15 Ways to Prevent Pest Infestations, Ledford — s Pest Control

15 Ways to Prevent Pest Infestations

Even though summer is coming to an end, pests are still enjoying the warm temperatures and an infestation could be right around the corner.

Our Sumter, Columbia, and Charleston pest control experts have put together a list of simple things you can do around your home or office to prevent an infestation:

1. Ants love leftovers, so store food in airtight containers like Tupperware or jars with rubber seals on the lids.

2. Keep a tight lid on your trash can at all times and move the trash to an outside dumpster as soon as possible.

3. Inspect your home or office for cracks or holes in walls, your foundation, and vents. If you find any, fill or seal them as soon as possible to prevent termites, roaches, and other pests.

4. Inspect dried food packages (when possible) for worms, beetles, moths, and other pests before you buy them.

5. Landscaping that comes in contact with your home or office give pests an easier way indoors, so keep your trees and bushes away from the building.

6. Fix any leaking pipes, faucets, appliances, etc. Standing water can attract many different types of pests.

7. Clean your counter tops, tables, and floors on a regular basis to prevent crumbs or food buildup.

8. If you don’t have screens on your windows or storm doors, install some. You’ll be able to let fresh air in without worrying about pests.

9. Beetles and termites love wood, so eliminate any scrap wood inside or outside your home or office.

10. Keep your home clutter-free. Pests love hiding out in dark areas, so the more clutter you have, the more homes they have to choose from.

11. Use pest control products like zappers, sprays, sticky paper, and more to prevent the problem from getting bigger.

12. Before they come inside, check your pets for fleas. Once fleas are indoors, they can easily spread.

13. Vacuum your home or office frequently to eliminate pests and/or pest eggs.

14. Use citronella candles when outdoors to prevent mosquitoes.

15. Resist using wood mulch for your landscaping. Instead, try gravel or rock.

If you’ve tried these tactics, but are still experiencing a pest infestation, call our Sumter, Columbia, or Charleston pest control office right away. We’ll evaluate your home or office and get your pest problem under control.


HF Ham Radio Antennas For Apartments

The Issues

A full-size antenna for HF (except for the 10m band) is not feasible for apartments due to the space required. An apartment antenna should have the following characteristics:

  • Compact Size: This is the most obvious requirement of apartment antennas. As an apartment dwelling amateur radio operator, you want to keep a relatively low profile in order to minimize complaints from neighbors and the landlord/management. Except for the very highest HF bands like 10m, a full-size antenna would be conspicuous and even intrude into common areas and other people’s property.
  • Multiband: Due to limitations in storage space and an aversion to overloading my home with stuff, I prefer multiband antennas. Of course, if your only transceiver is a singleband transceiver, then a singleband antenna would make more sense.
  • Easy to set up and take down: If you are on the ground floor or neighbors can easily see your balcony/patio, you want to remove your antenna when you are not operating. If your antenna is always visible, this presents a security risk (on the ground floor) AND increases the chances that neighbors and/or the landlord/management will object.
  • Cost: I want to operate HF that offers the most bands for the least cost. In other words, I want the most bang for the buck.

