Pest Advice Blog

2015: Strong El Niño Leads to The Year of the Pack Rat

When someone says the term pack rat, people likely think of a friend or relative who has trouble letting go of old souvenirs and clothes. Most people likely do not realize 2015 was the year of the rodent known as the pack rat! In fact, Truly Nolen website research shows “How to get rid of pack rats” was the eighth-most visited page for the company’s website in 2015 and the most visited one overall for any insect or rodent.

Pack rats, also referred to as woodrats or trade rats, are typically gray rat-sized mammals with large ears, large dark eyes and a relatively long tail. Although absent from most of the New England area, eight species of pack rats are widely distributed through much of the rest of North America. They are usually found entering homes in the winter to have their offspring, which means this is the exact time of year to be mindful.

“With El Niño on track to be one of the three strongest ever over the last 70 years according to NOAA, it should come as no surprise that pack rats became more common this year in terms of our service calls as well as people wanting to find information about them online,” said Scott Nolen, Truly Nolen Pest Control CEO/President.

In houses, pack rats are active at night, searching for food and nest material. Pack rats are known for their characteristic searching of materials to bring back to their nests creating an ever-expanding collection. As the name “pack rat” implies, they have a tendency to pack away small objects such as jewelry, utensils, can tabs, and other items.

 A peculiar characteristic is that if they find something they want, they will drop what they are currently carrying and “trade” it for the new item. They are particularly fond of shiny objects. They can also be quite vocal and boisterous.

Pack rats can cause extensive damage to your property. Not only do pack rats damage and destroy landscaping, they can also chew through wiring, spoil food, and leave behind fecal pellets. They may also shred upholstered furniture and mattresses for lining nests.

In terms of getting rid of pack rats, there are three standard things people can do. “The most effective rat control begins with prevention by disposing of trash properly and maintaining sanitary conditions in a home,” said Nolen. “When pack rats become a problem in and around structures, making sure any openings in the structure foundation and pipes should be sealed as well as checking for openings in attic vents.”

The majority of pack rat populations in structures can be controlled by using traps. “Pack rats show little fear of new objects in their environment,” said Nolen.

For more information about pack rats, visit our pest identifier page at http://www.trulynolen.com/pest-identifier/, or to take care of your pack rat problem, call one of our local branches to schedule an inspection.

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TrulyNolen) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

A Family Affair: Stepfather and Stepson Open Newest Truly Nolen Pest Control New Jersey Location in Ocean County

Truly Nolen Pest Control recently opened its first Ocean County, NJ location at 990 Cedarbridge Avenue, Suite B7 #320 in the township of Brick. The franchise, which is the fourth New Jersey location for Truly Nolen, is co-owned by Jose Machota and his stepson Steve Mora. Machota will handle day-to-day operations for the branch.

Machota, 45, most recently spent two years working for Terminix as a sales inspector when the Truly Nolen opportunity came along. With 22 years of business experience and a college education from Madrid, Spain, Machota decided the time was right to open his own franchise.

“I enjoy working in the pest control industry and I felt Truly Nolen was the best fit in terms of opening my own company,” said Machota. “I am looking forward to gaining new relationships and helping people with their pest control needs.”

Machota approached his stepson Mora, who already owns Truly Nolen’s franchise in Holmdel, NJ, to see if he wanted to be a partner in Machota’s franchise. Mora, 32 and a Skidmore College graduate, was happy to partner with his stepfather because he had similar feelings when he opened his location.

“My stepfather knows how much I have enjoyed working in the pest control industry the last 10 years,’ said Mora. “I am excited to be working with family while continuing to grow the Truly Nolen brand.”

Ron DeSear, Truly Nolen Vice President, Domestic Franchising, said Machota went through training recently and is pleased to have him as part of the company’s family. 

“We are excited to have someone as passionate as Jose is about our industry as one of our franchisees,” said DeSear. “The fact that Jose gets to work with his stepson Steve on this venture is an added bonus.”

Truly Nolen Pest Control of Ocean County can be reached at (732) 888-8276. For more information about Truly Nolen Domestic Franchising, call (855) 534-9139 or visit www.trulynolenfranchising.com.

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TrulyNolen) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

Truly Nolen Pest Control Promotes Ridgway to Service Supervisor

Truly Nolen Pest Control recently announced the promotion of Frank Ridgway to Service Supervisor of the company’s Orlando, Fla. branch at 2082 33rd Street.

