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How to Get Rid of Common Household Pests

Parker Eco Pest Control teamed up with Redfin to bring you this guest post. They’ve compiled answers to common pest questions from experts around the United States.

Ants in a colony

There is nothing like an infestation of cockroaches, termites, stink bugs or other common household pests to make your skin crawl. Though you have probably thought about packing up your things and leaving, moving isn’t the answer as these pests can pop up anywhere and in any household. It’s time to draw a hard line and get rid of these little critters once and for all. From mosquitos to mice, we asked the professionals of pest control from all over the country how they would get rid of these unwelcome guests.

How to get rid of Cockroaches

Cockroach prevention is necessary for protecting your health! There are few things more hated than a cockroach sighting in your home. These pests can also pose a significant threat to your health as well as your home.

Often times, when people are experiencing allergy and asthma symptoms they automatically attribute it to the time of year without considering that their stuffy nose and itchy eyes could actually be triggered by the presence of cockroaches in their home. In addition to exacerbating asthma and allergy-related symptoms, cockroaches are also capable of spreading 33 kinds of bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli. This makes it all the more important to take the necessary steps to eliminate food, water and harborage sites for cockroaches within your home.

Maintaining excellent sanitation is one of the best practices in protecting the home against cockroaches. To help you further, here are some cleaning tips to help you stay roach free:

  • Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors meticulously clean every day. Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills right away. Store food in airtight containers and always avoid leaving food out, including pet food. Vacuum any crumbs stuck in corners and around cabinets and regularly clean cabinets out with soap and water. Check under sinks and clean under appliances for moisture issues and quickly clean up any if found.
  • Cockroaches are attracted to moisture and can only survive for a week without water, so always wipe up standing water around sinks, tubs, and toilets. Fix leaky faucets and ensure sinks are clear of water before bedtime. Cockroaches are nocturnal and will typically emerge to search for water and food at night when the house is dark and quiet.
  • Eliminate clutter where possible to reduce hiding spaces for cockroaches. Garage windows and areas where weather-stripping has become worn are frequent points of access for cockroaches. Be sure to seal any cracks or crevices you see using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.

Bruce Tennenbaum

Arizona Pest ControlTucson, AZ

How to get rid of Mosquitoes

Most people can agree that mosquitoes are a nuisance, keeping many families indoors during some of the most enjoyable times of the year. Moreso, they can also pose several health risks. From Zika and West Nile viruses to yellow fever and malaria, diseases spread by mosquitoes can be extremely serious.

Once you have your mosquito problem under control, it’s important to take preventative measures to ensure that they don’t come back. Here are several tips to keep mosquitoes from breeding in and around your home.

  • Eliminate standing water from bird baths, empty garden planters, kiddie pools, etc.
  • Remove debris such as decaying logs and leaf piles
  • Plant “mosquito repellent plants” like rosemary, lavender, and lemongrass
  • Light citronella candles in areas where people congregate and always use
  • EPA-approved personal repellents when staying outside for extended periods of time

Christopher Slade

Clements Pest & Environmental ServicesVero Beach, FL

How to get rid of Stink Bugs

Unfortunately, when dealing with stink bugs, it’s not as easy as most people would think. If they want to get into your home, they’re going to do it. However, there are a few options available to you to try to cut down on the stink bug population in your home.

Most don’t consider that the key to stink bug control is actually preventing them from entering the home in the first place. This part of their life cycle is called “over-wintering” and will take place in the fall to prepare for surviving the winter. Begin by looking around your home for places of entry (think cracks and crevices). Places like utility pipes, doors, windows, siding, your soffit & fascia are key points of entry that should be sealed up with quality caulking.

Another popular entry point is broken and/or nonexistent screens on your windows & doors. Make sure screens are properly installed and don’t have any holes that these guys can squeeze through.

Stink bugs, much like most insects, are attracted to light. After the sun goes down consider closing your blinds & turning your exterior lights off. At the very least, dim them in the evenings to reduce the stink bug attraction to your home. You want to deter them, not attract them.

Clean up the clutter around your house. That woodpile you have outside sitting right against your house is a huge contributing factor to your problem. That beautiful landscaping you have around your home isn’t helping either. You’re providing them even more harborage than they originally had which will pull them closer to your home, along with providing them places to safely lay their eggs.

Stink bugs that already made their way into your home are unfortunately here to stay. I would advise against squishing them as they emit a pretty nasty odor, but sucking them up with a vacuum or flushing them down the toilet seems to be the preferred method of discarding these little guys.

