What the Wonderful Winchester Boys of Supernatural Can Teach You about Pest Control
by Lucy Markham (g+)
While probably none of us have to deal with possessed houses or a neighborhood full of accidentally summoned vengeful spirits, there are pests every homeowner has to deal with. If you’re a homeowner who also happens to be a fan of Supernatural, you’ve probably wished more than once that you could just call Sam and Dean over to deal with your own insect infestation (even if it isn’t happening because your housing development was built on cursed native lands).
Barring that, there is a lot that fans of the series can learn about facing the little Leviathans in their own homes from Sam & Dean’s approach to “saving people, hunting things—the family business!”
Do Your Research
Upon encountering a new threat to humanity in the town they’ve driven to in the Impala, Sam and Dean’s first move is to determine what they’re dealing with—every time. Every vengeful spirit targets different victim profiles, whereas monsters looking only to feed (depending upon type) will attack random, weak victims. So the brothers look at the victims and try to determine monster type based on victims and kill patterns (though occasionally they do get early glances of the monster itself).
Similarly, as you hunt pests that may be threatening your home (as well as your personal health and well-being), look around your home and pay detailed attention to the type of marks they leave. Termites and carpenter ants both burrow into the wood of your home, but carpenter ants tend to target wood already damaged by fungi (and they’re not above invading insulation foam, either) while termites burrow up from the ground into any type of wood. When you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll know how to deal with it properly.
Use the Right Tools
Once they find out what is killing or threatening the lives of the people they meet on their travels, Dean and Sam have to find out what weapons or methods will kill or otherwise neutralize the offending entity.
One early threat Sam & Dean dealt with was the vengeful spirit of Reverend Karns, a preacher-turned-serial-killer now targeting college students whose behavior he deemed immoral. In order to sever his connection to our world, Sam and Dean have to burn and salt the preacher’s body—as well as all the church silver that may contain traces of the silver from his Hook Hand. Salt contains spiritually cleansing properties and may be readily used as protection against demons and evil spirits.
Other times, Sam and Dean are simply able to convince spirits to stop—as in the case where Dean guilt-trips Bloody Mary into self-destruction because of all the people her avenging rage has killed.
However, in order to kill a higher-level demon like Azazel, Sam and Dean have to hunt down a specialized gun made by Samuel Colt.
As with the things the Winchesters hunt, find the best way to kill them or get rid of them before you try to rid yourself of the pests in your own home; just like Dean wouldn’t try to kill Azazel by just using fire and salt, you shouldn’t just try using Raid on a termite colony. And while raccoons can be shooed out of the attic with loud noises and flashing lights, mice and rats have to be individually rounded up and removed or killed, though both have to be cleaned up after.
Don’t Try This Alone
As anyone who has seen the show will know, the one thing that gets Sam AND Dean into more trouble than anything else is when they try to act separately rather than as a team. Dean got sent to hell, Sam’s had multiple encounters with less-than-forthright she-devils (literally; Meg Masters was originally serving Azazel and Lucifer and Ruby used Sam to help start the Apocalypse).
When getting rid of pests, it’s always a good idea to have someone with you to:
Check your logic
Think of things you might not have
Act as moral support (some pests require extra fortitude)
Provide a skillset that complements your own (better eyesight, reflexes, etc.)
Call for help if something truly terrible happens
Find someone to be the Sam to your Dean (or vice versa) whenever you go hunting (even if it’s just for mice), whether that’s a family member or the friend you hold as a sibling (bonus points if they have actual hunting exterminating experience).
Don’t Assume You’ve Won
When Sam was on his date with Lori, the preacher’s daughter, it would have seemed that all was well. After all, Sam and Dean had burned all of the church silver that could have contained Reverend Karns’ Hook Hand and linked him to this world—but we, the viewers, knew there was too much time left in the show for Karns’ spirit to truly be at peace. Everyone is lucky that Sam thought to ask Lori about her silver crucifix and burn that, too.
Similarly, never be quick to assume you have eradicated a pest problem. Many problems, like termites, recur as pockets of the colony survive elsewhere in the wood, or new colonies may be drawn in by vacant tunnels. Keep a vigilant eye on the problem long after you think everything in there is dead and patched up—just to be sure, and be prepared to keep on fighting if it comes back.
Know When a Problem is Too Big for You
Frequently as the series progresses, the brothers are required to call on allies when a problem is beyond their knowledge, skill, strength, or expertise—Missouri Moseley, Bobby Singer, the Harvelles, Castiel, Meg (she got better), Kevin Tran and his mother, even Crowley the King of Hell, to name a few.
If the experienced, brave, deft, powerful hunter boys from Lawrence need help, then you do too. And just like they saw with the curse-motivated swarm of bugs, some problems are bigger than you can handle yourself.
Luckily, it’s rare you’ll actually have to abandon your home due to an infestation—even cases of having to abandon it for naturally occurring problems (such as one Idaho family’s unfortunate discovery that their infested home was built on a snake den) are rare.
However, if you do find, for example, your Long Island home engulfed in a swarm of the termites that Long Island homes are subject to, maybe even one of the same magnitude as the curse-driven swarm from Season One, it’s best to talk to the local exterminator as soon as possible, before your home becomes truly infested.
Know your own skills, and be ready to ask for professional or more experienced help before you get yourself into a problem you can’t fix.
Short of having a direct line to the wonderful Winchester brothers, these tips are the next best thing to help you fight pests like they fight monsters!