Ridgway joined the company in 2013 and was most recently in the role of Pest Control Service Technician. He has over 20 years of experience in the pest control industry.

Some of Ridgway’s new responsibilities will include supervising the service office’s other technicians, handling ride-along evaluations, tracking inspections, and overseeing chemical inventory and distribution. Ridgway, who has always been interested in science and nature, believes in leading by example. “I’m looking forward to helping my people achieve their goals and grow within our company like I have,” said Ridgway.

“Frank’s high standards for quality customer service are always evident, and he has accepted every challenge thrown his way,” said Tim Phillips, Truly Nolen District Manager, District 604. “We know he will continue to surpass expectations in the months and years to come, and we are fortunate to have him as a member of our Orlando team.”

About Truly Nolen

Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Charlotte’s Triatomine Bug: A Kiss to Die For

As the North Carolina Panthers ‘keep pounding’ all the way to Super Bowl 50 and we get ready for Valentine’s Day, we also need to pay attention to other news that may not be as exciting but definitely very important.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported finding a deadly insect known as the “kissing bug” in North Carolina. Actually, kissing bugs have been discovered in 28 states, and as far north as New Jersey. The CDC reported there are 300,000 cases of Chagas Disease in the U.S. so far but most were infected in Latin America where it is most often found. The CDC maintains that the likelihood of contracting the disease in the U.S. is still relatively low but it is important to be aware as sometimes symptoms do not show up for years.

Triatomine, aka kissing bugs

kissing bug
Triatomine include conenose bugs, assassin bugs and kissing bugs. Typically found in Latin America where, in 1909, Brazilian doctor Carlos Chagas discovered that kissing bugs were responsible for the transmission of a parasite, trypanosoma cruzi, to his patients.

Chagas Disease, caused by the trypanosoma cruzi parasite entering the bloodstream, in chronic cases can cause intestinal issues and heart failure. While some victims experience no symptoms, some suffer flu-like symptoms, with vomiting, swollen lymph glands and high fevers. Typically, Romaña’s sign, which refers to the swelling of an eyelid, occurs in early stages of the disease.

If left undetected or untreated for years, the trypanosoma cruzi parasite can cause chronic disorders in the intestines and break down the heart and the digestive system.

How do triatomine infect humans?

Like bed bugs, ticks and mosquitoes, kissing bugs are little bloodsuckers that feed on human blood. And while bed bugs don’t pose serious health threats to humans, kissing bugs carry a parasite in their excrement that can be deadly if left untreated.

However, according to epidemiologists, a kissing bug would have to feed, relieve itself and have its feces be rubbed into the bite wound or an open sore, in order to infect a human being with Chagas. Other ways trypanosoma cruzi can be transmitted include:

  • Ingesting infected kissing bug feces in uncooked food
  • Blood transfusions
  • Mothers can pass the parasite to newborns during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Infected donor organ transplants
  • Laboratory accidents

The good news: One case out of 900-4,000 contacts with infected kissing bugs in the US results in a case of Chagas Disease. Also, the disease is not transmitted like the cold or flu through casual contact with infected individuals.

What to know about kissing bugs:

Known in Latin America as barbeiros, vinchucas, pitos and chinches, kissing bugs measure about an inch long, with pear-shaped bodies, brown, red or yellow stripes and a pair of transparent wings. Some say they resemble a cockroach.

Adult kissing bugs do fly and during warmer months are attracted to light coming from your home. Like bed bugs, kissing bugs are nocturnal, hiding during the day and coming out at night to feast on humans and pets, attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide, skin odors and body heat. Their bites are relatively painless, usually not waking victims. Kissing bugs feed near the mouth and eyes of their human hosts, hence their name. Their hiding places include:
outdoors-indoorsOutside: Piles of wood objects on the exterior of your home, such as firewood, lumber, tiles, stones, bags of food and animal habitats, like chicken coops and goat corrals.

Indoors: Cracks in walls, crevices in beds, behind pictures, in furniture crevices, cardboard boxes and hanging clothing near their food sources.

Kissing Bug Control

No vaccination exists for Chagas Disease, but in the initial stages of the disease, benznidazole and also nifurtimox have shown to be highly effective, but the effects of these anti-parasitic drugs diminish the longer a person is infected. The drugs are also not FDA approved in the U.S. and are only available from the CDC and both drugs have some fairly common side effects.

