Nuisance Pests and How To Control Them

Nuisance Pests and How To Control Them

A nuisance pest (also referred to as nuisance wildlife) is any animal that interferes with other human activities or that is menacing or destructive; for example, animals that eat our birdseed, dig up gardens or landscaping, populate a place where they are unwanted (like your attic), damage buildings and public parks, or threaten human health and safety by spreading diseases, directly attacking us, or colliding with cars, planes, and trains. Some common nuisance animals include opossums, raccoons, moles and voles, bats, birds, deer, and skunks.

Studies have shown that deer vs car collisions cost Americans $1 billion per year. Birds vs airplanes also cost the same amount of damage annually. Squirrels, beavers, and other similar nuisance pests cause millions of dollars in damage to roadways, bridges, and dams each year. These creatures can also threaten already endangered species.

Wildlife in general search for 3 main things necessary for survival: food, water, and shelter. As human development spreads, interactions with wildlife will become more frequent. Competition for food, water and shelter will increase, making them more daring in their quest for survival. As they become accustomed to the proximity of humans, they will continue to adapt and increase their populations.

So what can you do to help prevent nuisance wildlife? The first step is to identify the pest you are dealing with. Federal and state laws protect most wildlife and regulate which species can be trapped, hunted, harvested, or harmed. In fact, all native birds are federally protected and some non-native species (including the house sparrow, European starling, and domestic pigeon which are all considered nuisance birds) have federal protection, as well. It is illegal to hunt, pursue, take, capture, kill or possess any migratory bird, nest, or egg.

Once you have identified the animal you are dealing with, the next step is to treat the problem, not the symptom. By removing the 3 things wildlife are searching for (food, water, and shelter), they will go elsewhere in their search. If a nuisance pest is eating your dog’s food, don’t just trap or relocate the offending animal. Store the dog food in a lidded container and take the bowls in overnight.

The University of Georgia Wildlife Extension recommends the following steps to prevent nuisance wildlife from taking over your yard.

Habitat Modification/Harassment

One of the best ways to prevent wildlife is to make your yard or home undesirable to them. Once you identify the type of animal you are dealing with, do some research and learn their habits and preferences and modify your home or yard to make it more unattractive to them. Remove anything they can use for cover. Keep tall grass mowed short; remove piles of brush, logs, rocks, debris, firewood, trash, bricks, buckets, flower pots, old cars, used tires, and toys. Use an herbicide to get rid of weeds, briars, and vines. Cut away dead trees and limbs as these provide nesting and roosting spots for nuisance birds and bats.

Harassment is another prevention method you can use where you disturb or scare the wildlife away from your property. The effectiveness of harassment depends on the diligence of the homeowner. These methods must be utilized on a regular basis and moved frequently (every few days) otherwise the animals become accustomed to them and they are less effective. Tactile harassment methods include water spray and motion sensored sprinklers; light methods include bright lights, strobes, and lasers; and scare methods include eye balloons, scarecrows, silhouettes on windows, predatory figurines, and pyrotechnics.

Exclusion

Wildlife exclusion refers to utilizing physical barriers to keep wildlife out of your yard or home, usually through fencing or other materials. This is one of the best options for nuisance wildlife. All fencing should be staked or secured firmly to the ground. For large animals such as hogs, dogs, or deer, welded wire, chain link, or wood fencing is preferred. If you have a problem with deer, the fencing should be at least 8 feet tall. Smaller animals like opossums, raccoons, foxes, and squirrels do better with chicken wire, hardware cloth, or electric fence that is at least 2 feet tall and buried 6″ to 12″ into the ground.

Exclusion from your house is also possible. Cap chimneys to prevent raccoons, bats, birds, and squirrels. Keep soffit vents in good repair and screened to prevent insects, birds, and bats. Use hardware cloth or screens that still allow airflow to protect the gabled ends of homes or barns to keep out squirrels, bats, and birds. Keep windows and doors, including those to garages and sheds shut and make sure they have proper sealing and that screens and weather seals are in good repair to prevent snakes, bugs, mice, raccoons, and opossums. Cover dryer vents with a screen and clean them regularly to prevent snakes and mice. You can also seal around them with expanding foam or weather seal. Finally, prevent mice and bats from getting in around electric lines, phone lines, cables, and pipes by sealing them with expanding foam or weather seal.

