• Gray Squirrels
• Flying Squirrels
• Carpenter Ants
• Striped Skunks
The two most popular bat species to invade New England homes are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. For our purposes, these animals are very similar in behavior and how they are handled, so we'll refer to both species as simply "Bats".
Bats make good neighbors. As the only major predators of night flying insects, bats play an important role in controlling many insect pests. A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night.
A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects each night.
In the Northeast, female bats typically give birth to one pup each year in May or June. The average life span is 6 years, but bats can live up to 30 years. Bats can pose significant health concerns when they roost in our homes. The accumulation of their droppings in the roosting spaces (usually attics) can be a health concern due to the bacteria in the droppings. Since a small percentage of bats carry the Rabies virus, this is also a health risk.
Bats enter our homes through small openings in the roof (trim boards, fascia, vents, under roof shingles, chimneys, etc.). They need very little space to enter (as small as ¼"!), so preparing a home for exclusion is a pain-staking and very detailed process. This is where most exclusions fail, and the reason a trained professional should be contracted to perform the service. On the first visit, we will carefully and thoroughly inspect the entire roofline for any openings. Any entry points we discover will be fitted with a custom exclusion cone or "check valve". This check valve is designed to allow the bats to escape while preventing them from being able to re-enter. All other openings in the roofline will be sealed to prevent re-entry. We use a variety of materials to seal the openings, depending on the size of the gap. These materials include: galvanized steel ¼" grid screening, pest-proofing foam, rust-proof mesh or in some cases, replacement roof material (shingle, wood, flashing). Once the entire roofline has been sealed and all entry points fitted with check valves, the first visit is complete. We will return in approximately 1-2 weeks to remove the check valves and permanently seal the entry points. We recommend, sell and install bat houses to our customers who would like to keep the bats nearby for their insect-control benefits. Bat services include a standard 5 YEAR WARRANTY.*
*There is an additional charge for extended warranty periods, the amount of which depends on the type, condition and size of roofline.
The Eastern subterranean termite is the most common and most widely distributed termite in North America. It is a problem for homeowners from southern Ontario in Canada, south throughout the Eastern United States and as far west as Montana. This Native American pest feeds on such cellulose materials as structural wood, wood fixtures, paper, books, and cotton. Occasionally, it will even attack the roots of shrubs and trees. A mature colony of Eastern subterranean termites can range from as low as 20,000 to a high of 5 million workers, with an average of 300,000. The colony's queen will add 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year to the total. While Eastern subterranean termite colonies are not the largest termite colonies you can find, there will often be more than one colony working in a single building. Signs of Eastern subterranean termites include dirt-colored tubes built to serve as protected paths from the earth to the wood the termites are feeding on, and the translucent wings shed by the kings and queens during swarming. Swarming usually occurs in the spring, but other, smaller swarms can occur throughout the summer and fall.
Some quick facts about Eastern subterranean termites:
• An average Eastern subterranean termite colony can consume 5 grams of wood per day, the equivalent of 2⅓ linear feet of a 2' x 4' pine board annually.
• Eastern subterranean termites can enter buildings through cracks less than 1/16 of an inch wide.
• Eastern subterranean termites will often build mud tubes for travel between their colonies and their food sources.
• The king and queen in a colony can live for 10 to 30 years, while workers live for about two years.
We use the Advance Termite Bait System from BASF to treat termites. The system is made up of several individual termite bait cartridges that are installed in soil around the perimeter of your home. We will check the stations regularly for termite activity. When termites are found in a station, the Termite Inspection Cartridge (TIC), containing no active ingredient, is replaced with a Termite Bait Cartridge, containing active ingredient, so termites can start feeding on the bait. As termites feed and then travel back to the colony, they share termite bait with other nest mates and send other termites back to feed on the bait. As feeding on the bait continues and more and more termites are affected, the termite colony starts to die and is eliminated. After a colony is eliminated, the bait is replaced with a new inspection cartridge. We will continue to offer long-term protection by inspecting the station regularly as part of your service agreement to discover and treat any new colonies that invade your property.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is more active during the early and late hours of the day, and tends to avoid the heat in the middle of a summer day. It does not hibernate. Eastern Gray Squirrels breed twice a year, December to February and May to June, though this is slightly delayed in more northern latitudes. The first litter is born in February to March, the second in June to July. There are normally two to six young in each litter, but this number can be as high as 8. The gestation period is about 44 days. The young are weaned at 7 weeks and leave the nest after 10 weeks.
Eastern Gray Squirrels can start breeding as early as 5 and half months old, but usually breed for the first time at a year old. They live to be 20 years old in captivity, but in the wild will usually only live to around 12 years old.
