Preventing Rats This Fall

Preventing Rats This Fall

During the colder months, rats are looking indoors for shelter, providing them with warmth and a food source. Once inside, they can not only cause considerable damage to homes by gnawing electrical wires, but they can also pose health risks as they are known to carry bacteria, such as salmonella. To help avoid these pests, every homeowner should utilize preventative measures throughout their house for rodent control.

Keeping the exterior of your home well-sealed is the first step to prevent rats from the inside. Check around the outside of your home for any gaps or holes that are leading inside. Make sure to seal around any openings in the walls, especially utility pipes and vents. Consider installing weather stripping for the gaps in doors and windows.

While outside, look throughout your yard for debris such as piles of leaves or excess woodpiles. Rats will often use these to hide or take cover. Consider keeping your woodpiles 20 feet from your home. Try to keep your shrubbery away from the sides of your home and mow the grass frequently.

Rats are always in search of a food source. Eliminating access to food from your property is another great way to keep them from infesting. If you leave your pet bowls outside, consider bringing them inside to avoid attracting them. Make sure to keep all food, including pet and bird food, in airtight containers. Likewise, make sure your trash cans are sealed tightly and take the garbage out frequently.

Suspecting that you have a rat inside your house is always alarming. It’s best to contact a pest control professional who can inspect your home, identify the type of rat, and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.

5 Pests That Can Destroy Your Lawn

5 Pests That Can Destroy Your Lawn

The last thing any homeowner wants is to invest time and money into getting their landscaping exactly how they want it only to have it destroyed by lawn pests. Lawn care is difficult – finding the perfect balance between overwatering and underwatering, fertilizing and aerating, mowing and maintenance. Pest control for your lawn is just another step in your lawn care plan. Here are 5 pests that can destroy your lawn, along with options to treat and prevent them.

Armyworms

Armyworms
Armyworms are smooth skinned pests that range in size from 1 to 2 inches long. Armyworms turn into brown moths when they reach adulthood. Colors range anywhere from yellow and green to dark brown and black with stripes running down their sides. Armyworms feed on grass blades and stems and will also skeletonize leaves on other plants. They will seek shelter from the sun and heat during the day and emerge at night and early morning to feed heavily on your grass. They are known for creating circular bare spots in the lawn as they eat the grass. Signs of armyworms include clusters of eggs, caterpillar frass, and the presence of live worms. Armyworms can be treated with chemical insecticides, diatomaceous earth, or by removing them by hand and dropping them in soapy water. Armyworms can be prevented by aerating annually, fertilizing regularly, and checking for their presence monthly.

Grubs

Grubs
Grubs is a broad term for the larvae of most species of beetle including white grubs, masked chafers, june beetles, and japanese beetles. While looks vary among species, grubs are commonly c-shaped pests that are whitish to yellowish in color. Grubs usually feed in late spring, summer and into early fall. Once the weather cools, they burrow deep into the soil and go dormant for winter. Grubs will feed on the roots of grasses just under the surface of the soil, creating irregular patches of damaged turf. The damage usually begins with wilted grass blades and then progresses to brown colored patches and eventually death of the grass. While chemical insecticides will be effective in eliminating grubs, there are non-chemical treatment options, as well. Nematodes are microscopic parasites that can be added to your lawn which invade the grubs’ bodies and kill them. This process takes longer but is less harsh than typical insecticides. Grubs also require moisture to survive. Putting your lawn into drought by not watering for 3 to 4 weeks will make the environment inhospitable for grubs.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs
There are several different species of chinch bugs that feed on different types of grass. They are easy to recognize but hard to see. Chinch bugs are tiny, measuring about 1/5″. They have black bodies with white wings folded across their backs and a telltale white stripe across their bodies. Chinch bugs are usually active from June to September. These pests literally suck the life out of your lawn by sucking on grass blades and releasing an anticoagulant that makes the grass unable to absorb water, thus drying it out and killing it. Chinch bug damage causes irregular turf patches that start with a purple tinge and then subsequently wilt, yellow, and then turn brown. This damage is commonly mistaken for drought damage. Chinch bugs can be treated with insecticides.