The best prevention plan for kissing bugs is exclusion, guarding your home against entry. Truly Nolen Charlotte suggests a few guidelines to follow in excluding kissing bugs and other pests from your home.

  • Seal all cracks, gaps and holes around foundations, crawlspaces, windows, walls, roofs and doors.
  • Eliminate clutter outside and indoors, especially in bedrooms.
  • Eliminate wood and rock piles near your house.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 ft. from your home.
  • Install screens on doors and windows. Repair existing screen holes or tears.
  • Seal gaps and holes leading to your attic.
  • Keep pets indoors overnight.
  • Clean your home regularly, vacuuming and sweeping often.
  • Sanitize outdoor pet areas and indoor pet beds and periodically check areas for bugs.
  • Practice safe and sanitary food preparation, consumption and storage measures.

Contact a professional

Because commercial pesticides do not eradicate kissing bugs, should you find a kissing bug, do not squash it or touch it with your bare hands. The CDC recommends placing a plastic bag over your hand to pick the bug up. Deposit kissing bug in a container, then drown it with rubbing alcohol or freeze the bug in water. Anything the kissing bug has come into contact with should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.

With so many new pests emerging, it is best to contact a professional pest control company, like Truly Nolen Charlotte, to inspect your property for kissing bugs and all pests and devise an effective exclusion, reduction and prevention plan of action. Call Truly Nolen Charlotte at (704) 910-2936 to schedule an inspection.

An Overview: Ants, Ants and More Ants

Possibly the most social networking insects on Earth, ants have evolved to include 10,000 different species that fill various, unique niches. Some types are named for the work they do, some for their actions, like thief ants that rob from other ants’ nests. Ant colonies consist of one or more queens who lay thousands of eggs, female workers who gather food, care for the young and perform other essential colony tasks and male ants. It seems male ants have only one purpose in some ant societies— to mate with the queen after which, the male dies. Close relatives to wasps and bees, ant bodies consist of three distinctive sections, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Also, ants love Atlanta.

With her peach trees, pecan trees and temperate weather, who could blame ants for wanting to live in Atlanta? Some of the most common ants in Atlanta include Argentine Ants, Carpenter Ants, Pavement Ants and Fire ants.

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants
Well adapted to urban environments, dark brown to black in color and no bigger than 1/8,” Argentine ants nest in moist soil near buildings or under them, looking for a way to get inside. Marching up and down buildings and trees along driveways and sidewalks, Argentine ants forage in neat little lines, guided by pheromone trails set out by scout ants. Because they can form super colonies with multiple queens, Argentine ants can be difficult to control and eradicate on your own.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants
Balancing on their tiny front legs, acrobat ants can raise their heart-shaped abdomens over their heads when disturbed. No larger than 1/8” long, acrobat ants, who are yellowish brown to dark brown, with darker abdomens also put off an odor and have been known to bite when disturbed as well. Indoors, acrobat ants can cause damage to electrical wiring, as they infest damp places, often the foam sheathing behind siding. Because acrobat ants excavate former termite nests and other pest nests, homeowners may think they have a termite infestation, due to the debris acrobat ants leave in their wakes.

Carpenter Ants

Florida Carpenter Ants
The black carpenter ant and Florida carpenter ant are some of the largest pest ants found in Georgia. Black, red or light to dark brown in color and typically 5/8” in size, Florida carpenter ants, like neglected moisture and can enter Atlanta homes through damp and decaying wood. Black carpenter ants are dull black in color with yellowish hairs covering their abdomen and typically between 1/4 to 1/2”. Once in your attics, ceilings, carpets and flooring, carpenter ants bore through wood, causing as much, if not more structural damage than termites. Carpenter ants forage for food in loosely defined trails or as aimlessly, wandering individuals, drawn to insects, sweets, meats and nectars.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Anyone in Atlanta who has ever disturbed a Fire Ant mound knows that their sting is no joke and burns like fire. Relatively small, measuring between 1/8” and 3/8” in length, reddish brown to reddish black, with copper colored heads, Fire Ants prefer the loose soil in landscape areas and around structural foundations to build their mounds. Also preferring dry, sunny, flat spaces, Fire Ant mounds can measure two feet in diameter. Mounds regulate the temperature of colony tunnels, allowing Fire Ants to survive significant drops in temperatures. If left undisturbed, Fire Ant colonies can grow to 250,000 members with multiple queens. As a result, Fire Ants have been known to sting with enough force to kill cattle and other large animals. Coming indoors through tiny cracks and crevices, Fire Ants are drawn to sweets and your pets’ food bowls.