Zak Staab

Spectrum Pest ControlPittsburgh, PA

How to get rid of Mice

Are you sharing your house with the most common mammal in the world? The house mouse transmits viruses, destroys your insulation, and chews your wires—accounting for 25% of housefires with unknown origins. Here are some simple tips for getting rid of mice naturally.

Step 1) Make your house less attractive to mice

Do you have a dirt crawlspace? Is there a chicken coop, park, or a vacant house on your block? While you can’t remove all these attractive places to mice, here are some tips everyone can follow:

  • Keep brush, rocks, wood piles, etc. at least one foot away from your house
  • Clean up after your dog daily (mice eat dog poop)
  • Invest in airtight canisters for pantry goods
  • Drain bird baths and other standing water
  • Get a rodent-proof bird feeder to keep seeds off the ground

Step 2) Seal up your house

Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. Check for holes to the outside of your house along plumbing lines, gas lines, dryer vents without screens, doors without weather stripping, aging attic vents, seams where dormers meet the roofline, and chimneys without caps.

Holes can be sealed with various products but wire mesh is the best bet.

Installing wire mesh is as simple as overlapping it at least one inch past the hole in every direction and screwing it down. We recommend using galvanized products that resist rust.

Step 3) Trap mice already in the house

Our favorite mousetrap is a plastic T-Rex snap trap. Unlike wooden traps, these are heavy duty, reusable and have interlocking teeth for instant results.

Add a dollop of peanut butter and follow these guidelines:

  • Place traps along walls and in corners
  • Traps should be perpendicular to the wall with the peanut butter on the inside edge
  • Mice like corners, so avoid placing traps in open areas
  • Set extra traps where you see droppings or grease marks (known as rub marks)
  • Secure traps to vertical posts with a zip tie

GO POISON-FREE: Do yourself (and the planet) a favor and skip the poison. Rodenticides thin the mouse’s blood causing it to die slowly inside your walls. Unless you’re willing to break open the drywall, expect a smell for a few weeks. Of equal importance is the impact rodenticides have on owls and neighborhood cats that eat mice.

Chris Parker

Parker Eco Pest ControlEverett, WA

How to get rid of Termites

There are around 45 Termite species in the U.S. alone and they have been roaming this planet for at least 250 million years. Termites have used all this time to adapt and evolve to a host of threats to their existence. Even with today’s science and effective treatment methods they are one of the greatest menaces to residential and commercial structures around the globe. They are responsible for around $5 Billion in damages in the U.S. each year.

The key to eliminating Termites is to practice what’s known in the industry as integrated pest management.

The non-chemical approach includes removing Termite food sources from your yard or structure, such as dead or decaying wood, tree branches, etc. or fixing any part of your home that is also beginning to breakdown. Fixing these issues will decrease the attraction of your property to Termites and prevent a thoroughfare into your home.

There is a common saying among home and building owners, “there are two types of structures: one that doesn’t have termites and one that’s going to get them in the near future.” This saying exists because Termite colonies are incredibly active as they never sleep and are constantly foraging.

Gerrit Millet

Insectek Pest SolutionsPhoenix, AZ

How to get rid of Ants

It happens out of nowhere. You’re brushing your teeth, grabbing a scrubber from under the kitchen sink, or putting the recycling in the garage, and suddenly you see them. Your calm, cozy, and clean home is suddenly overwhelmed with sugar ants. Hundreds of the little creatures marching in formation seeking out sugar, water, and the perfect place to set up shop and colonize. Gross!

How common is a sugar ant infestation?

It’s a more common scenario than you might think, and all it takes is something as seemingly insignificant as an old soda can. An ant infestation is completely normal, but more importantly, it’s totally fixable.

All these resilient and rapidly multiplying creatures need to set up shop is some soil, a structure, or a little bit of landscaping. If you have a tree in your yard that secretes a sugary, glucose-rich substance, then consider that ants might be on the way. And then also consider that your house — the one filled with sugary foods, houseplants, and has dark, humid and moist areas like under the cabinets and near plumbing — is like a luxury resort for the ant community. And they have all sorts of ways to get inside to enjoy it.

Can I prevent sugar ants from getting inside?

Poor seals on windows, doors, cracks in the foundation, the small holes where utilities enter the home, or even houseplants are common ways sugar ants can gain entrance to your home and create an infestation. Once they’ve gotten inside, they’re not gonna want to leave and they’re definitely going to try and expand their footprint.

