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20 Movies that Will Make You Call an Exterminator (part two)

20 Movies blogWelcome back! So, last month I started ranking some of my all-time favorite movies that feature all kinds of pests from rodents to bugs and everything in between. I’ve managed to pick 20 that I think are particularly chilling and that will likely have you reaching for the phone to call the pros at Western Exterminator the next time you see a cockroach.

As you might guess, the vast majority of these are horror films, but that isn’t always the case and the insects aren’t always scary. In fact, in this batch, as we look as numbers 14-10, there are adventure tales, a superhero movie and at least one comedy that make my top 20 best bug/pest films of all time.

So, without further ado, here are numbers 14-10:

14. Spider-Man (2002)

I was Spider-Man for several Halloweens in my younger dress-up days. When it comes to pests, well, Spidey is more of a hero. That’s the Catch-22 of Spider-Man. Sure, he became a hero, but he does so by getting bitten by a nasty spider. In the movie version Peter Parker is visiting a lab when a genetically-modified spider bites him.

Is there a spider lab where genetically-modified spiders might bite unsuspecting visitors?  Do we really need genetically-modified spiders in the world? Is there a lab working on that right now? And, if so, where is it?  (Hopefully not near my hometown). Well, unless they are creating Spider-Man, I hope they stop.

Despite the heroics, at least for me, it was hard to get past the terrariums full of spiders that dominate the first part of the film and that’s why it makes the list.  Oh, and spiders are pretty cool, so watching Spidey spin a web has its moments, too.

13. Joe’s Apartment (1996)

They sing! They dance! They talk and they try to help Joe get a date, but the “they” I am speaking of are hundreds and thousands of cockroaches that yes, live with Joe in Joe’s Apartment. This is a movie that started out as a short film that played on MTV, was fairly popular, so someone decided to throw some money at it, get a celebrity in the title role, and make a full-length film.

Joe finds out that his apartment is infested with yes, tens of thousands of cockroaches who can talk and who engage in many musical numbers. Of course, after a few moments of trying to kill them all, he ultimately befriends them or at least they all agree to mutually co-exist. The fact that Joe is a bit of a slob endears him to the roaches and I guess helps him to not be as troubled by them as I know I would be.

Of course, when Joe brings a date over to the apartment, the roommates he has gotten used to aren’t quite so endearing to her and she flees screaming.  There’s actually much more to it than this, so it’s a high ‘recommend’ on this list.  This movie plays more like a life-like cartoon in many instances, with slapstick humor and some of it is kind of enjoyable. However, if your home has as many cockroaches as the apartment in this film, you may want to call someone. Just sayin’.

12. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

We are entering a short arachnid phase of the list, so be warned you squeamish folks. This is a classic story originally written by the great thriller, sci-fi and horror writer Richard Matheson. It was adapted by him for the big screen and is about a man who, while on a boating trip, passes through a strange cloud that starts the titular shrinking.

This movie is considered a classic of special effects and most of them still manage to hold up today. The main character, Scott, gets smaller and smaller, an effect created by larger and larger props, and as he gets smaller he becomes prey for many now larger beings and his danger quotient greatly increases.

This is where the pest comes in. Near the end Scott gets so small that he ends up pursued by a common house spider. The spider itself is very small, but to Scott it’s absolutely gigantic! When I saw this movie in my younger days, it terrified me as that spider closed in. However, with age and experience I’m over my spider aversion now, which is why Western Exterminator hosts the 6-week Spider Pavilion at the L.A. Natural History Museum every fall.

11. Eight-Legged Freaks (2002)

This one knew it was silly and then just went with it. I mean, the action all happens in a town named ‘Prosperity.’  You don’t have to be a sci-fi maven to predict that Prosperity probably won’t prosper much in this film.