Removal and Repellents

Removal and relocation of nuisance wildlife is discouraged as it can oftentimes be illegal. You can remove these pests from your home and release them onto your own property but steps must be taken to seal off entry points back into the home to keep them from coming back in. It is illegal to relocate nuisance pests onto someone else’s property. This option is usually deferred to a professional wildlife company who is familiar with trapping and relocation laws in your area.

Repellents can also be utilized to keep out offensive animals. Research shows that most soundwave repellents are not very effective at keeping animals at bay. The most effective repellents are those that use taste, fear, and odor. Different species respond to different repellents so identification of your problem critter is essential. The success of repellents depends on timing, how many of those types of animals are present, how hungry they are, and if they have been conditioned prior to coming onto your property. In general, the most effective methods combine repellents with physical barriers.

Lethal Control

Lethal control of nuisance wildlife requires permits from federal and/or state wildlife agencies. While these permits can be given to non-professionals, it is not recommended due to the risk of bites, rabies, and other diseases that can be spread by these animals.

If you have a problem with nuisance wildlife, contact a local pest control company that specializes in wildlife control so they can help properly identify the animal you are dealing with and provide the most up-to-date, safe, and legal exclusion methods for your situation.

 

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10 Effective DIY Pest Control Tips for Homeowners

10 Effective DIY Pest Control Tips for Homeowners

There is a big debate in the pest control industry as to which is more effective – professional pest control or do it yourself pest control. There is a growing trend among homeowners who want to tackle pest control themselves both to save money and time. These DIY pest control methods employ both chemical and natural remedies. Regardless of which route you take, prevention is always key to controlling household pests. Here are 10 of our most effective DIY pest control tips:

1. Keep It Clean

This one is pretty self explanatory but a clean house is much less attractive and hospitable for pests. Wash dishes daily and clean any food scraps out of the sink. Drain dirty dish water after each use. Keep kitchen counters and surfaces wiped down daily. Store food and drinks in sealing plastic or glass containers. Make sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming part of your regular routine. Use garbage cans with locking lids and empty them regularly. Keep the grass mowed and get rid of weeds. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed back so they aren’t touching the house. Maintain your drainage systems and eliminate any standing water.

2. Make Your Home Less Attractive

Pests come into your home in search of 3 things: food, water, and shelter. If you can eliminate these 3 attractants from your home, pests will have no reason to come in. Keep your home clean as referenced above. Repair any leaky pipes and faucets both inside and outside of the home. Don’t leave pet food and water bowls out overnight. Declutter your home and get rid of any old magazines, junk, etc. Try to use plastic storage bins instead of cardboard boxes.

3. Seal Them Out

Pests can’t get into your home unless they can find a way in. Some pests only need the tiniest of openings to penetrate your house. Inspect the outside of your home for any potential entry points and seal them up with caulk, steel wool, etc. Make sure to check foundations, door frames, windows, utility pipes, cables and wires, and the roof. Repair any broken windows and screens. Fill in any holes, gaps, or cracks in pipes and vents.

4. Maintain the Yard

Your yard is the first line of defense when it comes to pests. They have to come into the yard before they come into the house. Keep your grass cut short and eliminate weeds. Get rid of any piles of leaves, debris, fallen branches, etc. Do the same for old automobiles, trashcans, and dumpsters. Elevate wood piles off the ground or store them in wood boxes with lids.

5. Keep It Dry

Keeping your home well ventilated and dry will go a long way towards keeping pests at bay. Most pests are attracted to moisture and basements, attics, and crawlspaces provide the ideal breeding ground for these. Use a dehumidifier to decrease moisture and consider crawlspace enclosure to not only help eliminate pests but also provide significant energy savings for your home.

6. Do The Laundry

Some pests like dust mites and bed bugs will seek shelter in your bedding, clothes, etc. Wash any clothing, sheets, blankets, quilts, and towels that you come into contact with regularly (at least 3 to 4 times per month). If you have pets, wash their bedding just as often to help eliminate and prevent fleas.

7. Use Plants as Natural Repellents

Some plants are known to be good insect repellents. These provide a green pest control alternative to traditional chemical methods. Plant any of these varieties around your home for a natural remedy to some common pests.

