DIY Pest Control

Window sill covered with cluster flies

So maybe you want to try applying your own pest management strategies. Maybe you feel we're overpriced, overrated or you just don't like the cut of our jib. That's cool. We'll still help.


If you want to take matters into your own hands, you'll be implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is at the core of responsible pest control. We always give tips on what home owners can do to limit pest harbourage and we provide coaching on how to do it yourself and be successful! See below for tips on controlling the common pest invaders in cottage country.


Now you can come in and chat with us about what to do, buy professional supplies and meet us in person! We have a storefront downtown Haliburton for all your DIY needs. We're at 199 Highland St, right across from Foodland.


If applying DIY techniques with pesticide products, always read and follow the label instructions for your own safety and the safety of those around you. We do not recommend handling live animals under any circumstances.


 Please note DIY pages are in progress. Last updated Feb 22/20.

How to Get Rid of Ants

Ant

Proper identification is the first step to successful eradication. We have the common ant invaders listed here so you can see exactly what you're dealing with.


The general ant control tips below will help with some or all species.

 

  • Typically smaller ants inside are coming in a steady stream from one exterior point. Follow the ants to their access point and seal it. Wash the outside area with soap and water to mask the scent trail. Wipe the interior area with bleach. Vinegar can be used as an alternative to soap or bleach.
  • Ensure that ground cover/gardens are not concealing any ant entry points.
  • Keep kitchen counters clean and sanitized. Limit sugary snacks in bowls and keep garbage and crumbs tidied. 
  • Inspect trees/stumps/logs on the property for a colony. Cut and burn as fast as possible in an outdoor fire.
  • Trim any tree branches touching the house and prune vegetation on the ground to keep it away from walls.
  • Limit peony flowers against the house/cottage.
  • Correct any moisture problems - leaky roofs, windows and skylights are the most popular problem areas.
  • Avoid direct wood/soil contact - store firewood off the ground, replace wooden steps or retaining walls.
  • Remember that ants are colony dwellers so killing individuals may be as effective as you-know-what-ing on a forest fire.
  • It is illegal to make your own bait/pesticide (just in case you were expecting a recipe).
  • We have a great bait available in store, but it only works during certain times of the year. Call or come see us for details, we likely have a product to recommend.

How to Get Rid of Bats

Bat

Bats provide a huge ecological benefit by eating thousands of mosquitoes and other pest insects every night. In some parts of the world, bats provide unique pollination services to the flowers that blossom at night. Bats are great to have around...at a distance.


Exposure to bat guano (droppings) can lead to several harmful diseases, some of which can be fatal. They irritate allergies and carry 'bat bugs' which our modern day bed bugs descended from when humans left caves. That is where our co-habitation with bats should have ended. These days we should encourage bats outside but we shouldn't share space with them. 


The bat species most often found in buildings in Ontario is endangered in the province due to a fungus called white nose syndrome. This makes it illegal to kill, harm or harass bats, or exclude them while they have young babies. 


DIY bat exclusions can be done but it's very labour intensive, and we do suggest a little help from a pro. Here are the basics:

 

  • By law, the bats must be allowed out while the sealing is done. We construct a special 'exit tube' that allows them out but not back in, and install it over their main access point. This is the portion that is probably best left to a professional. We're happy to make an exit tube, put it up for you and return a few weeks later to remove.
  • Once the exit tube is installed you must go around the uppers on the entire structure (roof, roof line, soffit, fascia, etc) and seal any gap larger than a pencil eraser. Just because their main access point is sealed doesn't mean they won't try to get in somewhere else. The uppers must become an impenetrable fortress and it is extremely meticulous work. Now you may understand why it's one of our most expensive services.
  • The exit tube should remain in place for 1-2 weeks and then should be inspected, removed and the final seal should be done in that area.


We can come up with a custom solution if you're interested in doing the work for a bat seal up. We can install the exit tube, return to examine your work and let you know if you missed anywhere, and remove the exit tube. This will come at a fraction of the cost of us doing the whole thing, but it will mean giving up a considerable amount of cottage time.


Side note: Bat boxes can be effective, but they must be lured and in the right spot. Get it as high as possible on a tree or post, and some bat droppings should be smeared inside to attract them to the area. Make sure you wear gloves and a respirator when dealing with the guano.

How to Get Rid of Beavers

Trees chewed by beavers

 

Beavers are biologically built to detest the sound of running water. If water is running, they will dam it until it pools, dammit. 


The best way to prevent beaver activity on your property is to make sure that the trees are adequately protected. As you can see here, beavers can be quite tall, and they can be active on top of the snow, giving them a few feet of lift in the winter. Our best suggestion is hardware cloth (galvanized metal screening) all the way around the trees, ensuring that the protective barrier can be loosened every few years as the trees grow.


