Topics:Garden Pests Pest Identification Pest Control Products Pest Salesmen Pest Companies Pest Prevention DIY Pest Control Pest Elimination pest control
It’s a fact: online reviews are powerful. Almost everyone reads them, many of us have written at least one — positive or negative — and most of us award online reviews the same credibility as a recommendation from a personal friend. Online reviews influence which movies we watch, our dining choices, where we stay on vacation, and what products Amazon ships to our homes. But how do online reviews influence businesses? The worth of negative reviews It’s true, companies have a vested interest in acquiring as many five-star reviews as possible. Per the Harvard Business Review, a one-star increase on a business’s Yelp profile correlates with a five to nine percent increase in revenue. Conversely, the presence of negative reviews on a company profile can ward off an average of 40 percent of potential customers. Look at any product page or company listing and you’ll see clearly that less-than-stellar reviews are bound to happen. In fact, nearly 75 percent of buyers say negative reviews give depth and insight to a product; and as we covered in a recent post about the home security industry, reviewers that give a company four out of five stars in particular provide specific, actionable feedback that smart companies use to improve their products and services, and thus elicit more five-star reviews. Take Pestie, for instance. The better way to get rid of bugs? Founded in 2019, Pestie markets itself as the first subscription-based, do-it-yourself pest management provider in the industry. Depending on the subscription plan, the company will send customers either one or multiple easy-to-use sprayer kits, complete with application instructions and safety equipment like protective gloves. Many customers experienced a relatively painless process of ordering their equipment and correctly applying the pesticide. However, a handful of four-star reviewers saw some room for improvement and, more importantly, posted about it. Mark G. from Austin, Texas said that while he found subscription process easy and the pesticide effective, the spraying apparatus required some non-intuitive adjustments: "There are some tricks to applying the treatment such [as] unscrewing the wand applicator a tad from the bag to allow air in. Otherwise, the sprayer stops working. Offering those kinds of tips in the box would be helpful. Overall, I'm very happy with Pestie's performance and product.” And Mark G. wasn't alone. Multiple four-star reviewers reported some kind of issue with Pestie's sprayer. Andrew Cork from Woodway, Texas said his only negative comment was that "the last two sprayers have not sprayed consistently." Meanwhile, Sarder from Richmond, Texas reported liking the price and the concept of DIY pest control overall, "but the sprayer is slow and takes a while to use." Customer Review: Vance from Murfreesboro, Tennessee “The sprayer wasn't very good. It kind of quit working before I was done. I ended up having to use my [own] sprayer.” Another reviewer, Jenny from Marietta, Georgia, also had issues with the sprayer, but her concerns had less to do with performance and more to do with waste: "I just want to make sure that they are moving towards less single use items and specifically letting us reuse our sprayers so we're not having to throw them away every time because it seems very wasteful and not environmental.” In other words, while customers generally enjoyed the concept of DIY pest control and had overall good interactions with Pestie’s customer service team, the single-use sprayer implement included in every pest control kit lacked consistent performance and, at least in one case, was seen as wasteful. As of May 2021, four-star reviews on Pestie’s Best Company profile accounted for approximately 25 percent of the company’s total reviews. Considering five-star reviews accounted for almost 70 percent of Pestie’s reviews, the company could have easily ignored the content of these four-star reviews and counted itself lucky to have such a high average score. Instead, Pestie read the reviews, and got to work. Customer feedback, applied To Mark G. in Austin, Texas who complained that his sprayer stopped working, a Pestie representative publically replied, “Hi Mark, thank you for the feedback! This is great advice, I am going to pass this along to our team.” Some companies would have left the exchange at that, but Pestie took it a step further. To Doug Ratazcak in Branson, Missouri who left a similar complaint about a faulty sprayer, the company said this: “Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review Doug. We are so sorry you experienced a sprayer that did not work. Recently, we hit the drawing board and re-designed the sprayer from the bottom up. Our new sprayer is more reliable and powerful than ever! Our customer care team is going to reach out to you shortly and get a replacement kit sent out if you would like.” And to Jenny in Marietta, Georgia who expressed concerns about the environmental impact of single-use plastic sprayers, Pestie responded with, “Thank you for the honest feedback Jenny. We recently redesigned our sprayer and it's now more reliable, twice as powerful, and reusable! You will receive our new sprayer in your spring shipment! We would love to know what you think of the new reusable sprayer.” Most, if not all companies understand the impact online reviews can have on their business from a reputation management perspective; but the best companies, like Pestie, know online reviews can contribute so much to their ability to grow and innovate. So long as customers provide specific, actionable feedback in their reviews, smart companies will listen and look for ways to get better! Review Hack: When four is greater than five Like the company, but have some suggestions? Businesses tend to pay more attention to four-star as opposed to five-star reviews. They will be more likely to reach out to see what can be done to resolve your concern, and, if successful, invite you to update your review to five stars.
SILICON SLOPES, UTAH — Pest management provider Aptive Environmental has earned Best Company’s coveted title of “#1 Overall Company” among the more than 180 pest control companies reviewed on the site. This ranking is informed by a number of factors, with a wave of positive customer reviews accounting for the lionshare of the company’s overall score of 9.9 out of a possible 10. “We are so grateful to be #1 on BestCompany.com,” says Cole Rieben, Director of Digital Marketing at Aptive Environmental. “We are always looking for ways to improve our service offerings, and we know Best Company is a source that our customers trust and can leave real feedback that we can act on.” As of April 2021, Aptive has amassed more than 5,500 five-star verified customer reviews, which account for approximately 77 percent of the company’s total review portfolio. Per a textual analysis of all Aptive Environmental reviews posted to Best Company’s independent review platform, customers applauded the company’s commitment to professionalism and educating homeowners throughout the entire pest control process: Customer Review, Diann "Tim C did a great job of telling me exactly what the treatment around the entire exterior would entail before he got to work. He was fast and efficient, and I appreciate his thoroughness." Customer Review, Sherri Creedon “Tanner did a great job. He was very professional. I am so thankful that Aptive has such dedicated and professional staff during this very difficult time. Thank you for all that you are doing.” “Our priority has been, and always will be, to provide personalized customer service and to help families enjoy their homes,” Rieben continues, “we love the amount of details each potential customer can find on Best Company in their search for a service provider that meets their needs.” Achieving the top spot on Best Company is no idle prize; for a growing company like Aptive Environmental, it means peak visibility in a highly competitive industry often marred by bad actors and dishonest sales tactics. The #1 ranking also benefits Aptive’s clientele by signaling to new customers that the company can be trusted to get the job done, and giving existing customers an objective platform where their voices, praise, and criticism will be heard. Learn More about Aptive Environmental To learn more about Aptive Environmental’s products and services, or to read more Aptive reviews, visit our expert write-up. Go Aptive!