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants
Making inroads on the Atlanta pest scene, crazy ants aren’t called that just because of their erratic movements. These 1/8” black ants, covered with reddish brown hairs, are attracted to electrical wiring and components in peculiar ways. Sometimes crazy ants destroy electrical products and sometimes their carcasses wreak just as much havoc on electrical components. For example, one crazy ant may find its way into a transformer and is electrocuted. As the insect waves its abdomen in the air, it releases pheromones that attract more and more crazy ants who come into contact with the first ant or a hot spot and are electrocuted as well. As their carcasses begin to pile up, dead crazy ants can actually clog electrical switches, causing system malfunctions.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants
Also known as “sugar ants,” Pharaoh Ants, tiny 1/16” sized, light yellow insects with red and black markings may get their name from mistaken information about these busybodies causing one of ancient Egypt’s historical plagues. A worldwide pest, Pharaoh Ants are one of the world’s most common ants and are known to be difficult to control and also for their ability to “get into things” like sweet foods.

Citronella Ants

Citronella Ants
Giving off a lemon scent when crushed, these 4 mm to 5 mm long yellow ants’ eclectic diet consists of the “honeydew” secreted by aphids and other small bugs. Citronella ants pose no threat as home invaders, but can occasionally be seen flying around indoors while swarming.

Field Ants

Field Ants
One of the most diverse types of ants in the world, with over 150 species, at only 1/8” in length, field ants vary widely in color from yellow, red, black and bi-colored red and black combinations. Nicknames include mound ants, wood ants and thatching ants. Like citronella ants, these insects dine on the “honeydew,” secreted by mealy bugs and aphids, and pose no threat of indoor infestations. Field ants do, however, build unsightly nests on walking paths and can secrete painful formic acid when provoked.

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants
Fond of building nests in cracks of sidewalks, driveways and slab foundations, pavement ants, who are dark brown or black and a mere 1/8” long, aggressively build nests of up to 30,000 individuals. Although pavement ants feed on seeds, grease and insects and don’t typically move into homes in Atlanta, they do forage up to 30 feet from their nests in search of sweets and fruit found in your kitchen, leaving convenient pheromone trails for worker ants to follow.

Big-Headed Ants

Big-Headed Ants
Big-headed ants are reddish and brown in color. Their name refers to the larger than life heads of the major workers, who are larger than the minor workers, 1/8” in length, as compared to the 1/16” length of minor workers in a colony. Major workers acting as soldiers, defend the colony’s nest, usually found in disturbed soils, lawns, flowerbeds, under bricks, cement slabs, walkways, rocks, logs and flower pots. Not given to moving indoors, big-headed ants will forage into your home for food.

Odorous Ants

Odorous Ants
As their name implies, odorous ants, who are dark brown or black in color and 1/8” long emit an odor similar to rotten coconuts when crushed. A frequent nuisance in Atlanta homes, odorous ants tend to infest indoor spaces near heat sources or insulation, in wall voids and beneath floors. Following long foraging trails, odorous ants contaminate sweets, meats, fats and grease found in your home.

Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants
With pale abdomens and legs, sporting dark heads and thoraxes, ghost ants are tiny – less than 1/16” long, making these tropical interlopers difficult to see. Like odorous ants, ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed. Seen in Atlanta kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors, these Florida natives easily hitchhike in boxes, crates, potted plants and shipped household goods and spread several strains of bacteria in your home.

Rover Ants

Rover Ants
On the rise in recent years, rover ants, 1/16” long and dark brown to pale blonde in color, adapt well to many habitats from kitchens and bathrooms to cinder blocks and wall voids, to light sockets and electrical sockets. Outdoors, rover ants nest under mulch and heavy vegetation and shingles, in potted plants and under stones, entering your home through openings around pipes, cracks, windows and tree branches that are too close to your home.

How to Prevent Ants in your Atlanta home

Following good sanitation habits will go a long way in deterring ants from your home.

  • Trim trees so branches don’t touch your house.
  • Secure outside trash receptacles and clean area around trashcans.
  • Clean up all vegetation and old woodpiles near your home.

Inside your home:

  • Clean all dishes and wipe down all food prep, dining and food storage areas.
  • Keep all food and cooking ingredients in airtight containers.
  • Sweep and vacuum floors on a regular basis.

