What’s That Animal in the Attic?

Inspecting an attic for pests in Wisconsin - Batzner Pest Control

Are you hearing scratching or scurrying noises from your ceiling? There are several kinds of evidence that animals might be living in your attic or walls, but noises are usually the most apparent and first noticed. The problem with having an animal in the attic is that without experience, it’s hard to tell what it is and how many of them there are. That’s where the experts at Batzner Pest Control can help. We’ve seen all kinds of home-invading wildlife here in Wisconsin and can help you with both identification and safe removal. Read on to learn more!

Signs of an Animal in the Attic

When you hear scampering noises or other foreign sounds coming from your attic, it’s important to look for other signs of animal activity on your property to determine the source and scope of your problem. Here are some signs of animals in the attic:

  • Droppings or urine in crawl spaces and corners of your home
  • Destroyed or nested-in insulation
  • Torn up paper, twigs, or leaves around roofing or inside attic indicating nesting
  • Bite marks from animals gnawing on structural materials or your stored belongings

Noticing any of these kinds of evidence of animals could mean that animals are living in your attic, walls, crawl spaces, or more places on your property.

Which Wild Animals are in the Attic?

Now that you’re sure there are animals upstairs, it’s important to identify them in order to deal with them safely and effectively. These are the most common attic invaders living in Wisconsin, along with the signs that give them away:

  1. Rats and mice: Rats and mice often tear up insulation to build nests in our attics. They also have to constantly gnaw on things in our homes to keep their incisor teeth from overgrowing. When paired with frequent scampering sounds, you can be sure you have rodents up there.
  2. Raccoons: Raccoons are strong enough to rip off shingles from your roof or chew holes in your building. Loud bumps during the night could indicate raccoon activity.
  3. Squirrels: Squirrels usually enter our homes through roof vents and eave gaps, as opposed to the more destructive raccoons. Squirrel noises are usually lighter and more rapid than raccoon noises, so you can tell these pests apart through the differences in sound and damage.
  4. Birds: Chirping sounds in the attic are a dead giveaway that birds are around. Nuisance birds will spread filth and diseases with their nesting and droppings, but fortunately, they make themselves known very quickly in most cases.

How to Safely Get Rid of Animals in the Attic

The best way to prevent wildlife problems is to constantly monitor your property for activity and seal off holes that could lead into your attic and walls. However, once wild animals start to nest or reproduce inside your home, your best bet is to get your local pest control company involved. At Batzner Pest Control, we train our technicians to remove all kinds of animals with safe and humane strategies, teaching our customers how to avoid similar situations in the future. Reach out today for a free quote!

How to Spot Pest Issues When Buying a New Home

When it comes to major purchases, there’s nothing more exciting than buying a new home. The new home search is filled with plenty of decisions and “watch outs.” When touring potential homes, many home-buyers focus on cosmetic changes they want to make in their new home. However, most new home buyers rarely think about pests. Pests, such as cockroaches, mice, rats, and stinging pests, carry health risks. Other pests, such as carpenter ants, rodents, and wildlife, can cause severe and costly damage to homes. Pest problems can be lurking beneath the surface, and knowing what to look for could help you avoid expensive repairs and treatments after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

As you visit the house, make sure to inspect the interior and exterior yourself for signs of pest invasion or damage. See if the previous owner has taken common pest problem prevention steps, such as installing screens on windows and doors or keeping shrubs and tree limbs from extending to the side of the house and roof. Look for cracks in sealed areas such as floorboards and molding, holes in the back corners of storage spaces and webs in the garage and basement. While many of these issues are easily fixed, you should be aware of the level of preventative care the previous homeowner took.

According to the National Pest Management Association, at any given time, approximately 29% of American homes are experiencing a pest infestation. While the occasional insect guest can happen in any home, you may want to have more serious pest concerns resolved before you buy; some may be serious enough for you to consider not making a purchase.

Recently, a customer called Batzner because they heard a noise coming from the attic of their newly purchased home. When our Operations Manager went up into the attic to take a look, he found BIRD NESTS! It turned out that the home inspector never went up into the attic, so the nests weren’t discovered until after the new owners moved in. If you are buying a home, use a qualified home inspector or strongly consider getting a pest inspection in addition to the required inspections.

