Sacramento’s North American Home Services has compiled a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to pest control, termite treatments, home inspections and more. To schedule a pest control service, termite or home inspection, or for a free estimate, please contact NAHS online or call 800-732-2847.
Why should someone hire North American Home Services instead of attempting to control their pest problems by themselves?
A.Just as you wouldn’t prescribe medicine for yourself or drill your own cavities – you shouldn’t attempt to control termites – or other pests – on your own. The products and the expertise offered by North American Termite & Pest Control far surpass what a homeowner could do on their own. Leave it up to the experts for peace of mind. Why risk it?
Are the products used dangerous to kids and pets?
A.Safety is our top priority. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) evaluates pesticides to ensure that they will not have unreasonable adverse effects on humans, the environment and non-target species, but because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms, pesticides may pose some risk to humans, animals, or the environment. All of our service professionals have been trained on the proper application of materials to insure a safe and healthy environment for your family and pets. All professional pest control products we use have been registered and approved by the California State Structural Pest Control Board.
What are five things I can do outside of my house to keep pests away?
- Inspect and seal any cracks and holes outside your home. Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
- Check around the perimeter of your home for leaky faucets and anything that allows moisture to pool around the base of your home.
- Eliminate debris from gutters.
- Trim tree branches and shrubbery from around your home.
- Store firewood and other wood at least 20 feet away from your home.
What are five things I can do inside of my house to keep pests away?
- Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors) and free of useless clutter. Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in re-sealable containers.
- Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
- Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
- Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.
How do you treat for cockroaches?
A.At North American Home Services, we start with a FREE pest control inspection to determine the severity of the problem. We then decide on a treatment time. No matter what anyone else says…you can completely eliminate a cockroach problem. We do it every day!
Does North American Termite & Pest Control have a service to control mice?
A.The house mouse is one of the most common pests triggering a call to North American Termite & Pest Control. They are best dealt with using an integrated approach including exclusion, sanitation, and population reduction. Usually traps are employed to eliminate mice living inside buildings but rodenticide baits occasionally have some utility as well. Each account should be inspected and assessed for the best approach to use at each home/building.
Does North American Termite & Pest Control have a service to control moths?
A.Most pest moths fall into one of two categories: 1) stored product pest moths, or 2) clothes moths. We can help solve problems with both groups of pests. In both cases, the solution involves identifying the source and eliminating them; in conjunction, a program can be devised to monitor for their presence. Programs vary widely depending on the account. Residential services and commercial services can take on radically different approaches and each requires individual assessment.
Are Carpenter Ants dangerous to my home?
A.Carpenter ants are not merely a nuisance; they are a serious structural pest that needs to be addressed quickly. If the weather is mild and you happen to see one every few days, further inspection may be necessary. Try to locate the source. Seeing several daily is cause for concern and treatment.
Not sure what type of pest you have?
What do you do if you see a cockroach or suspect you may have cockroaches?
A.Call North American Home Services for a FREE pest control inspection. Early detection and treatment is crucial. One female can multiply to over 300 in her short 6 to 9 month lifespan.
What if I see one during the day?
A.Do not panic! It may have simply hitchhiked in on a bag or item from the store. However, in rare cases, it could be the sign of a major infestation lurking behind the walls! Call North American Home Services for a FREE pest control inspection.
Where do they like to live?
A.Most cockroaches prefer a dark, damp temperate climate. They tend to live and breed behind refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves. In extreme cases they will live inside the walls.
How do you treat for cockroaches?
A.At North American Home Services, we start with a FREE pest control inspection to determine the severity of the problem. We then decide on a treatment time. No matter what anyone else says…you can completely eliminate a cockroach problem. We do it every day!
How long does it take to eliminate them?
A.Pest control treatment for roaches may take up to 90 days in extreme cases. Most are gone in under 30 days. At North American Homes Services, will make several follow up trips out to your home for treatment and inspection. Our goal is complete elimination and your satisfaction.
Check below regarding commonly asked questions about rodents and rodent infestations. You can also contact NAHS online to schedule your pest control service today.
What are rodents?
A.Pests such as rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, gophers are considered rodents.
How do they cause harm?
A.Rodents are well known carriers of disease and represent a serious health concern that you should not ignore. They also have a set of front teeth that continue to growth and they have a natural instinct to gnaw on various materials to maintain these teeth. Therefore, they may chew through one or many items in your home causing physical damage to materials and systems to malfunction. Additionally, many materials in your home make ideal nesting material and they will use it to make nests and grow their family.
Where do they occur?
A.Attics are ideal places for rodents but they may be found in your garage, crawlspace and home.
How do they invade premises?
A.Often these pests are looking for conditions that are safe and have a food source nearby. Large bushes or trees may provide a hiding place or access point into your home. Holes in attics or crawlspaces can permit access as well. Fruit trees or pet food kept outside provide a ready source of food.
What treatment options are available?
A.To remove and then prevent these pests from entering your home, a systematic approach of investigating the infestation, mitigating their nests, defeating the current pests, removing food sources and maintain a strategy of bait traps and other deterrents.
Occasional Invaders FAQ:
What are occasional invaders?
Black Widows – Found usually in dark, damp or temperate areas of your home such as the basement, sub area or garage. You can identify the females by the small red spots under their abdomen that seem to form an hour glass shape. This spider’s bite is much feared because its venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. In humans, bites produce muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult; however, contrary to popular belief, most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage—let alone death. But bites can be fatal—usually to small children, the elderly, or the infirm.
Argentine Ant – These ants are one of the most common species in California. This is due to many queens in one nest and the colonies may split in spring and summer when queen and workers move to new site; not antagonistic toward each other. They feed on sweets, fresh fruit, and buds of some plants. They also tend honeydew-producing species like Aphids. These ants are foraging for sweets and oils when they enter your home. They travel rapidly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up sides of buildings, along branches of trees and shrubs, along baseboards, and under edges of carpets.
