. They find some food or moisture
that they want to be around, and end up perhaps around the kitchen sink or in
the bathroom. People don’t want to find the ants crawling across their
toothbrush. Some folks will say that’s merely a nuisance.
have been walking a lot of places, and when they’re walking on your toothbrush
after walking on the bathroom floor, that may not be such a good idea.
didn’t realize that … I guess it makes sense, but you don’t think about ants
chugging water. You just look at it and you don’t think about it being like,
them being attracted to water but you find them primarily in a lot of wet
environments. Bathrooms, kitchens stuff like that. Is it just … Is it the
water source that they’re attracted to?
are highly attracted to moisture sources. In fact most of the baits that are
used for ants contain … Are highly moist, contain a lot of a lot of water.
For that reason, just the ants are more likely to feed on them, rather than a
dryer product. In fact is the ant themselves when they pick them up, they
pickup say a dry granular type bait, they’ll feed that take it back to the nest
and feed it to the larva. It can be converted into a liquid and then fed to the
worker foraging ants that are out there actually gathering that food source.
Ants like a variety of foods, but moisture is mission critical for a lot of
species. They want to be around areas where they can get sufficient moisture to
survive and maintain the colony.
are some tips that you can provide maybe for the average homeowner to minimize
an issue before it starts?
that’s the focus. It should always be on a proactive approach where you’re
dealing with prevention rather than being reactive and thinking about well,
what can I treat with to get rid of these particular critters? Really, don’t
want to ever let it get to that stage. The way to do that is to think about the
conditions conducive that bring in pest to the home. There are some of these
commonsense items that we … If we really think about it say, “Yeah that
could encourage a pest.” Stuff like having the trees over grow your house.
You want to keep those branches away. That’ll keep things like rodents from
getting on the roof and ending up coming in under tiles. If it’s a tile roof or
through a gap around a chimney flashing and end up in an attic void or
someplace like that. Then we have things like vegetation that slow growing
perhaps hedges around your home, that are actually touching the home. If you
think about it, that makes a great bridge for an ant just to walk up and they
may be feeding on the honeydew being produced by the insects like aphids that
are on that bush.
from there it’s a very short walk across onto the home and then may be under
the flashing where they could set up a nest. That is critical that we deal with
those kinds of things, and also excessive moisture around the outside of the
home. We already hit on moisture sources inside as being attractive, but
certainly outside as well. The one thing that homeowners tend not to do in
areas where we have irrigation, and that’s a lot of the country is they don’t
think about maybe the north side of the house needs a little less irrigation
than the south side of the house. That’s something that will help keep the ants
at bay a little bit if you don’t over water on the front, say at the front side
of the house that faces north, and pull the ants in. You can tell if you’re
over watering simply because you start to see that greenish growth and the soil
looks like its saturated all the time.
the thing that’s going to attract pests like ants and termites in fact as well
in other critters. These are the things that we need to be thinking about. Then
going into sealing up the house itself, there’s a lot of steps there. Just
simple things like door sweeps wear out, replacing them on a fairly frequent
basis. Then if you get any work done on your home, say you get a water heater
installed and they want to run a drainage line outside. Submerged drainage line
to the exterior, the contractor may punch a hole in the wall that’s two inches
in diameter, and then put a three quarter inch pipe through that hole and it
never gets sealed up. A lot of things can come in through a space, a gap that’s
an inch in size.
good tips.
there any products out there that you can recommend? Let’s say for sealing
around a hole like that. I know I’ve used some other like the expanding spray
foams and some of the things like that. Do you recommend any of those types of
products or is there something out there that you can recommend to really seal
off an entry point maybe?
right well, I wouldn’t say staying away from expanding foam 100% of the time,
but it is not one of my favorite materials for this kind of thing. For one
thing the critters can actually chew right through it. For another … That’s a
lot of critters. Some insects will do that like bees when they’re nesting inside,
they’ll chew through that thing. Rodents certainly can go through that,
termites will go through that and then it’s hidden. That’s an issue with it as
well as is it can hide an infestation, doesn’t really provide an effective seal
in many instances. You want to use a good grade caulk that’s made for that. If
it’s a concrete, a crack in concrete you’re trying to seal some type of last
America product, some type of epoxy. We all know that epoxy can be cured.
That’s absolutely critical if you have something that has a little give to it
but it but provides a good seal. Whereas some of those foams just don’t do
want to be careful what types of materials to use and use the appropriate one.
Really if the work is extensive I would get a professional to do kind of that
work. The same goes with the pest management situation. If you’re … If you
truly have wood destroying insects, if you have things like honey bees in a
wall void or if you have a bed bug issue and yes, they’re real. Then you want
to be calling in a professional. If there’s more than one something, at least
get a good identification so that what you’re dealing with. Miss identification
is another thing that happens all the time and people will do something that
they probably shouldn’t do and it just makes the issue that much worse.
we’ve identified that there’s an issue, and we’re thinking about calling and
professionals. I’m a parent, Aaron is, my number one concern and I have an
animal is safety. When I hear chemicals or poison, bait those words set off an
alarm for me. How safe are the things on the market? What should we be using if
you have those concerns?
those are all legitimate concerns and certainly the products that are on the
market are EPA registered and they’re there for a reason. We’re in the 21st
century now, so materials that are out there if used according to the proper
directions may be effective for the purpose claim. The deal is to try to stay
away from using any type of product if you don’t have to. For example, if it’s
one or two ants that are getting inside, if you simply clean up the area where