  • Spearmint (for ants, beetles, fleas, moths, and rodents)
  • Rosemary (for beetles, roaches, flies, slugs, snails, and mosquitoes)
  • Basil (for flies, beetles, and mosquitoes)
  • Lavender (for fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and moths)
  • Chrysanthemum (for ants, bed bugs, beetles, roaches, ticks, and fleas)
  • Catnip (for roaches, ants, and weevils)
  • Lemongrass (for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and lice)
  • Pitcher plants (for beetles, ants, bees, slugs, snails, flies, and wasps)
  • Venus flytrap (for all insects)

8. Identify Common Pests in Your Area

Knowledge is power so do some research and learn what the most common pests are in your area and what kind of damage or threat they cause. Pests vary by location and different treatments are required for each of them. Proper identification is key to proper treatment.

9. Leave the Good Ones Alone

While some household pests are dangerous to your health (like rodents and roaches) or can cause significant damage to your home (such as termites), others are actually quite beneficial to have around, especially if you have a garden. Ladybugs eat aphids and are great for the garden. Green lacewings eat aphids and spider mites. Ground beetles eat slugs and caterpillars. Bats (as long as they are outdoors and not inside your home) eat and control the populations of mosquitoes and many other insect species. These beneficial pests are a great natural pesticide to use in place of chemical products.

10. Use the Pros

Sometimes an infestation can be beyond the scope of DIY pest control methods. In these circumstances it is best to call a professional who can properly identify the pest you are dealing with and provide proper treatment, as well as ongoing prevention techniques you can use at home.

If you suspect you have a pest problem, contact your local pest control company for a thorough evaluation.

 

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DIY vs Professional Pest Control

DIY vs Professional Pest Control

When it comes to household pests (like spiders, ants, roaches, and termites), there are several options for pest control to choose from. Should you use do it yourself pest control? Should you call a professional pest control company? What is the difference? What are the pros and cons of each? Here we break down the advantages and disadvantages of DIY vs professional pest control.

Expertise

The key to effective pest control is proper identification. Appropriate treatment depends on the species of the pest, how far the infestation has spread, the size of the home, climate, and many other factors. DIY pest control products have labels with directions and warnings that are fairly simple to follow. Professionals, however, have the knowledge and training on industry trends and groundbreaking products that may not be readily available to household consumers. They know key indicators to look for and can provide quick assessments and effective treatments.

Cost

Cost is one of the biggest factors that influence DIY vs professional pest control treatments. While do it yourself products are typically less expensive than commercial products, they can end up costing you more in the long run. Most homeowners don’t treat a pest problem until they spot them; unfortunately by this point the infestation is usually already established. This could end up costing significantly more in treatment and damage repair costs than a professional service would. Professional pest control services can be more costly initially but save you over time through prevention.

Convenience

DIY products are certainly convenient – you just head to your local hardware store and pick up what you need. Professional services have to be coordinated around their availability and your schedule, sometimes requiring you to be at home for the service.

Hazard

Using chemicals of any kind can pose a hazard to yourself, your family, and your pets. DIY products can contain chemicals that the average consumer may not be familiar with. This can pose a threat to your and your family’s health. With a professional service the risk on the homeowner is taken away. Green pest control options are also available which are safe for both you and your pets.

Effectiveness

The ultimate goal of any pest control treatment is effectiveness – you want it to work. With DIY methods, you usually only treat the areas where you see an active problem. These products are effective for small pest problems but typically aren’t strong enough or don’t last long enough for significant infestations. Pests are also highly adaptable and can become resistant to many chemicals used in these products. Professional pest control treatments use the most up to date methods and products. They can also treat areas where infestations have spread that you may not see such as inside walls, in attics, and crawlspaces.

Guarantee

DIY product guarantees will vary depending on the store or manufacturer. Most pest control companies will offer a service guarantee where they will come back and treat in between scheduled visits if a problem arises at no extra charge to the consumer.

Prevention

As previously mentioned, most DIY products are designed to be used for an active problem. Oftentimes, these products aren’t used until after an infestation is already established. With a professional service, visits are set on a scheduled basis whether there is an active pest problem or not. This allows the technician to use preventative measures when infestations are gone to keep them from flourishing in your home.

When you have a pest problem, the main concern is getting it taken care of quickly and effectively whether that is through DIY methods or a professional service. Every situation is different and the main concern is the appropriate treatment for each individual situation. If you suspect you have a pest problem or would like a quote on services, contact a professional pest control company.

