Dealing with Late Summer Pests

An American dog tick

If you think that the end of summer will come with a break from pest problems, you might be sorely mistaken. Many different kinds of bugs and wildlife here in Knoxville TN are well-equipped to deal with the conditions of the late summer. If you want to make sure that the last of your summer isn’t taken over by pests, you have to make regular preventative efforts to keep them away. Read on to learn about the late summer pests we commonly face and what you can do to keep them away with Russell’s Pest Control!

What Pests Like the Late Summer?

Although we are now past what is usually referred to as “pest season”, there are several kinds of critters that we still have to watch out for. These are the pests that we are usually called to help with in August and September:

  • Ticks: These parasitic arachnids breed during the late spring and early summer so that they have the rest of the warm season to thrive. Ticks lurk in tall grass and densely vegetated areas waiting for potential hosts to walk by.
  • Mosquitoes: If you don’t get to mosquitoes early on in their season, you could be stuck dealing with them all the way through fall. By developing breeding grounds in hidden areas, they can continue to increase their numbers through the late summer.
  • Wildlife: Animals that hibernate during the winter have to make the most of their summers. Raccoons, opossums, and squirrels commonly infest Knoxville homes and businesses in late summer.
  • Bees and wasps: Bees and wasps will hound anybody nearby who’s cooking or eating. If you’re leaving food outdoors or hosting frequent get-togethers, you might end up attracting them.

Preventing Pests during the Late Summer

Before reading on, it’s important to note that any serious pest infestation should be addressed immediately by a professional exterminator. However, if you’re dealing with a minor issue, noticing signs of vulnerabilities, or just want a head start on pest prevention, you should take this advice from our team:

  1. Close entryways: You might have gaps or cracks in your siding, foundation, fencing, roofing, windows, or doors that could lead to pest infestations. Seal any cracks you find with a silicone-based caulk or use screens on doors and windows to prevent pest entry.
  2. Be careful with garbage: taking out your garbage as often as possible and using outdoor bins with sealable lids will prevent many of the common late summer pests.
  3. Take care of your yard: If you trim trees and shrubs, quickly dispose of leaf piles and grass clippings, and do a general decluttering sweep, you can prevent pests from finding temporary hiding places in your yard.
  4. Find and remove standing water: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in pools of still water, no matter how tiny. Try to find and get rid of standing water wherever you can on your property, paying close attention to gutters, planter boxes, and other receptacles.

Late Summer Pest Experts in Knoxville TN

Some pest infestations get out of hand before we have a chance to do anything about them. If this is what you’re going through right now, it’s time to reach out to your local pest control experts. Our technicians at Russell’s Pest Control are highly knowledgeable about the types of pest problems that residential and commercial properties often see in the late summer here in Knoxville. We can rid your home or business of pests and collaborate with you to keep them away year-round. Contact us today for a free quote!

Why Do Ants Always Come Back?

Ants found inside someone's home

Ants are one of the hardest pests to get rid of because of their incredible persistence. If you’ve ever dealt with an ant infestation before, chances are you thought you got rid of them at one point, only to have them return with the same presence days later. Why is it that ants are able to cause recurring issues for us so easily?

It turns out that the ways that many homeowners deal with ants in the house usually only delay or worsen the problem. This is why it’s important to learn the best ways to get rid of them from those with experience. Read on for at-home ant control advice from our team at Russell’s Pest Control!

Why Doesn’t My At-Home Ant Control Help?

The main issue with most DIY ant removal strategies is that they focus on the part of the problem that’s present, not the root of the issue. When you notice ants in the house, is your first inclination to squash them or spray them with some kind of store-bought pest control product? If so, all you will accomplish is delaying or even worsening the problem. This is because when you kill ants, they release a pheromone signal to warn their colony members of a dangerous area that should be avoided. When the other ants sense this signal, they will relocate their approach point to adjust their invasion and continue to capitalize on whatever resource you’re affording them inside. Ants are small and sneaky enough to find dozens of entry points into your home!