Centipedes – or “hundred-leggers,” are elongated, flattened animals, bearing one pair of legs per body segment. The actual total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100. Adult centipedes are usually brownish and over 1 inch in length. The house centipede, a species that commonly invades buildings, has long legs that enable it to run rapidly. Unlike millipedes, centipedes never coil up when disturbed.
Earwhigs – The adult earwig is readily identified by a pair of prominent appendages that resemble forceps at the tail end of its body. Used for defense, the forceps are somewhat curved in the male but straighter in the female. The adult body is about 3/4- inch long and reddish brown. Most species have wings under short, hard wing covers, but they seldom fly. Immature earwigs look like adults except they are smaller and lack wings. Contrary to popular myth and despite their ferocious appearance, earwigs do not attack humans.
Firebrat – Silverfish and firebrats are nocturnal and hide during the day. If the object they are hiding beneath is moved, they will dart toward another secluded place. They come out at night to seek food and water. Both insects prefer dry food such as cereals, flour, pasta, and pet food; paper with glue or paste; sizing in paper including wallpaper; book bindings; and starch in clothing. Household dust and debris, dead insects, and certain fungi also are important sources of food. However, they can live for several months without nourishment.
Silverfish – The common silverfish is shiny, silver or pearl gray, and about 1/2 inch long, although it can grow as long as 3/4 inch. The common firebrat is shiny, a mottled gray or brown, and about 1/2 inch long. Adults of both species are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects with 2 long, slender antennae. Their bodies taper gradually from front to rear to 3 long, thin, tail like appendages.
Moths – Case making clothes moths are similar in size and appearance to webbing clothes moths. The wings of the case making clothes moth are more brownish than those of the webbing clothes moth and have faint dark-colored spots. Hairs on the head are lighter colored than those of the webbing clothes moth. Larvae of both species are nearly identical, except that larvae of the case making clothes moth always carry a silken case with them as they feed. They never leave this silken tube, but enlarge it as they grow. They feed from either end and retreat into it when disturbed. This case takes on the coloration of the fabric eaten by the larvae.
How do they cause harm?
Stinging pests cause more harm than the obvious stinging. Many people are hypersensitive to the effects of the venom which may result in serious medical emergencies. Additionally the nests or hives these creatures create can cause damage to various ventilation systems and large hives of honey bees require professional removal of the hive and the honey resulting in expensive repairs or restoration.
Web spinning and hunting spiders are often beneficial and help manage occasional invaders. However, many people do not like living with spiders and the cob webs they produce. Some spider species are poisonous (Black Widows) and can harm adults, children and pets.
Crawling pests are generally a nuisance but may carry disease and are drawn to food sources which may be found around your home.
Where do they occur?
A.Occasional invaders may be found anywhere around the home both inside and out. Attics and crawlspaces are also inviting habitats for these creatures.
How do they invade premises?
A.Occasional invaders may take up residence around the exterior of your home as a natural occurrence. The enter your home through any opportune open doors and windows, holes or cracks in siding or openings found in attics or crawlspaces.
What treatment options are available?
There are a variety of treatment options from single application products to reoccurring management strategies. Dusts, bait traps, granular products and more. Please call North American Home Services to discuss your options.
How dangerous can these birds be?
Birds, bird droppings and nesting materials can carry over 60 diseases and ectoparasites transmittable to humans and animals. These pose the most risk to individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems such as the young, elderly and those living with auto immune diseases.
Here is just a short breakdown of some of the main diseases carried by birds:
- Newcastle’s Disease
- St. Louis Encephalitis
- American Typansomiasis
- Transmissions are primarily through mosquitoes, bird mites and ticks.
- St. Louis Encephalitis (Most Serious Risk)
- Western Equine Encephalitis
- New Castle’s Disease
- H1N1 / Bird Flu
There are more bacterial organisms associated with birds that affect human health than all other disease-causing organisms.
- Chlamydiosis – Species most often affected are pigeons and gulls. Humans contract the disease by inhaling bacteria-laden dust.
- Salmonellas – Bacteria become airborne with feces dust in accumulated air intake vents, primarily at restaurants and food processing plants.
Contact usually occurs through air handling systems, contaminated clothing, and spores becoming airborne. Species most associated are pigeons, blackbirds and starlings.
- Histoplasmosis – Disseminated histoplasmosis is the result of the organism spreading throughout the body via the bloodstream. Over 30 million people a year are affected, with 10% exhibiting systems. The young, elderly, hospitalized or persons with immune system deficiencies are most affected.
- Crytococcis – Similar to histoplasmosis, but ultimately results in meningitis. It is estimated that 50% of the pigeon population in the Western United States is infected.
Ectoparasites are found on the body or in nesting materials.
- Ticks – A common ectoparasite found on birds that carry lyme disease.
- Bird Mites – Birds and bird nests carry bird mites which can infest buildings with available hosts.
- Bed Bugs – Bed bugs often attach themselves to birds and are transferred to new areas by the bird
What should I do if I have termites in my home or if I think termites are damaging my home?
Only a certified Pest Management Professional can perform a thorough termite inspection. The purpose of the inspection is to determine where and how termites are entering your home. After finding the answer to the question, the recommendation is made in regards to treating the property.
I had a pest control company treat my house for termites last year, but now I have termites again. What should I do?
The first step would be to see how long your guarantee is for the treatment and to find out if the treatment is limited or not. If you have a full guarantee, call the company back and they should address the problem. If the guarantee is no longer in effect, call the previous company and/or another company for a comparative bid. No matter how your home is constructed, where it is located or how old it is; it can be susceptible to termites. That is why our Company always recommends a treatment of your entire house not just limited areas.
Is the pest control company required to give me termite treatment disclosure documents before performing a termite treatment on my house?
This is a definite YES. Our industry is regulated by the Structural Pest Control Board of California and this is mandated.
What should I expect from a wood destroying inspection?
