Ask the Hired Killer!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Pest Control Technician (aka Hired Killer). As long as there are all these “Ask the…” threads popping up, I figured I might be able to help people with their bug/rodent problems.

FYI, I’m licensed and certified in New York State. So I may be unfamiliar with certain pests not found in the northeast. I also don’t know the individual state laws governing pesticide applications. But feel free to ask away.

I was gonna come in and ask how much for my ex-husband,but I guess not.

Well, I do have a bug question, incidentally.I live in south Texas and lately we have had a plague of pill-bugs (roly-polys).They are all over the bathroom.In the tub, on the floor everywhere.Where could they be getting in and how do I make 'em stay OUT?
They may be fun to play with, but you don’t wanna step on two or three barefoot right after a shower.

Dave-guy - great thread title! Since you’d mentioned your occupation in another recent thread, I knew what it referred to already. I’ve wanted to say for awhile that I enjoy your posts; this gives me the opportunity!

And I actually have a question for you, in your capacity of Professional Hired Killer. Right now, we have no evidence of termites, carpenter ants, or other wood-chomping insects in our house. What’s the best approach to making sure it stays that way? The house is of recent (1992) construction.

What’s the worst job you ever did?

(I worked pest control two summers whilst going to college, so I know how horrific some of the stories can be …)

Hi Dave,

Just wanted to say thank you for helping with my ant problem. I did as you suggested, treated the perimeter of my house and also got some indoor ant thingies. I have not seen any ants since last weekend, wanted to wait a week to be sure they were gone before I jinxed myself by declaring victory.

I really appreciate your help!

Ant free in WA Scotti

Termites! Freakin’ repulsive, miserable termites swarming in my kitchen two or three times every hot spell. I’ve vacuumed up tens of thousands of the damn things while their wings were still drying. High on the list of life’s most disgusting experiences – and they’re still here!

Any suggestions, Dave? Is incredibly expensive freezing the only option?



I hate them, I hate them, I hate them! I have a serious silverfish problem, and must get rid of them somehow. From what I understand, they like damp paper and wood to live and breed in. While I don’t have much of that at all, I do have a shake shingle roof, which I understand is part of the problem. Strangely, there is only one room in which they are really a problem (see 2 a day on average) - the upstairs bathroom. I’ve tried Raid ant and roach spray, and that works somewhat. I’ve also had the attic bombed, but they keep coming back! What can I do to commit silverfish genocide?!

I also have an incredible spider problem downstairs. If only the spiders and silverfish could meet, well…

For Three Bunny Mama and Anthracite, you’re dealing with bugs that hang out in wall voids and enter the bathroom looking for moisture. Usually they find access points around the openings where the pipes enter the wall or cracks in tile grout. Sealing those up might help some. But if you’re fighting them with topical sprays, you’re fighting a losing battle. Treat inside the walls with a straw-type applicator on an aerosol. Read the label to make sure it will affect the pest you’re dealing with, although pyrethrins will pretty much take care of them. Pillbugs and sowbugs hang out in high moisture areas, so make sure you don’t have leaking or anything in that vicinity (or in the basement underneath or outside of the house).

Catrandom, call a professional immediately. If you are definitely sure you’re having termite swarms, then your house is in danger. Termite swarmers are reproducers and do not damage the wood. However, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the workers are around somewhere. They are the ones that do the damage, they are almost never seen, and they are busy 24/7/365. You cannot treat for termites yourself. Call a professional. The cost of termite treatment may seem steep, but it’s nothing compared to what you’ll have to pay down the road for repairs. Termites cause more damage to U.S. homes (in terms of dollars) than fires and storms combined. I would recommend one of the baiting systems, as they are less intrusive and environmentally friendly. I have my preferences among baiting systems on the market, but since I work with one of them (my system of preference, BTW) it doesn’t seem right that I make a recommendation. But investigate them and make the most educated choice you can.