Pest control has been deemed an essential service by the government during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which means pest control companies are still open and operating. However, as social distancing practices ensue and shelter-in-place orders remain in effect throughout much of the world, you may be wondering whether or not it’s truly safe or worth it to have your home or business treated for pests during this time. Pest threats to health and property As Erin Richardson, Owner and CEO of All-American Pest Control, puts it, “pests don’t hit pause during a pandemic.” And pests pose their own unique threats to our health, homes, and businesses. “We know from previous research that pests are carriers of germs, viruses, and diseases that are harmful to humans and pets,” says Genma Holmes, Owner of Holmes Pest Control. According to Holmes, common pests can cause the following health issues: Pest Health issues Dust mites Allergies, asthma, respiratory problems Cockroaches Salmonella, polio, dysentery, allergies, asthma, respiratory problems Fire ants Serious allergic reactions, fever, dizziness, burning, itching Fleas Typhus, plague, tungiansis, tularemia, allergies Flies Cholera, conjunctivitis, dysentery, salmonella, tuberculosis, typhoid fever Mosquitoes Malaria, West Nile, yellow fever, Zika, Chikungunya, dengue Rats Hantavirus, plague, rat-bite fever, salmonella Ticks Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever Wasps Serious allergic reactions As Kevin Chan, an entomologist for Mosquito Squad, explains, “[pest control] is important to prevent further disease outbreaks and keep people safe.” In addition to the serious health risks posed by pests, “if left untreated, pests can multiply and cause severe damage to a business and/or home structure,” states Ron Pelshaw, President of My Bat Guy. For example, termites and other pests burrow through wood, which can deteriorate the structural integrity of your home’s foundation and framework; rodents chew on wires, which can lead to electrical problems; and insects live in walls, which can destroy insulation. Such damage to your home caused by pests can be expensive to repair and may even have a substantial negative impact on resale value. Charlie Church, Owner and President of Getem, affirms, “pests can destroy homes from the inside out. Pest control companies are here to make their customers feel safe in their home, as well as protect their home’s structure. If you let an infestation grow, it’s possible that your home could need to be completely torn down. However, with immediate treatment and beginning prevention practices, pest control companies are usually able to make sure that infestations don’t get that far.” Additional pest issues presented by the spring and summer seasons During this time of year, it is particularly important to get and stay on top of pest problems. Because insects are poikilothermic, or, in simple terms, cold-blooded, they’re generally more prolific and more active in warmer temperatures. As Mike Duncan, National Technical Manager at Truly Nolen Pest Control, explains, “many pests are emerging from their winter hibernation stages and are looking for habitats and food sources to sustain their colonies. Many species need certain food types in order to sustain egg production and colony expansion, and the food needs for these pest colonies are located in homes.” In addition to insects in search of food sources, Paul Johnson, Founder of the Tick and Mosquito Project, describes another pest issue that magnifies as the weather warms up: “mosquitoes begin breeding in the spring. If you were to draw a line across the middle of the country from right to left, mosquitoes in states below that line have already started breeding, and mosquitoes in states above that line will begin any day. Reducing the number of mosquitoes now in spring will reduce the overall number of mosquitoes in subsequent hatches throughout the summer. If you wait until summer, you will have a larger mosquito population to contend with.” This means that it is extra important to fortify your home against pests in the spring and early summer to prepare for the seasonal influx. Plus, as Bill Horgan, Owner and President of Debug Pest Control, points out, due to the social distancing and shelter-in-place orders resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, “people will spend more time at home and in their yards this spring and summer,” which means you’re especially not going to want to endure a large pest infestation later in the year. Extra safety initiatives put in place by pest control providers Many pest control companies are keeping safety top of mind and implementing additional precautionary measures to keep both customers and employees healthy during COVID-19. These measures include the following: Instructing employees to stay home if sick or exhibiting any symptoms Providing and requiring employees to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, aprons, and gloves at all times Limiting physical contact between employees and customers by calling or texting upon arrival rather than ringing the doorbell, not greeting with handshakes, practicing social distancing and staying 6 to 10 feet apart, and requiring additional hand washing Increasing frequency of mandatory disinfecting of work equipment, tools, and vehicles Sending electronic agreements and service reports Allowing remote work for customer service and leadership teams Making your decision “We are firm believers that people should continue to request pest control services during this pandemic,” states Erin Kelly, Director of Public Relations at Rentokil. However, choosing whether or not to request pest control services during COVID-19 is ultimately up to you. As Daniel Neves, Director at Inoculand Pest Control, advises, “when it comes to making a decision, it is about balancing the risk of being infected [with COVID-19] against the risks to your health and home caused by a pest infestation.” Interested in protecting your home, health, and family with pest control service? View top pest control companies in your area and read reviews from verified customers.
