Service Areas

Colonial Pest Control

Pest Control & Exterminator Services in Portsmouth, NH

Serving Strafford County since 1984

If you think you may have an infestation, it’s time to contact a Portsmouth NH pest controlspecialist to do the dirty work for you! Most of us hear about rats in Manhattan, roaches in Florida, and mosquitoes in any humid climate, but there are plenty of bugs and pests in every city and climate, including Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While urban cities tend to get the worst of it, any concentration of homes can attract all kinds of pests, including bats, squirrels, bees, wasps, and especially ants.

Luckily, living in a coastal community tends to lower the rates of many types of pests, but no home is immune. Suburban developments often provide great homes for families of squirrels and bees, while the home owners are left unaware for several weeks or months. It is important to keep an eye out for infestations. Be prepared with the phone number of a pest control service in Portsmouth on hand!

Here at Colonial Pest Control, we work locally throughout New Hampshire, and we understand the critters that are attracted to various types of homes and buildings in this unique climate. If you are concerned about unwanted houseguests, do not put you or your family’s safety at risk. Contact your local Portsmouth, NH exterminator at 1-800-525-8084, and we will gladly kick them to the curb!

Pest Control in Portsmouth, NH (Podcast)

Portsmouth, NH is a beautiful location, rich with wild birds and other wildlife along the port. In this podcast, John Maher talks with Zack Circas about how Colonial Pest protects the wildlife of Portsmouth when providing pest control services in Portsmouth. Then, Zack explains how Colonial Pest helped one Portsmouth homeowner put a permanent end to an intense ant infestation.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Zack Ciras, Quality Manager with Colonial Pest Control. Today, our topic is pest control in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Welcome, Zack.

Zack Ciras: Hey, John.

What’s Unique About Pest Control in Portsmouth, NH?

John: So Zack, are there any sort of general things about doing pest control in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that you’ve noticed over the years of working there?

Zack:      Yeah, the biggest thing that I always look forward to with Portsmouth is the ride, getting there, it’s gorgeous. And a nice Spring, Summer day to get to Portsmouth, New Hampshire is just breathtaking.

John: It is a nice place.

Zack: Yeah, it’s beautiful. Take Route One, go through downtown. It’s an old town with some new structures in it as well. It’s over 300 years old. It has a lot of those old 1700, 1800 houses, downtown structures, tenement buildings, which have their own charm. And when we talk about charm and pest control, sometimes that includes increased pest activity.

It’s part of the term we like to talk about, but there’s also some of the larger, more affluent neighborhoods with the big, sprawling homes that are more host to some more ant activity, wasp activity, the kind of household activity that if you don’t go in an area of the house for a while, it can start to take over.

Houses Built During Housing Booms Can Have Higher Risks of Pest Infestations

Zack: A lot of the structures there, built in some housing booms in the past 50 years, and there’s a little bit of cracks in the foundation. There’s some water leaks, some flashing that wasn’t done 100%. These housing booms where a lot of these great cities and the outskirts grow into… a lot of those housing booms don’t give the most refined construction. If the carpenters and the framers and the siders have the experience and the time, they’ll make sure you’re buttoned up very well, but when things are booming, when business is booming, they’re trying to build a lot of houses in a short period of time. That’s when a lot of those minor mistakes come into play. And one thing that carpenter ants love to take advantage of is those minor little water leak mistakes. And if you’re in a large home, you might not notice.

A lot of the homes in Portsmouth, the single family, detached homes have the finished basements, and a lot of them are taking full advantage of the wonderful square footage that they all have. They have theater rooms in the basement. They have wine cellars. They have playrooms for the kids, finished garages, workshops. They don’t have a lot of open spaces to see potential issues. If you have an unfinished basement with open sills, you might see the sawdust or what we call frass from the carpenters chewing into the wood before it develops into a full fledged colony. But when you have hard ceilings and closed off areas, things can get out of hand before you really notice. And then all of a sudden, you have a satellite colony of carpenter ants in the house. Then they bring in a reproductive and you have a whole 3,000 individual ant colony in the house that you need to take care of that kind of bubbled up under your nose, but didn’t see because everything’s finished off. So that’s one of the challenges we see in some of the more affluent homes in Portsmouth.

Pest Infestation Risks in Older Structures: Why Old Penetrations Need New Mechanical Exclusions and Chemical Barriers

Zack: As we get closer to downtown, in some of the older structures. It’s similar to any old city where you have Fieldstone foundations, you have brick that’s easy for rodents to climb. You have histories of penetrations for it. This is where the telephone wire used to be. This is where the old electrical used to go in. So you have a lot of things like yellow jackets get into those little openings. Those penetrations take over in the void, start to build out the nest there, from the yellow jacket nest, you might have secondary pests feeding on the old nest once it’s eliminated. You still might have carpet beetles, clothing moths, things like that, feeding on the old dead nest. And it kind of feeds into its own in a symbiotic kind of way. And that comes from part of the charm character of the old structures, as they age and things kind of settle down and open up and allow access for things to come in.

So important to get a barrier, as many barriers as you can, physical barriers, of course, to prevent things. Mechanical exclusion is what we would call that. Closing all those gaps and cracks, sealing around penetrations, fixing any gaps around the foundation, repointing the foundation if it’s a Fieldstone foundation, things like that, but then beyond that, a chemical barrier. And you don’t have to go crazy. Some people would say we need to spray every month around the outside, but with the technology and the pesticide resources now with the insecticides micro encapsulated, they’re built so well in the lab that our maintenance program is twice a year for the outside sprays.

If you need more, we can always do more. We don’t charge extra for that, but twice a year, it gives us the great balance of having that continuous barrier, chemical barrier, as well as the mechanical exclusion that you can do around the outside perimeter of the house, preventing insects especially from coming in. But it also bounces out the exposure, the pesticide exposure to your home, your family, the environment.

Pest Control Methods That Respect the Environment and Protect Wildlife in Portsmouth, NH

Zack: New Hampshire has a lot of waterways, a lot of wells, a lot of rivers and streams. And of course, in Portsmouth, you’re right on the port, there’s the ocean there, all the wildlife that comes along with the ocean. We want to protect that as much as we can as well. The environmental protection that Colonial takes into consideration is really something that we’re serious about. So twice a year to us is enough. If your house needs more, we can do more, but we’re not going to build a program applying pesticide when you don’t need it, when it’s not going to help.

John: Right. Yeah. Overdoing it could potentially hurt the environment and you want to only use it when you have to.

Zack: Absolutely. Some of our competitors in New Hampshire require extra bait station for rodents, regardless of activity and regardless of exclusion possibilities within the structure. We don’t do that. The birds of prey, they’ve made headline news, so hopefully other companies’ practices will change as well. But our practice has been for a long time, if you don’t need exterior bait stations, we’re not going to put them out. If we put them out, we’re going to come back and retrieve them after the time that you needed them.

Some limited cases, commercial buildings is one example, where you might need to maintain a regular schedule of exterior rodent baiting, but residential areas in Portsmouth, outskirts from there, getting into Rye and some of the other neighboring towns where we can close up exterior entry points, we’re going to do the exclusion rather than baiting outside. Those exterior bait stations, the openings are large enough for non-targets to enter and eat the bait alone. If you’re targeting mice and rats, you can still have ground squirrels and squirrels get in there. You can have other weasels get in there and eat the bait. And they are as susceptible as anything to get a lethal dose by consuming the bait.

That’s primary ingestion, accidental ingestion, or non-target ingestion of the bait. But even if you’re targeting rats and mice and you bait for rats and mice, you have an increased risk of secondary poisoning for animals that eat those pests that have eaten the bait. So for a fox or a coyote or a wolf or a dog to eat a few mice or a few rats that have ingested a lethal dose of rodenticide, it’s probably not going to transfer enough to kill that other non-target animal, but that is another risk we take into account.

Portsmouth especially has a lot of birds of prey, hawks and owls, populations have been growing, eagles. We see eagles when we’re driving into Portsmouth all the time. They’re beautiful. We want to protect them. They’re very vulnerable to second generation anticoagulant baits, which is the main classification of baits that the pesticide industry uses. The birds of prey who eat an animal that’s eaten the bait get a lot of exposure to that active ingredient. And because of their bone makeup, how they have the hollow bones, it’s a different cardiac system. It’s a different biology in these birds that makes them more susceptible to things like anticoagulant baits.

We don’t want to have any extra exposure than we need to. They have their place, exterior bait stations have their place, exterior baiting has its place, but exclusion is really our focus. Whenever we can do that, eliminate from the inside, use different techniques, use trapping rather than baiting if it’s a really sensitive area. Use some nontoxic chemicals to birds of prey that will affect the rats and the mice is another example that we can use.

We have other types of bait as well. They’re not as palatable, not as yummy for rats and rice to eat, but chemicals like vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is something that doesn’t affect the birds of prey nearly as much as an anticoagulant. Vitamin D3, I have a newborn upstairs and we have a two and a half year old, and when they’re babies and they’re not supposed to be in the sun all day, they’re lacking vitamin D. So they get vitamin D3 drops. They get cholecalciferol drops every day that helps with their bone marrow, with their vitamin D in their bodies.

For an animal, overdosing on vitamin D3, it moves the calcium from your bones into your organs and it’s actually very toxic, but for birds of prey, they have hollow bones. They need to fly, they need to be light. They don’t have that same risk factor of moving calcium from their bones into their organs. So that’s another approach that we could use if we do need to use bait stations on the outside, in a sensitive area, like some of our areas that we service in and around Portsmouth.

Pest Control Case Studies From Portsmouth, NH

John: Okay. Can you think of any sort of specific jobs that you’ve done in terms of pest control in Portsmouth, New Hampshire recently that you’d want to tell me about?

Zack: Yeah, yeah. Just last summer, thinking about Portsmouth, it’s probably going to come up every time I go there now, I think about the carpenter ants. Beautiful house, white wooden house, probably needed another coat of paint; a little bit of moisture going around in some of the hidden areas, underneath an awning on the back, there was some leakage, not the best flashing, the caulking was starting to wear away, so water got in there.

The carpenter ants, always having that pressure from the outside, these folks had not been on our preventative maintenance program and the carpenters had been trailing in. They find that moist wood, that wet area that’s easy for them to build into. The carpenter ants don’t ingest the wood and get nutrients from it like termites or some powder post beetles do, but they like a nice moist area to live in and they like softwood or soft material to build with. So that’s what they found there, where there was some moisture damage.

We can utilize a variety of different techniques, tools, and methods, and materials to get rid of an insect population. We always want to have that exterior barrier, so doing a liquid application around the foundation, the ground around the foundation, around penetrations in vulnerable areas on the house, especially where the ants are actively trailing. That’s kind of our baseline coat, and then we can have fun. Then we can start to seek and destroy, find the targets.

So usually the carpenter ants will tell you where they’re going. There’s going to be some signs there. There’s going to be some evidence of carpenter ants. Things to look for would be frass. That’s what looks like wood shavings. Those wood shavings are small little rough bits and you almost always have ant parts in those. You’ll see legs, you’ll see parts of the body, you’ll see a head. You’ll see little bits of carpenter ants in with the frass or with the wood shavings. Those wood shavings might be light and fluffy and tan in color, but usually it’s going to be in an area where there’s a lot of moisture, so you’ll have some darker brown wood. You’ll see some water staining on the area where they’re building as well, the trailing ants.

How Kids, Cats, and Spiders Can Help You Find Pests in Portsmouth, NW

Zack: Of course, always ask the kids. If you’re looking for where the ants are nesting, ask the kids. “Hey, you see any ants? Where’d they go?” And they’ll point you right to where they are. Asking about where the cat stares at night for a mouse infestation.

John: Right.

Zack: You ask the kids where the ants went, they’ll tell you every time. Kids are great.

So other signs to look for would be spiderwebs. The spiderwebs will catch and eat the ants, so I call them nature’s monitors. If you see spiderwebs in the basement and you’re looking for where the ants are nesting, look in the spider webs. If there’s six ants all tied up and webbed and consumed in a corner, well, there’s a good chance that that’s a heavy area where the ants are trailing, maybe even nesting in that corner.

Using a Micro Injector to Flush Out Ants in Portsmouth

Zack: One of the tools we often use is a micro injector. It’s an ultra low dose pesticide application device. So it’s a petroleum-based pyrethrin, a very basic chemical, and it is fed through a motor. There’s a hose that carries air and a hose that carries a little bit of this liquid stream of the petroleum-based pyrethrin. They mix together through a very small tip on the top of the machine. It comes out like a fog or a light miss. We only use a very little bit of the actual pesticide. You don’t need to overwhelm your home with pesticides to target where they’re nesting.

So in this case in particular in Portsmouth, nice old white house with the water staining and the frass on the inside, put the little tip of the micro injector in there, pull it for a second, let the air push it through. And the amount of ants that we were able to chase out of that was impressive. If I had to guess, just while I was there, three, 400 came pouring out of the nesting site.

John: Wow.

Zack: There was likely more that were exposed to the long term residual that we applied there as well. But those are the fun moments, especially when I get to train a lot of the young guys coming up, learning how to do pest control and getting into the industry. If they’re starting to look bored, you look for a carpenter nest and micro inject it. That gets them really excited. It’s really satisfying to chase out a nest that’s doing a lot of damage. And you’re helping the customer, you’re protecting their home, you’re doing long term prevention, but it’s also just really fun.

John: Yeah, to see all those ants just pouring out of the nest site, like you said.

Zack: Oh yeah. Yeah. You have to experience it once in your life.

John: So once the ants come out of the nest site then, are you poisoning them at that point? Or are you getting them out of there and then you’re doing exclusion or what’s the next step?

Zack: Yeah, so when we’re flushing them out with something like the micro injector, that pyrethrin is a contact kill as well as a flushing agent.

John: Okay.

Zack: So the ones that are directly exposed to that, they’re dying. They’re going through their neurological symptoms of being exposed to pyrethrin, interrupting the nerve firing. So as they’re coming out, it’s almost like seizing. They can’t control their nervous system after that. So you’re going to destroy a lot of the ants on contact when you flush them out.

Using Dry Dust to Eliminate Pests

Zack: Using a dry dust into that void where they’re nesting, that’s a great long term alternative, or a great long term addition, I should say, where you’re going to apply that into areas where you can’t necessarily treat, or you can’t necessarily get to 100% of what you want to get to, the dry dust will flow into that. And that dust has a long term residual effect, insecticidal effect, so that’s a good thing to eliminate the ants that are still in there that might be coming out.

This works very well for things like yellow jackets as well, in the same classification of insect where they’re hymenoptera and they have the complete metamorphosis. So they’re going to lay eggs where they’re nesting, then those eggs turn into larvae, they pupate, and then they hatch out as adults. So if they’re in the pupil casing, whether it’s hymenoptera like yellow jackets, paper wasps, carpenter ants or any other type of ant in this classification, that pupil casing is very protective. So they might not necessarily be exposed to a lethal point with pyrethrin or pyrethroid or phenylpyrazole. Any kind of insecticide that we can put on them might not penetrate that protective casing. It’s like a chicken egg. It has that shell. It’s going to protect the young inside of it, so that’s what the pupil casing does.

With a residual dust in there or a residual insecticide that has a good long life lasting inside the house, that’s going to be there for when they do hatch out. So yellow jackets in August and July and September, and sometimes October, depending on how well they’re doing, they might hatch out and you might see some activity. If we hadn’t done a residual inside of that void, they might rebuild the nest or have another reproductive queen there. With enough time, she can rebuild another nest some place else on or in the house. With a long term residual, like the dust that we can use, that’s going to prevent them from expanding beyond the point where they’re hatching out of the pupil casings.

Another thing that a long residual dust does in a major nest like this is it prevents secondary pests. If you have a yellow jacket nest, a carpenter ant nest, someplace where there’s a lot of organic matter that’s left behind after you’ve eliminated the nest, that’s food. So you have dermestid beetles, carpet beetles, larder beetles, things like that, as well as flies who might be looking for some decaying, organic animal matter like dead ants or dead wasps. They can take over those areas and be another secondary pest problem if it wasn’t properly dealt with. If you can open up the wall, remove the nest, vacuum them out, or they’re in an area where it’s not going to be a long term hidden problem, you don’t always need to use the dust, but in a void like this one house in Portsmouth I’m thinking about, using that dust inside the void probably prevented secondary pests from infesting the old dead ant nest and causing a future problem.

Keeping Ants Out of a House in Portsmouth

John: Okay. And what was the sort of final result of that pest control project that you did with the ants in Portsmouth?

Zack: Oh, they’re still happy customers. We go out twice a year, do their preventative maintenance sprays, Spring and Fall is the target. They did have some mouse activity that we found while we were there. So it was a relatively new house that, well, older house, but relatively new as in it had a poured concrete foundation. We were able to find the entry points for the mice, do some baiting inside, eliminate the population. And they’re signed up to get visited by us twice a year, if they need anything in the meantime, give us a call, but they’ve been happy since. No ants inside the house since we treated, so that’s a good thing to hear.

Contact Colonial Pest for Pest Control in Portsmouth, NH

John: Absolutely. All right, well, that’s really great information about pest control in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 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 or call 1-800-525-8084. That’s 1-800-525-8084.



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