Service Story #234: The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 2

Service Story #234: The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 2

What do you do when Santa has a senior moment and accidentally drops an unwanted gift down your chimney?

Produced for Mary and Ian of Gresham, Oregon in late December 2020

I’m Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator for Storysold: Pest Control, and this is the story of my service…

In the years our human host Jake performed his duties as an employee of The Pest Control Industry he didn’t once save a squirrel that fell down a chimney.

Now that he’s free to host the business characters he believes to be the best, he’s engaged this squirrelly storyline 4 times. And that’s exactly what he told Mary and her son Ian when he arrived on scene.

“I’m 2 for 3 with this one,” I said as we gathered around Mary’s stove and studied Santa’s Little Lost One. “I got the second one in the trap, but it died before I got there. The last one was here in Gresham. It was a month ago or so, but that was real Christmas miracle. I lowered a live catch trap with some peanuts on a rope, down one of those double 2 story chimneys, and came back the next day. We were all grins when we released our guy back into the lady’s backyard.”

“I tried lassoing him,” Ian explained as he showed me his homemade squirrel wrangling device, “but he kept slipping out of the loop.”

I have to admit. I liked Ian immediately. He had the kind of grit it takes to save squirrels, and I respected that.

As we gathered around the stove I talked through my skillset of save-the-squirrels tricks and quickly realized that I was going to have to try something new. The live catch trap was a few inches too long to fit inside the stove and close the door like the SE Portland job. So I placed it in the open door, and used my environmental control skills to exclude the gaps around the trap.

“This will do nicely!” My eyes beamed a smile at Mary through my COVID mask as I walked back inside with my new action plan. “There’s a reason why I roll around Portland in a rat trap of a van with scraps of expanded aluminum, bungee cords, and salvaged pieces of old ductwork…”

After I set my trap, I rushed off to play catch-up with the rest of my day’s route. As I drove away, I felt a presence I hadn’t felt in a long time. I couldn’t identify the quiet snicker at first…

“What an idiot,” the voice said with a snicker. “I’d like you to note that you’ve never had a call where one of my kind has accidentally fallen down an open chimney. Not ever.”

“Ratty Claws!” I grinned. “Is that you?”

“The One and Only.

For those of you humans who missed, The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 1 featuring Farmer Racheal, Evanshoe, and Master Freddy, Ratty is a non-deity deity who rules the roof rat wilderdom of N, SE, and NE Portland. Since that episode posted, however, I’ve catch his ratonauts in Milwaukie, Gladstone, and now parts of East Gresham.

“I see you’ve been staying busy these days Guide…” Ratty Claws continued. “…too busy to stop The Action and have a proper dialogue with your old friend Ratty Claws.”

“I know,” I sighed as we all noted Jake’s shaking leg and began to look for a COVID safe restroom. “As you can see..we, the live action characters of .Storysold: Pest Control have been running our human host at max capacity these days. These days, by the time we reach the end of the day’s work scenes, he has no time for proper plotting, character development, or even a few lines of dialogue with Pest Predator or me. That snake in the grass, Bookmaker Jake, has been monopolizing all his down time by feeding his old habit of watching bad action movies on The Fourth Wall.”

“Sounds like a personal problem,” Ratty Claws snickered again. “It can’t be going too poorly with your human. I’ve noticed your team has been able to prop up a number of solid new Homefronts…”

“Yes,” I agreed. “And we’ve been placing our offerings to test you after every ending of every exclusion.”

“That’s all good,” Ratty grinned like Nutcracker’s Old Drosselmayer, “but I’m not here to collect my offerings.”

Storysold: Pest Control (our whole business entity) did our best to process that thought, but we were having serious to major problems finding our human a proper COVID safe bathroom. Eventually we gave up trying to do it right, and prompted our human to dodge into an abandoned church parking lot, grab a Gatorade bottle, and urinate in the back of the van.

Minutes after he released his precious bodily fluids back to the universe, two things happened: 1) Mary called, and 2) I realized why we were dialoguing with Ratty Claws again.

Here’s the series of photos Mary texted:

In a dark enclosed space, it didn’t take Santa’s cute little Lost One to go for the peanuts and spring the trap…

“I think I Get It now,” I said after we herded Jake back on the road. “You’re here to spread some Christmas cheer.”

“Nailed it!” Old Ratty Claws boomed with laughter. “But what’s the punchline of our joke here?”

“I Get It alright,” I paused, “but I don’t want to be the lame one who explains it.”

“Don’t worry. It’d be my honor,” Ratty replied. “Rats gave up their efforts to fit in…trying to make humans happy a long time ago. I think our last attempt was the movie Willard, featuring the human host who played the father character in Back to The Future. It was a complete box-office flop.”

“OK,” I said, still unwilling to be The Guy that Explains the Joke. “Then explain it.”

Ratty Claws gave his audience a knowing chuckle, and a little “Ho, ho, ho,” and then suddenly steely-eyed he said, “Roof rats would never accidentally fall down an unexcluded chimney, because we’re not idiots. If and when you rat catchers catch us in the heat of The Action…we’re caught, like career criminals, with a full understanding of the consequences.”

“And how is that funny?”

“I don’t know,” Ratty said coolly. “Why don’t you ask your human ‘Why?’ Humans love to laugh at The Dumb and Dumber creatures who are weaker than they are…Our version of The Village Idiot is that squirrel you just saved.”

“I’m still on the edge of my seat waiting for the punchline…”

“Idiot squirrel suddenly feels a need to nest, sees a warm open hole, and then promptly falls into it,” Ratty Claws laughed like his sides were about to split. “And the humans call someone to save it!”

“Naturally,” I said, still getting it. “What’s wrong with that?”

“No one would ever save us if we fell down a chimney like Santa Clause.”

“Wait a minute!” I smiled like the Grinch. “You said you would never accidentally fall down a chimney. If that’s true, then you would never need someone to rescue you….”

“Oh! come on now Guide,” Ratty sighed. “Indulge me.”

“That’s a tall order Ratty,” I said mustering all my imagination. “If I have it right: you’re saying you want me to laugh at the idiot squirrel that falls down the chimney at the same time you want me to respect you for never falling down chimneys, and then simultaneously open a door to some Future Time Portal where I would feel sympathy, and love, and save you if you too happened to accidentally play the part of the idiot squirrel?”

“Yes,” Ratty Claws replied without missing a beat.

“Seriously?!” I cried as I did my best to keep my human on task.

“Yes, that’s it.”

“That’s the lamest joke ever!”

“Yeah,” Ratty laughed. “We learned it from watching The Fourth Wall of TV with you safe from our rat holes. None of us really Get It when you laugh at all the ‘idiot’ humans on your glowing boxes, but we do our best to fit in…”

It was then that the punchline hit me like a ton of bricks. “And that’s why we save the squirrels and kill the rats,” I said with a satisfied grin. “Your tales are simply a lot less cuter.”

Similar to those many risky, possibly harsh, or wild text/messages to one of your human relations…those last lines were met with 100% pure silence. I read Ratty’s reply like the natural predator I am:

As I read it, it was Ratty’s turn now. We were going to continue to Save The Squirrels!

Season 1 Honorable Mentions: Service Stories We Should Have Written But Didn’t Because We’re Lazy

Season 1 Honorable Mentions: Service Stories We Should Have Written But Didn’t Because We’re Lazy

 

 

A) Number One – THE STORYLINE: My first customer ever was David Hong, the owner of a longtime fast food restaurant on Division St in Portland. I did an ant service for him inside and out. David also hired Pest Predator to do his first Storysold: Restaurant Style Roach Hunt. He didn’t find any, but Predator was able to do the full hunt we always wanted to do (and couldn’t) when our human was working The Old Industry Script for Ecolab.

 

 

We did our hunt in the early morning hours on Thanksgiving Day

 

 

B) The Kludge 1 and The Kludge 2 – THE STORYLINE: Eric called me because a rat had chewed through a waterline behind his dishwasher. My exclusion adventure began right away, fixing hardware cloth to the wall behind the dishwasher (while the dishwasher repair guys worked on it) to keep the rats from getting in. While I worked Eric, a computer programming professor, shared a new word with me. He explained a “kludge” was a quick fix, patch, stopgap, hack, or makeshift solution to programming problems. I immediately picked up what he was putting down, asking if a kludge/hack was a good thing or bad. He said it depended if it worked. A few weeks later, I spend a day excluding his home. While I worked, creating hack solutions to prevent rats from entering a home that appeared to have been built like a quilt, one kludge at a time. I was proud of my efforts, especially the crawlspace door which I made from a piece of metal siding I found at the Restore. Two months later, Eric called to offer me another challenge. His father a delightful Norwegian named Thor lived in a house that was actually 2 houses kludged together. Through our discussions, Thor inspired me to develop an exclusion strategy I still use today. His basement wall had been broken intentionally to fit a heater in the crawlspace, which in turn was allowing rats and everything else in the wilderness into the crawl. Check out the photos below! The heavy mesh excluding the crawlspace can be removed easily by unscrewing a few screws and knobs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C) Pest Predator’s First Full Complex Bedbug Hunt – STORYLINE: Brenda became the defacto landlord of a property that had a lot of bedbugs. She hired Pest Predator, and we worked together to hunt bedbugs in a 6 unit building plus a neighboring townhouse. The highlight for Predator was hanging out with a fun-loving, drunk, mildly argumentative tenant who tried to kiss him. And learning about Samoa from Joe and his family living in the townhouse.

