Pest Control & Exterminator Services in Worcester, MA
Serving Worcester County since 1984
Nobody likes pests, especially not in their home. They can burrow through our walls, infest our food, and bite us in our sleep. At Colonial Pest Control, we provide pest control in Worcester, Massachusetts for yellow jackets, wasps, spiders, roaches, termites, carpenter ants and more.
Our experts control and eliminate everything from infesting rodents to wood-destroying bugs. Cities have a significantly higher density of people, homes, and food, all of which attract all kinds of pests. If you live in the city, finding a Worcester MA exterminator is incredibly important as these highly concentrated and small spaces can potentially become a magnet for a multitude of obnoxious pests. It is important to get rid of these unwanted houseguests as soon as possible before the infestation spreads!
At Colonial Pest, all of our highly experienced Worcester, MA pest control experts are state certified and fully licensed. We have satisfied customers in over 12,000 pest-free homes throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We even offer a 6-month warranty for our bee and wasp control services!
Not only do we exterminate, but we also offer worry-free early preventative maintenance services to protect your home before pests have the chance to attack. If you have an out of control pest situation in your home, contact the number one Worcester pest control service today, at 1-800-525-8084!
Pest Control in Worcester, MA (Podcast)
In this podcast, John Maher talks with Zack Ciras, Quality Manager with Colonial Pest Control. They chat about the diversity of pests in Worcester, MA and look at the unique challenges of keeping pests out of triple-decker homes. Then, Zack explains the importance of understanding pest psychology for effective pest control.
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 Worcester, Massachusetts. Welcome Zack.
Zack Ciras: Thanks John.
Worcester Has a Diverse Pest Population
John: Sure. Zack, are there any general things about pest control in Worcester that you’ve noticed?
Zack: I think the general flow to Worcester is really the diversity, Worcester is a very diverse city, both with its population, its history, and with its pests that it has to deal with. Geographically, there’s a lot of Hills in Worcester, the Seven Hills, even though I think there’s technically nine, but Seven Hills can be a little bit more suburban, almost rural in sections. It has more of a country feel to it. Then of course, downtown, you have more pests that are more accustomed to living in urban areas.
Pest Control in Triple-Deckers in Worcester, MA
John: Okay. And what are some examples of some pest control services in Worcester that you’ve done?
Zack: Speaking about the diversity again, we’ll start with downtown areas, population density. Of course, you’ve got the German cockroach infestations. Worcester is known pretty well for the old triple-deckers as we call them, the three story, three-family homes. Growing up we always just called them triple-deckers. My mother grew up in a triple-decker, grandma was on the third floor, her aunt was on the second, and she and her six siblings were on the first. There’s a lot of that, a lot of the same family living in a triple-decker, all in different floors and different generations. You might have the whole building dealing with the same pest, so if grandma brings in German cockroaches from the grocery store and they start to spread they’re in the whole building.
When we deal with something like a triple-decker downtown, we’d really treat it like it’s both one structure, but also multiple structures, so think of it as four different structures. Roaches, or the other most common pests that we deal with in triple-deckers would be mice, house mice especially. You have the outside perimeter of the house, the basement, the attic, that’s basically one house. If you think of a single family house we’ll talk about maybe up in the Hills a little bit more, you have the basement, the exterior and the attic, which are the hotspots for pest activity there. You have that same setup on a triple-decker, but then you also have its own living space on the first floor or the second floor or the third floor. And each of those floors, whether it’s one extended family living through there, or three families of strangers, they all have their own environment within their structures.
We really have to attack that in a way that attacks it both as a single family and a multi-family within that one structure. The German cockroaches downtown move a lot so you have the balloon style construction in that type of structure where you have the foundation is usually Fieldstone, and then you have the sill in the basement and those joists go all the way up to the attic.
