Squirrels – Don’t let them drive you nuts!

When we think of animals belonging to the rodent family, often times, squirrels are not top of mind. Probably the most aesthetically pleasing of their kind, they are almost always seen nibbling on something to eat due to their constantly growing teeth. This gives them somewhat of an endearing quality along with their bushy tails and playful movements, often depicted in movies as cute and friendly creatures. Seen scampering up trees and daringly traversing a telephone line or two, squirrels are disregarded as nothing more than part of the scenery.

However, squirrels that find themselves near to or even inside your home, can cause serious damage and wreak havoc in your garden, furniture and more dangerously, electrical wiring and support beams in your house. Once squirrels settle in an area, they are very difficult to get rid of and will make themselves comfortable. Similar to rats and mice, they make excellent climbers, which means that entering your home through the attic or chimneys does not pose much of a challenge for them.

Types of Squirrels

Squirrel

Ground Squirrels

Ground squirrels stay true to their name and mainly roam on lower level surfaces. Although they can climb, the ground squirrel will always opt to hide in burrows when they are threatened or frightened. Primarily active during the day, ground squirrels prefer warm, sunny weather and will hibernate during the colder months. Ground squirrels live in colonies and will spend their time storing food, resting and rearing their young. They will usually forage for food near to their burrows, which is why they mainly inhabit areas that are close to buildings or bordering farms and crops. Feeding on a diet mainly consisting of grains, nuts and seeds, ground squirrels are voracious in their appetite for grasses and plants especially after they emerge from hibernation.

Damage caused by ground squirrels

Ground squirrels can cause major damage in and around gardens, farms and crops. Feasting on plants, both food-bearing and ornamental, ground squirrels can devour fruit and nut trees, vines, shrubs and vegetables. They will even gnaw on irrigation systems and sprinkler heads, making their presence a nightmare for homeowners and farmers.

Their burrowing habits can also prove detrimental to livestock, humans and machinery as the uneven surface makes it difficult to walk on, also causing damage to the machinery. Burrows can pose structural problems, affecting the moisture level in tree roots, often causing them to fall over as well as interfering with the structural stability of buildings. If there are excessive colonies of ground squirrels in any one area, the chances of the spread of disease is also high.

Tree Squirrels

There are several types of tree squirrels that are commonly found near homes. Although they primarily inhabit wooded areas, residential and commercial development has caused them to seek new places to live (including your attic!)

Some of the more commonly seen squirrels are:

  • Gray squirrels – Typically found in rural areas that are densely populated with trees. Gray squirrels can wreak havoc in your backyard by digging holes in the ground and flower beds to bury acorns. Feeding nuts and seeds, they will not hesitate to overthrow your bird feeder to get to the seeds!
  • Fox squirrels- Prone to nesting in trees and hollowed out trunks, the fox squirrel can also do damage in your garden, destroying flowers, plants and fruit trees.

Damage caused by Tree squirrels

Much like their more undesirable counterparts, rats and mice, tree squirrels use their superior climbing skills to find ways of entering your home and setting up residence in your roof or attic. A good way to determine if you may have a possible squirrel infestation is to know what signs to look out for:

  • Since tree squirrels are excellent climbers, checking the higher level areas of your home are essential. Taking a good look inside your attic for evidence of damage to insulation, wood beams or electrical wiring. This is especially important as chewing of these wires can cause shortages and result in home fires.
  • If you notice small holes in your yard, chances are squirrels have been busy hiding their food throughout your exterior space.
  • Scratching sounds coming from your attic could be a sign that squirrels have entered your home. If there are utility lines near to your house, this is a good indication that squirrels may have found their way to your roof, and then into your attic as these guys are not afraid of running across high wires.

Some of the ways that squirrels can cause damage in and around your home are:

  • Chewing on electrical wiring
  • Gnawing at support beams in your attic or under your home.
  • Ripping apart insulation, window and door frames
  • Destroying bird feeders, potted plants and flowers
  • Squirrels that carry diseases, as well as squirrel fleas, can pose serious health risks.