Eight Legged Freaks follows all of the standard giant-monster-movie tropes, but does it with a wink and a nod that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. An accident, involving a rabbit no less, dumps toxic waste into a reservoir that a man who collects exotic spiders uses to find crickets for his pets. The crickets don’t ‘appear’ to be affected by the toxins, but of course, we know better.  Our spider handler has all kinds of spiders, and once they eat the affected crickets, they not only turn deadly and aggressive, they start to grow to gargantuan proportions.

Of course, there’s a local kid that finds out early-on what is happening in Prosperity, but of course the adults around him don’t believe him, thus making some of them victims of the now enormous spiders.  Scarlett Johansson plays a damsel in distress and local sheriff’s daughter. Before long the small Arizona mining town is overrun by giant spiders and only David Arquette’s character can save them. It’s fun and funny.

10. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Imagine Captain Kirk battling thousands of deadly tarantulas! Well, that’s sort of what this is. These days it has become something of a camp classic, but this is another one of those films I remember leaving me with nightmares when I first saw it (until I learned how cool spiders can be).

This is a man-versus-nature film where normally docile tarantulas, but in this scenario affected by the overuse of pesticides, learn to live together (in real life most spiders are cannibalistic and will gladly eat each other) and become highly aggressive and venomous.

Shatner plays a local veterinarian who is skeptical about the spiders, until he sees a giant “spider hill” behind a man’s house. Before long the spiders are attacking the town and we get scenes of people running screaming down the street covered in tarantulas and finding lots of deceased folks encased in webbing. It’s campy and silly much of the time, but some scenes, including the ending, are chilling.

OK, so there’s the next batch and we are getting closer and closer to my number one movie that will make you want to call an exterminator. Can you guess what my favorite is going to be? You might be surprised, but feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

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Fleas and the Plague

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The recent news that a California resident tested positive for plague after visiting Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park this summer serves as a reminder of the dangers pests can present.

Plague is an infectious disease that affects rodents, certain other animals and humans, and is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people most commonly acquire plague when they are bitten by a flea that is infected with the plague bacteria.

Continue reading →

No Dry Spell for Pesky Argentine Ants

Linepithema_Argentine_ant_rszWhile the fictional Ant-Man is trending upward at the box office, grossing well over $100 million in ticket sales, the West’s prolonged drought and lack of moisture is forcing real life ants to aggressively seek alternate water sources other than lawns and plants. And the sources of moisture they are seeking are often found inside your home. We have discussed the effects that the drought has had on pests before on this blog, but now we want to focus on one particular pest – Argentine ants. Continue reading →

20 Movies That Will Make You Call an Exterminator (part one)

20 Movies blog

Hollywood loves pests. No, I’m not talking about that latest movie star that you think is annoying, I mean bugs and rats and the kinds of things we deal with on a daily basis here at Western Exterminator. The people who make movies for the theater or TV love to have pests big and small to scare people or make them squirm.

As you might imagine, I am a bit of an aficionado of these types of movies and I know that some of you out there are, too. There are many cartoons that make bugs and rodents warm and fuzzy ala our neighbors at Disney and Pixar, but the truth is that my favorites are the ones that, once you see them, will make you want to pick up the phone and call the pest control experts at Western Exterminator.

We’ll be doing the “Top 20 Movies that Make You Want to Call An Exterminator” over the next few months. We’ll be counting them down in the order I feel is #20 all the way down to the #1 movie in this genre. Mr Little cropped2

Oh, and so you won’t be surprised, my descriptions may contain spoilers, so you have been warned.

Let’s get started! Continue reading →

Get to Know the Black Widow Spider

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Their very name often creates fear in people. The black widow spider has a reputation for being deadly, dangerous and poisonous. All of those things are correct to some degree, but like most things, some of the bad reputation comes from legend and are not necessarily true.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the last thing you want is a bunch of black widows around your house so your pet or child can stumble into them, but the fear that they instill is mostly due to lack of knowledge.