And then in the middle, you have the utility chase, all the pipes and the wires and the drains and the stack for the plumbing, everything goes up one big channel. Sometimes you have chimneys in there as well. There’s a lot of shared wall void space so those German cockroaches or the mice will follow the pipelines, the wires, just the wall voids, any access they have up and down. They move pretty freely and they’ll stop and visit if there’s access into the unit, which is a quarter inch or so for a mouse to get in which would be very common in the kitchen, in the utility closets. And there’s often built in shelving and cabinets and they can get out through there as well through the void. Or with German cockroaches it’s even easier, a pipe or a wire going through a wall, the collar around a plumbing faucet head, or the forced hot water plumbing. That’s easy for them to sneak out of so there’s a lot of shared activity there.
When we think about controlling the pests in the unit, we really have to think holistically about the whole building and that doesn’t even really touch on outside of the structure, which could be a whole nother ballgame in its own right.
Coordinating Pest Control Services in Multi-Unit Homes
John: When you’re dealing with these triple-decker houses like this, is it typical that that structure is all owned by one person and then they’re renting out a couple of units, or is it a condo situation where you have three different condos? And then how does that work when you have to come into a house and do pest control, as you said, you have these common spaces in the wall voids and things like that. And also obviously a common basement to the house, a common attic. Do you try to get all of the people who live in that house to work together in order to eliminate the pests, or is it a situation where you’re just working with one level, or how does that work in a triple-decker house?
Zack: That’s a great question. As we get closer to Boston, you see a lot more of the condo style where Mrs. Jones owns the first floor, the Hernandez family owns the second floor, and another person owns the third floor, but lives across the country. In Worcester it’s more single landlord for the whole structure so when we contract for the property, in Worcester it’s usually a single contracting entity. We just have to work with one landlord and then that landlord works with his or her tenants to get everybody prepared and get everybody ready for us, and move things away from the wall or whatever the service might require.
As we get closer to larger cities like Boston, there is that contractual difference where the condo style comes into play… I own the second floor so I only want a contract for the second floor. Which is a little bit more difficult to try to relay because the mice don’t know who owns what floor.
Zack: The mice and the roaches and the ants and whatever pest we’re dealing with, that’s still one structure with three homes inside that one structure so that gets a little bit more complicated in other cities. Worcester’s pretty good for us dealing with one entity for the whole structure, because pest wise, you’re right, it’s common spaces. Everything is shared. The noise doesn’t stop if the second floor is running around and the first floor hears that the noise is the same, it’s the same with the roaches or the moths or the mice, all one structure. When you can deal with one person responsible for that structure, that makes it a little bit easier, but that’s definitely the approach that we have to take regardless.
Rodent Control in Worcester, MA: The Importance of Sealing the Exterior Envelope
John: Right, so if the mice get in on the ground floor, then they’re going to make it up into the second floor too.
Zack: The biggest hurdle and the biggest focus when we think about rodent control especially, it’s the outer envelope of the house. Even just a delivery box to your house, if there’s a break anywhere in that outer envelope of the box, or in this case the outer envelope of a structure of a house, of a triple-decker, or whatever it might be, that’s the entry point. That’s chapter one of the story of the pest problem inside the house. We want to stop that as close to the outer envelope as possible.
Once you break that outer envelope, game on. I was at a home yesterday in Holliston, Mass, south of Worcester, but they had moths, it was a pretty ongoing clothing moth issue. And they had done everything that they were supposed to try to try to take care of those clothing moths, but they had an ongoing mouse issue and they had a different company contracting for that mouse issue. Looked at some of the exterior bait stations and there was actually mouse nests in everyone that I opened, including live mice when I opened up the first one.
They said, “Well, they’re outside, we try to get them outside before they go inside,” but there’s a storage room that was attached to the house, so to me, it’s all part of the same house. You go into that storage room and it’s pretty almost shed-like, really not built up like if it was the living area, but I can follow the wires and the pipes and they go right into the house and it’s wide open. There’s an ongoing mouse issue because that outer envelope, the true outer envelope wasn’t sealed off properly. In Worcester that is really tough for the triple-deckers, the old ones downtown, Fieldstone foundation, maybe the landlord isn’t going to put in the thousands and thousands of dollars to fix up the foundation like we would all like to because it’s just not tenable to invest that kind of money for the rent that you can get. And it’s a financial thing for the landlords, of course. And I understand that, but ultimately the outer envelope would be the issue.