 

 

 

You can read this service story on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/14-2/

D) The Owl Project – THE STORYLINE: Summer hired Wilderness Guide to secure her home from mice. The best part of this service story was Summer. Good people for sure! It was also one of the first time Guide encountered a true exclusion challenge. She named it The Monster Gap. It took a few rounds of work to get right, but the mice and rats of SE Portland no longer can simply tunnel under her back patio and thrive in her crawlspace anytime they wish! Now they have to face the owls and other predators of The Urban Wilderness like real deal wild creatures!

 

It was also one of our first gravel projects. Go Ranger Jane!

 

 

You can read this service story on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/20-2/

 

E) The One Day Residential Record – THE STORYLINE: It’s a privilege to participate in the homemaking stories of my customers, and we felt especially lucky to play our parts in Grace and Joe’s heroic homemaking story. They had 2 properties side by side. One they lived in. The other they rented to tenants. Both were resting on concrete blocks. Both had rats, and an amazing number of entry holes. After Guide’s initial inspection, we had one of our classic moments where we promise to do something crazy…and then do it. In The End, we excluded 22 entry holes in one day. And then returned to exclude The Mystery Add On Crawlspace (and kill the rat that was living there) when we finally found a way to access it. We had many memorable moments here, but my favorite was when I told Joe that I’d just broke his One Day Record at a church in SE Portland. He didn’t miss a beat. “That doesn’t count,” Joe said emphatically. “It’s not residential!” So true! But he no longer holds The One Day Residential Record. July 2020, I excluded 24 entry holes in one day for our farm friends Brian and Mary of Wild Roots Farm. “Don’t feel bad Joe! It was a 100 year old farmhouse with a working root cellar! Super easy pickings compared to yours!”

This was also the last time we ever used orange foam. Sorry Grace!

 

 

 

You can read this service story on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/27/

 

F) Our First 2 Live Action Novels – THE STORYLINE: Have you ever wished you had the full story of your pest control services hanging in your crawlspace? Or, better yet, had someone to write the on-going story of your Homefront? Well we made this happen. Like for real. We have 2 live action novels now currently in production: The Unexcludible Homefront and The Little Home Away from Home. Take that Hunter S. Thompson! 100% pure Gonzo storytelling!

 

 

 

You can read these live action novels on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/38-2/ and https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/36/

 

G) The Long Ballad of Momma Roof Rat – THE STORYLINE: Roof rats in SE Portland are no joke. They are, by far, more intelligent than the sewer/Norway rats. Nita’s hunt was memorable for many reasons. One was the proximity of the rats nest to her bed. Amazingly (but very normal), Nita didn’t know she had rats until her neighbors saw a rat making what turned out to be a second nest under her solar panels. Then there was the also amazing (but very normal) part of her service story where we stuck it out, for at least a month or more, until we finally caught Momma Roof Rat in a Volehalla box. Most of the time, Momma Roof Rat escapes with a few youths in tow, moves on to the next attic, and the rat catchers claim victory when their traps go silent. The other, more meaningful part of this story, was the moment when Nita asked our human to sit with her in the kitchen…and we ate fruit together. This seems like a small thing, but that’s kicking The Old Industry Script for sure. Industry Techs don’t have time to fraternize with their customers. Not in any meaningful way. No fruit eating scenes for them! Not only did Nita hang on patiently for The End of her infestation, she inspired us to break The Fourth Wall and kick The Script!

 

 

 

You can read this service story on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/18-2/

 

H) Guide Gutter Talks the Fat Roof Rats of NE Portland – THE STORYLINE: At first read, we thought Carmen was yet another human cursed with a unyielding sense of perfection, and or what Indie Crystal Miner Bob called “ciphilization.” That was what we thought until Guide engaged the roof rats who were, seriously, trying to make their home in Carmen’s home.

 

 

You can read this service story on our website: https://www.storysoldpestcontrol.com/31/

I) Meeting The Neighbors – THE STORYLINE: We don’t know why, but we’ve been a part of many mother/daughter stories that feature rats. For example, one combo included a woman in Oregon City who had rats who then recommended us to her sister in Beaverton who also had rats, who then recommended us to her daughter who also had rats. The worst of that multi-generational drama was the daughter who had digging rats who followed a big backyard tree into her crawlspace. But that was Beaverton. Not to play favorites, but our favorite Mother/Daughter service story was Pauline and Victoria in Gresham. In both cases, they believed wholeheartedly in the importance of engaging The Action, or the longterm story of their home fronts. It was refreshing. Guide only had to kill a few rats. She spend most of her time excluding 12 vents with heavy mesh around Pauline’s home, and trenching and excluding a shed in the back of Victoria’s home. Pauline is a writer and Victoria is a banker, two roles that no doubt spark our imaginations. I know it’s wrong, but I loved the fact that I got a panicked call from Pauline (when I was face down in the dark of a crawlspace) when The Proud Boys and Antifa were invading Gresham. I laughed off the immediacy of The Conflict like I do, but (when I emerged from the darkness after a 8 hour crawlspace clean out) I felt a feeling I’m not at all used to feeling. Pauline called me, because she cared about me (and Farmer Emily) because we were neighbors. And that’s super cool. We definitely need more neighbors like Pauline and Victoria to help us (stupid isolationists) to break down our obsessively manicured neighborly walls and make the effort!

 

 

J) What to do with Baby Root Rats (With No Hope of Survival)? – THE STORYLINE: Imagine owning a beautiful home in SE Portland that satisfied all the Disney dreams of living in harmony with nature: loyal dogs, happy cats, and garden landscapes. But then, after a few months or so you realize that the lions don’t always chillax with the lambs, and you have to face the reality of dealing with oppositional defiant raccoons, clingy anxious mice, and megalomeniacal roof rats? In this service story, we were called to action because the homeowners smelled “ammonia” near their chimney/next to their bedroom. Guide tracked that smell to its source, and then emerged with a sack full of baby roof rats. Guide offered them to the chickens first. Then she offered them to the wilderness outside our humans’ home. In The End they died tragically of exposure. The only solace in this service story was the knowledge that rats and humans are similar. From our experience, we know rat parents would rather eat their babies (heads and all) than Take The Bait and try a potentially poisonous new food source. We get that. Like rat parents, human parents often sacrifice their children to support their food, drug, or ideological addictions. It’s just more horrifically obvious when Mommy or Danny Rat eats the brains of her kids to increase her own chances of survival.

 

I know it’s wrong, but I think about that every time I see a PROUD PARENT OF A US MARINE bumpersticker…

 

 

AND SO MUCH MORE!

 

Julie H produced Pest Predator’s First Full Bedbug Elimination!

 

Joseph A. and his wonderful family produced The House Mouse Mystery!

 

Obula Reddy produced Predator’s tragedy Why I Will NEVER AGAIN Cut Costs and Corners for a Demanding Customer!

 

Mercedes produced Guide’s amazing exclusion story, Where Did All The Rats Go?

 

Landlord Alex A. produced many challenging exclusion service stories for his tenants!

 

Amar K. produced Guide’s textbook roof rat exclusion, Do I Smell a Rat, or Is that a Big Mouse?

 

And Mellissa D. produced the epic exclusion Death to The Death Smell!

THE END?

Service Story #145: Hunting Rats Organically at Home

Service Story #145: Hunting Rats Organically at Home

SOME HUMANS GO HOME TO KIDS, CHORES, AND A DESK FULL OF BILLS. OUR HUMAN HOST AND FARMER EMILY HAVE BILLS TO PAY AND CHICKENS TO FEED WHEN THEY GET HOME, BUT THEY DON’T HAVE KIDS. THEY HAVE RATS AND VOLES TO HUNT IN THE OPEN FIELD…

In the days before STORYSOLD: Pest Control, after our humans’ adventure in Eastern Oregon where Emily became Farmer Emily and Jake learned to hate The Mental Health System, our humans moved to Gresham, Oregon so Emily could play a part in some of the most meaningful programs ever created by bureaucrats.

It’s run by The Generic Thing called “East Multnomah Soil Water and Conservation District”, and they called it, The Headwaters Farm Incubator Program. Patterned off successful local food source productions like Intervale in Vermont, Headwaters is the front line of the front line for protecting our land, water, and local food systems.

