Residential Pest Control: Oakland’s Mouse Problems

Fuzzy, cute, three to four inches in length and weighing about an ounce, mice don’t often look threatening. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the detrimental impact these unwanted rodents can have on you and your family.

Oakland’s dry, warm conditions are forcing pests, including mice, to do more “window shopping” as we approach the summer season, seeking alternative water and food sources inside homes and businesses. While mice don’t require as much water as their rat brethren, they still have to eat, and your home is a prime target.

Mice that forage aggressively not only can spoil it with droppings and urine, but can carry dangerous bacteria, including salmonella and several others, by crawling on countertops and food making areas, and can contaminate that food by chewing through packaging.

In addition to ruining food, mice also pose a meaningful threat to the structural integrity of your house. They can destroy insulation in attics and can munch through wallboards, cardboard, wood, and even electrical or computer wiring. In fact, rodents of various kinds cause up to 25 percent of house fires in every year!

Good sanitation is one key to keeping rodents out of your home successfully. Keep counters clean, eliminate mess, and make sure to gather and empty garbage, trash, and garden clippings frequently. Also, be positive that all garbage receptacles have tightly fitting covers – indoors and out.

But the first and most critical step to make sure your house remains rodent-free is by preventing them from getting in in the first place. Mice (and most rodents for that matter) are opportunists that spend most of their life seeking a way inside a home or other building in search of food, water, and shelter.

Here are the quick steps you can take to avoid making an emergency call to the residential pest control in Oakland:

  1. Seal holes and cracks on the outside of your home – pay attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, even those up near the roof. Mice are able climbers, and can jump up to 12 inches and squirm through an hole the size of a dime.
  2. Replace loose cement around the basement foundation and windows.
  3. Store firewood well away from your house and a few inches above the ground.
  4. Trim plants, shrubs and trees close to your walls, cut the grass often, rake up fallen leaves, and pick up yard waste piles where mice like to hide.
  5. Look over the weatherstripping on garage and entry doors to make sure it has no breaks.
  6. Make sure the screens over dryer and utility vents have no tears or openings.

Manage that, and you’re doing well.

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Spring Pest Control: San Francisco’s Rousing Pest Population

Ahh, Springtime! The kaleidoscope of flower petals along the sides of every path, the smell of freshly-cut grass mixing with smell of lawn mower fuel, and the sound of buzzing wings dive-bombing the first celebratory barbeque of the sunny season…what’s not to love?

What? You don’t like wasps? Then why are you barbequing, silly human? Don’t you know that spreading delicious sugar-and-meat smell in front of the nostril-equivalents of the freshly-roused wasp population is like riding through Tenderloin with a pile of money and some illegal narcotics all up on your dashboard? Maybe we should have a chat about what other pests populations are surging along with the rest of the new life this time of year.

Carpenter Ants
There’s no bigger ant in the San Francisco area than the carpenter ant — your typical soldier is nearly an inch long. Yeah, that’s gross. Carpenter ants aren’t terribly slowed down by the winter, but spring is nonetheless the time of year that their population explodes, with larger nests ‘calving’ (breaking off smaller groups to go nest elsewhere) this time of year. Of course, the existing nest will continue to expand, and if left alone, they can actually bring your entire house down.

Ticks
Lyme disease, tularemia, and a few other serious-as-onions diseases have a helpful little transmission vector in the disgusting body of your everyday San Franciscan tick. Any walk through dense underbrush could leave you or a pet the victim of a tick attack — and ticks show up en masse as the grass gains mass. If your property has some unavoidable underbrush, consider calling an expert out for some de-ticking.

Termites
Like the carpenter ants, spring is the time when San Francisco’s termite population forms swarms and starts looking for new homes for their extra queens. When the temperature hits over-70 for about a week in a row, you can expect to see them hunting down a new supply of wood to nom. Naturally, if you notice any near your home, get some pest control out there — don’t risk them cohabitating under your floors or behind your walls!

Spring time pest control is San Francisco‘s salvation from a wide variety of disgusting, costly, and annoying critters that love the season of rebirth just as much as we do — if you’re the type who would pay for a bit of preventive pest maintenance at all, this is the time to do it!

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The Most Difficult Pest Control: San Francisco’s Cockroaches

There’s layers to this work, player: some forms of pest control are significantly easier than others. Given the option between dealing with bedbugs or dealing with earwigs, every single pest control engineer we know would take the earwigs every single time. But even put up against the hassle of dealing with bed bugs, there’s one form of pest control San Francisco‘s pest controllers dread most of all. Yep, it’s none other than the dreaded cockroach.

U to the G to the H, seriously now.

