Rats in the attic or crawl space are common problems Seattle homeowners know all too well. And as the cold Seattle winter sets in, these pesky critters are in search of a warm cozy place to nest. Don’t let rodents ruin your home. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about rodent damaged insulation and effective pest-control
Replace Vs. Refresh your Rodent Damaged Insulation
In the wild, rodents, be it mice or rats, will seek soft fibers for their nests. And unfortunately, insulation found within our crawl spaces, walls, and attics appear to be their favorite nesting material. As a result, rats and mice can damage the insulation in your home by either collecting insulation fibers for a nest elsewhere or directly making a nest within the insulation itself.
Effective Rodent Control: Crawl Space and Attic Hygiene
In the wild, rodents, be it mice or rats, will seek soft fibers for their nests. And unfortunately, insulation found within our crawl spaces, walls, and attics appear to be their favorite nesting material. As a result, rats and mice can damage the insulation in your home by either collecting insulation fibers for a nest elsewhere or directly making a nest within the insulation itself. These can gradually lead to long-term problems which can affect both your home and health.
Effective rodent control in your Seattle home is essential when it comes to preventing the spread of disease. The feces and urine produced by rodents accumulate over time, leading to an increased risk of spreading zoonotic diseases. According to the CDC rat infestation guide, rats and mice in Washington spread diseases (viral and bacterial) directly and indirectly. Some of these zoonotic diseases include:
Leptospirosis: which spreads through urine and waterways.
Hantavirus: is a virus that spreads through rodent urine and feces.
Salmonella: A bacteria that spread via the fecal-oral route.
Rat-Bite Fever: A bacterial disease that spreads through bites and scratches caused by rats. It can also spread through the oral-fecal route (i.e., consuming food or water contaminated by rats).
Do You Need to Replace Insulation After a Rodent Infestation?
Rats have damaged the insulation in your beautiful Seattle home. What do you do? Replace, refresh, or remove? We completely understand that removing and replacing insulation from your crawl space and attic is time-consuming and extremely expensive.
If the damage to the insulation is minimal, then our team at Park Eco Pest Control will choose to refresh the existing insulation material. Now, refreshing existing insulation simply entails that only sections (damaged) insulation are replaced. We only ever completely replace insulation from a crawl space or attic when the damage caused by rodents is extensive due to long-term uncontrolled rodent destruction, or if you’d like to increase the energy efficiency of your home.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Insulation in Seattle
Keeping rodents out of your crawl space, attic, and insulation will require some time and effort. And since these pesky critters pose a risk to human health, we recommend reaching out to a professional pest control service in Seattle for an initial first clean.
When it comes to cleaning and refreshing your damaged insulation, our team at Parker Eco Pest Control will:
Locate and seal up any holes, burrows, vents, and gaps that allow rats and mice to enter your crawl space.
Do some dirty work and safely remove all dead rats and mice from your crawl space or attic. We will even humanely remove any active nest sites present in your attic or crawl space.
Our Seattle pest-control team will most importantly remove and dispose of all rat feces and droppings present in the attic or crawl space.
Sanitize and disinfect the entire area with an eco-friendly, enzyme-based product that actually eats the organic material left by feces and urine. It leaves behind water and CO2 as an odorless, harmless bi-product.
Replace the vapor barrier in your crawl space if it’s damaged.
Finally, depending on the degree of damage and contamination, we will either refresh or replace the insulation.
Attic and Crawl Space Cleaning by Parker Eco Pest Control
Do you own a fixer-upper? Are you a die-hard DIYer? If so, you probably know and love This Old House almost as much as Wesley Parker, owner of Parker Eco Pest Control. She recalls waking up on Saturday mornings as a kid to watch This Old House with her Dad. Now as a homeowner herself, she and her husband Chris do a lot their owner DIY projects on their 1905 American Foursquare house.
This Old House has evolved quite a bit since the 1990s. Their website has how-to guides for everything A-Z including attics to yards and loads in between. They have information on common things like how to replace a bathroom faucet or how to level a floor to, the more obscure, like How to Drill into Brick.
If you can imagine your next project, the This Old House website is a great resource will probably have the information (videos or articles) to help you get it done! There are even whole sections dedicated to subjects like Home Office, Patios and Organization and Storage; things that many people are focused on and were very popular during the COVID pandemic.
By far our favorite feature on their website is the Project House and Idea House tabs. There are way too many distinctive and unique houses to pick a single favorite. Each “Idea House” is modeled after a specific style that give ideas on bringing the look to life in your own home.
Deciding whether or not to re-insulate your crawl space after a rodent problem depends on a few factors. Dirt crawl spaces are incredibly common in Seattle and it’s estimated that 40% of new construction in the area still relies on this type of foundation (per the NAHB, 2013). Crawl spaces make accessing your plumbing and wiring for repairs simple and they’re ideal for Seattle’s hilly terrain. These benefits aside, they are extremely vulnerable to rodent problems.