An Inspection involves a full inspection of your home for any evidence of termite activity and/or evidence of dryrot damage, or moisture conditions that could lead to an atmosphere for the termites. This means that we would inspect the exterior of your home, the interior of your home (checking for water leaks in the bathroom/kitchen areas) and inspecting the attic where applicable.
What questions should homeowners ask during a professional termite inspection/treatment?
- What type of treatment is recommended?
- How long will the treatment take?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take to get rid of the termites?
- What type of contract or guarantee is offered?
- Are they a member of the National Pest Management Association?
How difficult are termites to treat?
A.Termites are impossible for homeowners to treat on their own. On the other hand, North American Termite & Pest Controls’ professionals have the training, expertise and technology to eliminate termite infestations.
What are the different types of termite treatments?
A.There are two primary types of treatments available to NATPC customers: liquids and baits. Liquids are used around a home area to ensure long-term protection. Baiting systems involve placing monitoring stations in the ground.
What is the most effective type of termite treatment?
A trained and licensed NATPC Professional is the best person to make a recommendation for each particular property.
What can a homeowner do to prevent termites?
- Termites love moisture; if you have any moisture around the foundation of your home, avoid that.
- Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.
- Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was constructed. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building.
- Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
- It doesn’t hurt to routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.
Can pests other than termites damage property?
A.Absolutely. Carpenter ants, carpenter bees and powder post beetles are all categorized as wood destroying insects. That’s why it’s important to have a professional identify the source of your problem and provide the treatment to control it.
These ground dwelling termites are social insects like ants, bees, and wasps. Social insects live in large groups (or colonies), share a nest and divide important biological roles among individuals within the colony. The termite colony consists of a king, queen, eggs, larvae, workers, soldiers, nymphs and reproductive. These are the termites most often found in damaged wood. These creamy white, wingless, blind workers forage for food and construct mud tunnels, enabling them to travel between the soil in which they live and their food source.
Generally subterranean termites gain access to the structure at points where wood touches the ground. In the absence of earth to wood contact, subterranean termites build their own humidity controlled shelter tubes. These tubes, or tunnels, act as a conduit for the termites to travel between the ground and the structure. Subterranean termites primarily obtain their moisture from the soil. No home is completely safe from subterranean termites. In fact we have found that there are only two types of homes; homes that have subterranean termites and homes that will have subterranean termites.
Controlling Subterranean Termites
The highly trained technicians at North American Home Services are experts at keeping your home safe from subterranean termites. Your home is likely to be the most expensive investment you will make and we have the knowledge, the experience, the safest and most effective materials and equipment to protect your home against subterranean termite damage. Because each home is different, our technicians will follow the prescribed treatment methods outlined by our inspector at the time of your initial inspection.
In most cases he will prescribe a liquid termiticide application between the soil and your home. The most effective way of spreading it is through narrow trenches, placed adjacent to the base of the exterior foundation. At points along the exterior where concrete abuts the structure, (such as patios, driveways, walkways and porches), small holes are drilled in the concrete, along the foundation. The material is then applied to the soil beneath the concrete and the holes are patched. If your home has a crawl space beneath it, our technicians will go under your home and treat the soil at the base of the foundations, pier posts, and places where plumbing may emerge from the soil and extend into the structure.
Our goal is to construct a treated soil zone around the perimeter of your home. After the material has had time to become effective, your entire home will be termite free. To ensure that your home stays that way, North American Home Services will provide you with the most comprehensive warranty in the industry.
Control Service Agreement — Warranty
A.Upon completion of the subterranean termite treatment, your home may qualify for our control service agreement warranty covering the eradication or control of future infestations of subterranean termites. Our coverage includes a full inspection of the property at least once every three years from the date of the initial eradication, and if any additional treatment is necessary, it will be completed at no additional cost to you. With a thorough initial treatment by North American Home Services, and regular inspections by our licensed inspectors, your home will stay termite free for many years to come.
A.Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not live in the ground. They do not need contact with the soil to survive and do not build shelter tubes to gain entry into your home. Drywood termites fly into structures and infest the wood directly. They typically infest exposed wood such as window frames, doorframes, and exterior trim and attic wood members. The homeowner may initially see signs of infestation such as shed wings. As time goes by, and the colony enlarges, dry wood termite pellets (or droppings) may be seen near the infested wood. Although the colony development is slow, severe structural damage can occur.
Controlling Drywood Termites
During the course of your initial inspection, our licensed inspector will prescribe the best method to eradicate the drywood infestation. In early infestations getting rid of the termites may be as simple as removing or treating the wood that they are infesting. In a localized treatment the material is injected into the infested wood and into the accessible termite galleries. The material will kill all of the termites it will reach.
Finding all of the drywood termites in your home may not always be possible. Drywood termites do their damage in hidden places — inside walls, roof beams and foundation studs. Even the point where they enter a home is not always visible to an inspector. To make them harder to find, termites do not stay in their galleries, the may migrate from place to place, foraging up to four yards away. Many homes, especially older ones, may have more than one colony working at a given time. Even the most thorough of inspectors may not be able to spot all of the infestations, especially in older homes. In these cases, your inspector may not prescribe a localized treatment.
Your inspector may recommend that you have your home fumigated by North American Home Services. Structural fumigation is a highly technical procedure, which involves surrounding the structure with a gas-tight tarpaulin, releasing a gas into the structure that eradicates all of the termites in the structure and aerating the fumigant after a sufficient exposure time. Unlike localized treatments, the fumigant will penetrate the wood through its pores and reach all of the termites that may be foraging through the wood in your home. None of the termites are beyond the reach of the fumigant and none will be left behind to do damage to your home. When the tarp is removed from your home and the fumigant has vanished, the fumigation is completed; you will notice no residue of the treatment. It completely dissipates into the atmosphere.
