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Katherine S. was getting ants on her kitchen counter in her home in Spring Lake. I Inspected the interior and didn't see any ant activity at the time I was there. I went outside to conduct an inspection and as expected, found ants trailing from her neighbors yard into her garage area and then filing into kitchen. I treated the areas with a gel bait and granular. The ants will eat the bait and bring it back to the rest of the colony. Bye Bye ants!
Recently, a homeowner in Spring Lake, NJ, contacted Cowleys because a hornet nest had formed on the soffit of her home. It was built fairly high up, so it wasn’t a major threat. Hornets can be aggressive and territorial and will attack if their nest is threatened. Here, there wasn’t much traffic around the nest and everyone was a safe distance away. The homeowner’s concern was that the hornets would gain access inside the home through the attic. To avoid this and any other issue with these stinging insects, I proceeded to remove the nest.
Hornet nests have an entry hole where the foraging wasps enter and exit. I watched their flight pattern in and out of the nest and set up my extension ladder on the opposite side of their activity. I had no interest in meeting these wasps head-on! I climbed the ladder and treated the nest with an aerosol that quickly knocks down the population. I then waited until the wasp activity dramatically slowed down. I reached by nest with the bee pole and gave it a good wack to knock it to the ground so that I could bag it and take it with me off the property. The homeowner was relieved that this nest was removed off her property. There are some people that have no tolerance for stinging insects, and this homeowner was one of them! I was glad to help.
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.
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I went out on a service call for a homeowner in Spring Lake, NJ who contacted Cowleys to perform a termite inspection. As I was performing a thorough termite inspection I found a large mud tube downstairs in the basement along and underneath the fireplace box. I came back upstairs to see if the mud to lead anywhere and realized that there were built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace. So I moved the recliner chairs and started to inspect the bookcases, as I moved one of the books and what I found was shocking. Termites were not only eating the bookshelves they were literally eating the books right off of the shelves.
This is the kind of damage termites can do one left undetected and or uninspected. Termites are known as "silent destroyers" and each year they cause more than $5 billion in property damage! To make matters worse, those costs aren't covered by homeowners' insurance policies. This is why being vigilant about termite control and termite extermination is so important. I subsequently scheduled them for a full termite treatment and we will stop the spread of these destructive pests.
Recently, I went out on a service call for a homeowner in Spring Lake, NJ who was complaining about smell under his deck in the morning. After conducting a thorough inspection around the back deck area we discovered one dig trail going underneath the deck and a burrow not too far under the deck. After examining the size and the disgusting smell emanating from the burrow, I determined that it was a skunk burrow.
Skunks typically dig into the ground to build their homes and use these burrows for resting, raising young, and hiding from predators. Their burrows contain many chambers and entrances to provide plenty of room and a quick escape. Skunks are known carriers of rabies and other diseases that can harm your family or pets. They will also tear open trash bags and topple garbage cans when foraging for food, which can attract other vermin and insects to your home. They are also likely to defecate under your home too, which can permeate throughout the cavity beneath the property, and rise up into the house too.
After finding the main access point in front of the deck I set up a positive set over the opening. A positive set is a device designated to guarantee a safe capture of the skunk. In fact, within a short amount of time, the skunk was successfully and safely captured and I relocated to a new, humane environment.
During a routine outdoor termite inspection in Spring Lake, NJ, we found an infestation of at least 50 to 60 cave crickets, also called camel crickets, preparing to overwinter in a hollowed out front porch of a home. We anticipated that these hump-backed insects that we saw outside were just the tip of the iceberg, and there were probably hundreds more already hunkering down inside. Cave crickets, like many overwintering insects, move indoors when it gets colder in search of warmth and moisture. Once indoors, they search for damp basements, utility rooms, crawl spaces, garages and occasionally attics.
Cave crickets are active at night and hide in dark warm places during the day. They are also attracted to light and when discovered, their numbers can be in the thousands.