Where does our human fit into this picture? For a long time, Jake felt like a Groupie, an adoring, sort of dorky fan of the serious badasses who claim the title of “Local, Organic Farmer.” And being a fan was easy for Jake. Once of his favorite lines about Organic Farmers is, “Local food is the one common good that everyone can agree on. The God-fearing, gun-slinging, end-times preparing folks get local, small scale farming because the power to grow food ranks pretty high on The Strategic Guide to Surviving The Tribulation. And the Granola Crunchers agree with conservation and the importance of developing a sustainable, local food system on principle. It’s a social thing. Like church for people who hate church.”

Farming is not at all like society thinks. It’s not “unskilled labor.” It takes mad skills to be a farmer. Not only complex strategic planning skills, but raw energy sporty skills. It takes brains and brawn, and (in Jake’s humble opinion) Farmer Emily is the Micheal Jordan of Portland’s farm world. Brian and Mary of Wild Roots and Farmer Dan of Flying Coyote are close seconds, but Brian and Mary own a tractor and Dan talks too much to be A #1 Farmer of Portland.

All that’s to say, Jake didn’t fit in that picture at all. He would rather low crawl through a rat infested crawlspace than spend all day bending over to weed and harvest. That was until he found a niche in The Action that he could fill…

It wasn’t like we baited The District into hiring Wilderness Guide to catch rats on the farm. Emily played a role in Headwaters Farm Incubator Program for five years before she graduated and moved her farm to an adjacent property owned by The District, where she leased the land and subleased to other graduates like [Former] Farmer Rick and the always engaging non-English speaking farmers known lovingly as The Russians. Throughout that storyline, we saw the rat holes. We saw the rat droppings in the barn. We listened to the rat stories spun by farmers. But it wasn’t until we took over the on-site caretaker duties formerly dutied by Farmer Rick did we become acutely aware that we were living next to an infestation.

Since the beginning of The Headwaters program, Farmer Rick’s cats had been the only rodent control on the property. Most farmers at Headwaters believed in Mother Nature’s ability to balance the rodent population without any formal system of death-dealing devised by humans. They generally believed in the ragtag band of half-wild farm cats as long as they didn’t piss on the vegetables. They believed in the Great Horned Owls, weasels, coyotes, and hawks that thrived on the property. But, when Farmer Emily and Jake became the caretakers, The District decided to take the wild farm cats off that list. They didn’t want our wild creature friend, Pip the Evergreen Jungle Cat, to kill the songbirds. Which he would, without a doubt. Like a soldier or sportsman, Pip was well fed. He could kill all day everyday, because he didn’t kill to eat.

Like they say, “All an infestation needs to grow is for good rat catchers to do nothing.” We saw the rats running to and from the compost cart at the barn at night. We saw the fresh droppings in the barn. Yet we did nothing, because why? Honestly I think it was a perverse curiosity. How long could a group of organic farms go without developing an equally “organic” poison-free system of rodent control to draw The Magic Line between their crops and all the wild creatures that feed on it.

And we answered that question. Our rough estimate was “six years.” Good job owls! Good job snakes and weasels!

Our role as the official Organic Farm Rat Catcher was triggered by 2 events: a) Brian and Mary registering a formal complaint about the rats in the barn with The District, and b) the day Rowan (Headwaters’ Manager, Visionary, and Patron Saint) turned the compost pile and saw “fifty rats running from it.”

At first we asked Rowan for an official farm title, a honorary role to play in the development of our local food system, in exchange for our killing of the rats, but that didn’t happen. Instead we settled for an hourly wage and the challenge of killing rats in a barn and the open field without the use of rodenticides.

Here’s some highlights of our first epic rat hunt at home (we live next to that barn):

We quickly learned 2 things about farm rats: 1) they don’t give 2 shits about the fancy attractants we put on the triggers of our traps, because they LOVE ORGANIC VEGETABLES and the smart rats (yes smart, not mentally ill) feed on their favorite, familiar, comfort food source like drug addicts; and 2) there were some monsters living in our farm forest that could run through our standard factory made rat traps with the ease of squirrels.

To counter that, we stuffed fresh vegetables/compost (donated by the finest farmers in Portland) in live catch squirrel traps and buried them in the compost cart. This worked very well. Guide almost smiled when Farmer Justin texted us excitedly to report that we’d caught 3 rats at once!

As any rat catcher worth their salt knows, trapping rats without doing something to exclude them and or upend their happy environments is not smart. Our exclusion project at the barn produced one of the coolest “pest devices” Wilderness Guide has ever concocted:

How does one exclude a sliding barn door?

Hunting rats in my own backyard also gave me a chance to do some experimentation. The first “Action Cycler” didn’t do so well, but it spawned a similar chicken feed excluder that worked wonders for Donna in the Couve:

The “open field trapping” at the compost had some memorable moments. Until I finally caught him or her, one of the rats would greet us, at dusk, when I checked my traps. I’ve only met 2 vocal rats; both of which were wild farm rats. The first was my first catch at Headwaters. We named him “Tomato Badass” because he was caught raiding Farmer Emily’s tomatoes in the barn. Tomato Badass “barked” at us. He was definitely not contented by the security of a cage. The guy that greeted us at the compost pile didn’t bark. This rat “grunted” as it ran slowly away from its nest, baiting us to chase. Which we did, if only for a lark. The Grunt was one of our favorites. It was sad to see him go…

The trap that got him was no cheap industry special. It was a steel body trap with 2 springs. It was baited with a peanut and some leafy compost greens. Thanks to traps like this, I was finally nailing larger adult rats….instead of picking off juvenile after juvenile, litter after litter, like most industry rat techs do.

The First Rat Hunt at Home lasted from February to mid June 2020. The barn was the first to clear, sometime in early May. I knew it was clear once I began to catch mice and voles in my exterior traps; and discovered no hits on the free food I stocked in the Volehalla boxes set inside the barn. The compost pile took a while longer. I noticed my traps suddenly went very quiet in mid June, but it wasn’t until Rowan invited a pack of humans with rat hunting terriers to do a hunt on the farm did I know I’d won. The humans and their dogs had a good rep. They boasted that they’d killed as many as 60 rats at a chicken farm in once day! They roamed the farm in search of rats for hours. Rowan even turned the monster compost pile again, but the humans and their pack of employable terriers didn’t find a single rat. Not one.

Naturally, at the end of their hunt, I smiled at the domesticates and said, “Gee, that’s too bad. Maybe you’ll have better luck next time.” I can’t remember the last time I was so happy. It was a major victory. Tame creatures (especially lacky Disney dogs and Pet People) have no business hunting rats anyway. It’s an offense to the honor and wildness of rats.

When we finally nailed an ending to The Great Headwaters Rat Infestation, the final count was 56 rats and 84 mice.

R.I.P. Tomato Badass, Grunt, and The Monster who Rowan claimed “shook the barn” when it hit the barn door as it fled the wrath of the Headwaters Farmers. Your stories will be remembered. That’s what good rat catchers do best.

Service Story #89: The Chicken Loving Neighbor

Service Story #89: The Chicken Loving Neighbor

RATS DON’T RESPECT THE WALLS WE BUILD BETWEEN OUR HOMES. OFTEN ONE NEIGHBOR WILL SUPPLY THE FOOD SOURCE, WHILE THE OTHER SUPPLIES THE NEST. RATS LOVE THIS STORYLINE, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF HUMANS WHO DON’T RESPECT THEIR NEIGHBORS…

PRODUCED FOR KIM P. OF SE PORTLAND

My name is Wilderness Security Guide. I’m the environmental control operator for Storysold: Pest Control in charge of rat hunting and exclusion, and this is the story of my service –

The Chicken Loving Neighbor is a classic, reoccurring character in rat stories. I can’t count how many times I delivered the bad news to humans like a doctor diagnosing disease. “Yes sir, I’m afraid it’s true…you have rats.” Only to hear the human say something like, “Well you know, our neighbor has chickens…” and that line is often followed by some kind of commentary about their neighbor’s cleanliness, or hoarding, or some other recognized social vice.

I love chickens. Unlike dogs or cats, they don’t usually service the emotional needs of their owners. Humans don’t subjugate chickens to help them score dates at city parks, overcome their fear of flying, or cope with an illness. Chickens work for a living, supplying their owners with food. I love chickens like their predators love them: for their eggs.