Dampwood termites build their nests in wet wood. Contact with the ground is not needed; however, dampwood termites need a large amount of moisture to survive. They get this moisture directly from the wood in which they are infested. Typically the homeowner may find dampwood termites in logs or fallen trees in the yard, or in exterior wood members exposed to the elements, such as deck boards and fence boards.
Controlling Dampwood Termites
The treatment and control of the dampwood termite revolves around its reliance on high amounts of moisture to survive. Your inspector may prescribe a methods of eradication that involve removing and replacing the damaged wood and eliminating, or correcting, the source of moisture that contributed to the infestation. In most cases, dampwood termites can be controlled without using chemical materials.
Wood Boring Beetles
Many homes in our service area are particularly susceptible to wood boring beetle infestations. After termites, wood boring beetles are the next most important wood-destroying insects in homes. Wood damaged by beetles has numerous “shot holes” in the surface. You may notice a powder like substance emanating from the holes. The small pieces of frass or sawdust a produced by the larvae as they tunnel through the wood may sift from the wood when it is bumped or probed. Substructure framing such as subfloors, floor joists, and piers are particularly vulnerable to attack.
Wood boring beetles are commonly found in areas of high moisture contact. In many cases, substructure framing in crawl spaces with poor ventilation may lead to beetle infestations. The amount of damage from wood boring beetles may vary based on the species of beetle; however, in all cases the damage will weaken structural timbers. This damage results primarily from the feeding activities of the beetle larvae.
Controlling Wood Boring Beetles
Your North American Home Services inspector may recommend a variety of methods to rid your home of wood boring beetles. First, recommendations may be made to control or alleviate the moisture in the substructure area. Reducing the moisture content in the wood will help prevent future infestations of wood boring beetles. Your inspector also may make recommendations to increase the ventilation in the substructure as needed to reduce the moisture content in the wood and substructure crawl space.
In some cases North American Home Services technicians will remove the infested and damaged wood from the structure, treat the adjacent wood members with a specially developed insecticide for wood boring beetles and replace the damaged wood members.
Wood Decay Fungi — Fungus and Dry Rot
Even if your home is free from termites or beetles, your inspector may find areas of decay due to dry rot or fungus damage. “Dry Rot” is a misleading term, since the wood has actually been damaged by the effects of excessive moisture. All wood decay is caused by one of a variety of fungi. This fungus occurs naturally and becomes established within the fibers of the wood if the wood becomes wet for protracted periods of time. Decay fungi can cause severe structural damage to any wood member. Decay fungi needs oxygen, water and a food supply (cellulose) to survive. Wood kept dry will never decay.
Brown rot fungi feeds on the cellulose in the wood, a component of the wood cell walls, were leaving behind the outer shell (or lignin), thus giving the wood a brown appearance. Infected wood can be greatly weakened even before decay can be seen. Advanced stages of brown rot will show signs cracking across the grain of the wood.
White Rot attacks both the cellulose and the lignin in the wood causing the color of the wood to turn whiter than normal. Wood affected by white rot normally does not crack across the grain and will shrink and collapse when degraded. Infected wood shrinks and becomes sponge-like to the touch.
Controlling Wood Decay Fungi — Fungus and Dry Rot
Your inspector may recommend having the wood removed and replaced by trained and licensed technicians from North American Home Services. In addition recommendations will be made to correct the source of the moisture that may have contributed to the fungus infection. As a preventative measure the repaired areas may be treated with a fungicide to prevent future infections.
Rest assured that whatever the results of your inspection, North American Home Services can solve all of your problems. From eradicating termites and beetles to replacing wood damaged by fungus and dry rot. Our highly skilled technicians can work on any portion of your home that may need attention. Dry Rot or termite damage may occur in any area of the home. North American Home Services routinely replaces damaged framing at the eaves, attic, and crawl space areas. We also do full bathroom repair and replacement, as well as siding and trim repair at the exterior. Our skilled craftsmen can efficiently repair any portion of your home with speed and ability.
Termites in Perspective
Subterranean termites, the variety common to California and most other states, live below ground in groups known as colonies. Larger colonies can have hundreds of thousands to millions of individuals, occupying areas of up to half an acre. In residential areas, the colony or colonies responsible for damage may actually be located in a neighbor’s yard, rather than beneath the house that is infested.
Occasionally during their persistent foraging, termites encounter wood within buildings. Once a suitable feeding site is found, the workers establish an invisible odor trail to attract other termites to the structure.
Subterranean termite infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, and other obstructions. Over time, significant damage can result. The cryptic nature and tenacious foraging habits of these insects also pose a challenge to control efforts.
Conventional Barrier Treatment
For years, the standard method of controlling subterranean termites was to apply a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide, to the soil. The goal was to create a continuous chemical barrier around and under the building in order to block all potential routes of termite entry.
New Alternative Approach: Termite Baits
Termite baiting employs a very different approach. With baits, small amounts of material are deployed like edible “smart missiles” to knock out populations of termites foraging in and around the structure. Foraging termites consume the bait and share it with their nest mates, resulting in a gradual decline in termite numbers. Some baits may even eradicate entire termite colonies. A comprehensive baiting program then seeks to maintain a termite-free condition on the customer’s property through ongoing inspection, monitoring and re-baiting as needed.
The baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other palatable food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites. The bait must be “tasty” enough that termites will readily consume it, even in the presence of competing tree roots, stumps, woodpiles and structural wood. If the bait kills too quickly, sick or dead termites may accumulate in the vicinity of the bait stations, increasing the chance of avoidance by other termites in the area. Delayed-action also enhances transmission of the lethal agent to other termites, including those that never fed on the bait. Entire colonies can be eliminated in this manner, although total colony elimination is not always necessary to afford structural protection.
Installation Below Ground
Most termite bait components (paper, cardboard, etc.) decompose rapidly underground. Consequently, most installations initially utilize untreated wood in the stations. Once termites are detected in the wooden monitors, the bait material is added. Termites cannot see or smell the baits underground; they more or less wander into them during their persistent foraging activities. To increase the odds of discovery, the stations are installed at fixed intervals (typically 8 to 10 feet apart) around the entire outside perimeter of the building and in known or suspected areas of termite activity (e.g., around woodpiles, stumps, moist areas, and adjacent to previous termite damage).