they’re walking, those are likely just foragers that have come in and looking
for a food source. If they don’t find it, they’re not likely going to bring in
the rest of the troops to do that foraging. That goes back to the other piece
there about sealing up the home, and making sure that you don’t have those
conditions conducive, being proactive in order to prevent the use of any type
of products.
it’s a case of where you need to make an application of a product, you’re
probably better off ensuring that it’s done professionally and have a
professional come in and do that type of work. They want to look at the home as
well. They may tell you that you don’t need to do any of that. That it may be a
case of here’s the plan, we’re going to deal with the root cause, its outside.
We’re going to deal with it out there, and maybe nothing that we have to do
inside at all. A professional is also well trained, they’re licensed. They’re
aware that people have children. They’ve got pets. Any materials that they put
down they would be in tamper resistant type stations, out of the reach of
children or pets and all that. That’s all mandated and people are aware that,
they have to be.
more of coming up with a comprehensive plan depending on the individual
situation and applying all the different techniques that are a part of what we
call integrated pest management, which is using all kinds of different tools.
Not just products of different types, but perhaps bringing that commonsense
factor in and doing that exclusion work, and doing that education work. Well,
this isn’t really something you need to worry about. It just came in through an
open window. That education piece is mission critical. Bringing in a
professional might be the very best option.
was wondering if you could talk to us about some preventative tips for a place
like a playhouse to avoid something that could be dangerous to your children
a great tool for managing pests around the playhouse, and actually even from
keeping them from getting established is a vacuum cleaner. You reach for that
vacuum cleaner and you go in with a crack and crevice tool and you just go
ahead and hit all the corners and edges and so on, and then you can remove the
webbing with a brush or with the vacuum itself. That takes care of anything
that might be inside. Outside, look for why they may be coming to that
particular playhouse or structure or whatever it is, and see if you can
mitigate that somehow. By that, I mean, if you’ve got a lot of bushes right
around that area, maybe cut them back a little bit, trim them back so that
they’re not … It’s not as much overgrowth in there. If there’s a lot of
irrigation going on, well, maybe we don’t need quite so much there. Maybe we
can put a gravel strip around that playhouse, and that’ll keep a lot of
critters out as well.
there’s some openings or holes that could be sealed up just so, because we know
that’s where something seems to be coming in all the time.
you’re focusing around the foundation, which is why they’re spraying the thing
around the foundation of the home. You’re having in my house specifically, I
have a crawl space under my home and there’s like these access points to get
into the crawlspace. One of the big things that I’ve had to do is put grates on
them of some kind because they were wide open, and I’ve had so many problems
with … I had a possum that got under my house and ended up dying in an old
piece of stuff down there and I had to pull it out, and it was not one of my
favorite things to do.
seen things.
I found out what it was that was under there. Then up in the attic, so if
you’re talking about trimming the trees back, so you’ve got foundation, you’ve
got the attic. Those are two, or the roof structure, two very common entry
points. If you can minimize the access points on the roof and in the
foundation, you’re probably going to mitigate a lot of the issue, right?
you are. If you take a look at the yard itself, why is that … Why are things
being attracted to my home? If you’ve got a very heavy cover in the backyard
and a lot of bushes a lot of trees and it’s a very thick overgrowth, expect to
have critters in there. You’ve just created a home for them, a microenvironment
that’s perfect. For even things like mosquitoes because they like that higher
humidity that you’re going to get in around bushes like-
ponds and stuff. Like the standing water type little garden ponds.
water, I have a fountain at my house and I’ve got to make sure I keep that
clean and the water flowing all the time or I’m going to end up with mosquitoes
breeding in it.
potentially dangerous. Mosquitoes can carry some not so awesome diseases.
mosquitoes are concerned in some parts of the country more than in others, but
in terms of disease activity. Certainly they’re a concern to everybody as a
nuisance factor, and we don’t want to be encouraging them to be around the
home. It’s something where if you can discourage them a little bit simply by
trimming back your bushes a little bit, and maybe reducing that irrigation, and
keeping the water flowing in that fountain, why not do it. The other thing is
look for containers of water. Mosquitoes can breed in something like a flower
pot, or the saucer for flower pot. Make sure the water doesn’t stay in there.
a wheelbarrow, I’ve had that issue.
a wheelbarrow.
had a wheelbarrow outside and the rain, it rains and you don’t think to go
empty the wheelbarrow after a week of it raining. If it hasn’t evaporated all
out of there you standing water you get mosquitoes.
and the kids have water tables, buckets all of that.
it, and we have one house where it was situation. The home had been abandoned
for a while and the water was left in the toilet. The mosquitoes were breeding
right in the toilet in the house.
talk about maybe a few specific things and I’ll just go off my own experience.
Insect wise one of the big issues we’ve had is ants. Rodent wise I’ve had rats
which I’m not accustomed to. Being from the Northeast we had field mice and
things like that usually but never rats. That’s new to me and they gave me the
heebie-jeebies like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve dealt a lot with those in our
home. Roof rats I’m assuming because they’re always up in the attic and they
come down. Then exterior wise another rodent that we’ve dealt with a lot is
like gophers and ground squirrels. Maybe we can touch a little bit on maybe
those couple things and have some suggestions for how to treat manage trap that
type of thing. What are your suggestions as far as if I have an ant problem. If
I’m getting the large trails coming through my house, where do you suggest that
I start?
glad you mentioned trails because specific species of ants do different things.
We call tramp ants, which is a loose term. Here in California, we have a group
of ants or a species of ants the Argentine ant which is one of these tramp ants
and they will make these trails. They will just go in and forage on an area
