Category Archives: Pests In the News

Florida Pest Alert: Outbreak Mosquito-borne Virus Chikungunya

Florida Mosquito Alert

Part of Truly Nolen’s commitment to the homes and businesses of the areas we serve is to inform residents of potential threats to health caused by insects and rodents. Florida residents can expect to see a dramatic increase in mosquito activity. There has been a recent outbreak of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease prevalent in India and Southeastern Asia. Recently however, the disease has infected tens of thousands of people in the Caribbean and a handful of southern states in the US, prompting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and public health officials to issue warnings about the disease.

Although Chikungunya is rarely fatal, symptoms of the illness include high fevers in excess of 102 °F, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, conjunctivitis, and severe joint pain that typically lasting for about two weeks.

Cases of Chikungunya infection in the US are believed to be transmitted from the Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which is common in warmer states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Although Chikungunya may be relatively new to the United States, the mosquito that transmits the disease is not. Mosquito bites may seem minor, as they usually only cause a slight rash or bump. However, mosquitoes are known to carry and transmit various viruses such as the deadly West Nile Virus, which has claimed the lives of 66 people since it was first discovered in the United States.

As a Florida resident special attention should be paid to removing conditions conducive to breeding of mosquitoes around the home and take precautions to prevent being bitten. Truly Nolen has compiled some tips to help keep you and your home protected from mosquitoes.

Mosquito Control Tips:

  • Remove anything from your yard or around your home that can hold standing water such as buckets, tires, tins etc.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of garbage cans and or recycling bins so they don’t accumulate water
  • Keep pools clean and well chlorinated
  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters so they drain properly
  • Ensure all windows and doors are covered by screen enclosures
  • Wear long sleeve clothing and insect repellent when outdoors
  • Utilize outdoor spray and devices as needed
  • Contact a pest professional if infestations persist

For more on mosquitoes and treating mosquito bites visit our Pest Guide or feel free to contact our resident Pest Expert with your questions.

St. Petersburg Roof Collapse Caused by Termites

Subterranean termites take a big bite out of local homes

st-petersburge-termiteWHAT: The above photo taken last week depicts exactly what happens when a colony of subterranean termites makes a home out of your house. As roofs collapse, subterranean termites are creating havoc in other homes unbeknownst to their owners.

Why have subterranean termites arrived months ahead of schedule? And what can homeowners do to prepare and prevent?

Jeffery McChesney of Truly Nolen saw a 30 percent increase of these silent destroyers last winter and predicts this year to be even worse. The increase in rain has allowed soil to get saturated, creating the perfect moist conditions for termites to thrive.

Available for interviews upon request, Jeffery has these tips (and more):

  • Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around your home.
  • Maintain at least an 18-inch gap between your home and soil.
  • Trim hedges and other vegetation to prevent ventilation blockages.

WHERE: St. Petersburg area.

WHO: Scott Brody

WHEN: Subterranean termites swarming now, months earlier than normal.

WHY: Subterranean termites swarming now, months earlier than normal.

  • Termite damage is rarely covered by home insurance.
  • Subterranean termites are the most destructive species of termite.
  • An estimated $5 billion in termite-related property damage occurs every year in America.

CONTACT: To schedule an interview with Jeffrey, please contact Michelle Hawthorn, TilsonPR at 561-910-4301
mhawthorn@tilsonpr.com

San Francisco food distributor reopens after rodent infestation

A food distributor in San Francisco was forced to close down and perform a massive recall after two employees leaked information about the rodent-infested condition of the facility. The employees detailed the unsanitary conditions, describing rodents living, breeding and leaving droppings in many of the foods in the warehouse that were later repackaged for sale. Once the Department of Health became aware of the situation, the retailer was forced to shut down until professional pest control was able to take care of the situation.

Infestation
The facility was allowed to reopen only after extensive extermination took place. A professional on-site noted that rats and mice were able to get inside the facility through the walls which were full of cracks and holes large enough for the rodents. Once all the entryways for the mice were sealed, the exterminators had to eliminate the rest of the rodent population. The population of rodents inside the facility had been booming due to the abundance of food and space. 