Because subterranean termites feed at multiple locations within their foraging area, chances are good that one or more bait stations will eventually be found and fed upon. In temperate climates such as in California, bait discovery usually will be greatest from spring through fall when termites are most active.
The more bait stations installed, the better the chances of locating termites. Installing more stations increases the odds of encountering multiple colonies, or weakly associated “satellite nests” of the same colony — any of which could be of potential risk to the structure. Planning, patience and persistence are requisites for successfully using below-ground termite baits. Regardless of which product is used, the homeowner must be prepared and willing to accept the possibility of a lengthy baiting process.
This product/system has been the most extensively tested of those currently on the market. Consequently, it will be discussed in some detail. The HEX-PRO Termite Colony Elimination System was developed by Dow AgroSciences (Indianapolis, IN), and is sold only through authorized pest control firms. The bait contains a slow-acting ingredient which disrupts the normal growth process in termites (i.e., termites die while attempting to molt). Termite control with the HEX-PRO System ® entails a 3-step process: (1) initial monitoring to pinpoint termite activity, (2) delivery of the bait, and (3) subsequent monitoring to provide ongoing protection of the structure.
- Step 1. Monitoring– Termites are detected by installing plastic monitoring stations around the perimeter of the building.
- The station housing (pictured above) is a hollow green plastic cylinder, about 10 inches long by 2 inches wide, with slits along the sides for termites to enter. Initially, each station is provisioned with two untreated pieces of wood, intended as monitoring devices for the presence of termites in the area.
- The station is inserted into an augured hole in the ground, with the cover flush with the soil surface. Monitoring stations are installed around the outside perimeter of the building, at about 8- to 10- foot intervals alongside the foundation. Narrower intervals, while more effort to install and inspect, increase the odds that termites will encounter them during foraging. Stations are typically installed about 12 to 18 inches from the foundation, to avoid soil that may have been treated earlier with a liquid termiticide. Patios, driveways, and other paved surfaces are not a problem unless soil access is prevented around the majority of the structure. Oftentimes, stations can be installed farther out from the foundation, in adjoining planter boxes, etc. When necessary, stations can also be installed under pavement.
- As a supplement to installations along the foundation, additional stations are installed in suspected termite foraging areas, such as near pre-existing termite damage, stumps, woodpiles, or moist areas on the property. Periodically thereafter (monthly, bimonthly, etc.) the wood monitoring devices within each HEX-PRO station are inspected for termite presence.
- Step 2. Bait Delivery– When termites are found in a monitoring station, the untreated wood is replaced with a perforated plastic tube containing bait laced with a slow-acting termite growth inhibitor (hexaflumuron).
- To hasten the overall process, termites feeding on the wood pieces are carefully dislodged and placed within the bait tube. Eventually, these termites tunnel through and out of the perforated tube, reuniting with their nest mates in the soil. In doing so, they leave behind a colony-specific scent that promotes recruitment of other nest mates to the bait. In order to promote additional “hits” (attacks) on stations, additional stations containing wood are installed near those receiving bait tubes.
- Inspection of all HEX-PRO stations, with and without substituted bait tubes, continues until no more live termites are discovered. Empty, moldy or degraded baits are replaced and additional stations added as deemed necessary.
Step 3. Continued Monitoring– After termites are no longer found in installed Baitubes, the baits are once again replaced with untreated wood pieces and monitoring continues. Even if the termite colony threatening the structure has been eliminated, termites from neighboring colonies can reinvade the area. Reinfestation can also occur if only part of the original colony or colonies was eliminated. Consequently, structures protected with Sentricon (and all other bait products and systems) will need to be continually inspected, monitored and maintained to guard against reinvasion from new colonies or previously suppressed ones. Once the termite population has been eliminated, the pest control firm will continue to monitor at three- to four-month intervals for an indefinite period.
Baits or Barriers...Which Is Better?
This is the most common question from homeowners trying to decide which form of treatment to purchase. The question is a difficult one with no simple answer. Factors to consider in the purchasing decision include:
- Are you opposed to having your floors and walls drilled, or furnishings moved? Homeowners considering a bait treatment are usually relieved to learn that their carpeting won’t have to be rolled back, their floors extensively drilled, or furnishings moved, as is often the case with conventional liquid applications. The technician may not even need to come indoors to install or monitor the stations. Drilling noise, concrete dust, application hoses, and similar disturbances are avoided.
- Are you opposed to having pesticides applied in and around your home? Conventional liquid treatments utilize hundreds of gallons of termiticide, injected into the soil under and around the house. Health and environmental risks from such treatments are generally considered negligible, but some householders still are apprehensive. With baits, the amount of pesticide applied is minute and confined in tamper-resistant stations.
- Are there construction features that make it hard to treat with a liquid? Some buildings have wells, cisterns, nearby ponds or streams, plenums, sub-slab heating ducts, drainage systems, inaccessible crawl spaces, or other features that complicate treatment of soil with a liquid. With baits, such conditions aren’t a problem and may be the only feasible form of treatment. Houses that were unsuccessfully treated with liquids also are candidates for baits, since they do not require gaining access to hidden or hard-to-reach areas.
- How quickly must the infestation be eliminated? A limitation of all termite baits is that they are relatively slow acting compared to the effects of liquids. Several months may pass before termites find the baits underground and distribute them to their nest mates. Consequently, the elimination process can take several months or longer to complete, and a degree of feeding and damage may occur before the bait takes effect. Homeowners with a severe termite infestation or those involved in a real estate transaction may not want to wait this long — preferring instead that a liquid be applied alone or in combination with baits.