And that’s why I’ve always defended urban chicken owners. Nine times out of ten, I tactfully try to remind our patrons that the rats aren’t living in their neighbor’s crawlspace. I often say things like, “Most of the chicken owners I’ve caught rats for here in SE Portland (or wherever) are very responsible. They don’t leave their chicken food out all day and night for every rat in the neighborhood to feed on. They use timers, feeders, or at least keep an open space at their table to feed a rat catcher if they insist on throwing food at their chickens like Disney farmers.” I’m sympathetic to the Chicken Loving Neighbor. I know The Farm Dream is strong in the humans of Portland. We all want to feed chickens overhand like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I get it. I really do. I’ve never painted the Chicken Loving Neighbor as the villain, until I met this guy…

Permit me to set the scene. The landlord’s name was Kim. She rented a small house across the street from a city park in Woodstock. Kim wasn’t renting to strangers to make big money. She was renting to her younger sister and her fun-loving neohippie friends. The first thing Kim showed me was the basement. It was what they call a “dug out” basement, meaning it had walls but no full concrete, classic basement foundation. To make matters worse, the rats were nesting in between the ceiling joists and access the house through an inaccessible, narrow crawlspace like wilderness void. We could peer into the dark void through openings in the hot water heater/storage room, but the details of the space left a great deal to my imagination. In the small section I could see, I saw the bottom of the shallow footing the house rested on, and 2 rat-sized entry holes leading up to the backyard.

So naturally I asked to inspect the backyard. The story that followed went something like this:

“The house doesn’t have a backyard really,” Kim explained. “My neighbor’s property butts up against our back wall. I think there’s a few feet there that’s mine, but I’m not sure. We need permission to inspect it…”

“You need permission to inspect your backyard?”

“Well yeah,” Kim replied. “The only way to access it is through David’s yard.”

After Kim called her neighbor for permission, she told us the story of David’s chickens. Apparently this wasn’t their first go around about rats. Three years ago, David was feeding his chickens (and the rats in Kim’s house) in a pen that bordered Kim’s property. For whatever reason, somewhere along the way, David decided to stop raising chicken in that pen. But now the chickens were back, living in a small enclosed coop closer to David’s house. And so were the rats…

Kim had already consulted Vector Control. They supplied her with a few rodent boxes stocked with snap traps. They also recommended trenching and excluding along the back of the property to keep the feed-loving rats from burrowing into her basement to nest. She’d already caught at least six rats before I arrived on the scene.

David asked to speak with me when I was done inspecting the back of Kim’s property. I didn’t think anything of it, at first. I stepped onto David’s porch and knocked on his door feeling hopeful of gaining an ally in our fight to send clearer wilderness signals to the rats of SE Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.

After a few words of greeting, I explained that I’d set some fishing traps under Kim’s ratty rain shield that was, at once, keeping water from flooding into her basement and providing the rats excellent harborage.

[ this is what it looked like after I tore off the torn old black plastic ]

What happened next truly took us by surprise…

“Did you put anything in my backyard that can hurt my pets?” David asked straightaway

“I’m not sure,” I replied thoughtfully. “That depends…”

“Yes, or no!” David barked suddenly. “Did you put anything in my backyard that can hurt my pets?”

“That depends…” I replied again.

We tried to explain, but David cut us off. “It’s a yes, or no answer…”

“I didn’t put any bait poison in your backyard if that’s what you mean?”

“Yes, or no!” the bearded, white, middle-aged man in puffy camouflage plants shot again. “I can’t stand it when guys like you can’t give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.”

Even Bookmaker, who usually has a smart ass remark locked and loaded most of the time, was shocked by the neighbor’s demands. All I could think to say was the truth. “I’m trying to give a thoughtful answer…”

“Is it yes, or no?” David barked again.

I wasn’t trying to be an Asshole. I honestly had no idea if he thought rat traps, set in the open, were safe for his pets or not. Based on his dialogue, I was thinking “clearly he must rank high on The Psychopath Test,” which is a great book featuring an entire chapter about how much psychopaths love their pets. If he was in fact a psychopath, I definitely wanted to answer that question right. “Yes!” I’d say clear as multiple choice. “100% For sure. Undoubtedly, your cat might feel some kind of curious urge to put its paw in my rat trap…and if that happens it will cause your pet pain…so maybe I should put my traps in protective boxes, or put them somewhere extra safe?”

“Ok,” David agreed when he finally heard what I was saying. “I put traps in my coop all the time…”

And then came The Big But. “But,” David continued to hold his grip on our conversation. “I want you to let me know before you come…a few years ago a guy Kim hired did some work back there…and he trampled all my raspberries.”

Blink, blink. “Don’t worry sir,” I said, feeling like I’d somehow just been transported back to Age 18. “I work hard to do my best at all times for my customers. I will not trample your raspberries.”

One of the blessings and curses of playing our parts in a fully embodied business entity is, every so often, we get strong instinctive feelings. The employees and owners of classic, generic business entries rarely have strong feelings of these kinds, in the moment, because employees and owners are always so preoccupied with running their generically-engineered work programs. Here, the strong feeling we felt awaited until after we left David’s porch and took what social workers call a “self-managed time out” in our work van.

As usual, the feeling began as a sort of irreverent math exercise: 1) neighbor who feeds his chickens like Laura Ingles Wilder six inches from my customer’s foundation; 2) no more than 6 inches of foundational footing anywhere around the home; 3) almost zero access to the footing from the mini-crawlspace in full basement; 4) at least a 3 year history of rats (based on Kim’s last complain to Vector Control); 5) a cement walkway on one side of the house and a driveway on the other that limits access to foundation; 6) a sewer pipe that runs along the driveway directly into the unprotected basement; 7) other rat attractants everywhere in neighbor’s backyard like a bamboo forest, many unused items left outside/junk, raspberries, strawberries, and shrubbery; 8) a city park right across the street; and to top it off: 9) having to play nice with the Chicken Lover.

The strong feeling we felt next could be best described as “every instinct in Storysold: Pest Control’s fully embodied business entity all screaming ‘Hell no!’ at once.” No joke, we were a hair-trigger pull away from walking back into that house and telling Kim, very nicely, that she couldn’t pay us enough money to help her. Or, at least, pull The Classic Orkin Man Move: quote her so high she will tell us “No.” Then if she says “Yes”…set a few glue boards, catch a few rats, and wait patiently for her to cancel the service while we move ever onward “Westward ho!” to hustle the next maiden in crisis on our list.

That would have been the smart move for sure. Instead, I did what we at Storysold: Pest Control do best. We shit canned The Doom on our list and we asked ourselves The Question of Questions

“Will we want to write the story of this service when we reach The End?”

I love that question. The best stories are always performed first. And I was All In the moment I imagined our team sitting down with a beer to write that first scene with David on the front porch. I mean, seriously, most of the time the Chicken-Loving Neighbor is only a nuisance character like Nasty Antsis. How often does the Chicken Lover actually turn out to be a fully infested Asshole?

The answer was yes, we had to see Kim’s service story to The End. It was the scoop of a lifetime/literary gold in the making, and I wanted to be the rat catcher who owned this story with my actions, however it ended. Like a flashy car and a well groomed dog, I wanted this story, so I could bust it out every so often when a customer faces their back fence, peers over dramatically, and whispers the classic line, “My neighbor has chickens.”

That night, in our email proposal to Kim, we penned one of the craziest lines we’ve ever written:

“Hello Kimberly,” it began. “What I propose to sell you is an end to rodent activity in your home, whatever that takes to make happen.”

What followed that heroic line was a long list of actions for a plan that didn’t work. Not that we expected the plan to fall like proceeded widgets into line. Bookmaker reminded us that most seasoned writers know The Action always changes, by some measure, as soon as those words hit The Page. And I reminded him that most earth creatures don’t have the luxury of writing a first, second, or third draft for their Homefronts. If their well laid plans for marking their territorial lines fail as soon as The Action hits The Page, they become food for predators. Death is the final draft on earth.

And so The Line was drawn. What was it going to take to exclude Kim’s home?

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN IMPERFECT TRANSLATION OF THE LANGUAGE OF ACTION BETWEEN OUR TEAM AND THE CHICKEN LOVING NEIGHBOR’S PET RAT POPULATION:

STORYSOLD (April 28th): remove the DYI black garbage bag rain shield, clean out all the rat hangouts, trench along the back wall deep enough to unearth the tunnels into Kim’s home, patch the entry holes with gravel and concrete, line the trench with hardware cloth, cover the trench with gravel and dirt, rebuild the rain shield with aluminum flashing and concrete blocks (placed high enough to let some air in and make it less of a little manmade wilderness ghetto), and then set a barrage of rat traps under the rain shield all along the back wall. Then I set some fishing traps and food attractants in the uncrawlable crawlspace via the storage room.

[ Ye Old Rat Hole ]

THE RATS: trip traps in crawlspace, get tail caught in Guide’s new big rat trap, and then die in Chicken Lover’s trap next door. David describes us as a “big one” and benevolently offers to let Storysold take credit for it.

