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I was sent out by Cowleys to an apartment complex in Barnegat Light to remove an active hornets nest. The insects built their nest in a tree that was close to one of the buildings in the complex. Normally, a hornets nest does not pose a threat to people as long as the nest is not disturbed or approached. Unfortunately, every so often, these pests decide to build their nest in locations where people may inadvertently come too close to the nest. If they feel that their nest and territory is being threatened, a multiple stinging insect attack can easily result. This particular nest was built in a sensitive location. It was about five feet from the sidewalk entering the building and about seven feet off the ground. It was clearly a threat to any of the tenants forced to walk by the nest in order to enter and exit the building. It was an unacceptable situation, and I arrived to correct it.
To deal with this hornet problem, I first incapacitated the hornets that were inside the nest by treating it with a quick knock-down product. Once most of the hornets inside the nest were either dead or dying, I carefully cut the branch holding the nest out of the tree. Whenever you are doing a nest extraction, it is important to be mindful of any foraging hornets returning to the nest. They don’t take too kindly to seeing their nest being removed!
Once the nest and the supporting branch were separated from the tree, I
cut off excessive foliage to remove the treated nest, which I then bagged so that I could remove it from the property. The returning foraging hornets will swarm around the nest site for awhile, but they’ll soon move on when they realize that their nest is no more and there is not even any residue of the old nest to build on.
Territorial stinging insects like wasps and hornets mean trouble when they decide to build a nest too close to a home or commercial structure. In these cases, the nest needs to be removed by a pest control professional, preferably before there is a serious wasp attack on an innocent person who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Summer is not only a busy time for us, but for insects as well. This is time of year when many insects are most active. They are at their population peaks and working hard to expand their colonies. Hornets in particular rear their heads (and stingers!) in the summer. During the summer, we see hornets busily doing their construction work. They build their nests not only in trees, but often on man-made structures as well. We will find their perfect hexagonal chambers attached to soffits, inside garages, attics, on window sills and door frames, attached to exterior walls, and pretty much anywhere they can attach their nest “building materials.” Hornets make their own nesting material by mixing chewed-up wood pulp from tree bark mixed with their saliva, forming an enclosed nest around the comb where the queen lays her eggs.
Hornets nests can grow quite rapidly, with a surprising number of hornets living in what we would consider cramped quarters. Often, homeowners don’t even realize that they have a wasp infestation until the nest grows to a decent size, especially if the nest is formed in an area of the home or surrounding property that isn’t visited too often. Often, by the time a Cowleys tech is called out to the home, the nest has grown to the size of a melon. Once these guys get going building their nest, they mean business. Nest sizes can double in just a week!
These particular homeowners in Toms River, NJ called us after discovering a hornet's nest that was built, of all places, on the side of a raised playhouse in their yard. Fortunately, no one had yet been stung, but this was a potentially dangerous situation. Hornets usually don’t go out of their way to bother anyone. The problem is when someone unknowingly walks into the path of foraging wasps. With kids playing around this structure, there was a high risk of a swarm of wasps stinging children. This nest was not noticed immediately because it was built pretty high up on the playground— about twelve feet up a side wall of the structure.
To treat this hornet infestation, I used an aerosol pyrethrin application attached to an extension pole to access the nest. After spraying, I waited for about 20 minutes for the application to take effect. This product immediately knocks down the wasp population, and after waiting, there were no more visible wasps swarming around the nest. Now, with a nest that was substantially inactive (of course, there could always be a few live wasps still hiding in the nest), I removed the nest with a scraper attached to the pole. I then bagged the nest to take it off the property. Finally, I treated the area where the nest was attached that would help prevent the Hornets from trying to reconstruct the nest.
This type of stinging insect assignment is very satisfying to me. When finished, I knew that by removing this nest, I likely prevented some innocent kids from being attacked by a swarm of hornets just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was sent to a home in Howell that was having a problem with overwintering mice. As temperatures drop, mice will start entering our homes seeking food and shelter. Upon arrival, the first thing we do is speak with the homeowner to find out where there has been rodent activity. Since mice are nocturnal and tend to do their foraging in the dead of night, usually homeowners will see signs of activity before spotting live mouse activity. Common signs of mouse trouble are finding mouse droppings, nesting materials, or stored food. A homeowner may also find mouse tracks in dusty places and oily rub marks along the walls. Sometimes, it’s the smell that let’s a homeowner know that there is a problem. We are often called in after a homeowner smells urine or a dead rotting mouse carcass behind the dryer or refrigerator
We want to know where there has been signs of mouse activity to help us focus on our inspection. Mice can find access points into a home in numerous places, but once inside, the small sneaky critters will usually make their way to the kitchen because they are looking for food and that’s where the “motherload” of food is located. Mice are especially attracted to pet foods that are left out in the open and easy-to-infiltrate cardboard cereal containers.
An important part of my inspection when dealing with mice is looking for points of entry. It’s a challenge. Mice are even smaller than you think they are because of their fur. So, unlike some of the larger wildlife like squirrels and raccoons, the entry points are not as obvious, and a hole about the diameter of a dime is enough for them to squeeze in. Common points of entry include holes around pipe chases, electrical conduits, gaps under siding, overhead garage doors, and Bilco basement doors. Overhead doors often don’t shut all the way to the ground, and if weatherstripping is missing or damaged, it’s an open invitation. Likewise, Bilco doors often have uneven gaps between the steel door and the frame that are large enough for small rodent access.
After determining the points of entry, I’ll seal any small holes with copper mesh and caulking. Larger openings require some construction work, and Cowleys has a home construction crew able to repair those gaps and cracks that need more than a sturdy “plug.”
