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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).

Flying Ants in Tucson, Arizona

Reports flooded in this morning, September 5th, of swarms all over Tucson. People from many different locations throughout Southern Arizona reported seeing small winged creatures swarming about one to twenty feet off the ground above a nest where many more insects lay on the ground below. It turns out, these critters are Harvester ants, and they were swarming in hopes of finding a mate!

Reproductive members of a Harvester ant colony will leave the nest in search of a mate, typically during one or two days each year. What is truly amazing is that most Harvester ant colonies all begin this mating process at almost the same exact day! This usually happens in late summer to early fall, depending on weather, moisture and other factors. The ants exit their mound, take flight and search for a mate using chemicals called pheromones. The ants then return to the ground with their newfound partner and finish the mating process.

Harvester ants are very prevalent in the Southwest. They typically prefer desert climates and tend to stay away from homes and urban areas but as we build structures further into their territory, we are bound to run into one another. When threatened, Harvester ants will defend themselves and sting what they perceive as a threat! So use caution, and remember to contact Truly Nolen for your free inspection if you see these or any other pests near your home or business!

History of the Model T

keep your pets pest free this season

Behold it is I, the one and only “Tin Lizzie”, the single most influential automobile in history. It was the year 1908 and Mr. Henry Ford and his automobile company had given birth to me and, if I do say so myself, I was quite the creation.

You see to the common working class American, an automobile was an unheard of luxury. Cars were still very scarce and expensive, thus making their adoptability limited, however I was able to change this the minute I rolled off the assembly line. Not only was I affordable to the average working class American, but I was reliable and easy to maintain. Mr. Ford developed the most crucial parts of my body out of a lightweight steel alloy known as Vanadium, which was important at the time because in 1908 there were only about 18,000 miles of paved roads in the U.S.!

Other Fun Facts:

  • The selling price of the Model T dropped from $800 in 1908 to under $300 by 1925.
  • Ford still hadn’t developed a logo, Henry Ford’s signature (pictured below) was placed on the front of the car.
  • At first a choice of colors were available, but from 1913-1925 the car was mass-produced in only black.
  • The engine generated 20 horsepower and propelled the car to a top speed of 40–45 miles per hour.
  • The Ford Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 “Car of the Century” competition and still makes top ten list of most sold cars (ranked 8th) as of 2012.

Henry Ford Signature

Those Aren’t Mosquitoes… They’re Crane Flies!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Mosquito! NO! It’s a Crane Fly!

Over the past month, Arizona has seen a tremendous influx of flying insects that look very similar to giant mosquitoes. However, these insects are not mosquitoes; they are, in fact, crane flies! Often mistaken for mosquitoes, crane flies look somewhat similar to mosquitoes but are different in many significant ways.

The similarities between the crane fly and the mosquito are mostly physical, they do look similar and this is why they are often confused. Crane flies and mosquitoes also share the same type of life cycle – complete, which means that they are both born from eggs that hatch into larvae before pupating where they develop into their final adult form.

The differences between the crane fly and the mosquito are much more in number than the similarities.

  • The crane fly tends to be larger than the mosquito, with a skinnier body and very long legs.
  • Crane flies vary in size from very small up to two and a half inches long with as long as a three inch wingspan. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people call them ‘mosquito hawks’, although the truth is that they do not eat mosquitoes or even attack them.

Interestingly, adult crane flies might not even eat at all during their short lives. After emerging from the pupa stage crane flies live for just a couple short weeks. During this time it is not known for sure if they eat nectar from flowers or not, but it is fairly certain that nectar is the only substance they eat during their adult lives if at all. They do not eat “blood meals” like mosquitoes; this is the most important difference between the two insects.

Crane flies pose no threat whatsoever to humans, so if you see one in your home, fear not, it is not there to feast on you like a mosquito. If you do see a crane fly in your home it is most likely because a door or window was opened and the crane fly sensed the light, following it inside to the source. They are very poor fliers and will simply fly toward any light source they see.

In order to keep crane flies out of your home follow these simple tips.

  • Seal, screen, or close any doors, windows or other entry points into your home as this will make it harder for them to get inside.
  • Turn off porch lights at night. Since crane flies are attracted to light, they will not be as likely to be drawn to your home in the dark if you turn off your lights at night.
  • Keep foliage, wood piles and other decaying organic matter away from the perimeter of your home as this is what the larvae feed on.

Between their poor flying skills, short life expectancy and these tips, you will drastically reduce the crane fly population in your home.

A truly amazing fact about crane flies is that their bodies have features that humans have mimicked to allow for more effective design – halteres. Halteres are small club shaped objects about the size of the crane fly’s antennae that stick out of their body and sit just behind the wings. When the insect flies at high velocities the halteres vibrate which allows the insect to maintain control of the yaw, pitch and roll of its flight. This is similar in function to what we call a gyroscope on our modern aircraft. Crane flies, though annoying, had perfected flight long before humans ever thought it possible.

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!

McDonald’s Breakfast

October 2014

On October 24th, 2014 a group of our team went out to Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde to show our customers a BIG Thanks.  We bought breakfast for over 5 families coming into the McDonald’s on the corner and received a tremendous amount of gratitude, including the manager of the store.  He told us “This is the company that I would do business with, giving back to the community is great!”.  We were humbled by the statements and look forward to many more breakfasts with the citizens in Tucson.

Clean and Sponsor Road

October 2014

On October 18th, 2014 we partnered up with Long Realty and adopted Camino Loma Alta Road in Vail, AZ.  We walked the 1 1/2 mile stretch finding bottles, plastics, paper, and lots of other debris that didn’t belong.  We were able to join some of the other citizens of Vail and work as a team to make the road look beautiful.  We plan on doing this every year with the Vail Preservation Society and are looking forward to adopting more roads with them.