As always, the more you actually know about something, the better you can deal with them. Continue reading →

California Drought Pushes Pests Toward People

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Well, the one thing most Californians can agree on is that we are in the middle of a drought. A serious drought that’s been going on for a years, and people are worried about water and conserving water. What many people don’t realize is that insects and other pests are just as worried about the water problem and when they get worried they end up in your home or business.

Pests On the Move

When the water dries up out here, insects and rodents start to get desperate. They need water as much as you do. Rodents, for example, need at last an ounce of water a day. If their natural water supplies have dried up, then they come into urban areas where they can find water more easily. Although we may be controlling water and thinking that we’re running dry here in town, for an insect or rodent our homes look like an oasis.

Here are two articles that discuss how the drought is affecting rodents and insects.

Continue reading →

A Thanksgiving Harvest of Unwanted Pests

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This Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving – a gastronomical delight that has few equals when it comes to the consumption of so many tasty culinary delights. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie – the list goes on and on!

According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans will eat 46 million turkeys this year – that’s a whole lot of bird right there.

As you start your preparations for the big event on Thursday, remember there are other “guests” who would be more than happy to take a seat at the table (or in your pantry, cupboards or garbage can!).

These “guests” are mice, rats, ants, various types of beetles and Indian meal moths – all of whom have their sights set on turning the tasty ingredients and leftovers of your holiday feast into their own personal buffet.  Below are some tips to make sure you aren’t unknowingly inviting them to share your family feast.

Rodents are the kings of leftovers – they’ll literally take anything back to the pack to devour. Once your Thanksgiving feast is over and the relatives head home make sure your garbage is placed in rodent-proof garbage cans with tight fitting lids. DO NOT leave your garbage in plastic bags next to the garage lest you desire a Black Friday nightmare of your own when rodents (as well as wildlife including raccoons, skunks or opossum) tear through the bags in search of a 4:00 a.m. snack.

Who doesn’t love a heaping helping of stuffing? I for one never pass up the opportunity to help myself to a second portion and unfortunately so do annoying pantry pests. Pantry pests include various species of beetles and moths that enjoy invading the grain products in your pantry.

The merchant grain beetle and red flour beetle enjoy feasting on flour, cake mixes, spices and nuts – all staples of holiday cooking. The confused flour beetle likes spices and the Indian meal moth is fond of crackers and chocolate. When these nuisance pests gain access to your pantry they leave not only a bad odor and taste behind but they spoil baking and cooking supplies which can put a real damper on holiday food plans.

Aspiring chefs can prevent pantry pests from ruining the ingredients for stuffing and pumpkin pie by storing them in tight-fitting plastic containers; check for signs of pest infestation such as torn/opened bags or a bad odor when you unload shopping bags following a trip to the grocery store (pests can easily hitch a ride in a shopping bag), and; cleaning up food spills.

Another pest to be on the lookout for, especially if you are traveling this holiday season is bed bugs. These nasty little – and I mean small – creatures can easily hide in luggage, shoes, or backpacks, and are willing travelers. If you are checking into a hotel while away be sure to inspect your bed for the signs of bed bugs (small, dark spots on white sheets are a dead giveaway), pack your clothes in sealable plastic bags leaving them in the bags during your visit, and carefully inspect your luggage once you return home.

If you have questions about pests who you are not thankful for, give Western Exterminator a call or send me an e-mail at AskMrLittle@WesternExterminator.com. I’ll be sure to get back to you right away with information on how Western Exterminator can help.

Until next time, have a pest-free day and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and enjoy the holiday!

And a special ‘thank you’ from me for making Western Exterminator “The Final Word in Pest Control®”

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Mr. Little Celebrates Rodent Awareness Week

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Noted rodent expert Dr. Bobby Corrigan found that rodents can be the carrier and delivery vehicle for up to 55(!) different diseases. Needless to say, rodents are not something you want your family exposed to.

In addition to being a threat to your health and spoiling your food, rodents can cause serious damage to your home. Rodents can chew openings on wood siding, doors, window frames, and roofs to gain entrance to a structure.