For food, camel crickets consume wood, carpet, fungi, cardboard, other insects, and even other camel crickets in some instances.
We will treat this area so that these cave crickets won't cause damage to this home.
In early spring, we start getting more and more calls from homeowners after observing an insect swarm. Swarming is a natural phenomenon that occurs periodically with social insects — insects that live in large colonies with a specialized division of labor. Sometimes insects swarm when they leave their nest all at once to move to another location. Another common reason for an insect swarm is when reproductive insects take flight out of the nest for the purpose of mating and starting new colonies.
Although insect swarms can be frightening to observe, for homeowners, they are often the most visible sign that there is a subterranean nest on their property. Usually, we assume the worst and it is a termite swarm. I was sent to a home in Spring Lake, NJ, to conduct an inspection for possible termite activity. The homeowners contacted Cowleys after observing an insect swarm. Fortunately, these weren’t termites. Rather, they were flying ants. It’s easy to confuse the two. Out of an abundance of caution and considering the potential property damage that termites can cause, it’s always a good idea to have a pest control professional confirm the type of swarming insect. The particular insect determines the particular treatment that’s necessary get rid of the infestation.
Here, after determining these were flying ants, I located the ant nest. Ants had formed a nest in a bait station. It was an active nest filled with larvae.
In Spring Lake, NJ, a homeowner was dealing with chronically high humidity and moisture build-up in their basement. Musty basement odor permeated the entire house, and the basement conditions were ripe for mold growth. This is a problem that will not go away on its own. Dehumidification is the only long-term solution to this problem. The excess moisture has to be taken out of the air. this homeowner had gone through two store-bought dehumidifiers. These residential dehumidifiers are not meant to be working all the time in basements and crawl spaces. Homeowners cannot be expected to be constantly adjusting the settings and emptying pans of water. Cowleys offers homeowners commercial-grade dehumidifiers that are specifically designed to work in below-grade chronically damp basements and crawl spaces.
The humidifiers we install have a built-in humidity sensor that enables the machine to turn on and off automatically depending on moisture conditions with no manual intervention. As such, they are ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency. For this homeowner, we installed the SaniDry Sedona dehumidifier, which has the capacity to remove up to 100 pints (12.5 gallons) of water out of the air daily, if necessary, and move over 300 cubic feet of dry air. By keeping the basement’s relative humidity under 55%, dangerous mold growth can’t take hold and dust mites will die off, dramatically improving indoor air quality and removing that sickening musty odor that enters the home’s living spaces, and was, for this homeowner, affecting the livability and enjoyment of her residence. We installed the Sedona so that it would drain directly into her sump pump. The homeowner would no longer have to worry about overflowing dehumidifier trays or buckets of water to empty. The lesson with basement and crawl space dehumidification is that you have to have a machine that’s up for the job — and store-bought machines just don’t cut it.
I was recently sent to a home in Spring Lake, NJ. The homeowner contacted Cowleys because groundhogs were actively burrowing underneath a backyard shed. They were causing significant damage to his yard and he was concerned that they would start to bore their way into the shed itself.
To catch the groundhogs, I placed two traps near the burrow holes used by the groundhogs to hide underneath the homeowner’s shed. The idea behind successful trapping is to put the animal at ease and not give them any cause for concern by making the trap look like an old familiar friend! For example, when baiting, I use the same or similar food that the animal is used to eating, and I always put organic materials like mulch, dried grass, dirt on the floor of the trap to project a familiar environment for the animal. I’m confident that my “secret” combination of bait and lures will be too irresistible for even the most cautious and wary groundhog. I’ll check the traps in a couple of days, and told the homeowner to contact me immediately once any critters are trapped. I know how these guys think and how they behave. It won’t take long for these burrowing groundhogs to be captured, and this homeowner’s groundhog problem to come to an abrupt end.
