Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

What pest repulses you the most? Putting the question another way, what’s the one creepy-crawly you don’t want on your skin? I found one such critter on my skin yesterday.

Returning from a hike, I was sitting at my computer when I felt an itch on my inner thigh. I looked down and saw a tiny bug slowly crawling northbound, no big deal. When I inspected more closely I saw that it was a tick—one of those notorious blood-sucking creatures. I was horrified.

I grew up in Illinois where ticks are as common as cornfields and scarecrows. Decades ago on my grandparents’ farm, my eight-year-old brother Dan complained of ear pain. Grandma looked in his ear and, you guessed it, she saw that a tick had nestled in. Life on Midwestern farms isn’t always so idyllic.

Did they take him to a doctor? Nope. My practical grandparents had their own solution. They lit one of those punk sticks used to light fireworks, then carefully maneuvered the smoldering end inside Dan’s ear canal. I still remember the terrified look on his face as they performed the procedure with practiced skill. Mercifully, the tick scrambled out, Grandpa smashed it with a hammer, and the incident was over. I have despised ticks ever since.

Ticks aren’t common in the mountains, but they do live up here, often in yards with pet runs. If you find ticks we’ll smash them with the practical power of modern science—no hammer needed. Call us today for a free evaluation.

So, do I still fear getting a tick in my ear? Yes, but there’s another region of my anatomy I never, ever want invaded by a tick…

ER Nurse: So, Mr. Nolan, what brings you in today?

Me: Uh, well, I found a tick in a really hard-to-reach bodily area. 

God, I loathe ticks.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

The following incident occurred in 1978 at Routt Catholic High in Jacksonville, Illinois. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.  

Sean Flynn was nervous and rightly so. Not only was he leaving our school grounds—a crime punishable by detention under Sister Mercy’s stern gaze—he was also on a mission to buy contraband. He slipped out the weight room door as our band of gym class brothers wished him luck. 

Twenty minutes later, a game of dodgeball providing noisy distraction, Sean slipped back in, goodies in tow. He handed me a package and the thing was beautiful—long, cylindrical, and rolled to perfection. It had a foreign name, one I’d never heard before. It was called a “burrito.”

I still remember when the first Mexican restaurant, El Gringo Loco, opened its doors in my mashed potatoes and gravy hometown. The spicy, exotic cuisine scared our parents—they only ate pot roast, you know—and that just made those enchiladas taste even better. How did I ever live without salsa?

One day, feeling adventurous, my brother Dave brought tacos home for dinner. My dad studied his suspiciously, then took a bite. The taco gods were surely hooting and hollering in delight as the crispy shell shattered into a dozen pieces. “So, Dad, do you like it?” Dave asked.  Dad’s verdict was short and sour: “I don’t like fighting my food.“ Adios, tacos.

Just as Dad doesn’t like fighting food, homeowners don’t like fighting pests. Whatever’s making your world crumble—ants or spiders or rodents—call today and we’ll rush to your home like Sean speeding to El Gringo Loco. You can count on Home Defenders to deliver the goods.

Dad eventually came around and now enjoys Mexican food. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Mom loved Mexican food from the get-go. After all, it had the one quality she loves most in a meal: somebody else made it.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

I first saw the spider running for the safety of my icebox as the clock chimed eight in the morning. I grabbed my fly swatter and the chase was on. The creature was black, hairy, and had the crooked legs of a mangy street dog. The spider darted under the icebox just as my swatter went “smack” on the floor. Lucky stiff.

My name is Matt Saticoy and I’m a detective for the LAPD. I joined the force in 1941, the year DiMaggio set the record, and I’ve spent the last ten years wearing blue. I can handle a crook pointing a .38 at my noggin, an angry woman flashing a stiletto, or a jealous husband wielding a baseball bat, but I lose my marbles at the sight of a spider. My shrink says I have a “phobia,” whatever that is.

