Here’s a handy room-by-room guide of specific things to do to keep pests at bay this spring.
Ants, among other common pests, are known to infest kitchen spaces because this room provides easy access to food and water sources. They often march one-by-one through the heart of the home while searching for crumbs left behind from dinner, sticky residue from liquid spills and overripe fruit sitting out on the countertop. Although you may make a concerted effort to keep the kitchen clean on a daily basis, there are still a few other projects you can do to make it less attractive to pests.
First, remove all of the items from your cabinets and pantry. Go through them and discard of stale spices and other dated items such as flour. These baking ingredients attract pantry pests, including several types of beetles, Indian meal moths and ants. Next, wipe down the inside of your cabinets and install fresh shelf paper. Then, pull out your appliances from the wall as much as possible and vacuum behind them. You might be surprised how much dust, dirt and crumbs you find! Lastly, give the kitchen counter and floor a good scrub-down. Wash them with a sponge and a squirt of dishwashing liquid mixed in a bucket of warm water.
Many pests like cockroaches and silverfish are attracted to moisture, so they are commonly found in bathrooms. Eliminating sources of water in the bathroom is the best way to prevent pest infestations, especially because this pest can only survive for one week without water. In addition to washing the shower curtain and liner, and cleaning out the medicine cabinet, you should check under the sink and around the tub and toilet to ensure there are no moisture issues from leaky pipes or faucets.
Rodents, spiders and a slew of other pests can make themselves at home in the basement. The main reason that pests often take up refuge in this underground space is because this room tends to harbor dark corners and clutter, which provides the ideal place for rodents and spiders to hide. Take some time to go through your valuables and eliminate clutter where possible. Steer clear from using cardboard boxes to store items, using plastic bins with secure lids instead. You should also be sure to seal any cracks or crevices with a silicone-based caulk that pests could use to enter your home. Remember, mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime and other small insects need only a paper-thin crack to gain entry.
Once you complete your list of tasks inside, conduct an audit of your home’s perimeter, taking stock of any damage done over the winter months. Start on the roof by repairing fascia and rotted roof shingles, as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood. Then, clean out clogged gutters and downspouts to ensure they are properly functioning before the April showers roll in. You may also find you need to repair ripped screens, replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
When landscaping, don’t forget to trim bushes and branches away from the home to prevent easy access for pests to move indoors. Also, remove rotted tree stumps and keep mulch at least 15 inches away from the home’s foundation – both of which could be magnets for termites.
The Bottom Line
The arrival of warm weather brings with it a renewed energy needed to tackle home improvements. Take advantage of this to maintain a healthy living environment for your family and deter pests from infesting your living space this spring.
A tractor-trailer carrying millions of honeybees overturned on a highway north of Seattle last week. According to post.jargan.com, there were 448 hives with 13.7 million bees on board.
As you can imagine, the company who owned the bees sent as many beekeepers as possible to the site to salvage as many bees as they could.
Company owner Eric Thompson said the beekeepers he sent recovered 128 hives before the sun came up but he said the damage would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and future profit.
Luckily, everything was insured, but we’re sure the incident caused Eric a bee in his bonnet!
Researchers at Purdue University have identified a new class of chemical insecticides. This new class should provide a safer and more selective means of controlling mosquitoes. A new class is needed to key infectious diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and elephantiasis.
According to Catherine Hill, professor of entomology and Showalter Faculty Scholar, researchers used the mosquito genome to pinpoint chemicals that will be more selective than current insecticides, which bind readily to molecules in humans and non-target insects. Know as dopamine receptor antagonists (DAR antagonists), “these are sophisticated designer drugs,” she said. “They’re like personalized medicine for mosquitoes — but in this case, the medicine is lethal.”
Hill’s team showed that the “designer drugs” have high potency for both the larval and adult stages of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This species of mosquito transmits yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya and Culex quinquefasciatus, West Nile virus and the disfiguring disease elephantiasis. Effective pest control measures are important as they slow the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. But “overuse of antibiotics and insecticides has led to the rise of drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases and the emergence of mosquitoes that can withstand conventional pesticides, a “double whammy,” Hill said.
“There’s an urgent need for new insecticides,” she said. “We are seeing a resurgence of infectious diseases that for the last 50 years we had the luxury of controlling with antibiotics and modern medicine. These diseases are increasingly going to become a problem for people everywhere.”
The team is mining a group of about 200 DAR antagonists to find the most promising chemicals for commercial products. The insecticides could be cost-effective compared with current products and would have low environmental impact because of their selectivity, Hill said.
