All posts by Nancy Schaible

UPTICK IN TICK SIGHTINGS!

Now that the parks, hiking trails, and camping areas are open, more people are hitting the back country for much needed fresh air and exercise.  What they are most likely not expecting are the denizens of the bush waiting in anticipation of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.   hiking-1811970_960_720-2

Since people haven’t been outdoors as much, and recreational areas haven’t been cleared or mowed in a while, tick habitat has increased. There has also been an increase in wildlife (the tick’s favorite mode of transportation) coming into some urban areas more during these periods while people have been staying indoors.

Ticks are something people need to be aware of year-round but especially from April through September, although as the weather ticks-on-plant-sheep-tick-4858989_960_720warms their populations swell, peaking in the summer and declining in the fall.

Ticks find their hosts or prey by hanging on to a blade of grass or leaf, with their hind legs and holding their front legs up waving in the air, waiting for something or someone to brush by so they can grab on. This behavior is known as “questing”.

Common ticks of Southern California and Diseases they may carry, include:

ticks on fingerThings to do to keep you safe from ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. Light colors make ticks easier to spot.
  • Tuck your pants inside your socks. This will create a physical barrier against ticks.
  • Use insect repellent. Chemicals that repel other insects are somewhat effective against ticks, although a heavier concentration of DEET — between 30% and 40% —may be needed. Permethrin is a stronger chemical that kills and repels ticks. Products containing permethrin should be sprayed on clothes, not on the skin.mosquito repellant spray
  • When hiking, biking or just walking the dog, stay in the middle of the path (or fairway). Ticks can’t fly or jump, so they can only get on you if you come into contact with the kind of environment they live in: moist, often shady, wooded areas, with leaves, low-lying plants, and shrubs.
  • The Sun is your friend. Ticks don’t do well in dry, open areas. Lawn furniture and playground equipment should be set back from the edge of wooded, shady areas. If you’re picnicking, pick a spot on well-tended lawn or open ground.
  • Inspect yourself and your children (and your pets), especially the legs and groin. Ticks usually get picked up on the lower legs and then climb upward in search of a meal. The likelihood of contracting tick-borne diseases decreases if a tick is removed immediately, and there’s no risk if it’s still crawling around.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)
  • Remove tick friendly conditions in your yard by eliminating tall grass and weeds, trimming shrubs and low branches, as well as raking and removing leaves. Thin out thick vegetation, let the sun in. Ticks love moist shady areas. Avoid over-watering.
  • Prevent ticks on animals by using tick control products to prevent tick-on-dog-paw-animal-4907434_960_720family pets from bringing ticks onto the property and into the home. Consult your veterinarian and be sure to use these products according to the package instructions.
  • Consider using a chemical control agent in your yard. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks.

Would you like to know how to safely remove a tick? Here is a link to detailed instructions for tick removal.  tick-after-feeding-482613_960_720-2https://globallymealliance.org/about-lyme/prevention/tick- removal/

IT’S NOT JUST PEOPLE CROSSING OUR BORDERS!

 

Border Crossings are happening every day, and it’s not just people looking for a better life.

Humans, animals, fish, insects, plants and diseases (bacteria and viruses) cross our borders on a regular basis and have been since borders were established.  Non-native species have been making themselves at home and making short work of available resources putting native species at risk.

Human activity such as trade and tourism has provided the means and opportunities for the unwanted establishment of new species into California and the whole of the United States.

travel-3685042_640-1Planes, Trains, Boats, Trucks, Automobiles and People are being used as convenient vessels for the smuggling of non-native species.

New organisms may be accidental hitch hikers in cargo, or they may be deliberately smuggled into California. Rapid transportation, especially air travel (i.e., hours on a plane as opposed to days, weeks, or months on a boat), makes it likely many hitch hikers will survive long distance journeys.rat-in-rain-with-suitcase

Invasive species are non-native animals, microbes, or plants that cause economic, environmental and, or health problems.