they find food, the next thing you know all the workers are headed in that
direction. You get these massive trails going in. What you want to do is
disrupt that. You want to make sure that there isn’t something that’s going to
allow them to get into your home, that crack isn’t present. Then when you put
down say pet food something like that, if it’s outside, take it up … Don’t
leave it in place for any length of time. Take it up as soon as the critters
had a chance to feed. If it’s indoors, once again, you don’t leave it down too
long. You can leave it perhaps a little bit longer.
the ants find that kind of stuff, they can end up in your home very, very
quickly. It’s a case of not drawing them inside. That’s the very mission
critical thing to be thinking about. Make sure that house is sealed up the
cracks are, and that you don’t have something that’s attracting them. People
don’t even think about the … What happens when they put a rose bush right
next to their home, like on the patio right next to the house. It’s even
touching the house. Well, take a rose bush, for example, that’s going to
attract things like aphids, and unless you’re managing that aphid issue that’s
on that rose bush, you’re going to get the ants coming to feed on this
particular type of ant likes to feed on aphid honeydew which is with the excess
sugars that they produce. The ants will work the aphids just like cows so
they’re right there. Then you have them right next to the door. Then if there’s
some reason they’re going to be drawn inside and it doesn’t take much away they
go, there inside.
your … They’re into your pet food. They’re into that stuff, that soda syrup
that spilled somewhere that never got cleaned up. Certainly sanitation, good
maintenance are mission critical when we’re dealing with ants. Not encouraging
their development. Keeping them away from the house and out of the home
altogether is probably the best solutions.
thinking that probably applies to almost any issue you’re having. If you’re
focusing on cleanliness, being mindful of what you’re planning or putting out
around your house, sealing up any entry point. Is that pretty much true for
true for a lot of pests. There are other ways that these ants, these critters
can get inside. If we think about deliveries, for example, particularly
cardboard cartons, that’s something that really seems to bring in the bugs. You
get cockroaches that like to live in the corrugate for that cardboard, and even
things like rodents can be in a box of some kind that gets delivered.
your Amazon package complete with rat.
it’s entirely possible. When I was younger and going to school I remember
furnishing my apartment, didn’t have a lot of money. I furnished my apartment
and we’ll call it an early American student. You go out on the street and you
see that sofa or whatever and you bring it inside. I wouldn’t recommend that,
especially today when we have such resurgence in bed bugs, if you want to get a
bed bug issue in your home, then that’s a good way to do it. I know that wasn’t
the ones you were asking about but just be cognizant, be aware that deliveries
can be impactful as well.
found that in my experience with the ants specifically. There’s a company
called Tero I believe. They make … It’s like a liquid boric trap of some kind
or they take it back to the colony. That to me has been the best that I’ve been
able to find as far as getting rid of the ants that have already established
themselves. I know there’s a ton of different products out there. That one
seems to work well for me in the instances that I’ve had, a lot of ants.
acid makes an excellent bait, so that is a product that can be used as a bait
for ants. It just depends on the species of ants, whether they’re going to go
for it and what type of concentration it has to be at. You’ve been fortunate in
that what you’ve come up with has worked for you. Don’t overlook those other
things being that proactive approach where you want to deal with all the other
things so you don’t need to put the baits out for ants. That’s really the way
we look at it in the industry. We try to use as few products as possible
because we’re focused on trying to eliminate the root cause for these critters,
how they’re getting in and why they’re getting in.
the workflow? If I called out Orkin for example, they would come, take a look
around the house, see what the conditions are present, what types of things
might be conducive to various pests and then they would recommend some kind of
treatment plan to bait that or maybe set up some traps and things like that, to
get rid of the current infestation let’s say. Then it’s just management from
there on.
exactly that. You missed a key step though, is first identify just exactly what
it is. You might think it’s one thing and it’s entirely a different type of
insect. You might think I’ve got a mouse issue and it’s a rat. You want them to
do that identification piece. There may be some monitoring involved where
they’re going to need to come back and look and see just where they’re finding
the most activity, but overall you’re right. That’s the best approach is to
take a proactive approach. Look for those conducive conditions, give your plan
on how to correct them and do some of those things that on your behalf to
correct them. Not just make the recommendation. There may be some simple
ceiling work that the technician could do, and will do for you and they’ll let
that so all that is part of the plan.
terms of the roof rats talking about rats a little bit, I’ve read somewhere
that once they get in there and they nest or have utilize the space for a long
time and they get their scents on it and all that stuff that it can actually
attract more rats in the future. Is that true?
is true, and they can pull other rats.
catch a break.
everywhere they go, they leave a little bit of scent from their fur and so on
and you get what we call rub marks in the industry, and that’s basically sebum.
You see these blackish little marks around an opening. Anything that’s being
used a lot you’ll find a lot of those marks around the opening. Yes, they will
attract other rats once they’re inside. It says hey, I got a great place to
live here so come on in. There is a hierarchy involved. It’s a little more
complicated than just saying the straight attraction because there may be an
alpha rat that may discourage some other rats from coming in. In general,
you’re absolutely right. If a rat finds an opening, another rat’s going to find
that same opening.
have an attic?
and that’s the issue, is it’s … I’ve only been in the house for four years.
They had a lot of issues prior to our moving in, but their attic is just a
massive insulation that’s been contaminated with rat feces and all that stuff.
When I go up there, I just feel like it’s an absolute nightmare. We’ve had some
issues since we been there, but to your point, I’ve been spending a lot of time
trying to minimize those entry and access points. I found a lot of stuff where
