Winter is just around the corner! And while we’re all excited for holiday parties, shopping on Knickerbocker Avenue and the best seasonal drinks, Bushwick pests are excited escape the cold and become your new roomie. We spoke to Donald Clark, the owner of Alleycat Exterminating on 66 Whipple Street (718-837-1953) about what to look out for. Donald’s family has been in the business of exterminating since the 1800’s, so he really knows his stuff. He gave us all the answers to the hard-hitting questions about pest-prevention in the cold winter months.

1). What pests are more active in winter? What should people be looking out for as the seasons change?

Donald: Here in Bushwick fall turns into winter over night, catching many of us by surprise including our neighborhood pests. We are now into mouse (and rat ) season. Rodents move in with us to escape the cold. When the heat is turned on some heat drifts out of the building under doors, broken windows and any cracks in the structure. The rodents follow the heat treadles to the opening and enter your home. Signs to look for this time of the year are rodent droppings (mouse look like chocolate sprinkles and rat looks like raisins). Also if you think you heard something in the kitchen at night, don’t ignore it, it may be a mouse looking for a snack.

2). What preventative measures can people take from getting these particular pests to begin with?

Donald: To help prevent having unwanted roommates inspect your home for any cracks or/and holes that a rodent can enter in through. Don’t be fancy when sealing these holes. Steel wool has been the go to stuff it product for years but I would suggest going to Amazon and ordering copper mesh to fill up holes. Then seal the holes and cracks with caulking. A couple of six packs and you can have a caulking party with friends, caulking guns are very cheap.

Keeping clean seems like an obvious thing to say, but sometimes we miss food under the appliances, coffee tables and my new favorite place… Where you work at your computers (laptops and tablets included). I find a supermarket of food in these areas. We at Alleycat like to say “You can’t starve one mouse but you can starve a colony of mice.” Place some glueboard traps around to monitor for rodents and insects.

3). Because mice can be caught with traps, a lot of people seem to think they don’t need an exterminator and can handle them on their own. At what point should people call for professional help?

Donald: When a building is overrun with mice trying to control them on your own can be difficult, especially if you have no experience in pest control. My family has been in the pest business since the 1800’s.

The poison bait you buy may not be eaten by the mice because the bait is too waxy or the bait is expired (this happens when the bait is bought online. Also most of the bait is less toxic then the bait we use. Some glue traps have a very cheap thin layer of glue that allows the mice to escape. Having access to the best products and years of training and experience keeps people calling Alleycat to handle heir pests.

4). If your an animal lover, say one who ends up naming your unwelcomed guest “Mickey” and feel bad about using sticky traps, what else can you do?

Donald: There are some folks who do not want to harm mice or see them suffer. If kill traps are not an option we have humane traps that work on a catch and release method. You can purchase these traps from us along with advice on how to use.

5). What’s the going rate for an exterminator to evict Sir Mickey and Madame Minnie? What’s a reasonable price to pay, and do you find that landlords will typically help with the cost?

Donald: When hiring and exterminating company, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 up to $300. These fees are posted and not pulled out of thin air. Alleycat charges $145 for a mouse call and $180 for rats. Sealing holes are extra but we would let you know upfront what your looking at price wise.

NYC law states that the landlord is responsible for keeping a pest free environment for renters. This means the landlord is on the hook for paying for pest control including bedbugs. But be aware that the landlord can have his or her own agent provide the pest control and even if you are not completely happy with them, the landlord has met their obligation. Also if the landlord refuses to help in any way, weigh the pros and cons of forcing an issue. If your paying top dollar for rent then by all means they should be paying for the company you choose to hire.

Alleycat Exterminating is located on 66 Whipple Street, Brooklyn NY,  and they can be reached at their office 718-837-1953, via text 917-224-7514, or by e-mail [email protected]