The Cost of Pests

This past Sunday, my wife and I awoke to the pitter patter of little feet in our home. It was not our children, because long ago they left gentle footsteps behind them in favor of the thundering stomp-stomp-stomp of teenage boys. It was not our grandchildren because we do not have any. It was not our pet because our fish has not evolved feet yet. I dismissed the problem as squirrels on the roof.

A few moments after we heard the footsteps, we heard a steady crunching from above our heads. I could not live in denial any longer. Something – squirrels I assumed – was in our attic. Left with the choice of calling a pest removal service or venturing into the attic on my own, I

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14 Responses to The Cost of Pests

  1. Luke says:

    I had squirrel problems at my house in Tennessee. I got rid of them myself because I caught the problem early and my landlords grandson was a contractor so he came and sealed off my problem areas after I had gotten the rodents out. I’d say with the infestations you had going on, it was money well spent!

  2. Eleanor says:

    We found out recently that we have rats in our attic, also. No sign of raccoons or snakes! We are currently taking bids, as this is a two part process in our 28 yo GA home. First, getting rid of the rodents and sealing points of entry, and second, having the current insulation removed, the attic commercially vacuumed and sanitized, new insulation placed with a rodent barrier. We decided part 2 is very necessary after doing some internet research- you do NOT even want to know how many times a day one rat urinates! UGH! If you live in GA, have ivy on your property, and you or your neighbors feed birds, you have rats. You just don’t know it. Yet.

  3. justme says:

    when we bought our house our neighbor told us we had rats
    so we set out poison and traps ,never saw a rat

    a couple years later someone bought neighbors house and tore it down they knocked down the guys outbuilding and the rats scurried out from under it like you would not believe! and under our house they went we saw them go there!

    the neighbor had a outside dog and the rats had stored food under the floorboards of the shed it was full of dogfood

    we poisoned and sealed up our house and got rid of them before they got too comfy

  4. Joan says:

    My cousin had to hire someone like that and a neighbor called the Hmane Society to report her! H.S. inspector said everything was being done legally, properly. If the animals really did move to someone else’s house….

  5. Ann says:

    My prior home was a 100 yo victorian. It sat high enough that the basement windows were at ground level, was 2 (high) stories high with 2 intersecting very high-pitched roofs on top… in other words, at the highest roof point you were about 4-5 stories off the ground!

    There’s a point to that info, honest! LOL

    Hornets built a huge nest right up under the highest eaves. Neighbors told me I should go on the porch roof and shoot the nest with that stuff that shoots 30 feet, but, having bad knees, I called an exterminator and, boy, was I glad!

    It cost me around $400, but the exterminator told me 1.) to stay indoors with all the doors and windows closed until he told me it was okay to come out and 2.) 3 STINGS FROM THESE BEASTIES WERE EQUAL TO ONE SNAKEBITE! YIKES!!!

    When he told me to come out, he had already washed all the mature and maggoty young off the porch roof and my front yard was covered with bodies… and I do mean covered! He had knocked down the nest (which was even bigger than I’d thought) and cleaned up all the carcasses before he left.

    He recommended that I have my siding “tuned up” (guys come and make sure all the joints are tight and caulked and it wasn’t something he did) so that bees and wasps and hornets couldn’t get between the siding and the inner walls. I had it done the next week but thought it sounded weird until I read a story about a house where they had to tear out walls because honey bees had gotten between the walls and the honey was actually oozing through the wall… which was how they found out. Yuck.

    Now I live on the edge of cornfields and near a big park, so I have a constant battle going with deer, mice, gophers, squirrels, raccoons, possums, chipmunks, groundhogs, etc. On a regular basis, I buy a big bucket (farm-sized) of mouse/rat poison and scatter it around the house, garage, workshop and back yard. (I obviously don’t have any pets or kids and everyone around here keeps their animals inside or on leashes.) Another regular expenditure is for deterrents — have you ever seen what some of these critters can do to plants, shrubs and trees???

    I’ve seen all kinds of critters in my yard and have definitely heard some really big critters running across the roof. It still surprised me, when the electricity went out one time ’cause a raccoon fried himself on the power pole right behind my house. Even the guy from the electric company was a bit startled by that one!

    To me, exterminators are well worth the money… and so are any measures necessary to make sure that critters stay outside where they belong!

