Ask the Bugman: It is going to be a buggy year


Someone asked me if bugs will be out early because of the mild weather and what they should do about it. As I said in a previous column, you should take time to pest proof your home in the winter before pest activity starts. Inspect your home or business around the outside and seal or screen any openings where bugs as small as ants can enter.

Make sure you don’t’ have any tree branches touching your home or business as insects will use the branches as an avenue to find openings on the roof. If you have a pest control service, that is fine, but don’t let them spray pesticides unless you have a bug infestation. Spraying pesticides to prevent pests is not a good practice and good companies don’t do that.

It is a good time to get your home inspected for termites as they are active all year and will be swarming in four or five weeks if the weather doesn’t change much. Make sure whoever you use to inspect is familiar with drywood termites and other wood-destroying insects as well as with subterranean termites. If you are a real estate agent, keep in mind the code of ethics when using a termite inspector.

As you know, home inspectors should not provide estimates for work that is to be performed by qualified contractors. There are several professional associations for home inspectors, including the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), the International National Associations of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Each of these organizations, as well as some states, have conflict of interest rules that prohibit inspectors from performing or offering to perform repairs on a structure for which the inspector prepares a home inspection report.

The ASHI code of ethics allow its inspectors to repair or replace certain systems and components 12 months after issuing the inspection report. I firmly believe wood destroying insect inspectors should be subject to the same rules. If an inspector finds evidence of termites or of wood-boring beetle activity, the company they work for should not be allowed to bid on the work. While most inspectors are completely honest, there are a few that may not be. Don’t take a chance and enforce the conflict of interest rules on all inspectors including wood-destroying insect inspectors.

If you have a commercial business, all you have to do is keep your facility as clean as possible and pest proof it as you would your home. If you hire a professional, pick one that will inspect your facility but not use any toxic pesticides unless a severe infestation is present. Believe it or not, all commercial establishments can control their own pests if they want to. I know many business owners can’t be bothered doing their own pest control work and that is fine.

There are several real good companies out there to help you. If you want to do some pest work yourself, then keep a pest control company available in case you get a sudden infestation of some pest. In commercial businesses this occasionally happens as vendors can bring in pests, as can unusual weather and other factors. You don’t need anyone just coming in and spraying pesticides along the baseboards. That is not good pest management. With good common sense and a little knowledge you can safely and effectively manage pests in your facility, even if its a restaurant, without anyone spraying toxic pesticides.

If you have a hotel or motel, you can actually control bed bugs if they show up. You don’t need to pay a fortune to have a room sprayed with toxic pesticides. Some companies use safe products and try to find one of these companies if you want, but you can do it yourself if you prefer.

Whether you have a home or business or both, there is nothing wrong with using pest professionals as long as they are competent and just don’t spray pesticides. They should use IPM (Intelligent Pest Management), which includes inspections and treatments only if necessary. If you get a termite inspection, try to find an inspector who doesn’t do treatments so their isn’t any conflict of interest.

Spring is almost here and I predict this is going to be a buggy year. But not so buggy you have to spend a lot of money on unnecessary and dangerous pesticides. You can solve almost any pest problems by doing it yourself if you want.

You can contact the “Bugman” at any pest questions about doing your own pest management.