Category Archives: Metro Areas

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

Brown Marmorated Stink BugBrown 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.

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

rodents
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.

Clay Soil in Dallas, TX Could Mean Easy Entry for Pests and Termites

Local Termite Control
It is well documented that certain areas of both north Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth have long standing issues with housing foundation movement. While there can be numerous factors associated with the “how” and the “why” a home’s foundation shifts over time, the overwhelming cause is a result of soil movement (i.e. contracting and expanding).

Many houses, particularly those in north Texas lie on top of clay soil that interacts with moisture differently than do most other soil types. Clay soil has properties comparable to a sponge, expanding with higher levels of moisture and contracting when less moisture is present. When parts of the foundation move disproportionately to others, the remaining areas of the foundation are under distress. This constant duress over time causes cracks in the foundation that eventually cause cracks in surfaces such as brick and dry wall in and outside the home.

Cracks in a structure’s foundation do not have to create structural issues for them to be a problem. Small cracks in a home’s foundation or walls can grant easy access for common household pests. North Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth residents are no stranger when it comes to pest issues such as ants, cockroaches, beetles, and spiders.

One “silent destroyer” especially prevalent is the termite. Despite the devastating damage they’re capable of causing, termites are roughly only a few millimeters to 1 centimeter in length. The termite’s small size is particularly problematic if there are drywall cracks in your home due to the fact that termite swarms gain entry into your home practically undetected through these small cracks.

Subterranean termites specifically pose a very serious threat when the foundation of your home shifts drastically, considering they enter a home upwards from the ground, making any cracked slabs of concrete or expansion joints a potential infiltration point. A slight crack as narrow as 1/64th of an inch, is enough for termites to squeeze through, especially if that same crack is emitting a source of moisture, which in turn makes plumbing pipes critical areas to monitor.

Truly Nolen’s Total Termite Protection PlanSM is the most comprehensive termite control program in the industry (covering all species of termite), as it is backed by a $1 Million Dollar Guarantee. For more information on scheduling your Free inspection for your Dallas, TX home visit: https://www.trulynolen.com/locations/tx/dallas/dallas.asp#local-termite-control or https://www.trulynolen.com/locations/tx/fort-worth/fort-worth.asp#local-termite-control.

Valentine’s Day “Love Bug” in Atlanta

lovebugs

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would get you in the mood to celebrate. When you think of the words; love bug, ladybug, kissing bug, what comes to mind? Probably lots of emotions. Some of us even use these terms as words of endearment for our love ones. Despite their passionate names, these bugs can also be quite a nuisance. Here’s what you need to know about our Valentine’s Day love bugs.

Love bug…sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Love bugs get their name because they spend most of their life mating. Love bugs aren’t dangerous insects (they don’t bite or sting), but can be very irritating. They cause havoc wherever they go. During the daytime hours, female love bugs usually go hunting for a location to lay their eggs and the males chase after them (that’s why they appear in large swarms). Female love bugs lay their eggs in dead animal carcasses, or decaying organic material. The larvae from laying their eggs help break down decaying vegetation and enriches the soil. Other than hitting our windshields when driving, love bugs are the least problematic bugs on the list.

There is nothing more adorable than the ladybug? From children to adults, everybody loves them. Ladybugs are the ultimate love symbol. Asian traditions hold to the belief that if you catch a ladybug and release it, your wish will come true. Even with the romantic backstory, ladybugs are just as frustrating as any other bug. The good news is they won’t bite you or harm you but they do ooze out a toxin when in danger. It is yellow and smells pretty vulgar, it infects the predator with poisonous fungus that kills (not harmful to humans). They may not damage home structures, except for the yellow stain, but ladybugs also leave behind trails of pheromones, the pheromones remain and draw them to the same location year after year which could lead to an infestation. You must be vigilant because once ladybugs are in, it is a challenging task to remove them.

Kissing bugs are a different story completely. These bugs are known for biting humans on the face, especially around the lips, hence their name. Like mosquitoes and bed bugs, these insects feed on the blood of humans and animals. Attracted by the aroma of the carbon dioxide we exhale, kissing bugs climb onto the faces of sleeping individuals and feast. The kissing bug’s ability to sense heat allows them to wander around without being caught. The results of a kissing bug’s bite can range from slight irritation to life threatening. The greatest fear concerning kissing bugs is the possibility of contracting Chagas Disease. The deadly parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, lives within the kissing bug’s digestive system and is excreted after feeding. Humans can become infected if the parasite enters their bloodstream.