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Wildlife: Leaving a Mess Behind

Wildlife: Leaving a Mess Behind

It’s minutes before you have to run out the door and make your commute to work. You make your coffee and look out the window, only to see last night’s dinner scattered throughout your yard! Unfortunately, your garbage has been rummaged through all night by a couple of wildlife pests. Two popular animals that are known to forage through trashcans and dumpsters for food are raccoons and opossums.  

Raccoons, known for their distinctive black mask coloring on their faces, can range from just under 2 feet long to over 3 feet long. These animals are considered nocturnal and are rarely seen by humans. Be aware, though, spotting a raccoon during the day can be a possible sign they have rabies or other abnormal conditions. 

Raccoons are scavengers, looking for food wherever they can find it, often foraging in trashcans and dumpsters. These skillful creatures can easily use their paws to open doors and lids to look for food. While they are omnivores, they prefer fruits and nuts over meat. Because they are creatures of habit, once these animals find a food source at your home, they will keep coming back until the food source is gone. 

Another animal you’ll catch roaming around your trashcans is the opossum. Grey in color, opossums can range from 14” long to over 3 feet long, with their tails making up 50 percent of their total body length! These animals also tend to live near wet areas such as swamps and marshes. 

While opossums are omnivores, they prefer insects and carrion over fruits and vegetables. As highly skilled climbers, you’ll find these creatures in trees, staying up there for as long as they can. They are also slow movers so don’t expect them to make a quick getaway! Opossums are generally not aggressive, though they will play dead if they are threatened.

Here are some tips to help prevent wildlife from rummaging through your garbage.

  • Seal any garbage cans and compost bins at night.
  • Use locking lids on trashcans if possible or place a weight on top to keep the lids closed.
  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit at night as opossums and raccoons will shy away from the lights.
  • Spray a mixture of half ammonia and half water on your trashcans or soak rags in the mixture and scatter them around your property; this smell will repel these pests. 
  • If wildlife constantly returns, consider contacted a licensed pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and wildlife control plan.
Watch out for the Stinging Pests!

Watch out for the Stinging Pests!

Stinging pests are most active during the summer months, so while we enjoy the summer fun of lounging by the pool and backyard BBQs, we should all be on the lookout for these pests as they can pose a risk to you and your family. Check out these common stinging pests and the best way to avoid them!

Wasps

With a slim body shape, six long legs, and two wings, wasps are busy at work scavenging for food during the summer months. Wasps will typically build their nests in branches, porch ceilings, eaves, and attic rafters. These pests are highly attracted to picnics and backyard barbeques, increasing your chance of being stung. When threatened, wasps will sting multiple times and  eventually call on reinforcements from other wasps by emitting pheromones.

Hornets

Hornets’ nests are often built in hollow trees and the walls of houses and attics, although they typically prefer a forested environment. These pests are larger and can range from 3/4 to 1 3/8” long with brown and yellow abdominal stripes on their body. Hornets are attracted to light and will fly into your windows at night if they see a light on. They are relatively non-aggressive near the nest, but if threatened, there is a potential for a stinging hazard.

Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets are social insects and can be found anywhere humans are found. Yellowjackets feed on sweets and proteins; therefore, these pests commonly invade outdoor events. Yellowjackets measure 3/8″ to 5/8” long and have a non-fuzzy black and yellow striped body. Yellowjacket nests can either be built in very high places or built in the ground. Examples include in shrubs, garages, timber, logs, and more. If threatened, yellowjackets will sting multiple times, causing extreme pain and possible allergic reactions.

Bee Sting Prevention

  • Keep outside food covered and sealed tightly 
  • Avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for an unscented hygienic product
  • Ensure all your doors and windows have screens so these pests don’t sneak into your house
  • Stick to wearing darker colors as floral and bright colored clothing tend to attract these pests
  • For uncontrollable stinging pest invasions, it’s best to call your local pest control company as they will provide a safe and legal plan to safely remove these insects
Common Summer Household Pests

Common Summer Household Pests

A household pest is any undesired animal that has a history of living, invading, causing damage to, eating food from, acting as a disease vector for, or causing any other harm to a human habitat. While most are considered a nuisance, household pests become dangerous when they pose a risk to health, property, or lifestyle. Household pests aren’t just limited to insects; they also include arachnids, rodents, and wildlife.

