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).
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.
Earlier this month, seasonal monsoon moisture combined with the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Norbert, Odile and Polo dumped torrential rain throughout the desert southwest. Record-breaking rainfall covered Phoenix to Las Vegas and points in between. According to the National Weather Service, parts of five western states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado — were under flood watches or warnings as part of this storm. Phoenix set a single-day rainfall record.
|City||Rainfall (in inches)|
The National Weather Service recorded 3.29 inches of rain at the Phoenix airport, by far the most precipitation ever received in one day in the city. The previous record for Phoenix was 2.91 inches in 1939. Phoenix received 5.7 inches of rain during the summer storm season in 2008, followed by less than an inch the next summer. Average September rainfall for the Phoenix area is typically just over a half inch (0.64 inches).
The epic floodwaters led to widespread power outages, flight delays, and forced the closure of dozens of schools and roads. As the storm water subsides and the cleanup begins, be on the lookout for increased insect activity. The stagnant water left behind is causing a great concern for mosquito breeding areas. Area homeowners are seeing intensified ant presence and termite swarmers are starting to appear.
Mosquitoes breed in areas where water is present and the recent rainfall provides mosquitoes with a variety of new breeding areas. Mosquitoes prefer stagnant water, like an uncirculated pond or fountain, or other moist conditions such as flowerbeds, flowerpot saucers, unkempt gutters, sprinkler heads, or shady areas.
In addition to their annoyance, controlling and repelling mosquitoes is essential to minimizing the risk of contracting the many diseases carried by mosquitoes such as Dengue Fever, Encephalitis, Malaria, and dog-heartworm. The best protection from mosquito-transmitted diseases is to prevent exposure to mosquitoes.
- Drain any standing rainwater. Drain water from garbage cans, pool covers, coolers, toys, or other containers where water has collected.
- Inspect your yards and drains. Dispose of bottles, cans, old tires, buckets, plastic swimming pools, birdbaths, or other debris that can hold standing water.
- Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear light-colored clothing, shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves.
- Maintain a clean yard. Repair leaky pipes and maintain and clean roof gutters.
When the wet weather arrives, ants can begin invading your homes. Although they are tiny, ants can pack a powerful punch as they can pose both health concerns and costly property risks damage. While most ants are considered harmless, an ant infestation can be a major nuisance and difficult to control. Ants will eat practically any kind of food, but are especially attracted to sweets as they supply a large amount of energy to the relatively small ants.
The main tactic to preventing an ant infestation is to create a less inviting environment for pests around your home. This includes eliminating access and removing suitable sources of food and water. If you have an ant infestation:
- Determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the food source. Keep your kitchen clean. Seal food items properly, clean counters, do the dishes, fix leaky pipes, and perform general household maintenance. Doing so will ensure you can more easily avoid persistent ant problems.
- Exclude ants by caulking or sealing cracks, holes, and any other potential entry points as well as doorways and other entrances that aren’t completely sealed.
- Prune all shrubs and trees at least 4 feet away from your home – this prevents easy access for pests into your home.
Exclusion can prove difficult to the untrained eye and covering every single entry point is virtually impossible. Many times DIY efforts do not totally eliminate the ants or the nest. And since ants are not at the top of the pest food chain, they may invite other predators like roaches into your home.
Termite infestations can be a major problem, causing dangerous and expensive damage to homes and businesses. Subterranean termites nest underground and need contact with soil to meet their moisture needs. A mature nest will periodically emit a large number of swarmers to find a mate and start a new colony. Termites can cause serious structural damage to any home in a matter of months if left untreated. Common signs of termite activity include:
- Cracked or bubbling paint
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped or is extreme soft
- Damaged wood, sagging floors or ceilings.
- Pencil-sized mud tunnels or tubes located near the foundation or on exterior walls
The main things homeowners can do to prevent a termite infestation involve eliminating excessive moisture and removing potential sources of food for the termite:
- Avoid moisture accumulation near the foundation. Divert water away with properly maintained clean downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
- Promptly repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.
- Seal entry points around water and utility lines or pipes
- Keep all wooden portions of the house foundation at least 6 inches (and up to 18 inches) above the soil. Use concrete or steel supports when in contact with soil.