Control & Prevention

While an overturned potted plant, or a few holes in your garden may be more of a nuisance than anything else, the prospect of squirrels chewing on electrical wires or beams is far more attention worthy. Even one squirrel that has entered the home can cause major issues. Controlling these erratic creatures can be quite the challenge and if you suspect that there may be a possible infestation, it is important to contact your pest service professional. As with other rodents, keeping squirrels away from your home is key and your pest control expert may apply certain exclusion and trapping techniques to prevent squirrels from entering and capturing those that have already found their way inside. As with any rodent, trapping and removal of squirrels is best left to a professional.

Some ways that you can help keep squirrels away from your home are:

  • Trim branches or trees that may be close to your roof line to avoid giving squirrels easy access.
  • Repair any openings or holes under gutters, on your roof and around the perimeter of your house.
  • Remove any bird feeders that are near to the home as these can attract squirrels looking to establish a food source.

Always contact your pest control professional if you think that the problem is beyond your control. Your service expert is trained to provide the best advice and procedure for keeping your home squirrel free.

Adopt a Family

December 2014

On December 22nd, 2014 we really wanted to make a big impact on a family’s life.  We decided to “Adopt-a-family” for the holidays and make sure they had an opportunity to enjoy them with no stress.  We went grocery shopping, wrapped all their presents, and personally delivered them to the family. The amount of tears shed from everyone there was the most touching feeling any of our team had in all the events we have done.  We are excited to participate in this event again for many years to come!

Yuma Christmas Party and Light Parade

On December 19th, we had two activities. First, during the day after taking care of our appointments, we had a Christmas Party at our branch. We had a good time eating, playing wash-shoes and spending time with our co-workers. Second activity we did, after our Christmas party, was participating in a light parade in Somerton AZ. The guy in one of the pictures showing off his new shoes is Chris Martinez. He got himself new shoes this day as a Christmas gift.

German Cockroaches – Nein Danke! (No thank you!)

German Roach ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for restaurants and homeowners, the presence of German cockroaches in your space could mean a less than joyous experience. With over 3,000 species of roaches in the world, the prospect of living in an environment that is completely roach free may seem impossible. German roaches (Blatella germanica) are particularly familiar to most spaces as they are considered one of the more common indoor insects around. Known for their ability to thrive in almost any environment as well as their rapid reproductive cycle, German roaches are pretty good at dividing and conquering.

More than just a household nuisance, they are considered a serious threat to the health and safety of those in close proximity. German cockroaches can carry and transmit allergens and pathogens, so potential infestations should be addressed quickly. Although German roaches prefer warmer temperatures, these cold winter months are not necessarily a deterrent for them. In fact, as the season changes roaches go into preservation mode by slowing down their respiration enough to survive in the cold. This gives them all the more reason to seek warmth and food by moving indoors and settling down for the winter in your home or restaurant.

How to (not?) spot a German roach

The German roach can easily be identified by its tan or light brown coloring, small size (less than an inch) and 2 black horizontal stripes from the back of its head down to the wings. Since it is smaller than most of the other species of roaches, they are prone to hiding in the tiniest of cracks and crevices, making them difficult to keep an eye on! For a brief moment, one can take the smallest of comforts in knowing that although German roaches have wings; they seldom will fly, instead, choosing to scurry along to its next hiding spot.

Lifecycle

German cockroaches are notorious for their rapid production cycle, thus making it very difficult to control their populations. Adult female roaches produce an egg capsule that can contain as many as 48 eggs each. Throughout their average lifespan of 100-200 days, the female may produce between 6- 8 of these capsules.