Most importantly, contact Truly Nolen Atlanta to initiate an ant prevention program or to eradicate an existing ant infestation. Call us today to schedule a free inspection at (678) 561-2847.

New Year’s Resolution: Four Seasons Solutions for a Pest-free 2016

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new! Yes, it’s a new year, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. All around Atlanta, folks are making resolutions to get in shape and make other positive changes in their lives. While protecting your home from pests might not make the top ten list of popular New Year’s resolutions, it should definitely be on the list.

From season to season, Atlanta homeowners battle different pests as rodents try to find their way inside your home during the winter and ants during the summer. Getting an early start in protecting your home from pests is a good way to start the year right. Truly Nolen Atlanta’s Four Seasons approach—pest control that protects you throughout the year from season to season, will help you establish a carefully managed pest-free environment year round with both preventative measures and solutions to current pest problems. Here’s how it works:
Pest Activity Calender

Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons Program

Effective year round pest control relies on eliminating pests, not only during their active periods, but also by disrupting pest behavioral cycles during dormant periods. Truly Nolen Atlanta’s Four Seasons pest control program uses a proactive approach, plus an innovative series of high quality materials and treatments. Truly Nolen’s system works to minimize insect resistance over time.

Winter Winter: Pests Seek Warmth

Because pests will be trying to winter in the comfort of your cozy Atlanta home, Truly Nolen technicians work to deter these pests and eradicate those already hiding in your home. These measures establish long-term diversions to insect infestations all year long. Truly Nolen Atlanta protects your home in the winter by:

  • Wiping spider webs from room corners, windowsills and exposed beams, so spiders can’t trap food and thrive.
  • Applying boron-based powder around door and window frames, inside cracks and crevices and around wall plates and baseboards as well.
  • Administering dust treatments in attic and crawl spaces to deter rodents and disease carrying vector insects.
  • Positioning ant and roach bait stations under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Strategically placing pest monitoring stations in crucial areas to detect and trap intruders.
  • Applying material around exterior doors, windows and eaves.

Spring Spring has Sprung!

Come Spring, flowers, plants and trees flourish as temperatures rise, days get longer and everything comes bouncing back to life, including pests. Insects and rodents are bent on increasing their populations in the spring, and for that reason Truly Nolen zeroes in on pests with materials and applications that have been proven to reduce pest reproduction cycles. Technicians focus treatments in the areas where insects live and breed, on the exterior of your home and possible entry points into your home. Truly’s proactive stance against pest invasions in the spring involves introducing colony-eliminating materials that establish long-term protection against pest invasions. In the spring, the Four Seasons program shifts into power mode, starting with removing spider webs from the exterior of your property, then Truly technicians:

  • Apply dust treatments to exterior entry points, from attic access points to utility box entryways.
  • Treat outdoor hot spots, including potential pest living spaces and food sources.
  • Power treat your home’s foundation and landscape features to form a barrier around your home.
  • Place dual-acting granular bait for ant larvae and workers.
  • Suppress ant reproduction by application of granular ant bait.

Summer Summer: Pests’ favorite season

In the summertime, pests go all out, eating and destroying everything in sight. With the increase in temperatures and pest populations in the summer, pests can move around faster and seem less fearful of predators. Truly Nolen Atlanta addresses the change in seasons and pest behavior by treating your landscape and other probable pest habitats with fast-acting products. Your summer Four Seasons process begins with Truly technicians removing spider webs and applying a repellent, followed by:

  • Treating outside entry points and hot spots
  • Power treating the edges of landscape features and paved surfaces like patios, driveways and walkways.
  • Spreading granular bait in mulch, rock beds, thick grass and other areas with decorative landscape features
  • Minimizing insect reproduction by applying granular baits in strategic locations.

Fall Fall: A change in the air

After long, hot Atlanta summers, many people look forward to cooler temperatures and the change of seasons. In the fall, pest populations are maturing, collecting reserves for the winter and looking to move into a warm home, like yours, in the greater Atlanta area. When the temperatures drop, pests slow down, and your home is a great place to hide out from predators, do a little hibernating, and wait for spring. Our technicians will repel these pests by creating a barrier to the interior of your home. Truly Nolen’s skilled technicians caulk and seal all inviting holes, cracks and crevices around your exterior and apply materials around potential pest entryways.