They also chew and gnaw on phone, computer and electrical wires, and are quite capable of starting fires. Research has shown that roughly 40% of home fires of unknown origin are attributed to rodents chewing through electrical wire insulation.

This is why Western Exterminator’s Mr. Little and his fellow pest management professionals are drawing attention to these furry invaders.

Recent research from the National Pest Management Association shows that 29% of U.S. households will experience a rodent issue this winter. Eek! That equates to approximately 21 million homes that will unwillingly welcome rodents who are seeking shelter, food and water.

What areas of a home are most vulnerable to rodent infestation? The survey revealed the following:

  • 50% – Kitchen
  • 27% – Basement/crawlspace
  • 25% – Living room
  • 22% – Bedrooms
  • 11%  - Bathroom
  • 9%   – Other rooms

How do you keep rodents out of your home? Mr. Little encourages homeowners to focus on two areas – sanitation and exclusion.

Sanitation. Effective sanitation practices are fundamental to rodent control and must be continuous.  And sanitation means more than just keeping things clean.  If good sanitation measures aren’t properly maintained, the benefits of effective pest control measures are compromised and rodents will quickly return.

  • Storing pipes, lumber, firewood, crates, boxes, gardening equipment, and other household goods off the ground will help reduce the suitability of the area for rodents and also will make their detection easier.
  • Collecting garbage, trash, and garden debris frequently, and ensuring all garbage receptacles and pet food storage are in rodent-proof containers is essential.

Exclusion. The most successful and long-lasting form of rodent control in structures is exclusion.

  • Seal cracks and openings in building foundations and any openings for water pipes, electric wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts, and vents. No hole larger than 1/4 inch should be left unsealed, in order to exclude both rats and mice.
  • Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly. Their edges can be covered with sheet metal if gnawing is a problem. Coarse steel wool, wire screen, and lightweight sheet metal are excellent materials for plugging gaps and holes.
  • Because rats and mice are excellent climbers, openings above ground level must also be plugged.
  • Trim trees at least three feet away from roof to avoid having them serve as rodent highways.

If you have any questions about nuisance pests, I’d love to hear from you. If you have current rodent problems or would like an inspection for best practices for exclusion at your home, feel free to contact me at AskMrLittle@WesternExterminator.com. I’ll be sure to get back to you right away with an answer.

Until next time, thanks for making Western Exterminator Company “The Final Word in Pest Control®”

Have a pest free day!

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The Demand for Pest Management Services Is on the Rise

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The need for professional pest management services continues to grow across the country and the West is no exception. In a recent national study conducted by the National Pest Management Association, 37% of homeowners in the U.S. used a pest management professional in the past year – a 4% increase from last year and more than double the number from 2001 (18%).

Homeowners living in the West, which includes Western Exterminator’s service areas of California, Arizona and Nevada, ranked second in the country when it came to calling for services with 44% of respondents indicating they contracted with a pest professional in the last year.

The area of the country that has homeowners’ most irritated and annoyed with unwanted pests in their home is the South. Half (50%) of homeowners in the region indicated they used a pest professional to eliminate termites, palmetto bugs, ants or a host of other pests from their living space. Homeowners in the Midwest (28%) and Northeast (23%) rounded out the survey.

What pests are habitually the most annoying, drawing the greatest ire of homeowners? While my long-time nemesis Menace Mouse tops the list of annoying pests in my book, the survey indicated that ants (58%) are the pests homeowners were calling about the most.  And, our experience at Western Exterminator agrees with the survey.  The #1 pest that consumers call us about is indeed ANTS!

Other pests earning spots on this not-so-popular list include:

  • Termites (42%)
  • Spiders (40%)
  • Cockroaches (32%)
  • Mosquitoes (31%)
  • Rodents (31%)
  • Ticks/Fleas (27%)
  • Stinging Insects (24%)

You know, just like in football, the best defense is a good offense.  If you are proactive in eliminating food sources, entry places, water sources and harborage areas from your property, you’ll greatly reduce the number of annoying pests that come near.

