When critters venture into homes from the winter cold, Hendersonville Pest Control goes after them.
That may involve crawling after them, into crawl spaces they hide in, or checking a house or business for termites or other pests as a precaution, before it’s sold or before infestation eats away much wood and damages the structure.
Mark Brown in 1999 took over the business, which his late father Wilfred and his mother Lois Brown started in 1960. The office is at 1185 Dana Road, near Howard Gap Road.
Mark worked for his folks part-time while in East Henderson then full-time after graduating in 1981. He was on the gymnastics team East had, in those days. His sister Gail worked for the family business in 1999 and 2000. Mark and Linda’s son Luke Brown, 15, an East student, worked part-time there this summer.
Brown said he “maintained the same-sized staff” of 10 technicians (including him) since the Great Recession began in 2008 and despite downturn in home construction and used-home sales. “Our business was highly affected in ‘08 and ‘09, by the real estate crash,” Brown said. “But we diversified. We started moisture work and mold mediation. We did more in encapsulated crawl spaces and structural repairs; with wood decay fungi and mold prevention, pressure washing and water proofing. We were able to sustain, then come back.” Other services include dealing with French drains, sump pumps, vapor barriers, temperature control vents, testing for harmful radon gas and odor treatments
Brown is a “personable, likable boss,” Becky the office manager said. “He works as hard as other technicians, out in the field every day.”
Technicians get adventure. Like a detective, the pest-termite hunter searches for clues. “We’re always looking for evidence,” Brown said. He noted mice or other rodents make “rub marks,” while roaches “leave behind tiny droppings.”
Tubby termites have a broad waist and short legs. They have a straight antennae, and two same-sized pairs of wings. In contrast, flying ants have an elbowed antennae, also two pairs of wings but with rear ones smaller. They have a narrow or “pinched” waist, and long legs.
Termites eat soft grain of wood, thereby creating “layered tunnels inside a thin shell.” Sawdust signals damaged wood. Rotted wood indicates possible infestation. “It’s best to get a professional to check it, to make sure it’s not termites and before it gets worse,” Brown said.
Animals and some larger pests such as rats go indoors in colder times, such as these. But many are not invasive because they are active in warm but not cold months, Brown said. “Ants and spiders move less when it’s cold. Bees and mosquitoes are also dormant. This slows business.” Pests he exterminates also include powder post beetles, silverfish, fleas, bed bugs, and old house boars.
Carpenter bees are meticulous in their method of operation, Brown said. “They bore perfectly-round, half-inch holes into siding.” They are the size of bumblebees, but more “curious and not aggressive” around people.
He does not deal with bears. “That’s wildlife control,” he said. “I used to bear hunt. The only bears I come near are four mounted bears, in my house.” But he recognizes bear tracks by their large size, or “what they might tear up such a bird feeders or trash cans. Though raccoons may also do that.”
Larger creatures he commonly encounters are rodents, birds and bats. He is fine around a bat, even if it zooms toward his face. “You ignore him. He’s not after you. He just wants to get away. He’ll fly close and scare you, but not try to get you.”
Of all the animals he encounters, one stands out. “Snakes are not on my preferred list.” He shares that distaste with the Indiana Jones action character. Brown said “occasionally I find a snake in a crawl space. It creates quite an excitement. Until you see you can handle the situation.”
Crawlspace cleaning is an involved, step-by-step task. “We out all debris,” Brown explained. “We then seal foundation vents, to insulate. We install a 12-mill liner, over the foundation walls and entire crawl space to seal out the moisture. We then install a commercial dehumidifier, to maintain dry conditions.” He said such work emerged six years ago. “This is a new concept for new construction, which we retrofit for older houses.”
Such “crawlspace care” reduces humidity that can cause mold of stored items and eases swings in humidity levels, Brown said. He said lowered humidity in turn “reduces the susceptibility to insect damage, wood rot, and mold issues by reducing moisture.” For more information, call 692-1569 or check hendersonvillepestcontrol.com.