Ant Control Strategies You Can Count On

So, if you can’t squash or spray ants to get rid of them, what can you do? We recommend prioritizing these three actions to conduct your own ant control at home:

  • Find their entry point: If you can trace the ants’ entry point back to a hole in the wall, a gap in the window, or otherwise, you can fix the gap with caulk, a screen, or whatever else the material calls for. Spraying a citrus-based cleaning solution at the site can also temporarily divert ants from the site.
  • Deprive them of food and water: Ants are probably in your home because they found a way to get to food and water inside. By cleaning up crumbs and spills, storing your food in airtight containers, and keeping your kitchen and bathroom ventilated to prevent water pooling, you can keep food and moisture access to a minimum and disincentivize ant activity.
  • Hire a professional exterminator: An ant control expert will be able to trace the ants in your home all the way back to the colony that they came from. Without getting rid of nests in your walls or anthills in your yard, you will never be able to completely stop your ant problems.

Expert Home Ant Extermination in Knoxville TN

If you’re tired of dealing with endless ant problems in your home in Knoxville TN it’s time to talk to the ant removal team at Russell’s Pest Control. Our licensed and certified technicians know all about the habits of every common ant species in our region. We offer exhaustive extermination services and ensure you never deal with ants again by teaching you how to keep them out. For a free quote, contact us today!

Mosquito Prevention: The 4 Signals Mosquitoes Use

A mosquito in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

During the spring and summer in Knoxville TN, mosquitoes can feel impossible to avoid. We’re here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case! Mosquitoes, for the most part, are simple creatures that base their decisions on a small set of external stimuli. Learning more about what mosquitoes are attracted to and how they find people to bite will help you avoid them while spending time outside. If you’re ready to learn the secrets to mosquito prevention, read on for advice from our mosquito exterminators at Russell’s Pest Control!

4 Signals Mosquitoes Use to Find People

Although some people are documented “mosquito magnets,” there is still no scientific consensus on the exact genetic factors that make some people predisposed to greater risk of mosquito bites. However, we do know some signs that all humans exhibit that mosquitoes are attracted to. Here are the 4 main signals we give off to mosquitoes:

  1. Breath: When we exhale, we release carbon dioxide into the air that mosquitoes pick up on to determine if there are any humans around.
  2. Body odor: Mosquitoes can smell our natural body odor quite keenly, and this odor is amplified when we perspire. Wearing floral perfumes can also attract mosquitoes looking for nectar. Instead, they’ll stumble upon a potential host!
  3. Body temperature: Mosquitoes can pick up on our body heat to find us. Wearing dark clothing traps this heat in and makes it easier for mosquitoes to find us.
  4. Color: All human skin gives off longer wavelengths of light that mosquitoes find attractive. Leaving exposed skin is a sure way to attract mosquitoes.

Preventing Mosquito Bites in Knoxville TN

We can’t avoid sweating or exhaling carbon dioxide, but we can make efforts to block the signals that we give off to mosquitoes, as well as discourage them from living around our properties. Here are a few ways to keep your mosquito exposure to a minimum:

  • Clear out standing water in your yard: Mosquitoes breed around and lay their eggs on standing water, which can collect in planters, buckets, tarps, gutters, and more places. Pour it out or cover it wherever you find it.
  • Wear covering clothing: Leaving lots of exposed skin will make you more susceptible to mosquito bites. Although it can be hotter in the summer, choosing light colors and long sleeves will deter mosquitoes.
  • Use a safe insect repellent: EPA-approved bug sprays using either DEET or picaridin can reduce your risk of attracting mosquitoes. If you’re looking for an all-natural alternative, try citronella oil or lemon eucalyptus oil.

Why Professional Mosquito Control Works

Because mosquitoes spend most of their days in shaded, vegetated areas, you could be hosting a booming mosquito population without ever finding out where they’re hiding. Let the mosquito experts at Russell’s Pest Control assess your situation! We can send a technician out to perform a property-wide inspection, determining all problem areas and drafting the best possible barrier spray plan for your yard. For a free quote or to learn more, contact us today!

Pest Proofing Your Backyard in 10 Steps

A backyard to be serviced in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

The sunshine and heat of spring have been widely welcomed around Knoxville TN this year. Good weather brings us all out of our homes and into the world, but it brings all kinds of regional pests out of their winter hiding, too. Especially after a spring rain, all kinds of insects and wildlife enjoy new plant growth, easy access to food and water, and hospitable conditions. Are you looking to keep pests out of your backyard this spring and summer? Read on to find out how with Russell’s Pest Control!

