tales from the techI was called to a raccoon job.  This customer said they had a raccoon in their yard for a long time, knocking over their garbage and trampling through their garden.  I set and baited one of our Havahart live traps beside the deck in their backyard; they had said that it was burrowing under there. As luck would have it, we caught the racoon the next day!

I headed over to the customers property and the trap was gone.  The raccoon had managed to drag itself and the trap away from the deck and into the tall grass near the back of their yard.  The trap itself was buried in the grass so I couldn’t see what was in side when I approached it.

I picked up the trap and it turned out to be a skunk!  This skunk soaked me – at point blank range – head to toe!  The smell was so strong it almost made me sick.  I had to strip down to my underwear and drive home like that.  I took the next two days off work because the smell would not leave!

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Raccoon BabyWe share our cities and parks with many different types of animals and wildlife.  These animals are resourceful, they are scavengers, predators, prey, and survivors.  Sometimes these critters will venture a little too close to home in order to find food or shelter; when this happens, the animal becomes a pest.  But you don’t have to keep fighting with backyard critters over who gets to eat the best veggies in your garden!  There are many options to trap these pests and move them off your property.

Each animal has a different set of behaviors, habitats, bait preferences, and trapping techniques that are vital in knowing to have the best success in trapping it.  Remember that you may not catch the specific pest that you are trying to and it may take several attempts.

Please keep these important points in mind when attempting to live trap a pest animal:

  • Be aware of weather conditions. Trapped animals should not be left out in the elements as they can die from prolonged exposure to heat and cold.  You cannot leave a trap not inspected for more than 24 hours especially if it is hot and humid.
  • Check traps FREQUENTLY. Wild animals stress easily and may seriously injure themselves as they attempt to escape.  You should be looking at your trap a minimum of every 4 hours to make sure nothing is left in conditions that are inhumane.
  • You may attract non-pest animals, such as dogs and cats, in your trap.  It is imperative that you constantly monitor your trap, so if an unwanted critter gets in, you can release it ASAP from your trapping location.
  • Depending on the time of year, you may trap a nursing mother and if you relocate only her, her babies will not survive. To see if you’ve trapped a nursing female, stand the trap on one end to observe the belly.
  • Traps should be washed, disinfected with a bleach solution (1-part bleach to 9-parts water and let it remain on for 20 minutes), and thoroughly rinsed after each capture to stop the spread of any potential disease. Animals frequently defecate and urinate when captured and it is unhealthy to put bait down unless trap is cleaned thoroughly.

Selecting the right bait to attract your specific pest is key, as the variety of options is almost endless.  Chicken, sardines, eggs, bacon, and many vegetables can all be used as attractants to lure wildlife into traps.  Below is a list of the best options for trapping some of the common pest animals that you may come across:

Bird Bait: Sunflower seeds or scratch grain
Stray Cat or Bobcat Bait: Fish, meats, oil of catnip, sardines or canned tuna, chicken
Chipmunk Bait: Prune pits, un-roasted peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, cereal, grains, popcorn
Flying Squirrel Bait: Apples, seeds, red rubber ball, whole roasted peanuts
Fox Bait (Red and Gray): Scented bait from a reliable fox trapper, chicken
Gopher Bait: Peanut butter mixed with molasses, spread on whole wheat bread
Groundhog Bait: Fresh string beans, sweet corn, lettuce, peas, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, peaches, vanilla extract
Mouse Bait: Peanut butter, bread and butter, small nuts, cherry pits, oatmeal, sunflower or similar seeds. Mixed peanut butter and oatmeal is very good bait, also gum drops
Muskrat Bait: Fresh vegetables, parsnips, carrots, sweet apples, oil of anise, or musk from another muskrat
Opossum Bait: Vegetables, sweet apples, chicken entrails, sardines, crisp bacon, canned cat food
Otter Bait: Fish
Porcupine Bait: Apples, salt, carrots
Rabbit Bait: Fresh vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce), apples. In the wintertime bread is a good bait, Spraying the inside of the trap with apple cider is also effective
Raccoon Bait: Fish, fresh or canned, honey or sugar covered vegetables, smoked fish, watermelon, sweet corn, cooked fatty meat, crisp bacon. Special favorite is marshmallow!
Rat Bait: Cheese, chicken or fowl flesh, cereal grains, peanut butter and oatmeal mixed, peppermint candy
Skunk Bait: Chicken entrails, cracknels, fish-canned or fresh-insect larvae such as may beetles, crisp bacon, cat food
Squirrel Bait: Cereal, grains, nuts (especially peanuts) sunflower seeds, anise oil (a drop or two on bread), shelled corn, apples. Mixed peanut butter and oatmeal or peanut butter and molasses, popcorn.
Vole Bait: Peanut butter mixed with molasses, spread on whole wheat bread
Weasel Bait: Fish, fresh liver, chicken entrails
Woodchuck Bait: Fresh string beans, sweet corn, lettuce, peas, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, peaches, vanilla extract

It is always good to have several Havahart wire traps handy. These traps are a quality product, they are designed to be efficient, effective, and a safe option for both wildlife and yourself.  A poorly designed live trap may allow for the animal to escape, injure itself, or even destroy the trap.  Place a small amount of the selected bait around the entrance of the trap to gain the animal’s interest, the majority of bait should be placed inside.  Once the pest animal enters the trap to get the bait, they will trigger the spring to lock them in.

