Whether moving into new construction or an old charmer, homebuyers should be thinking about potential pests.
Technical Service Manager, Terminix
Doug Webb is a Board Certified Entomologist and Technical Service Manager for Terminix. He has more than 41 years of industry experience, specializing in residential and termite pest services.
Millions of people deal with pests in their homes every day. Not only can these home invaders come with serious health risks, they can also be destructive: In a recent survey of homeowners, close to half said their homes had been damaged by some form of pest.
Despite these alarming facts, many people don’t think about pests when moving into a new home, but they should — even if it’s a newly built house.
“Most of the pests that get into homes come from outdoors, even during the building process,” noted Doug Webb, BCE, PCQI, a board-certified entomologist and manager of technical services at Terminix.
Inspections are key
Webb always advises an inspection conducted by a qualified pest control professional before moving into any property. “You may find some cracks or crevices that you might not see once the furniture and everything is moved into place. And then you can get treatment before you move in.”
Webb doesn’t think trying to inspect your new home on your own makes sense, because many pest control companies — including Terminix — will conduct an initial pest inspection at no charge, and most homeowners lack the necessary expertise.
“You may not recognize evidence of pests,” he said, “and you may not recognize entry points that will be obvious to an experienced inspector.”
But there are some key signs of pests to look for — most notably even a single ant or other pest. “If you see one, there’s almost always more,” Webb noted.
Other signs of pests include:
- Rodent droppings in kitchen cabinets, garages, or utility rooms
- Spiders and webbing
- Termite mud tubes along basement walls or foundation exteriors
- Gnaw marks
- Scratching noises in walls
- Dirt mounds in the yard
Something else to look for are obvious entry points for pests, including poorly fitted weather stripping, or cracks or spaces under doors. Webb also advises checking under the house, looking for any areas or debris that might be sheltering pests. If you see any warning signs, a professional inspection can then identify exactly what you’re dealing with and recommend the right treatment to both eliminate the pest and prevent future infestations.
For many people, seeing evidence of pests means it’s time to buy a can of bug spray and take the DIY approach — but this can backfire. It’s easy to choose the wrong remedy, and this can be dangerous if you accidentally use a product intended for outdoor use inside your house.
And trying to deal with pests on your own can actually make the problem worse. “Bugs can develop a resistance to pesticides if they’re used incorrectly over a period of time,” Webb explained. “You kill off the ones that are really easy to kill, but the ones that are left can become more and more resistant over time.”
Pest control professionals are knowledgeable and will tailor their services to your specific needs. For example, Terminix offers both year-round and one-time pest control treatments to help prevent and/or address infestations, but they also offer targeted treatments for termites, mosquitoes, and rodents.
Webb encourages people to document any pests they find by capturing a specimen or taking a close-up photo to help identify it — but to leave the inspections and treatments to professionals.
“I’ve been in the pest control industry for 41 years now,” he said. “Been around a long time and done almost everything you’d name in this industry. At the end of the day, the work that we do is based on knowledge of the pest and their different behaviors and habits. We use that to our advantage to take care of your home.”