Pest Control & Exterminator Services in Oxford, MA
SERVING WORCESTER COUNTY SINCE 1984
At Colonial Pest Control, we help home and business owners find the most effective solutions to their unique pest problems, and we do this through our extensive experience in communities like Oxford. We help our clients deal with mice, bees, wasps, termites, ants, and other pests in Oxford, MA.
Dealing with a pest infestation in Oxford? Want us to look over your home or business and get rid of the pests? Then, give us a call today. We look forward to helping you get rid of pests and prevent them from coming into your home.
Pest Control in Oxford, MA (Podcast)
Zack Ciras, Quality Manager of Colonial Pest Control, talks about the unique pest control challenges of home and business owners in Oxford, MA. He gives pest control tips for people who live in Oxford.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Zack Ciras, Quality Manager with Colonial Pest Control. And today our topic is pest control in Oxford, Massachusetts. Welcome, Zack.
Zack Ciras: Thank you, John.
Overview of Pest Control in Oxford, MA
John: So Zack, are there any general things that you’ve noticed in your years of doing pest control in Oxford?
Zack: Actually I grew up near Oxford in South Central Massachusetts, so I know Oxford very well. It’s an old town, there’s some old mills, there’s some new houses up in the hills that are larger, more complex. And there’s a lot of just basic houses that I would’ve grown up in your ranches, your split levels, even smaller houses that are lining the streets around Main Street. It’s really a nice community feel.
Growing up a couple towns over, I remember going to the Founder’s Day parades and they would have the big fire trucks with the foam and they would have the historical parades up and down. Clara Barton, famously it’s the birthplace of Clara Barton of Red Cross fame who started the American Red Cross. So it’s a really nice, cool old town that still has its interesting 1980s and ’90s built homes.
There’s a good mix. There’s a lot of mice activity. There’s your bees and your wasps, your yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets. There’s all the typical suburban pests that you would deal with. There’s some termites, there’s just a lot of normal activity. And that goes for downtown, there’s normal activity. It is not bumping like a big city in the middle of the night, but it’s not so quiet that there’s nothing going on. So there’s always a little bit of a buzz going on. Not just a bee pun there.
Oxford, MA Pest Control Case Study
John: Have you done some particular pest control services in Oxford, Massachusetts, that you can remember that you want to tell us a little bit about?
Zack: Yeah. There’s a couple that come to mind right away. There’s one house that’s just off of Main Street a little bit, near towards the Dudley side. It’s almost industrial as it gets further away from downtown Oxford. It was a small house. It was a ranch that was built on CMUs or hollow block, concrete masonry units. I had a customer teach me what a CMU was. You’re always learning on the road.
You always assume somebody that you’re speaking with probably knows something more than you do. So CMU, you say that, hollow blocks, and sound smart. So it was built on CMUs or hollow blocks, and it was just a nice little house and they were getting ready to fix it up and move. They wanted to upsize as they got a couple more kids, then a younger family was going to come in that only had one.
Termites in Hollow Blocks
So they were just going through the normal inspections and painting the walls and they found termites. And with the hollow blocks, there’s a lot of holes and channels and cracks and everything that happens that fill underneath the slab with the hollow block foundation walls. That was very nutrient rich. There were probably some buried trees from when they initially cleared the lot and put it down there. It was sandy soil, a good rich. Termites, don’t love the sandy soil with the large grains of sand, it’s hard for them to move and build within, but if it’s a looser sandy soil that is mixed in with a regular earth and soil, we find that they find that very attractive to move to and from their food sources back to the colony under the ground.
So unfortunately they were doing their inspections and their cleanups and their painting and their touch up, and they found a lot of termite activity. It’s probably a 1200 square foot house and probably 800 square feet of it had some evidence of termites in mud shelter tubes. Termite swarm wings, sometimes you just find a pile of wings by your window and it was pretty well damaged, but they were okay. They were going to lift up the house. This is one of those cases where you’re not lucky enough to find it in just a partition wall in a basement, so you replace the drywall in a couple of studs and you’re good. They had to raise the foundation, put some Lally columns in there. They ended up adding a couple inches to the basement, so the buyers were happy about that. They brought us in, we did a little bit of borate treatment onto the wood itself. Borates are very basic chemistry.
Borate Treatments for Termites
Doing work for a lot of different folks, sometimes you do a chemist’s house for powderpost beetles or termites, and they always want to know what are you using, what are you spraying, what are you working with? And I’ve asked some other companies on the road, they say, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s whatever my boss told me to mix up.” But it’s nice to know exactly what’s in your tank.
