Category Archives: General

General Discussion

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.

When The Rain is Gone. Termite Swarms Begin.

Termites won’t be swarming around the house while the rain is falling, but once it stops, look out!  Thick swarms may be coming your way.

As a general rule of thumb termites swarm on a warm day after a rainfall.

Do we need to worry about swarming termites, now? The answer is, yes! Weather conditions are now perfect for termite swarming.  We have just had a good soaking rain and now the prediction is for Drywood termite swarmer hot days ahead.

Keep your eyes peeled for these winged destroyers.

In Southern California, different termites in different regions swarm at different times of the year.

  • The Western Drywood Termite – Swarms during the day any time between September and November. It may swarm earlier in northern parts of the state. It accounts for most of the drywood termite damage in California.
  • The Western Subterranean Termite – Swarms during daylight hours in autumn, winter and early spring.
  • The Arid-land Subterranean Termite- Swarms during daylight in spring and fall.subterranean termite-swarming-season
  • The Desert Subterranean Termite- Swarms from July to September at night.
  • The Formosan Termite (in San Diego County) – Swarms at night, primarily in June and July. Swarms may take place for several more months.
  • The Desert Drywood Termite- Swarms in the evening from June to September.
  • The Pacific Dampwood Termite- From August to October they swarm at dusk.
  • The Nevada Dampwood Termite- Swarms during spring in mountain regions and in summer and early fall in coastal regions.

Southern California’s two most common termites are the Western Drywood and the Western Subterranean species.  Identification is easy.  Drywood’s have red heads and reddish brown bodies whereas the Subterranean is all black.

Prevention is the first defense against these homewreckers. Here are some great tips.

  • Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home, which termites need to thrive.
  • Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and exterior AC units.
  • Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles.
  • Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
  • Divert water away from the house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
  • Routinely inspect the foundation for signs of mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source), cracked or bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes and skirting boards for any noticeable changes.
  • Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your home.
  • Consider scheduling a professional inspection annually. Wood-boring insect damage is not covered by homeowners’ insurance policies.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.

If you suspect you have termites, call a professional to perform a thorough inspection.  Termite extermination cannot be adequately accomplished by do it yourself measures.  Do it right the first time, it saves time, money and increased damage.

Some helpful links:

http://www.pestworld.org/news-and-views/pest-articles/articles/top-10-termite-prevention-tips/

http://www.corkyspest.com/Termite/index.html

http://blog.findapestpro.com/index.php/do-termites-come-out-when-it-rains/

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.

It’s Not A Mirage! Water is falling from the sky and ants are in the house again!

Ants have been racing into our homes and yards to find water and food since the onset of “the drought”.  But look, up in the sky, it’s raining aP15-AntsGoMarchingTHndants are still racing into our homes but now it’s to save their colonies from drowning and they’re bringing all of their “ants”, uncles, cousins, queens, and eggs with them.

So it’s not just the drought that brings these annoying trespassers to our homes it’s also the rain, and in the winter, the cold. Our homes and our yards provide optimal resources for their survival and survive they will!

Here’s more info on ants and the weather.

https://www.combatbugs.com/bug-files/ants-and-rainy-weather

http://news.stanford.edu/pr/01/ants45.html

What can a homeowner do to fight the ant invasion?  Check out this link for great tips on do it yourself solutions to keep your home free of ants. http://www.corkyspest.com/ants_new.html

Spiders Add Dancing To Their Skill Set.

All spiders crawPeacock Spider Jurgen-otto.2l, some swim, others are known for their jumping skills and still  others for their ability to catch a breeze and “balloon” to distant lands.

The jumping spider has added one more skill to its list of accomplishments: Awesome Dance Moves.

With their spectacularly colored bodies, rhythmic body movements, and booty-shaking gyrations, male peacock spiders (a species of jumping spider) put on a fantastic show to attract the attention of perspective mates.

Male spiders aren’t just dancing to get a “meaningful” date; they’re dancing for their lives. Their courtship performance is a life or death proposition, a truly risky business for the males, since female jumping spiders won’t hesitate to eat their suitors. Funny thing; they only seem to eat the bad dancers.  Keep practicing guys!                Shake that booty!

Original Video by Jurgen Otto: http://youtu.be/d_yYC5r8xMI Edited by Dario Trovato http://www.balzo.eu.

More on Dancing Spiders: http://mentalfloss.com/article/62195/5-flashy-facts-about-peacock-spiders

Ants take hundreds of “Power Naps” to get through their day.

AntSleep300x200Ants, labor endlessly to support their colonies, each member having a specific job to perform, from the pampered Queens to the multi-tasking female workers to the short lived males, every member of the colony is continually in motion.

So, with all this non-stop activity, the question is, “Do Ants Sleep”?

Scientists say yes! It’s not exactly like human sleep, but ants seem to go through cycles or periods of rest and inactivity in which their body functions and brain activity slow down. It may seem like ants never sleep because some part of the colony is always busy, but individual ants do need to rest.

Studies by researchers at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg (published in the Journal of Insect Behavior), proved that not only do ants sleep but queens show signs of dreaming.

Worker ants, whose behavior is used to symbolize industry and efficiency, survive on the insect equivalent of hundreds of tiny” power naps” a day. Queens routinely sleep for as much as nine hours a day.  Queens definitely rule.

The way an ant colony is designed, suggests that sleep is necessary for the health and longevity of the queens and not so much the workers who are disposable servants of the queen, providing her with food, water, comfort, and protection.

The function of sleep, for ants, is still unknown.

But the lack of rest for the workers seems to help ensure the queens get to live long, peaceful lives.

 

Does a “power nap” sound good to you right now?  Go ahead. Enjoy!

Bed Bugs Hitchhike Around the World

BedBugCouch300x200Bedbugs were nearly eliminated in the 1940’s with the help of the extremely-powerful, but now banned, chemical DDT. However, they have made a comeback in recent years, showing up in hotels, hospitals, buses, trains, movie theaters and other public places. They have the reputation for being the insect world’s most notorious hitchhikers.

These tiny bloodsuckers not only, make their homes in beds, but also in couches, clothing, and the seats of airplanes and trains. At night, they crawl out of cracks and crevices to feed on the blood of the soundly sleeping. These painless attacks generally go undetected until a skin rash appears.

Don’t miss out on, well deserved, sleep! Know what to do to stay bed bug free. http://www.pestworld.org/all-things-bed-bugs/bed-bug-prevention/tips-for-travelers/

Think you might have Bed Bugs? Need do-it-yourself tips,? Take a look at this informative site: http://www.corkyspest.com/bedbugs/

Let us know if you have questions about bed bugs and their control.

Have you had experience with bed bugs while traveling or when you’ve gotten home? Help others by sharing your stories.

Pest Control and the Drought

How the drought affects insects and pest control 

Current drought conditions are the most severe in approximately 1,200 years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  40% of California is in the “exceptional” drought category, which is up 23% from a year ago.

Flying and crawling insects, dependent on ever decreasing plant life, in fields, canyons and forests, are migrating to residential areas, back yards and public landscapes, in search of flowers, plants and water.

In urban areas, where water conservation is in force, many insects, including ants are heading indoors to find sufficient water to support their survival.

In anticipation of the increase in insect migration caused by the drought, we have changed our treatment programs to more effectively target invading insects.

Have you seen more pest activity in your yard lately?  Are you finding insects inside your home, that haven’t been there before?  Are insects getting out of control?

Blame it on the drought!