Similar protein receptors are apparent in the African malaria mosquito, the sand fly and the tsetse fly. This suggests to researchers that DAR antagonists could be implemented to control these disease-transmitting insects. “We’re going after all the big ones,” Hill said.
If not addressed properly, small flies in a processing plant could become a major public health concern. Basically, the flies will feed, breed, and live in contaminated areas. At some point and more often than not, they will land on food or food surfaces and transporting pathogens and the risk of foodborne illness in humans. Fruit flies and drain flies are commonly found in these facilities. Experts from the pest product industry address why these pests are such a problem and what can be done
According to Syngenta Professional Pest Management Technical Services Representative Nicky Gallagher, facilities that process and store liquid foods are vulnerable to fruit fly and drain fly infestations, “Food facilities can provide all the resources that these flies need, whether it is accumulated moist food, drains in need of sanitation, garbage receptacles, unmaintained floors with cracks and crevices, broken food containers, or even employee break rooms,” Gallagher said.
“Fruit flies and drain flies need certain conditions to thrive, including an available food supply and moist, warm conditions for breeding,” said BASF Global PSS Product Education Manager Thomas Nishimura. “Most food processing plants have these conditions readily available.”
Fruit flies have many attractants, said Aunt Fannie’s CEO Mat Franken, including color, scent, yeast content, fermentation, sugar, and others. They most frequently come into a plant by their “hitchhiking” on the foodstuffs brought into a facility, but they also can come in from the outdoors, he said.
Additionally, Rockwell Labs Founder and CEO Cisse Spragins added that fruit flies feed and breed in fermenting material, even very small amounts. So when food and moisture collects in a crack or crevice and remains undisturbed, fermentation can occur and the area can become a breeding site.
Drain flies, on the other hand, tend to originate from filthy sources that contain sewage, rotting food, or other organic materials, Gallagher said.
This is because, Spragins said, drain flies lay their eggs in organic gunk that builds up in drains, particularly drains that are actively used and kept moist. Such drains are prevalent in food processing areas, and food particles contribute to the organic build-up, creating the ideal environment.
Additionally, she said, “the wash-down cleaning used in many food plants can make matters worse, regularly pushing moisture and food particles into cracks and crevices.”
Scientists are interested in finding out how bugs can fly. So much so that a group of researchers from the University of California Berkeley and Nanyang Technology University in Singapore are conducting experiments.
According to Tech Times, these researchers are attaching tiny electric backpacks to learn how beetles take off, steer, and more. The tiny backpack contains a wireless transmitter, battery and electrodes that are connected to the optic lobes and flight muscles of the beetle.
So far, the experiment shows that a muscle used to control the folding of wings plays an important role in steering.
Scientists hope to use wireless sensors similar to the beetle’s tiny backpack to answer other, larger questions in the scientific community.
Perfection Pest ( Kentucky Pest Control Eperts) celebrates the important role of pest professionals
This April, Perfection Pest is proud to celebrate National Pest Management Month, a public observance formally recognized each year by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to acknowledge the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health and property from household pest threats. Additionally, as spring is an especially busy time for pest-related activity, Perfection Pest encourages homeowners to take proactive pest proofing steps in the coming weeks.
“We are proud to be members of an industry which plays an important role in people’s everyday lives and are committed to helping homeowners protect their homes and ensuring public places and residences are free of disease-carrying pests,” said Tim Leatherman, Owner at Perfection Pest.
“As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage the public to tackle simple home improvement and landscaping projects that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months,” added Leatherman.
Perfection Pest Experts recommend the following tips to pest-proof the home this spring:
- Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
- Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
- Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Contact a licensed pest professional if an infestation is suspected.
For more information on common household pests or more pest-proofing tips, please visit www.perfectionpest.com
Argentine Ants: Colonies of Argentine ants are found throughout the southeastern parts of the U.S. and California usually in wet environments near a food source. Argentine ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food and give off a musty odor when crushed.
Carpenter Ants: This aggressive species of ant is found nationwide, especially in the northern region. Carpenter ants attack wood and can cause severe property damage, which is usually not covered by homeowners' insurance.
Crazy Ants: First found in Texas in 2002, crazy ants have spread to other southern states, nesting in both dry and moist habitats. This species does not pose a health threat, but they can become a nuisance.
Odorous House Ants: This species is found in every region of the U.S. and commonly nests in basements, crawl spaces and adjacent structures. Odorous house ants do not pose a health risk, but they give off a strong, rotten coconut-like smell when crushed.
