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Look out, everyone! They’ve amassed an army from mysterious tunnels of terror and they’re coming to attack our world! They’re on the march, antenna twitching, mandibles gnashing, stomachs growling. Will the ravenous beasts target your home? Only the summer days ahead will tell.

I just got a call from a reader. “Our pine trees have been attacked by bark beetles. We just replaced our siding, and ever since then our beautiful green trees have been dying right before our eyes.”

I drove to his home and sure enough, before me was a dead sea of brown pine trees. What a heartbreaking sight! He said, “Why my pine trees? At least I still have my beautiful old oaks.” 

I said, “I’m sorry sir, I can’t tell you why the beetles targeted your pine trees, but it wasn’t related to your siding.”

Like many pest professionals, I’ve met quite a few customers who’ve pleaded, “Hey, Mr. Pest Pro, I’ve never had ants before—why are they in my sugar bowl now?”

“You have ants now because you live in a dynamic, ever-changing forest.” I say. “But don’t worry, I’ll get rid of the critters.”

Unfortunately, a few dishonest bug guys exploit people’s deep need to know why. These guys will make up a scary story, gain the customer’s confidence, then charge for a costly treatment homeowners don’t need. Let the buyer beware!

When you see pests, call us Home Defenders and we’ll thoroughly check your home for the real causes of the infestation, such as tree limbs touching eaves, dirt piled against siding, or a mass of pine needles on your roof. We’ll rid of your home of pests and you’ll be free to enjoy more satisfying summer pastimes, like sitting under an old oak as the sunlight shimmers through the leaves.

And that’s something we all do need.

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Well, I went out for a ground squirrel estimate at a lavender farm in Big Bear last week, and ended up getting accused of a serious crime. It was just another day in the fascinating world of pest management.

I have zero experience in crop pest management and I wouldn’t have driven out there had I known. But a pest guy never knows what lies at the end of the dusty trail.

“Lavender is a relative of sage and grows well in the mountains,” the rancher told me. 

“I learned something today,” I said. “But at Home Defenders, we only service homes and yards. You need to call a company that specializes in this. Good luck with your crop.”

Backing out of his driveway, I noticed an elderly man riding a bicycle down the main road. I waited, but he stopped and waved me on. I backed out, then drove away with him behind me. 

Seconds later, a woman driving towards me put her head out of the car window and yelled, “You just hit that man on the bike! You weren’t looking back—you hit him and just drove off!” I glanced back at the bicyclist and was shocked to see him on the ground. My heart starting racing.

The woman and I rushed back to the cyclist. “Did he run you over?” she asked. “No, I just lost my balance and fell,” he said. “I’m fine.”

“Well, don’t I look foolish,” the woman said. I breathed a giant sigh of relief, and was in no mood to confront my accuser. “I’m just glad no one got hurt.” I said, and headed on to my next job, my heart still racing.

There’s no pest lesson today. I just want to share how bizarre life can get as a pest management professional.

Regardless, I’ll take bizarre over a desk job any day.

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Greetings, ground dwellers! I’m up on a ladder enjoying a sweeping view of the high desert as I’m repairing a baseball-sized woodpecker hole. The hammer-headed birds have placed dozens of acorns inside the wall void. I don’t know if they can get the nutritious nuggets out, but I don’t get paid to think about that. I get paid to defend homes.

We’re getting a lot of calls about woodpeckers noisily pounding holes in siding, so be on the lookout!

Woodpeckers are one of those animals—like gophers—that drive people crazy by destroying the beauty of a home. Woodpeckers don’t stand back and marvel at the timeless beauty of a mountain cabin. No, they riddle siding with hundreds of ugly holes, especially on vacation cabins where there’s no frustrated homeowner to scare them off. When the cat’s away …

Why do woodpeckers make holes in siding? Many people think they’re trying to find termites, but that’s rarely the case. Most of the time they’re storing acorns for winter or making a nest in an insulated wall void. Sometimes they’re just pecking holes for the sheer fun of it. Whatever their motive, woodpeckers are known for hitting homeowners right where it hurts the most: in their pocketbooks. Ouch!

The busy pest season is here and there’s a flock of steel-beaked beasties headed your way. Call us today and we’ll stop them before they ruin your home. At Home Defenders, we protect beauty.

 Well, folks, I’ve finished fixing that woodpecker hole and I’m still up here on my ladder enjoying the view of the high desert. This is my place of work, you know, my “office.” A padded chair and a coffee machine aren’t for me.

Solving pest problems is what I do for the sheer fun of it.

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Quick—what sound does a pest technician most hate to hear? The hiss of a leaky hand-held sprayer spewing chemical all over his leg? Maybe. The thump-thump of a flat tire at the end of a tough work day? Could be. The gruff voice of the boss saying, “I’m going out to check on one of your jobs!” Bingo!