Guest Post by Shyam Bhardwaj The first reaction when finding a pest in your home or garden is most likely panic — and rightfully so! When it comes to invasive pests, the culprits are often ants, rodents, bed bugs, and spiders. Even one stray bug can be enough for people to reach for the chemical spray or call an exterminator. Before you think about traditional, chemical pest control methods, why not try natural and preventative options that can help eliminate infestation in simple ways. Although there are no full-proof methods to keep pests out, there are proactive steps you can take to pest-proof your home. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank or use unhealthy chemicals in order to do so. Below listed are some key problem areas where pests typically sneak their way into homes as well as tips on what you can do to prevent them safely and effectively. 1. Install door sweeps That small crack under your door is like a welcome mat for bugs. In order to prevent invasive pests from entering the cracks under your doors, install door sweeps that will create a protective seal around your door. Once installed, check for light or air that comes through the base of your door. If any cracks remain, adjust the door sweep or add additional protection like weather stripping. 2. Eliminate moisture The most common occasional invaders include earwigs, house crickets, centipedes, millipedes, boxelder bugs, silverfish, and stink bugs. Usually found by themselves or in small numbers, these creatures typically enter a home during wintertime. You may find them near food sources, in basements, or hiding in other cool, dark, or damp places. To prevent these invaders from taking over your home, begin by eliminating moist harborage sites around the perimeter of your property such as leaf piles, overgrown vegetation, and mulch. Pests are usually drawn to moist environments, and if they are too close to your home, chances are they will find their way inside. 3. Identify bed bugs Although bed bugs most often infest your bedroom duvet covers and sheets, hence their name, they can also infest several items in your home. These include beds, sofas, clothes, power outlets, and even cracks in your walls and floors. Knowing where to look for bed bugs in your home will make the detection process much easier. In order to perform a thorough inspection for bed bugs, check any of these items or areas that might be a home for bed bugs in addition to your bed. When looking in these areas, use a flashlight and a magnifying glass to spot bed bugs as they might be immature or still in their eggs and harder to spot. Initially, they are tiny pests without wings, but after feeding, they take on a dark color (mostly red). Typically, bugs are oblong and as wide as they are long, nearly 1/4". Nymphs bed bugs are usually crystalline and harder to locate, and range in size from 1.3 mm to 4-to-5 mm in length.Another important area to check is in second-hand furniture you have or plan on bringing into your home. Bed bugs often enter a home through these second-hand items, so be sure to check both inside and out before you bring them in your home. 4. Repair windows and doors Like doors, even small cracks around windows can be enough for pests to enter your home. If your windows are letting in air, they are letting in pests as well. Cover up these cracks with a good quality acrylic latex or silicone caulk. As an additional perk to preventing bugs from climbing in, sealing windows can help you reduce your energy bill — air will not be able to pass as freely through these open cracks. Flies, gnats, mosquitos, and moths can enter your home through broken or torn screens in windows and doors. This is especially evident during the warmer months of the year when you leave the doors and windows open in your home. If you notice the screens in your home are beginning to break down, replace them to keep flying pests out. 5. Add deterring scents Some natural scents can act as pest repellents, plus they don’t include any harmful chemicals. Rather than reach for chemical traps and deterrents, try placing bags of lavender, cedar chips, and citronella in problem areas of your home to naturally deter pests. Not only will this keep pests out, but it will make your home smell nice as well. 6. Store your food Pests may invade your home for many reasons, but the primary one is most likely due to food. Make sure all food in your home is stored and sealed to ensure pests aren’t drawn to enter your home. Also, be sure to take out your trash regularly and place it in a covered can outside your home. Multiform pest species infest food and non-food products of plant and animal origin, usually located in homes. Collectively, we refer to them as stored product pests or pantry-pests. Eliminating sources of food, water, and shelter for pests is the best pest control advice you'll hear. If you haven't limited food in the store, the total count of stored product pests can grow quickly and sustainably. During their life, these insects can produce 100 to 1000 eggs, resulting in multiple generations per year. 7. Check your roof for holes Birds and raccoons love to enter a warm attic to nest and once they are inside they can make a lot of noise and damage. One way they can enter your home is through holes in your roof, either already present or created by the animals themselves. Be sure to check your roof for holes that might act as entry points for invasive pests. If you are concerned you won’t know what to look for, contact a local roofing company to check for you and repair any holes. 8. Manage your pet’s eating area Ants tend to swarm pet food because the area is usually full of over spilled food that’s easy to access. To reduce these pests from swarming your pet’s food dish, place a rubber mat under the food dish that acts as a natural deterrent to ants. Also, keep the area around your pet dish clean by picking up any loose food regularly. The last word By taking preventive measures and using natural deterrents, you can help keep unwanted pests out of your home without relying on harmful chemicals. Although each of the aforementioned steps will help reduce the probability of pests entering your home, each home is unique and requires a thorough inspection of problem areas. If you notice unwanted pests in your home, do a thorough evaluation of how they may have entered your home, then take the necessary steps to keep them out. Shyam Bhardwaj has over seven years of experience in marketing and branding space. With background experience in software engineering, he also deals with IT and web development areas. He often writes about entrepreneurship journeys, start-up success stories, marketing hurdles, and business operations.
Guest Post by Natasha Wright During the cold winter months, it’s not just family and friends who are seeking warmth and comfort in your home — many homeowners often find themselves hosting a range of unwanted guests, from creepy crawly bugs to furry foes. Beyond being annoying, many of these intruders can cause damage, injury, or health issues, so prevention is essential in keeping bugs (and other pests) out of your home. Identifying unwelcome winter bugs In the summer, we often think of pests as more of an outdoor problem in terms of mosquitoes, stinging insects, fleas and ticks. But falling temps bring pest issues indoors. Some of the most common winter infestations include the following: Stink bugs — The brown marmorated stink bug, with its large, brown, shield-shaped plate can be a serious pest. It gets its name from the pungent odor it releases when threatened. It can invade homes and businesses by the thousands, where it lies dormant, dies behind walls, wanders about, or flies clumsily around light fixtures. Spiders — At the very least, spiders can give people the creeps. While most of the medically important spiders are found in the southern part of the United States, spider bites can still send some sensitive or allergic individuals to the hospital. Cluster flies — Slightly larger than houseflies, cluster flies tend to gather in large numbers and may overwinter in attics and between walls, emerging into homes or buildings during an unseasonably warm day. Cockroaches — This year-round pest can pose a significant threat to health, triggering asthma and allergy symptoms, which may worsen in the winter when homes are closed up. Ladybugs — Often considered a sign of good luck, these tiny insects are actually beetles. They can bite (which is not harmful, but is unpleasant) and discolor light-colored surfaces with their defensive secretions. They often overwinter in homes en masse, so where there is one, there are usually more. Ladybugs will leave your home in the spring, or die in the walls where they become a food source for other pests, like carpet beetles. Rodents — Rats can squeeze into your home through openings no bigger than a quarter, and mice through an opening the size of a dime. They can