STORYSOLD (May 6th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, clear a few dead dumb teens from Kim’s traps we set with birdseed, clear one very dead maggoty adult from storage room (it dragged itself out of the crawlspace, fell 4 feet, and died on the floor of the storage room), inspect Kim’s Homefront, discover that the front of the house is an open highway covered only by bark dust, pack the massive gap with hardware cloth and foam it, patch 2 entry holes on both sides of driveway, exclude the possible roof rat holes we marked on the first service (see below), and reset the traps.

THE RATS: dig out the side of the back trench from under the sidewalk, die in the traps we found there, and dig out the foamed entry hole under pipe leading from street to right of driveway and front door. Escape to freedom, eat trash, and salivate at the smell of the chicken feed David was, at that time, keeping in a stilted coop set closer to his house.

STORYSOLD (May 14th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, hop the fence to minimize chance of trampling beautiful but thorny raspberry bushes, clear the dumb teen rats from the traps, and reset the traps with birdseed and other rat attractants. Then reenforce the exclusion in front with concrete and gravel.

THE RATS: Dig out the back corner near sidewalk again. Die in traps Guide placed there. Escape to freedom. Salivate at the thought that the raspberries will be blooming soon.

STORYSOLD (May 22nd): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, cheer aloud when Guide discovers that the back corner exclusion has held AND she bagged 2 adults and 2 dumb teens, and reset the traps with berry bait attractant, birdseed, peanut butter, and peanuts on the trigger of the new trap.

THE RATS: hang out in between the ceiling joists in basement room closest to driveway (and the sewer pipe coming in from the street), torture nice Neo-hippie renter (and his pet snake) with scampering at night.

STORYSOLD (June 5th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, check traps in uncrawlable crawlspace, puzzle over the fact that none of the traps have been tripped (or any free food taken) since the back corner exclusion has held strong, and then Guide went to check her traps in back and discovered! David had moved the chickens back to the larger coop set less than a foot from Kim’s Homefront. Kim reported that he had, at some point in the distant past, agreed to move them away from that coop to order to keep his pet rat population from burrowing into Kim’s basement.

The first thing Guide said when she saw it was, “Doesn’t he know rats will burrow and nest under the nearest possible rock, tree, or shallow basement footing to their food source! Like sports fans, rats hate having to leave their cosy armchairs, get up, and walk a long way to the way to the fridge to get their beers. The big difference is, sports fans don’t want to miss any of The Action when they’re away from their armchairs, while the rats are afraid of being caught by The Action of neighborhood predators when they leave their nests.”

THE RATS (from the ceiling void inside Kim’s house): sniff, sniff, “smells like chicken feed,” scamper, scamper to the foundation nearest the coop, dig, dig, dig, and dig under the concrete and hardware cloth until they pop from their new bolt hole near the coup, claws outstretched in the rain like Shawshank Redemption, and give thanks to the Chicken Lover for moving the fridge closer to their armchair. Like Momma Rat says, “Always remember, we rats aren’t meant to be caged.”

STORYSOLD (June 19th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, inspect Kim’s Homefront, foam and concrete new holes, reset the traps, and then stand dumbfounded for a long moment watching the chickens like I was watching sports on TV…

“There’s 3 new rat holes around Kim’s home,” Guide reported to our team.

“Yes you will discover that you were mistaken about a great many things young Wilderness Guide,” Bookmaker hissed like the Emperor on Star Wars. “Now witness the rat attracting power of this overfed and fully operational chicken coop.”

THE RATS: scamper, scamper, feed and breed all day long, “Game on!”

STORYSOLD (July 5th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, dig, dig, dig, follow new holes to source, discover large hole under concrete and hardware cloth leading straight into the ceiling joist void that leads to basement bedroom closest to driveway, rip out old Homefront, dig deeper, pour two large buckets of cement in hole, lay new hardware cloth, dump four more buckets of gravel, and then block the 2 of the 3 newly excluded holes with 12+ snap traps (the 3rd new hole reappeared in the middle of the coop).

THE RATS: dig, dig, dig around concrete and through gravel in back corner near sidewalk, die trying to redig the new holes next to the coop, and then settle back to life under the sidewalk.

KIM: Hi. Hope you had a great weekend. We got a big one in one of the traps. He drug himself with the trap out to the street. My neighbor [not David] threw him and the trap away. There might be a chance they are getting in along the cement slab driveway where the downspout is…I’ve hired an inside guy to remove the old insulation and get rid of any rat nests etc. above that basement room. So if that doesn’t get ride of them then I give up. I’ll have the whole freaking house torn down! Lol.

STORYSOLD (July 20th text to Kim): Well you just won 1st prize for most tenacious rat infestation since I started my business. They dug through my gravel and concrete in back next to the bamboo again. The one you found [in front of sidewalk leading to the front yard] was just a bolt hole [from the subterranean sidewalk lair]. I poured more gravel and cement, reset my traps, cleared the 2 you found and one in back next to chickens, and burrow baited the hole you found [in front of sidewalk] and covered it with a bag and dirt. The best news I have is, no new signs of tunneling around the coop. I’ll be back in a week or so for sure…

KIM: Wow! Okay and I feel like this is part when you need to start charging me. How much?

STORYSOLD: Yeah probably, but I did sign on for the duration. Let’s save your money for possible extreme exclusion plans like trying to actually exclude that side walkway ( I thought they would find that a long time ago) and possibly the catio side [with the drain pipe running to the street]. For now I’d like to keep trapping and see what happens next. I’m hooked. I can’t tell if it’s one old wily rat doing all the digging, or some new players who were drawn in by David’s move to, not so brightly, put the chickens back 6inches from your foundation. What is your estimated body count since I started?

KIM: Funny you mentioned David’s location of where the chickens are. A friend told me that’s it’s against city code for them to be closer than 15ft from a residence. Do you think I should call the city vector? They did tell me that after I’d done exclusion work, etc. and I’m still having problems that I should contact them. As for body count? Humm. How many months have you been trapping now and we are getting an average of 4 a week approx…

THE RATS: subterranean sidewalk rats eat bait and die, 2 get caught in basement ceiling void by Kim’s Inside Man’s traps, but no dig, dig, digging of new entry holes.

Two days later, Kim texted to tell us that Vector Control changed their tune. Now, instead of following through, they decided it was likely a broken sewer pipe that’s letting the rats in. Two weeks later, we met Kim

As so it goes with pest control. We rat catchers are master spinners of stories. Mere days into the job, Kim’s Inside Man spun his own story to interpret The Infestation. Not unlike most of the fables spun by industry technicians, the Inside Man’s story lacked the one thing all good stories need: action. He was new on the scene, and he hadn’t engaged The Action in any meaningful way, but he had it all worked out…and now he was selling his story to Kim.

“What is this instinct in human males?” Guide pouted after Kim shared the Inside Man’s theory. “Why do they all feel they can discern the truth, from their armchairs, without engaging The Action? Are they so afraid of rats that they need to make some snap judgement about their natures, almost immediately, to calm their nerves?”

“Let it go Guide,” Pest Predator said quietly. “Nobody cares about tracking The Action anyway. Least of all our paying customers. It doesn’t stay still long enough under their microscopes to matter.”

“I suppose,” Guide agreed through gritted teeth as she began to check the traps around Kim’s Homefront.

“You’re just mad, because you don’t have a solid theory for where they’re running,” Bookmaker chimed in, on cue. “They could be running in from under the street, tunneling and following the sewer line to the basement like the rats in Don’t Feed The Rat Catchers and then tunneling out the back to the coop through the small space afforded them by the joists? Or they could be tunneling in from the street, all along the drain pipe, and then back dooring the basement room through the massive hole you unearthed? Or they could be digging from under the sidewalk, sneaking by all your traps and free food everyday, around the storage room, and then back dooring it to the nest above the basement room…”

“Stop being an Asshole, Bookmaker,” Predator stated flatly. “You’re just trying to make her mad.”

One after the next, every trap Guide checked around the Homefront was tripped, upturned, and empty. Even the 2 peanuts she set securely on her new big-rat-killing body trap and been, somehow, both lifted (straight up) off the trap’s steel pin trigger. It was the first time all of her traps had been run through without anything to show for it.

Then it happened. Not too unlike the strong feeling our fully embodied business felt moments before we decided to begin this service story, Guide felt a sudden urge to stand and peer over the raspberry bushes and read the scene at David’s backyard for clues, signs, anything that made what she was feeling make more sense…

On the other side of the berries and the coop, along the side of the house, Guide spied 2 rat traps sitting unarmed on a trash can. They were just sitting there, unset, in a sea of rats and rat attractants.

Guide’s eyes narrowed as stared at the coddled domesticates clucking in the coop. Then she faced the neighbor’s house, crossed her arms, and whispered under her breath, like a gossip in church, the same worn line she’d heard her customers’ deliver so many times before: “It’s because the neighbor has chickens…”

And now we too can stand at the fence, arm in arm with our good neighbors, and gaze into the Chicken Lover’s yard and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why we were suffering a plague of rats.

