One House Mouse Can Quickly Become Bigger Problem, Pose Risk to Health and Property

Some think that they’re cute, but they scare the wits out of others. However you feel about mice, one thing is clear: If you see one or evidence of one in your home, it’s better to act quickly to get rid of them. Otherwise, the little fury critters can wreak havoc in your home and pose a health risk to you and your family.

As the most common mammal in the country, we all will most likely encounter mice at some point. The colder fall and winter months are the time when mice and other rodents look to come inside warm structures searching for food and protection against the freezing temperatures. Each year, an estimated 21 million invade homes across the country, according the National Pest Management Association.

They’re hungry little critters, too. Mice eat between 15 to 20 times a day, so they prefer to be near food. They can also jump about a foot into the air, giving them the ability to hop up onto counters or pantries. Their tiny bodies can fit through an opening the size of a dime, making any crack or small opening to the outside an entry point into your home.

While mice don’t live a long time, about five months in the wild, they make up for that by having a lot of baby mice fast. A female mouse can give birth starting at two months old and can have about a dozen babies every three weeks. If you spotted one mouse in the house, there are probably others lurking nearby, and it can quickly become a bigger infestation if it’s not properly addressed.

Mice also like to gnaw on electrical wiring, causing damage that can lead to a greater risk of an electrical fire. Beyond that, mice can carry as many as 200 disease-causing organisms, such as the Hantavirus and Salmonella.

Simple preventative measure can help keep mice and other rodents outside in the cold. Truly Nolen recommends homeowners take the following steps to protect their property and their family’s health:

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
  • Keep a close eye on the garage. As it is hard to seal up adequately, mice can move in here easily, readily accessing the rest of the house with ease.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains that provide the perfect breeding site for pests.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house.
  • If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.

National Pest Management Month: Four Common Pests to Watch Out For

We all know the feeling of the cringe-worthy moment when we hear little scurries across the floorboards, or see teeny droppings in our cupboards and run to call for the first available pest control service appointment.

For more than 30 years, the National Pest Management Association has celebrated the month of April as ‘National Pest Management Month’ to recognize pest management professionals for their efforts in protecting individuals’ health and property from those cringe-worthy moments. With spring season upon us, now is a good time to brush up on four common household nuisances and how to prevent or identify an infestation.

So the next time you see a creepy crawler and wonder what it is, keep in mind these four common pests:

Ants: Ranging from reddish browns to blacks and even yellow, ants are common throughout the year. No matter the climate, ants have an arduous way about them, making their homes in the tiniest of places. As the number one nuisance in the U.S., ants are capable of infesting office buildings, homes and restaurants. Ants are often attracted by sweets and proteins, so keep spills, pet food and other foods cleaned up and/or containers tightly sealed.

Termites: Termites live in colonies that can grow to large numbers. Their usual methods of infesting a home can include entering through cracks in concrete floors from underground, a space as small as 1/64th of an inch or larger. Termites can also be carried in through infested wood such as old furniture, firewood or building materials. Both Subterranean and Drywood termite colonies even have members equipped with wings, being able to fly into a home and begin a new colony. Make sure to have your home thoroughly inspected yearly by a professional to spot termites and/or damage before it’s too late.

Spiders: Varying greatly in size, spiders are often the sign of a more serious insect infestation. As carnivorous hunters, spiders feast on insects such as ants and crickets and hide in cracks and crevices under well-protected areas inside or outside the home. Being popular all year round, the best way to reduce the risk of spider invasions is to remove clutter, repair windows and screens and dust regularly.

Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are known to be travelers, packing away in your suitcase until the most opportune moment to make themselves cozy in your home. Living up to one and a half years, bed bugs produce between one and eight eggs daily. Since you can’t feel the bite of a bed bug, homeowners should be aware of inflamed bites with clusters or rows. Inspect your surroundings carefully when traveling to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you.

More Bugs: The Unwelcome Impact of Climate Change

What does the ever-changing weather patterns have to do with pest control? Quite a bit, actually. As northern parts of the country are experiencing extremely low temperatures, and other areas are oddly warmer than usual, the change in our typical seasonal patterns raises a red flag for changes in pest activity.