If there is a dam on your property, it can be very difficult to manage while the beavers are still active. You will likely enter into an eternal game of taking the dam out only to find they've rebuilt the next time you go to the cottage.


Additional to dams, beavers construct feed beds where they stockpile logs for use in the winter once the ice forms. Loose logs and twigs are likely feed beds and may not be replaced if moved.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Seam of a sofa infested with bed bugs and eggs

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control with DIY measures, but it can be done if the infestation is light and you are willing to purge.


In heavily infested homes, there is generally a piece of furniture that looks like the couch seam in the photo to the left. The brown blobs are bed bugs and and white flecks are eggs. This area won't be easy to find because bed bugs like dark, tight spaces - you can see them jammed into the couch seam as far as they can go - so you may need to tip furniture over to look underneath. The best thing you can do for relief is to dispose of the source of the infestation.


When disposing of anything that may have come into contact with bed bugs, do not sell or donate the items. They should go directly to the dump to avoid moving the problem somewhere else.


Some DIY tips for bed bug control:

  • Launder everything possible - bedding, pillows, clothing, curtains, etc. Dry on high heat for an hour to kill the insects.
  • Anything that can't be laundered can go in sealed containers for 6 months.
  • Vacuum thoroughly and regularly, including behind furniture. Immediately dispose of vacuum bag/contents in a sealed bag and place in an outdoor garbage area.
  • Purge any old furnishings or items in closets that are not needed.
  • Tidy clutter and dispose of non-essential paperwork, books, etc.
  • Consider areas you or other house members frequent - vehicles, work, school for potential sources of introduction or alternate populations.
  • Kill any bed bugs you see. One impregnated female can start a population without the presence of a male.
  • Extreme cold will not kill bed bugs. They can withstand -20 degree temperatures for weeks on end.
  • Bed bugs don't tend to ride around on pets like fleas but can feed on short haired pets. Pet beds can be infested but pets shouldn't need treatment.
  • Check for presence of bats or birds around the building. Bat bugs and bird bugs are cousins of bed bugs and look very similar. Their behaviour is a little different so if you've had some treatments and are still finding a few here and there, another species may be to blame. Bat bugs and bird bugs are equally as gross, unfortunately. 
  • Inspect beds regularly to monitor bed bug presence. For step by step photo instructions check our blog.
  • Invest in monitoring devices, traps and mattress/box spring encasements if feasible. Contact us for pricing or see us in store for DIY options.

How to Get Rid of Bees

honeybee

The first step with bees is knowing what you're dealing with. Bees, including bumble bees, are beneficial pollinators and typically are very reluctant to sting. Check out our bee page for help figuring out if it's a bee or a wasp.


Beneficial as bees are, we get it if you're allergic and don't want them on your property. If allergies are a concern, DIY tactics are not recommended. It just isn't worth the risk. If you think they are honeybees please call as we would prefer to save them.


If you're not allergic just prepare to get stung. You're trying to destroy their home...they tend not to like that very much.

 

  • Locate the nest - this may be more difficult than it sounds. There are many species of bees and wasps in cottage country and each constructs a different kind of nest.
  • Timing is everything. Bees and wasps return to their nest in late afternoon so dealing with it early evening should have the greatest effect.
  • If the nest is knocked down, any survivors will work to re-build it. If the nest is left in place and there are any survivors, they will start a new colony. If you're trying to get rid of them, you must do so completely.
  • Read the label of whatever product you're using. Most 'over the counter' bee and wasp solutions will need to contact each insect in order to kill it, so you'll need a lot. We have a very effective foam in store.
  • We must caution against sealing cracks in brick or foundation that wasps are spotted in. They have strong jaws and may chew their way through your drywall in an attempt to escape. Make sure the colony is eliminated before any sealing takes place.
  • There are numerous traps available to collect bee/wasp colonies. If luring wasps, place a bit of vinegar in the bait to deter honeybees.
  • Wasp deterrents that look like a large paper nest are effective if put up early in the season. If wasps are already building a nest, you won't deter them by reacting with a deterrent.
  • Make sure your chimney is covered - they're a favourite of honeybees in particular and all that honey attracts other pests.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Deer mouse

Mice are one of the most common pests in cottage country. People try everything to get rid of them but often forget that mice are persistent. What works once will have to be repeated for continued success.

For more information on our mouse services, please click here.