As sweet as the names may sound, don’t be deceived these bugs are unpleasant. These bugs have become synonymous with love and endearment throughout the years although nothing could be further from the truth. Kissing bugs bring disease, love bugs kill their mate after breeding, and ladybugs are sometimes cannibalistic. Think twice before calling a loved one any of these names in the future. Not a good one in the bunch!

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.

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.

Rats and Mice as Vectors of Diseases

mouse The word “rodent” is derived from the Latin verb rodere, meaning “to gnaw”, and rats in particular are infamous for their ability to chew through insulation and wiring in your home. With sensitive whiskers and guard hairs, rats are perceptive to touch, which is why you’ll often spot them running along walls and in between objects. Even though rats are known to have poor eyesight, their sense of smell and taste are quite sharp and these traits serve them well in foraging for food in the cover of night. Probably the least aesthetically pleasing of the rodent family, rats have a notorious reputation for their ability to destroy properties, by gnawing at structure bases and wiring, which can cause fires.

In comparison, mice are the smaller of the two but are also capable of gnawing at structures, especially those made of wood. Both rodents and mice compete with us for food sources and can wreak havoc on agriculture and stores of food.

Perhaps the worst offence is their ability to ‘vector’ diseases, fueled by their habits of using our waste and sewage coupled with their characteristically mobile nature. According to The Center for Disease Control, both rats and mice are responsible for the transmission of over 35 diseases worldwide. Whether you live in a crowded, urban area or a more rural space, rats and mice do not discriminate based on environment and can be successful in any habitat. Their close proximity to where we eat, live and go about our daily lives, can be disconcerting as there are many dangerous rodent- associated diseases that can affect humans such as: Hantavirus, rat-bite fever, plague, murine typhus, leptospirosis, lyme disease, swine dysentery and salmonella. Through their fur, saliva, urine and droppings, rats and mice can transfer diseases from contaminated areas and accelerate the spread of these diseases at a rapid rate.

What is a Vector?

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. More commonly known vectors are fleas, mosquitoes and rats with the W.H.O. citing over 1 billion cases and over 1 million deaths from vector-borne diseases each year. In fact, vector-borne diseases account for over 17% of all infectious diseases today.

Diseases spread by rodents

Referred to as the “Black Death” the bubonic plague is one of the most widely known rodent vectored diseases, responsible for the majority of deaths during the Medieval era in Europe. Today, plague still kills many people all over the world, but other diseases have developed that can have far greater impact especially in countries that lack resource to combat this problem.

Some diseases that are directly or indirectly spread by rodents are:

  • Lassa Fever
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
  • Leptospirosis
  • Plague
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Salmonellosis
  • South American Arenavirus
  • Tularemia
  • Colorado Tick fever
  • Rickettsialpox
  • Babesiosis

Types of Rats & Mice: Ratatouille anyone?

The most common types of rats that come into close contact with humans are the Norway rats and Roof rats.

norway_rat Norway rats or brown rats are larger than roof rats and tend to burrow themselves under trash or lower levels of buildings. They are sometimes called sewer rats with short tails and small ears and eyes and will often build their nests out of cloth, shredded paper or fibrous material. They are extremely common in densely populated areas.

Roof rats or black rats are often found in coastal areas. Due to their superior climbing skills, they make their nests above ground in shrubs and trees. This also means that they are able to enter your home through trees that are close to windows, and can often be found in elevated areas such as walls, cabinets and attics.

Rats are excellent swimmers and can leap as high as 3 or 4 feet. Feasting on a variety of both plant and animal foods, rats need constant access to water. Signs of rats in your home can be easily identified by small holes in door frames or wooden baseboards, small burrows outside your home, as well as the presence of ½ inch droppings throughout the house.

Move over Mickey!

mice When we think of mice, we’re often not as grossed out by their presence as we are with their more fearsome counterpart the rat. However, mice are just as responsible for an unhealthy living environment and should not be undermined as a serious issue.

For homeowners, there are a few more common species of mice that can cause problems including the native mouse (such as the deer and white-footed), as well as the house mouse. As with rats, mice eat both plant and animal foods, but also prefer seeds and grains. They are not as dependent on a constant water source as with rats, often relying on the moisture from food to sustain them.

House mice can often be found in small spaces behind walls or appliances. In the winter months, the native mice will be sure to seek shelter indoors to escape the cold.