I was sent to a home in Spring Lake to conduct a periodic servicing that’s covered under our home protection plan. During these visits, we perform preventative treatments, discuss with the homeowner any pest issues that have surfaced if they have not called us, and perhaps most important, conduct a thorough interior and exterior inspection. We often find problems that have escaped the attention of the homeowner.
During my visit, I noticed an old bee nest under the homeowner’s deck railing, and removed it. Wasps (as well as baldfaced hornets and yellow jackets, both of which are a type of wasp) and bees have a lot in common — not the least of which is that they are all capable of delivering painful stings and it’s best to not have them on your property! Of the two, bees are far more beneficial. Chubby, fuzzy bees pollinate and are mild-mannered. They live on a diet of nectar and pollen from flowers. Most bees have a barbed stinger and can sting only once. Streamlined, shiny-looking wasps are voracious omnivores that will also eat other insects. Wasps are far more aggressive and can sting repeatedly. In short, at least to me, bees are mostly good and wasps are mostly evil!
One way to know the type of stinging insect on your property is by identifying the type of nest. If you have an open nest with hexagonal cells shaped like an umbrella, that’s a paper wasp nest. Hornets build nests with smooth walls that are shaped like a football. Wasps flying in and out of a hole in the ground or in a building are probably yellowjackets. Finally, nests made of a waxy substance is almost certainly a bee hive. Bees build a wax comb and live on the outside unlike hornets, which live inside their brown or grey paper-like nest.
After I removed the the old nest, I did some further checking to see what else might be lurking under the deck railing. To my surprise, I found another. And then another! By the time I was finished, I removed four small nests from under this homeowner’s deck railing.
Recently, my partner and I were dispatched to one of our commercial accounts, a condominium complex in Spring Lake Heights, to perform a termite treatment. One of the unit owners found herself with a termite swarm in the bathroom. Termites are subterranean insects that live in underground colonies. Termites feed on any product containing cellulose, most commonly wood and processed wood products. They are, by far, the most destructive insect faced by homeowners.
A mature termite colony will produce thousands of winged termites that venture out of the nest when temperatures start to warm in the spring, especially after a spring rain. Their sole purpose is to find a mate and start a new colony. To reach the open air, they will squeeze through the tiniest cracks and crevices. While termite swarms are the most visible and disturbing of any signs of termite activity, homeowners should consider it as a blessing in disguise. A swarm gives the property owner a big red flag that they have a termite problem. Otherwise, these silent, hidden infestations could easily go unnoticed until there is already significant property damage to the home.
In this particular swarm, the winged termites (plates) emerged from an exit hole in the sheetrock at the top of the shower wall. This shower wall faces the building’s exterior wall, which had a brick veneer facing. There is also a concrete sidewalk that runs along the side of the building.
To treat termites, the pest control technician must be able to access the soil where the nest is located. Often, the soil is not directly accessible and some drilling is required. With this termite treatment, to reach the soil, I needed to drill through the concrete sidewalk. Once the holes were drilled, I then injected a highly effective non-repellant termiticide into the soil, which will soon kill he entire colony, including the queen. In order to protect the rest of the building, I drilled through more of the sidewalk so that I could extend the treated area to the entire length of the building. In areas where the soil was directly accessible, I trenched and treated the soil with the termiticide.
Also, we knew that there were termites in the void between the shower wall and the building’s exterior because of the location of the swarm. To reach these termites, my partner drilled through the brick veneer so that he could treat the space with a foam termiticide. The foam application works exceptionally well in wall voids and other hard-to-reach areas.
With this treatment, we quickly resolved this condominium’s termite problem. This building now has a protective underground barrier against further termite infestations that will last for years. In New Jersey, termite infestations are an unfortunate fact of life. Homeowners and residential property managers should periodically have a termite professional inspect for the often subtle signs of termite activity. It’s an easy way to avoid potentially significant property damage and protect your investment.
Drilled concrete sidewalk and Brick veneer. The shower is on the other side of this wall.