These are a few of the invaders that have crossed our borders:

Red-eared Slider
Red-eared Slider

Pathogens are crossing from animals to humans, and many are now able to spread quickly to new places, crossing all borders. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that three-quarters of “new or emerging” diseases that infect humans originate in nonhuman animals. A few, like COVID-19, which emerged last year in Wuhan, China,  MERS, which is linked to camels in the Middle East, and H1N1 or Swine flu, that had it’s initial outbreak in central Mexico are new to humans and spreading globally. They do not recognize borders.

Prevention and early detection are the most effective and cheapest methods of dealing with invasive species. Early detection and response are necessary to prevent infestations and control costs from reaching unmanageable levels.

You, might just be the biggest weapon mankind has against the spread of invasive species.  Here’s what you can do.  

  • Verify that the plants you are buying for your yard or garden are not invasive.
  • When boating, clean your boat thoroughly before transporting it to a different body of waterClean your boots!
  • Clean your boots before you hike in a new area to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens.our boots!
  • Don’t “pack a pest” when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves.
  • Don’t move wood-pilefirewood (it can harbor forest pests), clean your bags and boots after each hike, and throw out food before you travel from place to place.
  • Don’t release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild.
  • Practice good hygiene
    Washing Hands
    Washing Hands

    and the safe handling of food, animals and other materials.

  •  You can even volunteer with The Nature Conservancy. Volunteer at your local park, refuge   or other wildlife area to help remove invasive species.
  • Help educate others about the threat.

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Rat Infestations. Now What!

A perfect storm of residential rat invasions has been created by the coronavirus-4914028_960_720Covid-19 pandemic.  People are producing more food waste at home, now that restaurant trash generation has decreased. Streets are emptier, so normally skittish rats are more likely to go exploring. According to experts rats can cover two to three (or more if they are really hungry) city blocks easily in one night. They are able to travel out of the city  or business districts and into people’s yards and homes.

No neighborhood is safe. Contrary to popular thought,rats-2-cute rats are not just an urban problem or a companion to poverty. Rats do not discriminate. Their hunting grounds include: residential homes, mansions, estates, apartments, businesses, hotels, just about everywhere a human being lives.

Instituting an anti-rat program is essential to keeping rats and the destruction they cause and the diseases (salmonella, rat-bite fever, Murine Typhus, Leptospirosis, etc.)  they carry, away from your home. Seal gaps under doors or other entrance points into your home. Make sure your trash stays in tightly sealed, lirat-in-trash-bag-2dded bins.  Avoid keeping yard debris, like leaf piles or construction materials around the house.  Clutter is a rats best friend.  It gives them a safe place to live and raise their young.

Know the signs of rat infestation. Look for droppings and gnaw marks. Check around dense vegetation or shrubs, (rats like to dig burrows in areas with heavy ground cover). Keep your eye out at night, that’s when  rats are most likely to be active.

closed-restaurantIf our challenges now aren’t enough, rodent experts worry about what will happen when the country starts to reopen. Biologists warn that people could face nasty surprises when they return to workplaces where rats have had months to flourish unmolested. Especially worrisome are closed restaurants, which, even if they were rodent-free in February, might not pass rat inspections when the businesses are opened later in the year.

The coronavirus pandemic has everyone worried.  Raising awareness and sharing expert tips can help keep rats at bay.

If you have a current concern about a rat infestation, don’t wait.  Contact a pest control professional.  They are open for business and ready to help get rid of rats.  Don’t worry, pest control is a non-contact, essential business.  Call now.

Ride-em Cowgirl! Welcome to the Rodeo of the Queens!

As industrious and hard working as the ant has been lauded to be, it has it’s own freeloaders and lazy, opportunistic individuals.lazy-ant-in-color-on-hamock

Introducing the “Rodeo Ant”. This shiny, little reddish ant belongs to the species, Solenopsis, and is appropriately named, because it rides on the back of larger individuals (different ant species) and steals food and leaves it’s offspring (eggs) to be tended by it’s larger rides workers.