It can be difficult to spot pest issues – some pests are too small to see or live in areas that may be difficult to access. That’s why it’s important to know signs that may indicate a more serious problem.

How to spot signs of potential pest issues:

Mice, Rats and Wildlife

  • Look for mouse and rat droppings
  • Listen for scratching noises coming from under the floor, behind walls or in ceilings
  • Check for signs of rodent nests in cabinets, pantries, and behind appliances
  • Chewed or gnawed wiring may also indicate a problem with rodents or wildlife

Insects (common pests include cockroaches and ants)

  • Live or dead insects could indicate a problem
  • When outside, look for openings or gaps that insects could use access to gain entry to the home – anything larger than ¼-inch is a cause for concern
  • Ant mounds are another issue to watch for in yards
  • Bee, wasp, and hornet nests attached to the home or in the yard; look up in high trees, under overhangs on the structure, etc.

Carpenter Ants

  • Carpenter ants will look for softened wood to infest; if you notice signs of wet or moisture damaged wood, it may be a good idea to have a pest inspection done before buying
  • These pests can hollow out wood, similar to mosquitoes, which can be costly to repair
  • Carpenter ants are larger than most ants – about ¼-inch to ½-inch in size – and black in color
  • In areas where carpenter ants are active, you may notice piles of what looks like sawdust near their entry holes

Bed bugs typically aren’t an issue for new homes, but if you are purchasing a town-home or condominium unit that shares walls with neighbors, be aware that your risk of bed bug issues could increase.

If you can’t decide whether or not to purchase your dream home, call a pest professional. The local pest control experts at Batzner are here to identify any potential pest issues. Getting a professional evaluation will give you a better idea of what can be done to eliminate existing pest issues and keep your new home pest-free for a long time to come.

Batzner can do an inspection of your potential home before you buy to avoid any horrifying surprises. This could save you thousands of dollars in home damage that may go unnoticed by other inspectors. The last thing you want is to inherit someone else’s pest problems.

The Importance of Bird Management For Your Business

The threats to a business posed by birds are not as well-known as those from mice or cockroaches, but they can be equally as damaging. As the weather warms, you will likely experience more and more birds at your business on ledges and rooftops, in nearby trees, or just hanging out in the parking lot. It is important to stay well-informed and vigilant of these birds in order to protect yourself and your employees as well as your business’ physical property, reputation, and bottom line.

The physical damage caused by birds can be extensive, and very expensive to clean up and repair. For example, pigeon droppings, carcasses, and nesting materials are heavy and can clog drains. If left unchecked, this causes the potential for a roof to collapse due to water not draining off properly. Additionally, the acidity of bird droppings can do great damage to air conditioning equipment and machinery, and can strip the paint from siding and vehicles.

The physical damage and other bird activity can also affect your business’ image and reputation. Nesting in store signs, droppings on sidewalks and customers’ vehicles, and dive-bombing by territorial birds reflects poorly on your business for obvious reasons, and can discourage customers from returning. The last thing you want is for your business to be more associated with the number of gulls in your parking lot than for the great work you do!

Most importantly, birds need to be kept under control due to the health risks that they present for your employees and customers. Birds’ nests and droppings host a large number of parasites and diseases that can be passed to humans. These include harbor ticks, fleas, mites, salmonella, histoplasmosis, encephalitis, and meningitis, among many others. It is also dangerous for employees to be unknowingly working with equipment that has been contaminated.

You can help limit these issues by patching and/or screening all outside openings or cleaning up food debris, but you also must be mindful when it comes to bird management since many species are protected. If your business is experiencing issues with birds, call 866-591-3519 or fill out a form online and a representative will be able assist you. Batzner offers the best line of defense against birds and other pests.