10 Tips to Help You Pest-Proof Your Backyard

If you don’t take proper preventative measures during the spring, your backyard is sure to be overridden by pests all summer long. We recommend that you consider this advice for easy at-home pest prevention. Here are our top 10 tips for DIY pest control in your backyard:

  1. Deal with standing water: Standing water pools, even tiny puddles, can provide mosquitoes with a place to breed and lay their eggs. Pour out or cover still water in gutters, planters, tarps, buckets, and anywhere else in your yard.
  2. Trim plants: Letting your plants grow out of control can provide many kinds of pests with shaded hiding places. Trim your plants back to keep mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and more out of your yard.
  3. Get rid of yard waste: Scattered branches and leaves or piles of yard waste left in your yard can provide hiding places for many kinds of insects. Deal with yard waste as often as you can.
  4. Use garden netting: If you have a garden, chances are that many insects and even wild animals know about it. Using garden netting can deter common garden pests from beetles to raccoons.
  5. Mow the lawn often: Mowing your lawn once a week can prevent overgrowth from trapping standing water and hosting all kinds of bugs.
  6. Dethatch your lawn: While a thin layer of thatch keeps your lawn’s temperature regulated, too much of it will lead to a rapidly increasing lawn pest population in your backyard, capitalizing on new hiding places, moisture, and prey.
  7. Keep bins sealed and distant: If given the opportunity, pests ranging from wasps to opossums will go through your trash bins looking for food. Ensure your trash bins are sealed shut and keep them far away from your backyard if possible.
  8. Store firewood safely: Stacks of firewood left leaning against the outside of your home can lead to devastating termite infestations in your back deck or your home. Store your firewood off of the ground and far away from your house if possible.
  9. Water your lawn carefully: Overwatering and underwatering your lawn can both lead to pest problems. Installing a sprinkler or irrigation system can help you regulate your lawn’s water intake.
  10. Hire an exterminator: An experienced local exterminator can help you determine the reasons for your pest problems and figure out the best way to put a stop to them.

Pest Control for Your Backyard in Knoxville TN

If you want to ensure that your backyard is pest-free* this summer, reach out to your local pest control company. The technicians at Russell’s Pest Control are familiar with all of the common pest problems that Knoxville residents face. We can develop a unique pest control plan that fits the needs and qualities of your backyard, keeping you pest-free* all year long. Contact us today for a free quote!

Dealing with Carpenter Ant Damage in Knoxville

A carpenter ant in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Carpenter ants might not be able to cause as much damage as termites in Knoxville TN, but they come with their own quirks that make them a hassle to deal with. One of the advantages that carpenter ants have over termites is that they don’t have to leave the building—they tunnel through walls to build nests as well as pathways. Because they split off to make new nests all throughout our buildings, it can be especially difficult to get rid of a carpenter ant infestation on your own. Read on for Russell’s Pest Control’s advice on dealing with carpenter ant damage.

Finding Carpenter Ant Damage

Because carpenter ants nest inside our walls, it can be hard to discover your infestation until it reaches sizes that can’t be ignored. Carpenter ants will be quick to create satellite nests in different parts of your home or business once their population grows enough to do so. Make sure to be on the lookout for these signs of carpenter ants:

  • Tiny piles of wood shavings
  • Faint rustling noises from your walls
  • Small holes or striated structures in wood beams
  • Winged ants coming in and out of holes in the wall

If you’re finding ants in your house and you’re not sure if they’re carpenter ants or not, check that they are all black in color, ¼-⅜” in length, and have large jaws. You might also see winged carpenter ant swarmers.

What to Do When You Have Carpenter Ant Damage

If you’ve found carpenter ants or evidence of their damage on your property, it’s important to take steps to get rid of them right away to stop any future damage. You might wish to try some of these DIY carpenter ant removal strategies:

  1. Spraying a citrus-scented cleaner, diluted lemon eucalyptus oil, or cinnamon near areas of activity to drive them away
  2. Flushing them out of their nests by pouring soapy water or window cleaner inside
  3. Mixing borax with sugar water to create your own bait trap

The problem with using these techniques is that you can never be sure if you’ve reached every ant in your building, and without doing so, your infestation can quickly build back to dangerous sizes.