Sugar ants do have a lot of options for entering the home, but you have just as many to prevent them from getting in. These recommendations are pretty straightforward and simple to stay on top of.

  • Empty the kitchen trash especially if it contains food waste. Trash cans are perfect breeding grounds for ant infestations.
  • Keep eating surfaces clean like tables, countertops, and all food prep areas. Don’t forget under the tables and counters, as well!
  • Run your dishwasher preferably right after you fill it. This dark, moist and glucose-rich environment is a sugar ants dream.
  • Be careful of repellents because many over the counter varieties for outdoor use can actually drive ants indoors, making a small problem worse.
  • Get rid of standing water as a perpetually wet ground is a very attractive environment for sugar ants.

Can I get rid of sugar ants myself?

There are definitely DIY options for eradicating your home of an ant infestation. Typically, these fall into two categories: quick-kill treatments and baiting. Before choosing what option is best for you, remember to be safe.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON SAFETY: Spray ant killers, baits, and other store-bought treatments can be dangerous. These products contain poison and their ingredients should be considered harmful to pets and children. Always read and follow any instructions included on the labels of these products.

Quick-kill sprays are effective to a point, but they don’t really do the whole job. They tend to kill visible or foraging ants, however, they are not designed to solve the problem at its source. They can even fragment a colony and create several colonies you will then have to deal with.

Baiting — our preferred DIY method — is sometimes more effective because ants take the poison back to the heart of the colony, stopping the infestation at its root. While it is our preferred at-home methodology, baiting still isn’t as strong or as effective as a professional grade solution.

I have a sugar ant infestation. Who should I call?

If you’ve tried to eliminate an ant infestation on your own and you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for, it’s time to call a professional. DIY methods can be tricky and the stress induced by putting up with these little pests may simply not be worth it.  

The best pest control companies offer free, no pressure estimates and same day service for no extra charge. Look for an exterminator that guarantees results and uses EPA approved products that are safe for your family and pets.

Joseph Hampton

Aspen Pest ControlVancouver, WA

How to get rid of Flies

Whether you have fruit flies feasting in your fruit bowl or fungus gnats flying around your Ficus, flies can be a frustrating foe to deal with in your home. Two tactics that a homeowner can use to address a fly problem are identifying points of entry and removing food and breeding sources.

The saying is true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and your first line of defense against flies is simple – keep them out of your home. Doors and windows should remain closed or screened and any tears in your screens should be repaired along with caulking any gaps around entry points into your home.  

At the grocery store, avoid selecting produce with noticeable fly activity around it and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables when you arrive home to remove their eggs. The same advice holds true when selecting houseplants from your local garden center, avoid plants with a noticeable issue and pay attention to the soil for the first several days.

Once flies are in your home, effective management involves identification of the fly along with the removal of food and breeding sources. Proper identification will help to narrow the search. There are many species of flies, each with their own set of behaviors and feeding preferences.

For example, drain flies like to breed in the organic buildup that occurs inside of drains and garbage disposals, while house flies prefer to breed in the garbage and other waste. Fruit flies breed in fermented materials like overripe fruit and sticky residues, whereas fungus gnats like to breed in the overwatered soil of potted plants. Some flies, like the cluster fly, don’t breed indoors but invade attics and drop ceilings just to hibernate for the winter.

Changes to some housekeeping habits, whether it requires you to remove garbage more regularly, clean neglected drains or improve your food storage strategies, will help to eliminate a fly problem and prevent the establishment of future problems.     

Dr. Christopher Taylor

Home Paramount Pest ControlForest Hill, MD

When it’s time to call the professionals

At the end of the day an infestation, although frustrating, is not the end of the world. If none of the above methods are working consider calling a professional pest management company to assess the situation and develop a pest management program to fit your specific needs and address your pest problem. Preventative methods paired with a skilled exterminator will help you reclaim your home.

Source: How to Get Rid of Common Household Pests

Infestation inferno: Mice cause 25% of “mystery” fires

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 25% of fires attributed to “unknown causes” are caused by rodents chewing electrical wires and gas lines.MiceCreateFires

Buying a commercial property is a huge undertaking and performing due diligence is critical. When buying a standalone building or a multi-unit property, be sure to have your inspector check for rodent activity. If you skip this step you might be setting yourself up for a disastrous fire down the line. Rat and mice teeth grow constantly, meaning they have to chew virtually nonstop. They gnaw metal wires and gas lines to prevent their teeth from overgrowing and suddenly you’ve got a fire on your hands.