Gray Squirrels enter our homes through (often self-made) openings in the roofline (soffits, trim boards, fascia, vents). These animals can be very destructive, often causing extensive damage to wood and vinyl on the home's exterior. Rotted wood on the roofline or open areas are prone to attack. If a Gray Squirrel can get its teeth on an opening, it will gnaw the surrounding material away until the entry point is large enough. On the first visit, we will carefully and thoroughly inspect the entire roofline for any openings. Any active entry points we discover will be fitted with custom "one-way" exclusion doors. These doors are designed to allow the squirrels to escape while preventing them from being able to re-enter. All other openings in the roofline will be sealed to prevent re-entry. We use galvanized steel ¼" grid screening to seal all areas. This is an absolute must because any other materials used for exclusion will be destroyed by the squirrels' powerful teeth and jaws. Once the roofline has been proofed and all active entry points fitted with one-way doors, the first visit is complete. We will return in approximately 1-2 weeks to remove the doors and permanently seal the entry points with galvanized steel screening. Once the threat of re-entry has subsided (usually 4-8 weeks), we can repair the damaged areas to return the home to its original aesthetics and functionality. On occasion, we may also recommend and propose trapping the animals in conjunction with the exclusion service. If the roofline is in disrepair, it may make sense to remove the animals to prevent any re-entry attempts at all. Gray Squirrel exclusion services carry a 1 YEAR WARRANTY against re-entry anywhere on the roofline.
Both Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels can be found in Massachusetts, so for our purposes we will refer to them simply as Flying Squirrels. These small, nocturnal mammals may very well be the ultimate house pest. They are social creatures who may live in communities of up to 50 in one nest. They are vocal, emitting squeaking sounds when they are communicating. Worst of all, they are active at night when we are trying to sleep. Although activity can be seasonal, established nests will be revisited annually by the same clan. In other words, they won't go away on their own.
Unlike their name may suggest, these squirrels do not "fly", but rather glide on a membrane or patagium, a fold of skin that extends from the wrist of the front leg to the ankle of the hind leg. When the front and hind legs are extended, the membrane forms a wing-like gliding surface. The furred, broad and horizontally flattened tail serves as a rudder and stabilizer during glides. The eyes are noticeably large, an adaptation for its nocturnal habits. Besides the loss of sleep that often accompanies their invasion into our homes, they can do an extensive amount of damage to the insulation in our attics and even the exterior of the home. Flying Squirrels will use communal toilets or "latrines", with all the squirrels defecating and urinating in the same area. This will often cause staining on the exterior of the home from the overflow of their waste. They are very small and can fit through gaps the size of your thumbnail.
Much like other tree squirrels, Flying Squirrels enter our homes through openings in the roofline (soffits, trim boards, fascia, vents). Because of their diminutive size and lack of defenses, they have adapted to a tree-top lifestyle, and therefore will very rarely, if ever, enter a structure on the ground level. When excluding Flying Squirrels, we will carefully and thoroughly inspect the entire roofline for any openings during our initial visit. Any active entry points we discover will be fitted with custom "one-way" check valves (these animals are too timid and lack the physical strength of their larger cousins to consistently use one-way doors). These check valves are designed to allow the squirrels to escape while preventing them from being able to re-enter. All other openings in the roofline will be sealed to prevent re-entry. We use galvanized steel ¼" grid screening or engineered exclusion products to seal all areas. Although their jaws and teeth aren't as powerful as Gray Squirrels, Flying Squirrels are still able to gnaw through softer materials (like expandable foam). Once the roofline has been proofed and all active entry points fitted with check valves, the first visit is complete. We will return in approximately 1-2 weeks to remove the doors and permanently seal the entry points. Once the threat of re-entry has subsided (usually 4-8 weeks), we can repair the damaged areas to return the home to its original aesthetics and functionality. On occasion, we may also recommend and propose lethal trapping of the animals in conjunction with the exclusion service. If the roofline is in disrepair, it may make sense to remove the animals to prevent any re-entry attempts at all.
With its "bandit" mask and paws that look a little like human hands, the raccoon is a cute and familiar animal, but can also be quite a frightening pest. The raccoon's toes are flexible and it is very good at grabbing, pulling things apart and holding things. The raccoon is also an excellent climber, and one of the few mammals capable of climbing down a tree backwards or face-first. It generally lives in wooded areas near water, but is very adaptable and often found in suburbs and cities. It usually makes its den in a tree, but may make its home in an abandoned woodchuck burrow, a cave, barn, sewer, and of course, in our homes.
The raccoon is mostly nocturnal. It is also solitary, except for mothers and their young. In the winter, the raccoon may sleep in its den for a few weeks but it does not hibernate. The raccoon usually walks, but it can run at speeds of up to 15 miles an hour. It is also a good swimmer and often hunts for food in the water. The raccoon makes a variety of vocalizations including hisses, whistles, screams, growls and snarls.
When raccoons enter and nest in structures, it is usually in the attic or chimney. The exclusion service always begins with a thorough inspection of the roof area to identify any and all possible points of entry. Removing the animals is accomplished via either trapping or "evicting", depending on the location of the nesting site. Once the raccoons are out of the structure, we will prevent future problems by either installing a chimney cap or securing entry points with galvanized steel screening, attached with screws. In some cases, we will repair the damaged area with new material (wood, shingle, flashing, etc.). The standard warranty for raccoon exclusion is 12 months, but extended warranties are available.