The cockroaches in San Francisco are darn near the ultimate pests. (At least, the ones that will get into your home and make themselves a pain are — that’s only about 30 out of the 4,000 different cockroach species.) They have evolved over literally hundreds of millions of years, and among the many adaptations they’ve collected in that time you can find gems like:

  • The ability to eat basically anything, including meat, vegetables, rotting food, glue, and some kinds of paint. PAINT!  So you can’t starve them to death.
  • Cockroaches can live without their head for several days. If that’s not the kind of adaptation that laughs at dinosaur-killing meteors, we don’t know what is.
  • Thigmotropism: if you’ve ever wondered what the opposite of claustrophobic is, now you know: it’s “the desire to be squeezed into a small space,” the scientific name for which is “thigmotropism.” So cockroaches don’t just shove themselves into tiny spaces as an escape mechanism — it’s like a big warm hug from your floor, as far they’re concerned.
  • Extreme agility and speed, enough to whip along at about 2.5 feet per second, pivot around their centerline like a top set to whirl, and scoot backwards in short bursts if forward turns out to be a bad idea.

All of this combines with a well-known tolerance for many commonplace pesticides (and nuclear radiation, just for fun) and a rapid breeding pace (German cockroaches, the most common to find inside your home, can whip up 50 or so children within 3 weeks of settling in, and each of those 50 can make 50 more, and so on) to make cockroaches the number one most challenging to eradicate pest in San Francisco.  If you see one in your home, don’t hesitate — call Burge Pest Control today!

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Ant Control for Oakland Kitchens: Keep Them OUT!

There’s nothing that is quite as depresgravating as looking down the length of your otherwise-pristine kitchen counter and seeing some small scrap of leftover something…and a long line of ants each taking a small nom off of said scrap and bring it back to their nest. If you’re just done with those scurrying six-legged annoyances, it’s time to call Burge Pest Control. We’ll come out there and perform the level of ant control Oakland residents have come to expect from our experts.

After and Before

Of course, once we’ve come out and done our anti-ant antics, you’re on your own again. Our chemicals will last a couple of months, and if you don’t arrange for a regular service, you might end up in the exact same position next season. Unless, of course, you do these simple things to dramatically reduce your risk.

  • Cover Everything Every Time: All it takes is one foraging ant to discover a bit of food. The moment they do, they’ll grab as much as they can carry and head back to the nest, leaving behind a trail of chemicals that tell other ants, “Hey, follow this trail to the food!” And suddenly, that line we mentioned up above forms, and it’s out-freaking time.
  • Including the Trash: Hopefully, this is intuitively obvious, but just in case: that includes the trash. If you have a trashcan that doesn’t close all the way, and even the faintest whiff of edible goodness (from an ant’s perspective) drifts out of it, you’ll have dozens of them meandering into your garbage.
  • Clean Everything Every Time: Similarly, if you have a spill, no matter how minor it seems, deal with it. Not necessarily “immediately,” but by the time you’re ready to serve whatever thing you were preparing. If you leave the kitchen, food in hand, and there’s still food spillage on the counter or the floor, you’re asking the ants to come.

No one, least of all Burge Pest Control, is insisting that you become the Our Lady of the Immaculate Confection — cooking is supposed to be fun and (at least in our experience) that includes being a little messy — just clean up consistently and thoroughly. Unless you want to pay us for another visit. We’re…we’re OK with that, actually.

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Types of Commercial Pest Control for Concord Businesses

When you put years of blood, sweat, and tears into your business and you have a good portion of your plans for the future riding on its success, you don’t really have the option of forgetting the details that keep the place open and functional. But many Concord businesses inadvertently open the doors (no pun intended) for pests by attempting to save a scrap of change on their bottom line — by not paying for pest control services at least once every season.

But even if you ignore the pests, you can be assured that your customers, vendors, and employees won’t. It’s far better to set yourself up for ongoing, at least every-other-monthly preventative pest control than it is to find out that you already have disgusting, disease-carrying roaches or rats hiding inside your walls. But not all pest control is the same! Here’s a short list of unique aspects of pest control for Concord‘s specific industries:

Medical
A single pest problem can spell revoked licenses and thus vanishing funding for healthcare businesses, but at the same time, it’s not like an emergency ward can just close for a while as the pest control folks do their thing — that’s why Burge Pest Control addresses medical structures by creating a pestproof barrier all the way around the outside. If they don’t get in, there’s no problem!

Food Services
Not just restaurants here, but food processing businesses as well can be among the most challenging — but also definitely among the most important! — to keep pest-free. Compounding the issue is a wide array of regulatory agencies that have rules that must be attended to by everyone working the space, including pest control. Our specially-trained pest control techs will bring their top game, with food-safe pest-proofing wherever the product is and powerful, long-lasting chemical walls everywhere it’s safe to apply them.