It’s those got-damned chicken lovers and their raspberries.

THE EPILOGUE

STORYSOLD (August 13th): I was totally wrong about Dan the Inside Man. He’s on it!

KIM: Oh good. That gives me confidence too. I appreciated all the work you did on the outside though.

STORYSOLD: It was a good one alright, and I’m glad I played a part…but I’m going to sign off. You’re in good hands with Dan. Feel free to use the traps I left. I’ll stop by in a couple months or so to collect them.

KIM: Thanks again for everything. I’ll definitely recommend you for anyone looking for pest control.

STORYSOLD: Thanks for the adventure! Good luck with The Chicken Loving Neighbor!

Dan the Inside Man was on it. He tore the basement open so we could see more of it. At first, after Dan and I spent some time hunting for entry holes together, I thought we had finally found our answer…

KIM: So many holes! So many entry points!

No doubt, the light was proof of possible entry. Yet we (I, Kim, and Dan the Inside Man) were not able to find an entry hole large enough, on the outside, to explain this rat story away.

Either the rats had found the perfect dark corner of the home to breach The Magic Line between wilderness and civilization, or we had, in fact, reached The End. The world may never know…

The story now rests in the hands of Kim and Dan the Inside Man.

Service Story #91: The Ant Show, Episode 1 – An Intro to Nasty Antsis

Service Story #91: The Ant Show, Episode 1 – An Intro to Nasty Antsis

by Bookmaker Jake

THIS SERVICE STORY IS DEDICATED TO ALL THE CLEAN PEOPLE OF PORTLAND WHO SUFFER FROM ANTSIS.

PRODUCED BY ANGELA AND JEFF OF MONTEVILLA

Angela and Jeff live in Montevilla, a humble shire set in the shadow of Mt. Tabor and the not so humble wilderness population it supports. They’re good people: honest, fun, upstanding members of The Garage Liberation Front, but Jeff and Angela don’t always feel good, because they’ve been afflicted by an accursed “mole” of nature they can’t control.

They have Nasty Antsis.

Antsis is a common, but heavily stigmatized disorder that effects 65.34% of all households in Portland. For most folks it takes many years of silent suffering, staying up late googling and watching Youtube videos on ants, before they decided to step forward and admit that they, too, have Antsis.

Please don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Antsis. The rat catchers and bug destroyers of old have long understood the role of disorders like Entry Hole Disorder, Systemic Death Production Disorder, and Nasty Antsis. All these actions play their part in drawing our magic lines between wilderness and civilization, but our ancient pest control wisdoms have been lost in the modern greed of The Industry and its many generic treatments. Only now, with a resurgence of unincorporated errant pest control operators, are we coining new language like “Nasty Antsis” to describe these old and ancient actions. Our teammate Bookmaker Jake likes to make a big todo about which words, labels, metaphors, and other representative signs, signifiers, and signatures we use to describe actions, but the rest of us at Storysold: Pest Control know better. We know words are the shit of the human brain. They’re made for waste. No words are needed to describe The Action we all know. Since the dawn of time, humans have encountered that part in our stories where the rain rolls in and they come face to face with the earth creatures who trail in like savage conquistadors onto their food prep areas. We can call that encounter a feeling, action, affection, or a disorder. The label doesn’t matter for shit. We’ve simply decided to call it “Antsis” because it sounds cool.

In the spirit of exploring our new language, we asked our human host Jake to describe his feeling of Antsis for us. He didn’t even blink. Like the one trick pony he is, Jake went straight for the Star Wars metaphor. He likened his ant encounters to that hair-raising moment when Luke entered The Joseph Campbell Cave and faced Darth Vader in heroic, single combat, only to discover that he wasn’t fighting anyone but himself…

“Fucking ants!” Jake cries after his countertop encounter. “Never again!” Then out comes his [not recommended] weapon of choice: Raid, Tarro, or eco-friendly ant-killing essential oils. Spray, spray, spray, and the cathartic experience of treating Antis ends with a floor littered with dead little ant bodies. It’s only later, after a few gulps of beer, does our human truly digest what had happened. “My God,” he realizes (gulp). “I killed them…but it’s not their fault…if only I wasn’t so, so dirty!” It’s that feeling of dirty, stinking, nastiness that prompts humans with Antis disorder to clean, and clean, and clean again.

Statistically, folks who suffer from Antsis have the cleanest homes on their blocks.

They clean because they care. They care about producing an orderly ant-free home that never triggers that same feeling of panic, chaos, and disorder that Luke felt when he killed Darth Vader and saw his face reflected back to him. No hero who cares deeply about preserving The Righteous Order of The Universe wants to feel out of control.

One of the other reasons why you may have never heard of Nasty Antsis is:

It’s a No Man’s Land between the pseudo sciences of psychology and pest control: Is the “antsy feeling” a nervous disorder? Or is it a disease like alcoholism that can be blamed completely on the individual and their genetics? Or do all those ants crossing The Line like villains really make humans feel Antsis? Naturally tempers flare in debates between pest control operators and therapists when they try to source the disorder. Psychologists can never accept the operators’ views, because it opens the door (sets a precedent) to challenge a long list of other disorders. Just imagine a world where a therapist trying to treat an alcoholic was forced to admit that, yes, it’s possible that the human host of Alcoholism had experienced enough systemic, workaday environmental disorder to “make them drink.” No profitable psychologist will ever admit that some feelings are maybe, just, simply thrust upon us like Antsis in springtime. They wouldn’t be able to call them “disorders” if they did that. Blaming The World for their troubles is almost the defining characteristic of all humans with “disorders” and “criminals” too. The Mental Health Industry would crumble and blow away like dust in the wind if they were forced to admit that real, trackable, killable house ants were responsible for making humans feel Antsis.

Some of us would happily file the action of psychology in the same overflowing drawer with witchcraft, sorcery, self help books, religiosity, and other such makers of prison hoochery; but we’re practical. We realize that doing so would harm the economy like pirating DVDs. If we bankrupted the generic swath of The Psychology Industry, who would we hire to round up the live action characters who aren’t able to host THE ONE normal, healthy, chemically balanced, ruggedly independent National Character humans were all trained to host? No doubt, The Pest Control Industry would simply kill any creepy crawly lifeform that ever made humans feel vulnerable, out of control, or Antsis…and we’d do it without any wishy washy sentimentality for the abject health of our planet.

And that’s why pest control operators and therapist will never, ever agree that ants make their customers feel Antis. We’re competitors, both in the business of controlling nature, hunting the same prey. At best the therapists will admit that ants “trigger” Antis, and we might admit that, in the long term, the best treatment for ants is beer.

Luckily, humans hosting characters in the control industries (and their customers) can all agree on one thing. It’s a common enemy that bonds them like The Lord of The Rings. They all hate long, philosophic rants by Wanna Be/Future Famous Authors like Bookmaker Jake. Nobody likes reading crap like this, because nobody likes reading service stories that seek to dissect, destroy, and offer no comforting/familiar narrative to compensate them for the time they invested reading it. For most humans reading philosophic rants is a lot worse than having ants. Engaging in philosophic conflict makes humans feel lost, out of control, in a world view built by the familiar industrylines they’ve been enacting since day one.

In fact, if we were a profitable psychologist we would brand the philosophic rants everyone hates as “Rantsis,” because it sounds cool. And cool sounding disorders are good for attracting clients and government grants. No doubt, the diagnostic manual for the new cool sounding disorder–“Rantsis“–will be filled with other cool sounding words, lines, and other marketable hooks like “Drink Up…It’s Not Your Fault After All.”

Yeah OK. We get it. Enough already. Sorry about all that. Feel free to unread the last ten paragraphs. Our service story here really begins with a text from Angela:

ANGELA: Hey Jake! Happy weekend. We have those large ants on our porch and fence. We tried some bait bait, but they still remain. Can you help?

STORYSOLD: You bet, but we’re about to lose our good ant hunting weather.

ANGELA: Needs to be cool, not hot?

STORYSOLD: Sun is good. I suggest doing a hunt when we get a few sunny days in a row. It’s a lot easier that way. Want I should text when weather is better?

ANGELA: Ok. Sure. We are around often!

A week later, the sun was up and the ants were popping all around the city. Angela and Jeff were out of town, but they gave us permission to cross The Line when they weren’t at home. Our workday previous to their ant hunt had been an effort: 3 exclusions in a tight rat infested crawlspace, 1 rodent set up, and 1 burrow dig/retrenching effort at Kim’s service story The Chicken Loving Neighbor. All that was to say, triggering Pest Predator to hunt carpenter and house ants in Angela and Jeff’s yard was a very welcome change of pace.