Another contributing factor in triple-deckers, especially, that we can certainly talk about more outside of the city itself, but still within Worcester. But these triple-deckers in the city, they have those beautiful front porches. I imagine when my mother was growing up in Worcester, she and her brothers and sisters would play in the front porch and grandma would watch them and they’d play in the little eighth of an acre yard that they had. Underneath that front porch, even if you pay somebody to re-point the foundation, which is often what we recommend, they often don’t go under that front porch because who’s going to see it? It’s got lattice on it, it’s covered up, it’s something that’s forgotten about when there’s work being done.
Zack: And that’s a lot of times where the…
John: You concentrate on the part that you can see.
Zack: Exactly. And it looks great. It looks great, the company gets paid, they can show off the house, we did a great job. But from a mouse or a rat perspective, I want to crawl under that front porch. And it’s all Fieldstone that hasn’t been re-pointed since 1890, that’s easy access into the house. You break the outer envelope, you’re in. That’s the root of the issue.
John: And that’s probably where they’re more likely to be trying to get into the house…
John: … is in the shade under the porch.
Pest Exclusion Work Inside Triple-Decker Units in Worcester, MA
Zack: Absolutely. And a lot of times there’s the overgrowth, there’s vegetation, it’s street side so it’s near the trash containers. Once you get into the house, that’s when the concept of single family, three-family works together where each of those floors now, speaking specifically about mice, each of those floors needs to have some exclusion work done within the unit. If we do a single family house, if we’re up on one of the Hills or we’re out near Holden or Boylston single family house, we want to close the outer envelope of the house from the outside because that’s where the mice are starting, in a Fieldstone foundation triple-decker it’s tougher to do that so we focus a lot of energy on the inside of each unit. We’re going room to room, inch by inch, looking at all the baseboard trim, looking inside every closet, looking at every pipe chase, wire chase.
The kitchens are always the hotspot there or the gas line for the stove, the heat in those utility closets or broom closets, as they’re often used as, a lot of times that’s where all the utility work is done and they’re not closed up. You have a leaky pipe, you have to run more wire, you have to run a new cable and the workers open up the walls. But if they’re not going to close them up, they didn’t get paid for that, and nobody told them how important that is, because it’s a little broom closet off the side. That’s a common thing that we have to get creative about. Sometimes the answer is to install a threshold and bait inside of there and understand that the mice are going to be in the closet, but we can control them from there. Other times, it’s a lot of wire work and screening and recommending new wallboard or woodworking in there.
But each unit, first floor, second floor, third floor is its own house and it takes as long or longer to do each unit, as it does to do a full single-family house. That’s one approach and you have to join the secondary approach of the outside, doing what you can there and making more recommendations. It’s pretty labor intensive in those triple-deckers, but it’s the right way to do it. There’s a lot of companies, especially historically that would’ve just put out the bait stations, the tenants see the little black triangles, the bait stations that most of the industry uses, and they just toss them around.
Changing Pest Control Methods as Worcester Mice Become Smarter
Zack: One thing that we see a lot in Worcester, and I’ve been seeing this in Worcester for over a decade I would have to say, is mice not complying with our control methods. It used to be, you put out the black triangles and back in the day it was a free for all, people would just throw them around living space, kids room, kitchen, they didn’t secure them. Oftentimes they were in disposable plastic containers that weren’t secured shut. It was a little hectic way back when, and we saw our opportunity for quality to really take over. We’re making sure that everything’s in a tamper resistant case, everything that’s within general accessibility for a dog or a kid or anybody who might be visiting, that’s secured down, it’s hidden away. It’s in the drop ceiling, it’s in the closet, it’s screwed down. It’s actually immobilized so you can’t pick it up and move it. You can’t have the dog open it up, you can’t have the kids play with it, which happens a lot with other devices. That’s one approach that’s changed over the years.