Pavement Ants: These black ants are found throughout the eastern portion of the U.S., and in California and Washington. They get their name from making nests in or under cracks in pavement. Pavement ants can contaminate food and should be avoided.
Red Imported Fire Ants: These red ants are found in the southeastern U.S., from Virginia to Texas, as well as California and New Mexico. They are commonly introduced to new areas through potted plants, shrubbery and trees. Fire ants will sting humans who disturb a nest, often causing painful welts.
What can a homeowner do to prevent termites?
- The most common types of termites love moisture, if you have any moisture around the foundation of your home, take steps to remove the moisture and eliminate the source.
- Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
- Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.
- Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was constructed. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building. Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
- It doesn’t hurt to routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.
What should a homeowner look for when selecting a PCO?
- A qualified and licensed pest management company that is a member of national, state or local pest management associations.
- Ask friends and neighbors to recommend companies they have used successfully.
- Buy value, not price.
- Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
- Find out if the company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
- If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing prevention and management are necessary.
What do bedbugs look like?
They are brown, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, and look like an apple seed or a lentil.
Has there really been a resurgence in bedbugs in the U.S. and how do you know?
There HAS been an increase in bedbug infestations. Pest control companies who received 1 or 2 bedbug calls a year are now reporting 1 to 2 each week. According to 2010 research conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, 95% of pest control companies report encountering a bed bug infestation in the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25% of pest control companies surveyed had encountered a bed bug infestation.
In addition, another survey by NPMA found that one in five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel.
Where have you been finding the bedbugs?
These pests are not limited to any one specific type of environment. Pest control companies have been reporting infestations in both single and multi-family housing, apartments, hotels, hospitals, college dormitories, public transportation, laundry facilities and even movie theaters.
What states have been affected?
Pest control companies have reported bed bug activity on a national scale. Bedbugs are being found from the East to the West Coast; and everywhere in between. Every state has reported bedbug infestations.
Why are bedbugs so hard to treat?
Bedbugs should NOT be equated with filth or sanitation problems -- in hotels or in homes, for that matter. Bedbugs are VERY elusive, transient and nocturnal pests. They are often found in other areas besides the bed, and they are hardy. They can live for a year or more without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bedbugs CAN be controlled with vigilance, constant inspection and treatment by professional pest control companies.
What can a consumer do to protect themselves from bedbug infestations?
To prevent bedbug infestations, consumers need to be vigilant in assessing their surroundings. When returning from a trip, check your luggage and clothing. If you think you may have a bedbug infestation, contact a pest control professional. This is not a pest that can be controlled with do-it-yourself measures. To find a pest control professional in your area you can visit pestworld.org.
Why are bedbugs an issue for hotels, visitors, and homeowners?
Bedbugs leave itchy, bloody welts on human skin. Adult bedbugs can live for a year without eating, making them especially hard to control. Once inside a hotel or home, bedbugs spread rapidly from room to room - through pipes, in vacuum cleaners, on clothing and luggage. In a hotel, bedbugs can even spread to neighboring rooms, since guests are may end up moving to another room.
Are bedbugs just in beds?
Bedbugs are not just in beds. They can be in chair cushions, sofas, behind electrical outlets, cracks and crevices around baseboards, or even behind picture frames. In other words, they can live pretty much anywhere.
How does one control bedbugs?
Any effective bedbug control strategy should start with a careful, thorough inspection by a pest control professional of all known and suspected spots where the bugs may be harboring. This is not a pest that can be controlled effectively with do-it-yourself measures. As they are discovered, the pest control professional will develop a treatment and control strategy with the customer depending on the extent of the infestation.
So Long Sugar Ants
“Sugar Ants” can be used to describe any number of ants, but most particularly, Argentine ants or rover ants. Sugar Ants get their name because, you guessed it, they are fond of sweets. So much so that in their natural habitat they often herd honey dew producing bugs such as aphids.
In our homes, we see trails of tiny ants on our kitchen counters or floors, chances are, they are Sugar Ants. What can you do about them? Your best bet is to call in a professional to terminate the ants. Then, as said in an article on Sunherald.com, “get rid of what's attracting them. What may seem to be a few loose granules of spilled sugar to you is a feast to foraging ants, especially ones as tiny as rover ants. The same can be said of crumbs from baked sweets—anything made with sugar.”
To sum it up, keep your sweets to yourself to keep Sugar Ants away!