Pest Advice Blog

Key Largo Admins Ace Test

This was our yearly audit which is very detailed and handles every aspect of what we do in the branch. Making sure agreements are scanned and entered correctly, deposits made on time. Phones answered appropriately and friendly. An so many other aspects that involve the administrative section. Well they aced it. Their department received a 92% which is an amazing score.

THREE PREDICTIONS FOR PEST TRENDS IN 2015

THREE PREDICTIONS FOR PEST TRENDS IN 2015

 

Insect and rodent pests are excellent at taking advantage of changes in their environments, which could spell big trouble for homeowners and businesses with changing climates and shifting weather patterns in North America.

 

Below we have laid out three predictions of pest and pest prevention trends in 2015. As you may notice, some of these trends have already started to take shape (we’re looking at you, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug!).

 

Meet The Roof Rat

Often called the Black Rat or Ship Rat, the Roof Rat has been a perpetual offender to the deep south and coastal areas of the United States for some time. Recently, however, this pest has been creeping into land-locked areas and traveling ever further north. Roof Rats seek out elevated spaces and can do major damage to insulation, HVAC ducts, electrical components, and ornamental fixtures in your attic and wall voids. 

 

Increasing Bed Bug Activity In Non-Traditional Locations

The Bed Bug is a pest that has become an ever increasing nuisance and is not going away. In addition to expanding its footprint across North America, the Bed Bug is moving into areas where they have not traditionally been found. According to research performed by Truly Nolen Pest Prevention, bed bug business outside of hotels in the last 12 months has increased 16.1%. This could refer to anywhere people frequent, such as retail store fitting rooms, movie theaters, healthcare facilities, restaurants, gym locker rooms, and even the church pew. This spread to non-traditional locations can be attributed to the increase in the Bed Bug population and the fact that they are excellent hitchhikers. As a result of this increased activity of the Bed Bug, it may be a good idea to add thorough checks of your clothing and belongings after visiting these and other communal places before returning home to your 2015 resolution list.

 

Expanding Activity of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Over the past decade, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has become a very common pest in the Eastern U.S. Every fall we can count on seeing these flat, brown little pests crowding our windowsills and door frames, eventually finding their way into our kitchens and living rooms. While the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is largely a nuisance pest for homeowners, it can be very damaging to agriculture and, as a result, the U.S. economy. Expect this pest to continue its sprawl across the continent, moving further west in 2015.

Squirrels – Don’t let them drive you nuts!

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

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

Types of Squirrels

Squirrel

Ground Squirrels

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

Damage caused by ground squirrels

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

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

Tree Squirrels

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

Some of the more commonly seen squirrels are:

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

Damage caused by Tree squirrels

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

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

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

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

Control & Prevention

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

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

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

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

Adopt a Family

December 2014

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

Yuma Christmas Party and Light Parade

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

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

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

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

How to (not?) spot a German roach

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

Lifecycle

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

Behavior & Habits

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

Damage caused by German Roaches

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

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

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

Signs of infestation

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

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

Residential Control

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

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

Restaurant Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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