Get Help from Carpenter Ant Exterminators

To be 100% certain that all carpenter ants in your building have been eliminated, contact your local pest control company for help. Our ant extermination experts at Russell’s Pest Control have been eliminating carpenter ants from Knoxville TN homes and businesses for more than 45 years. To learn more about how we conduct our professional carpenter ant removal and receive a free quote, contact us today!

Warning Signs Of A Spring Termite Infestation In Eastern Tennessee

Termites in Eastern TN - Russell's Pest Control

Termites are one of the sneakiest pests in Eastern TN, which doesn’t pair well with the fact that they’re also the most destructive. A fully-developed colony of subterranean termites can consume up to a pound of wood in a single day—you can imagine the kind of destruction that can occur if they go undiscovered for months or years. This is all too common! At Russell’s Pest Control, we work hard not only to get rid of termites in our customers’ homes, but also to teach them how to prevent termites and identify termite infestations on their own. Read on to learn for yourself!

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Right before spring starts and the weather begins to warm up again, we have to remind ourselves to keep watch for termite swarmers around our properties. Because every other termite caste is specialized to avoid detection, looking out for swarmers is the best chance that we have to get ahead of a termite infestation early. Here are some ways to identify a termite swarmer:

  • Catching their flight: Although their swarms don’t last much longer than a half an hour, finding tiny black insects with long, white, rounded wings taking flight around your property in the early spring is a sure sign that termites are going after your home or business.
  • Finding wings: Because it’s fairly rare to witness a termite infestation, you’re more likely to find their discarded wings. Look for them scattered around outside your home, in your garden, or trapped in any spider webs.
  • Damage: Although this is later than you want to find them, you’ll also want to know what termite damage looks like. Termites choose to remain hidden and infest structural timbers in most cases, but this damage will be reflected visibly through sagging ceilings, chipping paint, and floors that appear water-damaged.

How to Prevent Termites from Infesting your Home or Business

Now that you know how to watch out for termites, it’s important to be able to protect your property from them, too. Here are the best ways to termite-proof your building:

  1. Inspect the exterior of your building for cracks, gaps, and damp wood.
  2. Move mulch away from the foundation of your home
  3. Fix any plumbing leaks, especially those around structural wood or the foundation
  4. Keep any wood piles off of the ground and far away from the structure
  5. Ensure that crawl spaces and bathrooms are properly ventilated

As you can see, these steps follow a clear theme of preventing damp wood from accumulating in your building. This is the key to DIY termite control.

How Professional Termite Exterminators Can Help

If it’s already too late to prevent termite from infesting your home or business in Eastern TN, call your local pest control company. The termite control experts at Russell’s Pest Control are well-versed in multiple termite removal strategies that use eco-conscious methods to find and exterminate termites. Contact us today to learn more and get a free quote!

Do I Hear Animal Noises in the Attic?

Inspecting an attic for pests in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Are you hearing scratching, scampering, or loud thuds coming from your attic? Odd sounds from your ceiling and walls are the first signs that many use to identify their wildlife problems. While it can be plainly apparent that animals are living in your attic by the sounds, the kind of animals and the source of the infestation can be difficult to discern without professional help. The critter control team at Russell’s Pest Control has your back here! We have the tools and capabilities to safely remove all kinds of animals from homes around Knoxville TN. Read on to learn how to get rid of animals in the attic!

Finding Animals in the Attic

If you think the noises you’re hearing from above are being caused by animals, you’ll want to inspect your home for other signs of animal activity. Here are a few things to look for in your search for evidence of a wildlife infestation:

  • Torn-up or destroyed insulation
  • Bite marks on hard surfaces in your home or on items stored in your attic
  • Urine and feces in crawl spaces, behind appliances, or in cluttered corners
  • Branches, leaves, and torn paper around your roof and attic

What Animals Do I Have in my Attic?

