Pest Advice Blog

Port Charlotte Community Event

This is an annual event at a Local Lutheran church where branch 093 (Port Charlotte) has an opportunity to give back to the local community. We love seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces when forest fire trucks, excavator trucks, and of course the Mouse Car pull up. Along with the various types of vehicles, a unique batch of animals from the local is also brought along for the children to interact with. Truly Nolen Port Charlotte looks forward to this event every year. 

Powerful Pest: Know the Difference – Water Bugs and Cockroach

Cockroach vs Water Bug

Cockroaches are often referred to as water bugs and vice versa due to their similar appearances. Aside from their similar looks, these two pests are quite different. Water bugs prefer to live in water, at least most of the time while cockroaches are able to live in a variety of habitats. Both water bugs and cockroaches are common pests to Atlanta area residents. Knowing the difference will help you determine which pest you’re dealing with and the best way to eliminate them.

Appearance

Cockroaches and water bugs both have flat, oval-shaped bodies. Water bugs are on average about 2 inches in length while cockroaches can vary in size by species. German cockroaches are about a ½ inch long while American cockroaches average about 1 ½ inches in length. Both the German and American cockroaches are native to the Atlanta area.

Diets

Cockroaches eat a variety of materials such as leather, bakery products, glue, flakes of dried skin, dead animals, and fermented foods. Water bugs prefer to hunt and kill insects such as tadpoles and small fish. These bugs also like to eat sweet-tasting food such as syrups as well as algae and starch.

Lifecycle

Cockroaches lay their eggs in ootheca or an egg sack, which may be left somewhere or carried with the roach. The number of eggs produced by a female cockroach as well as the time it takes for eggs to hatch varies from species to species. Many roach species are able to reproduce within a few months of hatching.

There are three stages in a water bug’s lifecycle – the egg, the larvae, and the adult phases. Female water bugs lay small, oval eggs about a week after reproduction. In the third cycle of their life, water bugs develop the ability to fly. Water bugs lay their eggs on floating vegetation or in debris.

Habitat

Cockroaches are known as land insects and prefer dark areas. They can often be found in warm temperatures inside crawl spaces, basements, cracks, and outdoors. Water bugs spend most of their time in freshwater, usually in moist and dark areas. Leaky pipes or standing water are the perfect place for these pests to breed and hide. Although these bugs swim well, they cannot breath underwater, which is why they often return to the surface to capture air.

Both water bugs and cockroaches can spread disease and cause damage to your home. For additional information about water bugs and cockroaches or to schedule your free inspection, contact your Truly Nolen Atlanta office today.

Termite Infestation: Identification and Prevention

The word “termites” strikes instant fear in the hearts of homeowners. Termites can be a nightmare. These tiny insects enter homes through the tiniest openings in the foundation to feast on the wooden structure of your home. Termite damage can be costly and time-consuming. In fact, every year termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage, and property owners spend over two billion dollars to treat them according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Termites are known as silent destroyers because of their ability to gnaw on wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected. A common misconception is that termites only infest wooden structures or homes. Termites require four things to survive food, moisture, shelter and warm temperatures. Unfortunately, most homes regardless of construction type can provide these conditions. Termites primarily forage on wood, but also known to destroy paper, books, insulation, and even filtration systems. Knowledge of the fundamentals of termite infestation like identification, warning signs, and preventive measures are essential to protecting homes from termite infestation.

Identification

The first step in prevention is to be on the alert for termites. Most people are not conscious of termite activity until it becomes an infestation. There are approximately 2,600 species of termites; they are small insects comparable in appearance to ants. Termites can be distinguished by their straight antennae, widely-joined waist, and equal size wings. (Ants have elbowed antennae, pinched waists and wings of different lengths). It can be very difficult to detect termites in your home before they become a problem; it is more likely to identify the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.

carpenter-ant-vs-termite

There are two main species of invasive termites, subterranean termites found living underground and drywood termites that live entirely in wood. In Lexington, KY subterranean termites are most prevalent: they begin their feeding process (damage) from the soil up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Buildings or structures with crawl spaces are at great risk. Some of the signs of a subterranean termite infestation are listed below:

  • Groups of winged insects (“swarmers”)
  • Hollow-sounding wood
  • Cracked or distorted paint on wood surfaces
  • Mud tubes on exterior walls
  • Discarded wings
  • Frass (feces of termites)

Once a termite infestation is identified, it can be challenging to control. On average, colonies take years to grow to a size capable of causing extensive damage.