I didn’t need more stress. Yesterday, at the precinct house, Captain Mulroney barked, “Saticoy, get your hump over to the sewage treatment plant. There’s a corpse stinking up the joint.” That sewer plant is a spider-infested hellhole and no way was I going over there. I got out of the duty by telling Mulroney I had sepsis on my meniscus. The lug was too dumb to argue about it.

I picked up the phone. “Operator, get me LUdlow 8623… is this Home Defenders? Say, doll, can you send a guy over pronto to get a spider hiding under my icebox? Thanks.” I poured myself a double and waited on the couch. I calmed down. Maybe spiders aren’t so bad after all. I calmed down some more.

Suddenly, I saw that spider charging at me like a Plymouth on the Pasadena Freeway. It bolted up my leg as I screamed, “Don’t kill me!” but the dirty rat sank its fangs into my jugular. On the brink of the big sleep, I awoke to a life-saving knock at the door.

Damn rotgut.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

“But, Mike, I can’t possibly seal all the openings in this big house,” the homeowner said. He had seen mice in his buildup and had called me for advice on how to seal them out.

“You don’t need to block every opening,” I said. “Try to get the main ones. Mice have pea brains and to them, the other side of your house may as well be the other side of the moon.

 “Oh, OK, that’s better,” he said, sounding relieved.

It’s summer and do-it-yourself mouse warriors are out in force. If you’re one of them, here’s my advice: When sealing mice from your home, fill as many entry points as you can. Be sure and seal where plumbing pipes enter the home, preferably from the buildup side, using 1/4 inch hardware cloth and a quality sealant. Both are available from hardware stores.

For those of you who want professional help, call us and we’ll be happy to evaluate your home. And to help guide you, here’s my “Be Mouse Savvy” poem:

Hickory dickory dock.

The mice ran up the clock.

To kitchen near they all did go,

guided by scent and the buzz of gizmos.

And lo, when mice dashed down the wall,

To Home Defenders mom made a call.

“To the Bat-mobile!” I said with glee,

(I openly admit I was lost in reverie.)

With prudence I sped now sane and live,

to the home I drove and then did arrive.

“Oh, thank you, Mike!” mom said with laughter,

and everyone lived happily ever after.

(Epilogue: The mice did not live happily ever after. The end.) 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

What do the grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park and the recent moth invasion across the San Bernardino Mountains have to do with each other? The answer lies in the bears’ notorious sweet tooth.

I was watching a documentary about grizzly bears when events took a very interesting turn. “By the end of July,” the narrator said, “the bears of Yellowstone just seem to disappear as they head above the treeline.”

What attracts the bears up there? We watch scenes of grizzlies turning over large rocks as they plunge their snouts into what lies beneath. Under the rocks are hordes of army cutworm moths, the same that invade mountain homes in early summer. “The moths,” the narrator says, “arrive in the high country to feed on wildflowers. They’ve come from as far away as the wheat fields of Kansas. They spend the night feeding on nectar, retreating at sunrise to the cool crannies in the rocks. To the grizzlies, the moths are like candy, and the bears devour up to 40,000 a day.”

For homeowners who find hundreds of the mystery moths in their cabins, this explains a lot. At sunrise, the moths squeeze into crannies around doors, windows, and open beam rafters, then get trapped inside. If you want to keep them out, seal them out with weather stripping and a quality sealant. Soon enough, though, they’ll head home to Kansas.

Homeowners in Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, and Running Springs may be baffled by all this, since moth populations there have been low. Big Bear homeowners, however, have seen large populations—suggesting large populations of wildflowers. Every rose has its thorns.

The humble moths aren’t as as noble as the grizzly bear, nor as majestic as the wonders in Yellowstone, but as they fly a thousand miles across the big western sky, they’re as sublime as anything on earth. 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

Boy, flowers sure are nasty things, aren’t they? Fools may fall for their superficial charms, but not me. Hey readers, if you love flowers unconditionally, don’t read additionally.

I received a call from a woman who told me that every morning her skin is covered with red bed bug bites. Bed bug infestations are rare in the mountains, though we do see them. Arriving at her Big Bear home, I thoroughly inspected the bed, and saw no sign of bed bugs. I asked to see the bites and she told me they had gone away. “Bed bug bites don’t just go away,” I said. “Something else is causing the red marks.”