After closing the points of entry, I’ll take care of the infestation by baiting the areas of activity.
I was recently sent to a home in Edison, NJ for a Cowleys home protection plan (HPP) scheduled service. The homeowner had issues with rodents around the home and I found out why she was concerned.
In my inspection, I found an exterior rodent bait station by the shed that was completely depleted from the last service. The interior rodent bait stations in the garage and crawl space were also empty.
After completing the service around the home I rebaited all the existing bait stations. I then performed a thorough inspection around the house to determine how the rodents were entering the structure. I found a sizable gap around the piping where the gas line was passing through the foundation. To close up this access point, I used a copper mesh material which does not rust or disintegrate like steel wool.
Since this customer's rodent pressure was so high. I added an additional large rodent bait station (LP) to the exterior of the home.
Last week, I was called out to investigate a home in Point Pleasant, NJ. The homeowner contacted Cowleys because mice were getting into the kitchen. She told us that several mice were caught on glue traps that she had placed. In addition, rodent bait stations had already been set up from a previous service call. Mice infestations can be challenging for a variety of reasons. One is their size. Because mice are so small they are able to get through gaps and cracks that we barely notice. identifying and sealing all of them can sometimes take a few visits.
On this visit, I noticed a door nest to the refrigerator that lead to the crawl space. The door was never used by these homeowners, and was leftover after the kitchen had been remodeled. I observed a large gap under the door. There was a high probability that this was the trouble spot for the mice entering the living areas of the home from the crawl space.
I used a chew-proof copper mesh to fill the gaps where the mice were likely entering. The benefit of using copper is that it does not rust like steel wool. I also inspected and rebated the rodent bait stations that had previously been set up. Unfortunately, there was active rodent activity in the kitchen and crawl space area as well as the exterior behind the home. Clearly, this was one stubborn infestation. Cowleys, however will stay on the job until the infestation is completely resolved. One mouse inside a home is one mouse too many.
I set up additional bait stations in the crawl space where the mice were initially gaining entry into the home. I also sealed the gap under the kitchen door as well as a hole by their A/C unit in the back of the home. I expect the indoor mouse population to drop quickly and dramatically. In the meantime, we will have follow-up visits until this infestation is completely resolved.
Recently, I went out on a service call for one of our commercial clients, an apartment complex in Belmar, NJ. The property manager had contacted us after a tenant in one of the lower-level apartments reported a mouse infestation. Mice are more than a nuisance. They pose a significant health hazard. Mice can contaminate food and counter surfaces with their urine and droppings, particles of which can become airborne. Mice can transmit numerous diseases including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM) that affects the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. If that weren’t enough, they often carry in Lyme-carrying ticks or disease-ridden fleas with them as well.
Once I arrived, I began my inspection along the exterior perimeter of the apartment where mice were reported to locate potential entry points. I discovered many access points where the mice could easily enter the structure. There were spaces around piping entering the building, gaps around the windows and doors and a large space between the soil and the landing to the staircase leading upstairs.
As I continued my inspection inside the garage and apartment, I came across a large number of mouse droppings. This unit had a heavy rodent infestation that required extensive treatment.
With rodents, it is essential to keep them out in the first place by excluding any areas where the rodents are gaining access. I stuffed chew-proof copper mesh material into small spaces around pipes and sealed the gaps around the larger holes with metal flashing. Mice hate the taste and feel of copper mesh, and once they come in contact with this material, they quickly decide to go elsewhere.
After all the points of entry were sealed, I placed several rodent bait stations throughout the property. Typically, the number of rodent bait stations we use depends on the severity of the infestation. In this case, I set up twelve small rodent bait stations in the inside of the apartment and one larger station along the exterior perimeter. After placing all rodent bait stations, I carefully removed all of the hazardous mouse droppings.
Due to the severity of this infestation, it will take longer than usual to rid this apartment of mice. I scheduled periodic follow-ups to monitor the level of infestation and replenish the bait in the stations until this mouse problem is completely resolved.
Recently, I was sent to a home in Spring Lake, NJ, to resolve a mouse issue in the kitchen. This was an older home that had an old-fashioned bread drawer (breadbox) with a tin cover. For those of us who have been around awhile, they were once commonly found in kitchens. Now, with breads being made commercially with food preservatives and wrapped in plastic, we rarely see them installed in modern kitchens.
According to the homeowner, the bread drawer cover had rusted away, giving mice easy access to the bread. There were holes chewed through the dread bag and mouse droppings in the drawer. Any time there is a mice infestation in the kitchen, there is a risk of food contamination from their waste, and it is important to resolve this health hazard quickly. I inspected the other parts of the kitchen cabinet, but mouse activity was limited to the bread drawer. Apparently, with a ready and accessible supply of food in that drawer, there was no need for them to forage elsewhere.
Usually, rodents enter a home around the foundation.They find gaps and cracks, often around gas or water pipes entering the home where the sealant has deteriorated. Once inside the basement or crawl space, the wall run along the sill plate (the wood closest to the ground on the top of the foundation walls) until they find a way to gain access to the living spaces of the home up above. Here, I found a gap around the sink drain under the cover plate (escutcheon plate), the base plate disc around water pipe at the wall penetration. These plates are visible around faucets and tub or shower fixtures, but plumbers also use them around sink drains. I sealed the gap with a chew-proof copper mesh. I also found mouse droppings on a ceiling tile.
I set up mouse bait stations under the kitchen sink as well as several points on the basement sill plate where there were signs on rodent activity. I scheduled a two-week follow-up inspection in two weeks to re-inspect and determine additional treatments as needed to get this mouse problem resolved.