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Have you ever wondered how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. Some say space aliens were behind the engineering marvels, but most likely it was the skill of those ancient engineers—along with some important tools—that got the job done. Some things never change. 

Even in our technologically advanced age, I mostly rely on skill to get my pest management jobs done. It would surprise most folks to learn that I only carry a few pest products in my work truck. For the record, I keep two kinds of concentrated bug juice I mix with water; I also carry two types of ready-to-use spray cans—one for residual control and one to flush bugs out of their hiding places. I don’t use rodent poisons because they can harm non-target animals in the food chain. For rodents, I use snap traps. Yes, folks, unless I have special jobs to do, like treating under a concrete slab for termites, that’s my day-to-day stock of pest management products. Incredible, huh?

When ants invade homes, the first thing I do is look for tree limbs touching the roof. I carry a branch pruner to cut back those ant highways. For spiders, I treat with a spray behind furniture and other areas where spiders hide, then use my flushing spray to get them running into the fresh treatment. I always encourage the homeowner to clear away clutter—spiders love clutter. For rodents, I load my snap traps with peanut butter, then rely on my years of experience to tell me where to best put the traps. Yes, there’s an art to placing snap traps. Who knew?

Just like those engineers in ancient Egypt, the best pest management professionals mostly rely on their skill to get the job done… though any help from space aliens would be greatly appreciated. Have a pyramid power week, everyone!

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If your house could talk, what would the first words out of its mouth be? They might be: “Hey, homeowner, please don’t ignore the number one threat to my existence.” But what is that threat?

It could be fire. But fire is a show-off, and when it strikes, muscle-bound folks riding big machines race to the rescue. As I write this, most likely not a single house on the mountain is on fire. Why would a talking home waste its breath warning you about the obvious?

No, if your home could speak, it would likely alert you to the danger of a much more subtle menace—a threat so seemingly harmless you could drink it. Yes, the biggest hazard to a home, day in, day out, is the very substance that fights fire: water.

When water enters the walls of your home, it takes a bunch of its friends along for the party, namely dry rot, fungus, termites, and carpenter ants. And boy, do they have a good time munching on the wood members that keep your house from falling down. By the time you see there’s a problem, you’re stuck with a big repair bill. Most times, the damage could have been prevented and what a crying shame it is.

Do you want to know if a bunch of critters drunk on moist wood have invaded your home? Then call Home Defenders for a free inspection. We’ll look for telltale signs of water invasion and stop that “rot party” from damaging your house. Together, we can put an end to the crying shame of dry rot.

Your house will say “thank you” for years to come. Have a safe, dry week everybody!

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I am nervous, folks. I just forked over $12,000 for a new furnace and a/c unit at my office and, as the HVAC crew fired up the new system, I immediately thought: “Now I have to stop rodents from destroying my state-of-the-art furnace.” Easier said than done.

I have completed hundreds of rodent jobs where the critters ruined furnaces and/or heating ducts. Furnaces have wires and rats and mice chew those for sport. Also, rodents love dark runways that keep them safe from predators, so heating ducts are rodent heaven. Rats, especially, love to patrol the interior of heating ducts… which means they poop and pee in there and you get the picture. And when a rat meets his maker inside a heating duct, well… the smell soon gets the attention of the owner. And a few close neighbors.

“But, Mike,” a savvy reader might ask, “why are you concerned about rodents getting into your new furnace? Don’t you block rats and mice out of homes for a living?” Well, reader, I’m concerned because I know what most homeowners don’t know: no matter how well we seal a building against rodent entry—and my workers have plugged every opening at our office—rats and mice are always trying to chew new holes, and they have teeth as sharp as razor blades. Rodents are masters at the art of home invasion. 

Lastly, when rodents worm their way into buildings, many homeowners don’t notice until the beasts have turned heating ducts into their own private poop forest. So… if we haven’t inspected your home for rodent entry within the last year, I can give you about, oh, 12,000 reasons to call us. Have a rodent free week, everyone. 

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Cabin 89 Surprise

We mountain hiking aficionados are so lucky. Not only do we enjoy an awesome networks of forest trails, not only are we treated to wildlife sightings, we are also treated to the occasional surprise visit from a furry friend. Well, a surprise visit happened to me last week and here’s the story.

I was hiking on Cabin 89 trail on the south side of Big Bear, headed for my cabin on Mill Creek, when I saw a medium-sized white dog coming fast around a corner toward me. I should have been startled, but I had seen this dog and his owner before. He came up to me and sat right beside me for several seconds. I patted him on the head a few times. Suddenly, he tore back in the direction he had come with the energy of a young dog having the time of his life.

As I continued hiking for home, I was expecting to cross paths with the dog and his owner, but I didn’t see either. After hiking a few hundred yards, I realized they were heading for home, too. I never saw them, so they were at least a hundred yards ahead. Which meant that the dog had somehow sensed my presence behind him, ran back to say hello, then tore back to join his owner as if nothing had happened. Good boy!

