The Rental House aka The Pest Lab


So how did I get to learn so much about Pests? Besides being the “pest wife” we lived in what I not-so-fondly refer to as “The Pest Lab” for a year. We were in between selling our house and looking for a new one and decided to rent in the interim. Rental options were slim but we found this duplex on the lake – and I mean ON THE LAKE. I imagined myself sipping tea in the morning on the deck and ignoring the fact that it was otherwise a questionably built structure with multiple likely non-permitted add-ons.

Our first night we awoke to the sound of a track meet in the floors between our bedroom and the upstairs. Rats. It could not be mice because it was so loud. That was only the beginning.

The eves were covered in paper wasp nests, and a long trail of literally hundreds of ants regularly marched through our family room as if they owned the place. The largest spiders I have ever seen in my life fully occupied the downstairs  (notably where my and my baby's bedrooms were)– the traps would be filled with the evidence after only a few days.

The kitchen had at one point been fitted with a strange atrium like sunlight and I came home one sunny afternoon to a recreation of the scene in the early cartoon version of “Charlotte’s Web” where her hundreds of baby spider eggs are hatching and drifting off on their delicate webs to find their new homes – in my kitchen. Hundreds of baby spiders floating through the air – crawling on everything.

There were also beetles and silverfish. And so began my education in pest identification, conducive environments, and treatments. Experience is the best teacher? Perhaps. All this to say – a good deal of pest control is about conducive environments.

This home was located on the lake (read near water), in a wooded area, with huge amounts of rockery and ivy – rats and mice LOVE these things. Neither the home nor the garage had been properly inspected and sealed to prevent rodent access. The foliage was not maintained and the overgrowth rested on the house. Spiders flourish in these areas. The ants had a well-established stronghold in the added-on family room. They were carpenter ants and I suspect their civilization in that space rivaled the Roman aqueducts. The drainage system was questionable and moisture (again near water) was rampant – welcome silverfish.

While very few homes have pest issues this rampant, all of these pest problems could have been at least minimized through the elimination of the conducive conditions and a regular preventative pest control plan.

The moral of the story is something about an ounce of prevention and that “sipping tea on the lake” is not as lovely as imagined if the deck you are sitting on is the deck of “the Pest Lab”.