Identifying a pest is literally the best way you’ll be able to get rid of the varmints in the first place! However, proper identification can be difficult especially when you’re not a professional Pest Boss or exterminator (but you can get started in our Click-a-Pest section).
What’s even harder than asking for the pest’s ID in the kitchen though? Finding and collecting samples of them.
We can already see you freaking out! Don’t panic though, please. Now is not really the time for that. Instead, find out how exactly you can find and collect samples of these varmints for pest control purposes if you suspect or have figured out an infestation is happening.
Why We Ask for Samples
We will typically ask you to provide a sample of the pest in question because some pests are near-identical cousins to other types, and treatment varies depending on the pest in question. For example, there are several different types of ants that are very commonly found in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver areas, but it takes a real expert to figure out which treatment will eliminate which pest the most effectively and where. The carpet beetle has been mistaken for the bed bug sometimes, given their preference to choose their nest close to the bed (doubly so if there’s carpet in the bedroom!). There are also more differences between mice and rats to take note of, although they are both similar in the ways they create infestations.
For these reasons, we’ll need you to collect samples of the pest in question. Feel free to freak out beforehand, it’s a perfectly natural reaction! No one likes finding out their home or workplace has become infested.
Finding the Pests
Just because you found out your lunch has been nibbled on doesn’t necessarily mean a mouse has made the fridge its only nesting place. Pests are likely to build their nests or fit their way in through any weak points your home or building may have. The entry points can be as tiny as a crack between the window pane and windowsill or as big as a hole in the roof, or even an open window. Trees are also excellent means for pests, specifically wildlife such as squirrels, raccoons, and birds, to get into your personal space.
Now some of the signs of an infestation are more obvious than others, and we’ll cover these signs briefly. This is so you can become your own Pest Boss before you call ours! Signs include but are not limited to:
- Weird smells that shouldn’t be there
- Excessive fecal matter, sometimes leaving a trail; appearance can range from small pellets to resembling black pepper flakes, or white splatters outside
- Bite marks on yourself or your pets (such as from bed bugs or fleas)
- Sounds coming from places they shouldn’t be, such as from inside a tree house or in the walls themselves
- Several pests coming in and out from the building at a constant rate—usually the sign of a wasp or hornet nest being created, or a bird’s nest in the making
- Visible messes left behind from feeding, such as nibbled on food or knocked over garbage cans, or debris dropped by birds and wildlife
- An unusual abundance of visible pests, such as blow flies or fruit flies
How to Collect Samples of Pests
Not every sample you bring to us has to be the pest itself (although in some cases it does help). For example, taking a picture of the problem with your phone of the pest or of its destructive wake can help if you’re not sure about a pest and need a professional opinion. Unfortunately, some pests like the bed bug will need to be captured and kept as a sample which can be tricky and gross.
No sample can be collected without the right tools. You will need:
- A plastic bag
- Gloves (if necessary)
- A pair of tweezers (if necessary)
- Your phone, or a camera
- An entry log or journal
The best way to get a sample is to take a photo. Use your phone or whatever kind of camera you have on hand to take one, or to record a video.
Unfortunately, sometimes a photo may not be enough to confirm the actual pest (blurry pics or bad lighting can interfere with proper identification). In this case, you may need to provide the actual pest so that the pest control expert can identify it better.
If you’re not squeamish, put on a pair of rubber gloves, grab a tweezers and plastic bag, and put one of those bad boys (or girls) in; make sure the bag in question doesn’t have a hole in it and it can be tightly sealed. For mice and rats, use the standard cages and traps available from your local hardware store to capture them and take a photo of the rodent in question.
Use the entry log or journal to record any instance of seeing your pest problem, in the event that it’s a recurring one. It may help your pest control expert with identifying potential weaknesses in the infrastructure of your home or building that went amiss the first time treatment was applied.
When to Try and Collect the Sample
Collecting some samples—or in some cases, the actual insect or rodent—is easier said than done. Many of the pests we get calls for are highly nocturnal, including bats (yes, they exist on the Lower Mainland), silverfish, firebrats, rats, and mice to name a few.
It’s actually a myth that bed bugs are nocturnal. The truth of the matter is bed bugs are active whatever time of day; night just so happens to be when their feeding time is most ideal, since you’re not likely to be moving around (you know how the saying goes…“Nighty night, don’t let the bed bugs bite”).
As soon as you’ve got the sample in your grasp, give your local exterminator a call. The sooner a pest control expert can examine the sample you’ve managed to get, the sooner and swifter treatment will be!
It Doesn’t End There, However…
Just because we have applied a treatment to your home does not necessarily mean your home or building is in the clear. If there are cracks in the wall that need to be resealed or barriers to put up or holes in the roof to repair, it’s up to you to take responsibility and get these parts patched up. You need to make sure that a pest’s food supply is well out of reach also. Unfortunately with pests like bed bugs, you are their food source, so if they’re your pest problem get help ASAP!
No building can ever completely keep pests out. However, these tips can help you and your neighbours stay pest free!
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