- How much are you willing to spend for treatment? Termite services vary in price from about $700 to $2500 for initial treatment, and $70 to $425 for the annual renewal warranty in case termites return. Baiting often is more costly than liquid treatment because the process requires several visits to the structure to monitor for termites, and add or replenish baits. Homeowners should consider both the initial treatment price and the annual renewal fee in making their purchasing decision. Whereas liquid treatments usually entail an annual follow up inspection, bait renewals typically require three or four visits per year, for as long as the contract is in effect. Thus, the annual renewal fee for baiting may be two to three times higher than for liquid treatments. Failure to maintain the annual renewal agreement can be a prescription for disaster with baits, since there is no residual pesticide left in the soil after the termites have been eliminated. Ongoing structural protection depends on monitoring for the possible return of termites in the future.
In summary, termite baits are useful and effective tools for managing infestations. Regardless of which product/system is used, they will not work by simply hammering a few stations into the ground and walking away. Success will require thoughtful installation and diligent monitoring by an experienced technician, backed by a responsible pest control firm.
Where trade names are used, no endorsement is intended, nor criticism implied of similar products not named.
Bed Bug FAQ:
What are bed bugs?
A.Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals. Bed bugs and their relatives have evolved as nest parasites. Certain kinds inhabit bird nests and bat roosts and await the return of their hosts; others have adapted well to living in the ‘nests’ (homes) of people. Hatchling bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed, and adults are about 1/4 of an inch in length. From above they are oval in shape, but are flattened from top to bottom. Their color ranges from nearly white (just after molting) or a light tan to a deep brown or burnt orange. The host’s blood may appear as a dark red or black mass within the bug’s body. Because they never develop wings, bed bugs cannot fly. Although bed bugs can crawl, run and climb, they cannot jump. Bed bugs seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices. Cast skins and carcasses of bed bugs are sometimes discovered. Although such findings confirm that the dwelling was previously infested, it does not confirm that any continue to infest the residence. Before you conclude that the home, office or other dwelling is currently infested by bed bugs, inspect carefully for live crawling bed bugs, AND be certain that these are bona fide bed bugs. Many other kinds of small bugs are frequently mistaken to be bed bugs. Most kinds of bugs found in the home, and even on the bed, are not necessarily bed bugs. Similarly, other kinds of creatures will bite, feed on blood and cause irritation. Pest control measures taken against bed bugs can be quite costly and generally require the use of various kinds of pesticides. The means to battle bed bugs can be remarkably different than to combat other bugs. Hence, it is critical to ensure that the bugs are correctly identified by an independent and competent source BEFORE you attempt to take action.
What should I not do if I find bed bugs or suspect they are present?
A.Don’t panic. Although bed bugs can be annoying, they can be battled safely and successfully if you adopt a well-considered strategy. Do not apply pesticides unless you fully understand what you are applying and the risks involved. You may be legally liable if you misapply a pesticide, or apply it without a license to the property of another (including common spaces in apartment buildings). Generally, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply pesticides. They should, instead, hire a licensed pest control operator to confirm the infestation and to develop an integrated pest management plan.
Do not dispose of furniture that is useful. Infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing infested furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas or on the street may simply help spread bed bugs to the homes of other people. Infested furniture intended for disposal should be defaced to make it less attractive to other people. Officials in some municipalities affix to potentially infested furniture a label to warn of bed bugs. To reduce opportunities of infested furniture re-entering their building, building managers should ensure that any disposed furniture is locked within a dumpster or immediately carted away to a landfill or waste facility.
Where do bed bugs hide?
A.Bed bugs and their relatives occur nearly worldwide. Bed bugs became relatively scarce during the latter part of the 20th century, but their populations have resurged in recent years, particularly throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Australia. They are most abundant in rooms where people sleep, and they generally hide nearest the bed or other furniture used for sleeping. Bed bugs are most active in the middle of the night, but when hungry, they will venture out during the day to seek a host. Their flattened bodies allow them to conceal themselves in cracks and crevices around the room and within furniture. Favored hiding sites include the bed frame, the seams around mattresses and undersides of box springs. Clutter around the room offers additional sites for these bugs to hide, and increases the difficulty in eliminating bed bugs once they have become established. Bed bugs also have been found in schools, health care facilities, trains and buses, offices and yet other kinds of structures.
Do bed bugs cause harm or spread pathogens (disease-causing germs)?
A.Bed bugs seek out people and animals, generally at night while these hosts are asleep, and painlessly sip a few drops of blood. While feeding, they inject a tiny amount of their saliva into the skin. Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks or more cause some people to become sensitized to the saliva of these bugs; additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses. The skin lesion produced by the bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by many other kinds of blood feeding insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas. The offending insect, therefore, can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites. A physician should be consulted to rule out other causes for the lesions and to offer treatment, as needed. The affected person should resist the urge to scratch the bites, as this may intensify the irritation and itching, and may lead to secondary infection. Physicians often treat patients with antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce allergic reactions and inflammation. Despite what you may have heard or read elsewhere, bed bugs are not known to transmit any infectious agents.
How do bed bugs get inside your home?
A.Because bed bugs readily hide in small crevices, they and their eggs may accompany (as stowaways) luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, briefcases, purses, boxes, and other such objects when these are moved between homes, hotels, offices and yet other places. Used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, pose the greatest risk of harboring bed bugs and their eggs. Thus, one should carefully scrutinize and consider the history of any used furniture, particularly those found on the sidewalk, but also those at yard sales and in used furniture stores. Even new furniture may become exposed and contaminated with bed bugs if transported in a vehicle that had, itself, become infested.
How can you tell if my home is infested?
A.Bed bugs infest only a small proportion of buildings, but they should be suspected if residents complain of bites that occurred while sleeping. BEFORE you conclude that the home or office is infested by bed bugs, you should find at least one bona fide bed bug. Bites and bite-like lesions may be caused by diverse creatures of kinds, including, but not limited to, fleas, biting mites, and mosquitoes. Similarly, such bite-like lesions may be attributable to infections, allergic reactions, drug interactions, and other medical problems. You should consult with your physician about any medical concerns. Your doctor may be able to say that your lesions are consistent with an insect bite. It is unlikely, however, that she/he can identify the kind of bug responsible merely by examining the lesions. So, find a bed bug before you take any actions to manage, control or eliminate them! If in a residence, then the bedroom and other sleeping areas should be carefully examined for bed bugs and signs of bed bug activity. Folds and creases in the bed linens, and seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs, in particular, may harbor bed bugs or their eggs. They may also be found, amongst many other places, within pleats of curtains, beneath loose areas of wallpaper near the bed, in corners of desks and dressers, within spaces of wicker furniture, behind baseboards and picture frames, above drop ceilings, and in laundry or other items on the floor or around the room. Sometimes, characteristic black or dark brown fecal spots of bed bugs are apparent on the bed linens, mattress or walls near the bed. A peculiar coriander-like odor may be detected in some heavily infested residences. Bright blood-red spots on the linens or mattress are not likely associated with bed bugs. If in a school or office setting, then inspect desks, chairs, bookcases and other furniture for evidence of bed bugs. If you find a bug of concern, capture it using clear tape (packaging tape is ideal), and gently affix this to a sheet of white paper. The bug will not be able to free itself. Because bed bugs and other kinds of pests may be difficult to find, you can set traps in an attempt to capture one or more. Traps tend to be fairly insensitive devices for capturing bed bugs, but they are useful, nonetheless. You need only capture one bed bug to confirm the identity of your pests. Your options include:
- Adhesive tape (such as duct tape): Wrap the tape around the legs of beds and desks, leaving the sticky side of the tape facing outwards. This will capture virtually any bug that wanders onto the adhesive surface. You may then remove the tape (cutting it carefully).
- Insect glue traps: These are available from pest control companies, large hardware stores and from many online vendors. Because bed bugs are not attracted to the baits on these boards, you can use the non-baited kinds of traps. Array these under the beds and under or behind other furniture. Check them every few days for captured bugs.
- Wet or dry moat traps: These may consist of cups or saucers under each leg of a bed. Bed bugs will drown if they fall into such vessels if they contain soapy water or mineral oil. Used dry with talcum powder, such vessels will likely prevent bugs from escaping.
- Carbon dioxide attractant traps: Commercial traps are available that liberate carbon dioxide gas, heat and yet other components that may attract bed bugs. These traps tend to be costly, but may be provided for brief intervals by some pest control companies.
Each of these is potentially useful for surveillance. None, however, should be expected to eliminate bed bugs. ‘Bed bug sniffing dogs’ have increasingly become advertised, offered and relied upon for detecting bed bugs in homes and offices. If well-trained and accompanied by an expert handler, they can help confirm the presence of bed bugs as well as focus on where bed bugs may be hiding. If you’ve already discovered a bed bug, then there seems very little reason, if any, to employ such services. If you suspect that you have bed bugs, but have been unable to find one, then such specialized canine detection dogs may help solve the mystery. A good bed bug detection dog will be trained to provide a defined response when it encounters the scent of bed bugs. Such a dog may paw at the area of interest, may sit and stare intently at the site, or offer yet other behaviors. The handler may then state that the dog’s behavior confirms or suggests the presence of bed bugs. It is useful and wise to be wary at this point. Whereas the dog may, indeed, have detected the odor of an existing bed bug, it might also have noticed the scent of a previous infestation, or even that of some completely irrelevant source (such as that of another animal or of a food item). You are advised to search the site for a bed bug. If you find one, then the dog and the owner have earned their rewards. If, however, no bed bug or other objective findings (cast skins of bed bugs and fecal spotting) of bed bugs are evident, then the dog’s behavior (and the conclusions of the handler) should be questioned. Before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars (and have pesticides applied to your property) to abate a bed bug infestation, make sure that you’re really battling bed bugs. Ask the dog owner/handler about their links, if any, to a purveyor of pest control services. One associated with a pest control company is not necessarily biased, but you should be aware of the potential.
What can I do to manage a bed bug problem?
A.Managing bed bugs often requires a multi-faceted approach that generally includes cleaning, room modifications, and insecticidal treatments to the residence. Search for signs of bed bugs – Carefully inspect bed frames, mattresses, and other furniture for signs of bed bugs and their eggs. Although dead bed bugs’ cast bug skins and blood spots may indicate an infestation that occurred previously, they do not confirm that an infestation is still active. Search for live (crawling) bugs and ensure they are bed bugs before considering treating.
- Reduce clutter – This will limit hiding places for bed bugs, and reduces the number of surfaces that may need to be treated. Do not dispose of items that have monetary, practical or sentimental value. These can be treated. Do not dispose of mattresses, box springs, bed frames or other furniture. These, too, can be treated or managed (more on this below).
- Thoroughly clean the infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs, and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. Dismantling bed frames will expose additional bug hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots.
- Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within special mattress bags. Once they are installed, inspect the bags to ensure they are undamaged; if any holes or tears are found, seal these completely with permanent tape. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die. Such encasements are less expensive than new mattresses and will make it unnecessary to treat the mattress with pesticide. Encasing mattresses, however, will not likely eliminate an infestation; some bed bugs are likely to lurk elsewhere in the residence.
- To prevent bed bugs from crawling onto a bed, pull the bed frame away from the wall, tuck in bed linens so they won’t contact the floor, and create a barrier to prevent bed bugs from accessing or climbing upon the bed legs. The legs can be wrapped with adhesive tape (sticky side out), or they may be placed in dishes.
- To reduce opportunities for bed bugs (and other pests) to access your apartment or room, consider caulking and sealing holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor, and filling cracks around baseboards and cove moldings to further reduce harborages. Check with your landlord and /or electricians before opening any electrical switch/outlet covers. If you own your residence, we suggest you contact a licensed pest control operator who is knowledgeable and experienced in managing bed bug infestations. Ask the pest control company for references, and ask at least a few of their customers about their experiences before you agree to any contract. If you are a tenant, contact your property manager or landlord to discuss your respective obligations, and to agree on a plan to manage the infestation.