Popular Apartment Antenna Ideas That Didn’t Work For Me

  • There may not be trees in the right locations.
  • You need two wires, not one, because a random wire antenna needs a ground plane to act as the second half of the antenna. And no, the two wires cannot be taped together. (Have you seen a dipole with the two halves taped together?)
  • Too difficult to set up and take down: Setting up a wire antenna requires shooting it into the air with a slingshot or other device. This can take several minutes. Likewise, it also takes too long to take the antenna down.
  • Too conspicuous: The process of setting up the antenna and taking it down could attract the attention of people. Also, the antenna isn’t confined to your own property; it likely would intrude into common areas. If you live on the ground floor, the antenna could also get in the way of people walking by.
  • Coax Length: You might need VERY long coax to try this idea. Since my apartment points away from the parking lot, I would need a few HUNDRED feet of coax.
  • Conspicuous: This would also be a VERY conspicuous setup. The coax would likely get in the way of people walking by (unless you are parked directly in front of your apartment and there is no sidewalk between your car and the apartment). Also, your antenna and the coax would be easy to spot. In some cases, the coax would cross part of the parking lot, and people would have to drive over it.
  • In most apartments, no room is big enough to accomodate a full-size wire antenna (except perhaps for the highest HF bands) without making it double back on itself (which makes it less effective).
  • Parts of the antenna will be TOO FAR from the exterior of the apartment and thus reduce the signal received from outside while increasing the noise received from inside. This effect would be particularly pronounced in a stucco building or other metal structure.
  • Finally, THIS IS THE PERFECT RECIPE FOR RFI. Think about this. If you use a small antenna that is confined to just one part of one room, most of the RF field will be confined to that one place, and the rest of the apartment will be relatively free from RFI problems. But if you string the wire antenna all over the apartment, MANY PLACES are close to the antenna, and there will be RFI galore. When I tried this solution, I kept tripping the circuit breaker even at the lowest power levels. At least the RFI from the indoor slinky dipole antenna that was confined to just part of my bedroom was more controllable. In this case, all I had to do was unplug the lamp in my bedroom or plug it into an RFI filter.
  • It didn’t perform adequately unless it is stretched almost all the way out.
  • Fragility: The slinky coils do NOT lend themselves to being thrown onto a tree.
  • Supports: This antenna requires MANY supports. You need a support (1) on which to hang the center of the antenna, a rope inside both coils (1+2=3) to support them, and supports at both ends of the antenna (4). Then you have to stretch out both slinky coils and secure the ends of the coils (4+2=6) to hold them in the stretched position.
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However, I can’t completely dismiss these ideas, as one of them may work for you.

Methods of Shortening Antennas

A full-size antenna (1/4 to 1/2 wavelength long/tall) is not feasible for most apartment dwellers on HF. The antenna must be this size in order for it to be near resonance. However, there are ways to achieve resonance with smaller antennas by using loading methods that electrically lengthen an antenna while keeping it physically short. This is NOT a free lunch. Smaller antennas, although resonant, are less efficient and have a narrower bandwidth than full-size antennas. So if you have the room for a larger antenna, you should take advantage of this.

  • There MUST be good conductive contact between the capacitance hat and the top of the antenna.
  • Capacitance hats can use spokes, a single wire, and/or a metal disc. I prefer a metal disc, as this provides more capacitance for a given amount of space.
  • The capacitance hat MUST be at the top of the antenna. Mounting the capacitance hat lower makes the portion of the antenna above inactive and has the same effect as chopping off the part of the antenna above the capacitance hat. SO PLEASE KEEP THE HAT AT THE TOP!


How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Insect Control Service?

Typical Range: $108 — $261

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Insects such as roaches and ants can be a terrible problem throughout your home, but often go undetected for a long time. Eventually you will have a real infestation on your hands. You may have tried some DIY pest control with products such as boric acid, ant traps, “roach motels”, or any number of commercially available sprays like Raid, Black Flag, or Ortho. Some of these can be effective when the pests are first noticed, such as when you first spot a small hornet’s nest. In other cases, such as combatting ant or roach infestations, all they can do is hold the line. They don’t take the battle back to the pests’ lairs.

The average cost to hire an insect control service averages between $108 and $261 depending on the problem. Hiring a professional is the best way to rid your home of pests, not just convince them to stay out of your sight. If you are concerned about the cost of calling in a pro to take care of your pest problem, here are a few things to consider.

  • Some insects are wood-boring. They can damage your house’s structure and cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repair, or can make your home structurally unlivable.
  • Stinging and biting insects can range from merely painful when they attack to literally deadly.
  • Many household pests carry diseases such as salmonella (cockroaches) and Hantavirus (mice and rats).
  • Even an insect as relatively harmless as a pincher bug will leave eggs and feces in your food.
  • While you may know enough to avoid dangerous insects like black widows, scorpions, or fire ants, your children and pets may not.

These are just some of the reasons to call a professional exterminator. Not only can they save you money, they can possibly save your home and your life!

One-Time Removal or Contract?