Prevention

Purchasing a home for most of us is the biggest investment in our lifetime. Termites pose a serious threat to your investment. Homeowners should be concerned about the potential damage termites can cause in and around the home. Areas with higher probabilities for termite activity require more termite control measures than areas with less frequent activity. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent termites from attacking your home; however, the best way to prevent termites is to have your home inspected for them annually.

  • Know the danger for termites in your region, if you are buying a new home; ensure it has been inspected for all insects that can cause structural damage. Inspections are important in neighborhoods where there is a history of termites.
  • Changes in your home can necessitate more periodic by a trained pest management specialist; these changes can include cracks in the foundation or the walls of your home. Detecting the less obvious signs of an infestation could save you a lot of money and stress.
  • Identify and correct any structural deficiencies that attract or promote subterranean termite infestations. Ideally all substructure wood beneath the building should be kept at least 12 inches above the soil.

Eradication

Eradication of termites is a complex task and requires a distinctive skill-set. Prior knowledge of building structure is needed to identify the critical areas. The critical areas in buildings are potential entry points that are often hidden or difficult to access. To completely and safely remove termites from your home, it is a job left to the professionals. Do-it-yourself products will seldom eliminate an existing termite problem. At the first sign of termite infestation, call a licensed pest management company to do an inspection. A Truly Nolen termite specialist can recommend a customized treatment and prevention plan!

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Watch out for Late Winter Bugs

When it’s cold and gloomy outside, don’t think the bugs are dying outside in the cold. Some are living and feasting quite comfortably in the warmth of your home. Homeowners are often bothered by these critters during late winter and early spring. Some insects survive the winter by finding a safe, warm place to dwell for the colder seasons. Here’s a helpful roundup of the most common winter bugs you should look for in late winter season.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

StinkbugBrown marmorated stink bugs are not dangerous insects, but they are a nuisance if living in your home. They do not have the physical capacity to sting or bite humans or other predators. They rely on their only defense, their ability to release strong pungent odor (similar to a skunk). Brown marmorated stink bugs release a chemical called an aggregation pheromone, a scent that attracts other brown marmorated stink bugs, but repels predators. You may not notice them until they come into your home as the weather turns colder. When they accept your hospitality you will know it; they are large, travel in large groups, and fly rather than crawl. The good news is they are not known to cause any structural or cosmetic damage to homes. They are simply looking for a place to spend the winter and hibernate until warm temperatures return. In the spring they will resurface, ravenous, and ready to leave and get outside to feed on plants. They usually enter all types of residential buildings such as homes, apartments, condominiums, office buildings, etc. Aside from being a nuisance to homeowners the potential exists for the brown marmorated stink bug to become a significant agricultural pest in the east.

 

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are the most common wasps seen around homes and buildings. Paper wasps actually make paper out of paper they produce, hence their name. These umbrella shaped nests are built in protected locations including in shrubs, on tree branches, on porch ceilings, window and door frames, roof overhangs, attic rafters, and under decks, joists or railings. They like heights and tend to prefer high assemblies, such as attics, chimneys and tall buildings. During the colder seasons, paper wasp queens may join together in large groups and overwinter in all types of structures. Though paper wasps do not readily attack people, they will sting if they feel threatened.

Cluster Flies

cluster-fly
Cluster flies, another group of winter guests, are large and robust flies. Unlike house flies, their wings overlap when they are at rest. At first glance, you may mistake them for house flies, but they are bigger, darker and slower. Homes surrounded by lawns are more susceptible to a cluster flies infestation. Clustering flies can enter your home through the tiniest cracks, or any other small unsealed opening. The name cluster fly is used because they tend to gather in clusters after entering a house in the fall. They aren’t dangerous insects, but they are a nuisance because they leave stains in your home. They sometimes give off a sickly, sweetish odor if bothered. You would find cluster flies in secluded areas such as holes in the walls, attics, closets, voids, and empty rooms. Be careful not to kill them before finding and removing the nest, dead flies attracts more insects. If they die within the walls, other predators will migrate into your home.

Clover Mites

Clover Mite

Photo credit: Steve Jacobs, PSU Entamology

Clover mites are very tiny arachnids that live and reproduce outdoors, but become household pests in the early spring when they migrate into residences. They are only 1/64th inch long, soft, oval, and flattened from top to bottom. They vary in color from rusty brown to dark red. They are easily distinguished by their very long pair of front legs that extend forward like antennae as the mites crawl. Clover mites are harmless as they cannot bite or sting, they do not infest stored foods, they cannot attack the house structure and furnishings, so what’s the issue? They migrate into homes large numbers, often covering walls, furniture, closets, and clothing. Clover mites, when squished, will leave a noticeable reddish stain on any surface. Other than that, which admittedly is pretty bad, they are a nuisance only by their presence.