Threat of disease
The employees who informed the Department of Health about the violations claimed that the mice were largely ignored by building management. They described finding mice and rodents everywhere in the building and were instructed to remove the mice only when found dead. Rodents carry a wide variety of communicable diseases and allowing them to reside near or come in contact with food poses a major health threat to consumers. Both live mice and their droppings can carry over 30 diseases that can spread to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These diseases can be spread through handling the rodents, coming in physical contact with droppings, inhaling airborne dropping dust and through ticks and mites that live on the mice. 

The CDC suggests that the best way to eliminate any threat of exposure to these diseases is to avoid coming in contact with mice at all. However, if mice have already come in contact with food, it should be thrown away immediately.  

The fact that the food retailer did not discard the food that had come in contact with rodents was its largest error. Now that it has sought the help of professional exterminators, the facility is now awaiting approval from the Department of Health to reopen.

Michigan residents try to keep rats out of their homes

Residents in a Michigan town near Detroit have been hit with a huge influx of rats – so many that the town legislature is considering offering $5 for each dead rat brought in by citizens, reports local Fox affiliate WJBK. Residents are scrambling to find ways of preventing rats from entering their homes and contaminating their food and possessions, as well as effective means of pest control.

Keeping rats out
There are several ways to keep rats and other rodents from entering the home. In Detroit as well as many other parts of the country, the winter is frigid which affects both humans and rats alike. Rodents will seek out any warm shelter they can find, and they are skilled at finding entry points. Rats have nearly collapsible skeletons and can fit in any hole that is larger than their head (about the size of a quarter) so the best step is to plug any and all holes through which the pests could fit. 

Feeling for air movement can also reveal an entryway for a rat, a report from Popular Mechanics details. It is important to go around the house and find any vulnerability to rats and other rodents. Also important are windows and doors – any crack in the framing should be sealed. All doors should close flush against the frame and be sealed tight. Vents for driers and air conditioners can also allow rodents into the home, but are easily blocked with screens. 

Keeping them away
Rats and other small mammals are attracted to the bounty of free food that is provided by an uncovered garbage can or a backyard garden, so tying down all garbage can lids with weighted bungee cords can help keep rats from coming back. Gardens are best kept several feet away from the house in order to prevent rodents from dashing into an open door or window. 

Piles of unattended boxes, lumber or other refuse will provide a shelter to rats that are trying to stay out of the cold. The rodents won’t have as easy an opportunity to settle when the yard is kept free of refuse.

Rat traps are inexpensive but vary in effectiveness depending on the environment. Professional pest control is required in many cases.

Landlords and tenants must cooperate to remove bed bugs

Bed bugs are some of the most tenacious pests that can infest a typical home or apartment building. Often times it takes several attempts to fully remove them, since they tend to burrow into every upholstered item in the home. Not only this, but they also lay their eggs in droves so even after all living bugs are killed, there may be a resurgence weeks later. Landlords and tenants often turn to professional pest control to effectively exterminate the pests.

Chicago
Landlords and lawmakers are fighting over the responsibility of removing bed bugs from buildings. Members of the Chicago Housing Committee are pushing legislation that would cost landlords $1,000 per day that they do not seek professional pest control to rid their buildings of bed bugs. Landlords, however, are complaining that it takes the entire building’s tenants’ cooperation to remove the bed bugs. If even one tenant does not thoroughly clean his of her clothing and other personal items, the building may become infested again and the process will repeat. One landlord claimed he had tried several times to remove the pests but to no avail since the tenants did not follow instructions. He was forced to call the exterminator again.

Tenants in all manner of living arrangements are feeling the consequences of bed bug infestation. While the insects do not directly cause disease in their victims, they do drink their blood and can cause painful rashes for some who are allergic. In some cases, these allergic reactions can even weaken the immune system enough to allow potentially serious infections to develop.