Bird Deterrent Option for Sparrows and Barn Swallows at Businesses

In cases where birds are overtaking the outside of buildings by perching or nesting, bird deterrents may be the answer. There are several types of bird deterrents, including spikes, nets, and electrical tracks. When netting is not possible and spikes are ineffective, another option is Optical Gel™. Skie Gierach, Operations Manager, describes Optical Gel working “by creating an illusion to birds that the area is on fire, which prevents them from entering or landing on that area.” The product is a non-toxic, multi-sensory deterrent gel that emits a UV light appearing as a flame to approaching birds. Optical Gel may be used for the following reasons:
  1. Tricky applications where few other options are applicable including window A/C units, roll up doors, signs, balconies, and loading docks
  2. Less cost compared to other methods
  3. Quick, easy installation
  4. Works on all bird species
Below are two scenarios in which Optical Gel was used to deter birds from entering specific areas around businesses.
Effect on Sparrows
In the case of an office building where sparrows were flying up under the front entrance awning, leaving nesting materials and droppings around the entrance, windows, and doors, Gierach chose to use Optical Gel. “Because sparrows are so small and can land in-between spikes, it does not deter them, and netting was not in this customer’s budget,” he explained. “Optical Gel is an ideal solution for small bird deterrence.” In the video below, you can see the sparrows unsuccessfully trying to perch under the awning as they had done before.
Barn Swallows Overtake Loading Dock
The second case involved barn swallows at a food plant. They were nesting in the upper part of an entrance for a loading dock. “Each time a truck would back in, the birds would fly down and be unintentionally forced inside,” described Gierach. “Since there was nothing to net off in this situation, netting was not a possible solution.” The barn swallows, like sparrows, are too small to be affected by spikes, so Optical Gel was chosen for this case as well. It’s been two years since the Optical Gel was installed, and the barn swallows have not come back.
1. Optical Gel is placed above and around the entrance of the loading dock doors. 2. Optical Gel is placed in perching areas to prevent the birds from gathering above the loading dock.
  In both scenarios, Optical Gel successfully deterred birds from continuing to nest and perch in the areas. If you encounter issues with birds at your business, contact the experts at Batzner Pest Control.

Why Woodpeckers Peck and How to Prevent Them from Pecking Your House

Woodpecker in a tree. Batzner Pest Control serving Wisconsin residents

Fun to watch as they hammer away, usually gripping sideways on a tree trunk, woodpeckers sometimes become a nuisance. They peck at wood to establish territory, find a mate, excavate a nesting hole, or find insects, and sometimes that wood is attached to a building. They can cause substantial damage if not deterred. Woodpeckers are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so it is illegal to intentionally capture, kill or disrupt these migratory birds or their nests and eggs.

Diet

Woodpeckers feed on a variety of insects, especially beetles, ants, caterpillars, and more. They are also fond of black oil sunflower seeds, millet, peanuts, and chunky peanut butter. Occasionally, downy woodpeckers will drink from oriole and hummingbird feeders as well.

Habitat

Woodpeckers usually peck at dead or diseased trees/limbs, but they have also been known to peck at buildings, siding, metal, and air conditioners. They are found mostly in or on the edge of wooded areas due to food prevalence and preference for living in or near trees.

Reasons for Pecking

They peck in order to find food, excavate areas for nesting, or mark their territory.

  1. If the birds are looking for insects, the holes will be small and irregular. Woodpeckers are particularly fond of the larvae of carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and grass bagworms.
  2. They can nest in structures, fences, poles, and sign posts. A cavity is created by the male and female to make a nest in dead limb or dead tree, usually 12-30’ above ground. The cavity entrance is often surrounded by fungus or lichen, helping to camouflage site.
  3. Because it makes a satisfyingly loud noise that proclaims the bird’s territory and attracts a mate. If the birds are drumming for these reasons, they will most likely stop once breeding has begun in the spring
Prevention

Because woodpeckers can be very persistent and are not easily driven from selected pecking sites, any woodpecker control effort should be started as soon as the problem begins. Woodpecker prevention is based upon physical barriers and scare techniques.

  1. Physical barriers created in pecking areas will help get rid of woodpeckers by preventing entry. Commonly these are made of steel mesh.
  2. Shiny, bright objects used as visual deterrents are successful. Strips of aluminum, reflective tape and pinwheels are common objects used.
  3. Noise scare techniques are also effective in some cases.
Professional Help

Since it is legal to kill woodpeckers, it is best to get help from a professional.