If you had a problem with pests and already called Western Exterminator, thank you, we appreciate your business. If you a currently experiencing a problem with any pest, me an e-mail at AskMrLittle@WesternExterminator.com. I’ll be sure to get back to you right away with an answer or just some friendly advice.

Until next time, thanks for making Western Exterminator Company “The Final Word in Pest Control®”

Have a pest free day.

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Crawling Into Fun at the Spider Pavilion

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The ringtone on my iPhone (crickets – what else would you expect?) reminded me today that we are well into October and near my favorite holiday – Halloween.

And what insect is most often associated with this ghoulish, fiendish holiday? The answer is: SPIDERS!

Spiders are remarkable, fascinating creatures that are the perfect symbol for Halloween. In my decades of studying and observing insects, these arachnids have risen to the top of my list.

That’s why I am thrilled that Western Exterminator Company is once again sponsoring the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s Spider Pavilion that is currently on display until Sunday, November 2nd.

Visitors to the Spider Pavilion will have the opportunity to view and observe more than 300 species of spiders from around the world, all in their natural habitats.  You can experience what it’s like to be a giant wood spider (the largest orb weaving spider in the world that can spin a web 10 feet wide!) or a golden silk spider (one of North America’s largest).

You can go nose to nose, or nose to tarsal in this case (!), with your favorite spider or choose to observe them from a more comfortable distance. Either way, there is a lot to learn about these fascinating creatures whose web silk, in case you didn’t know, is actually stronger and tougher than steel is for its weight. Just try knocking a spider web down – they can really hold on to most any surface.

As you stroll through the Spider Pavilion, you can observe feeding demonstrations (Did you know spiders like to eat insects, including other spiders?) and have all your spider-related questions answered by one of the museum’s knowledgeable interpreters.

From jewel garden spiders to common orb weavers, the Spider Pavilion at the L.A. County Natural History Museum is not to be missed.

And while the spiders at the museum can be observed from a safe distance, we know that sometimes humans and spiders can get a little too up close and personal for comfort with each other to the chagrin or horror of both.

Although most spiders have no interest in humans, and they prefer to just stay hidden away, if you do come in contact with one it could cause serious injury (i.e., skin lesions or infection) from its bite. We can all greatly reduce the chance of surprise encounters by following my “Mr. Little’s Spider Prevention Tips.”

  • Remove and reduce trash and rubbish from your property, such as woodpiles and any un-used items that are rarely moved, where spiders are apt to hide.
  • To avoid spider bites when working in the yard or removing boxes from storage areas, wear a pair of heavy duty work gloves to give protection while reaching into areas where spiders might be resting.
  • Check boxes, packages and shoes (yes, shoes!) that are stored outside or even in your garage before opening them or putting the shoes on. Save your hand or your big toe an unpleasant encounter with a spider by double checking!
  • Regularly remove spider webs from eave areas and ceilings.  No point in making them feel too at home.

Special Note:  If you seek medical attention for what you think is a spider bite, make sure to nab the offending spider. Everyone reacts differently to insect bites, and just looking at the bite will not allow medical personnel to correctly identify the biter!

If you spot a spider lurking in your backyard or garage, approach with caution.  If you are concerned, I recommend you give us a call, or send me a picture, and we will help identify it for you. It may be nothing more than a nuisance spider, but I think we’d all rather be safe than sorry.

For a really fun approach to the spiders, and a great day of fun, I absolutely recommend exploring the cool world of spiders by making plans to visit the Spider Pavilion. You can get more information on hours and tickets by visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County website at:  www.nhm.org.  If you dare, you may even want to attend “Halloween at the Museum” on October 26th. Remember, the Spider Pavilion exhibit runs through Sunday, November 2nd, so hurry on over and don’t miss out on the fun of this spooktacular event!

Until next time, thanks for making Western Exterminator Company “The Final Word in Pest Control®”

Have a pest free day!

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