The first act of our service story was applying a non-repellant around the foundation of their home. That served two purposes: a) ants naturally have to cross the foundation to enter home (or porch), so the chemical spray Predator sprays in their path will kills them coming and going; and b) even though most operators will tell you that The Industry staple for foundation sprays (a product called Termador) is a “non-repellant,” Predator knows from experience that it has repellant properties..and that’s useful in the finding of carpenter ants. Predator knows that if he sprays an edge or corner of a house that’s an entry point for a colony or satellite colony, the ants will appear almost immediately.

After we finished our foundation application we were able to mostly rule out the bottom half of their home, and then turn our attention to the clear trail Angela had already identified…running to (or from?) the porch from (or to?) the fence. Predator spent a while tracking both ends of the trail, which both fizzled out with wandering/scouting ants. At first read, Predator was tempted to say the trail originated on the porch, but the fact that he identified the ants as Camponotus vicinus and the trail was climbing from the fence line to the top of the porch, that led him to believe that an ant beachhead was developing under the siding, higher on the house. Vicinus are known for their climbing skills.

Predator knew the rain was, once again, on its way, so he did a light spray around the columns and set a ton of bait on his chemical to encourage the ants to track across it. As usual, a few of carpenter ants stopped to feed, but most of them continued their dogmatic pursuit of whatever they’d found before we entered the scene. Unlike house ants who get hooked on the sugar baits almost robotically, carpenter ants are more fickle about their foraging tasks. In hopes of making a more attractive offer, Predator placed some granular bait along the trail. To his surprise, the sugar bait still seemed to be the winner.

“Yum! Nature never feed us sugars like this!”

While Predator waited to see if the carpenter ants were going to take the bait, he went on a house ant hunt around the property. There were so, so many trails, and Predator snickered at his own cleverness ever time he sprayed mass globs of sugar bait on his prey with his new spray bottle loaded with Tarro.

https://storysoldpestcontrol.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/IMG_3181.mov

That video was taken on the front steps. Predator found active trails along sidewalk, along walkway in front, next to steps down to back patio, corner of porch to right of gate, cool grape vine tree thing in back, to right of garage, and a few next to bbq near side door. Here’s a few more proof of work photos:

[ heavy trail next to back patio ]
[ front steps opposite trail from video ]

[ next to garage ]

[ carpenter ants taking the bait high on patio ]

When the day’s ant hunt reached an end, our human drove us home feeling good. No doubt Angela and Jeff would get some relief from Predator’s treatment of Nasty Antsis. That good feeling lasted 1.34 hours before Predator did the math and realized that we’d be very lucky if we’d knocked out the whole carpenter ant colony all in one hunt…

He was sure the old antsy feeling would return like withdrawal.

“Is killing them all the only way to treat for Nasty Antsis?” Guide asked her teammates.

“No,” Predator replied straight-faced. “We could continue to let them feed on Angela and Jeff’s home.”

“That doesn’t sound that bad,” Guide said, suddenly feeling a little antsy. “Maybe they could share their home with their wild creature friends?”

When Bookmaker heard that he laughed and mocked his teammate. “Yeah! It’s those crazy humans’ fault for building a house in The Tabor Wilderness. Their disorder should be treated with therapy and legal drugs, until they learn to accept responsibility for The World and all its ants. Ha! Clearly the humans are the source of this infestation.”

There was a long silence. Then Predator said, “I don’t think that’s a good business model.”

“No shit Sherlock!” Bookmaker laughed. “But just think of all the money we’ll make the therapists!”

Predator ignored his Asshole teammate and turned to Guide. “I think we should treat this infestation of Antsis like classic pest control operators…and kill them all. That’s the only way we can give Jeff and Angela relief.”

Guide thought about that for a minute. Then she nodded her head and said, “I agree. Let’s make sure we kill em’ all.”

Our treatment of Angela and Jeff’s Carpenter Antsis will continue in another exciting episode of The Ant Show. Probably on another good ant hunting day in July.

EPOLOGUE

Before we knew it, it was August. The rats outside Angela’s garage had continued to return like the final scare of a horror film, the moles were still carving up her yard, but Predator’s hunt had cured The Nasty Antsis.

ANGELA: And also–the ants died with one application.

STORYSOLD: I was wondering about the ants. That’s good news!

Read Our Reviews

Story Sold Pest Control is rated 5 out of 5.0 stars based on 83 review(s).

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- Jake is great! He was referred to me by a friend and he was thorough, very knowledgeable and put my mind at ease! Thanks for all the help!

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- I contacted Storysold Pest control for mice/rat problems for a rental property. I was very impressed with their website about the process they use to keep out rodents not just catching them and calling it good. They are very professional, explained the process in detail and showed up on time for our appointment. It’s been a week or so since he came out and my tenant hasn’t heard or seen any mice/rats. Jake, the owner is passionate about helping people and very knowledgeable in all aspects of pest control! Don’t waste your time on any other company call him first. Teri C

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- Keith B

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- Abby and Dave

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- Paige and Kris

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- Kammie James

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- Ed Robertson

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Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.

-  Shelly A.

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Very good

- Larry A

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Jake actually arrived early. He did a good job of removing a large hornet's nest of very aggressive hornets. He will definitely be our first choice on any future pest removal we might need.

- Barbara B.

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Jake went above and beyond of what was asked of him! Will not use anyone else!

-  Ted M

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Jake was extremely respectful and responsive. Came promptly and did a thorough inspection. He gave us options and his honest opinion about what we needed to do. He was very helpful in solving the problem simply and cost effectively! Will definitely call again.

- Michelle C. 

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Came to our home right away and set live traps in our chimneys and made screens for the tops. Returned the next day to find a squirrel in one of the traps. We were very pleased with our results and appreciated the great customer service

- Kathleen

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Friendly, fast and efficient. Very pleased with the service Jake provided

- Joli P.

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Refreshing to work with Jake. He is collaborative and communicative. Great improvement since his visit.

- Seth W

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He's friendly, professional, punctual & extremely affordable. Would hire again & recommend to my friends.

- Max K

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We had a great experience and highly recommend Jake. He is responsive, effective and thoughtful.

-  Eddie B

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Jake at Storysold Pest Control is knowledgeable and professional. He is quick to respond and reasonably priced. I find him to be trustworthy and ethical, he does not sell unnecessary services and he works with customers that are willing to do some of the work themselves as well as with customers who just want the whole service done without being involved themselves. While other companies told me I needed to replace all my insulation and do massive crawl space renovations, he offered several affordable options. With his help we no longer have a mouse problem and it was done at a fraction of what other companies quoted us. I appreciate his flexibility and fun, friendly personality. If I ever have another pest control issue, he will be my first call.

- Darian C.

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- Joyce R

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Jake has been helping me trap rodents at my farm with his Volehalla rodent boxes. He's friendly, knowledgeable, and effective: we've trapped a lot of rodents!

-  Emily C

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Jake was fantastic! Fast response. Reliable and honest. Great rates. Hope not to have any more rodent problems, but if I do I will be calling Jake again. I would recommend him to anybody that needs help with Pest Control.

- Janet D.

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Truly, I can t say enough about this team! They are so professional, trustworthy, and for the very first time in a long time I feel that they aren t here for 1/2 hour only to run off to the next job site! Jake (I believe the owner) told me that their company prefers to have 2 home visits per day over 10!!! I can t say enough them!!!!

- Lori T.

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Working with Storysold was a dream. We had a huge undertaking with almost 40,000 sq ft between two properties! With both buildings being over 100 years old keeping critters out is difficult and the previous tenants of the building allowed a huge infestation to occur. Jake was able to not only eradicate the unwanted pests he also filled holes and cracks and has stopped them from having easy access. Communication was great and the pricing was fair and manageable for our small nonprofit! I will continue to work with Storysold and recommend them for any pest control needs, big or small!

-  Jamie C

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Mouse in the house!!!! I texted Sunday morning after having chased a mouse through the house Saturday all day and Sunday at 3am... they came out to the house by 12:30 that Sunday. Jake got in the crawl space and checked the outside of the house for entry points. While there was no evidence of a major problem, I opt ed for the full attack. He came in with an Arsenal of traps that he placed in the kitchen and crawl space. He didn t hard sell and his prices were very affordable! He was also very honest with potential outcomes which I appreciate. He literally just left and I haven t heard any traps go off but just based on his customer service, I would totes recommend him! He s coming back in a week to check traps. I ve read some horror stories about other companies but I feel very confident that I m working with an upstanding professional. And he s dog friendly!

-  Taaj A.

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Great company.

- Ed S

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A pro. Showed on time. Knew what to do

-  Mike B.

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Jake of StorySold is proficient, affordable, and punctual. He took his time with carefully evaluating my problem, fixed my issue, and did extras like helping me fix my mattress which he treated for bed bugs. Can't recommend him enough and will use him and his company in the future. Got two other quotes which were much higher each quoting at least $1,000 without a guarantee.