Hospitality/Property Management
Any time you have dozens or hundreds of people sharing the same building, you have special risks — the sheer amount of in-and-out that happens in your typical condo is a classic example. Burge Pest Control will come in, handle any urgent pest-related situations you’re facing down, and then come back for a perimeter misting every 30-60 days to ensure that your pest problems never come back.

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Why Monthly Pest Control? Walnut Creek’s Landlords Know!

We’ll be perfectly honest: most single-family residences and even most commercial institutions around Walnut Creek only need pest control services every other month — because the chemicals used by most pest control firms break down over the course of about sixty days. But there are definitely places that need monthly pest control; Walnut Creek‘s multi-family residences (apartments, condominiums, and so on) are prime examples.

Why? Simple: apartments, condominiums, and similar structures have dozens or hundreds of people who come and go — most of them, let’s be honest, not exactly as careful with their temporary living conditions as they would be if they actually owned the building. That means dozens or hundreds of chances for someone to go on a trip and come back with bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, or poisonous spiders — any of which can rapidly become a full-fledged infestation.

The standard operating procedure for an unprepared apartment manager is to basically ignore pest control needs until they get multiple reports of pests in a short timespan — crap, both A102 and A103 reported roaches this week! Then, they call pest control, spend several hundred dollars for some heavy-duty remediation…and then ignore pest control again until the cycle starts over.

Imagine a world in which, instead of several hundred dollars twice a year, the apartment manager spent fifty or so every month to have a pest control expert come out and perform basic preventative measures. Where, when those bedbugs hitched a ride on A207’s suitcase, they ran smack into a chemical wall that left them gasping in the corner, unable to eat or breed, and no one ever noticed that the bugs made it into the house because they got vacuumed up like all the other dust. Wouldn’t that be better?

It might not be possible for a landlord to consistently make the rounds, preventing all of their residents from leaving old food out and thus attracting rodents and cockroaches — some people are just messy, no judgment. But it’s totally possible for that landlord to ensure that there simply aren’t any cockroaches or rodents in the area to be attracted to that food.

When every one of your tenants has to deal with the combined pest-related threats that the entire bunch bring together, monthly pest control isn’t just a good idea — it’s bordering on mandatory.

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The European Paper Wasps San Francisco Hates

If you’re outdoors barbequing and there’s a yellow-and-black buzzing pest that just won’t leave you well enough alone, it’s quite probably a European Paper Wasp. San Francisco‘s downtown core is rife with them, and they get along better in highly urbanized environments than they do in the suburbs, so they’re more prevalent here than in the surrounding area.

The European Paper Wasp was first detected near Sacramento in 1989, and as an invasive species has been largely unchecked in its spread over the last 25 years. There was already a massive population of native stinging wasps, and the two do compete over a decent amount of resources, so they haven’t taken over absolutely everything. They have, however, been making steady progress out of the San Joaquin River Delta into San Rafael — and, recently, across the bay into San Francisco proper.

The European Paper Wasp is longer and more slender than the native wasps, but is more often confused for a yellow jacket because the patterns of their yellow-and-black markings are nearly identical.

They eat mostly caterpillars, aphids, and unfortunately honeybees — but as we mentioned, the Paper Wasp seems to have developed an absolute passion for barbequed meat as well. Given the chance, they’ll actually carve small bits off of your barbeque to carry back to their hives and feed to their young. CSI crews have even been known to consult apiarists to figure out how to keep Paper Wasps off of homicide victims’ bodies in the late spring and early summer!

The adults themselves most often eat carbs rather than meat, particularly as the summer drags on, leading them to be frequently found on (or in!) sugary soda cans in the late summer — leading to an unfortunate prevalence of stings on the lips and tongue during those months.

If you find a clump of honeycomb-shaped, paper-like material on the underside of any rainproof surface on your property — under your eaves, in your shed, or even on the bottom of a wooden fence railing — call Burge Pest Control today, and we’ll take care of them quickly and efficiently.

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Monsters Under the Bed: Bed Bug Removal in Concord

There really are monsters under some beds. They’re creepy, disgusting things that are all but invisible, feed on your very lifeblood as you sleep, and vanish with the morning’s light. They’re called bed bugs, and they’re every bit as horrific as your four-year-old self imagined the monsters under your bed to be.

Unfortunately, they’re also insanely hard to get rid of once you have them. Even a professional pest control company called out to perform bed bug removal for a Concord home will have to come back three times in order to be certain that the treatments we use will be 100% effective — there’s just no such thing as a one-time bed bug solution.

Integrated Pest Management and Bedbugs

Most modern pest management companies use a system called IPM: Integrated Pest Management. The IPM guidelines are established by the government to create a baseline of effective pest control techniques that minimize the use of volatile organic compounds or other chemicals dangerous to humans.