If you have never had an insect problem in your home before and very suddenly you start to see the signs, you may be able to call in the professionals for a one-time extermination. However, if you start to notice that you have an ongoing insect problem, you may opt to hire an exterminator on a contract basis.

In these cases, you would pay a monthly, or sometimes quarterly fee for the pro to come to your home on a scheduled basis to stop any type of insect infestation before it begins. or begins again! You may pay more for a contract over the years, but if it keeps the pests away permanently it is well worth the cost.

The cost of a service depends on certain factors: the frequency of the visit, the size of the home, and the type of pest(s) causing the problem.

Frequency of the Visit

Some exterminators liken their task to house cleaning: the longer you go between cleanings, the harder it is to get the job done. For this reason, exterminators will often have a higher-cost initial visit followed by cheaper maintenance visits.

When researching prices it’s important to learn if the estimates are for an initial visit, a one-time visit only, or a regular monthly, semi-monthly, or quarterly visit.

The typical one-time cost for pest control is around $300.00 to $550.00. This cost is higher than most listed averages because it is a one-time visit only. In these cases, there is usually a lot of work to be done including assessment of the infestation, finding the lair, and identifying entry points into your home.

The typical initial visit ballparks around $180.00 to $185.00. This cost is for the assessment, finding the nest, and identifying entry points as well as an agreement to periodic visits, usually ensured via contract. Some contracts, such as quarterly contracts, may include a stipulation that if you have a problem between visits, then interim treatments will be provided for free. Be sure to ask about such a situation.

Periodic visits can be monthly, semi-monthly (every two months), or quarterly (every three months).

  • Monthly: Average $40.00 to $45.00
  • SemiMonthly: Average $50.00 to $60.00
  • Quarterly: Average $100.00 to $300.00

Two factors that can increase these costs are the size of your property and the level of infestation. The costs above are for a typical 1,500 square foot house. Additional square footage can add to the cost, but usually not by much. Some exterminators charge an extra $25.00 per 1,000 square feet over 1,500. However, a large or more entrenched infestation will add to the cost by varying degrees such as the type of pest and how bad the damage is. Be sure to discuss this up front at the inspection.

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What Pests Require Ongoing Treatment?

Some pests can be gotten rid of in one or two visits. Raccoons and squirrels, for example, can be handled by removing food sources and blocking access to where they’ve been nesting. Some ant issues can be handled by trimming tree branches and other house-access “highways” that they and other pests use. Bees can often be removed (sometimes for free) by a beekeeper who relocates the queen, and thus the hive, to his own inventory of bees. Sometimes it’s a one-off problem, such as a snake that has wandered onto your property and into your walls or crawlspace.

Other pests keep coming back. Roaches, spiders, termites, ticks, mice, rats, fleas, and ants are the most common pests that won’t take “no” for an answer. Your house is a very attractive food source and nesting area. Even if you take precautions and keep things spotlessly clean, they can still be there. They may come out at night seeking anything you might have left behind, eventually wandering farther and farther into your home.

Regular maintenance is the best way to handle these problems. Whether you choose monthly visits, semi-monthly visits, or quarterly visits should depend on how bad the problem is.

Climate can also influence the type and severity of your problem. Warm, dry areas can see severe problems as pests seek shade and cooler places to live. Warm, humid areas can attract wood-boring insects that initially feast on wet or moldy wood but quickly start attacking good, dry wood. In cold climates, wet or dry, insects such as the earwig, roach, and even the normally beneficial ladybug will seek out the warmth of your home. Even wasps will leave their larvae to die in paper nests while they take up residence in attics and other relatively warm places.

Unless you live in a temperate area, consider regular visits from an exterminator.

What Type of Pests Do You Have?

The first step to pest control is to identify the type of pest you have. Some pests come around due to other pests, so don’t assume that because you caught one mouse that mice are your only problem. For example, if you have a wolf-spider problem, you may also have a problem with their common prey, cockroaches.