If you have a fenced garden or any fences or walls where animals are found, then set the trap with both ends open along the fence, with or without bait. Most wild animals will follow along the fences and through the trap to get caught. If you can, locate regular runaways by putting up a short fence in a V-shape with an opening to set a trap in, you can direct the animal through the trap.

Once you trap an animal they should be released a good distance away from your property.  Squirrels and rabbits can be released in the city at a park or by the riverside.  For other wildlife, we recommend releasing them outside of the city.  If you are unsure about where you should release an animal you have caught you can call your local animal services or wildlife rehabilitation center for more precise information.

Stop in any of our 8 Poulin’s locations for friendly, effective advice and control products. We carry all the necessary equipment to help with your situation.  So, if you’ve got some visitors you’d rather see less of, but want to make sure that the pest control company you hire treats the animals ethically, contact Poulin’s Pest Control.  We’re proud to say that we’ve helped numerous families rid their properties of pests without harm to the animals themselves.

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Maggie-blogMaggie is our certified bed bug scent detection dog.  She is a 6-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who works out of our Edmonton Branch.  Maggie has been a part of the Poulin’s Pest Control team for about 4 years and was trained at J&K Canine Academy in Florida, USA.  The use of scent dogs is an extremely effective way of locating bed bugs in a variety of locations. Bed bugs can hide inside mattresses and box springs, in baseboards, under carpets, even inside electronics; virtually any area, which makes detecting bed bugs a challenge.  Maggie is always excited to come to work and she loves meeting new people, especially children!  Maggie’s service area includes all of the greater Edmonton area.

A day in the life of Maggie, the “bed bug dog”, includes reward training using her favorite kibble once in the morning and again at night with live bed bugs to keep her scent detection highly active.  She is trained to alert to the scent of either live bed bugs or viable eggs by stopping and scratching with her paws.  After Maggie completes her inspection of a home, the technician checks the areas that were marked to see if there is bed bug activity.  A dog’s nose is a very powerful tool and can detect the presence of bed bugs in every stage of their life cycle from eggs to nymphs to adult.

When Maggie is not working and hunting for bed bugs she enjoys going for long walks, sunbathing on the lawn, and catching up on her beauty rest.

To book a service with Maggie call our Edmonton branch toll-free at 1-877-477-1671.

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tales from the techWe all have certain customers that call us back time and time again to do follow-ups or even just reassure them that their problem is gone.  Every week I was getting calls from the same customer, “I have a skunk under my deck!” she would say.  I would go out there every week and inspect her property, there was never any evidence of a skunk present.  We had traps and bait set out which all turned up empty.  When she never stopped calling and asking me to come back, all the jokes were going around about this woman just having a crush on me.

The last time she called, I told her over the phone I have been to her property dozens of times, there is no skunk!  She begged me to come back just one more time.  Reluctantly, I agreed.  When I arrived at her property, the first thing I noticed was the smell.  Yep.  There was a skunk here.  “It’s under the deck!” she called from the kitchen window.  I got down on the ground and went under the back deck, the smell got worse and worse the further in I went.  Well, I found a skunk alright.

There was a dead skunk under her deck.  I grabbed the tail to drag it out but all that came with me was a handful of fur.  It was the grossest thing I have ever seen or smelled.  I still have nightmares about that skunk!

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IMG_1386 (002)At this time of year, ants are working hard at setting up for winter – but they also have to deal with those thoughts of lust that start to occur.  Ants are social creatures that communicate with each other, it’s important that ants have genetic diversity within their colonies.  Diversity is so important to ants that the queen of a colony will direct the creation of ant swarmers, also known as reproductive.  These male reproductive ants swarm out looking for new queens from other colonies or even within their own to mate with and increase the overall genetic diversity of the colony.  The more diverse, the stronger a colony will be. The reproductive swarm can be many or only a few individuals that are actively searching for a potential mate.

This action usually occurs seasonally, depending on the type of ant species. Carpenter ants tend to swarm at varying times of the year, and in Manitoba we see honey ant swarmers flying about around late August and early September.  Field ants tend to expand their colonies in June or early July, as food and resources are plentiful at that time of year. Swarming usually lasts a day, or a few days at the most, and may occur once, or a few times per year, depending on the species.

Swarms occur when environmental clues indicate that it’s the right time to send reproductive ants out to increase numbers and genetic diversity between colonies.  Those clues can be temperature, relative humidity changes, wind speeds, or a change in day length.  These environmental clues make all ant colonies react to increase their strength around the same time – individual ant colonies tend to not be in communication with each other.

When this happens, most people will worry or ask why they are doing that. One thing a homeowner can learn from this is that if they are swarmed by flying ants there is either a colony near the house, inside the house, or even underneath a structure.

One thing for sure is that if you have seen any worker ants in your home it should not be a reason for concern as these swarmers may have just gotten ‘lost’; but if you have seen worker ants in your home and they happen to be carpenter ants you will need a professional from Poulin’s to assess the situation and recommend a course of action to successfully rid your home of these wood destructive ants.

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