there was just enough hole like you’re saying. You look at these rats and
you’re like, “Oh my God, they’re good size.” You look at these holes
and you’re like, that’s … How does it fit through that. You’d be surprised at
how small the hole that they can actually get through and then they get up
there and they make a nest and they chew through everything and oh my God. I
need new insulation up there anyway, and it’s just like … That’s one thing
that I probably will hire out because I just-
should, a lot of companies do that. Orkin does that work. A lot of the pest
management companies out there will do that work.
didn’t know that, you guys clean attic space?
attics, install new installation, do some of the simple proofing that needs to
get, needs to happen and many pest management companies do that. To go back to
that piece about what kind of opening it takes for them to get into, if you
look at a mouse something the size of a dime. I’ve seen a mouse go through a
hole that was designed or drilled simply for the diameter of a coaxial TV
cable, and a mouse has gone through that hole. If they can get their skull
through, they can get through. For a rat, we’re looking at a hole or opening
about the diameter of a quarter. They will make it larger, no matter what the
material is, they’ll gnaw on it whether it be concrete or stiff flashing of
some kind or wood. You’ll get them to gnaw make it a little bit larger so they
can get in. If they can get start to get their head in, the critters are going
to get inside.
like I’m going to sleep covering my ears from now on.
such a huge task. I keep finding, like you’re saying it’s just like little
things, little spots, little dime holes little things here and there and it’s
enough. It’s enough to get them in there.
very, very new homes and homes that are fairly old.
my case, it’s an older one.
think people don’t realize. You don’t have to live in a trashy old dirty house
to have issues with pests. Because it’s pretty shameful when you find a rat or
something in your house or we had cockroaches in our last house. That’s
embarrassing. It’s like we’re clean people-
it makes you feel dirty. It makes you feel like you’re living in a dirty
environment and it’s like, I try to keep the house clean but yet I still have
these issues.
just something as simple as say you rent a refrigerator and bring it in. You
can bring in cockroaches in that refrigerator. You have a clean home, but you
can bring in the cockroaches that way. A lot of ways that these critters can
get in, and if the home is clean, you’re unlikely to have … Very tidy, let’s
say very orderly and there’s not a lot of clutter, you’re unlikely to have a
very massive issue, pest issue because you’ve reduced a lot of that harborage
and clutter where they’re going to be hiding. You can still have a pest issue.
It’s not reflection on you as somebody doing the cleaning, but it’s really a
reflection on the ability of these critters to take advantage of even small
openings or different things that we as humans do in order to get inside.
live in an equestrian area, my wife is big horses and stuff, and we actually
use another bug to fight other bugs. We use … I don’t remember what they’re
called but there’s some kind of ground-dwelling insect that you sprinkle on the
ground in their larval stage and actually eat the egg larva of the flies.
There are many insects out there like that, the predators and parasitoids. They
don’t work so well in a truly urban situation, but on a farm like that or in a
horse stable, they often get used. They use those things in chicken houses as
a lot of people around us use chicken to eat the fly larva. One of the things I
believe it was my aunt that told me. I was having some bug issues with some of
our roses and plants and stuff. The little DIY thing that seemed to work okay
for me was just watering with a little bit of dish soap. I don’t know how good
that is or bad that is but it seemed to work pretty well.
a lot of the plant sucking insects that’s a good approach. You have to look at
what’s the … Latest recommendations are, and you wouldn’t want to use
anything that would damage the plant or it would be counterproductive to use.
their mistakes like DIY common household mistakes that people make?
and one thing would be say installing a screen that has the wrong size mesh on
it. They want to keep perhaps flies out of a place, but they’re not thinking
well, I got to keep the rats and larger critters out as well. Maybe I need to
put a backing screen that’s got a quarter inch or eight inch mesh on it, and
then over top of that I can put a fly screen depending on how much ventilation
they need. If you’re looking at an event in a crawl space or something like
that, you want to be careful how you actually seal that up. Mistakes people
make is they may seal that space up tightly, and that would cause perhaps if
it’s not insulated appropriately, certainly you can do that if you insulate it
appropriately, and manage it the right way with a dehumidifier or perhaps
something that’s done in a lot of parts of the country. If you don’t do that,
you just increase the moisture under there and that’s going to draw a lot of
critters in.
that would be a condition that be conducive to termite activity, increase the
moisture that’s in the wood in your foundation, or you just simply bring in
other critters because you’ve increased that moisture and just made it a place
where they can live. That’s a mistake that homeowners make. Another one that is
pretty common is they wait too long before they call in a professional. It’s
more than one critter. They go out to the store or whatever and bring back
something and dump it all over the place, and hope that that’s going to solve
the issue. A little bit does the job maybe I’ll just use a little more, and
that can be a serious mistake. Because when the professional does get called
in, then they’ve got this issue to deal with. We’ve got all this other stuff
now, and it’s not mitigated the pest at all, but it’s just made for another
you’ve got some type of contamination issue caused by the wrong type of
treatment. Then when you do bring in a material from a store, sometimes folks
use a little bit up and then they say, well, this container is open now, I’ll
put it in another container and it could be a food container. That happens
occasionally where mistakes get made like that or they make up a mix and it
goes into a bottle that goes on a shelf and somebody thinks it’s something
else, and then takes a drink of it or eats it or whatever. They can be their
own worst enemies. Certainly not locking things in a cabinet, all of these
things that we think about if we step back a little bit and say, “Well,
there are a lot of critters here or I’m not sure what this is. I really should
get a professional.” You really should get the professional have them come
in. They will do an assessment and give you a plan, and if you don’t want to go
with it, that’s your option. At least you know what you’re dealing with and
