It Probably Is As Bad As You Think.

What does more damage to more homes every year than all the floods, fires, and earthquakes combined? Give up? It’s probably in your home right now.


Ha ha. Sort of. :)

It’s termites. Termites can be terribly destructive, they can literally eat you out of house and home.

There are three common types of termites in mainland US: Subterranean, Drywood, and Dampwood.

Drywood termites have yet to establish any colonies here, as the prefer much warmer climates, but they can be shipped in. If we continue having the type of summer we had this year, who knows, maybe they can get a foothold.

Subterranean termites are the most destructive, and they do exist here, they are quite active in West Seattle, and there are small pockets of activity which have been noted throughout the Greater Seattle Area. You should be concerned if you live in West Seattle, but every home should be inspected for wood destroying organisms every 3 to 5 years.

Dampwood Termite

Dampwood Termite Swarmer

Dampwood termites very common. They can nest in any wood with a high moisture content. Stumps, hollow tress, fence posts, telephone poles and…. most homes.

One of the reasons to have your home inspected every year for wood destroying organisms is that this type of inspection should look for excessive moisture conditions, conditions that could lead to dampwood termite infestations. These are the same conditions that can lead to  moisture ant infestations, and worse, rot conditions. Wood rot is a fungus, and the leading wood destroying organism in the Northwest. Inspections can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs if performed in time.

Dampwood termites are swarming. Now. (Late summer.) If you see large winged insects flying around at dusk, flying toward your windows or light fixtures, you are seeing dampwood termites. While dry sound homes are not in danger, it should be a wake up call to make sure your home stays sound and dry – and free of termites.

Want to know more?  Dampwood termites


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Silverfish Control

silverfishSilverfish live outdoors all over the Pacific Northwest. They are commonly found in and near greenbelts and drainage reserves. They will also live in damp plant debris and under plastic vapor barriers installed under planting beds around area homes.

They  move inside because they can have larger more successful  nests in homes because homes are heated throughout the winter,  and because we build our homes with materials that they view as food.

Among the items silverfish eat, is paper, and while that causes particular consternation among book lovers, they will also eat the paper in wallpaper, as well as the paper backing of insulation and sheet rock.

As they are attracted to humidity in particular and moisture over-all, some moisture modification may be necessary for your home.  Moisture control may involve simple things, like making there is a band of clear concrete showing beneath your siding all the way around your home, and that your gutters are working well.

However, it might be wise to have a technician look at your home for excessive or contributory moisture conditions – taking care of these issues might not only help control or prevent silverfish, they could help prevent rot damage as well.

For information on how we get rid of silverfish, visit our silverfish control page.


Once inside your home, silverfish nest inside sub areas, attics, and wall voids.


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Hobo Spiders, The Truth is Out There.

There are three species of related Tegenaria spiders in the Northwest, that commonly occur in and around homes. T. Agrestis, T. Duellica, and T. Domesticus. They have similar markings, colorings, and size, although one of the species, T.Duellica, sometimes called the Giant house spider, can grow to be much larger the other two – when fully grown. The best way to tell which species you have is to catch one and put it under a microscope…. Ha, ha! No, really. Go grab one, I’ll wait.

The Hobo spider, (T.Agrestis) is blamed throughout the US for spider bites that cause tissue necrosis – even in areas it doesn’t exist. Most of the blame is placed by people who do not have a background studying spiders. Medical professionals and nonarachnologists (you and me) alike, commonly diagnose open wounds and other dermatological lesions as being caused by Hobo spiders.

Media outlets, always looking to sell copy and create headlines are all too willing to run with stories of Hobo spider bites that cause loss of limbs or threaten lives, regardless of their validity.

There was an exhaustive study involving pest control associations and public health officials, throughout the range of the spider, along with arachnologists from area universities and museums, as well as the general public, who helped submit thousands upon thousands of spiders. The study results indicated that you are more likely to encounter T. Duellica, the Giant house spider, than the Hobo spider, except in Portland, Oregon. (Sorry Portland.)