  6. Leslie says:

    We had a family of Opposum’s move into our crawl space. They squeezed in by the air conditioning unit. It was a momma and her babies. I nearly had a heart attack when the critter control guy told me that Opposum’s can have up to 20 babies in one litter (at $75 a pop to remove them). He sealed up their entrance and removed the one that they found in the crawlspace. Fortunately, most of them got sealed outside when they fixed the hole they were getting through so there was only one more that had to be removed when it went in the trap a few days later. The worst part was cleaning up the mess they made (the pooping and peeing).

  7. Sandy says:

    So Dave, I guess you are telling me that our house is next eh? They are just working their way down the street? :) We’re wondering, do you have trees with limbs touching your house, did they climb the trees to get on the roof and gain entry? Our other nieghbors, between you and us, have spotted a rather long snake in their bushes, was it yours? LOL

  8. Viewsfromtheloft says:

    Last summer it was bats and this spring it appears to be squirrels. One thing I learned is that even if you think your house is sealed up as tight as a drum some pests only need an opening as wide as a number 2 pencil to get into wherever they may want to go (at least that’s the case for bats). It took most of the summer for them to find another home-apparently they are pretty territorial- and hopefully they will remain in their new place this summer as well.

    It’s amazing how many new ‘roommates’ can squeeze into an extrememly small area. Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is how jumpy I still am whenever I hear something a bit out of the ordinary at home even if it’s on t.v.

  9. David G. Mitchell says:

    Sandy — No branches touching the house but we regularly see squirrels climbing the screened area at the back of our house. Now I see the squirrels acting very confused on our roof and then running next door!

  10. spicoli says:

    I watched an episode of Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel that focused on catching critters in attics and under houses. I agree that it is better to leave it to professionals. A friend of mine does this for a living and he has told me of some scary encounters in very tight places with very angry raccoons!

  11. Beth says:

    Dave – Funny, well-written article. Got me to thinking…we have a black snake that frequents our yard – we named him Charley. We thought it might be a good thing to have a snake around to keep other creepy stuff away. I’m afraid that’s a sign we have more guests than we realize. We’ve seen a squirrel on the lanai cage. We might need Jim’s number…

  12. persephone says:

    While living in Cambridge, MA, I had a problem with bats. If the front door was left open and unattended for even a moment after dusk, a bat would often fly in. It took a while to figure out how the bats were getting in, but several hundred dollars later we did (we finally found a pest control person who solved the mystery).

  13. fern says:

    That’s quite a story.

    Did you do your own investigation into whether that feces was really from a rat and not something else? Because i imagine an unscrupulous exterminator would say “rat” to inspire much greter terror than, say, “squirrel”

    In response to what another poster said, I would not advise randomly spreading poison around your yard. Even if you don’t have pets, you could kill your neighbor’s pets or other critters. Surely you don’t intend to kill every living creature that crosses your property lines?

    When i was living in Vermont years ago, there were 2 very friendly stray cats i regularly interacted with. When i wondered aloud about their disappearance to a neighbor, he told me someone else had put out rat poison and the cats ate it and died.

    One night last year i heard an awful lot of loud scratching coming from behind the cabinet in my downstairs bathroom. I keep the door to that bathroom closed. I went to work the next day, my mother stopped by my house to drop something off and went to use the bathroom. She found a chipmunk floating in the toilet. She wasn’t sure if it was dead or alive. She put the lid down, then called to tell me not to be shocked by what was in the bathroom. (Nice, mom, thanks for warning me). I guess there’s no need to say here i was in fact very shocked, and flushed it down the toilet. (Luckily, it didn’t get stuck.) Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to plug up whatever crack or crevice the chipmunk got through without dismantling my entire bathroom cabinet.

  14. David G. Mitchell says:

    Fern — Yes, I did what diligence I could do. In a cowardly way, I poked my head into the attic and saw the signs of burrowing and fecal matter but I could not determine whether it was squirrels or rats.

    Whatever it is, they are aggressive beasts. After 3 weeks, we thought we were without pests, until this morning, when we heard them overhead.

    The pest company came out and found that whatever animal it may be, it had chewed a NEW 4 inch square hole into my attic in order to get back in! Now my fear is that slowly but surely the beasts will eat my entire house!

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