have a step in the right direction.
seems like there are a lot of preventative measures, and a lot of things to
keep track of and be aware of that might be difficult to remember all of them.
I’m just curious, does Orkin have some sort of online resource or checklist
that people can refer to? Certainly will put them in our show notes as well.
on the web page for Orkin. You can get a lot of tips, very useful tips that
will help you with some of the things that we’ve been talking about today. Just
reviewing that and making sure that you’ve got those implemented at home, it’s
going to have a big impact on keeping the critters out.
adding it to your cleaning routine.
think identification of the problem is part of it. Sometimes you’ll find like
things around the home. Like for example, when I … I didn’t have a lot of
experience with termites being from the northeast, the different types of
termite and stuff. I would find this little fine powdery stuff around my home,
and I’m like, what is that? Where’s that coming from? It looks like little dust
kind of, and turns out its termite frass. It takes a lot of research to
identify what problem you have. I think finding a resource or figuring out what
the problem is, is half the battle of the homeowner and maybe you save yourself
a lot of headache by calling somebody in or helping you identify what it is
exactly that you do have a problem with.
things like termites. That’s something where you’re going to need a
professional to asses it.
don’t see it most of the time. It’s like or you see evidence of, or by the time
you do see evidence of its progressed quite a bit.
a lot of hidden areas and they may have to get access to those areas and know
how to do that and have the right equipment to determine just what is going on
within the whole house.
fumigation tents, you see them on homes all the time for termites. You have all
your stuff in the home and that is, you get your house tented and you … How
much of that stays behind? That’s the whole thing. It’s like do you feel like
you have to clean everything about the house after something like that happens?
How safe is that? Obviously it’s deem safe, but is there anything left behind
from that gas or residue that you should be aware of that-
You hit the nail on the head there when you say it is a gas that’s used and it
is. There’s a gas that’s used. It’s put in, it’s under that envelope or tent.
It’s maintained for a period of time depending on what type of critter you’re
trying to get. There are different wood destroying insects other than just
termites that may require a longer period. Once they remove the tent and
ventilate it, and then there’s equipment that’s used to determine the gas
levels, and it has to be well below any limit set by the state or the feds
before that home can be turned over to the homeowner. You have to keep in mind
that some of these materials will require that you have to bag food. There is
some annoyance with it. It may have to take plants outside because they can be
damaging to plants so you want to get those out, and then of course, you’re
going to be out of the home. It could be a couple three days that you’re out of
your home and people don’t really like that.
a big deal. It’s something that you have to think about and take the advice
from a professional before you really go too far down that road. As you
mentioned, a lot of real estate transactions require that this happens. Homes
are attended quite often for that reason. Here in Southern California somewhere
between 7 and 10 years, if your house is on the coast, it’s likely going to
have to be fumigated
of the questions that may be a barrier to most people is like, okay yeah I can
bring in a professional but what’s that going to cost me. From a budget
perspective, what does it cost to bring in somebody from an outside … Maybe
from a consultation standpoint or maybe not a whole treatment plan specifically
but just to have somebody come in and help you identify what it is and what the
problem is and maybe suggest some things. Is there a range that-
is a range. It depends on the pest and the conditions and what type of
structure is involved. Assessments a can be everything from very, very low
dollars to more extensive depending on how much time is spent to actually make
a full evaluation as to what’s going on and come up with appropriate treatment
strategy. Some companies don’t charge very much for that type of work, some
charge a little more. It just depends on the time that’s going to be spent
there and the type of critter that’s being look for and what the treatment
strategy is going to be in the end.
will say because I have Orkin specifically, and it’s very affordable for our
size home and I feel like the damage that could be caused for not paying for it
preventatively would outweigh the price of having things dealt with and
maintained. It’s kind of my thought process.
spent quite a bit of money on DIY products, like abatement products and things
from live traps to just ant baits and all sorts of stuff. I bought everything
that’s seemingly on the market from rats to goffers, to ants, to termites, to
Jupiter crickets which I didn’t even know existed until recently. These things
are the creepiest looking things I’ve ever seen. But I’ve spent a ton of money
on those things over months and years at a time. To me it’s like okay, well if
I’m equating at least I know what I’m dealing with. If I can bring in somebody
and have them take a look at it and say, “Okay this is what your problem is,
here’s how I would recommend to treat it.” Is it worth it, maybe I mean at
this point for me it probably is because of the amount of money I’ve spent.
would say that’s the thing is to be proactive and be thinking about it. I mean
if we go back to your termite example it might be a case of where you just have
a small area that’s infested and a simple directed treatment is all that’s
required. You mention it could be very affordable. You want to get that assessment
made by a professional. Call them in earlier rather than later.
and your environment has a huge … Plays a huge part in it. Where we live I
find it necessary to have constant maintenance because we’re right by a
riverbed, right over our fence. Again that maintenance might not be necessary for
everyone, so I’m not saying you have to have it, but it is affordable for us
and worth it for sure.
had a … When I bought the home I had a termite fumigation done. How long is
that typically good for? Should I look to have the house retreated again in a
certain amount of time?
most companies that do that work they will … Or the company that recommends
it. Here in California, a lot of it is done … The inspections are done by a
termite company or a division of a pest management company. The fumigation is
done by a company that specializes in fumigation. In some other parts of the
country the whole package comes together. It just depends on which part of the
country you’re in and which company you’re dealing with but anybody would put
