Our Forever Guarantee

We guarantee every home we service against rats and mice forever!  About that fine print…

At Safeguard we pride ourselves in the quality of our rodent inspections and rodent exclusion. The truth is that most homes can be rodent proofed. However, homes change over time, tree limbs grow back, vents get broken, rats are really good at digging tunnels, and sub area doors get left open.  Rodents can and do re-infest homes.

So…. we really can’t guarantee homes against rodents forever.

In fact, mice are even more likely to re-infest – and are much harder to exclude. They can get through holes as small as a quarter inch, holes the size of a dime.

It’s one of the many reasons we don’t push insulation replacement. We hate the idea of our customers paying thousands of dollars now, only to have to pay it again in a few years when they go to sell their home. It’s also the number one reason why we don’t guarantee any home against future infestation or insulation replacement.

If you are a current customer and have never had an intensive full home rodent access inspection – you should ask for us to perform one. A lot of our customers came to us as spider customers or ant customers and rodent control has just been an add on.

Not all homes can be rodent proofed. This is especially true where mice are involved, and some customers opt to forego rodent proofing, as the work is not inexpensive. However, all customers should know that it is available.

Our opinion of the insulation replacement industry is well known, while there may be honest people working in the industry, our experience has been that the for the most part, they have never seen a house that doesn’t need a full insulation replacement, even if that home just had a full insulation replacement.

We recently inspected a home in Magnolia that had been on service for two years with another service provider, our least experienced technician found a half dozen serious  gaps around the exterior in 45 minutes. They were on service specifically for rodents and had multiple full home inspections. This is the kind of work I dread hearing about where my techs are concerned.

People missremember rodent discussions, sure, but techs do mess up, even ours. It’s rare, but that’s why we have a quality assurance program.

Here is picture of a bunch of our techs out in the field on a quality assurance visit inspecting a home for mouse access, we found openings, but everyone learned from the inspection and our customer received a ton of free work – just another way we stress superior customer service for our customers.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

 

 

 

 
(PS: They were not standing on stairs, really, the redhead is like ten feet tall!)
(PPS: JK)
 

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Pesticide – in your toothpaste, make-up, and seasonings?

If you brush your teeth, wear make-up, eat food, or take aspirin – even vitamins, you are eating pesticide. Every day. Just how bad is it? Remember, a pesticide is any substance which is used to hinder, eliminate, or otherwise interfere with pests.

Amorphous silica gel is used by the pest control industry to kill bed bugs, ants, wasps, carpet beetles, and other damaging and invasive species. What is it, and why are you eating it?

Silica gel is a synthetic, hydrated form of Silica, and should not be confused with crystalline or fumed silica. The largest buyer of this type of silica is McCormick Seasonings. Being edible, it is used to “Bulk out” powdered spices and seasonings. It’s an anti-clumping agent used in cake mixes.

Silica gel is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to “bulk out” tablets (medications/supplements). If you’ve taken an aspirin, you’ve probably eaten silica gel.

Silica gel (Hydrated Silica) is a high performance abrasive that is most commonly used in toothpastes, because it appears to be the safest and most effective abrasive available. This material is insoluble in water, and therefore can be used to create a gentle exfoliating action in aqueous systems, such as Creme Cleansers, Micro-Peels, Micro-Dermabrasion products, Body Washes, Shower & Bath Gels, etc.

Silica gel is used in many custom formulated mineral make-up powders because of its ability to absorb excess oils on skin.

Silica gel is Generally Recognized As Safe by the EPA and is a food grade additive. In pest control it absorbs the waxy outer coating of insects, causing them to die through dehydration. It is not a central nervous system inhibitor. Additionally, it is much safer than other types of dusts as it does not stay in the lungs or cause silicosis.

We use silica gel because it works against pests and it is thought to be one of the very safest pesticide materials available.

 

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The truth – it stings, it bites, it crawls really slowly across your window.

At the end of summer, yellow jacket nests produce the future queens that will start next year’s brand new nests. These future queens, together with the female reproductives of other social wasp species, search out temporary nest sites at the end of autumn which will keep them safe and sound through the winter months.

Some of these wasps will burrow into and under woodpiles. Some will find stumps, logs, or piles of dense leaf debris to crawl into. Some will crawl into the gaps in your home and nest in sub areas, between floors, and especially, in attics.

Why attics? Attics are several degrees warmer than the great outdoors, they are also dry, they are generally free of birds and other critters that might consider them snack food, they are very easy for the average wasp to get into, and…. they might just have been nesting there to begin with.

The average home has at least a dozen small social wasp nests in it. Some have many more.