contaminate food and surfaces with their urine, feces and hair; carry bacteria, disease and ticks; and cause electrical fires by gnawing through wires. Bats — These flying pests hibernate in the winter, often roosting in attics and behind loose boards or shutters. They can carry rabies and spread infection, and their feces (called guano) can cause a disease called histoplasmosis. They can be difficult and dangerous to remove. Wildlife — Less common, but other possible winter intruders may include squirrels, skunks, opossums and raccoons. Often seeking food or shelter, all these animals can wreak havoc inside a home, may carry rabies and other diseases, and can be dangerous. Preventing winter pest invasions There are many pest prevention strategies that go a long way in denying access to the pests listed above, and more. Outdoors Keep firewood at least 20 feet from the home, and give it a quick brush or shake before bringing it inside. Only bring in the amount of firewood you will use in a short amount of time. Some beetles and bugs burrow into the wood and emerge when they are warm. Rake leaves and other vegetation away from the foundation. Trim tree branches and bushes away from rooflines, porches, and building walls. Keep gutters clear and unclogged. Home repair Inspect walls and foundations and repair any holes and cracks. Check for openings around utilities and pipes entering the home. Seal even the smallest openings with caulking and/or steel wool. Check doors and windows. Replace old or failing weather stripping, repair loose mortar and cracked frames, fix holes in screens and install door sweeps. Storage Inspect packages and boxes before bringing them inside. Use plastic or metal bins for storage instead of cardboard in basements, attics, and even pantries. Many pests are attracted to cardboard for nesting material or will chew through cardboard in search of food. Silverfish will even eat the glue that holds corrugated boxes together. Food and water Clean counters, sinks, tables, and floors every day, and clean dirty dishes, crumbs, and spills right away. Store food in airtight containers. Pet food may be feeding more critters than you think, so don’t let food sit out. Check under sinks and around pipes for leaks and moisture issues, and ensure attics, basements, and crawl spaces are dry and properly ventilated. Many insects are drawn to water and moisture. Cleaning Vacuum floors regularly to remove food debris and dust, and around doors and windows where spiders, silverfish, and beetles may be hiding. Routinely wipe down surfaces to remove dust and cobwebs, which can be appealing to spiders. Eliminate clutter where possible to limit hiding places and nesting materials for rodents and insects. Keep garbage in sealed containers, and empty and clean them often. Eliminating pests While finding a few common house spiders over the course of the winter is to be expected and is easy to deal with, by and large, more serious pest elimination is best left to the professionals. Most home or over-the-counter remedies are ineffective in addressing the problem, which can cost not only money, but time during which the infestation can worsen. Attempting to remove or trap larger pests, such as bats and other wildlife, on your own can also be dangerous, resulting in serious bites and other injuries. Look for a pest professional with a wildlife division or a company that specializes in the safe and humane removal of wildlife. Pest control experts are trained to properly identify the problem — for example, knowing the difference between a tick and a bedbug infestation, or determining the extent of an infestation. They can then determine the best, most targeted treatment plan that is safe for you, your family, pets, and environment. Natasha Wright, Technical Director at Braman Termite & Pest Elimination in Massachusetts, is a board-certified entomologist and a member of the Entomological Society of America. She earned her bachelor’s degree in entomology at the University of Florida in 2009 and received her master’s degree in entomology at the University of Arkansas in 2013. Other related articles include: How to Deal with Common Winter Pests Where Household Pest Go During the Winter and How to Prevent Them from Coming Back
Guest Post by Alexandra Arcand It’s a new year, and that means you're hearing about resolutions left and right. One resolution that probably doesn’t pop up on your New Year’s resolution radar is getting rid of pests. It’s not the first thing to cross your mind, but as soon as the weather gets nice and those bugs start coming around, it definitely becomes something you wish you had done sooner. On top of that, we’re all looking to save some cash any chance we can. We all want to make the best financial decisions for our home, and taking care of pests can be a pricey job. You can save money and reclaim your home from pesky pests by taking charge of your pest problems with these DIY hacks: Inside your home Keep plants around This sounds easy enough, right? There are many plants you can keep in your home to help keep pests away. Plants like mint, lavender, and basil work wonders at keeping annoying bugs clear of your house. Mint is great for keeping bugs such as flies, fleas, moths, and ants out. Lavender repels moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Basil is great for keeping flies away. Having one or all these plants around can ensure those pests find someone else to bother. Spread coffee grounds Coffee is great. It gives you a nice energy burst first thing in the morning, it smells wonderful brewing in your home, and it can also keep ants away. You heard that right, coffee is not a friend to ants. They can’t stand the smell of it. If you happen to find a few little ants making their way into your home, take some coffee grounds and place them in the spots they are coming from. This will ensure those ants hit the road and don’t come back. Head online or over to your local market and stock up on coffee so you can stay awake and keep those pests away. Use apple cider vinegar Fresh fruit is great to have around the house, especially in the summer. The only downfall from fresh fruit comes with the friends it seems to bring along, those pesky fruit flies. They’re tiny, annoying, and seem to multiply before your eyes. If you want an answer on how to get rid of them, look no further than your nearest grocery store for a bottle of apple cider vinegar. Pour a little of the vinegar in a small cup or jar, then add a drop of dish soap. Place some plastic wrap over the jar. Make sure the plastic wrap is tight and secure over the mouth of the container, then take a toothpick and poke small holes in the plastic. Leave this out in your home where the fruit flies gather for a few days and you’ll see it work its magic. The flies are drawn to the vinegar, causing them to nosedive right for it. Once they enter the plastic wrap, they’re trapped. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but in this case, reach for the vinegar. Spray peppermint oil Peppermint oil has a ton of benefits, and now you can add another to the list. Much like keeping a mint plant in your home, using peppermint oil will help keep spiders, roaches, stink bugs, and even mice away. These pests don’t like the smell of mint, so they will steer clear of your home. To make peppermint spray, mix water and peppermint oil together in a spray bottle. Depending on the size of your batch, use the ratio of 8–10 drops of oil for every half cup of water. Shake well and spray at entry points in your home such as window sills, door frames, and any cracks you may see. You can easily find peppermint oil on sites like Amazon and other online retailers. Dry lemon peels If you can’t stand the thought of moths in your home eating away at your belongings, your answer may be lemon peels. Peel a lemon and let it dry. Then place that peel wherever you wish to keep moths away from. Places like dresser drawers, chests, or closets will be sure to stay moth free. Sprinkle cornmeal If you seem to have ants and want an easy, natural way to get rid of them, use cornmeal. Ants enjoy eating cornmeal, but cannot digest it; it will kill them. Simply place some cornmeal in spots around your home where you noticed ants and in a little time, it will work its magic and your ant problem will be solved. Grab your dish soap Stink bugs are a nuisance no one wants to deal with. Use this hack to get rid of those pests without getting your hands dirty. Grab a pan, probably one you’re willing to throw away, and fill it with water. Add some dish soap and place it under a light in your home. The light will attract the stink bugs and then once they are in the water, the dish soap will stop them from getting out and bothering you any longer. Outside your home Get some bird feeders If you enjoy your time outside relaxing, grilling, or tending to your garden, annoying bugs can put a real damper on your day. An easy and natural