When it comes to pest control in the greater Tri-Cities these days, Barnes Exterminating owner Byron Barnes says that bed bugs have risen to the same level as termites when it comes to his company’s handling of pests.
“Anybody can pick these up and take them places,” Barnes said of bedbugs, explaining that he was at a funeral home once when one almost hitched a ride on him. “Fifteen years ago, we didn’t even treat bed bugs.”
However, he said bed bug calls have increased almost exponentially in the past five years, which he said occurred because of the federal government’s banning of DDT and Chlordane in the late 20th Century. “Bed bug sales are almost getting to the point they rival termites,” Barnes said. He collects antique and vintage pesticides, including things from the early 1900s labeled to get bed bugs with DDT, banned along with Chlorodane because of fears about its affects on humans, pets, other animals and the environment.
WHAT’S A HOMEOWNER TO DO?
Barnes gave the following suggestions to homeowners and others with pest issues or those wanting to avoid them:
— Keep food in sealed containers, especially in kitchens with exterior walls. He said that can help keep all sorts of pests away, including roaches.
— Keep scrubs, trees and other plants outside trimmed back and not touching the house, which can give ants and other insects as well as squirrels and other animals a pathway into the house.
— Make sure doors are seals well with a good door sweep.
— Keep gutters in good working order so that moisture does not get around the house and attract termites or other pests.
— Use steel mesh or steel wool in cracks and crevices where plumbing and other things intrude into the house. “A mouse can fit through a quarter-of-an-inch space,” Barnes said. The metal can be seal with foam afterward, but using just foam means mice can eat through that layer.
WHAT ABOUT BEES AND MOSQUITOES?
As for bees, wasps, yellow jackets and hornets, he said that’s not a lot to do to deter them but to keep watch over any new nests and use sprays or a professional service to get ride of them.
Mosquito control is another popular call for his business, Barnes said. He said homeowners should make a perimeter walk around their house and make sure nothing is holding water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. For small ponds and fountains, he said professional can treat the water so that it will sterilize mosquito eggs. In addition, he said his employees can treat the underside of leaves and bushes in areas prone to mosquitos to halt breeding.
He said April to October is the main mosquito season, with 2018, the third wettest year in recorded weather statistics, up in mosquitoes over 2017.
As for termites, which can eat wood and damage floors, he said that he recommends a termite bond since homeowners insurance doesn’t cover termite damage. The bond, provided by professional providers such as his business, will serve as a warranty against termite damage with yearly inspections and treatments as needed.
DO HOME REMEDIES WORK? IT DEPENDS ON WHICH ONES
Some home remedies work, he said, while others not so much.
For instance, he said he once visited a house where the homeowners put cinnamon on counter tops and cabinets but the antis “were just crawling over the top of it and taking over.”
He said some do-it-yourself solutions can work, but that he doesn’t have much faith in things like insect bombs.
“A lot of times we can come in and minimally apply products” where and when they are needed, Barnes said.
“I’ve never used an insect bomb,” he said, explaining that it won’t penetrate the cracks and crevices and can simply drive the pests deeper inside walls, where they multiply and re-emerge. Also, in apartments or condominiums, he said the insect bombs simply can drive pests from one unit to infest others.
He said he prefers to use bait for ants and roaches, which is taken back to the main colony and lets the insects spread the poison where spraying can’t reach.
AND WHAT ABOUT FLIES AND GNATS?
Finally, he said that while flies and Gnats aren’t usually huge pest problems, they and fruit flies can be a nuisance. He said rotting food will help fruit flies breed and that “drain flies” can live in the P traps of kitchen and other sinks, although pouring bleach down the drain can help.
“We don’t see as much of that in residential,” Barnes said. His company sells traps for such flies, but he said folks can make their own trips using balsamic vinegar in a container and covering it with plastic wrap with holes punched in it, so the bugs get in but can’t get out.
In a nutshell, he said don’t leave food out and watch the landscape, shrubs, standing water, gutters, gaps, cracks and door sweeps, and use professionals to apply pest control chemicals. Those actions will go a long way in minimizing pests, he said.