Drawing on years of experience, I asked her if she’d recently changed laundry detergent. “I just bought a new kind.” she said. I inspected the product and, sure enough, it was one of those natural brands scented with flower extracts. Bingo. “Some people,” I explained, “have allergic reactions to detergents made with flowers. I recommend using the unscented kind. Call my office if you need anything.”

So, there’s the cold, hard truth about flowers. But, based on their reputation for soothing the savage beast, I’m willing to give them a fair shake. OK, I am now standing in front of a flower garden. Here is what I see:

Roses are red, violets are blue/good morning, cosmos, how in the world do you do?… yarrow is yellow, vetiver has verve/that show-off bougainvillea sure has got nerve!… daisies are dandy, jasmine smells fine/lilac ever sends me to outer cloud nine… spiders eye aphids, snails crawl along/nectar calls to bees in a cloud of birdsong… toyon is tops, poppies stand tall/imagine the madness and color of it all!… in a lovely garden, where seeds have now grown/a heart can sure feel what a head cannot know.

Well, readers, on second thought, flowers are pretty darned awesome after all. Have a colorful summer!

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

For her, it was just another trip into the forest with the ox and cart to gather firewood. For me, it was just what I needed.

It’s been three months since I returned from my annual vacation in India. Time flies, huh? By May, I usually have my tickets for next year’s trip, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on that. Will I be able to fly to India next January? I sure hope so, because we  all need a vacation, especially stressed-out business owners like me. While thinking about India, I had a flashback from my recent trip.

One sunny morning, on a wide forest path near Pondicherry, I was on my morning hike, surrounded by singing birds and exotic trees, when I saw a big ol’ ox lumbering towards me. As it drew nearer, I noticed it was pulling a wooden flat cart carrying a chain saw. Seated on the bench, looking like a stagecoach driver in a Western movie, was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman in her twenties. As she passed, I said, “hi” and, in an American accent, she said, “hi” right back. The conversation ended there.

I was dying to say, “Who the heck are you and how on earth did you end up on an ox cart in Southern India?” but I minded my own business. Every so often I looked back, wondering where she was going. I assumed that she was headed into the forest to gather firewood, but, like many things in India, it was all a big, refreshing mystery.

I sure hope I can fly to India again in January—come on researchers, come up with a cure for COVID-19! If I do go, I’ll be back on that trail on another sunny day, in a world of singing birds and exotic trees and big mysteries, where the only problem I’ll have is what to do with my abundant free time.

And the only stress will be on that ox’s shoulders.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

He called me to share his pest management story. “My neighbor Mary had a squirrel living in her attic,” he said, “and since our local pest company (in Jacksonville, Illinois) doesn’t do animal control, I offered her a helping hand. When I got to her house, I checked the eaves, and quickly saw a hole you could throw a baseball through. I figured that’s how the squirrel was getting in. I wasn’t sure how to seal the hole, so I bought a can of that expanding foam at the hardware store, then pumped the whole kit and caboodle into the hole. That was a week ago and Mary hasn’t heard a peep since. Say, Mike, do you think I got the job done?”

“It’s a good thing you did the work during the day,” I said, “because the squirrel was likely outside foraging. It was probably a solitary male, because if you’d have sealed out a female with young to care for she would have chewed through that foam like a chainsaw through butter. If Mary hasn’t heard any noises in the attic, and the foam is undisturbed, you were likely successful. Call it beginner’s luck.”

“Well, great!” he said with touch of braggadocio in his voice.

So, who is this mystery man? He’s the one who taught me how to ride a bike, catch a fish, and hit a baseball. Why didn’t he call me before starting the job? I suppose he wanted to remain a heroic father figure in my eyes, and the best way to appear heroic to an animal control professional is to successfully complete an animal control job.

I tip my Home Defenders hat to Dad. Without asking for anyone’s help, he went to the aid of a damsel in distress, thought up a plan, scaled a ladder, executed his plan, and saved the day.

Just like heroes do.