Category Archives: Health Related Pest Problems

Health Related Pest Problems

Mosquitoes are in the news again and the news isn’t good!

Mosquitoes have been the bane of man’s existence for centuries, or should I say millenniums.  Not only are they annoying, buzzing around our heads, their bites itching and looking red and ugly, they carry diseases that have killed millions maybe billions over the centuries.  These tiny disease carrying, female dive bombers don’t discriminate, their targets are anything or anyone that can supply them with a blood meal so they can produce eggs.  Their life imperative is to reproduce and their ability to do so is being enhanced by the “El Nino” conditions effecting our environment.  Warmer temperatures and an increase in wet, moist environments provide the prefect breeding conditions.

“Half of the global population is at risk of a mosquito-borne disease,” says Frances Hawkes from the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich. “They have had an untold impact on human misery.”

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, and at least 176 of them can be found in the United States. The most common, and most dangerous, are the various species in the Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes genera.

The most prevalent is the Culex Mosquito, Culex pipiens, known as the northern hculex mosquitoouse mosquito. It is the main carrier of West Nile virus.

 

Two Aedes mosquitoes are also carriers of dangerous diseaseAedes albopictus, the AsianTiger mosquito, transmits Dengue fever and Eastern equine encephaiitis.

Aedes Albopictus- Asian Tiger Mosquito
Aedes Albopictus- Asian Tiger Mosquito

The Aedes aegypti, the Yellow fever mosquito, transmits Dengue, Yellow fever and now the Zika virus, which is said to cause the birth defect known as Microcephaly or small head syndrome.

Aedes Aegypti -
Aedes Aegypti –

Anopheles Mosquitoes are the carriers of the parasite that causes Malaria and transmits the parasite through their saliva when they bite. More than one

anopheles mosquitomillion deaths each year are attributed to malaria passed on by Anopheles mosquitoes.

 

The scientific world is arguing over the need for measures to eradicate the mosquito completely. Those for complete eradication or the extinction of the mosquito are opposed by those that see the benefits to nature that over half the known species provide, including pollination, as a food source for birds and bats while their young – as larvae – are consumed by fish and frogs. They argue, extinction could have an effect further up and down the food chain. Mosquitoes have also protected our rain forests by their very existence, keeping man and the destruction he causes, away from these necessary eco-environments.

While the experts argue, what can we do to protect ourselves?  The CDC recommends staying away from known mosquito infested areas and contact a pest control professional if problems are closer to home.

Pest management professionals are NOT experts in discussing the Zika virus or any other disease, nor can they speculate on its potential to spread. However, they ARE experts in mosquitoes and effective mosquito control and can help educate the public on how to avoid contact with mosquitoes, both while traveling and at home, and how to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and reducing biting mosquito populations.

For Facts about Mosquitoes:

http://www.corkyspest.com/mosquitoes/mosquito-identification.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35408835

 For Facts about the Zika Virus:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcephaly

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/10-essential-facts-about-zika-virus/

https://weather.com/health/news/facts-about-zika-virus

 

El Nino will bring more than wet weather to Southern California.

The wet weather pattern blamed for this winter’s record snowfall in the East and mudslides in the West — is expected to wreak more havoc this spring with a surge in insects and other pests.

When there’s an increase in water, there’s an increase in vegetation growth, an increase in food supply and an increase in harborage (places to nest) and an overall increase in pest populations.

Rodents, Termites, Ants, Spiders, Roaches, Sow bugs and Mosquitoes will all see an upswing in their populations.

Look out for these pests.

Rodent populations are sensitive to weather conditions.  When inclement weather hits, rodents will look for shelter from the rain. As a result, homeowners often experience an increase irat in rain with suitcasen indoor infestations.  Outdoors, the rain and warmer weather brings an increase in food supply (seeds, nuts and small insects) which spurs an increase in breeding and therefor, increased population.

The Western Subterranean Termite.  This native pest can enter structurwestern subterranean termiteses through cracks less than one-thirty-second of an inch wide, including tiny openings in concrete slabs, around drain pipes and in between the slab and a home’s foundation.  Most swarming occurs in the spring, but with increased moisture levels, additional swarms may occur throughout the summer and fall.

Wet conditioArgetine ant colonyns will also create a field day for ants, including the highly invasive Argentine Ant, whose massive colonies can be found along the West Coast and parts of the Eastern and Gulf Coast states. The Argentine ant has few natural enemies here, so they can quickly knock out the native ants. When Argentine ants get inside a house, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Red Imported Fire Ants also have invaded parts of the West, expanding their range every year. They are extremely resilient and have adapted so well that they can survive both floodsFire Ants make living raft and droughts. The picture to the right shows a live ant raft floating in flood waters.