Even if you are not aware of the presence of mice and rats in your home, there are many unseen ways that these rodents can transmit their diseases:

  • In the case of Hantaviruses, people can become infected if the rodent dropping or urine contains a Hantavirus which may infiltrate dust that can be breathed in by humans.
  • Eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated with rat feces.
  • Direct contact with live or dead rats that are infected.
  • In rare cases, rats directly biting a human.
  • Bites from fleas or mites that are found on rats.

How to prevent a rodent infestation

The best method for preventing a rodent infestation is to eliminate the food sources that attract rodents and keep them out of the home by using an exclusion method of pest control. As a preventative measure, there are steps you can to help prevent an infestation:

  • Store food in airtight containers and avoid keeping food out on countertops overnight.
  • Pet food should not be kept outside, and if stored in pantries or basements, should also be sealed in airtight containers.
  • Keep indoor trash in lidded bins wherever possible.
  • Since mice in particular are drawn to nesting areas, avoid keeping piles of boxes, papers or clothes. This is applicable to the outside of your home where rats are more likely to make their way to piles of items and trash that may be left unattended.
  • Any entryway into the home should be checked to make sure that there are no openings for rats and mice to get through. If there are holes in floors, doors or walls, a combination of wire mesh and foam sealants can be used.

If you do have a rodent problem that seems overwhelming, it is important to contact your local Truly Nolen service experts to identify areas where these rodents are possibly entering your home. The Exclusion Method of rodent control is one of the most effective ways for your service expert to ensure that mice and rats cannot enter your home in any way. The application of this method can aid in solving the problem at its source, so that any remaining rodents on the interior of the home can be eliminated.

Oh Baby it’s Cold Outside! (Rats and Mice Think So Too)

Rat ControlAfter spending the day outside in the cold weather, there’s nothing more welcoming than stepping into a warm, cozy house. The problem is you’re not the only ones trying to escape the realities of the winter months with unpredictable drops in temperature, biting winds and sometimes, snow. As we enter into the cooler part of the year, rodents are particularly keen on finding warm areas to settle into. Attics and basements make the coziest retreats for rats and mice that are extremely capable of finding sneaky ways to enter your home, even through the smallest of openings. According to the Department of Health, if rodents can be controlled in the winter months when their breeding levels are already low, there will be fewer of them that survive when their annual breeding cycle begins in spring. In turn, this helps to decrease the overall population throughout the year.

Since natural food sources such as insects and seeds are difficult to come by during winter, rodents will be attracted to food and water that you leave lying around. It’s important to take advantage of this seasonal change by making it difficult for rodents to stake their claim on your territory.

Transmission of Diseases

Besides dealing with the obvious unpleasantness of having mice and rats in your home, there are dangerous health concerns not to be overlooked. The reputation of rodents as carriers of diseases far precedes them in any part of the world. The mere mention or sighting of a rat in an eating establishment for example, is enough to make patrons nauseated and restaurant owners nervous at the prospect of being shut down.

Rodents can transmit diseases by directly biting people or from someone ingesting food or water contaminated by infected rodent feces or urine. Breathing in dust that is contaminated, or coming into contact with mites and rat fleas can also result in the transmission of diseases such as Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Tapeworms and Murine Typhus.

Rodents eat what?

So just because you haven’t actually seen a rat or mouse in your home does not mean they aren’t there. If you know what to look out for, you can identify a rodent problem before it gets out of hand:

  • Rodent droppings- black in color and capsule shaped, you may notice these around food and water sources in your home or in attic or basement corners.
  • With the need to constantly wear their teeth down, rodents will gnaw on wiring, pvc pipes, ducts, plumbing and chew their way through the insulation like cotton candy. Chewing through electrical wiring can be quite problematic as this can lead to attic fires that can spread throughout the home.
  • You may hear a “scratching” sound coming from your roof. This is in fact the chewing noise that rodents make as they are having a field day with that insulation in your attic!
  • Plumbing or wiring inspections may reveal a rodent problem if it is brought to your attention that wires have been chewed through.

Keeping rodents at bay

Making your home as unappealing to rodents as possible is the best way to help control a potentially hazardous situation. Remember to:

  • Store garbage inside heavy plastic or metal cans that can be closed with a lid. It’s a good idea to wait until the morning of your trash pick up to take the bin outside instead of giving rodents the opportunity to scrimmage throughout the night.
  • Keep your yard free of weeds and debris to avoid giving rodents a tempting place to hide. Avoid letting boxes or crates pile up.
  • Tightly seal and store away all food. Don’t forget the pet food!
  • Install screens on windows and sliding doors, routinely checking for holes. Door sweeps are also a good idea to block entries.
  • Seek professional pest control help if a rodent problem becomes overwhelming.