Mole Crickets

Mole Crickets
Mole crickets are common lawn pests in the southeastern United States. These destructive pests are 1 to 2 inches long and grayish brown in color. They have spade-like front legs that they use to burrow through the soil along with beady eyes. They are not good at jumping like their cricket cousins. Mole crickets consume grass and roots while burrowing through the soil near the surface. Signs of mole crickets include small mounds of dirt, a spongy lawn, and brown or dead grass. They leave a path of destruction in their wake with raised burrows and brown patches on your turf. You can check for the presence of mole crickets by adding 2 tablespoons of dish soap to a gallon of water and pouring it over a 1 to 2 square foot section of your lawn. If mole crickets are present, they will come to the surface. Once you have identified them as a problem, you can treat with the appropriate insecticides.

Moles

Moles
Moles are small, burrowing mammals that are mostly blind but have a keen sense of smell. Moles range from 4 to 11 inches long with greyish-brown fur, long thin snouts, and large powerful front feet they use to burrow. Moles live underground and feed on earthworms, grubs, and insects. While these pests don’t eat plants, their burrowing can cause damage to roots and their tunnels allow other pests to access your turf. Moles leave visible trails in your yard and cause brown patches from subsequent root damage. Their tunnels can also cave in easily, putting you at risk for injury and leaving you with a spongy feeling yard. Moles can be trapped and baited. Eliminating their food sources (grubs, earthworms, etc.) can also make your lawn less attractive to them, helping to keep them away.

Whether you have an existing problem with lawn pests or you just want to get a head start on prevention, a local lawn care company can help! Contact them today for a free lawn analysis and an ongoing prevention and maintenance plan tailored to you.

 

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Why Are Cockroaches So Resilient?

Why Are Cockroaches So Resilient?

Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests that homeowners have to deal with. These pests are resilient and are known to survive under the harshest conditions. So why do these pests seem so hard to get rid of? What are the best methods to eliminate them from making their way inside your home?

Cockroaches are built to be almost indestructible. Roaches have exoskeletons made up of overlapping plates connected by a stretchy membrane. This membrane is so flexible that it can allow them to fit through small cracks and crevices. Along with their stretchy membrane, they also have a thick outer layer that can protect them and shift when needed.

Since roaches can use their bodies to fit through small areas, they are great at surviving in harsh conditions. Cockroaches will find shelter to avoid harsh temperatures and other predatory pests that threaten them.

While cockroaches are durably built and sneaky, it doesn’t mean that they are impossible to keep from getting inside your home. Consider utilizing these roach prevention tips:

  • Seal all cracks and crevices around the exterior of your home.
  • Close any open gaps under windows and doors.
  • Take out the garbage daily and store the trashcans away from the home.
  • Clean up any clutter in rooms and areas that are less utilized, such as attics, garages, storage rooms, and closets.
  • Call a professional pest control company. They will inspect, provide treatment, and implement a prevention plan to help avoid and eliminate these pests.
Are Orb Weaver Spiders Venomous?

Are Orb Weaver Spiders Venomous?

Orb weaver spider is the collective name for a group of spiders in the family Araneidae. This diverse group of arachnids are famous for the large, Halloween-inspired webs they create. Are orb weavers venomous? Should we be concerned when we encounter one in our yard or garden? The short answer to these questions is yes, they are venomous but no, they aren’t dangerous to humans. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating species of spider.

Orb weavers are large spiders that are most commonly seen in late summer and early fall. They eat small insects like flies, moths, wasps, mosquitoes, and beetles. Around your home, orb weavers can often be found near outdoor lights, in tall grass and weeds, on tree branches, fences, walls, and bushes. There are 180 species of orb weaver spiders in North America alone. They are found throughout the world on every continent except Antarctica. Many species of orb weavers are bright yellow or orange in color while others are a dull gray or brown.

