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Question DetailsAsked on 8/18/2016

I just moved into a newly built home in the Portland Oregon area. Should we spray for bugs? We don't have any.

The home is brand new and we don't currently have an issue. Some of our neighbors are spraying as a preventative measure for sugar ants and spiders. I'm trying to understand if the exterminator is just trying to get more money from us or if this would really help.

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In your area, termites do occur (mostly subterranean and dampwood types, but some other types are occasionally imported with household goods and lumber and such), but of the building invasive species carpenter ants might be the more prevalent in houses in your area. Maybe because there is so much native wood that the termites do not really see a house (other than log homes) as significantly more tasty than the native wood - but warmer crawlspaces do attract the subterranean ones so an inspection (can be by you) for sawdust piles or shell castings (from non-subterranean termites and post beetles and carpenter ants) along the foundation or in the crawlspace, or subterranean termite mud tubes up the foundation wall to the wood, are a good thing to do every 3-6 months. Preventative measures for termites are less common in your area than in many other areas of the US - commonly only treated if there is evidence of them, particularly found in the wood in crawlspaces in your area - also in wood foundations if your house is unfortunate enough to have that, where both subterranean and damp wood termites love to live. And when done the perimeter surficial soil type (granule or spray) is probably by far the most common, as opposed to the in-ground injection or baits common in heavy infestation areas - though once you get an infestation and kill it off, that sort of treatment migth be a good idea because once you get them, probably means you will get them again.

IF you see carpenter ants around (50-100% larger than regular ants and jet black, heavier bodied than sugar ants) then I recommend the Terro Outdoor Liquid Ant Killer II bait packets - they eat the gel in the bait stick (which work FARRRR better flat on ground than put in as a stake - use in stake mode only of subject to flooding) and feed it to the entire nest of ants, and presto - in my experience, a few days later and zero ants in evidence. Takes a pair of baits near their sign (trail of ants fetching food or little sawdust pile at base of foundation) plus a couple more spread around the house - I use about 4 around the house when I see their trails from nearby native wood home. And don't forget to check to see if the bait is gone - I have seen all the bait in a stick taken in less than a day when put near a nest in a dead tree stump.

And of course, maintain your minimum 4 and preferably 8-12 inches of exposed concrete or block wall below the siding to deter insects from moving up into your house.

On the nuisance insects, I would suspect what you may be seeing is what we do by ourselves - spread a perimeter defense around against the fall invasion of insects moving from outdoors to the warmer house environment for the winter. We used to have ant and spider and beetle invasions in quantity once outside nighttime temps got below about 45-50 (so just starting now) - solved that pretty much completely (except for the nuisance flying insects like cluster flies and moths clutching the door and wall overnight and getting in when the door is opened) using Ortho Home Defense Max granules (which get watered in) around the foundation perimeter - works for 2 years or more in our area. If you clear a foot or so zone around the house of any dirt or grass or wood chips and have only bare pea gravel around the foundation as a strip that also significantly reduces insect invasions.

On sugar ants - there is a tendency to move in during the fall, but normally ordinary Terro bait will kill off a nest quickly, and normally not a problem unless you leave out food to attract them - sort of like cockroaches - don't attract them in the first place and you will rarely have a problem.

Of course, if you have small children or pets around using a perimeter treatment requires care and close attention to instructions and probably making sure they stay away from it for a bit longer than instructions say. Or use borax/diatamaceous earth mixture (harmless to humans and animals in dose they are likely to lick up - see web for instructions) to keep most insects out, though pretty ineffective against long-legged spiders like daddy long-legs and wolf spiders wanting to move to the warmth.

Two other fairly common insect issues in your area - earwigs (perimeter treatment limits them), and silverfish (use silverfish powder in any area you see them and be aggressive, especially around paper or natural fiber architectural coverings, because while they are not a real common infestation, let them get into the real breeding cycle and you can have quite an issue.

And of course, go around the house and look for openings that need insect screening or caulking against insects or rodents - just don't run a solid caulk bead under siding (needs to be able to drain out any water that gets behind it), use wire screening (with or without caulk as preferred) to block holes big enough for mice and schews and voles (anything over about 1/4 inch), and don't caulk weep holes in sliding glass door or window sills - many vinyl and metal sills have interior drainage from the track to slots or holes in the front or underlip of the exterior sill - block that and you can get interior flooding from the water in the track slots.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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