Carpenter ants are among the larger ants found in Massachusetts. There are several species of carpenter ants that may be found infesting homes and other buildings. Normally workers are black or brown in color and range in size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Winged queen ants may be as large as one inch. However, size is not a reliable characteristic to identify carpenter ants. Ants are divided into different castes, i.e. workers, queens, and males. Carpenter ants have polymorphic workers, which means that the workers occur in different sizes.
Carpenter ants nest in moist wood including rotting trees, tree roots, tree stumps, and logs or boards lying on or buried in the ground. They can also nest in moist or decayed wood inside buildings. Wood decay may be caused by exposure to leaks, condensation, or poor air circulation. Nests have been found behind bathroom tiles, around tubs, sinks, showers, and dishwashers, under windows and roofing, in attic beams, and under subfloor insulation, and in hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods, and wall voids. Carpenter ants may also nest in foam insulation.
Carpenter ants damage wood by excavating and creating galleries and tunnels. These areas are clean, i.e. they do not contain sawdust or other debris, and are smooth, with a well sanded appearance. The damage to wood structures is variable. The longer a colony is present in a structure, the greater the damage that can be done. If structural wood is weakened, carpenter ant damage can be severe.
We offer an exterior-only treatment for carpenter ants that comes with a 12-month warranty. Though not necessary, we can also use baits to eradicate indoor nests. In almost all cases, it is not necessary to treat inside the home, or even locate the nesting sites to rid your home of these pests. Carpenter ant treatments should be done annually to keep the home free of infestations. For this reason, we offer an annual renewal at a reduced rate for our customers.
House Mice and Deer Mice are considered two of the most troublesome and economically important pests in the United States. Mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions in and around homes and farms. Mice consume food meant for humans or pets. They contaminate food-preparation surfaces with their feces, which can contain the bacterium that causes food poisoning (salmonellosis). Their constant gnawing causes damage to structures and property.
Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat many kinds of food. They eat often, nibbling bits of food here and there. Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. They can slip through a crack that a pencil will fit into (slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter).
In a single year, a female may have five to 10 litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they are mature in six to 10 weeks. The life span of a mouse is about nine to 12 months.
Any service designed to rid a home of mice must take into consideration how the mice are accessing the structure, and if their access is blocked. Setting traps for mice or putting out poison is not enough. Because they breed so quickly, killing them alone will simply create a cycle where the mice are "harvested" when the numbers get large. Our service begins with a careful inspection of the low-lying exterior of the home. Gaps in the foundation, basement window frames, door kickplates, siding, etc. are all typical areas of entry. We will secure these areas with mouse-proof materials (copper mesh, engineered exclusion materials) to prevent the mice from entering the home. We then install tamper-resistant bait stations containing poisonous bait (and, in some cases, traps as well) in the areas of the home that the mice travel the most. We will perform a follow-up service in approximately 6 months. During this visit, we will re-inspect the foundation exterior and secure any open areas as needed. We will also replace the bait in all stations with fresh bait. The warranty period is 12 months, and is renewable each year thereafter at a discounted rate.
Striped skunks are easily recognized by their characteristic colors and pattern. The fur is black with a white stripe that begins as a triangular shape on the top of the head, forks into two stripes that travel down the sides of the back, and usually merges again near the base of the tail. Another white stripe runs from the base of the snout between the eyes and ends on the forehead. Stripe width and length vary with each individual. They are about the size of a domestic cat.
Striped skunks are nocturnal, sleeping during the day in underground burrows and emerging around dusk to search for food. They prefer to use burrows made by other animals of equal size or natural burrows under tree stumps or buildings. They use their long front claws to build their own den if necessary.
Both males and females undergo periods of inactivity from November until March. Females often remain in their winter dens for the entire winter, but males usually emerge during mild temperature periods to feed. Winter dens usually consist of six females and their young. One male sometimes occupies a den with females, but usually lives alone in its own den.
The skunk's den is typically under a low-lying porch, deck or shed. Occasionally they will take advantage of a large enough hole in the foundation of the home. Since it is a burrowing animal, exclusion must be performed not only at their access point, but along the entire outer edge of the structure (deck, shed, porch), to keep them from digging a new burrow to regain entry. We dig a trench about a foot deep along the perimeter. We then install galvanized steel screening, attaching it to the base of the structure and extending it into the soil. We then backfill the soil. If desired, we can improve the aesthetics of the work by adding lattice, trim, etc. We install a one-way door to allow any animals in the den to escape. Once through the door, the animals are locked out of the den. We remove the door after 1-2 weeks, then permanently screen the entry point and backfill the soil. Trapping and removal of the skunk is not necessary, but can be performed if desired. The exclusion service warranty period is 2 years.