way to control the bug population around your home is to get some bird feeders or even a bird bath. Birds naturally eat insects, so having them around your yard is a built-in insect control system. Plant away Much like keeping helpful plants inside your home, you can also benefit from planting some outside your home. Plants like chrysanthemums, marigolds, and citronella are great to have around for their bug repelling abilities. eBay and other online retailers are great places to find seeds so you can get planting. Reuse a plastic bottle Who doesn’t like a hack that helps keep pests away and lets you recycle? With this simple hack, you can keep wasps away from your home and enjoy your time outside without fear of being stung. Take an empty plastic bottle and cut it about a fourth of the way down. Remove the cap, flip the top portion upside down, and put it inside the bottom portion, making sure the mouth of the bottle is facing down. Pour a mixture of salt, sugar, and vinegar in the bottom. This mixture will attract wasps, but bees will steer clear. Leave this out on your back patio or deck and watch your wasp problems quite literally fall into it. Mow your grass You probably already try to keep your grass under control, but if you’re noticing mosquitos have been a bother and your grass is a little long, try mowing it. Mosquitos enjoy hiding in tall grass so, if you’ve gone a few weeks without a trim, you’re essentially inviting those mosquitoes to your home. Get rid of them by mowing and cleaning up the clippings afterward so the pests no longer have a hang out spot. Switch your outdoor lights to LED It’s a pretty well known fact that bugs seem to all linger around light sources. They don't, however, seem to be as fond of warm LED lights. Switching your outdoor bulbs to LED could cut down your bug problem significantly as your home won’t seem like such an invitation. Use coffee grounds, again Coffee grounds aren’t just good against ants. If you have stagnant water around your backyard, this could be a perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Sprinkling some coffee grounds in the water will cause the eggs to come to the surface, cut off the oxygen supply, and the mosquitos will die before they are able to hatch. Take these hacks into your 2020, and you’ll be sure to be living your best life, no pests included. Alexandra Arcand writes for HomeInsuranceRates.com and considers her best life to be a no pest life.
Guest Post by Kristiana Kripena Spring and summer may be the main seasons for pests, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a nuisance during the winter months as well. As outdoor temperatures drop, several species that live primarily outdoors start to flock inside in search of food and shelter. What are the most common winter pests that homeowners have to face? How can you get rid of them? This article will answer your questions. Rats and mice Rats and mice are common year-round pests that can be found in virtually every country on the planet. They can be especially problematic during the winter when the chilly outdoor temperatures and lack of food sources drive them inside. They often invade dark, enclosed spaces like crawl spaces, attics, and basements, and they frequent kitchens where they can feast on scraps of food. If you have rats and mice in your home during the winter, you can try the following to get rid of them: Set up traps. Mouse and rat traps come in all shapes and sizes. Some use a snap mechanism or an electric shock to kill rodents. Others are non-lethal and simply trap the creatures they catch. Lethal traps can be a highly effective way to kill large numbers of rats and mice in your home. Non-lethal contraptions are a great way to monitor your rodent situation. Use poison bait. There are a vast array of poison baits that are formulated to kill rats and mice, and these are often the go-to pest control option for those with large infestations. Declutter your yard. Discarded boxes, piles of firewood, and overgrown shrubs and grasses can all provide hiding and nesting places for rats and mice and may encourage them to move in. If your yard is looking cluttered, throw away what you don’t need and store firewood, trash cans, and boxes at least six feet from the foundations of your house. Block all gaps. Rats and mice can squeeze themselves through very small gaps. Perform a thorough inspection of your property to identify possible entry points (such as windows, doors, and drains) and get to work blocking them off and sealing holes. Manage your trash carefully. Rodents usually come indoors looking for food. To best avoid them, make sure they don’t have access to it. Store all of your food in airtight containers or the refrigerator and keep food waste in sealed trash cans. Empty your household trash regularly, and keep outdoor garbage cans at least six feet from your house. Cockroaches Cockroaches are one of the world’s most common household pests and they can be especially problematic in winter. Roaches can’t survive the freezing conditions of winter in temperate regions, and will often come indoors to escape the hostile outdoors. These filthy creatures carry all sorts of harmful pathogens and can contaminate food. Getting rid of them should be your top priority. If you find evidence of cockroaches in your home, you can try the following to exterminate them: Set up traps and baits. Sticky traps not only kill roaches, but can also help to identify nesting sites. Poison baits are also effective for killing large numbers of cockroaches. Clean your house thoroughly. If you discover roaches at home, the first thing you should do is to clean the area thoroughly. Cockroaches are often found in the kitchen where there is an abundance of food and water, so pay extra attention to the spaces beneath and behind appliances. Attack them with bug spray. Once you’ve found where your cockroaches are nesting, you can kill a large number of them using an insecticide bug spray. These usually kill the insects on contact. Dry out moisture sites. Cockroaches need a continuous water supply to survive, so drying out damp spots around your house is a great way to deter them. Check for leaking AC units, dribbling faucets, and blocked drains to identify possible moisture sites in your home. Store food properly. Food waste can draw hoards of cockroaches into your home, so keeping your kitchen clean can help to keep them at bay. Clear up food spills and wash dishes promptly and store food waste in sealed containers. Empty your kitchen trash regularly and keep outdoor garbage cans closed at all times. Hire a pest control service to ensure that cockroaches don’t come back. For help finding a pest control company near you, see here. Bed bugs Bed bugs numbers have risen in the United States as more and more cases are reported every year. Infestations usually start when live bed bugs are carried home in luggage. Those travelling to visit family or escape the cold weather during the winter months could be at risk. If you discover bed bugs lurking in your sheets, try the following methods to get rid of them/prevent an infestation: Launder your sheets. Bed bugs and their eggs are killed at high temperatures, so wash all your sheets (as well as anything else that may have come into contact with infested items) to exterminate them. Spray them. Bed bugs can be killed using an insecticide spray. These can either be bought over the counter, or you can make your own at home using dish soap. Remember to spray quickly — bed bugs can move very fast and will run for cover when disturbed! Check your luggage carefully after a trip. Stowing away in luggage is the number one way that bed bugs move from place to place. Check your belongings carefully after an overnight trip and don’t take them to your room until you’re sure there are no bugs hiding inside. If you’re unsure, wash everything on a high heat first to kill any insects or eggs. Be wary of laundry and secondhand clothes. Laundry and bags of secondhand clothes can also harbor bed bugs, so inspect these items for signs of infestation before putting them among your other belongings. The bottom line Wintertime often means freezing temperatures that make it difficult for pests to survive outside. Rats, mice, bed bugs, and cockroaches often invade houses looking for food, water, and warmth. Keeping your home pest-free is often best achieved by taking preventative measures. These may include keeping your kitchen clean, storing food waste properly, and sealing off possible entry points. If you do find yourself facing an infestation this winter, you may want to invest in traps, poison baits, and insecticide sprays to exterminate the pests. Kristiana Kripena is the Digital and Content Marketing Director for InsectCop.net, an authoritative pest control advice blog that covers everything from getting rid of different insects to the best ways to protect yourself and your property from rodents and other critters.
