13 Secrets About Bedbugs, Termites, and Other Creepy Pests

Get the inside scoop from pest control on what you should know before making an appointment and how you can avoid having to call in the first place!

View as Slideshow

Actually, you probably don’t have bedbugs

iStock/John-Reynolds

The news media have gotten people so totally paranoid that nine out of ten people who call me don’t have a problem. Some companies take advantage of that by charging you to treat something that doesn’t exist. If they can’t show you a bedbug, don’t pay them to treat.

When you’ve got trees or shrubs touching your house, my job is a lot harder

iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

You’ve basically built a bridge for ants and other insects that allows them to walk right in and avoid the spray I put down around the perimeter of your house.

After I started this job, I moved all the food in my pantry into plastic containers with sealed lids

iStock/Ben6

It’s the only way to keep out various rodents and insects, which can easily eat through paper and cardboard.

Content continues below ad

The biggest mistake people make in trying to eliminate mice is not using enough traps

iStock/IngridHS

I always use at least a dozen. And since mice are suckers for chocolate, I place pieces of 3 Musketeers bars in my snap traps and line them against the walls (where rodent foot traffic is highest).

Some customers get mad if I charge them $150 for a quick two-minute procedure

iStock/Hailshadow

So if a problem is simple, I’ll bring in extra gear, take my time inspecting, and draw things out.

Worried about harm from the treatments?

iStock/ArtBoyMB

Ask me for the safety data sheet and a copy of the pesticide labels, which list chemical side effects. By law, I have to provide them to you.

Content continues below ad

You should ask your pest control guy for his cell number

iStock/Ridvan Celik

Most of us guarantee our treatments, which means we’ll come back for free if you still have a problem.

Even in a pigsty, I find it’s hard to tell someone they need to clean up without offending them

iStock/Makfuz

But if I come out to treat your roach problem and then recommend that you wash the dishes, what I really mean is, “Your house is the problem. Clean it!”

Don’t worry: We can be discreet

iStock/vgajic

We once had a customer who thought she had bedbugs, and she was embarrassed. So we put all our supplies in backpacks, wore coats over our uniforms, and brought pizza so we didn’t look suspicious.

Content continues below ad

If you’re getting a termite treatment, check the spacing between the holes they drill to insert the chemicals

iStock/ultramarinfoto

They should be no more than 12 inches apart.

Please save a sample of the insects you want me to treat

iStock/Kirby Hamilton

If you bring me out for ants, and I can’t find any, I can’t do a proper treatment, because different species need to be treated in different ways.

White porch lights attract the flying insects that spiders eat, so that’s where spiders build their webs

iStock/roman023

Try yellow bug bulbs instead, and put your lights on a timer.

Content continues below ad

Go ahead and ask me for a discount

iStock/DNY59

Even though I work for a big company, I’m authorized to reduce the price for a customer at the drop of a hat. Sources: Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist and director of technical services for the National Pest Management Association; “Termite Terry” Singleton, a pest control professional in Orange County, California; and pest control professionals in Virginia, Illinois, and Canada.


Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.