I was sent to Holmdel, NJ to help homeowners who were dealing with a mouse infestation in the void above their basement ceiling. After finishing up exercising on their basement treadmill, the homeowners heard some strange noises above their heads — the scratching and scurrying noises of mice above their heads. Mice prefer to stay away from well-lit areas and stay in out-of-the way places like wall voids and above ceilings where they can come and go and move around the house as they please. When things are quiet, these sounds tend to amplify, and often, homeowners think that they are dealing with a much larger problem like squirrels or even raccoons. Of course, no homeowner should ever think that it’s “just mice.” Mice and their urine and droppings can contaminate food and counter tops. Like any wildlife, they are a health risk to a home’s occupants.
Needless to say, the homeowners were right. Mice had entered their living space from outside. Mice usually enter homes around gaps and cracks in the foundation, and I began my inspection in the basement, first popping out some tiles near where they had heard the unwanted visitors so I could get a better look. There were some mice droppings on to of the ceiling tile. I immediately saw how the rodents were gaining access. There was some daylight coming from a small opening on the outside wall. There was a hole drilled through the foundation, possibly for a exterior water spigot. However, nothing was ever installed and the hole was never sealed. Mice exploited the opening and came into the home. Mice only need a hole about the size of a dime to squeeze through. These rodents are even smaller than they look because of all their fur. They have no collarbone, so if they can stick their head through an opening, the body will follow.
I always carry disinfectant and a hepa vacuum with me. I first sprayed the the droppings before cleaning them up. It is dangerous to disturb dry droppings because microscopic particles containing dangerous pathogens like potentially fatal hantavirus are released into the air.
Preventing entry is key to rodent control. I stuffed the entry points with copper mesh that rodents are unable to chew through. Finally, I secured a rodent bait box on the home’s exterior near the hole. The combination of these strategies will soon put an end to the mouse problem for these homeowners.
Recently, a homeowner in Lincroft NJ, contacted Cowleys because of raccoon activity in the upper dormer area of the home. Raccoon weight can vary considerably with habitat, but they generally weigh around 20 pounds, making them one of the largest nuisance wildlife that we deal with on a regular basis. These nocturnal animals are extremely intelligent, resourceful, great climbers, and with their human-like five-finger forepaws, they are amazingly dexterous. A determined raccoon will find a way to get into your attic, especially when the female is looking for a quiet, private nesting area to give birth to her kits. Raccoons, especially protective moms, are territorial and can be vicious when confronted. They are also the major rabies vector in New Jersey.
With nuisance wildlife infestations, we always determine how the critters are gaining access into the home. Because of the size of raccoons, their entry point is generally pretty obvious. Here, the raccoon was entering through the fascia area right below the roofline. Fascia boards are often exploited by wildlife because they are often weakened from water damage from the roof and gutters, and the outdoor elements. Raccoons can easily tear through these materials to gain access to the attic.
After ensuring that there were no pups inside the home, we set up traps and repaired the damaged fascia by framing in the hollowed-out area and then installing new fascia material. When we were done, the home looked as good as new!
Recently, a momma raccoon decided to take up residence in an elementary school in Lincroft, NJ. She set up a nesting area above the school’s drop ceiling for herself and her three babies. Needless to say, school administrators were none-too-pleased with this wildlife problem. Raccoons are large aggressive animals that also happen to be New Jersey’s primary rabies vector. Mother raccoons can be particularly aggressive if they feel that someone is threatening their kits. In short, raccoons, in and around any structure, especially a school where there are curious little kids looking for trouble, is a dangerous situation. I was told that the raccoon noises were becoming a serious distraction to both students and faculty. In addition, raccoons can cause extensive property damage. With this infestation, as often happens, the raccoons ruined much of the insulation above the drop ceiling. They tear up the soft, cushiony material for nesting and it becomes a sponge for their wastes. The school will handle the insulation removal and replacement later on. And it’s not just the animals that pose a danger. Wildlife urine and waste particles, which can become airborne, can contain dangerous pathogens.
Upon arrival, as with any wildfire infestation, I inspected the building to to determine how the raccoon gained access to the building. Usually, with large animals, the entry points aren’t too subtle. Here, I immediately saw that the raccoon ripped out one of the flimsy air vent screens. Often, standard air vent screens used by contractors are not sturdy enough to withstand a wildlife “break-in.” They are simply not made with wildlife intrusions in mind and standard vent covers are no match for a determined raccoon. There animals are not only strong intelligent animals, but they also have human-like five-fingered front paws that are extremely dexterous. They have been known to open doors and screw the lids off cans!
