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!

By Michelle Crouch
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine April 2014
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    Actually, you probably don’t have bedbugs

    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.

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

    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. 

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

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

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

    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).

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

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

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    Worried about harm from the treatments?

    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. 

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    You should ask your pest control guy for his cell number

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

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

    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!” 

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    Don’t worry: We can be discreet

    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. 

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

    They should be no more than 12 inches apart.

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

    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. 

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

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

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    Go ahead and ask me for a discount

    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.

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