Additionally, although there are over 30 possible causative sources for necrotic wounds, including a number of different bacteria, the venom of the spider does not cause necrotic wounds. The venom of the Hobo spider which was introduced from Europe has no history of causing necrotic wounds in Europe.

The rap for Hobo spiders causing wounds started with bad science. A study was done involving rabbits and Hobo spiders. The study was flawed and it drew invalid conclusions, because something causes necrosis in animals does not mean it cause necrosis in humans. Other spiders have proven that is not the case. In hundreds of spider investigations since then, hobo spiders have not been implicated. The usual diagnosis is, ‘I have a skin lesion, I have seen a hobo spider’ and the person or their medical professional makes the diagnosis of the wound being caused by hobo spiders, without verifying that the spider they had seen was in fact a Hobo spider, that the person had really been bitten by a spider, or that there was something in that spider’s venom that would have caused tissue necrosis.

Many of the diagnosis for Hobo spider bites come from areas where the spider doesn’t even occur. In the event that a Hobo spider bite is suspected, a culture of the wound should be taken to make sure that it was the causative agent.

The conclusion that many professionals and arachnologists share is that Hobo spiders can bite humans, the resulting bite can make a small wound, much like other insects bites, and that by itself it will not cause skin lesions. Some have conjectured that the spiders might be able to carry bacteria in their fangs that could be transmitted when a person is bitten – like going to hospital to have them remove a splinter and ending up losing your foot due to MRSA, however this has yet to be proven.

Other findings of the exhaustive study? This area does not have Black Widow or Brown Recluse spiders.

Next week, what you can to do help control spiders around your home – without using pesticides.

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Scratch, scratch, scratch – sting!

Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket

Do you hear scratching noises in your wall? Be Careful!! Every year at this time (and for the next 60 days), yellow jackets begin busting through ceilings and walls into the living area of local homes. Much stinging and general upsetedness ensues. We get calls from hospitalized homeowners every year, as the entire nest can empty into your home.

Yellow jackets have been nesting since late winter / early spring. In many homes, their nesting activity goes completely unnoticed. As their nests get bigger, they excavate the soft gypsum (sheetrock) of your wall or ceiling until all that is left is the last layer of paper, or in some cases just the paint.

The natural reaction is for people to put their hand, or worse, their ear up against the area with the noise. Sometimes that is all that is needed to break that thin layer of paper or paint.

From this point of the year onward, we like to get inside access to every wasp job if we can – to see if a breakthrough is imminent before we spray.  If it is imminent we want to take steps to prevent it. We use materials that are designed to kill the wasps without triggering a breakthrough but we want to keep our customers safe!

Please note that over the counter wasp freeze and pressurized sprays are highly repellent and often push the wasps into digging out through your wall or ceiling – especially if they are already close.

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Step By Step Guide To Bird Spiking A Chimney Flue

Yes, birds have been here.

Yes, birds have been here.

First Step: grab a ladder and bring some cleaning supplies.





No more droppings…, but wait!

Second Step: clean the top of the  Flue. The glue is a silicone based adhesive.




Who made this paint that rubs off with window cleaner?

Who made this paint that rubs off with window cleaner?

Some surfaces will need to be sealed with a spray sealant, some surfaces will need rust removal. Some surfaces will need paint removal….


Elbow grease!

Elbow grease!

Nothing a little elbow grease and wire brush can’t solve.





flue5Step..3? Measure the spikes for fit. Be careful they’re sharp.





flue6Step 4: Trim the stainless steel spikes and bend to fit the flue contours.





flue7Step 5: Admire the minimal visual impact from the street.

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The other web.

Garden spider

Garden spider

It’s spider season already. If you live on or near the water, or if your home is surrounded by trees, you’re probably walking through webs.

A professional pest control service can greatly reduce the number of spiders you see and the webs you encounter. Most of the spiders you see now are simple garden spiders. Spider mating season, where the house spiders start running around and fighting over mates will happen in the next 30 to 60 days.