Pest Prevention

While all of these insects are active year-round, fall and winter are when they move indoors. Perfectly understandable; where would you want to be, outside freezing or inside and warm and cozy? None of these bugs pose a health or property risk to homeowners but they can all become a serious nuisance around the home. Like other pests, including ants and termites, they often enter structures in large numbers making them difficult pests to control once inside. As a result, homeowners should look for simple ways to ward off these invaders before an infestation develops.

Here are some tips on prevention to get ready for bug season.

  1. Seal off entry points- Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points, if you can find it so can the pests.
  2. Repair- It is imperative to repair damaged screens on windows or doors, and seal any cracks around the windows and doors.
  3. Reduce moisture sites- Eliminate all moisture build-up around your home. Check for leaking pipes and clogged drains. Pests love moisture almost as much as warmth.
  4. Eliminate food sources- Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly. Keep pests hungry, wipe down counters and sweep floors to eliminate crumbs and residue.
  5. Check your belongings- Inspect items such as boxes containing holiday decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
  6. Properly landscape: Keep branches and shrubbery well-trimmed. Make sure to store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.

Remember that if you suspect an infestation has already developed, don’t try to solve it on your own, contact your Truly Nolen Lexington pest professional to save both time and money.

Homes can be pre-treated for bugs before they become a problem. Truly Nolen offers barrier treatments to protect your home and help you get ready for the winter bug season. The barrier treatment approach is an outside treatment that protects your home from winter bugs as well as many other bugs trying to get in, including millipedes and ants. Additionally, year-round protection for homes can be achieved by implementing Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons pest management program: an affordable, responsible, and effective solution to ensure that you are Truly Protected.

Ogden Attends Carrier Day

Truly Nolen employees from branch 039 out in Ogden, Utah recently participated in a “carrier day” at Club Heights Elementary. The Mouse Car was accompanied by an ambulance, fire truck, limo, tow truck, back hoe, and dump truck as students got the awesome opportunity to ask questions and venture inside of each vehicle. Great job 039!

Truly Nolen Rio Rancho at St. Felix Good Citizens Event

Truly Nolen’s employees handed out free hot dogs to the clients of the Pantry and showed off their signature Mouse Limo. Truly Nolen sends its kid and family-favorite Mouse Limo to events whenever possible. Truly Nolen of America partners with and supports many nonprofit organizations in the various local communities it serves across the country. They encourage their employees to participate in local events and they support them and their families. The St. Felix Pantry was truly grateful this event and for all that Truly Nolen does to help out in the community.

“Truly Nolen has been a friend of Felix for a couple of years,”says Manuel Casias, Vice President of Development for St. Felix Pantry. “In fact, they have been a big supporter of our golf tournament and other events by sponsoring a table for a dinner or a team out on the golf course,”added Casias.

“We are always pleased and happy to be able to spend time with our friends at the St. Felix Pantry,”said Troy Matthews, Territory Manager for Truly Nolen in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. “Today, it was all about the guests of the Pantry,”he added with a smile.

I’ve got traps everywhere, but I’ve caught no mice! They’re too smart so we called you guys.

I’ve got traps everywhere, but I’ve caught no mice! They’re too smart so we called you guys.

We just heard this at a commercial stop in Dedham yesterday. Yup, rodents love getting into just about anywhere this time of year, even a non-food service commercial account. It’s all about opportunity and survival. With 3+ feet of snow on the ground, how could one little brown or grey mouse ever have a hope of not starving to death during the winter unless he heads inside? During spring and summer mice can easily survive on a diet of berries, seeds or small insects found outside. But in this weather? Poor little thing wouldn’t have much of a chance out there. Plus, if you were a medium sized predator such as a hawk, or owl or even a desperate coyote, wouldn’t it be real easy to spot a brown mouse with all this bright white background (ok, mostly white, getting rather dirty looking lately though)?

So what makes a mouse check out your home or business rather than someone else’s? It’s all about opportunity and wind current. Mice aren’t fancy, they don’t carry expensive weather monitoring devices and they don’t watch the weather channel. But what they do have is VERY sensitive whiskers. With weak eyesight, these whiskers have really evolved into their strongest ability. The whiskers themselves can easily detect the faintest air current and heat from the smallest opening in the structure. Mice are very good climbers, but they’re typically very lazy. They’ll search for any openings along a structure (as small as a dime), usually at ground level or a short climb. If the mouse detects air current (especially warm air), they’ll pop in and check it out. Once inside all the heat and wonderful smells are enough to make the mouse never think about the outside again. They’re mammals just like us. I don’t see too many people stomping through snow to find food; they’re all in the supermarkets.