- Check decks and wooden fences regularly for damage. A minimum of 6 to 8 inches between ground level and porch steps is recommended.
- Install trellises, vines, and trim plants so that they do not contact the house. Do not build flower planters against the house.
- Remove dead trees, debris, and stacks of firewood from around your home.
Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons pest control and treatment program treats the both the inside and outside of your home, reducing the risk of future infestations. Having your trained Truly Nolen pest control specialists eliminate the pests in your home can save you time, money, and a huge headache. No matter what the season or disaster, Truly Nolen has you covered. Give us a call today for a free inspection or conveniently schedule online.
Several kinds of crickets are found in Arizona. Although they pose no immediate health risks (they do not bite or carry disease) they have been known to eat through everything from wallpaper glue to wool to silk. Most importantly, if you are seeing crickets inside your Arizona home then they will be sure to attract hungry spiders and scorpions.
What are crickets?
Adult crickets have antennae and are about one inch long. They are easily distinguished from other insects by their large hind legs which are modified for jumping. Depending on the species, their bodies are light brown to black in color. Their front wings vary in length, covering anywhere from half to their entire abdomen and some species may not have wings. Newly hatched crickets look like miniature, winged versions of their parents and feed on the same types of food. After several molts they gain adult characteristics and begin producing the next generation.
Crickets feed on decaying plant material, fungi, and seedling plants. Crickets benefit their surrounding environment by breaking down plant material and renewing soil minerals. They are also an important source of food for other animals like spiders, some wasps, ground beetles, birds, small rodents, and lizards.
Crickets can be considered a nuisance particularly in large numbers because of their “chirping.” To attract mates, male crickets produce a chirping noise made by rubbing their front wings against each other. The chirping sound is picked up by the female’s ears and can be quite loud. Chirp sounds are specific to different species. Although some people may enjoy this sound, it can become a serious nuisance if it continues for a long period of time or if you are trying to get some sleep.
FUN FACT: The song of the field cricket is temperature dependent. The tone and tempo drop with a drop in temperature. Count the chirps in 13 seconds, add 40, and you will have the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
Where do They Live?
Crickets are primarily active at night and spend the days hidden in moist, cool shady spots near ground level. In nature, you can find crickets in leaf litter under rocks and logs in fields, gardens, and along roadsides. Around your home, they prefer to live in voids, like under those decorative boulders in your yard, meter boxes, or under the sidewalk and patio. Crickets love stacked firewood, eroded expansion joints, piles of rock, or other shady cover at ground level. You will likely find crickets around your home’s foundation, especially in the gap between the stem wall and the stucco. More than 1,000 crickets can cram into one tiny nest.
Cricket Control Measures
There is no single, perfect solution for the control of crickets. By removing places crickets like to hide, you can dramatically reduce the number trying to invade your home. Crickets entering your home are typically looking for food or trying to find more comfortable temperatures. Prevention is the easiest way to manage cricket populations.
- Insect-proof your home to prevent these chirping pests from getting inside in the first place, particularly at or near ground level.
- Use calking and weather stripping to seal all cracks, gaps, and openings in foundations, siding, windows, doors, screens, and other possible entry points (e.g., around plumbing and electrical connections). Sealing gaps in the foundation wall itself also will stop scorpions and other pests from coming indoors.
- Make sure all doors (including screen and garage doors) are closed and tight-fitting.
- Keep lights off at night as much as possible. Crickets are attracted to lights. If you light your house at night with strong lamps, you might be luring them toward your house.
- Crickets build their nests in tall grasses and other vegetation so remove vegetation and debris that could serve as a hiding place or breeding site. Trim back your plants and keep your lawn mowed.
- Eliminate food and water sources. Be sure to put pet food away and keep your kitchen clean.
- Encourage the presence of natural predators like cats, lizards, birds, and non-venomous spiders.
A professional pest control company can implement an integrated pest management solution to make nesting sites inhospitable and significantly reduce the number of crickets gaining entry into your home. A trained professional can provide you with preventive treatments on a regular basis and will find the pests before they take over your home. Call your trained Truly Nolen pest removal expert to discuss options for cricket removal at your home.