Areas to check for rodent activity

Crawl spaces. Dirt crawlspaces in particular are vulnerable since rodents can tunnel under the skirting.

Attics are a classic spot for rat and mouse nests. Look for rub marks along walls and around entry holes.

Distinguishing between an old rodent problem from years past and a fresh infestation can be tricky. Droppings dry very quickly, so something a few days old looks similar to something a few years old. The best method is by scent (do you smell fresh urine?) and chew marks (do you see newly exposed wood or old, weathered wood?).

If you find evidence of an infestation the next step is figuring out how they got in. Look for weak points…
– Roof lines for dormers and other vulnerable joints
– Doors not closing all the way
– Entry points along supply lines

Pick the right insurance carrier

A fire in an uninsured building is devastating for almost any business owner. Every carrier is different when it comes to fire claims—that’s why it’s important to know your insurance policy inside and out. In fact it is one reason Parker Eco Pest Control has stuck with the same Seattle business insurance broker for years (shout out to Heather Hanson at Northwest Insurance Group!). We highly recommend having a relationship with a broker who understands your business model and can pull together coverage options, financing arrangements, and answer questions at the drop of a hat.

How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally: The Complete Guide

A preview of the free ebook: The Complete Guide: How to get rid of mice naturally
Download the free eBook

This comprehensive ebook will tell you everything you need to know about getting rid of mice in your house using natural, poison-free methods. A printable PDF version is available for free download.

Looking for specific info? Jump to a step:

  1. Make your house less attractive to mice (risk factors & tips)
  2. Seal up your house (how to find & seal holes)
  3. Trap mice already in the house (trap varieties, placement & more)
  4. Natural mouse control outdoors (owl boxes & automatic traps)

Step 1. Make your house less attractive to mice

en skirting and a dirt crawlspace

Common risk factors for mice

  • Dirt crawl spaces
  • Vacant structures nearby
  • Vegetable gardens
  • Rock retaining walls
  • A deck or porch up against the house
  • Greenspace next door
  • A poorly maintained home on the block (we know you know the one)
  • A chicken coop nearby

It’s like the old adage, “You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend.” You don’t have to make your house mouse-proof, you just have to make it less attractive than your neighbor’s house. Mice will go where it’s easiest to get water, food, and shelter.

Natural ways to reduce interest from mice…

Keep mice out of trash
Bungee your garbage bins to keep the lids snug
GlassCanisterMice
Seal food in airtight containers like glass canisters
WoodPilesAttractMice Clear a 1 foot perimeter around your house, including brush, wood piles, rockery, etc.
Birdbathwatermice
Remove standing water like bird baths
DogpoopattractsmiceClean up dog poop since it is full of protein, carbs, and other things mice like to eat
BirdseedattractsmiceKeep bird seed off the ground by investing in a rodent-proof bird feeder and installing it at least 6 feet from “launch pads” like fences or trees
BerrysattractmiceTrim fruit trees and berry bushes on the bottom and sides to prevent rodents coming up for a snack

Step 2. Seal up your house

How to find mouse entry holes

Check your utility lines to ensure pass-through holes are snug:

  • Sink supply and drain lines
  • Plumbing stacks on the outside of the house
  • Gas lines coming into your kitchen or laundry room
  • Electrical lines, particularly through exterior walls

Verify all utility vents have tight wire mesh and snug pass-through holes:

  • Dryer vents
  • Bathroom fan vents
  • Kitchen fan vents

Weather-proof your doors:

  • Garage doors should have weather stripping to close gaps
  • Cracks in concrete pads (such as the area below your garage door) should be filled for a seamless seal with the door above
  • Exterior doors should hang plumb and square so they seal tightly

Scope out your roof for easy access points, then double down on wire mesh:

  • Dormers have complex joints between shingles, fascia boards, and windows that require precise cuts to stay mouse-proof. Time and poor craftsmanship can create gaps.
  • Attic vents are necessary to keep moisture at bay but can decay with time. Wasp nests, bird nests, and other animal activity can also puncture your vent grates.
  • Chimney caps are metal boxes that cover the hole at the top of your chimney. Check yours for gaps or rust. If you don’t have one, buy one for less than $100.

