We recently replaced five foundation vents with Smart Vents for a homeowner in Manasquan, NJ. The old vents would not adequately protect the home from damage in the event of floodwaters from a severe weather events such as a hurricane, tropical storm, or nor’easter, which unfortunately seem to be occurring more frequently and with greater severity. Often, we can simply remove the existing vents and replace them with Smart Vents. However, sometimes, as we did here, we must cut into the foundation to properly fit the improved vents. Either way, the transition from traditional vents to Smart Vents is easy and seamless, and at the end of the day, the homeowner is left with considerable protection of their home foundation against damaging floodwaters.
Smart Vents prevent severe foundation damage by equalizing hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic water pressure can reach tens of thousands of pounds. It’s enough pressure to collapse large dams and retaining walls let alone home foundations. They work by allowing floodwaters to freely enter and exit the basement or crawl space. And how they so it is deceptively easy. Unlike traditional air vents, these vents open automatically and passively on their own once floodwaters reach a certain level. They do not require human intervention and no electricity is needed. The vents provide a 3-inch clearance for small debris and trash to easily pass when the vent door is opened by patented internal activation floats. For vented crawl spaces, there are Smart Vent models with a metal coil sensitive to temperature changes that opens and closes the vent louvers, and, just like the Smart Vent models that respond to water levels, these vents open and close automatically and do not require manual intervention.
Perhaps most important, these vents are FEMA and NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) compliant. They are deemed so effective by these agencies that the installation of these foundation flood vents can save homeowners, on average, 80% of their NFIP premiums. Any Jersey Shore homeowner with a crawl space or basement in a flood hazard area, especially NFIP-designated V Zones and A Zones, should strongly consider installation of Smart Vents. Smart Vent has its own Flood Risk Evaluator division to ensure that Smart Vent purchasers receive the proper flood insurance rating. They can provide homeowners with an estimate of their new lower flood insurance premium at www.yourfloodrisk.com.
As we get into the winter season and temperatures start dropping, mice become more of a nuisance for homeowners. For survival, these overwintering pests look for warm, dry places to escape the harsh outdoor elements — and our homes are often their targets. Unlike larger wildlife, mice can find the smallest entry points around a home’s foundation to gain entry. They can gain entry through an opening as small as the size of a dime. If they can poke their letting snout into an opening, the rest of the body will follow. Common mouse entry points are garages and crawl spaces. Once inside, mice will travel through wall voids to stay out of sight as they forage for food.
I was sent to a home in Manasquan, NJ to deal with a mouse problem that was frustrating this homeowner. For mouse infestations, it is critical to perform a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior home perimeter in order to find and seal all of the potential rodent access points. Often, there are droppings and other signs of mouse activity around the openings. Once we find any openings, we assess the problem and seal the gap using a variety of different methods. Because rodents have powerful incisors and an amazing capability to chew through many building materials, we will use chew-proof mesh to ensure that the opening is permanently blocked. With access points blocked and bait traps set, it does not take long for any mouse infestation to be quickly dealt with.
Recently, homeowners in Manasquan, NJ had contacted Cowleys after observing mouse droppings in their home. They were especially concerned with contamination issues because they had three young children. Mice can contaminate food, countertops, and flooring with their droppings and pose a serious health hazard. Their droppings can contain many dangerous pathogens, including hantavirus.
For any mouse infestation, it is critical to determine their entry points into the home and how they are moving about once inside. Invariably, mice will wind their way to the kitchen when they are foraging for food and water. Here, I pulled the dishwasher and refrigerator away from the wall to look for entry points. Sure enough, there were large holes int he walls that went straight down into the crawl space. Mice are attracted to the warmth of motors in appliances and it is common to find them nesting underneath refrigerators and large kitchen appliances. I sealed the holes with chew-proof wire mesh to block direct kitchen access from the crawl space and keep the mice and the droppings away from the family.
With the infestation contained in the crawl space, I set up RTU bait stations in the crawl space. These stations contain single-feeding bait that are magnets for mice. The mouse population should be drop quickly and with the kitchen entry points sealed, the mice will not be restricted from the living areas of the home.
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I was recently sent to a home in Manasquan, NJ to deal with an odorous house ant infestation. Ants are the most common nuisance pest, and one of the most common ants that invade homes are odorous house ant. These small dark brown or black ants “earned” their name because they emit a foul odor that smells what many describe as rotten coconuts when crushed. These ants construct shallow nests in the soil, usually under lawn debris, wood piles, and under brick pavers. Although they nest outdoors, they often move their nests inside homes, and they can be found almost anywhere including in plumbing traps and wall voids. Often, homeowners find ants inside their homes after heavy rains when their nests are flooded and they are looking for higher ground. Their colonies can be quite large, and in addition to the parent colony, we often find multiple satellite nests with more than one egg-producing queen.
With this infestation, the ants had invaded the kitchen. During my exterior perimeter inspection, I observed a trail of ants that were crawling underneath the siding. Because of their size, they can enter homes through the smallest of openings around the foundation. I applied an effective treatment in the area of the ant trail. The ants will carry the product back to the nest where it will be distributed throughout the colony. It won’t take long for the colony to be eliminated and the homeowners will soon see a dramatic decrease in ant sightings inside their home.