When to leave a crawl space un-insulated
If rodents are tunneling into the crawl space (as opposed to chewing in).
If your crawl space lacks a permanent rodent barrier such as a rat slab, trench and screen, or rodent-proofed joists to protect insulation (keep reading for more info).
Don’t spend money on new insulation only to have another infestation next winter!
When to re-insulate a crawl space
If rodents are chewing into the crawl space and you’ve done a good job sealing off the entry points you could gamble with re-insulating. They may begin tunneling sometime in the future so this is still a calculated risk.
If you invest in permanent rodent barrier like a rat slab, trench and screen, or rodent-proofed joists to protect insulation you’ll have peace of mind that your insulation and your living space is safe for the long haul.
What is a permanent rodent barrier?
Exactly what it sounds like! There are three main long term solutions for protecting a dirt crawlspace from rodents:
Rodent-proofing insulation with wire mesh
Traditional fiberglass insulation is by far the most common type we find in crawl spaces. It is also a perfect place for rodents to nest. Protect your new or existing insulation from nesting by installing galvanized steel mesh to the underside of your joists. You’ll get end-to-end protection for your insulation and your living space if a rodent tunnels back into the crawl space.
Trench and screen
To install a trench and screen the soil around your foundation is dug away and galvanized steel mesh is buried against the house to prevent animals from burrowing into the crawl space.
A rat slab is a non-structural layer of concrete that completely seals the dirt floor of your crawl space off from tunneling.
Are rodents chewing or tunneling into the crawl space?
We find that rodents are most likely to access a crawl space by chewing a hole or pushing their way in through a vent. Builder-grade crawl space vents use flimsy mesh that doesn’t stand up to a determined rat. Rodents are also incredible chewers since their teeth grow constantly. They will find a small gap around a gas line and gnaw the opening until they can squeeze through. Sealing off openings and setting poison-free traps are your go-to solution.
Tunneling into the crawl space is also very common. Norway rats are aggressive diggers and they will burrow under the side of the house and pop up in the crawlspace. You’ll need a permanent rodent barrier to stop them from entering once and for all.
Need some help with a rodent issue at your house? Give us a call or book an inspection online!
Parker Eco Pest Control is open during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll update this website if anything changes. We’re keeping regular hours Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. You can make an appointment by calling 800-326-1698 or booking online. We expect to stay open for the foreseeable future.
We cannot overstate how much we appreciate your business. Our small teamsupports 8 households and keeping everyone employed is vital.
Increasing protective equipment
We will approach your home or business wearing a face mask and gloves.
Practicing social distance
Our technicians will not shake your hand. We understand that you may wish to follow us around your property, particularly during an inspection, but we ask that you please stay 6 feet away from us at all times.
Collecting no-touch payments
As part of social distancing we are no longer asking you to write your signature on our iPhones. We’re collecting credit card info by asking you to read the card number to us so we can hand-key the information into the processing system. We will write your signature on your behalf and issue a receipt via email.
Focusing on exterior service
Even during regular operations we don’t always treat the interior of the home for insect or rodent activity. We will continue this practice and treat rodent and insect problems from the exterior as often as possible.
As an eco-friendly pest control company we pride ourselves on thorough inspections. As part of social distancing we might ask you to report on pest activity inside your house so we don’t have to go inside. For example, we might ask you to check under your kitchen sink for ants instead of looking first-hand. If we do enter your home please stay 6 ft away from us.
Parker Eco Pest Control recently discovered Fresh Chalk, a cool
new platform for finding professional services in the Seattle area. If you need
a handyman, dentist, or a barber, this is the place to go.
Fresh Chalk operates differently than other review platforms
since they focus on recommendations from people in your social network. Their
model tries to replicate word of mouth recommendations in the digital age.
We found out about Fresh Chalk when a client recommended us on the platform. Since our business thrives on reviews, we were immediately intrigued. After doing some digging, we learned that they are local, women-led, and committed to transparency. That puts them miles ahead in our book!
Oh yeah…and people love us there
So we encourage you to check out the platform, make some honest recommendations, and see what Fresh Chalk holds for you. And hey…why not give Parker Eco Pest Control a thumbs up while you’re there?
Ever wondered what kids think about pest control? HiHo Kids
set out to answer that question on a segment of “Kids Meet A…”. They gather
people from all walks of life to answer the random, silly and downright bizarre
questions that can only come from kids. Owner Chris Parker spent a few hours in
the studio talking about bed bugs, squishing spiders, and protecting bees.
Behind the scenes
As it turns out, filming is hard work! The shoot took about 4 hours and resulted in just 4 minutes of footage. We have to give the HiHo Kids production team serious credit for weaving it all together.
In just two weeks the episode has been seen over 100,000
times on YouTube and Facebook. We owe HiHo Kids a HUGE thank you for involving
us in this fun opportunity!
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.