Urban menace
Beg bugs have a particularly easy time traveling from home to home in the city since they are able to gain transportation with people unnoticed. Bed bugs will often hide in a person’s clothes and can thus travel between places like apartments, offices, movie theaters and hotels. Infested furniture also tends to get thrown out and this discarded furniture is often picked up by people who are unaware of the risk, says a fact sheet from Chicago’s Safer Pest Control Project. Any item discarded with bed bugs in it should be marked as such to avoid spreading the pest.

The sheet also recommends talking to a pest control professional before using any chemicals or throwing anything out. Certain chemicals may be harmful and many items can be salvaged from bed bugs.

Fish market in Ontario closed due to rat problem

A popular fish market in Toronto, Ontario, was recently closed because of health code violations, including a rat infestation.

The store, which is located near downtown and typically sells squid, salmon, scallops and other seafood, is rated four out of five stars on Yelp, though the last review was written this time last year. 

Global Toronto reports that a food safety website revealed that the market previously had two conditional passes, but was closed on January 28 for five different infractions, the most revealing of which was a sighting of roughly 15 rats. In an interview​ with the news source, the woman who spotted the rats stated that “you could see them crawling on the sinks on the windows through the back area …” She snapped a photo then posted it online to warn others of the violation. The conditional passes occurred in November of 2012 and in October of 2011. This is the first time that the market has been closed due to a rat problem. 

Rats pose the threat of spreading disease through direct contact, and occasionally cause breathing problems in the areas that they’ve inhabited. They transmit diseases such as the bubonic plague, salmonella, rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, tapeworms and murine typhus.

The market has been open for 50 years, and the owner has expressed concerns about whether or not the business will be able to bounce back. Customers have already begun to cancel their orders, but the Global reports that the market should be able to reopen soon.

Many restaurants and stores close due to infestations of rodents and other pests. Though the shut downs are often temporary (until the shop is cleaned up), many businesses have trouble regaining their reputation. At the first signs of an infestation, a pest control professional should be called to exterminate the critter population.

Termites terrorize Texas

Swarming termites were a disconcerting sight for many San Antonio residents this holiday season, states amateur scientist Forrest Mims in an article for San Antonio Express-News.

Several days before Christmas, Mims noticed flying insects on his property. Upon approaching the swarm, he noticed a patch of ground below it covered in a rippling, shimmering white film, he writes. What he was looking at was actually a thousand winged termites, which then suddenly  took off into the air.

While termites serve an important purpose in nature eating up dead tree particles, they’re a major nuisance for residents. There are a variety of termite species and most share the commonality of destroying wood and causing severe damage for homeowners.

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies that can contain up to 2 million members, according to the National Pest Management Association. They build mud or soil tubes in the ground around exposed concrete foundation, which homeowners should be aware of when expecting their property for signs of an infestation.

Meanwhile, drywood termites rarely come into contact with the soil and live in dry wood, as their name implies. They can also cause serious structural damage.

If residents suspects termites on their property, they should contact a pest management professional promptly.

Bed bugs wreak havoc in Indiana and Kentucky

Residents of the Asheville Housing Authority complex in Aston Park, Indiana, are troubled by a lingering bed bug problem, reports local ABC affiliate WLOS. After dealing with a large bed bug infestation in 2011, authority officials have told the station the problem hasn't worsened and is under control and that they've only received one complaint recently. However, bed bugs remain an ongoing concern for residents.

Occupants of public housing complexes in New Albany, Kentucky, are facing the the same problem, states local news station WHAS 11. The housing authority has recently brought in pest management professionals to search more than 1,000 homes.

Bed bugs have become a  major issue for homeowners and communities across the country, notably in the Midwest and the South. City officials in a Louisville, Kentucky suburb met earlier this week to discuss recent infestation reports, according to WDRB, which covers news for areas of Kentucky and Indiana.

The suburb of Shelbyville code enforcement officer Darryl Williams said bed bug cases in the area are mostly sporadic and occur in apartment complexes. He conducts building inspections weekly.