For our customers who are on regular service specifically for spiders, we spray the exterior at the base of the home and upward, up to three feet. We spray the ground around the home out up to ten feet, we spray the underside of your eaves, and we spray around doors, windows, siding features, and exterior lighting. We spray the decks, including the underside of your deck railing – we even spray around your garbage cans.

Upon request, we can lightly mist nearby hardy evergreen vegetation.

We don’t spray every home we service for spiders, some customers love their spiders. Customers on a general pest service will see a somewhat less thorough application, we may not spray second story eaves, or areas where people are not likely to walk through webs.

A spider control service will not eliminate all spiders, but it will reduce them, often to a level that is acceptable to most customers. We recommend a quarterly service for most customers that want to have fewer spiders.

As always, before any spray application, we do a thorough exterior inspection for safety, and ask for your help – we don’t want to spray any child or pet toys, herb or vegetable gardens, or flowers in bloom.

If you would like to find out more about spiders, how they get to your house, and what you can do to have fewer spiders, send us an email. If you would like our help to have fewer spiders around your home, call us to set up a spider control service.

Our web page has more info about spider control.

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Boom – Fleas.

Flea populations peak in late summer.  One of the benefits of living in the northwest is that rain helps keep outdoor flea populations under control. Rain and / or regular lawn watering kills larval fleas.

Right now we are in the middle of one of the longest, hottest summers on record. We will have record numbers of fleas this year.

Take steps now to prevent out of control flea problems at your home.

Start using the flea control products on your pets that contain flea growth regulators. These materials are less toxic than most household cleansers to touch, and some are almost a thousand times less toxic than caffeine, so even if your pet ingests a little bit – it won’t harm your pet.

Don’t wait until there are so many fleas that they can’t all feed on your pet.

PS:  The most common flea in the northwest is the cat flea. Yes there is a dog flea, and a rat flea.

PPS: There are fleas that feed on other fleas.

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Position Paper: Sub Area Clean-Ups.

Safeguard provides industry leading rat control and rat exclusion. If allowed. Many homeowners fail to understand the absolute necessity of closing off all the gaps rats can use to access a home. If rats can get back in, they will. It costs m0re in the long run, if you don’t exclude.

Rats infesting a home can be a huge expense. The biggest expense might be the home itself. Rats and squirrels are both known to chew on the insulation around electrical wiring, causing electrical shorts, and in some instances, even fires. Another big expense is insulation replacement and crawlspace clean-up.

Safeguard does not perform crawlspace cleanup. 20 years ago crawlspace cleanup was virtually unheard of. Today, it is the major growth area for pest control providers. We have major issues with the industry:

The industry is rife with exaggerations and outright lies. The air inside your house does not come from your crawl spaces, except in very, very rare instances. Having rodents or having had rodents, will not, in and of itself make the living area of your home unhealthy.
Crawlspace cleanup companies are not interested in performing just the work that is needed to clean up a crawlspace. We have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get companies to only do the work that is really needed. Instead, these companies always want to replace all the insulation, regardless. This is not only environmentally unsound, it takes advantage of homeowners, jacking up the cost. Minor infestations are costing homeowners thousands.

The crews sent out to the actual cleanup are often illegal aliens who do not speak English, and have no background in rodent control or build-out. We are seeing homes that have had multiple cleanups, at a cost of between $4000.00 to $7000.00, who still have rats, because no one found and closed off all the gaps, or they used something like expanding foam to seal them. (Expanding foam is like candy to rats.)

Houses change, tree branches grow, vents get broken, sub area access doors get left open, moles tunnel under houses, there are many ways that homes can get re-infested in the future. Paying thousands now, doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay thousands again, when you go to sell your home, 10 or 15 years in the future.

Several of the biggest names doing insulation replacement and sub area cleanup were drummed out of the pest control industry for fraudulent practices.
Years ago, it was considered to be unethical to call out rodent infestations when doing a ‘pest inspection,’ rodents and other pests which did not damage the wood of the structure, were not supposed to be included, now they are the first item checked.