For the fall, Truly Nolen Atlanta’s process begins with removing spider webs from ceilings, light fixtures, doorframes, windowsills and exposed beams indoors, then moving outside to do the same under eaves and around windows and doors. The Four Seasons process continues on the exterior of your home by:

  • Dust treating exterior entry points from attic access points, to utility boxes and anywhere in between
  • Treating outdoor hot spots, like potential pest habitats and food sources.
  • Sealing or caulking any and all cracks and crevices where insects may gain entry to your home in the winter.
  • Spreading bait granules in mulch, rock beds, thick grass and other decorative landscape features, like walkways, patios and along driveways.
  • Strategically placing rodent monitoring stations, as needed in critical areas.

Make a New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Make this year the year you keep a New Year’s resolution. Keeping your home pest-free throughout the year is Truly Nolen Atlanta’s mission. Call today (678) 561-2847 to learn more about our innovative, proactive Four Seasons approach to pest control and to schedule a free inspection.

Beware of Spiders

Several kinds of spiders are commonly found in Charlotte, but how can you tell the difference between poisonous and harmless spiders? More importantly, how can you keep these eight-legged critters safely out of your home?

The Dangerous: The Brown Recluse Spider and the Southern Black Spider

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse SpiderCommonly found in closets, attics, and basements or in other dim areas of the home, the Brown Recluse is noted for its violin-patterned markings on its back. For this reason, it’s also known as a fiddleback. With leg spans about the size of a quarter, the males have slightly longer legs. Perhaps one of the most dangerous of the spiders commonly found in Charlotte, the Brown Recluse usually bites only when surprised. Most people get bitten by Brown Recluses when they put on shoes or clothing in which the Brown Recluse is hiding, or when they’re cleaning a dark storage space. The Brown Recluse Spider’s bite looks like a bull’s-eye on the skin. Eventually, the central blister in the bull’s eye falls off. The bite of the Brown Recluse Spider can often result in burning pain, itching, body aches, or fever. If a Brown Recluse has bitten you, apply an ice pack to help with swelling and immediately seek medical attention.

Southern Black Widow

Black WidowAlso found in dark areas such as garages or attics, the Southern Black Widow Spider also may make her home in areas of the outdoors. Distinctly hourglass shaped, black, and shiny, the Brown Recluse is about 1.5 inches long and has eight eyes. Female black widows are poisonous while males are benign. Their webs are stronger than that of other spiders and the build of the web tends to have a random pattern.

Like the Brown Recluse, the Southern Black Widow may be found hiding inside clothes or dark areas and is not aggressive, usually biting by accident. Woodpiles and tree stumps may house a Southern Black Widow. Where there is one Southern Black Widow, there are probably babies as well. A Southern Black Widow’s bite may not hurt and may go unnoticed, but it can cause abdominal pain, dry mouth, sweating, swollen eyelids, and muscle aches. If bitten, wash the bite, use a cold compress to control the swelling, and go to the doctor or hospital immediately.

The Mostly Harmless Spiders

With the exception of the above two spiders, most spiders in North Carolina are fairly harmless, unless the person is highly sensitive to spider bites. If you think a spider has bitten you, seek medical attention immediately.

Controlling Charlotte Spiders

Spiders can often be beneficial to outdoor gardens. However, to control outdoor spiders, blast webs with water or move them with a rake or broom. One of the best ways to control spiders is to clean bookshelves, baseboards, and behind furniture on a regular basis. If you’re concerned about the appearance of new spiders in your home, consider an insecticide made for in-house use; these can often be used in closet, around baseboards, or in storage areas or other potential areas where spiders may be found. Use work gloves when handling boxes or working in dark areas such as garages. Also use gloves when stacking lumber or firewood. Inspect clothes and shoes before putting them on.

If you’re concerned about spiders or suspect an infestation, call Truly Nolen of Charlotte at 704-910-2936 to schedule an inspection.

Atlanta Winter Pests: What to Look For!

Where do pests winter?

Rat
Summer is long gone; Atlanta’s chilly and days are short. As you cozy up by the fire and sip hot chocolate, do you ever wonder what insects, rodents and other pests do during the winter? We are smart enough to know that pest problems aren’t going away and that pests don’t just die off in the colder months and magically reappear in the spring.

All the warm weather gets pests scurrying, burrowing, gnawing, buzzing, biting and stinging but as temperatures drop, pests slow down, making them more vulnerable to predators. So in the winter, pests are looking to find shelter from the cold and from predators. They look for a food source and a cozy place to multiply, and your home is on their list especially if they can easily sneak in through cracks, crevices and other entryways.