- Generally, landlords are legally required to contract with a licensed pest control operator. Check with your department of health for specific regulations that pertain to your municipality or state.
- Insist upon a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan from the pest control operator. This plan should: detail the methods and insecticides to be used by the pest control operator; describe the efforts expected by you, the building manager and tenants; include copies of the labels and MSDS (material safety data sheets) for each product to be used; indicate how quickly and effectively the problem will be abated; and describe what kind of warranty, if any, that the pest control operator provides. NATPC can help you with this process and will provide expert oversight on a contract basis in order to provide you with an independent and objective voice in the matter.
Because bed bugs and other pests may spread through cracks and holes in the walls, ceilings and floors, it is wise to inspect adjoining apartments on the same floor as well as those directly above and below. Those found infested should be managed, accordingly.
What you should know about insecticides and other means of treating for bed bugs?
A.Property owners may purchase and apply certain pesticides to their own property, and tenants may do so (with certain exceptions) to their own apartments. Generally, owners and tenants may not, however, apply these products to common use areas or to the property of another person. A licensed pest control operator may perform these tasks more effectively, safely and legally. If one apartment or room is found infested, adjoining rooms and those immediately upstairs and downstairs should be inspected and managed, as appropriate.
Carefully read the label before applying any pesticide. Apply the product only if you fully understand the instructions, and if you have the appropriate training/certification and equipment. Note that although many kinds of insecticides may be purchased via the Internet, some States restrict the sale, shipment and use of certain products. Check with your State’s pesticide regulatory agency if you have any questions. Do NOT apply any insecticide or pesticide to mattresses or to surfaces that would be in direct contact with a person, unless the label instructions specifically state that the product can be applied in that manner. Some products can be harmful to people, pets the environment, and to your home. READ and UNDERSTAND the instructions and warnings on the label.
Insecticide formulations used to treat bed bug infestations consist mainly of the following … click here to read more.
A.Travelers increasingly encounter bed bugs during their stays away from home. If signs of bed bugs were observed or suspected, consider the possibility that you may have unwittingly transported bed bugs or their eggs in your luggage and other personal effects. Clothing should be laundered in a manner to kill bugs and their eggs before or as soon as these items are brought back into the home. Suitcases should be carefully inspected, scrubbed with a stiff brush, and thoroughly vacuumed. Leaving such luggage for several hours in a closed vehicle in full summer sun may render the items bug free. Practice ‘safe visiting’: When visiting the homes of others, avoid placing your coat or belongings upon a bed, sofa or other furniture that may harbor bed bugs. If you must bring your coat inside, hang it on a hook on the back of a door, or elsewhere away from sleeping areas. Similarly, keep purses, briefcases and other such items off and away from such sleeping areas. When others visit your home, do not pile their own coats and belongings on your own bed.
What should be done in schools about bed bugs?
A.Bed bugs have spread far and wide through the country and are to be expected in every community regardless of the population, per capita income, or ethnic / racial make up of the population. Bed bugs infest our dwellings. Except for a few minutes of contact during which the bugs may feed on blood in our skin, bed bugs do not remain on a person. Bed bugs are secretive animals. When not feeding, they hide away in cracks and crevices where they’ll be less noticed. Whereas most will tend to hide near where a person sleeps regularly, some may wander into clothing pockets and cuffs, book bags, brief cases, purses, luggage and anywhere else that affords them shelter. If the item in which one or more may be hiding is then taken to school or work, then the little stowaway(s) get to ‘see the world’, so to speak. Hence, bed bugs will be carried into schools within the belongings of students as well as adults. Should a child from a bed bug infested home be shunned or excluded from school? Absolutely not. To exclude that child would be an unconscionable injustice, and it could provoke legal action against the school. Children from infested homes do not hold a monopoly on bringing unwanted ‘pests’ to school. Teachers, principals, custodial workers, parents and others are just as likely to ferry bed bugs (as well as cockroaches and other urban pests) from their own homes as well. So, what can and should be done? First and foremost, educate the kids, their care-givers and the school workers (including teachers and staff) about bed bugs and appropriate means to manage and eliminate them. There should be no shame in ‘having’ bed bugs at home. The presence of bed bugs has nothing at all to do with cleanliness or housekeeping. Next, work with pest management professionals to develop written integrated pest management plans, one for school and another to help guide families and school personnel. If bed bugs are suspected in a classroom, the room should be inspected, and non-toxic insect glue traps should be arrayed in strategic locations. These traps should be examined periodically, and a specialist should examine any suspected bed bug. Refer to our Specimen Evaluation Form if you would like to have a sample identified. In general, insecticide treatments within schools should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and virtually never as preventative measure. Any such application must comply with relevant federal, state and local regulations. If it is known that a child’s home is infested with bed bugs, encourage the child to bring only the required items to school each day until the problem has been abated. Isolating the child’s book bag, coat and other items may be psychologically damaging to the child, and generally unwise and unproductive. Such an action may backfire, as it will persuade others to remain silent about a bed bug or other infestation at home. Similarly, if the homes of school personnel are infested, these folks should take steps to leave their items at home (and to have their home treated appropriately). North American Home Services has worked with many school districts on bed bug issues, and some schools have adopted our strategies to monitor and manage a problem. We encourage school officials to contact us to discuss our identification resources as well as our consulting services in this regard.
What are your rights and obligations in determining and mitigating a bed bug infestation?
A.Landlords and property owners have specific legal obligations to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Certain infestations, including bed bugs, may constitute an unacceptable condition. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the apartment so that the pest control operator can easily inspect the rooms and treat, if necessary. Contact your state or municipal health agency or housing authority for more guidance on these issues.