"We started having problems with mattresses sitting on the side of the roads. We had couches, chairs sitting on the side of the road," Williams told the news service.

Bed bugs are particularly troublesome because they bite and they populate quickly. Many Shelbyville residents are realizing how difficult getting rid of them is without professional help.

"It has to be a professional pesticide company that comes in and does it," said Williams. "It just can't be an individual."

City officials are holding a meeting on Thursday night to discuss pest management and property owner education initiatives.

Because bed bugs infestations are among the most troublesome pest problems, homeowners and landlords should take precautionary measures to catch them early on. It's important to call a pest management professional promptly upon seeing bed bugs, bites or pepper-like flakes of shedded skin on furniture and in fabric or carpeting.

Roof rats cause trouble for Washington residents

While roof rats are usually only found along the coast of Washington, exterminators are seeing an increase of reported sightings in other parts of the state, local news source Yakima Herald reports.

Officials have yet to determine whether the increase in roof rat calls pest management professionals are receiving is caused by a species population growth or migration. Despite the cause, the rodents are resulting in problems for homeowners throughout the area and an increase in calls to pest control professionals.

Roof rats are named after their tendency to dwell in structure attics, trees and vine-covered fences, the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) states. These pests often enter buildings through roof openings and from overhead utility lines and nearby trees. Roof rats can be extremely troublesome for homeowners as they can gnaw through insulation and wiring, which can result in costly damage and potential health hazards for a family experiencing an invasion.

Preventing an infestation
To avoid luring roof rats into a home, residents can take precautionary measures to pest-proof their property. Because roof rats often eat the pulp of oranges, it's a good idea to clean up any fruit that may have fallen from yard trees. Residents should also trim branches near structures and eliminate brush on their property to eliminate hiding places and routes into the home.

These rats are attracted by water and materials that can be used to build nests. It's therefore a good idea to eliminate moisture and potential harborage throughout the home. Those homeowners who suspect the pests may have gotten into their homes are advised to contact rodent control specialists who can ensure the problem is taken care of promptly. 

USDA shares preventative advice on Asian longhorned beetles

Faced with Asian longhorned beetle infestations throughout parts of Ohio, local municipal leaders met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officer Philip Holmes last month to discuss containing current bug populations and preventing further infestation.

While these beetles have been spotted in surrounding towns, the city of Milford hasn't seen any reported cases yet. City officials are taking preventative measures nonetheless, local news source Community Press reports.

"We are so close to an infested area that there is absolutely a possibility of it becoming a problem here as well," Milford Mayor Geoff Pittman said, according to the newspaper.

Spotting an infestation
The Asian longhorned beetle is a destructive wood-boring pest that was first discovered in the U.S. in the 1990s, according to the University of Vermont Entomology Research Laboratory. These bugs are glossy black with white spots and can be up to 1.5 inches in length.

Holmes warned officials and homeowners should not confuse Asian longhorned beetles with emerald ash borers, which are also currently causing problems for property owners in the Midwest. While ash borers only attack ash trees, Asian longhorned beetles infest 13 types of hardwood trees, including ash, birch, buckeye, maple and goldenrain.

After Asian longhorned beetles lay eggs under the bark of trees, larvae hatch and eat the soft wood near the outer parts of trees. These young bugs will move into the heartwood and stay there for two-and-a-half years before fully maturing. Once they hit the pupal stage, adult beetles emerge from the trees.

While these bugs do not attack finished wood, their presence can be extremely troublesome for residents because they can destroy yard trees and infest firewood.

Know the signs
One sign of an infestation is a random pattern of holes in trees. When these bugs emerge from wood, they make a dime-sized exit hole with smooth edges, according to Community Press.

In addition, beetles create excretions called frass that look similar to sawdust. Egg sites may also be noticeable and are the size of a deer eye.

It's a good idea to look for these signs early, as an infestation can ravage a plant quickly.

When homeowners take proactive measures to protect their property, they limit the chances of having to deal with costly tree removal services. If residents suspect their home or yard is being frequented by unwelcome critters, they should notify a pest management professional promptly.