in at least an annual assessment, coming in and say, “Hey, we’ll come back
annually and for a very small fee make an inspection of that home in determine
know what’s going on.” They’ll even put in a type of warranty on that
service as well. For very small money you get a lot of peace of mind.
certainly don’t want mice or rats or anything in my home but I don’t want them
to suffer either. Can we talk about some humane ways to deal with pest control.
the ways that the past management professionals use are largely set up to
eliminate issues within the home and not cause any harm to non target to
animals. It’s just we’re trying to deal with a particular pest issue, you come
up with a comprehensive plan and for the most part that does not involve the
use of any kind of products that’s going to cause direct harm to any kind of
critter. If it’s something that’s an occasional critter that’s coming into the
home, like a raccoon or something, we’ll often just trap and make sure that
they get taken care of. If it’s more than one or two of these things then we
need to have … Perhaps a wildlife company and there are divisions of Orkin
that do that service. Come and handle add type of situation, but the work that
we do is focused on just dealing with the particular pest issue, taking a
proactive approach, preventing them from getting in and not trying to do any
harm to anything that’s a non target animal.
walking a very tight rope there where you got to be careful what you do and
that’s why you really want to use a professional and have them come in and make
that right assessment and use the right tools, so that we don’t have any issues
with non targets.
there any DIY products that you recommend the average homeowner keep on hand
just from a management or maintenance perspective. Should a home owner have
some kind of a perimeter spray in the shed?
more important Aaron I think would be for them to have the tools that they need
just to determined what’s going on and how extensive it. A flashlight, here in
earthquake country everybody should have a working flashlight. Very handy.
That’s one tool that I’d have. Then simply perhaps something as simple as a
multi tool, so that they can open up a cabinet or take a vent off and take a
look inside. That’s another tool that they should have. Some sealant of some
kind. If there’s a small opening or hole that can be sealed up. Maybe just some
silicone type seal in which will work on a lot of little openings. I wouldn’t
recommend any keeping a lot of pesticides around in that that’s something that
you may not use it very often and then it just becomes something sitting on a
shelf and is a bit of a hazard just because it’s sitting on that shelf and
could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
keep my stuff in my shed now that I’ve kind of … I recently remodeled a shed
and that was one of things, I had stuff everywhere. I do have some chemical
stuff and some different things around and I have a locking cabinet now that I
keep everything locked up in this cabinet thankfully. Just because now I have a
young son, I don’t want him getting into any that stuff. There’s actually like
… The shed itself locks and then inside the shed is another look in cabinet.
If you do have any of that stuff around, I highly suggest that you keep it
locked up.
good. You keep it in wherever possible in the original container with the label
on it.
you end up putting stuff in a spray bottle, a clear spray bottle of something
and it’s a poison or whatever. Make sure you clearly label it, obviously
because you don’t want somebody thinking that’s a cleaning product or something
and you’re spraying down your countertops with an insecticide or something.
of those things happen. Definitely any material that you do use, you want to
get a small quantity just exactly what you need, try to use it up so that you
don’t keep a lot of stuff around the home.
heard a rumor that you can actually use a dog to sniff out certain pests is
that true?
true. It’s not a rumor. Dog’s can be used for a lot of things. We all know that
they’re used in the war front definitely to try to find dangerous ordinance and
so on. On the domestic side, we have used dogs for a long time in the pest
management industry. They were originally used for things like termites. There
was one company that specialized in producing animals … Train dogs that is,
that could be used to sniff out termite infestations. It really didn’t work as
well as everybody had hoped just because a dog can’t get everywhere around a
structure or can’t walk a ladder that easily. It kind of died on the vine but I
will remember that. That was a number of years ago when that was a big push.
Dogs have made a comeback in a couple of situations and probably the one that
you’ve heard about the most is for bedbugs.
particularly efficient at determining if there’s a low-level bed bug
infestation that may be present in a home or in a business and they can go
around and they will have some type of alert. It could be where they simply sit
down and look at the spot where they think there might be a bedbug and then you
can dig in with your tools and so on and see if there is in fact about there.
It’s primarily useful for clearing to determine if there’s a pest problem
present or if you’ve done some work to eliminate a pest problem that they are
truly gone. You bring the dog in sometime after you’ve done that treatment just
to make an assessment. Orkin has an entire division with dogs and there are
other companies out there that use dogs as well. We do find they’re very
effective. We use them in homes, we use them in hotels and we use them in other
my dog is lazy.
know. I got a dog, she doesn’t do anything.
doesn’t either. She brings the bugs in.
a lot of training involved and they have to be trained every year and certified
but not only that there’s this training that you have to do pretty much on a
daily basis and more intensive training every week because the dog has to be
encouraged to kind of … All right this is what you’re looking for, this is
what you’re looking for and so they understand. The other thing you can’t do is
overwork the dog. They can only work so many hours before they start to get a
little bored. Then the rewarding, how are you going to do that? Some people
when they use the dogs they use a food reward. It doesn’t tend to work as well
as a play reward. Some type of toy you can play with a dog when its found it’s
a thing. That’s kind of how you do it and it’s very effective and we found that
dogs are still one of them or useful tools when it comes to things like
actually got a few questions in from some of our audience via social media and
stuff. I’d like to dive into some of those right now if you don’t mind.
lets go for it.
first one is I have rats and traps don’t seem to work. I’ve been told if I use
poison they will die in the walls, so what can I do?
in that case if there are rats and I’m seeing that its plural here, you