I recently got a call from a customer, “Mike, your worker just finished a mouse job at my cabin, but I’m still hearing scratching sounds in my ceiling. Can you come take a look?” 

“Of course,” I said. I wasn’t angry at my technician because rodent proofing a home is very challenging. It’s like proofreading an article—it’s easy to miss the same flaw over and over.

As I drove to the cabin, I wasn’t convinced that the “scratching sounds” were being made by mice. Mysterious noises can one of the most challenging pest calls to resolve. They can have scores of causes, including ones that have nothing to do with pests, like tree limbs brushing against a home, or acorns rolling down a roof. When I check a home for noises, I’m always on high alert.

After doing a thorough inspection at the cabin, I found some hidden openings that allowed rodents to enter. The customer had been proven right. I showed the openings to my technician, and he went to work. Another problem solved.

If you’re hearing mysterious noises in your home, it’s time to call us. Most pests reproduce rapidly and the longer you wait, the harder it is to get them out. Remember: when you delay, pests win the day.

Oh, and if you see any typos in this article … I think I’ve covered my backside nicely!

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“Help Mike, it’s crawling up the screen. Quick, come get it!” My secretary Erika was eyeballing something scary and calling me for help.

I ran into the main office and spotted the creature in question. It was climbing the screen door in broad daylight—at a pest control business of all places. Wow. You just don’t see that. Bold little cuss, wasn’t it?

Oh, that’s right, you’re still waiting to hear what it was. Sorry, well, it was … wait a second, I’m about to sneeze … that spring pollen is driving me crazy … hold on … nope, false alarm.

The critter in question was a mouse.

Here I go again. I’m writing about mice again. But I can’t help it because it’s spring and mice are breeding like Mississippi River mosquitoes. When those furry marauders breach your private shore, call us without delay. At Home Defenders, we have proven solutions to mouse pollutions.

I bolted outside my office and the rogue mouse ran straight up a stucco wall, stopped in a corner, and hung there like Spiderman. In over thirty years of pest management, I’ve never seen a mouse do that. So I quickly did what any self-respecting pest professional would do: I whipped out my phone and filmed the weird scene. Then I shooed the critter away. He belongs outside and he’ll stay outside because our office is fortified against rodent entry.

I strode back inside expecting a heroes’ welcome, but my secretaries were absorbed in paperwork and had forgotten the whole incident. Oh well, we mice-shooing superheroes don’t really expect thanks, we’re just happy to have saved the day.

Hold on! Is that a big, hairy spider on the venetian blind, poised to attack? I’m on it, ladies! Oh, wait … it’s just a non-threatening piece of fuzzy lint. 

Darn.

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Could a mouse be a mobster? In the movies, I mean. 

Yeah, in an animated flick, I think a mouse would make a heck of a mob boss, wolfing down his mama’s eggplant parmigiana. Don’t try to muscle in on his territory, you goombas!

I was reviewing my old articles and I was struck by how many are about mice. But that makes sense. Mice portrayed as human-like characters have been featured in cartoons, TV shows and movies for a century. Mice make for compelling stories.

Compared to mice, how interesting are other pests, like ants? Ants barely have a brain and they bumble around like Otis the doofus town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show. Plus, with all the great ant products available, we pest professionals have got their number.

Mice breed voraciously in March and April, and customers in droves are calling us to rid their homes of mice. How will you know you’ve been invaded? You might see tiny mouse droppings along baseboards, on kitchen counters, behind appliances—or see the guilty party speeding along the baseboard. Sometimes you’ll hear scratching or running sounds in walls and ceilings. If you notice any of these signs, call us immediately. We’ll muscle those mice right out of your territory.

Mice have dogged us humans for millennia and most likely will do so until the end of time. When we make a technological advance to wipe them out, they just breed their way through it. Where man goes, mice follow.

If a mouse was that stereotypical movie mobster, he’d look a veteran pest professional like me right in the eye, grab his tiny crotch and sneer, “Exterminate this, moron!”

“Whooooaaaaa, you just got burned, man!” says a smirking Otis the town drunk.

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“I tell you, Mike, I woke up in the early morning and saw a pair of glowing red eyes staring right at me,” my customer said, groggy from a sleepless night. “And for the next three hours he ran amok in my bedroom.” The burly mountain man was sure the critter was hellbent on driving him batty. Chalk another one up for the mouse kingdom.

 I often wonder why so many people are terrified of the cute, cuddly creature called a mouse. I’m no psychologist, but here’s some guesses:

1) The thought of a trapped wild animal turning and attacking us—even if it’s just a mouse—is threatening on a primal level.

2) People fear that mice could get under bedsheets, then do heaven knows what while they sleep. (I’d bet even the toughest he-man would shriek if he felt a mouse squirming under the covers)

3) Mice run so fast we feel defenseless against them. If a determined mouse wants to run up your leg, he’s gonna run up your leg.

