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10:45 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Hire a professional to make pest control less pesky

Household pests are more than annoying; they can pose serious health risks and damage your property. Do any of these names sound familiar? They are the most common pests in our area: ants, termites, rodents, mosquitoes, fleas, wasps, bees, cockroaches, flies, spiders, silverfish, ticks and crickets. As the Orkin Man says, "Pests Never Rest." Pests are lurking in and around your home day and night, chomping and chewing, on the hunt for food, sometimes inflicting painful bites. They carry disease and they can damage your very best silk party dress, eat your favorite fruits and vegetables and make holes in your thank-you note paper.

Pests are pests, and are annoying and damaging. Pests making the news headlines today are bedbugs and crickets, and they are on the rise. So what is a homeowner to do to control household pest threats?

Having regular pest control service is one option. The other option is do-it-yourself pest control. I am not so sure that I am ready to slip on protective clothing to go fight Africanized honeybees or glove- and mask-up to go empty a can of Raid on the creepy-crawlers, so I opt for the pest control service. Here are pointers on how to select a qualified company to be your pests' worst enemy.

It is important to deal with only a qualified and licensed company for pest control services. The improper application of chemicals can expose you and your family to dangerous chemicals. Rely on a YCCA-certified resource for your pest control needs. Shoo away the salesperson who shows up at your home uninvited and offers to give you a free inspection for pests. Take your time in making a decision on the company you are going to hire. It is important to trust someone who is knowledgeable as well as skillful in the application of pesticides.

The Office of Pest Management (OPM) is a state agency that licenses, educates and regulates the pest management industry.It also enforces federal and state laws governing pesticide use and storage. Consumer complaints involving licensed businesses are also handled through the agency. Consumers can obtain information from the OPM on any business licensee. Visit www.sb.state.az.us and select "Consumer Resources" for information on any company you are anticipating hiring and/or are already using.

Before signing any contract, it is important to understand the nature of the pest to be exterminated, the extent of the infestation and the maintenance of pest control. Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your home or furnishings during treatment. If the company if offering a guarantee, find out what it covers, how long it lasts and what you must to do keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management is necessary. Remember to buy based on value and not price.

Now for the do-it-yourself products: There are herbicides, rodenticides, rodent baits, rodent blocks, bird control products, bird repellents, ultrasound bird blasters, ant baits, pest strips, insecticides, granules, sprays, fogging, concentrates, dust, bait boxes, traps, zappers, thermal foggers, and let's not forget the heel of a shoe. Sometimes I even want to grab the sledgehammer! As you can see, there are many do-it-yourself products and treatment applications, and it is not one-size-fits-all-pests.

After drowning bugs with spray, their friends simply sidestep the chemicals when they come out of their hiding places, and then you'll start all over again. The better strategy is to find out where these pests are hiding and lure them out with granular food bait or sticky traps.

But if you are seeing pests on the inside of your home, the more serious predators are sure to follow. Crickets attract hungry scorpions and spiders, and now we are dealing with multiple pests without knowing what type of pest control product to use - and not wanting to look under large gaps under boulders in the yard, under boxes in the garage, or using a mirror to look for critters and their nests. This is a lot to keep up with, so I opt to hire a pest control company to supply preventative monthly treatments- stronger and longer-lasting than the ones you can buy at a home store - and they will find the pests before they take over the home.

Here are some pest risk factors that could cause pests to lurk in your home.

• An open garbage can is a magnet for flies, rodents, roaches and ants.

• Mice, roaches and other pests can enter a home through gaps between plumbing pipes and walls.

• Food that is not sealed properly can attract "pantry pests" such as roaches.

• Improperly sealed attics or crawl spaces can become access points for spiders, rodents and other pests.

• A leaking roof or a blocked gutter can accumulate moisture and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

• Piles of firewood stacked near your home can lead to pests such as crickets, ants and termites.

If you think you can do your own pest control, YCCA says think again. Improperly mixed or ineffective applications of various treatments can be harmful. Professional services are designed to be the safest, most convenient methods to attack pests in your home.

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. The YCCA is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions and concerns to ycca@cableone.net or through www.ycca.org and watch for your answer in the Friday real estate section of the Daily Courier.