Here are some things you can implement on your property to limit the number of mice inside:


  • Prune any branches within 6 feet (2m) of the roofline. Mice are a 3 dimensional creature so they gain access from the basement right up to the roof.
  • Keep all vent/pipe connections free of vegetation. Vents should be screened with ¼” metal hardware cloth to prevent chewing. Seal any gaps around pipes.
  • Rake all leaves and manage vegetation around the house. Even leaf litter provides coverage for these small rodents. Keep grass trimmed within about 20 feet  of the house. Ground cover should be pruned and maintained.
  • Seal any gaps larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Inspect walls, foundation, chimneys, window and door frames, etc. We provide coaching services for this DIY venture - we'll come out, show you the materials we use and do a quick once over with you to show you areas to focus on. After you've started there, you'll likely gain an eye for problem spots.
  • If using steel wool to fill gaps, check once per year to make sure it is well packed and hasn't degraded.
  • Elevate wood piles off the ground and keep away from the perimeter of the house.
  • Windows and doors should have tight, weather-proof seals. Garage door seals should be replaced regularly.
  • Inspect and repair/seal any damage to roof shingles, fascia boards, soffits, eaves and roof edges.
  • Repair any holes in windows, screens, or doors and make sure doors close properly.
  • Ensure rain cap, spark arrestor and other chimney accessories are intact and sealed.
  • Keep all garbage, recycling and pet/bird food in mouse-proof containers. These items and other storage should be kept away from walls to limit mouse access.
  • Snap traps should be placed perpendicular to the wall in areas where mouse droppings are found. 
  • Store bought poisons must be enclosed in tamper-proof containers, by law. Make sure they are placed where no pets, kids or other wild animals can access.
  • 'Multicatch' traps can be purchased to live trap mice for release within 1 km of the trap site. Live traps must be checked on a daily basis to prevent starvation. 

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Raccoon in a trap

Raccoons are many things - cute, intelligent, devious, charismatic, strong and downright destructive. Battling a raccoon can be a huge challenge and should be dealt with early. They are not one of those creatures that can be tolerated in your space - they will absolutely destroy an attic or crawlspace if left long enough. 


In late winter/early spring the sow raccoons (females) are looking to move from outdoor communal dens to a solitary birthing den - which can easily be your attic or roof. Here she seeks a safe spot to give birth to an average of 3 kits. She will keep the kits inside for 2-3 months depending on weather, during a cold summer they may spend nights inside regularly for the entire season. 


Raccoon dens have a communal toilet area, the size of which can indicate how many generations have been utilizing the space. Extreme caution must be taken when cleaning these areas because raccoon feces can transmit distemper, raccoon roundworms and various other bacterial infections, as well as protozoan and other parasites. Proper safety equipment and clothing is necessary for any raccoon clean up. For more information you can refer to advice from the CDC here.

Before and after pictures of damage done by raccoons in a crawlspace

This before and after shot shows a crawlspace after generations of raccoons called it home. Unfortunately the attic was also victim to destruction. Luckily this was covered by insurance but many policies have been re-written to remove wildlife protection. Know what to look and listen for - tracks in the snow, sand or mud around your cottage (just google what their tracks look like, we don't have a good photo if you can believe it! We'll fix that). Raccoons make a wide variety of sounds: thumping or scratching while they move around but also vocalizations such as growling, snarling and a high pitched purr.


You should also look for entry points, which is easier said than done. Raccoons need a fairly large access hole, but you may have to get on the roof to see it. Any trees very close to the building, especially with branches touching the roof, allow them direct access. So do TV antennas if you still have one. Raccoons will use it as a ladder and get directly onto your roof. From there they can rip through roof vents, peel away fascia or soffit, or rip off decorative covers for air ventilation in the attic. To access a crawlspace under the building, all they have to do is dig a hole in most cases, so look for disturbed dirt that looks like it has been smoothed away from the building.


If you have a raccoon already and are looking to live trap it, be sure to wear heavy duty wildlife gloves and remember that by law, animals in live traps must be released within 1 km of the trap site to prevent the spread of population-specific diseases. Live traps must be checked every 24 hours to ensure the animal doesn't suffer.


If you are ready to take measures to seal them out, be absolutely certain that all the animals are out. If you seal one in there are too many consequences to list. Some DIY techniques to deter raccoons are:


- Remove tree limbs within ~2' of the roofline.

- Cover TV antenna with flat stock to prevent climbing - covering one rung is sufficient but make sure to cover the bottom as well .

- Ensure all soffit is securely attached to 'J' trim and fascia.

- Cover roof vents with hardware cloth to prevent animals from pulling the vent off. Chicken wire and rocks won't do it, as you can see in the photo below.

- Install hardware cloth inside attic ventilation areas.

- Use flat stock or hardware cloth as a skirt around the bottom of the building, ensuring some of the substrate below has been excavated to prevent digging (see photo).