The most common pests found in American homes are:

  • Ants (especially the destructive carpenter ant)
  • Bed bugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Beetles
  • Centipedes (if you are allergic to bee stings, you are probably allergic to centipede bites as well)
  • Crickets (more noisy than anything, they can still leave feces)
  • Earwigs
  • Flies
  • Mice
  • Moths
  • Raccoons
  • Rats
  • Silverfish (though not poisonous, they can do severe damage to fabrics, books, and other such materials)
  • Spiders (many spiders eat insects and avoid people, but their webs can trap a lot of dust and allergens)
  • Squirrels
  • Termites
  • Weevils
  • Woodlice

Whether or not these pests are directly poisonous or can simply bring disease through parasites or feces, the fact is that they do not belong in your home. They are dangerous to your health and destructive to your home. In some cases, they can drive up your cost of living. Raccoons, for example, will tear up your crawl space insulation to make their nests. Bed bugs may require throwing away expensive furniture items like mattresses and couches. The average bed bug treatment cost is less expensive than replacing thousands of dollars in furniture.

How Many Pests Do You Have?

When it comes to pest control a good motto is: “the sooner the better”. It is much easier, faster and cheaper to get rid of any pest by catching it before it has had time to reproduce. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve seen the first one, it’s usually too late for that.

Once any insect has had time to lay its eggs, form colonies, and grow, it will have become a serious problem. Some people accept that insects will be seen from time to time and don’t take any steps at the first sight. They don’t call an exterminator until after it has become a serious problem. This is the most expensive way to handle it and gives the pests more than enough time to do serious damage.

How many pests do you have? Probably more than you realize. Here are the reproduction rates of two of the most common pests you will encounter, mice and roaches:

  • Mice – A single female produces 5 to 10 litters per year. These litters consist of 5 to 6 young which are able to reproduce after a mere 30 days. So one month after giving birth, that 5 to 6 mice can become 25 to 60 mice. Now multiply that by one year and you get 300 to 720 mice!
  • Roaches – A female cockroach can produce 4 to 8 egg capsules in her lifetime. Each capsule can have 30 to 48 eggs in it for a reproduction rate of 120 to 384 eggs in a typical life span of 1 year. A roach reaches maturity in 40 to 125 days depending on temperature (warmer equals faster), so in a little over a month you might see an increase of almost 1,500 roaches, or 18,000 in a year!

For pests such as these with high reproduction rates, regular visits from your exterminator are a must. The program for this is one of control and maintenance because total removal is a near-impossibility.

Damage Caused By Pests

You might think that you are saving money by not hiring a professional to take care of your pest or insect problem. In one sense you are. After all, the cost of one can of bug spray or a few mousetraps is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of an exterminator.

But the problem with insects which is often overlooked is the damage they do inside your home and the cost of repairing that damage. Insects can eat through your clothing, lay their eggs throughout your home and in the case of termites, cause structural damage to your house. They often spread germs and bacteria that can make you or your family sick. In the long run it is generally less expensive to take care of the insect problem as soon as possible than to wait and fix the damage later on.

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Here are some of the more common pests and what kind of damage they can do if left to their own devices:

  • Mice –Mice can cause untold amounts of damage to your food. As well as eating it, their fecal material often finds its way into your grains and cereals. Like rats, mice leave a urine scent-trail everywhere they go. Many diseases are brought in by mice and rats such as salmonella, rabies, foot-and-mouth, and Hantavirus. They contaminate everything by leaving hairs as well as bodily waste, and where you have mice and rats, you have fleas. Mice also chew the insulation off of your electrical wiring. It is believed that 25% of all fires with an unknown origin were caused by mice and rats chewing on electrical insulation. The damage can range from a few dollars to replace your contaminated food to hundreds of thousands of dollars as your house burns, taking your worldly possessions with it.
  • Carpenter Ants – Carpenter ants leave damage that the untrained eye can easily mistake for termites. To tell the difference, look at the tunnels, or “galleries”. A carpenter ant will leave a smooth, almost sanded appearance, while a termite’s gallery will be packed with mud-like substances and will be rough. Carpenter ants do not necessarily “eat” the wood, but they will carve away at damp wood and will grow and farm molds and other fungus for food. These galleries can significantly weaken the structure they are bored into. Once the structure has been weakened, a heavy snowfall, high winds, or other outside stress can cause the structure to collapse. These small insects can do thousands of dollars of damage, usually in the $6,000.00 to $10,000.00 range.
  • Termites – Unlike carpenter ants, these insects actually eat the wood. Like carpenter ants, they can cause catastrophic amounts of damage. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion of damage each year. That’s more than fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes combined. Keep your eyes open in early Spring for termite swarms. If you see them on your property, call an exterminator quickly. The average termite treatment cost is about $540. Otherwise you could be paying up to tens of thousands of dollars for repairs.