probably do want to get a professional to come in and make an assessment and
use the right equipment. One thing that we do is we use things like cameras to
determine where the rats are running or we may use black lights to determine where
activity is present. We know what to look for or where to look for it, so it
really behooves you if you’ve got a rat issue like that. To have a professional
come in and make an assessment. It may be that you want to use traps, it may be
that you want to do something else or even use a different type of trap. How
it’s placed is critical as well, so a professional will know all of that.
that point if you poison them they will die in the walls, because I’ve done
that and that does happen.
been told that bedbugs don’t bite people who have alcohol in their bloodstream,
is that true, should I drink to go to sleep? Basically should we stay pickled
all the time?
will bite people even if they have alcohol in their bloodstream. There is some
research that shows that certain antibiotics can affect bedbugs but I don’t
recommend that you pile in antibiotics in order to [crosstalk 00:52:29] your
bed bugs.
my preventative measure, just drink robitussin to fall asleep every night. No
they can still be attracted to the people. What’s attracting them to you are
still present. The odors that you put off and the carbon dioxide they orient to
that, that’s from breath, they can bite.
do you know that you have a bedbug problem? You’re waking up with bites all
something if it’s a low-level issue it’s kind of difficult to determine and not
just because the bedbugs are cryptic and like to hide and all that but the
bites or the welts if you’re getting bit by bedbugs, may not appear for several
days afterwards. Where did it happen? Did this happen at home or maybe
somewhere else. You can’t say that for sure. If it’s a low-level issue then the
bedbugs are harder to find. One thing that a bedbug does is after it eats, it
looks for a place where it can defecate and then a little harbored spot where
it’s going to go in. That’s defecation causes a little bit of stain on say a
mattress cover and they like to harbor in places like the seams of a mattress
or a box spring or perhaps the headboard on a bed I’m just talking about a bed
here. There are other places where you can find them as well.
for little flecks of dried blood, looking for maybe as they grow they cast off
their skin as the little immature stages grow. Looking for those cast skins,
looking for the live bugs in the seams. If there’s any kind of moderate to
heavy infestation they’re going to start to show up. It’s when we have the
small ones, the smaller infestations. Where it’s just a few bugs, it’s a little
harder to find and that’s when we want to bring in the dog and maybe do a
little digging in with some tools and lights and so on.
there any considerations for people who live in apartments? For people that are
in spaces that might have-
apartments are under a service agreement with a pest control company. Orkin
does a lot of apartment complexes, so if you see something in your apartment,
you don’t know what it is and you’re a little nervous about this. Okay, now
where did this come from. Always a good idea to let the property manager know
and then they can get a positive ID. If you have a specimen that can get turned
in and an ID can be made and then the plan can be put together if in fact you
have something. Could be something just flew in through the window or crawled
in through a crack or it’s not mission critical.
I feel like there’s a bug crawling on my skin but I look and there’s nothing
there. Are skin mites or tiny bugs that live on you common? How can I counter
there are certainly things like dust mites that can get on people and there are
mites that live in the hair follicles and in the eyebrows and so on follicle mites.
We have a lot of these little critters that are associated with us. You can
think about lice too as unpleasant as it sounds. True bugs that you can’t
identify you’re probably going to need some professional assistance there. It
may be that there is something like a bed bug, a low-level bed bug infestation
or it may be something else entirely. It could be an environmental condition
which is not unusual and it could be something that’s caused by a medication.
It may not be a bug issue at all.
hair movement on your arms sometimes you’re like, what on me? Nothing.
we have to do is talk about bugs and people [crosstalk 00:56:06].
skin starts crawling.
like man do I got a bag on me right now?
you see one it’s like, oh I hate that feeling.
Pat, thank you so much for being here. I think we’ve learnt a ton of things.
Obviously we could spend a lot more time on all the various different critters
that are out there but I think you’ve offered to some really great advice to
the average person on how to prevent and maintain or manage a problem before it
starts. We just can’t thank you enough for being here and if we ever do in any
future episodes we’d love to have you back-
and I appreciate the invitation. I know that Orkin appreciate it as well. It’s
always fun to come and talk about bugs a little bit and the good and the bad
and help people as best we can. Because that’s what we’re … Ultimately we’re
trying to maintain health for folks and maintain their property.
people who may want a little bit of information about a specific critter
problem that they have or something, where is the best place for them to go to
get additional info?
best place would be our website and that’s just gives you a lot of
great information. You can actually go to various links from that site to get
additional information. It’s tied into a lot of different sites that will give
you valuable tips that you can use.
you actually request a quote or a visit or anything right through the website?
absolutely can.
we want to thank you guys for listening or watching the podcast, however you’re
choosing to consume it. Please be sure to follow us on social media at the
links in the show notes and make sure you subscribe to our email list. We put
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please make sure to subscribe to that email list.
and if there’s anything that you want to learn from our show or any guests
you’d love to see on, tag them, leave us comments, give us feedback, we love to
hear from you.
you want to call in you can also reach our voicemail at 978-709-1040. Call us
24 hours a day, live a question, comment, guess, suggestion, whatever you want
to do. We’re always available and we want to thank our founding partner of the
show FilterBuy for making this episode possible. Once again, Pat thank you so
much for being here.
you, I appreciate being here.
you so much.
see you guys next time. The How-to Home Podcast is brought to you by your one-stop threat to consumer replacement air filter brand and
is produced in collaboration by Masked Media group LLC and Intelligent Arts and
Artists, the show is executive produced by Georgia Reeves and Aaron Massey.