Two new rodeo ant species, recently described by University of Texas at Austin entomologists appear to be parasites, stealing food from their mounts and tricking them into babysitting the rider’s eggs.  These lazy cowgirls just hang on, by their teeth, until their ride wanders back to the established nest, then hops off, makes itself at home and begins steeling food and depositing eggs where the colony’s workers will tend and raise up the young. It is thought that these rodeo rider ants are accepted by the invqueen-ant-and-her-courtaded colony’s workers because they match their hosts in hairiness, textures and smell, blending in and going undetected.

These female rustlers are not your typical ant.  They are solitary queens living a solitary life, unlike the majority of ant queens, that hold dominion over a large colony of workers, that forage for food, guard their home and tend to her royal highness’s eggs.

red-ant-head-and-open-mandibles-2The little riders hang on with mouthparts that have evolved a tight fit around the waist of a larger species’ queen. The smaller hangers-on are queens themselves, and workers and males of this species have yet to be discovered.

So Queen-on-Queen rodeos let this tinier parasitic queen skip all the costs of creating her own “Queendom” and just live off food scammed from the bigger queen’s colony.

Rampaging Roaches Becoming Almost Impossible to Kill!

superroachIt’s the German cockroach that is now being dubbed the “Superbug” of the insect world.  These tiny roaches are swift, prolific and love to live right up close and personal with human beings.

 

Blattella germanica, better known as the German cockroach, is developing resistance to a range of cockroaches-and-bug-spray-3759665_1280pesticides.  This inborn resistance is making them nearly impossible to kill and is making their extermination an ongoing exercise in fighting nature’s ability to adapt.  What’s really scary, is this cross resistance, to a range of toxic pesticides, is happening in just one generation.  German roach offspring are being born alcockroaches-big-and-smallready resistant to toxins that they haven’t directly been exposed to.

Researchers are now saying that because of this inborn resistance, these roaches will be almost impossible to kill with pesticides alone. Ridding homes of these superbugs will require a strategy that combines insecticides with a combination of mechanical strategies, including, improved sanitation, traps, and the implementation of the vacuum tcockroach-sticky-trapso suck up the hordes.  This multi- faceted approach is far more effective than pesticides alone.

Why are we so concerned with the extermination of these little menaces? Besides being a psychological stresser in some people (causing fear and panic), these roaches spread disease causing bacteria and their feces and shed body parts carry allergens that activate allergic reactions and asthma.

Getting rid of these superbugs is now requiring superhuman effort and our researchers and pest control professionals are gearing up for the job.

German Roach Facts: 

  1. Out of 4000 species of cockroaches worldwide, the German cockroach is the most common species.
  2. German cockroaches eat almost anything; hair, glue, soap, and even toothpaste. They are most fond of starches, sweets, meats, breads, gravies, and almost any other human or pet food.
  3. Female cockroaches protect their eggs by putting them into a thick protective case that is called an oothecal. One female German cockroach can place 40 eggs in one oothecal.  These egg cases are not susceptible to most pesticides.
  4. One female roach can theoretically produce hundreds of thousands of cockroaches in just one year.
  5. Newly born German cockroaches become adults in about 36 days.s
  6. Because they’re cold blooded, cockroaches can live without food for one month but only one week without water.
  7. They can also live about a month without a head.  cockroach-headless-cockroach-bleached-stillThey breath through small holes in their body segments  so they do not depend on their mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth it can’t drink, so it dies of thirst.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2020 IS THE YEAR OF THE RAT!

According to the 2020 Chinese Zodiac calendar, the Lunar New Year starts on Saturday, January 25th and ends on February 11th, 2021. It is the 4717th Chinese New Year and the Rat is it’s representative.

Related image

The Rat is the first sign from the 12 animal cycle and is considered to be the bringer of new beginnings and renewals.

So what does the Rat symbolize?  Strong Vitality and Fertility.

rats-2-cuteIn ancient times, the Rat was worshiped as a god and was offered sacrifices to ensure increased success and prosperity. Even today, in some cultures, Rats are revered and believed to be the reincarnation of deceased ancestors.

Feeding time for the ancestors at the Karni Mata Mandir Rat Temple in Deshnoke, India.
Feeding time for the ancestors at the Karni Mata Mandir Rat Temple in Deshnoke, India.