It was important to trap these raccoons, and get the job done quickly. We placed four baited traps on the roof of the school in strategic locations based on their activity. The mother raccoon must leave the nest in order to forage for food for herself and her babies. Two days later, “momma” was successfully captured. We then proceeded to retrieve the helpless babies, removing them one by one, and reunited them with their worried mother. One thing we don’t do is split up happy raccoon families! We relocated the family to a safe area far away from human habitats. Finally, to prevent future re-infestations, we fortified all of these potential entry points by screening off the eight roof vents with 1/4-in, galvanized hardware. Raccoons or squirrels will not be able to gain access into the building through these heavy-duty vents. This Lincroft school that should not have to worry about another wildlife infestation anytime soon!
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Here at Cowleys Pest Services we not only adhere to the highest pest control standards, our goal is to provide you with an excellent experience and service in Holmdel and nearby NJ.
From your first phone call through treatment and follow-up we at Cowleys Pest Services pledge to give you great customer service while fixing your pest problem.
Since 1991, we have been treating a wide variety of pests, bedbugs, insects and rodents -- just contact us to get more details on your home or building's issue. Take advantage of our expertise to get rid of unwanted pests or animals in your Holmdel, NJ home.
At Cowleys Pest Services we also have pest control plans where we routinely inspect your home or building and apply needed solutions ahead of developing a recurring pest problem. Our pest service plans have different levels too, to best suit your needs that you can change over time if needed. From our Green Service Plan to our Platinum Service Plan, we'll keep your home pest-free.
I was called out to a residence in Holmdel, NJ to help a homeowner having an issue with mice in the crawl space. He needed to enter the crawl space, and when he was down below, he saw the tell-tale signs of mice: dark droppings with pointed ends that look like grains of black rice. The homeowner did not observe any rodent activity in the living areas of the home, but he knew that once they were inside, it would be easy for them to access the home. Mice usually enter homes through gaps or cracks around the foundation to gain access, and once inside they travel through crawl voids around the home to forage for food and water. We see a huge pick-up in mouse infestations during the fall and winter when they enter homes to escape the harsh outdoor elements.
To resolve the infestation, I placed two RTU bait stations in the crawl space. These triangular-shaped boxes have angled entry holes that mice do not hesitate to enter. They fit flush against a wall or corner so they can be easily placed in the pathways where the mice are traveling. Inside, there are interior baffles that lead the mice to the bait. They are tamper-resistant and automatically lock when closed to keep the bait away from non-target animals. During follow-up visits, we can open them with a special key to replenish the highly effective single-feeding anticoagulant bait as needed.
I inspected the living areas of the home, focusing on the kitchen and attic, and confirmed that there was no mouse activity. Fortunately, the problem was limited to the crawl space. I also inspected the exterior perimeter of the home to identify potential entry points. I located two possible gaps, one around the crawl space vent and the other under the front stoop. I sealed both of these openings.
As often happens when we service homeowners for wildlife and pest control, we find issues other than the particular one that we were called out for in the first place. Often, the problems are interrelated and one exacerbates the other. For example, high moisture conditions or a water intrusion from a leaky pipe or a roof leak will not only attract insects but also cause mold formation, and then the mold attracts mold-eating insects as well, so one problem compounds another. Also, we often find weaknesses in a home’s structure, such as wood rot of the fascia and soffits caused by water damage, leads to both insect and wildlife infestations. Some insects, especially wood-boring insects like carpenter bees and carpenter ants, as well as wildlife are attracted to soft, rotting wood. For wildlife, especially squirrels and raccoons, softwood gives them easy access for them to claw and chew their way into the attic.
This homeowner in Holmdel, NJ contacted Cowleys because of a wildlife problem. The homeowner was fortunate to have called us. During my inspection for potential wildlife entry points, I discovered some hidden termite damage and active termite activity underneath a portion of the home that had direct soil contact with the ground. While finding out you have a termite infestation is never good news, it is certainly better to discover a termite problem early so that the infestation can be treated and property damage minimized.