Guest Post by Alexandra Arcand None of us like pests in our homes. We want our homes to be our safe space where we can relax, unwind, and forget the stress of life. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, pests still make their way in. And our safe space suddenly becomes a war zone between us and our uninvited guests. There are plenty of options when it comes to pest control. Home remedies can be found with the touch of your phone. Although it’s usually the cheaper and more convenient route to take, eliminating pests yourself doesn't always work. Sometimes, you need a professional, especially when there's pest damage involved. Let’s take a look at the signs that will tell you when it’s time to give up the DIY hacks and call in the big guns. 1. You see bugs — lots of them This first tip is obvious, but no internet hack is going to help if the infestation is too large. Bugs like termites, ants, and cockroaches come in large numbers and breed quickly. So once they enter, they nest, and it can be extremely difficult to get them out. Plus the world is host to over 2,000 species of fleas, with the most common being the "cat flea”. Pet owners should keep an eye on their pets during regular care and grooming to avoid infestations. Pest control providers have the equipment and solutions needed to rid a large population of bugs much better than you can do yourself. Reputable pest control companies will have the necessary tools to get rid of even the largest infestations. 2. You hear weird noises, typically at night Nighttime is usually our time to drift off into dreamland, but pests thrive at night. Pay attention to any strange or different noises you hear around your home at night. These noises will mostly come from your walls or the attic. If you hear things such as whining, squeaking, or scratching, you more than likely have been invaded by rodents. On the other hand, if you hear faint clicking coming from your walls, this could mean your home is playing the unlucky host to a termite infestation. It’s common for termites to bang their heads against wood as a signal of danger to other members. You may also be able to hear termites eating if you get close enough. Placing your ear against a spot where you think termites may be could allow you to hear them eating your wood. Neither a rodent nor termite infestation is an easy fix. If you hear any of these sounds coming from your walls, floors, or attic, it’s time to call the professionals. 3. You observe damage or dropping in your home Different pests can create different forms of damage to your home. Rodents may leave more obvious damage, such as scratch marks on flooring or furniture, holes in cardboard boxes, chewed up wiring, or holes in walls or flooring. You may also notice damage to fabrics and clothing. If you see holes or stains on fabrics, this may be a sign of a rodent infestation. Bugs like termites may not leave such obvious damage, but if you know how to look, you can surely find it. If you think you may have a termite infestation within your home, find the areas you believe to be infested and knock on them. If the wood sounds hollow when you knock, there’s a chance termites have gotten to it since they eat wood from the inside out. If you notice any of these damages to your home, it’s definitely time to call in pest control, because at-home remedies could cause further damage to your home. Unfortunately, rodents and insects may leave droppings around your home. It’s gross, but it’s true. The most common places you may find these droppings are around food sources within your home; behind large appliances; and in corners, the attic, and the basement. Obviously, the more waste you find, the larger the problem. If you do find waste, it’s time to call professionals. 4. Your doors and windows are sticking It might sound odd, but if you’ve noticed your windows are harder to open and close or your doors seem to stick when you try to use them, this could be a sign of termites in your home. When termites eat wood and tunnel through it, they produce moisture that can cause wood to warp and change. If you are noticing these problems, it’s best to have a pest control provider come out and check to see if termites are the problem. Plenty of pest control companies have excellent reviews, so make sure to do your research before you make an appointment. 5. Your house smells odd If something in your home smells off, this could be a sign of a pest infestation. The odor could be from one issue or a combination of issues. One unpleasant smell in your home from pests could be spoiled food. Often, if your home has rodents or bugs, those bugs want to share your dinner. They will find your food sources and help themselves. As they carry food back with them, they may leave droppings and rotting food behind as they go. Look for small pieces of food around your house. Another source of foul odors may be the droppings left behind. Pest urine and feces may leave your home smelling not quite right. If you didn’t notice the droppings before, the odor may lead you right to them. If you think you could have cockroaches, odor may be your determining factor. Roaches produce a very musty and unpleasant odor which will only get worse as the infestation grows. There could also be the chance the smell is coming from rotting pest bodies. Rodents and roaches that die within your home leave a smell as they decompose. If you’re noticing any smells you can’t put your finger on, or you have evidence of the source of the odor, it’s time to call someone and get those pests out. 6. You find wood shavings on your floors If you happen to be sweeping and notice some odd wood shavings on your floors, this could be a sign you have an infestation of carpenter ants. Unlike termites, these ants do not eat wood; they simply dig into it, causing the wood shavings to be left behind where they have entered. If left untreated, carpenter ants can be very harmful to the woodwork in your home. if you’re noticing wood shavings or odd sawdust on your flooring, it’s time to have pest control come out and solve the problem. 7. You find oothecas (roach egg cases) Roaches like to breed, and they like to breed fast. When they breed, they don’t just lay eggs. They lay ootheca, which are long, brown casings that hold their eggs. Typically, cockroaches will protect their egg casings while the eggs are still inside by sticking them in tight areas. If you are looking for them, try small and protected areas such as cracks in walls or flooring, inside cabinets, or behind furniture. Once the eggs have hatched, you may have an easier time finding the casings, but that only means you have more roaches on your hands. Because cockroaches breed so quickly, it’s in your best interest to call a pest service immediately. 8. You find red, itchy spots on your body or your sheets are discolored If you find yourself waking up in the morning with red, itchy spots, this could be a sign your home has been infested with bed bugs. Not everyone reacts to bed bug bites, but if you start to notice red, itchy bumps that fall in a line anywhere on your body, this is a pretty telltale sign you have them. Bed bugs are extremely hard to get rid of yourself, and calling an exterminator is your best option to make sure they get gone and stay gone. Another sign bed bugs have made their presence in your home is discoloring of your sheets. This could come from one of two sources, and neither are pleasant. If you notice red bloodstains on your sheets, this means you have killed bed bugs in your sleep while they were feeding on you. The second discoloration may be more of a rusty color. This is a sign of feces the bed bugs have produced and left behind on your bed. Leave bed bugs for the pest control specialists and start getting that restful sleep you need without worrying about bugs sharing your bed. Alexandra Arcand writes for InsuranceProviders.com and has had a lifelong dislike of bugs
