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The Haunting Truth Behind Pest Control

At the age of 8, the slightest creak or scratch during the night startled me. I would pull the covers over my head believing it was some kind of magical shield protecting me from the supernatural forces haunting the attic above my bedroom ceiling. While trying to fall asleep, my young mind pictured horrifying images of ghosts and other malevolent beings that turned my childhood dreams into nightmares. Night after night, I heard the ghosts coming but, I never did actually see them or anything else considered malevolent.

Haunted Pest Control

Long after my childhood fears and ghosts were forgotten, I moved into the house where my great grandmother, grandmother and grandfather died. During the day the house seemed warm and normal but, at night the house grew cold as my childhood fears returned. Not long after moving in, I noticed a strong musky smell much like death shortly after dark. I began to hear scratching from behind the walls, odd creaky sounds from above the ceiling and saw movement within the shadows. As I sat reading in the evenings, my dogs began growling and barking at the walls ending their protective reaction with a whining all to lay down with their eyes fixated in the direction of something I couldn't see. Every now and again I could hear what sounded like a child running or playing in the attic. And, just after midnight, you could hear someone (or something) pacing back and forth in the attic. Having lived without my childhood fears for sometime, I began to question what was real again. So, i decided to investigate with an open mind.

My investigation began in the attic where I found the mummified remains of something not human and before i had time to panic I noticed the attic was cold and smelled musky as if something had died in it. There were strange black marks running up and down the walls of the attic - some of these markings were in the shape of crosses. If what i found in the attic wasn't enough to keep me up at night, in the basement, I found what looked like shallow graves. Next to one of the areas was freshly disturbed earth where something had forced its way out of the ground. To my amazement and relief though what I uncovered was more real than imaginary.

The remains I found were not human, they were of rodents, bats, and birds. The cold I felt was air coming in from a damaged portion of the roof that also became access for birds, bats, and squirrels to enter my home. The cold air dropped to lower levels of the house at night bringing the smell of death and mummified flesh from the attic too. The pacing sound and black marks were from rats moving around. Video footage revealed a squirrel bee lining my attic to a walnut tree in my front yard. (This explained my initial thoughts of a child running or playing.) The scratching behind the walls were mice, and with their sensitive ears, my dogs were reacting to rodent activity all along. In the basement, the shallow graves I found were actually burrows dug out by rats. And it turned out that the freshly disturbed earth resulted from something digging its way out was just a ground hog. 

As a pest professional, I have heard many haunting tales of scratching, clawing, and groaning throughout the night all to discover the glowing eyes or infrared image of a rodent during inspection. Pest professionals know that birds and squirrels can mimic paranormal activity in the early evening as they settle in for the night, just as rats and mice can cause vocal, audio, and video disturbances, especially close to midnight since they are nocturnal. Being creatures of habit, rodents typically run back and forth on the same path several times each night debunking the ghost of a child playing or something pacing in my house. Mice will scurry up and down the inside of walls causing dogs and cats to stare and react with excitement. So, before you have another sleepless night, before your kids jump in bed with you from fear, and before you call in the paranormal investigation team look for a few obvious signs first.

Below are the most common signs of rodents causing the unexplained in your home:

Unexplained sounds- Rodents cannot be considered quiet when inside your home. Both rats and mice will cause you to hear squeaks, rustling, and scurrying sounds as they move around. As you go to bed at night noises from rodents begin as they are just now waking up.

Glowing trails- House mice are known for their urination patterns. A mouse will leave an invisible trail of urine that will illuminate under the right lighting that could easily be mistaken for the blood of ghosts. These urine lines may be dashed or spotted in appearance when illuminated by professionals. Other times they may be a short or long unbroken line. 

Behind the walls- Rodents build nests from furniture stuffing, shredded paper, grass, and almost anything they can readily find for warmth and cushion. Mice build their nests in undisturbed places like boxes in the attic or basement, unused cabinets and closets, inside walls, even in the voids between ceilings and floors. (Thus hearing noises in areas of no activity.) As mice travel back and forth with nesting material sometimes they drop items. The sound of a twig falling inside a wall can range from a subtle scratching to a traveling scrap-like sound. Over the years, I have found marbles, glass, and other tiny objects in a mouse nest that if dropped during travel could make for an interesting story. 