Termites called the silent destroyers of homes for good reason. These wood-consuming subterranean insects rarely make their presence known. These fragile insects avoid the harsh outdoor element and travel either underground or inside mud tubes that they construct in order to traverse from the soil over concrete foundations to reach the wood in the home. If a homeowner does not notice the often subtle signs of termite activity, the problem goes unnoticed until there is either substantial damage to the structure or the termite activity is discovered during the home inspection of a pending sale. Needless to say, the homeowner was extremely grateful that I had found the termite damage during my wildlife inspection.
Outdoor moths come in a variety of shape, size, and color depending on the species. Some are large, such as the two unusual large moths that were perched on the siding of this Holmdel residence, while others are small. Some have brilliant colors while others are the drab brown or grey that we associated with moths, especially indoor infesting moths.
Moths are a nuisance pest. With indoor moths, it is the larvae that causes property damage, not the adults. Once a moth reaches adulthood, it will lay its eggs amongst materials that supply food for the developing larvae after they hatch. The larvae of webbing clothes moths can decimate entire wardrobes as well as bedding and furniture. These destructive moths consume natural fibers such as cotton, wool, fur, and silk and even synthetic fibers containing some natural fiber content. The larvae of pantry (Indian meal) moths contaminate food. These moths are especially attracted to bird seed, flour and meals, cereals and grain, and pet foods. The larvae will spin webs in the infested food, you’ll often see clumps of webbing and the larvae itself resembles little worms. Needless to say, these tiny pantry moth eggs can cause big problems in the kitchen.
Outdoor moths are usually seen staying very still on flat exterior walls near light fixtures. Outdoor moths are certainly a nuisance when they hurl themselves against your patio porch light and disrupt summer outdoor gatherings. But certain outdoor moths are more than an annoyance. They can leave a path of destruction behind them. Most notably, gypsy moths, which unfortunately are found throughout New Jersey, feed on hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs, and are attracted to maples, elms, and especially oaks. They can strip trees completely of their foliage in one season, and with their larvae boring into wood, they can kill entire groves of trees over several seasons. The gypsy moth is considered the worst pest to endanger hardwood and, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the gypsy moth in its caterpillar stage is the most destructive hardwood defoliator to ever occur in the state. Fortunately, this Holmdel homeowner did not have a gypsy moth infestation. If you have oaks and other hardwood on your property, you should periodically insect your trees for defoliation or gypsy moth egg nests.
Ways to reduce outdoor moths on your property include using outdoor lighting only when necessary since lights are a significant moth attractor. Also, swap your standard white bulbs int outdoor fixtures with yellow ones. Since moths fly to the brightest light, they will fly to a neighbor’s white bulb instead of your yellow one. You can also discourage moths with the smell of certain oils like citronella candles.
If your outdoor moth population has gotten out of hand and preventative measures aren’t working, Cowleys can help. We are able to reduce outdoor moth populations by applying product through a misting system that will keep moths away from vegetation surrounding your home.
A Holmdel homeowner contacted Cowleys because of a possible wasp infestation in his attic. Upon arrival, I asked whether he had any pest issues in the past. The customer stated that, except for the wasps, everything was good, but a home inspector did find possible bat droppings during his inspection. Well, that was a pretty big “but!” I was surprised he did not immediately call Cowleys for a possible bat infestation since toxic bat guano is a much greater potential health hazard for a home’s occupants than wasps. Bat guano can be a very dangerous health threat because of its toxic fungi, and if guano particles are inhaled, they can cause histoplasmosis, a serious lung disease. Guano should only be removed by trained technicians using personal protective equipment.
I entered the attic hoping that the inspector was wrong. I could not believe my own eyes! At one time, this attic had been used as a massive bat cave for nesting. There were tons of toxic bat droppings all over along with holes in the attic space. I immediately knew this was bat guano. Their distinctive droppings are shiny and speckled because of their insect diet. The good news for this Holmdel homeowner is that all of the bats were out of the attic. All that was left was their toxic mess.
We vacuumed, sanitized, and deodorized the attic until all remnants of a bat infestation were gone, and bat-proofed the home by finding and sealing the entry points. Much of the attic insulation was damaged by the bats, and I informed the homeowner the Cowleys is licensed to install TAP Pest Control Insulation. TAP, which stands for Thermal, Acoustical, and Pest Control, offers superior thermal and acoustical (sound-deadening) properties as well as a pest control component. The paper fibers are treated with a borate solution that is harmless to people, but lethal to many insects including ants, beetles, and termites. The homeowner was pleased with our service to restore his attic, and said he would be happy to arrange a meeting with a Cowleys insulation specialist.