How to install wire mesh for mouse-proofing

Wire mesh with 1/4 inch holes and large headed screws

Select your wire mesh: Pick a mesh with quarter inch holes and make sure it’s easy to bend. We recommend galvanized mesh since it has a special coating to resist rust, making it last longer. You can buy products like this at most hardware stores for about $10. 

Select your screws: The ideal screw for installing mesh has a large head so it doesn’t pass through the holes in the wire. Again, we recommend galvanized screws to resist rust. Try to keep the length to about an inch and keep the diameter to a minimum. Using a oversized screws means making oversized holes in your house.

Installing your wire mesh: Cut a section of wire that extends at least an inch beyond the edge of the hole in all directions. Bend the wire so it fits snuggly inside the corner or around edges. If there is slack in your mesh the mice will simply push under it. Anchor the mesh with screws, about one every four inches. When on your roof, DO NOT anchor directly into your shingles or you risk creating a leak.

Can you use spray foam or steel wool instead of wire mesh?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it.

Step 3. Trap mice already in the house

There are two key factors in making sure you’ll get rid of mice naturally– picking the right trap and placing it properly. No matter what type of trap you use we recommend baiting it with peanut butter. It’s cheap, natural, and incredibly tempting to mice.

Poison sketch

Why you shouldn’t use poison baits

By far the most common type of mouse bait is an anticoagulant rodenticide. That’s a fancy way to say that it thins the animal’s blood, causing them to bleed out and die slowly.

  • It’s cruel to kill the animals slowly over time.
  • Poison has terrible consequences for predators that eat mice like urban owls and your neighborhood cat.
  • The mice die in your walls. Some pest control companies claim the mice become thirsty, seek water, and then die outside. This is nonsense.

Get more information on the negative impacts of rodenticides from the  Audubon Society.

Owl image is courtesy of the Audubon Society

So why are poison baits so common?

Traditional pest control companies rely heavily on poison bait because it is cheap and any employee can do it without training. Setting out a bait box is faster and simpler than doing an inspection, sealing entry holes, and setting traps in strategic locations.

Types of all-natural mouse traps

T-Rex snap traps are reliable, humane, & reusable

Best natural mouse trap

The plastic T-Rex snap trap from Bell is a highly sensitive trap with interlocking teeth. They are much heavier than a traditional wooden trap so they stay put. You can also wash and reuse the traps indefinitely, so they are more eco-friendly than disposable traps. The plastic teeth have a lot of force, making for a quick and humane death. The traps have small holes in the base so you can feed a zip tie through and secure the traps on vertical pipes and beams. Parker Eco Pest Control uses these traps exclusively (and no, they didn’t pay us to say that!).

Wooden snap traps are tough to set properly

Victor snap trap

Victor mouse traps are the stereotypical trap you see in the movies baited with a piece of swiss cheese. Setting these traps involves pulling back the pin carefully, setting the bait, and putting it in the right spot without triggering it. They’re pretty finnicky and go off without catching a mouse often, especially compared to the T-Rex.

Glue traps can be cruel

Natural glue mouse trap

Glue traps come with a lot of well-deserved horror stories. Mice have been known to languish in the glue, starving to death. They sometimes chew off their own legs to free themselves. If you opt for a glue trap we suggest you use it ONLY under close supervision. As soon as you catch a mouse you should either:

  • Put on gloves and wipe the mouse down in olive oil to free it from the trap. Set it free outside.
  • Fill a bucket with water and drop the mouse and attached trap in for a quick death.

Live traps require daily supervision

Live natural mouse trap

If you can’t bring yourself to kill a mouse you might lean towards live traps. Simply place a tasty treat inside and let the door snap shut once the mouse is inside. Traps like this MUST be checked daily or you risk leaving a mouse to die slowly from starvation – this is far worse than a quick death from a snap trap.

Where to set mice free

Washington State law (and many other states) does not allow for relocation. That means you cannot release the mouse in a local park a mile away. Your best bet is releasing it back on your property and hoping you did a good job sealing up entry holes in your home.

What if the mouse isn’t dead?

Sadly, mice can sometimes set off a trap with a foot instead of their head. The humane thing to do is put the animal out of its misery
immediately. We recommend filling a bucket with water and placing the animal—trap and all—into the water until it drowns.

Where to put the traps

The simplest solution is putting traps where you find the most evidence of activity like droppings, urine smells, or rub marks.

Rub marks from a rodent

There is some finesse to how the traps are positioned. Mice are neophobic, meaning they are suspicious of new things. You need to make it as easy as possible to stumble into the trap. Look for narrow paths next to walls and hidden corners. Do not waste your time by simply opening your attic door and setting a trap on the open space inside.