As the weather gets colder, these wasps will burrow down into the insulation. The closer to your ceiling, and the closer to your canned lighting, the warmer they will stay, and the better their chances of survival.

Every year at the beginning of spring, we start getting calls from people who experience these wasps making their way into the living areas of their home. This happens when the wasps see daylight through small gaps around vents or lights. The wasps that work their way inside searching for the source of that daylight are lethargic and confused and easily killed, one by one.

Since they’re waking up from hibernation, their metabolism is very slow, so slow that they don’t absorb pesticides fast enough to kill them before they show up in your living space. Also coming in from random areas, scattered throughout your attic insulation, they probably will spend very little time on a pesticide applied in your attic. Pesticides would have a very difficult time penetrating the insulation.

As a matter of ethics, we are very careful to tell customers that pesticides will probably not solve this issue. However, we do get service requests from people who are both afraid of stinging insects and worse, allergic – so what can be done?

First we can try to identify where these wasps could be coming inside: Recessed lighting, vents, fireplaces, and heat exchanges are common areas. Next we can recommend ways to seal these areas to keep wasps out without damaging your home.

Self sealing saran wrap around vents can seal them temporarily without altering the long term function of the vent. If the pilot light can be turned off, a trash bag can be taped over a gas fireplace. If the canned lights contain cool CFLs or LEDs, saran wrap can often be used here as well. If they don’t have cool lights, we can discuss changing out those lights, or seal off one here or there with aluminum foil. All of these steps and more can keep the wasps out for the short term.

Pesticide free, longer term solutions can involve adding framing around canned lighting and installing fine mesh screen, installing new screen around exterior vents, alterations to chimney flues and flue caps, and more – all customized for your home.

Dusting attic spaces with all natural, food grade mineral dusts, like amorphous silica gel in late summer, and spraying exterior eave and roof vents, skylights, and wooden chimney chases are also an option that many people who are concerned with wasps might want to consider. We have a large number of happy customers who are on quarterly service for wasp control.

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Five things you need to know about ants

Ants don’t like your cooking, or your food, or that ant bait you bought from the home center. Ants are predators, they eat other insects and insect secretions. Even in species of ants that will feed on baits, only a tiny fraction of the ants in any nest will ever partake. The worst thing about most commercial baits? They’re too strong. Ants will stop feeding on bait that kills too many, too quickly. But your ant bait is filled with hundreds of dead and dying ants? About that…..

Ants wake up in the spring time. In the Northwest all the ants are active… now. You should start seeing them, if you’re going to, very soon. Here are four more things you should know about ants:

The ants you see are the tiniest fraction of the ants in your home. Hundreds dead in your home? Odorous house ant nests can have hundreds of thousands of ants, and a home can have multiple nests. Even carpenter ant nests can contain tens of thousands. Most homeowners vastly underestimate their ant problems.

You’ve had ants for a lot longer than you think. Pests have to pass a threshold of continuous activity in human occupied areas before being noticed by people, couple that with the fact that they don’t like our food and rarely come inside, and it’s easy to see why most homes have ants for at least a couple years before the humans in the house know about it. Humans usually know about it for a few years before asking for professional help. Most humans stop doing something about the ants when they drop below that visual threshold, but when they still have ants.

Ants live a long time. Worker ants can live ten years or more. Queens can live thirty years or more. Couple that with the fact that ants can sense most over the counter insecticides and you can see why many homeowners are unsuccessful when trying to control ants. The ants just wait around for the pesticides to stop working.

The ants in your home? All those ones you can’t see? The rest of the iceberg? Usually they are part of an interconnected series of related nests outside your home, scattered between the homes and yards of your neighborhood. All of these nests, and all of their food sites, are connected with scent trails that say things like, the aphids on these roses in the late summer are plump and juicy, and here is where nest number 6 is. These scent trails are made of formic acid and are reinforced every time they are walked by an ant, and they last for years. A major reason why homes are reinfested. Even our professional strength chemical barriers stop working after a few months.

 

 

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Bad Science

I try to post twice a week. I try to post about things that relate to what we do, about things that are in our customer’s best interest, and about things that our customers would find interesting.

As I surf the internet in my spare time, I find myself drawn to articles, as we all do, that reinforce my own position on subjects. It’s called confirmation bias. Friday I went through six posts that I had bookmarked and looked at the science behind them, and the credentials of the poster.

I found problems in all the articles. If the science itself wasn’t in question, the source certainly was.  Our customers rely on us for honesty. I had to pass. Today, I had a nice little article set aside about toxicity. Everything it said was true. It cited no studies, it cited other blogs. Opinions on top of opinions.  *sigh*

It’s not enough. We set a high standard, but your worth it.