Once you’re sure that you have animals inside your home, it’s important to figure out what they are in order to safely move forward with wildlife removal measures. These are the animals that we most commonly find in our customers’ attics around Knoxville TN, along with the signs that reveal them:

  1. Raccoons: Raccoons are the strongest wild animals that we deal with inside our homes. They can tear through walls and break off roofing to get inside. Raccoons are active at night, so if you’re hearing loud noises while you sleep, this could be your problem.
  2. Squirrels: Squirrels sneak into our homes through gaps in roofing fixtures, as opposed to the more destructive raccoons. They are active during the day, so if they’re in your attic, you’ll hear light scurrying noises. Squirrel noises are softer and happen at different times than raccoon noises.
  3. Rats and mice: Damaged insulation is a good sign of rats or mice nesting in your attic. You’ll also likely notice gnawing marks and droppings around your home—rodents have to access water daily, so they’ll move around your property often.
  4. Birds: These invaders make themselves well known with their chirping sounds. If you believe you’re hearing birds inside your home, act quickly to get rid of them, because their droppings can create multiple health risks.

Safest Way to Get Rid of Animals in the Attic

You can seal off your trash bins, keep your yard tidy, and routinely inspect your home for holes and gaps to keep wildlife out. However, if wild animals have already started nesting or breeding inside your home, the safest and most effective way to deal with them is to get your local critter control professionals involved. At Russell’s Pest Control, we equip our wildlife removal team with humane and effective pest control products and strategies to safely get rid of wildlife and restore your home’s peace. Contact us today for a free quote or to learn more!

Why Are Earwigs Invading My Home?

Earwig in Knoxville TN home - Russell's Pest Control

Looking at an earwig up close, you would think it would be far more comfortable living in some alien landscape than on your bathroom floor. Its slimy appearance and foreboding pincers give it an extraterrestrial look, but these insects can be found just about anywhere here in Knoxville TN. These are insects that make their home in the soil around your home. However, there are certain conditions that will attract earwigs.

Knowing how to prevent these insects, then, means knowing how to avoid what attracts them in the first place! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about preventing earwigs from invading your home with the experts at Russell’s Pest Control.

What Makes Your Yard Inviting To Earwigs?

Like most pests, earwigs are always on the hunt for food, water, and accessible shelter. Here’s what may be attracting earwigs to your home:

  • Earwigs love moisture. If you have a broken or obstructed gutter, a leaky spigot, or some other condition that is allowing moisture to dampen the soil near your home, you’re likely to invite earwigs in close.
  • Earwigs love plants. If you have a garden, flower pots, or some other vegetation near your home, earwigs will take notice.
  • Earwigs love decaying wood. If your home is being damaged by water, or you have wood in your yard that is slowly decaying, earwigs will be happy to live on your property.
  • Earwigs love to hide beneath items. Lawn clutter, construction materials, tarps, rocks, wood, and other objects that are left in your yard, especially in areas where there is vegetation, will be a magnet for earwigs.

Why Do Earwigs Come Inside?

If you are seeing a few of these bugs inside your Knoxville TN home, you may be wondering what drew them indoors to begin with. There are three circumstances that might compel earwigs to make their way into your home:

  1. While these are definitely insects that like moisture, they are capable of drowning. During a rainy season or even after just one rainstorm, earwigs may leave the soil around your home and attempt to enter your home to get away from the rising water.
  2. Being an insect that likes moisture, they can also enter a home when things get too dry outside. After a time of drought and dryness, it is not uncommon for homeowners to find these pests in their basement. But they aren’t usually content to stay in the basement.
  3. Sometimes they enter a house simply because it’s there. This is why it is important to reduce the factors above to reduce earwigs in your yard. It is also a good idea to have ongoing pest control treatments to make your property less hospitable to bugs.

Need Help Getting Rid of Earwigs?

Sometimes there’s no telling how earwigs got inside your home. And once they’re there, Contact us today for assistance with earwigs and other household invading pests that live in your yard. The team here at Russell’s Pest Control has the answers you need to keep these bugs where they belong. Contact us today to get started!

Why Do I Have Flies in the Winter?

Fruit flies in Knoxville TN home - Russell's Pest Control

Flies are typically associated with the summer heat, especially here in Knoxville. The presence of flies in the home is never pleasant, and during the winter they may cause confusion for many homeowners. Fly infestations are one of the most common winter pests, and there’s a reason why they’re indoors. The most effective way to prevent winter pests, such as fruit flies and cluster flies, is to learn what attracts them to your home. Russell’s Pest Control has all the info you need to get rid of winter flies on your property once and for all.