The other approach is the avoidance of the mice to actually eating the bait, which is a major issue. And it’s not placement necessarily. Sometimes it’s you’re putting the bait where the mice aren’t and that’s not going to be the most effective way to get the mice, but you can put the mouse bait station right along a runway, the mice go in and they start chowing down on the food, ideally, but you put it in the runway these days and there’s so much competing food sources within the house, outside of the house, dog food, overgrown vegetation producing berries and seeds and nuts. There’s so much that they can eat and somehow, I didn’t tell them, hopefully you didn’t tell them don’t eat the bait, they figured out don’t eat the bait. Somebody told them. They’re actually using, in some cases, they’re using the bait stations as nesting sites. They’ll bring in debris and nesting material and insulation inside the bait stations and not eat the bait. That tells me it’s not placement, they know what it is.
That really puts the emphasis on exclusion and redirection, making the mice very uncomfortable. If we can make the mice uncomfortable where they are, then we’re going to change their behavior. With the ongoing training that Colonial’s always doing I’m lucky enough to get to have my hand in that and do a lot of the research and present the information. The last couple years, we focused a lot on animal behavior and psychology, looking at some different scientists from the past, both recent, the rack tickler, I’m blanking on his name now, Jaak Panksepp. Have you heard of Jaak Panksepp?
Zack: He’s fascinating. He passed in 2017, but he was one of the founders of Affective Neuroscience, the science of how you feel. And it’s incredible. He discovered the deep embedded mechanism of play. He really listed out the primal urges and the societal urges that every mammal shares. We can look at that, and he did a lot of studies with mice or with rats rather. And we can look at how he can affect their behavior and their really social tendencies, so we can utilize that.
We can make the mice uncomfortable, make them make mistakes. If you went into your house and every other door was locked, but there was a new hallway down the center, you’d be a little thrown. You might fall into something that you didn’t expect. Before Jaak, it was Calhoun in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, The Secrets of NIMH was the Disney movie that featured some of his work.
John: Oh yeah.
In Worcester, Mice Have Shifted From Neophiles to Neophobes
Zack: The mice studies. He did rats and mice. His early rat stuff was fundamental, but his mice studies really excelled that. That’s when he looked at societal sync and things like that, where behavioral sync, where you can really through population stresses, lack of resources, or just overpopulation in an area affect how groups are working with each other or against each other, they stop breeding, they get very sensitive to their own grooming and not taking care of the young. But studying that kind of stuff in these tough situations in Worcester where the mice aren’t complying like they used to, where they’re not eating the bait, where they’re not falling for the snap traps. I have videos of using brand new snap trap, two pairs of gloves, the exact food from the bag they were just eating from last night, and I have videos of the mice going up and getting freaked out by this new device.
Scientifically, historically they’re supposed to be neophiles, they love new things. You put something new there, the mouse is going to want to check it out and see what it’s all about, ultimately getting trapped. They’ve changed. They’ve changed their behavior, they’re neophobic now. It’s not the same game. Luckily we’re a company that’s looking to the future and looking at this scientific study and really the research and development of new methods and procedures, techniques, as well as products to target these tough situations. It’s not as easy as throwing around place packs, like some companies used to do. We really have to get inventive and smart about how we treat it, especially in triple-deckers.
Why Pest Control Specialists Need to Understand Pest Psychology
John: It really sounds like in order to do pest control effectively, you have to become a mouse psychologist, if you will.
Zack: You do, you do.
John: Figure out their behavior.
Zack: There’s a baseline of treatment that just about anybody can do if they’re well trained, but it does take that next level of being curious and being really instinctively curious about why things are happening that takes us to the next level.
Contact Colonial Pest About Pest Control in Worcester, MA
John: All right. All right, well, that’s really great information about pest control in Worcester. 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.