In the case of bedbugs, the protocol involves a combination of steam (killing by heat), liquid nitrogen (killing with cold), pesticides (killing with poison), and preventative techniques such as sealing crevices the bugs may hide in. In the case of dire or repeated infestations, we’ll sit you down and counsel you a bit on how you can prevent a recurrence in the future as well.

At the same time, you have a responsibility as well — as the pest control folks are doing what they do, you’ll need to take care of several things as well. Primary among them: launder every sheet, pillow case, duvet cover, curtain, furniture cover, and other bit of fabric in the bedrooms. Also: sprinkle a light dusting of diatomaceous earth all over your carpets and in the corners of every infested room. Leave it in for a least a week, then vacuum it up with a non-filtered vacuum cleaner like a Shop-Vac. (Diatomaceous earth kills the heck out of vacuum filters.)

If you can do that, and we do our part, we can kill those monsters under your bed once and for all.

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A Challenge in Rodent-Proofing Walnut Creek

Here’s a quick pre-Spring challenge for you: 20 steps you can take toward rodent-proofing a Walnut Creek home or business. Are you up for it? Let’s go!

  • Replace Your Weather Stripping: Even a half-inch gap in your weather stripping is an invitation to come inside for a small mouse. This goes for doors, windows, and anything else that opens.
  • Examine Your Plumbing: If you have a pipe that moves from outside to inside at any point, it’s a double-danger. First, any pipes that open to the air can offer rodents a way in by crawling inside the pipes. Second, any pipes that aren’t properly caulked, screened, or both can allow rodents in by crawling along the top of the pipe.
  • Vents, Too: Similarly, a vent that has no screen or whose cover get stuck open for whatever reason can let rodents in along the inside, and a vent that doesn’t seal to the wall it moves through gives them a bridge to walk along.
  • Your Roofline: This is a big one, and often overlooked by homeowners. Most houses have dozens of entrances along to roofline, from attic vents to entrances for cable, phone, or electric lines to holes left behind by those carpenter bees a few years ago. Go over your eaves carefully and be ready to plug any hole the size of a dime or larger.
  • Is Your Siding Safe?  The next place to look is at your home’s siding: if there are warped, cracked, pulled-away, or otherwise imperfect pieces of siding, they could expose the insides of your walls to access from rodents.
  • Foundational Problems: If your foundation is cracked, has loose blocks, or has dipped away from the wall above it, you’re once again looking at an easy way in for a rodent. If you have a crawl space instead of a foundation, you can consider it just another side of the home to be inspected; most of these things apply to that entrance as well.
  • Up Top: Check your chimney: if there’s a piece of missing flashing along the bottom or a gap the size of a dime or larger between the cap and the chimney top, that’s an invitation to a rodent.
  • Under the Deck: Decks conceal an enormous amount of rodent activity, and if there are any controls or pipes that go into the house from underneath, it’s an easy rodent highway.

If you aren’t up for going over the entire checklist by yourselves, call Burge Pest and we’ll send a professional out there to do it for you. It’s worth it for the time you’ll save alone!

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Are There Dangerous Spiders in San Francisco?

Well, of course: the dreaded Black Widow, that infamous people-killer, shows up all over the San Francisco area! That’s dangerous right?

Well…sort of. That story is wrong for a few reasons. First, all forms of window spider are naturally shy — they don’t want to bite you! Researchers attempting to provoke several species of spider into attacking discovered that the black widow was among the least likely to bite. They’re far more likely to attempt to run, to play dead, or to attack with strands of silk. The only time they’re actually likely to bite is if they’re pinned entirely down — and even then, the chances of severe symptoms (beyond burning pain and nausea a little later) are very slim. (In 2013, there were 1,866 diagnosed black widow bites, and a mere 14 caused problems that required hospitalization; none were lethal.)

But that’s not all! The rash of scary “black widow” bites that killed a dozen or so people around 30 years ago and got this spider all up in the news weren’t even the same kind of black widow that lives around here. The Western Black Widow is the only “dangerous” spider in San Francisco — but the spider that caused the scare was actually the Mediterranean Black Widow a.k.a. the Steppe Spider. (They don’t even have the classic hourglass marking!) So not only are you unlikely to get bitten, and unlikely to have any long-term effects from getting bitten, but the bites you do get aren’t even the scary ones.

The fact is, most doctors will ask you, if you believe you have a spider bite, “Did you see the spider that bit you?” That’s because most presumed spider bites aren’t actually spider bites. There are a huge number of other things that can cause similar symptoms, from allergic reactions to infections to stings from other insects or arthropods.

Of course, if you have arachnophobia — quite common, all things considered — none of this is really going to help you. You’re going to quite rightly call a pest control outfit to come out and purge your property of the eight-legged horrors…and we’ll be happy to do it!

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