Guest Post by Larry Taylor If you have trees around your house it is likely that you will have more insects that could potentially get inside or cause other damage. While many insects live on and around trees without causing them much damage, there are some varieties of bugs that can be very destructive. Most tree insects fall into the following three categories: Boring insects Chewing insects Sucking insects To help you understand more about the dangers that these types of tree insects can cause, we’ve put together the following guide. Below, you’ll find a general description of each type of insect along with some example bugs and treatment methods for controlling them. We hope to help you spot and resolve a tree insect problem before it’s too late therefore keeping the trees in your yard as healthy as possible. Boring insects The most harmful type of bugs in trees are those that bore. If left untreated the tree that has been infested will most likely die. This is due to the damage caused to roots, branches, and stems as the bugs dig tunnels through them, hollowing them out. The most noticeable signs of boring insects are entry/exit holes in the bark, sawdust mounds near the base of the tree, and sections that are dying or falling apart. Examples of boring insects Asian Longhorned Beetle Bronze Birch Borer Carpenter Ants Carpenter Bees Deathwatch Beetle Dogwood Borer Elm Bark Beetle Emerald Ash Borer Giant Palm Weevil Wood Wasps How to control boring insects Most boring insects only attack trees that are unhealthy. These include those that have been affected by improper irrigation, disease, or poor general care. Some invasive species of boring insects attack healthy trees as well. Unfortunately, once a tree is infested with boring insects, there’s a low probability of saving it. The only thing you can do to improve the tree’s strength is to prune out the infested branches and/or try to treat it with an insecticide. Quick pruning may require the use of a chainsaw or other common trimming tools. Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes. The best ones for pruning limbs and branches are those with a 12 or 14 inch blade. Larger chainsaw sizes (16 to 24 inches) are meant for cutting down trees or splitting firewood, so you can get away with a smaller and cheaper model. Methods for controlling boring insects include the following: Irrigate trees properly based on their species. Avoid pruning trees when boring insects are flying around (i.e. late winter through late summer). Use a pruning sealer to protect the open wounds of a tree after pruning branches. Monitor tree trunks and branches regularly to detect infestations before they become serious. Use a tree injection kit to apply insecticide directly into the trunk of the tree. This helps to slow the damage down by boring insects and prevent them from entering into the tree. Apply a soil drench around the base of the tree in the early spring or fall so that the tree can be protected before the growing season. Chewing insects Chewing insects either attack the foliage or fruit of their target trees. While minor defoliation is often not a problem with healthy trees, repeated offenses can have more dramatic effects. Usually, chewing insects are the culprits of degrading the appearance of a tree while no major structural harm is done. However, if a severe infestation or repeated attacks do occur, then it can weaken the tree or kill it. Examples of chewing insects Apple Maggots Bagworms Cankerworms Caterpillars Cherry Fruit Worms Cutworms Gypsy Moths Japanese Beetles Leafminers Controlling chewing insects The best way to control chewing insects is to put up a barrier around the tree trunk or between leaf stems and limbs. That way these insects can’t access the leaves or fruit. Examples for controlling chewing insects include the following: A tree band wraps around the tree trunk and acts as a barrier to stop chewing insects from climbing the tree. Annual tree care kits not only help boost the health of a tree but also helps trees resist the attack of chewing insects. These kits come in a combination of granular fertilizers and sprays. Injectable insecticides are deposited through holes that are drilled into the root flares of the tree trunk (i.e. where the trunk starts to flare out near the ground.) Soil drench insecticides are applied by mixing the pest control with water and then pouring the solution around the base of the tree. The tree’s roots take up the insecticide and distribute it throughout the tree trunk, branches, and leaves. Traps can be used to remove chewing insects without using insecticides. These are beneficial for fruit-bearing trees. Sucking insects Insects that suck on trees cause damage by removing the juices from leaves and branches. Repeated sucking causes the tree to dry out which, in turn, can cause leaves to fall and branches to weaken. Instead of killing a tree directly, sucking insects reduce its growth rate which weakens the overall strength of a tree. Trees injured by sucking insects can be vulnerable to secondary insects or fungal diseases. Eventually, if not stopped or treated, these trees will die. Sucking insects are relatively immobile creatures and just live on the outside of the tree on the branches. Signs of sucking insect infestations include scaly formations on branches, dieback of leaves, and honeydew production. Examples of sucking insects Aphids Lace Bugs Leafhoppers Mealybugs Scale Insects Spider Mites Thrips Whiteflies How to control sucking insects Sucking insects are relatively easy to control. You can either use preventative methods to keep them away from your trees or kill existing infestations on contact. Examples for controlling sucking insects include the following: Topical repellents to prevent sucking insects from latching onto the tree. Annual tree care kits to help maintain the health of the tree so it does a better job or resisting sucking insects. These kits come in a combination of granular fertilizers and sprays. Insecticidal soap is sprayed onto the tree and is a low-toxicity bug control solution favored by natural and organic gardeners. Any generic pest controls found at your local hardware or grocery stores. The importance of prevention As you learned in this guide, there are three types of insects that can be potentially lethal to the trees in your yard. Fortunately, just because these insects exist and may be prevalent where you live, this doesn’t mean that all of your trees are doomed. If you need help getting rid of these pests, you can look into hiring a pest control company to come and help you. A number of pest control service providers offer specific services to help keep your yard pest-free. For help finding the best pest control company for you, see companies and customer reviews here. Keep an eye on the health of your trees and provide some annual preventative maintenance. Doing this will help you spot and stop the majority of these insects before they become a problem. Larry Taylor is the man behind brand Chainsaw Larry and is passionate about helping people find the best chainsaws for their needs and teaching others how to keep their trees and yards in good shape.