Graphic on how to place natural mouse traps
Diagrams are courtesy of the
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management

Step 4. Natural mouse control outdoors

An automatic trap from Good Nature

Automatic traps

The A24 from Goodnature is a self-resetting trap that kills 24 mice with a single cartridge. Set it up outside, sit back, and wait. Parker Eco Pest Control will gladly install one.

Owl Boxes

Owls eat as many as 12 rodents a night! Installing an owl box gives you about a 50% chance of getting an owl every nesting season. Learn more about owls for natural mouse control on our blog.

Do you have questions or suggestions for improving this piece? Let us know! Email Info@ParkerEcoPestControl.com

Rat abatement for demolitions: city requirements and FAQs

As rodent populations worsen in King and Snohomish counties, more and more cities are passing rat abatement laws for construction projects. Seattle, Kirkland and Shoreline have passed rules requiring developers to control or eradicate the rodent population when “clearing, grading or demolishing” on a jobsite.

A rodent in a building being demolished

Why do Seattle rat abatement rules exist?

Buildings slated for demolition can be ideal habitats for rodents. Older structures are often full of holes for easy entry. Vacant places have nesting material like insulation, clothing, or furniture. The ideal spot for a rat is close enough to humans that they have access to food (like our garbage) but far enough away that they can nest and breed without being disturbed. That empty house on the block is the perfect hideaway!

When a vacant structure is demolished the rodents explode out into the surrounding neighborhood. Add in the increasing density of King and Snohomish counties and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

How developers comply with the law

If your project will include “clearing, grading or demolition” you must have a pest control professional with a license from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) inspect the property. If evidence of rodent activity is found (droppings, nesting, skeletons, old bait boxes, etc.) you must start an abatement plan at least 15 days prior to beginning work. The plan should extend up to the planned date of demolition. If the inspection reveals no evidence of rodent activity then you’re home free! Just have the pest control company write up a declaration.

Rodent abatement paperwork for Shoreline, Kirkland and Seattle
Paperwork for a rodent abatement plan must be written up by a pest control professional and submitted to the city by the developer

How much do rat abatement plans cost?

Parker Eco Pest Control charges $200 for an inspection. If no activity is found, that’s all you pay.

If we do find evidence of an infestation, the fee is usually $399 (the $200 inspection fee + $199 abatement fee). That can vary with the size of your project. After the plan is complete, we write up the paperwork proving that your property meets the city requirements. You hand the paperwork into the city and proceed with demolition.

What a rodent abatement plan looks like

A lot of pest control companies simply show up and drop bait boxes, then collect a large fee. Parker Eco Pest Control actually conducts an inspection. It’s not uncommon for us to clear a structure as rodent-free during this inspection. We would rather be honest with you and build a long-term relationship than collect a quick buck.

If the inspection uncovers evidence of an infestation we’ll develop a plan for dealing with the problem. This usually requires several visits to monitor activity up until demolition.

  • We conduct an exterior inspection to see where they are getting into the structure.
  • We seal up any holes greater than ¼ inch with sealants, foam or other materials.
  • We remove anything that might be attracting them to the property.
  • We place traps in appropriate places.

Have questions about rat abatement before demolitions? Get in touch!  Call 800-ECO-1698 or email Info@ParkerEcoPestControl.com.

We’ve expanded! Parker Eco Pest Control is now serving Everett

After a warm reception in Seattle, Parker Eco Pest Control is growing north! We’re pleased to have a second location in Northwest Everett. We’re enjoying brews at the Scuttlebutt, views off Jetty Island and Latin fusion over at Sol Food Bar and Grill. Our service list and prices are the same but the team and customer service continue to expand with our new receptionist Brooks, and a new technician named Isaiah. We’re also pleased to announce online appointment requests. So if you live between Lynnwood and Everett we’re delighted to answer all your eco friendly pest needs!

Our service area now stretches from Seattle all the way to Everett, following the I-5 corridor.

EverettToSeattleServiceArea

Ants: Ecofriendly DIY Options

Whether you’re looking to solve the problem yourself or just need some tips between regular visits from Parker Eco Pest Control, we hope you find this information helpful.

Keep your eyes open

HouseAntEcoDIYPestControlAnts use scouts to find new food sources. A single ant out on patrol will locate food and create a trail back to the nest for other ants to follow. More and more ants swarm the area until the food is gone. If you see a single ant roaming across your counter, kill it.