When it comes to the rat communicating with God, we can get a basic idea of how ancients looked at the rat by examining dream interpretations. Everyone has dreams, so is it lucky or unlucky if you dream about rats?rat-black-on-human-hands-photo-1474626575059-17c42b4e7bd0

Emperor Wen of the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC–221 BC) interpreted dreams about rats, as follows:

  1. If you dream about a rat, you could have many enemies.
  2. If you dream of many rats, you will continually fail.
  3. If married women dream of house rats in their hands, they are going to have a baby.
  4. If you dream of pursuing a rat, you will make friends with those who are dishonest.
  5. If you dream of catching a rat, you will suffer treacherous plots planned by others.
  6. If you dream of a cat catching a rat, you will be blessed because your enemies will be weakened from killing each other.
  7. If you dream about dead rats, you will be lucky.

 

rat-laying-down-in-kitchenLets go with the dreaming of many dead rats!

It has nothing to do with dreaming when you hear the pitter, patter of tiny feet (or the thunder of many feet) in the attic at night or see nasty rat droppings around the house.  You are wide awake! Luck is on your side as professional rat control companies are ready to help you get rid of rats and keep them gone.  Follow this link to view tips for keeping rats off your property and out of your house.

Here are some famous personalities, besides Master Splinter (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Rizzo the Rat (Sesame Street)  and Ben (the rat leader of a swarm of rats trained by Willard Stiles in the movie Willard) born in the year of the Rat.

George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Wolfgang Mozart, William Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Truman Capote, Catherine I, Mata Hari, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Avril Lavigne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alyssa Milano, Ben Affleck, Eminem, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Katherine McPhee, Kelly Osbourne, Denise Richards, Mandy Moore, Diego Armando Maradona, Zinedine.Yazid.Zidane, Du Fu (a famous Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty 618 – 907), Zhuangzi (an influential Chinese Taoist philosopher in the Warring States Period 475 – 221 BC)

Is Your Personal Vehicle a Traveling Pest Hotel ?

Vehicles, cars, camper-vans, buses and trucks, provide many pests with a warm dry environment that often contains food. Vehicles can also provide these pests with transport, spreading the pests to wherever the vehicle travels.

Pests such as ants, spiders, fleas, roaches and rodents (rats and mice) can infest vehicles in the same way they infest homes.

Cavities in vehicles can provide warm dry places for ants to build nests and they will often find food dropped in the vehicle.

spider-web-on-carSpiders find the gaps around wing mirrors and door jams the perfect places to hide and build webs around mirrors and other parts on the vehicle.Rat yelling

Rodents will nest in cars left parked for long periods and may do significant damage to vehicle wiring and upholstery (not to mention the stink when they die in the vehicle).

Another pesky creature that can invade vehicles is the dreaded Bed Bug.

Bed bugs inbed-bug-engorgedvade cars and other forms of transportation.  They are hitchhikers extraordinaire! These many legged creatures sneak into vehicles via clothing, purses, boxes and cartons, luggage and even books and stuffed animals. They love clutter and choose living near a convenient host,You!

Other insects and even small animals can infest vehicles and are usually attracted because of something stored in the vehicle.

Here are a few tips for keep invading pests out of your vehicles.

  • Keep it Clean! –washing-carBe sure to keep your vehicle clean and remove clutter on a regular basis. This is the best way to deter pests from making themselves at home. Clean the outside too. Don’t forget to wash the undercarriage, wheel wells and under the hood. Your wheels are a critters bridge from the road into the vehicle.
  • Use a power vacuum – Make sure to keep your carpets and mats super clean! If you don’t have a good strong vacuum, use the pay-per-use vacuums at a gas station or car wash.
  • Shampoo –Shampoo or steam clean carpets and other fabrics.
  • Natural repellents – Making a solution of vinegar and lemon or vanilla is a great way to keep bugs and spiders away.  Just wipe surfaces with a 50/50 solution. There are other herbs that also turn away unwanted visitors, such as eucalyptus. Always test the surface to be treated first to make sure the solution doesn’t do any harm.
  • Insecticide – Always follow the label instructions and employ recommended safety measures. Once the vehicle is all clean, spray a little under each floor mat; just spraying-cockroachenough to keep insects away but not to overpower you with its smell or fumes. If you keep your car outside, spray around the perimeter of your vehicle.