4) Mice live and breed in the forest, and we all know how brutal the animal world out there can be. 

If mice invade your home, there’s no need to panic, but do be concerned. Mice transmit diseases, and can create a fire hazard by chewing electrical wires. If you suspect you have mice, call Home Defenders and we’ll seal mice and rats outside in the forest where they belong. No one wants to worry about mice running up their leg.

(On second thought, “mice feet massage” may be all the rage in pricey spas next year so don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.)

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Our busy summer pest season is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be happier. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to travel to India while pests hibernate during the winter, but I live for work, not for vacations.

These days, I’m working like the guy who sells bananas at an organ grinder convention. But I still have time to teach my readers how to help keep their homes free of pests.

But please, let’s keep this classified knowledge to ourselves. Those big, corporate pest company CEOs don’t want me to give away trade secrets. That takes money out of their pockets and they do have private jet payments to make. Those bigwigs get cranky if they can’t dash off to the Hamptons every weekend for a brisk afternoon of sailing, followed by a steamy ten minutes with their Stepford mistresses. I don’t want them blaming me for missing out.

Anyway, back on the mountain, here’s how to defend your home against pests: 1. Dig dirt away from your house. (Wood rots when it’s in contact with dirt.)  2. Have your home painted. (Paint keeps wood dry and rot free.) 3. Have a tree professional cut branches away from your house. (Tree branches are highways for ants and rodents.) 4. Have pine needles cleaned from your roof. (Ants nest under piles of pine needles.) 5. Brush away spider webs. (It helps keep spiders away.)

Ah, it feels great to be back on pest patrol. I’ve got my old work boots, my trusty flashlight, and my Hudson sprayer. Summer’s back, baby! Let’s get cracking, all ye home defenders, and have a glorious pest free year. If you need our help, call us today. We’re always here for you.

Just don’t call me on Sundays. That’s the day I spend with my Stepford mistress.

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It’s the morning of March 26 and there’s something weird happening outside my office. The wind is blowing, and when I walk outdoors my face gets hit by a strange kind of pain. How can I describe it? It feels like a million tiny knives are cutting me all over. I believe in some parts of the world they call the sensation “cold.” 

After a freakishly warm January and February, it was a bit of a shock to get some bitter cold days in March. I’ll bet all those early-blooming  daffodils were cussing out Mother Nature as they shivered away.

Anyway, spring is in the air and that means I’ll soon be in your neighborhood spraying oak trees for leaf rollers.

Leaf rollers are the fuzzy green worms that roll themselves up in young oak leaves, then munch away to their heart’s content. So, how do we Home Defenders protect your trees? We treat them with a safe product, lovingly coating the tender leaves with a gentle protective barrier that lasts until warm summer breezes beckon us to beaches, bikinis and barbecues. (Did I lay that on a little too thick?) 

Do you want your sheltering oaks treated this spring? Then call our office today, before those hungry worms take your shade away. I’ll personally come out, inspect your trees, and give you a free estimate.

If the cool March weather continues, I guess I’ll have to invest in an exotic garment foreign to us Southern Californians. I believe in some parts of the world they call it a “coat.”

I just hope it doesn’t cover my 70’s style hairy chest because all the foxy ladies love that. (Now that was laying it on too thick.)

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Señor Gopher says, “Ooh La La”

They say good things come in threes, but what about bad things? Better yet, what about mountain pests?  Here’s my list of the critters dominating mountain homes this past month:

Ants — No one ever thinks, “Gosh, ants sure are interesting.” Until, that is, a platoon of the beasties invades their bowl of fancy imported chocolates. Mind you, I don’t blame the ants. Those European chocolates filled with “creme de vanille” and “ganache” are oh so delicious. If you want to save your ganache, call us here at Home Defenders today.

Rodents — If you think ants love imported candy, you should see rats go bananas over those fancy French chocolates. And why not? The delectable Euro-treats are chock-full of nuts, sugar and butter—the three basic rat food groups. Yum, call me a rat any day.

Gophers Good news, everyone. Señor Gopher doesn’t eat chocolate. But he does eat the roots of roses, tomatoes, and other outdoor plants. And there’s more bad news. Even though March was colder than the Wicked Witch’s backside, we were still getting calls. Be ready for the coming tide of hungry gophers.

Yeah, I know, in the past I’ve portrayed gophers as adorable little rapscallions that drive gardeners crazy, but, after getting, uh, counseled by rose lovers, I promise not to make jokes about gophers any more. Roses are serious business!

Still, have you ever seen a gopher poking its furry little head out of its tunnel? Isn’t that the cutest thing you ever saw? Why, just the other day I saw a gopher with a single red rose in his mouth, no doubt heading for a rendezvous with a foxy lady gopher. Ah, spring is in the air.

Sorry rose lovers, I just couldn’t resist …