Preventative maintenance for pesky little critters

Taking Care of Business

By Keith Lane, United Pest Control

I love Virginia. With mountains, lakes, countryside, rivers, parks, and of course, the beach, it is a great place to live. It’s also a great place for critters. Hot summers, warm spring and fall seasons, and not many ground freezes in winter make for a perfect environment for those unwanted house guests.

Entomologists estimate there are more than 20,000 unique species of bugs and bug-like creatures that call Virginia home. The wolf spider of Virginia is actually called the North Carolina wolf spider and is the largest of its kind in North America. Daddy Long Legs, also known as Harvestman, are completely harmless. Camelback crickets are known to camp inside in the fall and winter, occasionally jumping toward you as they try to get away. Black widows, easily recognized by their black bodies and red hourglass shaped abdomens, are prevalent in this area. American roaches, the largest cockroach in Virginia, can fly and can grow to two inches in length. These are just some of the critters with which we share our beautiful homes in Virginia.

Just like humans, insects and rodents need food, water and shelter to survive. By eliminating their food supply and getting rid of their favorite hiding spots, you can reduce the chance that these intruders will take up residence in your home. To keep them out entirely, seal up the cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior.

Sealing your doors, adding screens, maintaining your yard, repairing cracks, sealing around pipe penetrations, covering large openings, storing trash properly, keeping foundations clear, encouraging natural predators, making sure your foundations vents are fully screened and making sure your crawl space access door is closed completely are some of the ways we can keep our homes pest free. Auto temp vents and custom crawl doors are a great way to begin sealing up your crawl space.

Did you know that some of the gaps and cracks in your home that let bugs in are the same ones letting valuable heat out? By tightening your home’s exterior you can go a long way toward increasing the energy efficiency of your home. By reducing your energy consumption, you’re also helping to minimize your impact on the environment. You may even notice savings in your utility bills. Make sure your crawl space is dry by having a proper vapor barrier installed and by getting good air flow through your foundation vents.

Unfortunately, all this still will not protect your home from the most destructive insect of all — the termite. Whether your home or business is on a slab foundation, crawl space or basement, termites can and probably will at some point penetrate your foundation. If you’re lucky, you may see termites swarm indoors early in the infestation. However, in most cases, homeowners find active termites when remodeling or renovating — or when damage becomes visible. Termite protection is highly recommended and maintaining an annual warranty goes a long way in protecting your home or business from costly repairs.

We are more easily able to coexist with our insect neighbors if we perform preventative maintenance on our homes to avoid infestation. Completing a few simple tasks can allow us to spend more time with our families and less anxious moments dealing with unwanted pests and rodents.

Keith Lane is owner of United Pest Control, serving the Hampton Roads area for more than 32 years. Lane can be reached at 757-838-0118 or by email at Website is