Coming up next week: an update on woodpecker control – yep, its that time again.

Later this spring: a bee support program where we will pay our customers to plant bee gardens – details still in the works.

In the meantime: Here is a picture of a cat breathing fire. Disclaimer: I did not check this photo to see if it’s real, but I hope so.

Looks real to me, but I'm not a cat expert.

Looks real to me, but I’m not a cat expert.

 

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Zika Virus: What You Need To Know

If you haven’t heard about the Zika virus yet, you will. The effects on unborn children and of course, their parents, are devastating.  The toll its taking on people living in the Caribbean and Brazil is horrendous.

The virus is spreading and has been found in the United States. As far north as New York city. Below are some resources to learn more:

  • EveryDayHealth: 10 Essential Facts About The Zika Virus
  • TampaBay.com (Tampa, FL): Here’s What You Need To Know About The Zika Virus If You Are Living In Florida; Tampa Bay Times has also run several articles in print about Zika mentioning NPMA including one titled “Bugged About That Skeeter?” and another titled “Zika’s Sting Turns Up In Hillsborough”.
  • New York Daily News (New York, NY): The Buzz On Zika, A Mosquito-borne Virus – Be Wary But Not Terrified
  • Weather.com: Reporter interviewed Dr. Fredericks on January 26.
  • Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL): Reporter interviewed Dr. Parada on January 19.
  • CBS New York Radio (New York, NY): Reporter interviewed Dr. Parada on January 22.

Safeguard and it’s employees are not experts about viruses, and the scope and nature of this threat may change. Stay tuned.

Most homes in the Northwest have tight fitting screens, which is good, and we haven’t seen reports of the virus in our yet, but who knows what warmer weather will bring?

Mosquitoes prefer to feed within 100 feet if where they breed. We can provide site inspections and  prevention measures to reduce the number mosquitoes that breed around your home. We can help you make your home and yard less attractive, and we can provide treatment services to reduce mosquito populations.

We cannot get rid of all mosquitoes in a neighborhood, we can’t treat your neighbor’s home without permission, and we cannot guarantee you won’t get bit, but we can help. Let us know – if you need us!

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Rodents outside

Sometimes, the rats aren’t nesting in your house. Sometimes they’re nesting on your property.

One common area that rats like to nest in is drain lines. While they will commonly use drain lines to enter sub areas and basements, and more rarely,  roof lines via connected downspouts, they will also live inside drain lines – even if they don’t lead inside.

Keeping rat out of drain lines can take some ingenuity. And some anti-bacterial.

Concrete drain line

Common concrete drain line. Often connects to drain lines inside sub areas and basements.

Concrete drain lines can take some effort, especially when you want the drain to still function as a drain.

Cut 1/4 inch mesh screen to about the outside width of the drain pipe.

Cut 1/4 inch mesh screen to about the outside width of the drain pipe.

You can’t drill into anything, you have to get creative.

Trim off the corners.

Trim off the corners.

1/4 inch hardware cloth (mesh screen) is like duct tape for the pest control industry.

Make small cuts in the screen, every few inches around the perimeter.

Make small cuts in the screen, every few inches around the perimeter.

If installed properly, tension will keep the screen in place.

Push the screen down slowly and firmly. If necessary, Mortar or concrete patch can be used to keep the screen in place.

Push the screen down slowly and firmly. If necessary, Mortar or concrete patch can be used to keep the screen in place.

If not, you can use a little concrete patch or mortar.

The hand holding the camera was bleeding too.

The hand holding the camera was bleeding too.

You will almost certainly nick yourself up when you work with metal mesh – the edges are very sharp.

PS: Facebook cover – Yes, crawling inside bushes, in the rain, not the funnest part of this job. :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Rodent Exclusion Tip #4001 (Approximately)

The only mouse you want in your home is the one that works with your computer. Or maybe that little cute fluffy one in the cage. OK, or Mickey. Mickey Mouse would be pretty awesome!

But that’s it. Right?

There is an old adage that steel wool works wonders for keeping mice and rats out of homes. Only it’s really doesn’t work very well. It only works for small gaps, and only in areas where it will always be dry. If used outside, even if it’s in a sheltered area, it will soon rust and deteriorate.

We use brass wool, a much better choice in any area where there could be moisture. It is available online, and at some marine service centers. The type we use is referred to as ‘Stuffit’. It’s expensive, but worth it.