Fire ants are known to become ferocious if their nests are disturbed, and their painful bite and sting carries venom that can be medically hazardous to some individuals.

While October typically marks the end of Mosquito season, heavy rains across the Southern Western United States have led to a second mosquito Feeding mosquito with human bloodseason. The heavy rains have provided ample areas of standing water, ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Temperatures remaining above 50 F in these areas have also created ideal conditions, allowing mosquitoes to thrive past the typical season.

Now is the time to mount a defensive position against the hordes of spring invaders. Your first line of defense being the elimination of harborage areas by cutting weeds and grass, thinning and cutting back shrubs and trees (keeping them off structures) and eliminating areas of standing water to deprive mosquitoes of breeding sites. Your second line of defense, your pest control professional, is then equipped to handle anything  else that mounts an invasion.

So dash between the rain drops and fortify your perimeter, the hordes will soon be on the march!

More information on El Nino and Insects in Southern California.

Insects Set for Spring Surge

El Niño May Bring an Unwelcome Insect Invasion to Southern California

Cool Fall Nights Drive Rats Inside To Share The Warmth.

A survey from the NPMA (National Pest Management Association) found nearly half of all rat infestations happen in the fall and winter months.

As temperatures cool, especially overnight, rats look for warm sheltered spots with access to food and water, in which to set up residence.  Will it be your house this time?

These are not tidy guests. Rats urinate and defecate on everything, tear up furnishings, gnaw on wood (damage a structure) and electrical wiring (fire hazard), and bring fleas, ticks and lice, and the possibility of sickness and disease with them.

It’s much easier and less costly to prevent a rat infestation than to remove them after they’ve turned your home into their new living quarters.

 The NPMA recommends the following rodent-proofing tips:

  • rat_pipeSecure your home. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home to help prevent mice   and rats from using easy entry ways. Pay special attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Don’t build rodent attractions near your home. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground. Keep shrubs and trees cut back from the house.
  • Make sure your home isn’t rodent-friendly. Rodents can hide in clutter, so keep areas clear, and store boxes off of the floor. Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains. Keep food in rodent-proof containers.
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact a pest professional. Hiring a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the problem is the most effective solution to eliminate rodent infestations.

Rat Facts:

  • An adult rat can squeeze into your home through a hole as small as the size of a quarter.
  • Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.
  • Rats have strong teeth. They can chew through glass, cinderblock, wire, aluminum and lead.
  • Smell, taste, touch and sound help direct them to their food sources.
  • Rats are also responsible for spreading bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death”. Although fleas are primarily responsible for infecting humans, they were originally infected with the plague by feeding on the blood of rats.

Really scary fact:  Dead Rats Walking …..

Oxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite whose life cycle can only be completed in the bodrat and caty of a cat. Rats can carry it, but it needs a cat to survive. And the way it finds a host is ingenious – rats who become infected suffer a change in their brain chemistry which causes them to become attracted to, rather than fearful of the scent of cats. Obviously, these rats don’t live long lives. Humans can also contract toxoplasmosis – some estimates indicate 1/3 of the world’s population has it. Occasionally fatal, it is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women (which is why women are told to avoid cat litter boxes when they are expecting). Toxoplasmosis has also been linked to many other ailments, including schizophrenia.

Killer Bees on the Move –

Africanized Honey BeeNews Flash — Africanized honeybees, known as killer bees, have made their way to the Bay Area for the first time and recent warmer weather conditions may have encouraged the move.

In a U C San Diego study on the Africanized bees’ population growth in Southern California, it was found that more than 60 percent of foraging honeybees in San Diego County are now Africanized.

Africanized honey bees (AHB) also called Africanized bees or killer bees are descendants of southern African bees imported in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.  Then something went, terribly wrong.  Thhoney_beeey got away from their handlers and flew, north to find better more abundant food sources and harborage areas.

Africanized colonies were first reported in Arizona and New Mexico in 1993 and in California in October, 1994. Within a year, more than 8,000 square miles of Imperial, Riverside and northeastern San Diego counties were declared officially colonized by Africanized bees.

These bees are considered a health threat. Experts say bees overall kill about 40 people a year in the U.S. No statistics are kept for Africanized bees, but people and animals are the most at risk if they don’t have a way to escape an attack. The Africanized bees have killed animals on chains and in fenced enclosures in Southern California and Texas.

