February 22, 2023 / Residential Pest Control

When Should I Call for Pest Control Help?

JP pest female technician

Pest Infestation or first alert/warning:

It can be difficult even for professionals to determine if a pest scenario or potential “bug” evidence found requires an immediate response or none without seeing the culprit or situation.  Pests are pests because they are alarmingly abundant, so how can consumers tell if it is a problem in the making, a problem that’s well established, or nothing to worry about at all?

Here are some general rules of thumb:

  • Protect your health:  Public health pests are an immediate concern because of their ability to affect our well-being directly and in some cases, quickly.  Organisms like blood-feeders including ticks, mosquitoes, and bed bugs present the greatest health risks to humans, pets, and livestock followed by non-blood feeders including flies, cockroaches, and mice.  All can harm us by delivering disease agents either directly or indirectly into our bodies.  Therefore, these pest groups are considered “code red” issues.
  • How many pests:  When more than a dozen bugs appear indoors seemingly overnight, that is a good indicator that a pest issue is brewing within.  For rodents, it may seem to be just one but it is never just one mouse or rat!  Rodents can breed very quickly and their young reach maturity shortly after birth.  This scenario enables rodent populations to seemingly boom overnight.
  • Signs of pests:  Many pests leave behind evidence of their activities including droppings, frass/material shavings, gnaw and rub marks, mud shelter tubes, damaged goods, etc.  It is important to discuss the evidence observed when you call.  Digital images of the evidence or pests can be emailed or texted to our staff.  Photo evidence can greatly assist pest control professionals in making the correct identification/determination for your case.
  • Unusual odors or sounds:  Carpenter ants can make rustling/popcorn like sounds, especially when mining foamboard insulation.  Various wildlife species including mice can be heard scampering about in walls and attics.  They also produce telltale musky odors.
  • Leaks and humidity:  Does the infested area, where pests were noticed, feel damp or wet?  Reducing moisture by finding the source, making repairs, and/or installing a dehumidifier is often the first step in eliminating many pests. For wood damaging insects, the texture of their frass, (ejected chewed or digested materials), is key.  The type of frass will indicate if the evidence in question has been chewed and ejected (looks like pencil-sharpener shaving) out of a gallery or hiding place, or has it been digested and pushed out of wood (looks like beige talcum powder).

What you can do to help:

Before your service professional arrives to perform a thorough property inspection, here are a few things you can do:

  • Preserve the evidence:  Save any bugs or evidence in zip lock plastic bags.  Avoid smashing the specimens so pest control professionals can view all the key identifying features.  Very active specimens can be placed into the refrigerator or freezer to facilitate identification.  Customers are amazed that pests seem to go into hiding when pest control professionals arrive!
  • Photo evidence:  Take pictures of the areas where the pests are found and of the pests themselves.  Closeups-high resolution images are best since most insects are small, and the parts we need to see are even smaller.
  • New or old evidence:  One way to determine age of evidence is to clean it up. Remember, save some evidence in a sealed container.  If new evidence appears after cleaning, then it is more likely to be an active situation or possibly old frass material being displaced from walking vibration of the floors above.  If preferred leave the old evidence in place and cover the area with a clean sheet of paper, plastic, or tarp.  If active, new evidence will fall onto the clean surface.
  • Record suspicious sounds:  Cell phones can record audio as well as video.  Sounds often occur late at night when our homes are most quiet.  We have an expression in pest management, “The pests must have heard us coming!”  Typically, when a pest professional arrives at the scene of suspicious noise activity, no sounds are heard during the inspection.  The animal or insect involved in the noisemaking may be a nocturnal species.
  • Help resources:  If you seek information from sources other than JP Pest Services, make sure they are reputable such as cooperative extension service, university entomology department, or other educational online sites that don’t have ulterior motives.  There’s a lot of fearmongering on the worldwide web, so be cautious of what you read and believe!

Ignore it and it will go away?

Always take the extra step to verify concerning evidence of possible pest activity.  If you ignore evidence, such as shed insect wings near a window, you may have missed out on identifying a serious termite infestation within the wooden support system of your home.  In many cases, evidence like termite wings won’t reappear for another year or more, but meanwhile, the termite workers are eating away at the foundation of the home.

You are an essential part of your home’s first alert system, and therefore, need to pay close attention to evidence when it appears.  Pest problems usually become greater over time and need to be investigated in a timely manner.  Another expression we have in pest management is, “If it is bothering you, then it is bothering us!”  It is much better to inform a JP professional of your concerns; they have the training, knowledge, and experience required to address such matters and deliver peace of mind you seek.  JP professionals are backed by many degreed and professional entomologist to assist when the pest issue requires a deeper investigation.             

Bottom Line:

Regardless of the pest in question or the situation, JP Pest Service’s goal is to keep you, your family, and pets safe.  Controlling pests requires knowledge of pest biology and behavior as well as expertise, experience, and attention to detail.  There is no silver bullet or magic pill.  As always, we at JP Pest Services strive to provide the best pest management services we can for homes and businesses.  JP Pest Services is ready to meet whatever pest control challenges you may have!