We really stress that at Colonial, know what you’re working with so that when somebody asks you a question, whether they’re a chemist or somebody else who’s just curious about what you’re spraying on their house, you can tell them. So a borate treatment, in this case it was Bora Care, is disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. It’s sodium like salt from the earth, boron is a mineral from the earth, and then hydrogen. A really basic chemistry that’s safe, long term prevention on the wood.
Sentricon Systems for Termites
So we did a little bit of a boric treatment on some of the damaged pieces that weren’t going to be replaced, and then we did Sentricon system around the soil, around the outside of the house. They were still digging around a lot, but with Sentricon luckily you don’t have to be right up against the foundation. You can come out a couple of feet or a few feet and still have really good protection, because the termites, it’s not like it’s sending off a heat signal or a smell or a taste or anything, they have so many individuals that are always working to find the next latest and greatest food source that they send off these little channels, think of it like tributaries from a stream. You have the river and the stream and tributary, everything’s just forking off looking for the path of least resistance.
So the termites are looking for food sources like that. With the Sentricon system, it’s 69% cellulose. It’s a candy bar for termite. It’s really delicious. So once they find it, that’ll send pheromones signal back down through the channel, back to the main part of the colony, and everybody just chows down until either they’re gone or it’s gone. And with the baits that we use, they’re 5.3 ounces of really dense cellulose for the food matrix, they’re always gone before the bait’s gone. That’s one house. It was a termite issue. It was the style of house contributed to it. The area where it was and when it was built contributed to it because there was a lot of trees that were cut down and probably some of them were just buried underneath the slab, the concrete masonry units, the hollow block, easy access to the wood along the sill.
Risk Factors for Termite and Carpenter Ant Infestations
And that had a pretty low basement that wasn’t regulated as far as humidity and moisture goes, so all the components for termite infestation were there. We were able to remedy it. We stayed with the buying family. We still service that house. And the sellers of that house, when they were buying their new house, they brought us with them as well, because they had gone through it, they didn’t want to have to go through it again so they did some prevention.
Termite wise and carpenter ants, same situation, similar areas, moisture is a part of it. Construction that’s maybe falling apart or wasn’t done fantastically well is another part of it. A lot of the homes that were built a little bit further out of Main Street, Oxford, they were built in the housing boom, 2003 up until 2008, big housing boom, a lot of houses that went up very quickly in a short period of time with limited skilled labor, so a lot of those houses have moisture issues that breed carpenter ants.
You go into a house and it’s a boom house, we refer to them as boom houses, and you can find the moisture stain and you can find the carpenter ant frass, the wood shavings, you can find all sorts of things in there.
How Mice and Bats Enter a Tightly Sealed House
One house that was designed meticulously that was promised to be airtight, pressurized every, the top end construction, and I love these guys, the owners, they built it and he’s an engineer’s engineer, really smart guy, works with audio, high end audio. We’re using microphones and headphones, his audio that he works with goes into fighter jet planes and making sure that the cables themselves aren’t too loud. Very cool, very smart guy. So he used his engineering prowess and his interest to help design this house.
It’s a complicated house. There’s a couple twists and turns in the foundation. There’s a really high level, really high basement, it’s probably 12, 13 feet tall for the foundation walls in the basement, so you always need a ladder in there. He built out most of the basement. One of the rooms was completely dead. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a room where it’s completely dead, there’s no reverberation at all in it.
John: Yeah. If you talk and you don’t hear any echo at all and it just messes with your brain.
Zack: Yeah. It never comes back to you. He was retiring, but still staying on as consultants for different firms, so he had this room in his house, it was really well built out, multiple levels of isolation between. I say all this to say, he thought he was safe from mice the way that the house was built. The mice had access and it was difficult for us to get access to them and to fully stop where they were going.
So they had some bats, they had replaced the roof some time ago. They had some bats come in, they got into roof line. Some of the exterior facing of the house was stone facing. The mice were able to climb up the stone facing, get onto the roof, enter the same places that the bats were getting in at the roof junctures, because of course it’s a beautiful house and it has a lot of different roof lines, it’s not a typical just one peak straight down the middle and that’s it.