We still use steel wool, but mainly in very dry areas, in very small gaps, and mainly as a backer for thin set concrete. Concrete works great for keeping out rats and mice. Expanding foam is the worst choice for rodent exclusion – it does not hold up to rodent teeth at all, and it is actually attractive to them – they like to chew on it. If you must use expanding foam somewhere, us it as a backer.  What am I talking about?

Hole in brickwork where gas line was installed.

Hole in brickwork where gas line was installed.

Here is a gap around a natural gas line.

Leaf block foam - used to keep gutters clear, could be any foam, or even steel wool.

Leaf block foam – used to keep gutters clear, could be any foam, or even steel wool.

This is a foam is used to keep leaves out of gutters.

Easy to install

Easy to install

Foam as a backer inserted into the gap.

Concrete patch - find it in the paint section.

Concrete patch – find it in the paint section.

This is ready made concrete patch, from your hardware store.

Easy future access - but totally rodent proof.

Easy future access – but totally rodent proof.

This is what it looks like when you cover up the foam.

Bonus, should the gas line ever need serviced, the concrete patch can be removed in a few minutes with a sharp screwdriver.

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Moving into a brand new home? A home that’s brand new to you?

Do you already have housemates? Are you sure?

Most homes have pests for years before they are noticed, and most pests can’t be seen by just walking through the living areas of a home.

You could have uninvited house guests.

Even brand new homes, built by the very best builders can have pests, as pests will often move in as the homes are being built.

Have you been down into your sub area or up into your attic?

Even if you had a home inspection when you bought your home, you could have pests – or openings for future pests. Most inspectors only look for a small portion of the pests that could infests a home – and then only for their presence, not for their ability to move in later.

Most homes have pests for years before they are noticed.

Most homes have pests for years before they are noticed.

Be sure: have your home inspected by Safeguard.

Every 3 to 5 years, you should have someone look at your home and give you a pest prevention inspection. Some pests can damage homes and their contents. Some pests can make you love your home… less.

If you are a current Safeguard Pest Control – keep your service when you move, by transferring it to your new home!

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Where Do Yellow Jackets Go In The Winter? And What Are Snow Fleas?

Why do pest control companies get 70% of their phone calls from March through October? Where do pests go in the winter? Are there pests that are more active when it’s cold outside?

Most pests are in homes for years before they are noticed. Termites can cause thousands of dollars before some unlucky homeowner steps through the floor. Carpenter ants are usually in a home for two to three years before being noticed, and a few additional years before a homeowner decides to call someone to do something about them.

One reason people call about pests more when its warmer is because they, the people, are more active in the areas that the pests are active. If you’re outside working in your flowerbed, you are much more likely to see the trail of ants leading off your deck.

Another reason, is that it takes a certain amount of pest activity for humans to notice it. Yellow jacket nests start as soon as the temperature start creeping above 40 degrees. Most calls start coming in, in late July – after the nests are well developed and there is enough wasp activity that the constant flying back and forth grabs your attention.

Where do pests go in the winter? Yellow Jackets and other pests will snuggle in somewhere that they think will be warm enough to keep them from freezing. Often that is inside your attic insulation. We get lots of call about wasps dropping down out of ceilings every spring. Sometimes its in firewood…. (another good reason to dust attics and sub areas during the winter)

Some ants will slow their foraging down and while activity continues all winter long inside their nests, you are less likely to see it. This upcoming winter may change that. Other ants, especially Odorous House ants, may forage on aphids that attack the roots of trees and bushes and they may be active all year round. Most ants will show up in greater numbers in the spring when their preferred, outside food sources explode with the warmer weather, and then often they will drop back down below that visible threshold, shortly thereafter.

Rats are active all year long and are often in homes for many years, until someone goes down into the sub area or up into the attic.

Spiders? Spiders usually gather around light fixtures, windows and doors, and vent openings. There just as many spiders active in the winter as in the spring if you know where to look. See below:

There were 13 healthy adult spiders found in this one area and double that number of spider egg sacs. This is one reason why a house can seem to have spiders everywhere come spring, that is when the spiders come out of hiding and start spinning webs.

If you know where to look- spiders are everywhere, all winter long

If you know where to look- spiders are everywhere, all winter long

At Safeguard, we like to dust attic and sub areas, and inspect these areas for both pests and moisture during the winter. The dusts will help control overwintering pests, and pests that try to move in for up to a year. The dusts we use is all natural and some people consume the material as a health food supplement. (ask your technician for details)

What’s a snow flea? Springtails are sometimes noted in areas where early snows melt and they are small and they hop about much like fleas do, although they don’t bite. Not to be confused with snowfies which are selfies you take in the snow :)

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