RTFirefly, thanks for the kind words. Always happy to help a fellow Marxist. Unless you pay for preventive termite treatment, you can’t stop them from getting in. Termite-proof construction is a myth. You can remove conditions conducive to wood destroying insect infestation, though. Don’t pile up debris, especially wood debris against the foundation of your house. Trim shrubs so they don’t touch the house. If you have drainage problems, get them fixed. All these insects need water, so don’t let the area near the foundation stay moist. Make sure you don’t have wood-to-ground contact anywhere on the house. Look for termite mud tubes in the basement and on the outside foundation. Subterranean termites have to maintain contact with the soil. In order to do so, they construct shelter tubes from mud, bodily fluids and fecal matter. They sort of resemble the worms you can make by rolling clay on a table. If you find something like this and break it open, you may even see termites crawling around in there. They look like little white ants or worms. They are adult workers, however, and they are eating your house.

For preventive ant treatment, you might want to do a quick spray around the outside perimeter with a microencapsulated formula every month or so during the hot weather.

Milo, it’s a tossup. I once did a termite job in a church. Chemical termite treatment involves drilling through the slab every foot or so along the outer perimeter walls, so you’re talking a buttload of holes. This church had slab floors that were about 2’ thick, and very hard. It took forever to drill a hole. Plus, I kept getting almost to the point where my bit would pop through when I would hit rebar (metal reinforcing bars inside the slab). We always used GFI boxes to cut off the power if we hit metal, so we wouldn’t destroy pipes. So I’d be almost through drilling a hole and the damn drill would cut off. I’d have to start all over again. Took forever to do this job.

Another nightmare I had was a rat job in the Bronx. The damn things were jumping around while I was tiptoeing through the basement. ::shudder!!!::


Eerie eight-legged bastards.

What’s the best way to keep them from ever coming anywhere near me? I read somewhere an interview with an animal handler who could “control” spider movements by using small hot-air jets or deodorant, which apparently they hate. Any advice?

What are you gonna do, train 'em to perform tricks?!

All you want to do is get rid of them.

A couple of things might help.

Clean out your basement, crawlspace, attic. I mean clean them out. I mean toss everything that’s sat in one spot for more than a year. You’re not using it and aren’t likely to. I mean dust the rafters, vacuum the corners. This is where they put their egg sacs and where they have their webs.

If you come across any live ones, spritz it directly with a bug spray. Residual sprays don’t work with spiders because so little of their bodies touch the ground. So you have to increase your housekeeping in the dusty remote areas they hang out in and directly assault them.

Remember, in most cases, sanitation is a good 90% of effective pest control.

To add to what the hired killer has said, and perhaps he can back me up on this: the best way to get rid of spiders is to make sure your living space is free of all OTHER kinds of bugs. Remember, all spiders are predators, and they eat other insects (except for the kind that eat mice and small birds, in which case you should move IMMEDIATELY). Remove their food supply, and they’ll go elsewhere.

And I’ve also heard of spider wranglers (as they apparently like to be called) using jets of air to direct spider movements, but I also read some time ago that the wrangler for the movie Arachnophobia used Lemon Pledge in some way. Whether the spiders loved Pledge or hated it, I don’t recall.

Max Torque is, of course, correct in stating that spiders are predators and eat insects, so their presence can be an indicator that insects are present.

But keep in mind that the average structure gets enough occasional invaders to sustain a few spiders. The presence of spiders doesn’t necessarily mean there is some kind of insect infestation. Conversely, treating areas where there are spiders for other insects is not necessarily going to make the spiders go away. Remember, no matter how much or how well you treat, occasional invaders are going to get in. Also, spiders feed on other hosts besides insects.

Not to skeeve anyone out, but spiders bite people, ya know.

Thanks for the advice, Dave-Guy!

Poor Skeeve…no matter how much magic he learns, he has a rough time in every dimension, including this one. :slight_smile: