Pest Control & Exterminator Services in Reading, MA
SERVING MIDDLESEX COUNTY SINCE 1984
Are you dealing with house mice, bald-faced hornets or other pests in Reading, MA? Then, you need to contact us at Colonial Pest Control. We have been working with residential and commercial clients in Reading, MA for nearly 40 years, and we understand the unique pest control challenges in this community.
Whether you live in an old home, a new home, a densely populated area, or a neighborhood with a more rural feel, we can provide you with the help you need. To learn more about pest control and preventative maintenance, contact us today.
Pest Control in Reading, MA (Podcast)
In this podcast, Zack Ciras, Quality Manager from Colonial Pest Control, talks with John Maher about pest control in Reading. Zack explains the unique issues faced by home and business owners in Reading. Then, he gives tips on effective pest control methods.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Zack Ciras, Quality Manager with Colonial Pest Control today. Our topic is pest control in Reading, Massachusetts. Welcome, Zack.
Zack Ciras: Thanks for having me.
Overview of Pests in Reading MA
John: Sure. So Zack, are there any sort of general things about doing pest control in Reading that you’ve noticed?
Zack: Yeah, you never quite know what situation you’re going to go into, if you don’t know what part of town you’re going into. In the south half of the city, it’s very densely populated. You have a lot of nice streets that are pretty close together. Good dense population, as you get closer to the 95/93 split. Then you get up north into Reading, towards North Reading, and you have the town forest, you have the Cedar swamp, you have a lot more of the spread out suburban or even rural type of area.
So the town is kind of split into north and south. So you could have different situations, different folks, whether you’re in more of a city dealing with more house mice in an apartment or bald face hornets on a tree near the street, and people are walking by at the stores. Or if you go up where it’s a little bit wetter, you might have a lot more occasional invaders, a lot more termites that might come out in that really cellulose rich, moist soil up there.
Examples of Pest Control Services in Reading MA
John: Okay. And can you give me some examples of some pest control services that you’ve done in Reading recently?
Zack: Yeah, one memorable house, blue house on the right, I don’t remember what street it was on, but it was kind of halfway up the town. So it was in a neighborhood that was somewhat densely populated, but still had a lot of foliage, a lot of trees, a lot of nature around it, a lot of moisture in the ground, and this particular house, it was an older house. I think at one point it had been moved. Some of the older houses in towns like Reading, they used to be up on the hill. Then they put her up on horses a hundred years ago and brought it down. So I think it was one of those houses. The cellar wasn’t very deep. So it was like a basement level apartment that was walkout level, maybe the deepest part was four, five feet under the soil.
Humidity Increases Risk of Pests
So it was very moist down there. They were in a dehumidifier in part of the basement, but in all the finished areas, it just kind of lingered. So you had a lot of general humidity and when you have a lot of humidity, you have other insects. So they initially call, they’re just seeing things like ground beetles, the little black beetles that really don’t do any harm, but nobody wants to see them in their kitchen. Spiders, of course, whenever you’re in a basement level or walkout level, even a slab living condition, you see a lot of spiders and that’s because of the moisture.
The moisture breeds small insects that are feeding on the fungus and then the spiders and centipedes are there to feed on those insects. So there’s always some kind of correlation and it almost always comes down to water, moisture, some kind of humidity buildup that is breeding the microscopic fungus. So they had the ground beetles, they had the spiders and it wasn’t a big deal.
Wings Can Be a Sign of Termite Colonies
But once we got inside, we went into the area that was housing the boiler and the oil and found a whole bunch of wings. So this was mid-spring time. The swarms had already happened where we see big pilots of wings, especially on a slab or walkout level where that expansion joint of the slab and the concrete walls don’t quite come together. You have the mud tubes from termites who build up and you see pile of wings. That really is an indicator of a mature termite colony.
The termites usually swarm in the springtime, depending on the weather, we’ve seen some swarms early in February when we get the first few really warm weeks. There’s almost always one week in February that’s 70 degrees and then it gets cold again. Every year it happens. They stretch really through June for the springtime swarms, but the day after it rains, when the soil is a certain temperature where it’s 50s or 60s on at the soil temperature at base, and there’s a mature colony. And by mature colony for termites, it’s not very old 3, 4, 5 years is typically mature.
Termites Can Survive, Undetected for Years
So they’ve been feeding in an area. They’ve had cellulose rich materials, whether it’s your house or a tree stump or some kind of building material that was buried underneath the soil, whatever the cellulose is, it could be the paper on drywall. It could be cardboard boxes. They’re feeding on cellulose rich material to grow the colony 3, 4, 5 years, they have 60,000 plus individuals. And just like with your kids, they grow up, go off to school. They’re going to fall in love and start their own families.