Last month, a swarm of Africanized bees killed a construction worker and injured two others in Riverside as the workers graded land for a parking lot unaware of the presence of a hive.

Africanized Honey Bee Facts

  • They are slightly smaller than the European honey bee, but only an expert can tell  them apart
  • Defend their hive more rapidly than the European honey bee
  • Usually attack and sting in greater numbers
  • Are less selective about where they nest
  • Swarm more often than European honey bees
  • Do not have stronger venom than the European honey bee
  • Eat nectar and pollen and make honey
  • Are not native to the U.S.; they came from Africa

Not totally the “bad guys” that they are hyped to be.  They may be the answer to the demise of European bee colonies caused by diseases, mites, fungus and colony collapse disorder. So despite all its negative factors, it is possible that, in the long run. Africanized honey bees might actually end up saving our agricultural industry and of course the honey industry too.

When it comes to widow spiders, Brown is the new Black.

A recent survey of widow spiders in Southern California led by retired UC Riverside entomologist Richard Vetter revealed new information about their distribution in California.  Currently brown widows are 20 times more common then black widows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, RivBrownWidowJim300x200verside and San Bernardino counties, at least in and around urban homes.  Experts believe they may eventually move up the coast of California and into the Central Valley.

Unlike black widows, Brown widows aren’t found in dry habitats or agricultural areas; they love urban environments and structures.  Preferred web building sites include; empty containers such as buckets and flower pots, mail boxes, entry way corners, under eaves, storage closets and garages, recessed hand grips of plastic garbage cans, undercarriages of vehicles that are stationary for long periods and the undersides of outdoor furniture and wrought iron railings.  They choose places that are more exposed than sites chosen by black widows putting them at higher risk for biting opportunities.

Drop per drop, brown widow spider venom is as toxic as othBrown Widow Spider and egg sacer widow spider species but it appears that these spiders do not have the ability to inject as much venom as the black widow or others of the widow species.  Bites occur mostly through accidental contact and the pressing of the spider against skin.  Symptoms of this widow’s bite include a red mark at the bite site and some localized pain.  The bite is not usually life threatening, and is considered less serious than a black widow’s.  This doesn’t mean that more serious reactions can’t happen, especially if a child is involved.  You can always call your physician just to be safe.

Differences between Brown and Black Widows:

  • The color of the brown widow spider is tan to brown or gray vs. stark black.
  • The egg sac of a brown widow has tiny spikes all over the surface; a black widow’s egg sac is smooth.
  • Brown widows produce more eggs and offspring than black widows.
  • A brown widow’s bite is usually less severe than a black widow bite as they tend to inject less venom.
  • Brown widows live in open areas whereas black widows hide in dark corners and crevices.

 

Where have all the fleas come from?

Dog and cat flea picture.docPet owners, here in Southern California, are itching to find the answer to the question, “Where have all the fleas come from?”

Even with the many flea prevention products on the market today, fleas are again, emerging as a major pest and the reason seems to be drought related.

Feral animals that would normally live in the hills, canyons and scrub country, are being driven, by the lack of water, food and shelter, in their normal habitats, into urban areas where these life sustaining necessities are plentiful.  Coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums and especially rats and mice are dropping off their fleas as they set up residence in or just pass through our yards, parks and green belts.  Almost all warm blooded animals have a flea that prefers it over other hosts. For example, rats are bringing with them not only the rat flea but the sticktight flea which is not normally found on domestic cats and dogs but will feast on them nonetheless.

Yes, the itching and scratching is annoying and frequent scratching and biting by an animal can cause hair loss and anemia, in extreme cases, but the dangers of disease from these tiny critters is terrifying.  Fleas carry and transmit plague, hantavirus, murine typus, tapeworms, and other nasty viruses and bacteria.  One bright light in this gloomy saga is that, according to the CDC, fleas do not carry or transmit HIV/Aids. http://search.cdc.gov/search?query=Transmission+and+fleas&utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=cdc-main

What can be done to protect our pets and our homes from these bloodsucking insects?  A lot!   If you are already using a topical flea treatment on your pets and are still having flea issues, talk to your veterinarian, about switching products.  Topical and internal products do not stop fleas from being in your yard or where you walk your dog or where your cat roams, so fleas can still hop on and take a ride right into your house.  Consider treating your yard on a regular basis and remove anything that provides harborage for rats or other feral animals.  Here is a link to help you be as flea free as possible: www.corkyspest.com/fleas/index.html

Let us know how you are doing in the fight against fleas and what is working best for you.