As a pest control professional and entomologist, I have a high tolerance for pests.  A recent visit, however, to the Missouri farmhouse where I grew up reminded me of why people pay for pest control. The house sits vacant for months at a time and the spider problem this fall was straight out of “Arachnophobia.”  Large, tarantula-like wolf spiders were everywhere in the home. I wasn’t too worried—after all—I’m a professional and pests fear me. I was confident they would be tripping over themselves to escape the home once they saw me coming. I couldn’t have been more wrong! At my wife’s urging, I began killing every spider in sight. Three days later I was still hard at it and starting to doubt that they knew who they were dealing with. To make matters worse, my wife despises spiders and while I was gone for hours working in the fields, she was on her own to deal with them. When I returned, she informed me she was moving to a motel if I didn’t do something—now!

Forced to take the problem more seriously, I sent her to town to stock up on some over-the-counter pesticides. Now I would show them who was boss!  At first I used the ‘surgical strike’ method—applying just enough pesticide to kill or chase out all the spiders while minimizing the amount of pesticide used. But it was soon obvious that the surgical approach had not worked and the problem continued unabated. The spiders seemed to be fond of mockingly appearing suddenly in the bathroom, closet, or on our bed and we had to be on alert at all times. Attempts to kill them often involved a chase and they were very fast. Being a hunter at heart, I persisted and generally got each spider that dared show itself, but it was time to intensify my control efforts with what I call the ‘scorched earth’ method. I began a methodical search for hiding places and was surprised to find numerous survivors hiding everywhere. To make matters worse, spider reinforcements were everywhere outdoors. I sprayed thoroughly indoors and out.

My brother and I had previously spent a lot of time pest-proofing this home, but old farmhouses are impossible to seal completely. While I longed for my power sprayer and other professional equipment (now 2000 miles away) to  help me do a thorough treatment, I knew that since we only visit occasionally, investing in expensive equipment to have it just sit there most of the time made no sense. As anyone who does their own pest control knows, if spray equipment sits unused, it can plug up, leak or require lots of maintenance right when you need it.

When I complained about all the pests in the house, my sister who lives nearby reminded me that the pest control guy I had previously recommended to her was visiting regularly and keeping their home pest free. So, in the end rather than having to continue knocking large populations of spiders down then or during future visits, it made sense to hire the local pest control professional and have regular pest prevention.

Returning to our wonderful, pest free home in Tacoma really reinforced the benefit of regular pest prevention programs. Despite my high tolerance of pests, I have no desire to share my house with insects, spiders or rodents.  Pest prevention programs prevent populations from building up around the outside of your home, thus greatly reducing the chances you will ever have to deal with them inside your home.