It’s the natural cycle of things. So for them, it’s three to five years. The kids swarm off, find a nice wet stump or pile of bark mulch, and they’re going to start their own colony. So those colony swarms are an indicator that they’ve already been there. A lot of people don’t notice that they’ve already been there because of the behavior that termites have.
It’s called a cryptobiotic behavior, because it’s in secret. Nobody knows where it is, where it’s coming from, if real. But the crypto biotic behavior refers to their biology. So cryptobiotic insects, such as termites, are harder to pick up on right away. They work behind the scenes in secret. Especially when you’re a termite, you’re always working inside of your mud shelter tubes. So you may be behind the wall on a stud eating the back of the drywall for years and without knowing what’s going on. You don’t know what kind of damage they’re doing until you open up the walls or you have a swarm. Sometimes those swarms are a lucky indicator. Like, okay, now we know we need to do something. And without the swarm, you might not know you need to do something. So this house, we were just going around for general insects, spraying the outside, going to do a little bit on the insides, some local ice crack crevice treatment, try to keep the occasional invaders, the creepy crawlies at bay.
Found the pile of wings, found some mud tubes. They ended up, the owner was there. They had rented out the base level, but the owner for the upstairs was there. He opened up the wall a little bit. And yeah, there was some damage to the studs and nothing terribly structural. So we didn’t have to call in an engineer to jack up the house and really do thousands of dollars of repair, which is sometimes, depending on when they’re feeding and wherever the moisture is inside the house, that unfortunately tends to be the case. But he was pretty lucky. He saw the swarm telling him that we needed to do something at his house.
Pest Maintenance Programs in Reading
We ended up not just getting them on the maintenance program for the general insects, which was twice a year spray outside, to prevent creepy crawlies from coming in. He warranted throughout the year, covers for rats and mice too, in case they try to get into the house, but he also tacked on the Sentricon termite elimination bait system.
So that was pretty easy to see that there was an issue. They were very good about wanting to protect this old Reading house that they’ve been living in and trying to make it as nice as possible. They want to keep it going as nicely as possible for the future. So we put in the bait system around the outside, every 10 to 20 feet or so in the soil. We try to average 10 feet between the stations, drill a little hole, pop the termite bait in there.
Safe Pest Control Methods to Protect Reading Environment
The bait itself, there’s no concerns about leaching into the soil or the water or anything like that. In Reading there’s a lot of environmentally conscious people who don’t want to contaminate your neighborhood, which is a nice thing to do. Don’t contaminate your neighborhood. And as you get closer to north end of the city, there’s a lot of rivers and streams and high ground water and the swamp and all that, that if you contaminate that, you’re going to do a lot of damage.
So the old trench and rod treatment of termiticides, there were hundreds of gallons trenched around the house poured in, drilled into the basement, poured in. With the Sentricon system that we use, you don’t really need to do that at all anymore. Occasionally a localized treatment with a simple borate onto the wood itself to protect the wood. And then we eliminate the termites with safer to use baits. Noviflumuron is the active ingredient. It’s a chitin synthesis reuptake inhibitor.
Basically anything on an insect, that’s the exoskeleton, stomach lining, anything that’s a harder part of the insect that might resemble your fingernail, that’s made up of chitin. We have chitin in our hair and fingernails, mixed with keratin protein. And it’s not a big deal for us, but it’s a huge deal for insects. Especially insects that molt. You have termites that are molting and they can’t rejuvenate their next layer of exoskeleton, because they don’t have any chitin they can synthesize and produce. Then you’re going to eliminate the colony.
Effective Termite Control Goes After the Workers in the Colony
The bumper sticker is “Kill the queen, kill the colony.” But for termites it’s really, you eliminate the workers and the workers are the ones who are solely responsible for finding, gathering, and bringing back food to the rest of the colony. They’re solely responsible for grooming everybody, for building the mud shelter tunnels that everybody’s working in. They are the only part of the colony that’s working to sustain the colony. The queen and the supplemental reproductives, they’re making more and more workers. The nymphs are, they’re babies. They’re just waiting around being groomed and they’ll do whatever role they have to do later on.