Once they’re inside the search is on. Food establishments offer everything these little guys desire. But what about an office building? Why are mouse droppings near my desk or even sometimes in my desk drawer or on my keyboard? That’s because you usually eat right there. If you want to gross yourself out, tip over your keyboard once in awhile. Along with dust and dead skin (gross), you’ll find all those little crumbs and jagged potato chip pieces that survived that fall off your mouth. Ever hide a snack in your desk drawer? This is always the best discovery. Holidays come and go and you thought you’d be nice and put out some candy for everyone. Everyone includes that annoying guy Josh in accounting who somehow always finds time to keep coming back to your desk. Each time he takes another piece thinking you won’t notice.  You finally learned your lesson and somehow you managed to keep a few pieces of Christmas chocolate for yourself! Good for you, better for the mice. How thoughtful of you. You keep seeing the exterminator come to the office, baffled why there are more and more droppings or sightings of mice but the traps and bait boxes are untouched. Show him your desk and whatever is left of your favorite candy. That is what he should be using to catch the mouse. Why would a mouse want stale peanut butter or waxy mouse bait when you’ve been feeding the entire litter with delicious Andes mints chocolates? Do yourself a favor and keep the candy in a sealed container!

Pest Management Basics: Atlanta Winter Pests 101

Residents of Atlanta, Georgia would all likely agree it’s been a long cold winter. The winter months aren’t typically thought of as a very active time for household pests. When temperatures drop, pests have a harder time moving, eating, and reproducing, but even in very cold weather they don’t die off. In fact, in winter months, pests will typically look to your home for warmth and shelter. With the cold weather outdoors you will often find pests, rodents and other wildlife hidden in walls or attics seeking shelter and food patiently waiting for spring and warmer temperatures.

As homeowners, often times we overlook winter pests but pests like; cluster flies, spiders, cockroaches, rodents, crickets and even raccoons and skunks can be a problem in the winter. It’s important to understand the different types of pests commonly found and what you can do to protect your home.

These pests make our Atlanta, GA “Winter Pests Most Wanted List”:


Rodents

rodent
Rodents are little concern during the temperate months when mice and rats can be found actively roaming outdoors where there is plenty of food. However, when the temperature begins to cool and food sources become more scarce, rodents will seek out a more welcoming environment like your home. Rodents can enter your home through cracks or holes near plumbing, electrical outlets and where your HVAC pipes come in from outside. Holes can be as small as a nickel for them to squeeze through so ensuring all cracks and crevices are sealed is key to preventing a rodent infestation. Once inside, they build nests and begin to forage for food at night when you are fast asleep leaving droppings, bacteria and other pathogens behind.

Nuisance Wildlife

squirrel
Squirrels, raccoon, skunks and bats are a few of the common types of nuisance wildlife likely to enter your home in the winter. They are most likely to be found in attics and basements or in other areas of the home that provide a perfect hiding place. Squirrels and other nuisance wildlife aren’t just looking for a place to hide out for the winter, they are usually using your home as the ideal spot to breed and raise their young growing brood. Unlike rodents who scavenge for food within your home, the adult squirrels will leave the home daily to seek food outside then return to feed their offspring daily.

Cluster Flies

cluster-flies
Cluster Flies spend the winter relatively inactive, hiding out in attics and wall voids inside the structure of your home. Once they are safely hidden indoors, their populations grow quickly making early identification and treatment key to preventing a wide-spread infestation. Although harmless, cluster flies can prove to be a nuisance to homeowners once indoors.

Other winter houseguest pests include; box elder bugs, lady bugs and stink bugs which invade in the fall and normally hibernate during the winter but are also likely to stay active once they have made their way indoors. The key to treating winter pests is taking steps to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Here are some steps to take to ensure your home is pest free for the winter.

Winter Checklist

  • Seal any cracks and holes on the outside of the home.
  • Repair damaged screens on windows or doors.
  • Seal off any entry points. Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points.
  • Remove all moisture build up around your home. Check for leaking pipes and clogged drains.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Clean counters and sweep floors to eliminate crumbs and residue.
  • Inspect items such as boxes containing holiday decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
  • Keep items in garages, basements and attics in sealed plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes to prevent rodents from nesting inside.
  • Keep branches and shrubbery well-trimmed. Make sure to store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.

Taking these steps to properly seal your home can help you prevent a winter pest infestation. Call Truly Nolen of Atlanta for a free pest inspection if you suspect you have an infestation or see or hear any rodents or wildlife in your home.


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