Mice and Door Installation Issues
I like those boring ranch houses. They’re very understandable. And most notably at this house was the front door. At some point in the last several years before we got there, the front door had some water damage. So of course he hires the best guys and they take out the front door, they do the kick that they can see that’s on top of the concrete steps going up, and of course the concrete steps have all the nice stone work, but it’s a hollow concrete step underneath all the stone work. They replace the door and the windows and the whole deal. It looks perfect. But part of that basement that you could get to with that unfinished high up on the sills was behind those front doors and that’s where you could see the rub marks from the mice, the sebum staining, the grease marks that they leave behind as they’re squeezing through certain areas.
They had been getting in there for years without him noticing it because everything was so well finished it’s hard to tell you have a problem when it’s inside your walls and the other side of the wall is a completely soundproof, isolated room, so a lot of nesting and the insulation in those walls. And again, he’s a really smart guy, almost overthought himself about doing so much work inside the house when we got there, and we did a lot of exclusion work, tightened up the general part of the house, but I got there and I said, “I think this front door is an issue. Just looking at it. It’s newer than the rest of the house. I can tell it was replaced, but these steps, these nice hollow concrete steps with the nice stonework, they weren’t moved when they did the door, so whatever rot happened underneath the door is still there.”
Chipmunks in a Oxford, MA House
And lo and behold, go over to the right side of the steps and you see a little chipmunk tunnel and right outside of the chipmunk tunnel is half eaten acorn with some mouse droppings, the mice are using the same tunneling to get underneath the hollow steps as the chipmunks were. And of course, what we can’t see has to be some kind of water damage to the wood underneath the front deck that is underneath the steps, so that’s where they’re getting in. Because of the type of construction, this was early composite wood IBM construction, really complicated stuff. The outer sill and the inner sill have a void between them, really great for a lot of things, but not great for mouse control.
It’s like spray foam insulation. It’s really great for insulating your house and keeping things dry and keeping it warm and cool and whatever you need it to be, but it’s terrible for pest control, especially if the mice have access from the outer envelope of the house into that what I would call nesting material at that point, that is an ongoing issue.
He didn’t have so much spray foam, but he had the construction that left a void in between that we couldn’t quite get to. What we ended up doing there, after trying and trapping and closing up the whole rest of the house, was we grabbed a couple shovels and dug a trench around those front steps, lifted up some stones that led to his walkway and we did some hardware cloth galvanized steel screening into the soil, poured, I don’t know, four bags of concrete underneath where the mulch was going to go back on top of them, and sealed off those steps and did a little bit patchwork where the steps connect to the house.
How Settling Increases Pest Risk
There were a couple of gaps just from settling. So we were able to keep them out, eliminated the few that were still left in the house. And this was 2016, I want to say, so six years ago, and they were really in good shape until recently with them last month, they called again, they had done some work to the house and they noticed that there was some new mouse activity. I go to those same front steps and just because of the land that they’re on it sagged a little bit.
The front steps moved, the house settled a little bit more, and there was a little bit of a gap and a little bit of a channel underneath the side. So we spent another two hours tops to fully seal it off again. And fingers crossed, knock on wood, I think they’re going to be good for another 20 years hopefully. That’s the goal, to keep the mice out of this beautiful Oxford home for a long time.
Pest Vulnerability of Homes in Oxford, MA
John: But it does go to show you that even what would appear from the outside to be the nicest home and the most well sealed home can still have these little places where the animal will find a way to get in.
Zack: Every home is vulnerable. We build these big boxes for us to live in and keep nature out, but when you’re dealing with something so tenacious and so adaptable such as mice or termites or carpenter ants, or water, if water can get in there’s a pest that’s going to be right behind it. Every house is vulnerable.
Second law of thermodynamics, it’s entropy, there’s constant entropy going on. So part of our job is to help the homeowners who live in their house every day and might not notice the changes that occur slowly over time, we can help them point out, “Hey, I see you’re siding over here looks like it’s starting to get a little loose. We just want to tighten that up before something gets inside.”
Going out to a house on the maintenance program twice a year, every year with fresh eyes, it’s really good to be able to point out things that the homeowner can do. Maybe the trees are overhanging a little bit too much, or that siding’s coming off, or those steps in the front where we had sealed off before we had concrete and made sure it was nice and tight looks like they’re separating just a little bit, let’s get on that before the mice find out.
Contact Colonial Pest Control for Help in Oxford, MA
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Zack. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Zack: Thank you, John.
John: And for more information, you can visit the Colonial Pest Control website at colonialpest.com or call 1-800-525-8084. That’s 1-800-525-8084.