Show Notes

This week, Pat Copps from Orkin Pest Control joins Aaron and Tracy to discuss all things creepy-crawly. We’ll talk about the best methods of prevention, how to recognize a pest infestation in your home, and which products are the safest and most effective to remove any unwanted visitors.


You can always call and leave your questions and comments on our voicemail!



  • Over 56% of homeowners have had a problem with ants in the last year
  • A single flea can lay up to 25 eggs per day while a single rat can have up to 84 offspring per year
  • Termites cause an estimated $5 Billion of structural damage per year
  • Many pests including rats, mice, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can carry potentially deadly or life-threatening illnesses


-20 percent of household fires are caused by rodents.

-Focus on prevention: keep trees and shrubs trimmed and house sealed up.

-Expanding foam isn’t Pat’s favorite because pests can chew through it, he suggests an epoxy product.

-Keep standing water clean and flowing. Mosquitos love humidity.

-Pick up pet food after they’ve eaten.

-Be mindful of what you’re planning and what kind of pests they attract.

-Cockroaches and rodents love cardboard.

-Rats attract other rats.

-Use a screen with the proper sized mesh.

-Don’t wait until your issue gets huge to call in a professional.

-Stains on the seams of a mattress or box spring might indicate bed bugs.


-Stay away using products if you don’t have to. Try cleaning up the area first if you only see a few ants etc.

-For a children’s structure like a playhouse a vacuum cleaner is a great tool without using chemicals. Also check on irrigation and shrubs surrounding it.

-Don’t put bug sprays into the wrong container (not clearly labeled), and store things in a locked cabinet.

-Pat doesn’t recommend keeping unused pesticides sitting around.



-Multi tool to open up cabinet or vent

-Sealant for small openings or holes


Q: Traps aren’t working on my rats, but I’m afraid with poison they’ll die in the walls. What should I do?

A: Pat recommends calling in a professional so they can put cameras in the walls etc and determine where the rats are. Based on that, they may change up traps or trap locations.

Q: Is it true that bed bugs don’t bite people with alcohol in their bloodstream?

A: No….

Q: Are there any considerations for people who live in apartments?

A: If you see something, let the property manager know- they usually have a service agreement with a pest company.

Q: Sometimes I feel like I feel a bug on my skin and it’s not there. Are small dust mites common?

A: It’s possible, but it could be a number of things.


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