Common Flies in the Winter

Cluster flies and fruit flies are the most common types of flies in your home during the winter. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  1. Cluster flies
    • Larger dark gray flies with yellow hairs on their thorax and overlapping wings
    • Commonly found around windows, basements, or attics
    • Group together in dark, secluded areas to go into diapause or hibernation
    • Begin to re-emerge in the spring or on warmer days to regain heat and energy
  2. Fruit flies
    • Tiny flies that are light in color with big red eyes
    • Commonly found in kitchens or warm, moist areas like your trash or drains
    • Lay eggs in rotting fruit, food, or plant material
    • Often get indoors by hiding inside grocery bags

Getting Rid of Winter Flies

Like most pests, fruit and cluster flies cannot survive the cold temperatures during the winter months. Cluster flies won’t reproduce in your property, but fruit fly infestations can quickly grow in size and become a real nuisance. In order to avoid dealing with these pests, you have to prevent them in the first place. Follow these steps to get rid of winter flies:

  1. In the fall, it is imperative to seal off your home to keep cluster flies out. Do this by caulking cracks on the property. Sealing windows and doors is especially important, as these flies tend to enter homes under baseboards and window frames.
  2. In order to eliminate fruit flies, it’s best to eliminate their food and shelter sources. You should always throw away rotting food from your pantry or fridge. Take your garbage outside regularly and use tight-fitting lids on your cans. Lastly, focus on sealing cracks and crevices around windows and doors near your kitchen.

Need Help With Fly Control in Knoxville TN?

This winter, you should contact a local fly control expert if you have a fly infestation in your property. Here at Russell’s Pest Control, we work hard to eliminate the conditions in your home that can lead to a fly infestation. Contact us today today to learn more!

Rodents And New Construction

A norway rat in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest ControlHere in Knoxville TN, we’ve helped clear rodents out of dozens of homes and businesses every winter. While we commonly think of older homes as having more vulnerabilities that could lead to rodent problems, brand-new construction provides rats and mice with all kinds of opportunities to find shelter for the winter. If you’re going through the process of building a new home or office and are experiencing or worried about rodent problems, read on. Our rodent exterminators at Russell’s Pest Control are here to teach you the best ways to secure your property from rodent problems.

Rodent Infestations in New Construction

The arrival of the winter season means that the mice and rats in this area are on the hunt for indoor nesting sites to keep them warm until the cold passes. Mice can invade any building that has a hole the size of a pencil or larger. Their bone structure can flex and bend to allow them to fit into impossibly small spaces. Rats may require slightly larger openings, but they’ll still squeeze through unbelievably tight spots. Because of this, all homeowners should make sure that their foundation vents are in good order and that weather-stripping is in place around all doors and windows.

However, some property owners are at greater risk than others. For instance, mice and rats always put more pressure on homeowners in areas near new constructions. Even if one of your neighbors is undergoing construction, the rodents nesting underground near the build site, finding their hiding spots revealed, will have to scramble to new homes. They might find yours suitable!

How to Keep Rodents and Mice Out

So, what can you do to prevent rodents from acting on new construction to find warm shelters? These are a few steps that we recommend you take: 

  1. Seal all gaps that give access to your building: This is easier when it’s not your home that’s undergoing construction. Inspect the outside of your property to seal any cracks in your walls, foundation, plumbing fixtures, or otherwise with either a silicone-based caulk or steel wool as you see fit. If your home is undergoing construction, make sure that any temporary tarping isn’t leaving small gaps that could allow rodents in.
  2. Be safe about food: Make sure your bins are sealable, your food is sealed and stowed away, and your trash cans are far away from your home. Rodents will pick up on the scent of food and establish nests nearby a food source, which can easily be obtained through your waste.
  3. Tidy up your yard: Having overgrown plants can allow for temporary rodent hiding places outside your home before they sneak into your house.

Professional Rodent Exterminators in Knoxville TN

If you can’t find the source of your rodent infestation and they are causing problems for you, it’s time to get your local rat or mice exterminators involved. At Russell’s Pest Control, we take a multi-faceted approach to rodent control, involving complete inspections to find infestation sources, exhaustive and safe rodent removal with professional technology, and preventative maintenance to ensure it never happens again. For a free quote, contact us today!