I could just picture the dog as he had plotted his rendezvous… hanging back from its owner, pretending to smell something interesting, then running back to meet me. “Where the heck did you go?” I could imagine the owner saying when the dog suddenly rejoined him. Oh, and don’t worry, dog lovers, the next time I see that dog with his owner, I won’t say a word. I’m no dog snitch.

You just have to love dogs, and you just have to love hiking in the San Bernardino Mountains. Have a surprise-filled week, everybody! 

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Since the dawn of time, people have asked: what are the best things in life? Well, being a pest professional, I feel I am qualified to answer that question because I drive around in my work truck all day with lots of time to ponder life’s big mysteries. 

On my way to a rodent job recently, I saw a group of kids waiting for the school bus when I had a flashback to my high school graduation. That took place decades ago in Jacksonville, Illinois at Our Saviour church. It was raining on that early summer day and I was running late. I parked my old Ford Galaxy 500 and hurried inside. Upon entering, I saw my classmates, all 65 of them, lined up for the ceremony. Many of them smiled at me and with good reason. We had gone to school together since we were toddlers and we had been through so much. This was our last hurrah.

If you had told me, when I was a kid, how great it is to be around people your own age, I likely would have scoffed. What kid cares about that? But, as we graduates walked down the aisle for our diplomas, we were destined to work at jobs where our coworkers might be decades older—or, in time, decades younger. We just didn’t know what we just didn’t know.

Now, driving around in a bug guy truck, I realize how special it is to be around people my own age… who get my jokes… who know how awesome Saturday morning cartoons were… who like the bands I like. Young folks these days have no clue about REO Speedwagon. Oh, well. I don’t know much about Benny Goodman.

The best things in life are all the things that we just take for granted until they’re gone. That was true at the dawn of time, and it’s true now. Have a “don’t take the best things in life for granted” week, everyone!

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“Uh oh, they’re back,” I thought as I watched a grain moth fly against the vibrant colors of my TV screen. “How did those critters get back in? Dang it!” 

I was frustrated because my home had been infested with small grain-eating moths in April and I thought I had solved the problem. They had gotten into the birdseed in my closet and once moths get a foothold, getting them out is a battle. Even after I banished the birdseed to my outdoor storage shed, I saw the moths flying inside my house for months. Around July, I finally stopped seeing moths.

So where did this lone moth come from? After searching my home, I found I had accidentally left a container of seeds on top of my refrigerator. One small misstep for man, one giant leap for pests. I quickly put those seeds in the shed. Hopefully, my uninvited guest was just a one-man band.

If you feed birds, I recommend storing your birdseed in an outbuilding. Seeds attract all sorts of pests, from rodents to grain moths to the dreaded carpet beetles that, once they get inside a home, never seem to go away. If you think you have stored grain pests, call us Home Defenders for a free inspection. Feed the birds that sing, not the grief pests bring!

Back at my home, I could, of course, just stop feeding the birds. That would be the cold, logical thing to do and Mr. Spock would likely raise his eyebrow in sarcastic approval. But, I sure love waking to the sound of singing chickadees, so goodbye Mr. Spock, hello Mr. and Mrs. chickadee. 

As for the grain moths, they can sing and dance in my dingy storage shed. Have a logic free week, everyone!

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Hello, children, this is “Count Mike-ula” with advice on how to enjoy a fun, safe, but low-glycemic Halloween. (Count Mike-ula howls at the moon.) Oh, you may be wondering why a vampire like me howls like a wolf. Well… I moonlight as the Wolfman on weekends. Did you get that joke, children? No? What can I say for myself? I’m a bloodsucker with a biting sense of humor!

Anyway, kids, when you’re out trick or treating, if you see a bat flopping on the ground, be sure and stay away. Those creatures can carry rabies. And raccoons begging for treats may seem cuddly, but they can sink their fangs into your flesh like Mrs. Count Mike-ula can drive a stake into his tender, black heart! And, for the love of all things hair-raising, don’t put your hand behind bushes or rocks because black widows come out at night and they defend themselves like that cranky old Wicked Witch caught in a water balloon fight!

Lastly, children, you must always fear the most scary monster of all—get ready, here it comes—a beast called sucrose, also known as sugar. That stuff will rot your teeth, kids… and don’t get Count Mike-ula started on the dangers of chronic inflammation! Also, remember to tell your parents to call Home Defenders when spine-chilling critters, like rats and mice, invade your windswept Gothic castle. (They’d better call after Count Mike-ula threw them a bone with that rant on sugar!) Have a really scary—but sugar free—week, kids! (Count Mike-ula hands out a fistful of keto-friendly, erythritol-sweetened candies to kids at his door. They do not thank him.) 