Clean and seal your home

Your kitchen might already be clean but consider taking it to the next level. Wipe your counter and table down with a white vinegar and water mixture after food prep. Clean all dishes immediately. Store your food and dog food in air tight containers. Take your trash out daily. Even the smallest bits of food can attract an ant swarm.

There are also some basic home repairs that can make your home less hospitable for ants. Take a look around your house for damp or decaying wood. Do you have a leak under your sink? Is there a wet wood pile against the exterior wall? You can’t prevent ants from creating nests outside but you can calk cracks around doors and windows so it’s harder for them to enter. If you aren’t sure where the ants are coming from, stage a stakeout. Follow them all the way to the exterior wall where they are entering and seal it off. You likely can’t seal every hole, but look for the major ones.

Make a DIY eco repellantParkerEcoPestConrolDiatomaceousForAnts

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth along cracks where you see ants crawling. Distribute a thin, even layer of dust. This is not an immediate solution but it’s safe for kids and pets. It will slowly dehydrate and kill the bugs after coating them. This is one of our favorite products.
  • Wipe up ant trails with a mixture of vinegar and water.
  • Put a few drops of essential peppermint oil on a cotton ball. Wipe down cracks where you see ant trails and entry points. You can also leave the infused cotton ball in a pantry, cabinet or entry point. Refresh every few days. Be careful not to damage woodwork with the oil.

Plant a garden

While it might seem counterintuitive to plant more vegetation, consider some ant repelling herbs. Lavender, rosemary and mind have all been shown to repel ants.

Good luck! Feel free to call us if you have any additional questions about ecofriendly methods for controlling ants.

Attracting owls for ecofriendly rodent control

Owls and cats have long been used to control rodents naturally. Getting a cat is as simple as visiting the local shelter, but what about attracting a wild owl? You might be surprised to learn you don’t need a barn or acres of land to create a suitable owl home.

Do owls really help control rodents?

Absolutely. An adult barn owl will catch and eat up to 12 rodents per night while brooding in the late spring and early summer. Even without babies to feed they maintain a steady nightly hunting routine of several rats, mice and moles. Owls fly with almost no noise at all making it easy to sneak up on an unsuspecting rat or mouse. Washington State alone is home to 13 different species of owls.

One important thing to keep in mind if you’re hoping to attract an owl is avoiding the use of rodent poison. At Parker Eco Pest Control we avoid rodenticides (nobody wants a rat dying slowly in their wall) but the most important reason to avoid poison is the harmful impact on the food chain. Rats eat a small amount of the poison and owls eat many, many rats, concentrating the poison. The cumulative effect on birds of prey and neighborhood cats can be deadly.

Setting up an owl box

Timing: While you can install an owl box year round, most owl species begin looking for a nesting spot between January

This owl box from Looker is available on Amazon and many other online retailers.

and March. Now is the perfect time to install a box, sit back, and wait.

Position: Follow these best practices to increase the likelihood of attracting an owl.

  • Mount the box at least 10 feet off the ground.
  • The opening shouldn’t face towards the wind. For most locations this isn’t an issue, but if you live on a bluff with a constant breeze you should take that into consideration.
  • Do not put an owl box on a utility pole.
  • Make sure the interior floor of the box is level once it’s mounted.
  • Position it with a clear approach path, not hidden by branches. Owls will likely discover the box by spotting the dark entry hole.
  • Try to face the entry hole out over an open area rather than inward towards nearby trees or buildings.
  • Some research shows that owls prefer an Eastern-facing opening.

Luck: Owls are successfully attracted about half the time. Your best bet for attracting an owl in an urban environment is installing multiple boxes in the neighborhood. Placing a box approximately every 100 yards will boost your chances. Having an owl on your block will greatly reduce your rodent population, even if the owl isn’t nesting in your backyard.

How do you know if your box has a new resident? Look for stray feathers, white droppings around the entry hole, and above all listen for hoots and shrieks at night.

Want help installing an owl box in the Seattle area?

We can help you find and install the perfect owl box for your property, even if you’re in the city. Contact Chris Parker, owner of Parker Eco Pest Control, at 800-326-1698 or Chris@ParkerEcoPestControl.com.

Getting rid of bats safely and legally

Bats are a bit creepy and maybe even scary to your average city dweller, especially if they’re living in your attic. But it’s important to know that Washington State has strict laws to protect bats. Here’s why bats are actually awesome, and how to handle a bat infestation legally and safely.