We do great control work. We do fantastic exclusion, using heavy duty metal screen, metal flashing, and concrete patch. We can even tidy up your sub area if there are minimal signs of rodent activity, but be aware, if you go to sell your home, the buyers inspector, may be highly motivated to find a reason to have to require full insulation replacement – because they make big bucks off of it, either by providing the cleanup services, or by referring them to someone who does.

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Updated Bed Bug Communication

In a continuing effort to give our customers the best possible pest control results, we periodically update our prep sheets and fact sheets about pests. We recently updated our bed bug communications.

We have been doing a ton of bed bug work recently, the following updates will help our customers get bed bug free as quickly as possible.

It outlines what we do at each service, and what they can do to get the results they want. It will hopefully make things easier by being more specific. As always the new forms will be tweaked to remove any grammar or spelling errors, and after review by our technicians who have to do all the things I write down :)



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What is a pesticide?

Just the word pesticide is enough to trigger a negative response from a lot of people. With good reason, the word pesticide is often used in headlines, as a scare tactic to get you to read about the next big environmental panic.

The truth is that anything that kills pests, living organisms that occur where you don’t want them, is a pesticide. Undiluted white vinegar is a pesticide. It is not very effective, but it can be used to kill weeds, it will also kill tiny ants.

At Safeguard, we use naturally occurring mineral substances, vitamins, essential oils, and plant derived products – as pesticides. We also use synthetic materials based on those essential oils and plant derived products.


Vitamins we use as pesticides:

Vitamin d3 is used in rodent bait. This type of rodent bait is considered to be super safe around pets, and won’t kill raptors birds that might eat rodents who have consumed it.


Naturally occurring minerals we use as pesticides:

Fresh water diatomaceous earth is used as a health food supplement to clean out veins, arteries, and your digestive tract.

Silica Gel may help prevent the absorption of aluminum, and may have a structural role in connective tissue health, and is present in mineral water, and whole grains.

Boric acid is an antioxidant, and may detoxify heavy metals from the body, and is used as eye wash, and as a mild astringent.


Naturally occurring essential oils we use:

Linalool is a naturally occurring food grade ingredient found in tangerines, roses, lemons, lavender, cinnamon, chamomile and more.

Pyrethrins are naturally occurring essential oils found in chrysanthemums.

Rosemary, clove, peppermint, and germanium oil are all used as pesticides.

Cedar oil.


Synthetic materials we use, based essential oils and natural ingredients:

Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that are based on ingredients found in chrysanthemum extracts. The synthesized versions are much less toxic to humans, but more effective against insects. They don’t contain the mutagens present in the natural material, have much less odor, are way less likely to cause allergic reactions to people with allergies to plants, and last longer  – allowing them to be applied every few months, instead of every few days.

Neonicotinoids are synthetic chemicals that are similar to the nicotine found in tobacco plants. The synthesized versions are much less toxic than caffeine to mammals, don’t contain the carcinogens, or mutagens present in the natural material, and last for a few months per application.


About Neonicotinoids:

There have been studies that linked to neonics to bee deaths, and they may play a role, but evidence from a host of other studies show they may not be the real culprit.

Canadian farmers who grow canola oil in over 19 million acres in western Canada, where nenoics are used, report thriving bee populations.

Many of the studies which found links between bee mortality and neonicotinoids featured aspects like injecting the material at full strength into the bee’s brains, or spraying the inside of their nests with the chemical at full strength – both of which should have caused 100% mortality!

Many bee keepers are much more worried about the Veroa mite and the Tobacco Ringspot Virus than pesticides. In Australia where Neonics have been used for many years, there is no loss of bee populations. There is no Veroa mite either. The neonics are also known to be much less toxic to bees than the materials used before neonics were introduced.

At Safeguard, we don’t spray crops or trees. We treat homes and business to keep out ants, spiders, and crawling insects. We feel that all pesticides should be used with care to make sure that they’re not sprayed on crops in bloom. We do safety inspections before each application, looking for things to avoid, such as herbs, vegetable gardens, pet toys, and places that bees go to collect pollen or nectar.

The final word about neonicotinoids isn’t in, but regardless of whether they are banned from horticultural uses, they pose minimal threat to bees when applied properly around the exterior of a home.


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