While household pests can be found year-round, some are more common in the summer months. Here are 8 of the most common summer household pests and how you can prevent them.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito
Mosquito season peaks in the summer months. The warm weather and humid environments accelerate their life cycle so they are able to reproduce in large numbers during this time. You are most likely to see mosquitoes when you have standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and the hot, humid climate in summer is ideal for both breeding and to find food sources. Mosquitoes are dangerous to humans as they carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases like Zika and West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk
  • Wearing clothing that covers arms and legs
  • Eliminating areas of standing water
  • Repair or replace torn window screens
  • Apply insect repellent

Ants

Ants
Ants hibernate in the winter and come out in full force over the summer. They have to forage in the summer months to feed their growing colonies and to build up their reserves for fall. Ants are usually seen indoors in the summer because they are searching for food and water as these can become scarce for them.

Ants can be prevented by:

  • Keeping your home clean, especially the kitchen
  • Not leaving pet food and water bowls outdoors
  • Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house
  • Sealing cracks and holes in your home’s exterior

Fleas

Fleas
Fleas are prevalent in the summer months, although they can be found on pets year-round. Pets will indicate the presence of fleas by scratching and biting when they come in from outdoors.

Fleas can be prevented by:

  • Treating pets for fleas with preventative medication
  • Vacuuming frequently, especially in areas that pets frequent, and disposing of the bag immediately
  • Treating your yard with outdoor flea spray
  • Washing pet bedding and toys weekly in hot water

Ticks

Ticks
Ticks are problematic to humans and pets because they spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Tick bites increase in the summer because people and animals are spending more time outside. The US is also seeing an increase in ticks because of the combination of mild winters and an increased population of deer and rodents which are known to carry ticks.

Ticks can be prevented by:

  • Using tick preventatives on pets
  • Wearing long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outdoors
  • Avoid areas with high grass or woods when possible
  • Eliminating debris and wood piles from your property
  • Wearing insect repellent
  • Checking yourself and your pets for ticks immediately after coming in from outdoors
  • Removing any ticks found immediately

Termites

Termites
Termite swarming season is in the spring but these newly established colonies grow exponentially in the summer. Termites can go long periods of time undetected, causing significant damage to your home. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of termites so you can catch them early.

Termites can be prevented by:

  • Eliminating wood to soil contact around foundations
  • Creating a 4 inch barrier between wood mulch and your home
  • Keeping plants a few feet away from your home
  • Making sure storm drains point away from foundations
  • Fixing leaks and eliminating any other sources of excess moisture
  • Having an annual termite inspection performed

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers
While most people view grasshoppers as just a nuisance pest, they can be devastating to gardeners and farmers. Grasshoppers can devour an entire field of crops in just a few days. Grasshoppers surge in large numbers in the summer months and are most prevalent in dry, hot summers. Grasshoppers can also cause damage to non-farmers as these are one of the only pests that can chew through screens.

Grasshoppers can be prevented by:

  • Plant flowers that deter grasshoppers (lilac, crepe myrtle, verbena, sage, juniper)
  • Plant vegetables that don’t attract grasshoppers (squash, peas, tomatoes)
  • Introduce predators by making your garden attractive to birds
  • Use floating row covers on crops and plants
  • Consider natural products that kill grasshoppers without harming other animals or plants (Nosema locustae or Beauveria bassiana)

Flies

Flies
Flies invade your home in the summer months to escape the heat. They only reproduce during the hotter months and reproduce even more prolifically when they get indoors. Flies will stick around well into the fall months.

Flies can be prevented by:

  • Keeping windows, doors, and vents sealed
  • Using garbage cans with tight fitting lids
  • Taking the garbage out when it is full
  • Storing food in airtight containers
  • Not leaving dirty dishes out
  • Not leaving grass clippings in the yard
  • Turning off outdoor lights at night

Stinging Insects

Stinging Insects
Stinging insects mate in the spring and their populations grow during the summer months. Hornets and yellow jackets are especially common in the summer because they have to establish new nests each year. These are usually found under decking or under piles of leaves. These stinging insects are potentially dangerous for people with allergies. Yellow jackets and bees can also get into the walls of homes, causing significant damage.

Stinging insects can be prevented by:

  • Wearing shoes when outdoors
  • Keeping trash cans tightly covered
  • Eliminating dirt patches on your lawn
  • Avoiding sweet smelling perfumes
  • Don’t swat at stinging insects

Don’t let these common summer pests ruin your summer. If you have a problem with any of these pests, contact a professional pest control company who can help eliminate them safely and prevent them going forward.

 

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