Why are bats beneficial to your neighborhood?

A female bat can consume her entire body weight in insects in a single evening. Forget the citronella candle, just get some bats! Mosquitos, termites, and other much more serious pests are kept in check by a healthy bat population. It’s difficult to stress just how many more creepy crawlies would be in your house and biting you in your garden if bats suddenly disappeared.

Brown bats in an attic

Why are bats living in your attic?

Bats naturally seek out cavities in trees, caves and other places that protect them from light and predators. As our region densifies there are fewer natural spots for them to live. They begin seeking out attics, wells, and other manmade hidey-holes.  You’re most likely to find bats living on the southern side of a building with full sun.

How do you get bats out of your attic?

First off let’s say that bats are not as harmful to your home as rats or mice. They don’t chew wires but their guano can be smelly and cause water damage to drywall.

While it may be tempting to close off the entry holes, you would likely be trapping the bat pups inside your attic. This is a recipe for a very stinky, and very cruel disaster. The safest, and legal option is coaxing them out on their own volition.

Note that these methods only work when the pups are mature enough to fly so you’ll have to wait until mid-August. That gives you a couple weeks to plan the bat siege…

  • Make some noise. Put a radio in your attic as close to their roosting site as possible
  • Use shop lights to make the space bright so they can’t get to sleep (preferably fluorescent bulbs since incandescent lights risk starting a fire)
  • Install a one-way door so bats can go out, but not back in
  • Put a bat box nearby to encourage these beneficial creatures to stay in the neighborhood
  • Close every entry point and use caulk for the most complete seal job possible

And don’t wait too long! Be sure to do a thorough exclusion job before October or you may be stuck with bats all winter. For more information on bats in Washington State check out the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s guide to living with wildlife.

If you have a bat problem or are interested in installing a bat box call our owner and head technician, Chris Parker at 800-326-1698.

Rain gardens and the pests they sprout

A beautiful Rain Wise garden. Photo courtesy of Seattle Mag

If you live in Seattle you’ve probably seen gardens with signs about the Rain Wise program. Seattle Public Utilities subsidizes rain gardens in certain parts of the city to protect everyone from storm water runoff that causes sewer backups and flooding. You can get details about the program or see if you qualify at the SPU Rain Wise website.

Parker Eco Pest Control Rain Gardens

Diagram courtesy of Seekamp Environmental Consulting

While these rain gardens look beautiful, they can attract unwanted pests like rodents and insects. The rain garden provides added food, water, and shelter – the three biggest attractants for pests. Having one in your yard could leave your house vulnerable to an infestation. Here at Parker Eco Pest Control we often get calls to help people manage ants, spiders, mice, and rats that have been drawn to the home after installing a rain garden.

To get the best of both worlds and protect your home from these pests, make sure you maintain your rain garden on a regular basis. Foliage that falls to the ground should be raked up regularly. Be sure to leave at least a foot of space between any vegetation and your home. If these branches touch your house it can act as a highway for insects like ants, cockroaches, spiders, and more.

Image courtesy of the West Seattle Herald

Even if you don’t have a formal rain garden through the Rain Wise program, you might live in an area prone to the same pests. Take a look at the Rain Wise map and see if your home is at risk.

Overall these gardens provide a public good. With a little knowledge and some careful planning you can keep your neighborhood safe from flooding and your home free of pests. If you’d like more information to keep your home protected from your rain garden, give Parker Eco Pest Control a call and we’ll work together to find a low cost and eco-friendly solution.

We wish you a merry Christmas and a rat-free new year

As the temperature drops you may find yourself with some unwanted house guests this holiday season.  Winter is peak time for rodents as they look for warmth in crawlspaces, attics, and garages. These disease carrying animals make nests in your insulation and chew everything in sight. Rat teeth grow quickly which forces them to chew constantly and grind them down. It’s estimated that rodents cause up to 20% of house fires every year just by chewing on wires. In addition to causing fires they can knaw through pipes and create plumbing leaks within your walls. All these problems are significantly more expensive to fix than they are to prevent. Do yourself a favor and monitor your home for signs of rodent activity this winter to head off any problems before it’s too late!

Notice that the upper wire has been chewed on. The insulation nearby could easily catch fire.

Parker Eco Pest Control offers environmentally-friendly solutions for both preventing and treating infestations.  We use a combination of physical tools to keep the rats and mice out, and chemical tools that kill and repel. Call us today!

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