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This week I have one of those “you won’t believe how they treat small business owners” stories that is all too common in today’s world. Just another day in paradise.

Every year a county inspector comes to our office and performs a thorough inspection of our operations. This year a rookie showed up and you probably see where this is going. “I need to see your annual pesticide training records,” he declared, official clipboard in hand. I rummaged through my paperwork but couldn’t find those particular records, and I had no idea how I could have screwed up so royally.

“If you don’t have them,” he said, short and sweet, “I’ll have to issue a cease and desist order right now.” He was literally going to shut down my business. But, he took pity and gave me until the next morning to get the training done. He left and I scrambled to get everything in order. 

But, as I thought it over, something wasn’t adding up. I have a checklist of required training and that item isn’t on it. How could I have gotten it wrong for over a decade? Then it hit me: annual pesticide training isn’t required for my workers because they have a grade of license that exempts them. I knew that, but in my panic I had just forgotten. I called the inspector and told him my guys were exempt. “Uh, well, my boss isn’t here,” he mumbled. “I’ll have to check with him first. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

The next morning, tired of waiting for his call, I called him. “Uh, yeah,” he said awkwardly, “you don’t have to worry about that training.” And if anyone thinks he apologized, then say hi to Peter and Tink and Captain Hook. Hah! 

My secretary Alejandra, unfamiliar with legal jargon, got it right when she called the cease and desist order a ‘decease and resist’ order. “You know, Alejandra,” I said dryly, “it hasn’t gotten to that point yet…. but just give them a few years.” Have a decease and resist week, everyone! 

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Today I have a story about my recent showdown with a creature that sends chills down many people’s spines. If you’re squeamish, you had better stop reading now. For everyone else, proceed with caution and have some smelling salts close at hand.

I was squirming through a cobweb-infested crawl space yesterday when I felt the pitter-patter of eight legs running on my neck. Yes, it was a spider and the beast was running like Seabiscuit in the home stretch. I flicked it off before it could sink its fangs into my jugular, but the message from the Spider Kingdom was crystal clear: “Beware, bug man, we’re out to get you… when you least expect it, expect it… and if you’re expecting it all the time then we own you, man!”

I wasn’t worried because Black Widows are the only dangerous spider on the mountain and they don’t run like racehorses—they crawl in super slow motion just to magnify the horror.  My “neck runner” was likely a harmless house spider, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing but a quick shot of adrenalin. Who needs coffee when you have spiders crawling all over you. Thanks, Mother Nature, for the free “arachnid espresso.” 

It’s fall and spiders are making a beeline for our warm homes. If you fear the pitter-patter of eight prickly feet, call us and we’ll send a technician to huff and puff and blow the spiders out of your house. At Home Defenders, we ain’t afraid of no fangs!

I don’t normally scare readers with graphic descriptions of life in the pest trenches, but every so often I go full reality TV mode… keeps people on their toes. Don’t worry, squeamish folks, the odds of having a spider crawl on your neck are almost zero. Unless you’re in a crawl space and then the odds skyrocket to near certainty. Have an arachnid espresso free week, everyone!

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I give up. After thirty-five years of pleading with homeowners to block rodents out of their cabins, I’m throwing in the towel. No, I’m not retiring from pest management—I’ll battle pests til I drop dead—I’m just giving up my role as “adviser-in-chief.” Why? Because—other than the houses us Home Defenders have professionally sealed—almost every mountain cabin I visit has dozens of rodent entry holes. I am the only one who sees the fun and challenge of rodent-proofing a home? Wait, I have an idea…

Since my pleas to block rodent openings don’t appear to be working, I’m going to try reverse psychology and teach you how to invite mice into your home. Yep, you read that right. Here’s three surefire tips:

>> Insist that plumbers and electricians drill big holes when they run utility pipes into your home. The openings need a minimum half-inch gap around the pipe so rodents can easily dart inside. Do not allow the workers to simply caulk around the openings! Where’s the sport in that? 

>> Ask a contractor to build lots of dormers on your roof. They look elegant and there’s always a little gap where the roof lines meet that allows mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels to run into the attic. If the contractor insists on sealing the openings, say, “No way, man! Rodents need a home, too… so what if they chew up my electrical wires. Live and let live!”

>> Never, ever walk around the exterior foundation of your home and look for holes that allow rodents to enter. Instead, grab a cold brew, kick back and watch a ballgame. Those Rams sure are looking strong, huh? Your La-Z-Boy awaits, sire!

Finally, if my reverse psychology has backfired and you don’t want filthy, wire-chewing rodents running wild in your house, give us Home Defenders a call and we’ll kick the critters out and block their entry holes. That will leave you plenty of time to relax and watch the Dodgers in the World Series. Have a championship week, everyone!