I was recently sent to a home in Manasquan, NJ, to remove some raccoon babies (kits). Raccoons are extremely vocal creatures and make a wide variety of sounds. Kits, just like human babies, make all sorts of noise to get the attention of their mother. Homeowners who find themselves with a den of kits somewhere in or around their home often hear all sorts of animal noises — mewing, crying, whining, and cooing. Homeowners often mistake their cooing sounds for birds.
Raccoon infestations are the physically largest nuisance wildlife that we regularly deal with. An adult can be as large as many dogs and can be quite imposing — especially when showing their razor-sharp teeth! Many are well over 20 pounds and more than 2 feet in length (excluding the tail). They are very intelligent and resourceful creatures that will eat almost anything left behind in garbage. If your garbage cans are tipped over and ransacked night after night, there’s a good chance raccoons are roaming your neighborhood.
Raccoons, as all nuisance wildlife, are potential carriers of diseases. Their droppings contain dangerous parasites like roundworm and other pathogens. In New Jersey, raccoons are the primary vector of rabies — and they can be carriers of rabies without showing any signs or symptoms.
Raccoons have a prolonged mating season. Although mating commonly occurs during the winter months, it can extend until June. With a mating season that can span over half a year, I always consider the possibility that their may be a den of babies hidden somewhere inside a structure. If I am called to a home to resolve a raccoon infestation anywhere from early spring to early summer, I work under the assumption that there is probably a den of kits and a very protective raccoon mother nearby that you do not want to mess with. Raccoon litters are typically 3 or 4 kits.
Raccoons have a relatively short gestation period. The offspring are born about nine weeks after mating. Raccoon mothers don’t plan far ahead like human moms and they’ll often make their den at the last minute right before giving birth. Raccoons will build their dens in any private location. In urban areas, they sometimes they choose our homes, commonly building their dens in chimneys, attics, and crawl spaces, under shed and decks, and on roofs.
But raccoon moms will look for any cozy, private cavity for their den. Here, I had to break a hole into a finished grill area in a spot that a little mini-fridge would slide into. I carefully removed four raccoon babies.
Recently, I was sent to one of our new commercial accounts, a bar/restaurant in Manasquan, NJ. The manager did not believe that there were any pest problems but wanted to set up periodic servicing and treatment as a precaution. It was a good thing he did. After my first spot treatment and gel baiting, as shown in the photo, all of my monitors were filled with nasty German roaches, which to me at least, are the dirtiest and vilest of all the roaches. Unfortunately, until there is a heavy infestation, it is easy for a roach infestation to go unnoticed since they are mostly active at night and stay hidden during the day when the lights are on. Treatments in the smallest cracks and behind appliances and certain areas is the most effective method to deal with a roach infestation along with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan that includes improving hygiene to reduce the chance of future infestations.
I spoke with the kitchen manager about my findings and he agreed that a thorough clean out was a necessary first step to get this roach infestation under control. Once this infestation is dealt with, I’ll work with the manager and restaurant staff to set up proper sanitation and hygiene protocols that, along with periodic inspections and preventative treatments, will keep these pests at bay. I was pleased that this manager had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to roaches and other pests. I look forward to working with him to get his kitchen pest-free and in tip-top shape.
I was recently called to Manasquan residence involving a stinging insect problem, which typically means bees, wasps, or hornets. There are many different kinds of stinging insects and each have their own markings and distinct behavior. Upon arrival, the customer immediately let me know that she saw a nest in the peak of a gable in the back of her home. When I got to the back side of her home, I looked up, immediately recognizing the distinctive grey spherical paper nest. It was the beginning stages of a bald faced hornets nest.
Bald-faced hornets are about three-quarters of an inch longs and are black with ivory markings on their faces and abdomens. They are highly aggressive and very territorial around their nest. They are a physically strong insect and more than capable of stinging through a layer of thick clothing. There is an old saying about not stirring up a hornet's nest when it would have been better to have left something alone. It's a great expression because when you don't want to be around when a hornet's nest is disrupted. You'll anger some ornery stinging insects that hate being bothered -- and they will let you know it in the worst sort of ways. Any loud noises or sudden movements around a nest can easily trigger multiple, painful hornet stings. Because an active hornet or wasp nest is so potentially dangerous, it's best to have an experienced professional remove active nests.
From personal experience, even full body suits and face protectors are not impermeable barriers against stings. Wherever possible, I keep my distance and avoid getting too close up and personal with wasps or hornets protecting their nest. For this nest in Manasquan, I used my extension pole, attaching our top-of-the-line, professional use aerosol to knock down all hornet activity. Once the hornet activity stopped, I removed the nest, packaged it, and took it with me. There is always a chance of a few stunned hornets inside the nest. My goal with any stinging insect job is to give the homeowner peace of mind that, with the insects killed and the nest gone and off their property, the problem is resolved.