Family Pride
Since 1921

Fall Means Cooler Temps – More Pests

Western fall pest collage

Although out here in the Western states the fall season is not quite the same as places like the Midwest, the fact is that even out this way the temps get cooler and the climate changes. Although right now the concept of a “rainy season” seems laughable in dehydrated states like California, you never know what El Nino will bring about and that rain may start. During more normal times, this would be the rainy season.

As a home or property owner, you still have to worry about pests looking for shelter. The kind of pests that get very active this time of year and you might run across when you walk into your kitchen or bathroom in the middle of the night, or find scurrying around.

Western Exterminator has been fighting the good fight against insects and rodents for nearly 100 years. We are the experts and know which pests are on the move, so we thought you might like to know, too. Continue reading →

20 Movies that Will Make You Call An Exterminator (part three)

20 Movies blog

Here we are again, another month and another five movies on my “20 Movies that Will Make You Want to Call an Exterminator”. These are my own personal favorites and I thank all of you for sending in suggestions. We have quite a bit more to do, and this month.

We continue with the horror and adventure tales, but this time I had to combine a few movies into one entry, so to be very technical there are more than 20 movies. But that’s okay, because the more the merrier, right?  In this case the movies are part of the same storyline and would be impossible to separate, and it is my list, so I think it’s okay for me to do.

With that stunning revelation over, let’s move on to movies 9 – 5!

9. Bug (1977 – not to be confused with the 2006 Bug)

Man, if you love man-versus-nature movies then the 1970s was really your decade. If you are a fan of cheesy films, then the 1970s was REALLY the decade for you. This one is unintentionally laughable, but also sort of scary.

Here’s the scenario. An earthquake opens a huge crack in the earth and from that crack a bunch of cockroach-like bugs emerge. They have trouble living in the lower air pressure of the surface world, but before that does them in they wreak havoc on a small town (don’t they always?).

Not only are these super-bugs carnivorous, but when they rub their front legs together they can start fires! The bugs look a lot like heavily made-up Madagascar hissing cockroaches and the acting (not just by the bugs) is horrific in its own right. Plus, look for the scene set on the same kitchen set used in The Brady Bunch TV show.

This is one to watch with friends while sharing lots of popcorn and making smart-alec comments.

8. Willard (1971) / Ben (1972)

Rats, rats, more rats…and Ernest Borgnine! Willard came out in 1971 and is about a very shy, meek, man who is constantly taken advantage of and abused by people around him. His only friends are the rats that have taken up residence in his home. His favorite is a smart white rat he named Socrates, but the muscle of the group is the large black rat known as Ben. Willard discovers that the rats will listen to him, doing anything he commands, so he sets about using them to get revenge against those who have wronged him. Before too long things get out of hand, but Ben is able to escape.

Just a year later, Ben returned in his own movie, this time befriending a sad and lonely boy named Danny, protecting him from bullies and keeping him company through the trauma of living with a heart condition (I kid you not. I did not make this up.)  Before long, despite being a benevolent leader, Ben’s rats turn violent and begin attacking. The conclusion includes the police and a fire, Ben and Danny reunited, and Michael Jackson singing a love song about Ben the rat that becomes a huge hit on the radio.

I’m telling you, the 70s were a weird time.

7. Arachnophobia (1990)

You just knew this one had to be on here, didn’t you? There are fewer films that will truly make you feel like there are spiders crawling all over you more effectively than this one. It is a mixture of comedy and horror as a new species of spider is discovered in the jungles of Venezuela.

The male spider watches over his brood as many are killed and taken back to be studied, so the big spider hitches a ride back to the states, ends up in a barn, mates with a common spider and produces hundreds of deadly, highly poisonous spiders that soon spread out across the town and wreak havoc.

It’s actually quite a decent film, receiving positive reviews from critics.  The real knock on this film is that the exterminator character played by John Goodman is portrayed as a buffoon rather than a qualified expert. Hollywood doesn’t always get things right.

6. The Indiana Jones Movies (1981 – 2008)

I have to admit that this one is another group of films, but the fact is that each of these great adventure movies created by the super-team of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, features the indomitable Indiana Jones and a super terrific scene that only Lucas and Spielberg could devise involving a variety of pests in significantly huge numbers.

In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) we get more snakes than you would ever want to run into. In Temple of Doom (1984) our heroes end up covered in giant insects of all kinds, just thousands of them. In Last Crusade (1989) we get hundreds and hundreds of rats and in Crystal Skull (2008) we get flesh-eating ants by the thousands.

In the first three the animals were real. Yup, Indy with real snakes as well as roaches and rats.  But in the fourth one we get CGI ants, which probably stands to reason since wrangling biting ants might have been tough on the set.

While in each of these films our hero is looking for a mystical, supernatural object of great power, some of the most memorable scenes involve the creepy-crawlies of all sorts, and seeing Indy, who can do anything, but is actually also frightened by especially the snakes. If you haven’t seen these films, they are a must.

5. Creepshow (1982)

From the minds of ultra horror author Stephen King and black-comedy horror movie-maker George A. Romero comes this anthology movie inspired by the horror comics of the 50s. The movie features four vignettes linked together by animated sequences. There are at least two stories that involve someone coming back from the dead to seek revenge. Another features a box containing a blood-thirsty creature that looks a lot like a monkey with fangs.

It’s the fourth one that truly ramps up the creepy and that left many with chills. The final story is called “They Creep Up On You” and features a very wealthy man who is germ-phobic. On this night he discovers that his evil deeds are going to be repaid thanks to many, many thousands of cockroaches. Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts are child’s play to these roaches.

They start off here and there, and before long there are so many that they fill an entire room. When he hides in his panic room, it turns out the roaches are already there.  The ending will really leave your skin crawling.

That’s it for this month! I hope that I have added to your movie-watching activities for this weekend and I hope you tune in again next month for the final four! As always, leave your own suggestions in the comments if you have a favorite!

Also, if you need professional pest control then you know who to call!


Expel Pests This School Year

Desk of an artist

Much to the dismay of many kids across the West, it’s time to dust off the backpack, sharpen the pencils, figure out the locker combination and head back to school!

Western Exterminator’s Mr. Little wants you to study hard, have fun with your friends and enjoy a pest-free school year. A pest-free school year? Yes, there are pests in schools and we aren’t talking about the table of freshman in the cafeteria posting photos to Instagram of their lunch! Continue reading →

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.


Fleas and the Plague


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


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

Drought Photo rsz

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


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 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®”