Truly Nolen’s Exclusion & Trapping Method- Rodents don’t stand a chance.

You’ve taken all the above steps to ensure that rodents do not find your home enticing, but as a final measure, calling in your Truly Nolen expert to perform an Exclusion & Trapping service is one of the most effective solutions to keep your home completely rodent free.

By “rodent proofing” your home, the exclusionary phase of this program involves your expert diligently sourcing and filling any holes, crevices or gaps that are ¼ inch or larger. Rats and mice have extremely soft bone cartilage, making it easy for them to fit through small openings. This phase of the service is complimented by an ongoing monitoring program so that the initial work performed is maintained leaving no room for error (or rats!)

Once the rodents have no way into the home, the next phase involves trapping and elimination of rats and mice that are inside. This is also an on-going process (several days to weeks) to make sure that any rodents that already exist inside the structure are trapped and removed. As one of the most effective solutions of rodent control, the Truly Nolen Exclusion method is proven to be a safe way to completely eradicate rodents from your home, only leaving behind the peace of mind that your family deserves.

The Kudzu Bug- A Stinky Situation

The Kudzu Bug- A Stinky Situation

Small, brown and ready to pack a punch with its foul smell, the kudzu bug may seem harmless enough, but this little stinker is becoming quite the nuisance. First making its appearance in Georgia back in 2009, these little guys are thought to have migrated to the United States as early as 1998. Fast forward to today, these bugs are increasing in number and making their unwelcomed presence felt both on the exterior and interiors of homes, gardens, cars and more.

While kudzu bugs started off in just a handful of counties, they have now found their way to over 143 counties in Georgia, as well as in other neighboring southern states and even as far up as Virginia.

You’ve probably already encountered several of these insects while stepping out of your front door, and if you’ve had the misfortune to step on one, you’ll know that the liquid they secrete can smell quite terrible. So, what exactly are these kudzu bugs and how can we get rid of them?

Kudzu Anyone?

A long way from home, the origins of this bug trace back to India and China. Known in the scientific community as Megacopta cribraria, the kudzu bug has a voracious appetite for soybeans and has been known to feed aggressively on the kudzu and wisteria trees found all over Georgia.
Similar in appearance to a beetle, the adult kudzu is often light brown with an olive green tone and about ¼ inch long, with the younger insects having a more “hairy” skin. Where these little guys will really get you is by emitting a foul liquid when directly handled or squished. This can even cause staining and for some more sensitive individuals, blistering and discomfort.

Bad Habits are Hard to Break

In an effort to stay sheltered, the kudzu bug has a natural tendency to gravitate toward cracks and crevices on trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, the cracks and crevices around your home also provide refuge from the environment, which is why you’ll notice these insects around doorframes and windows. With the weather already cooling down, they will be seeking shelter in the warmer areas and are particularly drawn to light colors on houses or even clothing!

Kudzu bugs also have a habit of staying somewhat dormant during the winter months, only to become active again in spring where they will be searching for new vegetation to eat. Besides being a residential nuisance, the recent infestation of kudzu bugs can pose a real threat to untreated crops, especially soybeans. This is concerning to farmers who estimate that losses could surmount to as high as 50%, having an adverse effect on future crops.

No Kudzu Bugs Allowed!

While the thought of getting close to these insects is less than appealing, there are certain control measures you can take to help keep them as far away as possible. Always avoid crushing these bugs as they will leave stains and release the noxious odor that has made them infamous!

Some natural ways to get rid of them are:

  • Seal any cracks on the exterior of the home near windows and doors. A good idea is to also make sure that the screens on your doors and windows are free from holes. Keeping them out is key!
  • Keep your broom handy to sweep them out immediately. Another option is the use of a shop vacuum. If your vacuum uses water, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap helps to kill the bugs on contact. With regular vacuums, it is advisable to discard the vacuum bag right after.
  • Try to remove kudzu patches and wisteria trees adjacent to your home, especially in the fall.