Strange markings- Mice can make it through openings a quarter inch in size. (A reason for markings to suddenly stop or disappear.) Caused by the dirt and oil in their skin and fur, both rats and mice leave behind rub marks (or smears) that can range in color from a light grey for mice to black resulting from rats. On a funnier note: a recent customer of mine had rats in her kitchen. When i pulled the fridge away from the wall there was a well-pronounced smear mark in the form of an upside down cross on the wall left by rats. The cross was the length and width of her refrigerator, and upon seeing the rub mark my customer fainted. After about 30 seconds, she came to and admitted she was shocked to find that the devil was in her kitchen. 

Gnaw marks- To ensure proper dental care, both rats and mice gnaw away at things. While wood is a favorite, rodents will begin gnawing away on whatever suits them including electrical wire and PVC pipes. Unexplained grinding, scrapping, and sounds that seem to travel can result from the gnawing of rodents. You may not actually see the gnaw marks, but evidence of rodent gnawing is found in the form of wood shavings, shredded paper, and misplaced items. (The latter resulting from rodents having to escape your presence when a tooth gets stuck on an object.)

The smell of death- House mice have a distinct musky scent that once you smell it you'll always remember. Like mice, rats too, bring a unique odor to your home. When living inside, rodents will die inside and when this happens you'll know it. Out of nowhere the smell of death can take up all the airspace inside your house. Lasting more than a week at times, the decaying body of a rodent will surely be cause for concern. 

Mysterious patterns- Both rats and mice will leave tracks and tail marks on dusty surfaces. If enough mice are present it will appear as if claws were slid down the top of a dresser or stand that has a dusty top. Rats drag their tails leaving a defined mark between their footprints. Again, in the right type of lighting these trails may play tricks on your mind. 

Pet behavior- Remember that cats and dogs are able to detect sounds that humans cannot. Dogs can sniff out bed bugs and more. They are keen on smelling, hearing and seeing rodent activity too. A dog may immediately react to rodents by staring, scratching, barking, whining, going in a circle and pacing near the area of activity. 

If your dog is barking or growling at the wall, or just staring up at the ceiling my bet is you have a rodent problem - not ghosts. The haunting truth behind pest control is rodents are the traditional culprit for what goes bump in the night. I have never seen one for myself, and I won't ever say ghosts don't exist but, I will recommend calling a pest professional the next time you hear that ghost child playing in the attic. 

Avoid Sand Fleas This Summer

Not to bust your summer fun or time on the beach but... our number one bug for the summer is the sand flea. Otherwise known of as a sand hopper, these tiny little creatures are actually crustaceans. Due to their ability to inflict irritating bites, the name "sand flea" is often used to describe a wide variety of insects like midges, biting gnats, flies and your typical flea. With each of these insects, the aftereffects of their bites are similar leaving itchy, red welts that can, well... make for a memorable vacation.

Sand fleas can easily be found on beaches along Atlantic coastal areas and marshes, but can also be found in the desert as well. Before you get too worried relax because truth is sand fleas will never really come home with you from vacation. Unlike bed bugs, they prefer their ocean view habitat. Now, before you get too relaxed know that the female sand flea has the ability to burrow under your skin to lay her eggs

Sand fleas can easily be found on beaches along Atlantic coastal areas and marshes, but can also be found in the desert as well. Before you get too worried relax because truth is sand fleas will never really come home with you from vacation. Unlike bed bugs, they prefer their ocean view habitat. Now, before you get too relaxed know that the female sand flea has the ability to burrow under your skin to lay her eggs

How ToAvoid Sand Fleas

  • Sand fleas typically feed in the early morning and late afternoon so, avoid the beach during those times. I know, right?
  • Avoid placing your towel (or blanket) right on the sand. Make use of folding beach chairs and lounges instead. (Ladies, here is a great selling point for the hubby for renting one.)
  • I would say wear close-toed shoes but, then why walk the beach to begin? Sand fleas can't jump that high so... your call.
  • Spray on some insect repellent if you do end up getting bit - it is the most effective prevention.
  • Avoid areas with seaweed since this is where they can usually be found feeding.