Behavior & Habits

German cockroaches are scavengers and their less than picky eating habits means that they will consume just about anything they can from soap, glue, garbage, oil and grease to sweet and starchy foods and meat. Those crumbs that you left on your countertop, or the pile of used plates in the sink make for a particularly great midnight snack for them as they do most of their foraging at night. Since they are constantly on the search for food and water, you will most often spot them in your kitchen or bathroom as these places also provide the perfect warm and humid environment that they crave. Their small, flat bodies allow them to find their way in and out of small cracks, crevices and openings and are a perfect hiding spot for females to deposit their eggs.

Damage caused by German Roaches

The uncanny ability for cockroaches to survive and adapt to any environment is one of the main reasons that they are so difficult to get rid of. Their presence can be very disconcerting, but more than that are the hazardous and potentially life threatening diseases that are caused by the germs and pathogens carried by roaches. Their legs and bodies are the perfect vehicle for picking up pathogens as they crawl on garbage or decay, depositing them on surfaces and food in your environment, which eventually translate to unhealthy living conditions.

Diseases and health problems caused by roaches can range from mild to severe including:

  • Allergens from cast skins and roach droppings
  • Sinus infections and asthma
  • Skin rashes
  • Food poisoning
  • Dysentery and diarrhea or any form of gastroenteritis
  • Spread of bacteria and parasites
  • E. Coli & Salmonella
  • Typhus

Signs of infestation

German Cockroach Spotting one or two roaches may be an indication of a growing problem behind the scenes. In addition to actually seeing these insects in your home or restaurant, there are certain clues that cockroaches leave behind that should be taken note of and addressed right away:

  • German cockroaches secrete an odor that can be quite strong if they are large enough in numbers and will often be described as a “musty” smell.
  • Cockroach droppings or dark spots may be noticed near small cracks or openings or in corners of rooms. Droppings can also resemble ground peppers on countertops.
  • Empty egg cases from female roaches may sometimes be left behind.

Residential Control

German cockroaches often enter the home via bags or boxes that homeowners bring in from outside environments or garages either as adults or through egg deposits. Homeowners should be wary when entering the home with these items, especially if purchased second hand or from a warehouse environment. As a precaution:

  • When entering your home with boxes or bags, always double check that there are no openings that roaches may have gotten into. Consider removing items prior to entering.
  • Keep food containers tightly sealed and avoid leaving dishes in the sink with leftover food.
  • In multi-unit apartment complexes, roaches can travel through pipes and plumbing so be sure to fix and seal any leaking pipes and faucets.
  • Use lidded garbage containers wherever possible to avoid giving roaches easy access.

Restaurant Control

Restaurant owners have a particularly challenging task when it comes to controlling roaches in their environment. With multiple openings, cupboards, storage spaces and food preparation areas, roaches can pick and choose where they want to eat or hide. As with homeowners, restaurant owners can also look out for signs of possible infestation and concentrations of these signs can be a good indication of where the cockroaches may be hiding or feeding.

Restaurant owners should be vigilant in their awareness of potential roach problems and check these areas frequently:

  • Cupboards ( underneath and inside)
  • Sinks
  • Under equipment and appliances that give off heat
  • Under tables and chairs
  • Storage units or cardboard boxes containing food and meat items.

Taking necessary steps to help to control a possible roach problem is important as restaurants can face health violations or citations. If the problem is bad enough, this can also lead to temporary or even permanent closures. In a restaurant environment, similar steps to that of a homeowner can be taken to help control roaches coming into the establishment:

  • Unpack food items from boxes immediately after receiving them and discard empty boxes.
  • Keep food containers tightly sealed and avoid leaving dishes in the sink with leftover food.
  • Pay special attention to food preparation areas and wipe all countertops frequently.
  • Use lidded garbage containers wherever possible to avoid giving roaches easy access.
  • Keep temperatures cooler in areas of food storage to deter roaches.

Schedule your appointment today with your Truly Nolen Atlanta pest control expert who can help you get rid of an existing roach problem and provide the proper treatment for keeping roaches out of your home or restaurant.