Guest Post by Alexandra Arcand Imagine this: You’re just trying to enjoy your home, relax and unwind, and suddenly, the unthinkable happens. A bug wiggles its way out from some unseen crevice and you instantly panic. It doesn’t belong here. Your home is clean. You sweep your floors and take the trash out. You don’t leave food lying around. Why in the world did this gross little creature decide to take up residence in your home? And even worse, how many friends did he bring along with him? Bugs in your home can make you feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even dirty. But the reality is plenty of people have bugs in their home. Bugs want the same things we want, a warm place to stay with food and water, things your home so conveniently offers. Bugs aren’t ones for social graces either. If they see a place that can give them what they want, they’re going to welcome themselves in. And while we’re all trying to avoid pest control bills and keep our housing budgets in check, there are some inexpensive measures you can take to keep these bugs out. They’ll even give your home a splash of life. These are the best house plants you can keep around to make sure those creepy crawlers find another floor to wiggle across: 1. Basil Basil is a great plant to keep in your home if you’re wanting to repel pesky insects. It helps keep away flies, mosquitos, and spiders. Keeping your basil alive and well is easier than you might think. They typically need about six to eight hours in a nice sunny spot. Keeping the soil moist is also a big factor. Check on your plant every day or so with a finger to the soil. If it feels dry, give your plant a little water. Bonus, basil is also amazing in food! So, you’re not only keeping those bugs away, but getting some awesome flavor while you’re at it. Basil seeds are easy to find on sites like Amazon and other online retailers, so there’s no stress getting started with this low-maintenance herb. 2. Chrysanthemums Chrysanthemums are not only beautiful to look at; they’re also a huge help in keeping the bugs away. Chrysanthemums repel roaches, ants, ticks, lice, and bedbugs. They’re a great help to have around the house. These plants can thrive in low light when kept inside, but make sure to take proper watering care. Water them below their leaves and make sure not to give them too much. There are all kinds of flower delivery companies that will have these beauties in stock, so you’ll never have to worry about planting them from seeds. 3. Lavender With lavender's wonderful calming scent and beautiful color, there are plenty of reasons to keep it around your home. Lavender also repels spiders, fleas, mosquitoes, and flies. Keeping your lavender alive requires some attention, as this plant does need a good amount of sunlight and fresh air. It also needs the soil to dry between watering, but be careful not to let it get too dry or the lavender will begin to wilt. This plant is a bonus because it also has anti-inflammatory benefits, promotes better sleep, and can relieve headaches. So, while you relax with your lavender, take an extra deep breath knowing it’s keeping bugs at bay. 4. Catnip You might not be a cat lover, but this plant has some amazing benefits for your kitty-free home. However, if you are a cat lover, you might enjoy having this plant around just as much as your furry friend does. Catnip contains an essential oil that is extremely powerful at repelling mosquitoes. This oil, called nepetalactone, is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the leading ingredient in bug sprays. This plant is good for more than repelling mosquitoes, though. It’s also good at keeping cockroaches and flies away. To keep this plant alive and working its magic, be sure to place it in a nice sunny spot and give it a steady supply of water. You can always find catnip seeds on sites like eBay and other online retailers. 5. Mint Mint is a great plant to keep in your home because it’s a two for one. Not only does mint have potential for great things like helping to relieve indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome, it also helps repel bugs. Insects like flies, fleas, spiders, and ants don’t enjoy mint’s aroma so they will stay away if you keep this plant around your house. To thrive, your mint plant will need plenty of good sunlight and evenly moist soil. Make sure to check on your plant and water when the soil begins to feel dry. 6. Citronella If you have a problem with mosquitos, we’ve found your answer. Similar to the candles found in stores, but much safer for you to use, the citronella plant works wonders at keeping the little bloodsuckers away. Mosquitos are not fond of the odor this plant produces, thus making them steer clear of your home if citronella is around. To keep your citronella plant alive and kicking, make sure it has plenty of sunlight and don’t let it get too hot. When watering, be careful not to over water. Check the soil often and water once it begins to feel dry to the touch. 7. Rosemary Rosemary is great if you’re wanting to keep away spiders, flies, and mosquitoes; they find this herb's aroma to be off putting. Not to mention, there are tons of recipes in your cookbook that would benefit from some fresh rosemary getting thrown in. If you want to keep your rosemary thriving, avoid overheating it, but make sure to give it six to eight hours of good sunlight a day. When the soil for the plant is completely dry, it’s time to water again. Just be sure not to over water. 8. Lemon balm If you have fruit flies or spiders, you need lemon balm. This plant repels both while also being a great addition to your kitchen. It can be used for a hint of lemon to your drinks or meals. Lemon balm does not require strong sunlight to thrive, but five or so hours a day will not hurt it either. When watering, make sure to saturate the roots of the plant and then water again when the top of the soil becomes dry. Alexandra Arcand writes for ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and has a passion for gardening. Although her knowledge of plants is large and ever expanding, her gardening skills continue to remain amateur.