If you know or suspect you have an infestation on your hands, be aware that a DIY approach will not always provide a successful solution. Professional pest exterminators should be consulted to provide accurate identification, and proper and successful control methods.

INSECTS: BE GRATEFUL FOR THE SMALL THINGS

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  But did you know that there are a lot of reasons to be thankful for insects, our co-inhabitants of this planet?

Besides being a nutritious food source for millions of people, they provide their own form of pest control, they are nature’s woodland conservationists and forest, grassland and crop pollinators.  There are many insects that have a positive impact on human health and our environment.  Without insects, man can not survive and ultimately neither can this planet, as we know it.

Here’s a few our insect neighbors to be thankful for:

Honey Bees: Bees are one of the worlds most important pollinators.  They also provide, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and beeswax.  As they are endangered and beneficial, it’s just right to give them a little love and thanks this Thanksgiving.honey-bees-401097_640

There are other important pollinators, too.  Other bee species ( it’s estimated that there are at least 16,000 different species of bees world-wide), butterflies, beetles, flies and don’t forget birds and bats.

Praying Mantises: These insects are nature’s pest control technicians.  They eat insects that we humans find annoying and destructive such as flies and caterpillars.Praying mantis eating Even mosquitoes that bite and infect us with diseases are on their menu.  Thanks, guys and gals for your incredible appetite.

 

Lady Bugs: Most of these insects consume vast quantities of plant eating insects such as aphids and scale and in doing so Ladybug eating aphidthey help protect home gardens and commercial crops.  

 

 

Termites: These insects might seem an odd choice to include here. But termites are really important to our environment.  They are world class decomposers.

Termites
Termites

They break down plant fibers and recycle decaying trees into new, rich soil.   It’s not their fault that we build our homes from their favorite food, wood.

Termites deserve gratitude for their recycling efforts. Just pray that they stick to the forests and woodlands and away from our homes.

Roaches, Beetles, Grasshoppers, Termites, Ants, Caterpillars, Spiders, Grubs, Crickets etc.:

Why include these insects in our top insects to be thankful for?        eating-insectsAll of these insects contribute to the worlds food basket.

In developing countries harvesting insects provides livelihoods to predominately women from rural areas.  They have brought prosperity to  impoverished communities.  For example, the Mopane Caterpillar, from South Africa, brings in about $85 million a year.  In Cameroon and the Congo Basin, the insect trade accounts for upward of  20 percent of all economic activity.

So as we all gather around the table this Thanksgiving, giving thanks for our health, family and good friends. Remember to include a little gratitude for the bugs that make our lives livable and our planet thrive.

This Thanksgiving, be grateful, give thanks and enjoy!

1st-american-ant-colony

If you are more frustrated than thankful for the unwanted insects invading your home and landscape, call the  professionals and start enjoying your Thanksgiving Holiday and beyond.

 

Rats and Mice, Fall’s Most Unwanted.

Fall (and continuing through winter) is the time of year that nearly all of the rat infestations occur, according to a survey from the NPMA (National Pest Managemroof-ratent Association).

 

With daytime and overnight temperatures falling, animals go into overwintering mode and for them this means leaving the landscape for warmer places which can provide food and water and a safer environment in which to have and raise their young. Your home is at the top of their list!

Rats (and mice) are our most frequent unwanted visitors, this time of year.mouse-brown

Besides being disgusting, noisy and destructive, rats and mice can contaminate food, spread diseases, bring on allergies and even invite their friends; fleas, ticks and lice into your home.  Rats, especially, have been known to damage property by chewing through drywall, insulation, and electrical wiring (including vehicle wiring).  So, if you park your car outside, don’t forget to check under the hood frequently.