If you choose to use chemicals to help control them, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • When spraying trees and vegetation, be sure to check that the insecticide is plant friendly.
  • During the fall, spray during the morning time as the bugs tend to be active throughout the day. This will give the chemical time to work properly.
  • When spraying indoors, be sure to remove the dead insects immediately, so they do not attract other pests that may feed on them.
  • If you feel that the infestation of kudzu bugs is increasingly high and invasive, consider contacting a Truly Nolen pest control professional to help take care of the problem.

Fly Control- Keeping Your Restaurant Fly Free

Fly on Hamburger If you feed them, they will come. A tightly packed restaurant full of hungry customers is every restaurant owner’s dream, but all that good food lying around is also an invitation for some unwelcomed guests. Annoying, bothersome and just a plain old nuisance, flies can be a restaurant owner’s worst nightmare, and even more so for the customers trying to enjoy their favorite meal. In the time it takes to raise your arm to swat one away, this restless bug has landed, deposited remnants of filthy pathogens and bacteria, and moved on to his next meal.

More commonly known flies are fruit flies and the typical house fly. Even though their names sound harmless enough, flies can very easily carry over 100 communicable disease carrying germs.

5 Second Rule? Think Again

In the warmer months, food establishments with outdoor dining options are very popular with those looking to enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, flies typically flourish in warmer climates, and will even move indoors during the colder months. If you’re dining outside, it is especially important to be aware of more than just the annoying buzzing sounds made by flies. Here’s the not so tasty details of what happens when a fly lands on your food:

  • Flies forage in filthy places including garbage cans, rotting food or animals, sewers, feces and more. They touch these places with their feet and the hairs found on their bodies, in turn, picking up all manner of germs, bacteria and pathogens.
  • Even within a few seconds, a fly perched on your food is already regurgitating previously consumed items to be able to begin digesting the new food intake and will also drop feces as it lands.
  • Fruit flies in particular are drawn to the sugar in foods, especially liquids. Those empty beer bottles or soda cans on the table are the perfect magnet for them, especially in more humid temperatures.
  • In more serious instances, vector-bourne diseases like cholera and dysentery can be carried by flies

How do flies impact my business?

Sometimes viewed as a natural consequence of owning a food establishment, an unattended fly problem can severely impact your business and even businesses nearby including:

  • Health violations– City health officials can issue health code violations and citations, forcing you to close your restaurant. Even if this is a temporary closure, the financial loss incurred could be detrimental to your bottom line. According to the National Restaurant Association, immediately addressing the issues found in your citation is key to avoiding further complications.
  • Loss of customers– Not only will customers complain about the presence of flies, but this will also lead them to question if there are other unhygienic and unsanitary activities taking place at your restaurant. Negative feedback, word of mouth or even scathing online reviews can impact the number of customers patronizing your establishment.
  • Economic impact on nearby businesses— An out of control fly problem in one location can quickly spread to nearby businesses. Poor sanitation practices can adversely affect those in the immediate vicinity, which in turn can have a greater impact on the community as whole.

How can I keep my restaurant a No Fly Zone?

With a high reproduction rate and tendency to stay close to food and water sources, flies are impossible to get rid of entirely. The good news is, there are several ways to help control their numbers by ensuring best practices and taking preventative measures. Here are some ways to combat indoor and outdoor fly problems:

Interior:

  • Do not leave food or drinks exposed on tables and countertops. Immediately clear all tables and wipe surfaces clean, including food that is left on plates, inside sinks and in drains.
  • Install fans to help keep the air circulating and keep the overall temperature cool in the warmer months. Find out if your restaurant is designed with a ‘positive air flow’ system, which helps to circulate air from inside to out instead of the reverse.
  • Install fly traps in food storage areas and keep all fresh food covered.
  • Maintain a consistent check on all fresh foods (fruits, vegetables and meats) to ensure that they are disposed of quickly once they begin to over-ripen or expire.

Exterior:

  • Keep your restaurant’s waste disposal as far away from the building as possible. Exposed garbage cans and fermenting fruits, vegetables or meat are a breeding ground for flies.
  • Cover any outdoor trash cans that are in close proximity to your dining area as flies are attracted to food odors. As soon as guests vacate their tables, clear away all dishes and wipe down tables right away.
  • Installing sodium vapor bulbs are helpful as flies are less attracted to the light that it emits.
  • Contact city officials if you suspect that the root cause of the problem is related to city or neighborhood waste disposal practices or poor sanitation practices in the immediate community.
  • Always consult a professional pest control provider if you think the situation is out of your control.

Contact a Truly Nolen Atlanta trained professional to schedule an inspection!