A kind of damage that many don’t think about is the psychological damage. Many people have had the experience of swatting a bug off of themselves but not seeing where it went and not being sure they got it. For quite a while, every little tickle will feel like the insect still crawling on them. Now imagine having that sensation for the rest of your life. People who have had to live in heavily infested homes often mistake small sensations for insects and may never feel that a room is clean enough. While this may sound minor, it is a heavy burden for those who live with it and can blossom into a full-blown phobia.

In Conclusion

The best time to call an exterminator is before insects and other pests become a problem. Waiting until you’re tired of dealing with them will only cost you more in the long run both in terms of money and health.


Perimeter Treatments to Spray For Bugs & Insects

An insecticide perimeter treatment serves as a first line of defense around your home, stopping pests before they enter. This type of treatment offers one of the best insecticide defenses against outdoor pests that migrate inside for winter, including Boxelder Bugs, Stink Bugs, and Asian Lady Beetles.

Perimeter treatments form a barrier on exterior surfaces –house, exposed foundation, soil and nearby plant material. Typically a perimeter treatment blankets a 3-foot-wide zone in two directions: from the ground up the house wall and from the house wall outward.

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Timing Is Key

For fall treatments, timing is critical. Get the perimeter treatment in place before insects start gathering in large numbers. Insects migrate toward winter shelter based on changes in temperature and day length. Contact your local extension office to learn approximate times you can expect insect invasions.

Choose Your Favorite Type of Insecticide

Insecticides used for perimeter treatments come in two forms: liquid or granule. Which one you use depends on your own preference, although liquid forms offer the flexibility to treat vertical and hard surfaces.

Liquid Insecticides
Ready-to-use sprays attach to your hose and mix to proper concentrations as you spray. These sprays offer easy storage for leftover chemical. Alternately, you can dilute insecticide concentrate and apply with a pressurized hand-held sprayer. Be sure to choose a sprayer you can physically carry.
Hint for Success:To avoid mixing more insecticide than you need, mix and spray a small amount at first to see how far it will go. Treat turf with a coarse spray to penetrate between grass blades. Use a liquid insecticide to spray the house and other structural surfaces.

Granule Insecticides
Apply using a drop spreader or a hand-held spreader. If your spreader isn’t listed on the insecticide label, call the customer service 1-800 number on the label.
Hint for Success:Water in granules after application, unless rain is predicted.

Application Tips

  • Create a continuous band without skips to form an effective perimeter barrier.
  • Treat soil, turf, mulch or walkways adjoining foundation or porches.
  • When spraying liquid, spray with the wind to avoid getting drenched.
  • Spray where dissimilar building materials meet –where siding joins window frames or where brick meets wood trim. Spray areas where utilities enter the structure and around doors and windows.
  • Apply to other areas where you spot insect activity: sheds, woodpiles, garages, carports, etc.
  • Remove vegetation from within 12–24 inches of your house so insects cannot cross the barrier via leaves.
  • If insect pressure is intense, widen the treatment band up to 10 feet.

When To Call a Professional

How do you know when you can’t treat the problem effectively?When you’re outnumbered. Large infestations of invasive pests –like when thousands of Stink Bugs or Lady Beetles swarm your home and enter by the hundreds –are too much for the average homeowner to handle. In these cases, the entire home needs to be treated, including roof eaves and soffits. A professional has the equipment to treat on a large scale.

When you’re battling wood-destroying insects

Once Termites or Carpenter Ants actively infest your home’s wooden structure, you need help. This insect group includes Drywood Termites, Powderpost Beetles, Carpenter Ants and Old House Borers.


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