And then the soldiers have the really cool… You’re talking about a cool photo. Soldier termites, subterranean termites, have really large reddish pincers on their head. They have a bigger head, a red or harder head and big pincers, really intimidating looking, but they can’t even feed themselves. They’re waiting for the workers to get the food, to digest it. They actually can’t digest cellulose on their own. They have bugs inside of these bugs that digest the food and then they can regurgitate and feed the rest of the colony.
So if you eliminate the workers with this chitin process, with the termite baits, you’re eliminating the driving force of the colony. You’re going to have a colony collapse. Supplemental reproductives and the queen won’t be able to reproduce anymore. Nobody’s gathering any food anymore. The soldiers in the swarm sometimes are the last to die, because they’re just waiting and waiting and waiting. So that’s why we did it at this house in Reading.
We did the termite system around the whole perimeter of the house. We were able to do a twice a year exterior spray service. I don’t remember ever having to go back inside once they got on this program. We did a nice, good cleanout. Talked to them about dehumidifying in the basement, because they are a lower level and they’re kind of midway uptown, there’s a lot of groundwater. They’ve been in good shape since. And that was a while ago. And they’ve been with us for a while and seem pretty happy.
Benefits of Preventative Pest Maintenance
John: Yeah. Do you recommend, if someone lives in a town like Reading, Massachusetts where there are these older homes with some groundwater and a lot of moisture there, do you recommend that people take preventative measures to try to stop termites from getting into their home or start attacking the wood in their home? Or do you wait until you see some evidence that termites are there and then address the problem at that point?
Zack: For the general insects, it is an easy answer and that’s, you’re going to see something crawling on the surface every year. You’re going to have a visible reason to call us and make sure that you’re on a preventative maintenance program for general insects, ants, wasps, spiders, ground beetles, normal creepy crawlies.
The termites are harder to convince people that you should act on something you can’t see yet. When I moved into my house, it’s a split level ranch and it’s humid in the basement from time to time and it’s finished walls in the garage, finished walls in the basement. I can’t really see what’s behind there. So knowing what I know from experience from this house in Reading, for example, I don’t know what’s behind the walls. I just want to take care of it. I want to have something that’s safe in the ground. I don’t have to worry about the pets and the kids in the garden being contaminated. And it’s just going to work.
Cost of Preventative Vs Reactive Pest Control
We’re going to check it twice a year. We’re going to make sure that everything’s in place and the baits are plentiful all year round protecting the house 365. I think it’s a good idea. The average cost of the installation… Everybody’s on a budget. So it’s not a terrible number, just under a $1000 in most cases, which is a lot more than most people want to spend for something they can’t see. But if you think about the cost for repairs and remediation, and if you have to do additional localized liquid treatments and tear down the walls and just the time to do that alone, $900 to a $1000, that’s not a lot of money to spend for peace of mind, I think. Most people prefer to wait until they see the problem. A lot of people don’t like to go to the doctor and get their regular checkups. They just want to wait until that pain hasn’t gone away yet.
So the termites, I think it’s a simple enough process these days with the technology from Sentricon, where it makes sense and the price points haven’t gone up. They’ve been stable or decreasing for the last 10, 20 years, since the latest iteration of this program. So I think it makes a lot of sense to get it in the ground, have one less thing you have to worry about. A lot of people in Reading, they’re living in the city. They have kids in school. It’s a very active town, a lot of young families. They don’t want to have to think about one more thing on their plate. So I do think that preventative measures for termites and general pest, where if something comes up and you have a problem or question, or you just want to have a checkup, it’s just a phone call away, rather than trying to find somebody who will actually return your phone calls, which is a really, really big issue.
How Preventative Maintenance Improves Services
Right now we hear a lot of companies don’t have the staffing that we’ve built up for the last almost 40 years we’ve been in business now. We have people local to you in Reading who can get there quickly. A lot of our fellow pest control firms, they’re suffering from staffing shortages. So to have somebody on call that you’re already a customer with, you already have a relationship. You call the office and you talk to Joe or Paul or one of the guys you go, “Oh, Hey, how’s it going? How’s the kids? How’s the trailer? Okay, good. Well, I’m seeing something in the basement. Would you mind coming out?”
It’s nice to have those existing relationships. And I think it’s nice to have those relationships where you can rely on a company that you feel close to. There’s a personal relationship that somebody can come out and take care of whatever issue you have and we’re doing it preventively. So it’s not really a question of what’s wrong, it’s a constant 365 day program where we’re here for you. We’ve got your back. If you have a question, we’ll come out and it’s nice to take care of those families like that in towns like Reading.
Contact Colonial Pest for Pest Control in Reading
John: Well, that’s really great information, Zack. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Zack: Thanks, 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.