What To Do When Bitten

According to the National Institute of Health, if bitten by sand fleas avoid scratching. While extremely rare for the female to deposit her eggs in your skin, look after bites and if you find a black center to one consult your physician immediately.

Christmas Tree Pests

efore you grab that Christmas tree be sure it's not home to unwanted pests this holiday season.

christmas tree pests

Freshly cut Christmas trees not only liven the holiday spirit, they may be a direct way for insects, mites, and spiders to enter your home. When brought inside, some insects may remain on the inner trunk of the tree never being noticed but, others may come out to venture around your home once they feel warm temperatures inside. Most insects remain on the tree for winter hibernation while some may be attracted to light fixtures and windows. Following a few preventive steps can help ensure you won't introduce them into your home this holiday season.

Mechanical tree shakers
These are very useful in removing insects and nests from trees. If not done when purchasing your Christmas Tree, shake the tree vigorously before setting up inside for the holidays as this will serve the same purpose.

Bird nests, although considered decorative by some people, bird nests may contain mites and lice. Any nests should be removed by hand if not by mechanical or hand shaking.

Natural Aerosol sprays can be sprayed on the Christmas tree.
There are many useful and natural aerosol products you can easily find to spray directly into the tree. With having no residual and being natural, these products quickly repel any insect that may be hiding within your tree. Your tree will be safe to set up inside shortly after you spray them. 

Vacuum cleaners
Vacuums work very well by removing insects that may collect on walls, floors or ceilings. Quickly remove nesting debris, eggs, cocoons and live insects this way. 

A Christmas tree may be home to numerous structural, environmental and landscape pests like adelgids, wooly adelgids, aphids, bark beetles, mites, chiggers, ticks, fleas, praying mantids, scale insects, psocids, and spiders. The odds of finding all the listed pests on your Christmas tree this year is slim but, sometimes one or more may have made a home in it. So follow these holiday hacks to limit any pest problem this holiday season. 

Why Are Spiders Associated With Halloween?

Steeped in mythology and folklore, bats and rats have frightened people throughout history but, what about spiders? According to pest professionals, the days leading up to Halloween are highly active with spiders, rats and mice. "This is a critical time of year for the so-called creatures of the night, as they try to enter your home in search of a safe and warm winter haven.

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Bats

Throughout history bats have been associated with supernatural forces and the occult. Improperly culturalized by their ability to navigate in total darkness and hunt at night, bats are extremely beneficial creatures and typically misunderstood. Removal and prevention is best left up to professionals as bats are mammals of an interesting kind. Since ancient times, bats have been considered signs of death, disease, and vampires. Activity in bat populations also become more apparent to people as the day's light shortens. So, no wonder these nocturnal and highly intelligent little creatures are commonly associated with the Halloween season.

Rats

During the Middle Ages, it was believed rats had a sixth sense able to predict disaster, disease and even death. They played a crucial role in many plagues throughout history and have the ability to destroy stored products, contaminate grains and other major portions of our food supply. While bats are always beneficial to us and nature rats differ in they are disease vectors and destructive at times. It's important to remember that rats seek shelter from the winter months in homes and other structures making them a direct association to Halloween.

Spiders

Spiders, throughout history and among numerous cultures have typically been associated with good luck, the creation of the world and universe, and healing. From Witches to the American Indians and back to the ancient Romans, spiders have never been depicted or associated with anything negative. ar from the truth so I ask why is it that spiders are commonly scene in decorations, horror, and anything frightening for that matter? The answer lies in the dead... what? True. During the medieval period it was thought that if someone saw a spider on Hallows Eve it was the spirit of a dead loved one watching over them.