- James J. 

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Jake is prompt, skilled, authentic and friendly! I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad that I talked to all three bidders before choosing. Even before he got here, I knew he was the best choice!

-  Linda B. 

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- We’ve struggled with mice in our home for years. Stoysold came out in February of 2020, found the access spots, blocked them, and we haven’t had a single mouse inside in over a year. I highly recommend their service. KH in Sandy, OR

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- Jake was professional, friendly, educational on the process. I would recommend his services to anyone needing a exterminator for insects or rodents.

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- Boann

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- We are so happy with the work Storysold did to fortify our house against unwelcome creatures! They were courteous, efficient, and communicative throughout the process.

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- Jake took care of our unwanted guest (roof rat!) and identified and took care of entry points to prevent future problems. We have been paying for a pest control service for years that we are going to be able to cancel thanks to Jake’s work. He’s very professional and responsive and we highly recommend him! – Mary

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- Dustin

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- Dani Rathke

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- Thorough, effective and reliable. I’ve used other exterminator services that seem more concerned with signing you up for annual contracts than actually solving the rodent issue. This company is the opposite. They care the most about solving the problem, billing customers comes second. I’d highly recommend.

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- Paul

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- Kristy L

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- Darlene Warren

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- Erika Glancy

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Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.

- Shelly A.

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Jake actually arrived early. He did a good job of removing a large hornet's nest of very aggressive hornets. He will definitely be our first choice on any future pest removal we might need.

- Barbara B.

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Jake went above and beyond of what was asked of him! Will not use anyone else!

- Ted M.

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Jake was extremely respectful and responsive. Came promptly and did a thorough inspection. He gave us options and his honest opinion about what we needed to do. He was very helpful in solving the problem simply and cost effectively! Will definitely call again.

- Michelle C.

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Friendly, fast and efficient. Very pleased with the service Jake provided

- Joli P.

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He's friendly, professional, punctual & extremely affordable. Would hire again & recommend to my friends.

- Max K.

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Jake at Storysold Pest Control is knowledgeable and professional. He is quick to respond and reasonably priced. I find him to be trustworthy and ethical, he does not sell unnecessary services and he works with customers that are willing to do some of the work themselves as well as with customers who just want the whole service done without being involved themselves. While other companies told me I needed to replace all my insulation and do massive crawl space renovations, he offered several affordable options. With his help we no longer have a mouse problem and it was done at a fraction of what other companies quoted us. I appreciate his flexibility and fun, friendly personality. If I ever have another pest control issue, he will be my first call.

- Darian C.

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Jake has been helping me trap rodents at my farm with his Volehalla rodent boxes. He's friendly, knowledgeable, and effective: we've trapped a lot of rodents!

- Emily C.

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Truly, I can t say enough about this team! They are so professional, trustworthy, and for the very first time in a long time I feel that they aren t here for 1/2 hour only to run off to the next job site! Jake (I believe the owner) told me that their company prefers to have 2 home visits per day over 10!!! I can t say enough them!!!!

- Lori T.

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Amazing! Jake is amazing! He came out because I had a squirrel in my attic. He has a vent he can put in so they can get out but not back in! Theres no trauma to the animal by trapping it and you will save yourself hearing it scream and cry in a trap! He walked around my entire house and attic looking for all entry points. He is very knowledgable and kind and looking to help you exist w wildlife w the option of not euthanizing. Years of experience. I was so pleased q his company I would highly highly recommend him for any of your critter/pest? needs! Thank you Jake!

- Susan K.

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- Loa H.

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We knew we had several openings to our crawl space where rodents were coming in. To come out and give us a quote, Jake was flexible with making an appointment at our convenience. He is personable and professional. We accepted his quote on the spot and he did the work at that time. He was thorough and gave us an excellent report with pictures after he was done. I highly recommend him and will use him again should the need arise.

- Larry a.

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- Paige L.

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Jake was a huge help with our recent rodent adventure. He was a great communicator and his work and knowledge were superb. He was thorough with his assessment of our property and honest with his recommendations. There was no attempt to unnecessarily sell us on any packages, in fact Jake gave us resources to get our situation under control and to maintain that going forward. Will absolutely be calling Jake in the future if the situation arises.

- Graham H.

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Great service and very affordable pricing.

- Humberto Z.

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- Deanna M.

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- Michelle H.

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Jake was very quick, informative. He not only took care of the rodent, but spent time helping to prevent it happening again.

- Em W.

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Excellent job! Jake was wonderful to work with.

- Kathy M.

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Jake went above and beyond. I had tiny ants in my cupboards and on my kitchen floor. He went outside the property and went underneath my condo. Not only did he take care of the ants but took care of a small rodent issue. Charged me exactly what he quoted me. All the extra work he did I thought for sure it would cost more but he stuck to his quote and was very polite, kind and quick.

- Brenda H.

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Jake was great to work with. He responded quickly to my request. He was able to do the job by being creative. He sent a follow up email to let me know when he would check back. His rate was very reasonable.

- Kelly A.

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Jake is really a 10/10 person and it shows in his work. Thankfully we did not have an infestation but his thoroughness, promptness, and overall attitude towards his profession was something that stuck out to me. I will be recommending him to everyone for pest control. I know who I'm calling when I need one!

- Samantha A.

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Amazing! Jake is amazing! He came out because I had a squirrel in my attic. He has a vent he can put in so they can get out but not back in! Theres no trauma to the animal by trapping it and you will save yourself hearing it scream and cry in a trap! He walked around my entire house and attic looking for all entry points. He is very knowledgable and kind and looking to help you exist w wildlife w the option of not euthanizing. Years of experience. I was so pleased q his company I would highly highly recommend him for any of your critter/pest? needs! Thank you Jake!

- Suzan K.

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Went above and beyond my expectations! Would recommend to anyone, knowledgeable and experienced. Thanks again!!

- Jaimie D.

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Jake will give you friendly, personalized, and timely service, and you get the story of the service at the end!

- Emily C.

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Very honest, friendly and informative. Excellent work.

- Terry B.

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Refreshing to work with Jake. He is collaborative and communicative. Great improvement since his visit.

- Seth W

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- Zack C.

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We had a great experience and highly recommend Jake. He is responsive, effective and thoughtful.

- Eddie B.

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Very honest, identified the problem in a remote corner of the property, operated quickly, provided photos of the work done and is coming back to verify the problem has been solved.

- Matteo V.

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Jake was fantastic! Fast response. Reliable and honest. Great rates. Hope not to have any more rodent problems, but if I do I will be calling Jake again. I would recommend him to anybody that needs help with Pest Control.

- Janet D.

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- Taney R.

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Working with Storysold was a dream. We had a huge undertaking with almost 40,000 sq ft between two properties! With both buildings being over 100 years old keeping critters out is difficult and the previous tenants of the building allowed a huge infestation to occur. Jake was able to not only eradicate the unwanted pests he also filled holes and cracks and has stopped them from having easy access. Communication was great and the pricing was fair and manageable for our small nonprofit! I will continue to work with Storysold and recommend them for any pest control needs, big or small!

- Jamie C.

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Came out next day and took care of our wasp nest! Easy to schedule and very responsive. Thank you!

- Jacoba G.

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Mouse in the house!!!! I texted Sunday morning after having chased a mouse through the house Saturday all day and Sunday at 3am... they came out to the house by 12:30 that Sunday. Jake got in the crawl space and checked the outside of the house for entry points. While there was no evidence of a major problem, I opt ed for the full attack. He came in with an Arsenal of traps that he placed in the kitchen and crawl space. He didn t hard sell and his prices were very affordable! He was also very honest with potential outcomes which I appreciate. He literally just left and I haven t heard any traps go off but just based on his customer service, I would totes recommend him! He s coming back in a week to check traps. I ve read some horror stories about other companies but I feel very confident that I m working with an upstanding professional. And he s dog friendly!

- Taaj A.

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Jake was straight forward and was happy to answer all questions. Thank you!

- April B.

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A pro. Showed on time. Knew what to do

- Mike B.

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Did an amazing job fixing some visitors to my crawl space. Sanitized, cleaned, and locked down from future uninvited guests!

- Stephen I.

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Jake of StorySold is proficient, affordable, and punctual. He took his time with carefully evaluating my problem, fixed my issue, and did extras like helping me fix my mattress which he treated for bed bugs. Can't recommend him enough and will use him and his company in the future. Got two other quotes which were much higher each quoting at least $1,000 without a guarantee.

- James J.

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He arrived on time, knew precisely what to do to resolve my problem and completed the job.

- Jeff J.

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Jake is prompt, skilled, authentic and friendly! I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad that I talked to all three bidders before choosing. Even before he got here, I knew he was the best choice!

- Linda B.

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- Jake is amazing

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- Stacie Benefield