Irregular changes in the weather, such as spikes in cold temperatures, have the potential to significantly diminish a pest predator’s population, affecting the balance of the ecosystem and allowing pests to thrive and flourish as they take advantage and adapt without anyone to threaten their livelihood. As the populations of predators decrease, pests are able to recuperate from the weather change significantly quicker.

The impact of climate change on insects and humans is far reaching – forest and food crops could be affected and diseases spread by insects could have a wider range. Nature has a delicate balance and it doesn’t take much – a slight temperature variation, or even a movement in the course of a river – to cause changes that move throughout an ecosystem.

Since mosquitoes are the most common carriers of malaria and yellow fever, dramatic increases in these diseases would be likely. Moreover, both the National Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization report that current treatments for malaria and yellow fever are becoming less effective, leading to the potential for plague-like levels of these diseases, unlike anything seen since the U.S. Civil War.

Pests like the cockroach, bed bug, scorpion and mosquito are among the most adaptable and successful life forms on earth. For example, cockroaches are among the oldest living creatures. They survived the Ice Age, and are believed to have persisted for more than 350 million years. With that record of success, we can be sure they will adapt and thrive in changing climate patterns.

Bed bugs have been around since the 11th century and have learned to live and adapt as humans do while acclimating and adjusting to the warmer and milder climates, creating a new page in their pest evolution. In the southern part of the country, these nomadic pests have caused infestations to rise exponentially, threatening vacationers’ favorite sunny spots and bringing home with them unwanted house guests.

We know that there is a strong, direct relationship between the level of insect populations and fluctuating temperatures. As variations in the seasons become more evident, predictions for pest activity in 2013 reflect similarly to what we’ve seen in 2012. And since 2012 was one of the hottest years on record, what we can expect in 2013 is a continuation of abnormal pest activity.

The Billion Dollar Chew: Termites Eat Through Homes and Businesses

Each year, termites cause billions of dollars in damage, and homeowner’s insurance will not cover the cost of treatment.

These invisible destroyers cause more damage in the U.S. than storms, fires and floods combined. The National Pest Management Association estimates that termites are responsible for $5 billion in property damage every year.

While you sleep, termites may literally eat you out of house and home and even your business. And while they eat 24 hours a day, their damage is insidious because you usually do not see them or the damage they cause until it’s too late. Termites are known for their industriousness and can always find a way into your home, whether the structure is made of wood or concrete.

Homeowners might notice termites when they swarm around spring time, a likely sign of infestation. But they can swarm in both the spring and fall, anytime the environmental conditions are right.

The U.S. is home to many species of termites, the most common being Subterranean and Drywood termites.

Subterranean Termites tunnel in the soil. The ability to tunnel allows them to find and feed on countless pieces of wood. This mobility also allows them to create much bigger colonies than those of wood inhabiting species. A Subterranean termite colony can have hundreds of thousands to several million members working in a caste system.

Drywood Termites can cause serious damage to houses and furniture. These termites are easier to spot because they produce coarse sand-like fecal pellets that can be spotted long before you discover the termites themselves. The Drywood termite not only eats the wood structure, but lives inside the wood structure. These insects will construct a virtual city within the wood, complete with connecting tunnels to get around it. They can enter the home by flying in or being carried on previously infested wood, such as furniture or construction materials.

Preventing termites is as important as exterminating them. A termite prevention program should include the following elements:

  • A professional inspection done at least once a year. The potential damage is too great to rely on “do-it-yourself” methods.
  • An ongoing preventive system including sodium borate-based materials, which can be painted, sprayed, or spread onto the wood, or injected into hollow spaces inside the walls of the home.
  • Having your pest control professional establish an “early warning system” that detects termites in the soil before they reach the home itself. Many systems establish bait stations around the perimeter of the home to detect the approach of termites while they are still several feet away.

By taking the necessary precautions, you can help prevent your home from becoming a termite’s permanent residence.