Prevent rats and mice from making your house their home by:

  • Removing yard debris and trash. Always look for places you think rats might like to live such as wood- piles and thick ground covers. Take time to thin out the vegetation and move firewood away from the home. Frequently restacking the wood will also discourage rodents from the area.
  • Keeping trash cans tightly closed. rat-in-trash-bag-2
  • Storing pet food or bird seed in metal cans with secure lids.
  • Picking up fallen fruit. (Don’t feed the rats!)
  • Bringing in pet bowls and bird feeders at night when rodents are the most active.
  • Keeping your home in good repair. Check for openings where rodents can get in. Remember that a mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a dime, and rats can enter through quarter-sized holes. Covering the openings with metal, concrete or mesh wool or copper mesh wool will stop them from getting in.

Rats and mice are sneaky, determined  creatures, so if they’ve gotten past your best defenses, it’s time to call in the professionals.   

rat-at-dentist-1_k2puy3y6fb6ohq-5csefwhttps://youtu.be/km2Vnk4cE70

Fun Fact:

Rats and mice have a need to gnaw. 

Rats and mice gnaw to take care of their teeth.  Their front teeth constantly grow and without gnawing and chewing to reduce the size of their choppers, the teeth would grow right out of their mouths until they would be unable to eat therefore starving to death or the bottom incisors would poke through the roof of the mouth stabbing into the brain. Not a good way to go!

Tiny Demons Tend the “Devil’s Garden”.

An ant species which is found in the rainforests of South America, Lemon ants (Myrmelachista schumanni),

Photo by Alan Wiltsie
Photo by Alan Wiltsie

live in and around Duroia Hirstula, a species of tree that provides them with protected nesting areas and offers nutrition in the form of extra floral nectar or food bodies inside the tree.

What does this ant provide the tree in return for food and shelter?   They increase the ability of these trees to grow and flourish by creating a safety zone or Devil’s Garden”.

RhinoMind [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
RhinoMind [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
What is this evil spirit infested garden”? It’s a large stands of trees, in the Amazonian rainforest, that consists, almost exclusively, of a single species, Duroia hirsuta, and, according to local legend, is cultivated by an evil forest spirit, the  Chullachaki.    These “gardens” stand in extreme contrast to the surrounding, heavily foliated, Amazonian jungle.    Researchers estimate that the largest garden observed, contains 328 trees in an area of about 14,000 sq. ft., and is around 800 years old.

There is no evil spirit involved in these gardens, just a small, highly motivated ant, known as the Lemon Ant. Once the Lemon ant queen establishes her colony in a Duroia hirstula tree, worker lemon ants start to attack all surrounding vegetation, injecting plants with formic acid (produced in internal glands) which kills the plants.

PHOTOGRAPHS © BBC NATURAL HISTORY UNIT
PHOTOGRAPHS © BBC NATURAL HISTORYUNIT – Martin Dohrn   /https://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/september28/devil-092805.html

Once the worker ants, which constantly patrol their territory, identify an invading plant species, they attack the plants in mass, causing the plants to die a slow death. Besides killing invasive plants with their internal herbicide, the lemon ants also attack herbivorous, plant eating, insects which attempt to feed on the Duroia hirstula tree. As the Duroia hirstula tree produces saplings, they are also protected by the worker lemon ants.  This beneficial relationship is known as mutualism.

However mutually beneficial this relationship might be, in the long run, it might be more of a case of can’t live without them but in the end, for the tree, can’t live with them.  There is a downside to this relationship, particularly for the tree, for as the colony grows, it weakens the structure of the tree as the ants establish hollow passages and chambers inside the tree.

Fun Fact:

The name Lemon ant comes from the ability of these ants to produce, as part of a glandular chemical defense system, a lemony smelling acid. When crushed or attacked, citronellal pheromones are created by the ant to communicate alarm and danger to nearby nest mates.  These ants also have a tangy lemon taste. So, if you’re adventurous, they’ll provide a delicious, lemony treat.

Eating ants, no matter how tasty, may not be how you want to get rid of ants.  Follow this link to find great ways to keep ants out of your yard and out of your home.  https://www.corkyspest.com/ultimate-pest-control.html