Where are these pests hiding?

Attics, crawlspaces, basements, wall voids and vacant rooms make favorite places for pests to slow down, build nests, grow their young and hibernate. Also, some insects like your pantry so much they have their own designation as “food insects.” Indian meal moths, grain beetles and other food insects like grains, flour, dried fruits and well, most items in your dried food storage. Dark, quiet pantry cupboards provide excellent breeding grounds for all sorts of food insects that lay their eggs and contaminate food. Even outside, in storage sheds, in woodpiles and neglected debris, insects and rodents can make happy little nests.

Exclusion: Blocking pest intruders

mouse-trap
Keeping pests out of your home in the winter can be tricky. The first and most important thing to remember is that if pests can’t get into your home, more than likely you won’t have a pest problem. The problem is: Pests can gain entry into your home through smaller spaces than you might realize. Rodents need no more than nickel to quarter size holes to make your home their home. Rodents can spread diseases and wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home and possibly destroy your home by causing electrical fires by gnawing at wiring. Insects can also easily get inside your home and need less space than rodents to invade your Atlanta home.

On the exterior: Proactive things to do to exclude and deter pests

  • Seal, caulk or repair any and all holes, cracks, crevices and other potential entryways on the exterior of your home.
  • Remove all debris from around your home. Pests love clutter, so clean up woodpiles, surplus building supplies and other materials on your deck or patio that can make nice cozy nests.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Repair or remove damp wood, as some pests seek entry through soft, wet or rotting wood.
  • Clear out weeds and overgrown vegetation that attract pests.
  • Trim shrubs and trees branches away from walls and roofs, eliminating pest pathways into your home.
  • Ensure that your outdoor trash receptacles close securely.
  • Whenever possible, unpack boxes outside.
  • When returning from vacations and overnight trips, especially if you stayed in a hotel, launder or dry clean all clothing and vacuum luggage thoroughly to avoid introducing an insect that knows no season: bed bugs.

On the interior: Please do not feed the pests

  • Always wash dishes after meals and wipe down food prep and dining areas.
  • Sweep or vacuum kitchen and dining areas after meals.
  • Store all dried food in airtight containers, including pet food and birdseed.
  • Clean all spills, loose flour and grains from pantry shelves.
  • Be on the lookout for pest activities, like droppings near food areas, evidence of chewing, and random sawdust, plus scurrying and scratching sounds in your walls and attic.

You don’t have to go it alone: Contact a pest professional

To put your mind at ease this winter or to address winter pest problems, contact Truly Nolen Atlanta. Truly’s Four Seasons approach takes into account pests’ seasonal behaviors. Utilizing a combination of innovative application methods, materials and exclusion tactics, Truly Nolen Atlanta’s proactive process impacts pests’ reproductive cycles to reduce future generations and eradicate pests from your home. Convenient quarterly inspections ensure that your home is protected throughout the year. Truly Nolen’s eco-friendly pest control solutions strive to keep your family and pets safe and your home pest-free from season to season.

For effective year round pest control, call Truly Nolen Atlanta to schedule an inspection at (678) 561-2847. So, throw another log on the fire and savor that hot chocolate!

Reduce Clutter and Stay Pest Free in 2016

There’s a difference between a house that is comfortable as opposed to one that is filled with clutter. Cluttered homes can lead to organization issues as well as sanitary concerns. From dishes in the sink or clothing left on the floor, to stacks of paper on surfaces and crowded closets, clutter can take on many forms and can invade every room in your home. Not only can clutter prevent you from having a clean space, it can also be an open invitation for pests to share your home.

Want to evict the pests by the end of 2015? Follow these tips and eliminate places for pests to hide!

Food

KitchenMost pests are drawn to trash – and the food within trash. Bugs and rodents love to snack on leftover food, assorted waste, and crumbs in the garbage can. Make sure that house trashcans are emptied right away so that pests don’t make a buffet out of your trash can. Similarly, unclean counters or dishes left in the sink can provide a welcome haven for pests. Do the dishes and clean kitchen surfaces on a regular basis. Be sure to properly store pet food and promptly remove anything that was not eaten by your furry friend.

