My Failures At Pest Proofing-Two Lessons In What Not To Do

An important part of any pest control program is simply to keep the bugs or vermin from getting inside in the first place. Exterior chemical barriers are wonderful but just what do you spray over a torn screen or how thick would your granules have to be to block insects from using a worn thresh hold for entry? Many pest professionals offer pest exclusion services and apparently are quite good at it. Caulk lines are straight and smooth, metal screening cut to fit and they even manage to get that ‘foam in a can’ to fill up cracks and gaps in walls without looking like a 2nd grade science project.

Now I’m not a fan of the “Jack of all trades” approach to pest control but I do appreciate the need to at least know some of the basics to provide a pest free home for my clients using at least some simple techniques. The following are two quick examples of What Not To Do which I learned early in my career.

Over My Head With Mr. Know It All

For some reason no matter where I’ve worked it’s been my lot in life to train just about any new employee that walks through the door. In one instance I was saddled with a hot shot salesman who was almost impossible to deal with. If I said up he said down, please go left-he’d go right, you get the idea. For two weeks I put up with this condescending idiot who knew nothing about bugs whatsoever but the brains of management just knew he was going to propel our little branch to rock star status so everyday I had to hear how inept I was and he often bragged of how he was going to spend his commissions even though he hadn’t sold job one.

One day on a call we found a woman whose basement was inundated with earwigs which happens to be one of my specialties and I laid it on pretty thick. I’m not much of a salesman but on that day I was pretty proud of myself and by the time I was done that lady was nodding her head yes at my every word and practically tripped over herself looking for her check book. Not only did I go through the entire life cycle, why they built up so much on her property and gave her the perfect solution but I also found the main way they were getting into the home. Up to this point even my ‘thorn in the flesh’ side kick couldn’t say a word but not to be out done he proudly announced at the end of my sale- “We’ll be installing a permanent fix on that basement door so bugs will NEVER enter again.” Caught by surprise but powerless to say much he stole the damn show once again and went on about the new door sweep, trim and sealing job we’d, eh emm– I would do because after-all, he was Mr. Know It All and his way was the right way. Long story short, the brainiac quit a couple days later and I was stuck doing work I was neither equipped or trained to do. After 2 hours of bent nails, uneven cuts and a caulking nightmare the lady now thought of me as an unskilled buffoon and my company had to pay a real handyman to do what I could not.
Lesson # 1= Don’t Take On What You Don’t Know How To Do.

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Scream

My second failure came from an extreme mouse infestation. This was a regular account and no matter how much Rozol (mouse bait of the time) I threw at it, the mice just kept coming. The owners were a sweet elderly couple and the wife was really having a time. The now brazen rodents seem to be in every nook of the house and it didn’t bother them at all if it was broad daylight or if the house was busy with activity. So many times while I was there I’d hear her scream and rush to the area and she’d be on a chair or table as the furry little thief was unfazed scurrying about.

Their home was nice but older and although they did their best to keep up, it was obvious the repairs had gotten beyond them. Desperate for an answer to rid this home of mice and having used everything trap and chemical wise I knew at the time I was out of options. I consulted with my service manager hoping he’d come out to help but instead it was suggested to me by my boss to offer a pest proofing service. The price was pretty steep but there was a lot to do and I wasn’t surprised at all when the owners jumped at it. Unlike my earwig debacle I didn’t need to be a finished carpenter in this home. The basement/crawl space was a combination of old rock walls and dirt so plugging up holes didn’t need to be pretty. Also, unsightly hardware cloth over obvious exterior gaps didn’t take anything away from the look of the home. The problem with this place is that there was far more entry points than a bag of cement and a roll of wire mesh could handle. When I sealed a possible hole near a window well in the basement the mice simply dug through the loose foundation around it. We found mice coming through old and broken plumbing, under almost every door (especially the attached garage) and even 2nd floor gaps were accessed as mice climbed gutters with ease. For every hole, crack or gap I sealed it seamed I found two more and my impact at most was just an inconvenience for our furry little friends. It didn’t take long before I went through all the material my boss had sent me with and it was painfully obvious, it wasn’t enough. I ended up buying cement and the like on my own and attempted to finish the work on weekends. It took quite some time just to slow down the rodents advance but at one point we all breathed a sigh of relief when I thought I had used my last nail. It was at that exact moment however when from upstairs the husband & I heard that familiar scream and I learned the 2nd lesson of pest proofing.
There Are Some Homes You Just Can’t Pest Proof.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Mel

    @pestcemetery, You’re so right.
    There Are Some Homes You Just Can’t Pest Proof.

  • After all this time I still can’t caulk for %$@!!!