Paper and Fabric

Newspaper ClutterItems such as old newspapers, books, random papers, and cardboard boxes can provide a cozy home for pests. These items can also serve as a food source. Many pests will eat paper, as well as fabric, especially if the paper or fabric has become moldy or stained. For this reason, donate old clothing instead of leaving it around the house. Don’t want to provide hiding places for potential pests? Recycle old newspapers, put books away, place papers into a filing system, and get rid of old boxes.

Clutter Free Kitchens and Bathrooms

bathroom clutterPests are often drawn to areas with standing water, so check under sinks and around pipes. Most of all make sure that kitchens and bathrooms are free of clutter. That means putting dirty clothing in the laundry basket and keeping counter surfaces clean and clutter free.

Outside Clutter

Bag of LeavesKeep your home and the surrounding outside areas clean. Bag leaves, tree or plant clippings, and other garden debris and put them out with the trash right away. Don’t let garden debris clutter up your yard or outside areas, as pests will be attracted to make nests. The same rules apply for outside trash: place it into bins and move the bins away from the house so that pests aren’t tempted by the inside of your home. Do your best to keep your attic, basement, or garden sheds neat and tidy, with items placed on shelves or safely stored away and sealed in containers if possible.

Do you think you’ve got pest problems stemming from clutter? Call Truly Nolen Pest Control today.

A Bug’s Life: Holiday Travel

Hundreds of tiny bed bugs climbing aboard suitcases and backpacks, cars and planes, hitching a ride to travel with you… It sounds like a charming holiday movie, doesn’t it? But there’s nothing cute about bed bugs seizing the chance to infest your home. Thousands of Charlotte residents travel during the holidays, but when you’re packing your coats and holiday presents to go home, you might not be traveling alone. Learn how to keep a bug free holiday season and prevent critters from sharing the holidays with you.

Bed Bugs: How to Recognize Them and Where They Hide

Bed BugTiny, parasitic bed bugs survive on the blood of sleeping animals and people. They’re reddish-brown, have no wings, and are extremely tiny (between about 1mm to 7 mm). They can wait for months between meals, and they’re considered one of the most problematic bugs for homeowners and travelers. While bed bugs aren’t considered a health hazard, they are extremely irritating, and can cause difficulty sleeping and itching, which may result in a secondary infection. Some people may also be allergic to bed bug bites and need medical attention as a result. Bites, which may take up to two weeks to show up on the skin, can often be found on the face, back, hands, arms, and other limbs.

Bed bugs may be found in the fold of sheets and their exoskeletons may be found on or around the infested item of furniture. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not only found in mattresses, although they are often found nearby where people sleep. They’re also found in stuffed animals or in any material covered with fabric, such as a chair, sofa or luggage, as well as in bed frames, headboards, behind wallpaper, or even living in clutter piled close to the bed.

Preventing Bed Bugs from Coming Home to Charlotte

Bed Bug Registry: Prior to checking into a hotel, look it up on a bed bug registry. Once you’re checked in to your room, don’t be fooled by cleanliness, as these blood-sucking fiends can hide in clean environments and five-star hotels.

Bed Bug MattressUse a Hand Held Flashlight: Shine a flashlight around the four most common areas where hotel bed bugs can be found: the mattress, the box spring, the headboard, and the footboard. You’re looking for either tiny bugs or blood spots along these areas. Look in screw holes as well.

Don’t Put Stuff on the Bed: What’s the first thing most of us do when entering a hotel room? Swing our luggage up on the bed. Don’t do that – bugs will likely be hiding either there or in the carpet. To avoid bed bugs, put your suitcase either on a luggage rack or in the bathroom. (Bed bugs are far less likely to be prevalent in rooms with chrome or tile.)

Heat It Up: Bed bugs can’t stand heat, so if you think that the luggage itself may have become infested with bed bugs, throw soft bags into the washer and drier. Empty suitcases directly into the washing machine and wash clothes in the hottest water possible. Dryer time will kill most bed bugs.

Car Tips: Those who rent cars for trips would be advised to check the trunk, regardless of the time of year. Rental cars are not often prone to bed bugs in the summer because of the heat but it’s best to be cautious throughout the year.

Storage: When not in use, luggage should stay out of the bedroom. Instead, store luggage and travel bags away from the bed. Rather than store them under the bed, make sure they’re in the closet or the garage.

Make it hard for bed bugs to travel home to Charlotte! Prevent them from hitching a ride inside your suitcase. If you have any concerns, call Truly Nolen of Charlotte today at 704-910-2936!


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