Orb weavers are not hunters or wanderers. They are typically nocturnal spiders and will build or repair their webs at night. Many species will tear down and eat their webs at dawn to both consume the dew that catches on them for hydration and to keep larger animals like birds from tearing down their webs. Orb weaver webs are large, circular grid webs that look like the spokes of a wagon wheel connected by concentric circular strands. These webs can measure up to 3 feet in diameter. These spiders will sit in their webs and wait for prey. Once captured, they will bite and paralyze their victim and warp them in silk to consume later.

While orb weaver spiders can bite and are venomous, they are not considered a threat to humans. In fact, they are beneficial to have around your home as they eat other nuisance pests and help keep their populations under control. These spiders are very docile and non-aggressive. They will usually flee when threatened but will bite if necessary. The bite of an orb weaver has been compared to a bee sting.

While they don’t threaten humans or structures, they can be unsightly and their webs can be a hindrance if built in a high traffic area. If you have a problem with spiders or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for assistance with pest control and prevention.

 

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What to Know About Overwintering Pests

What to Know About Overwintering Pests

Overwintering is a common term used to describe pests and their activities that allow them to survive the colder temperatures. Overwintering pests will often seek comfort and shelter in homes and buildings because of their warmth. These pests can be especially sneaky and if you don’t take preventative measures as they can infest quickly. Here are some common overwintering pests and some easy do-it-yourself pest control tips to keep them outside of your house.

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs can infest homes in large numbers, especially during the fall. You can often find these bugs on the side of your home, where they can receive the most sunlight to keep warm. While these bugs aren’t harmful to humans, if crushed, they will emit an unpleasant odor.

Boxelder Bugs

One of the more aggressive species of overwintering pests, the boxelder bug has mouthparts are both piercing and capable of puncturing the skin if being handled. This can cause slight irritation and produce red spots, like mosquito bites. Crushing these bugs is not recommended, as their bodies will produce a strong odor and remains can leave a reddish stain on fabrics.

Lady Bugs

Ladybugs are considered harmless and deemed beneficial. They will often consume plant-eating insects such as aphids, mites, and scale insects, all of which can harm crops and plants in gardens; though if they invade your home, they can become a nuisance and can be difficult to get rid of.

Overwintering Pest Protection Tips

  • Seal or caulk all cracks and crevices around house foundations, siding, doors, windows, electrical, and plumbing.
  • Clean your yard by raking, keeping the grass cut, and picking up debris throughout the yard.
  • Use tight-fitting insect screens throughout your windows, screened doors, and attic vents.
  • Contact your local pest control company for routine maintenance and prevention.
5 Common Ways to Attract Cockroaches

5 Common Ways to Attract Cockroaches

The last thing a homeowner wants to deal with is a pest infestation. One of the most common household pests is the cockroach, multiplying at a rapid rate and taking over in practically no time. The most common roaches found in households are American cockroaches, German cockroaches, and brown-banded cockroaches. Just because you see roaches in your home doesn’t mean you live in a dirty house; what attracts cockroaches may surprise you! Here are 5 common ways to attract cockroaches and how to prevent them.

Moisture

Roaches thrive in dark, warm, moist, humid environments. Some of the most common sources of water in your home include leaky pipes under sinks and tubs, damp basements, AC units that leak, roof leaks, standing water, and piles of wet leaves. It is important to manage any moisture problems as soon as possible. Routinely inspect these areas of your home for leaks and fix them immediately. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to help control moisture under your home. Make sure gutters are functioning and downspouts are pointed away from foundations. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs.

Crumbs

Roaches will also come into your home in search of food and they will eat anything they can find. Roaches will forage in the garbage can for food scraps, grab any crumbs or food residue left on counters or floors, and can even chew through thin plastic or cardboard food containers. Make sure to clean your floors regularly by sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming. Wipe down countertops and stoves each night. Wash dishes nightly and empty the garbage regularly. Store food in plastic or glass containers rather than cardboard boxes.

Paper and Cardboard

One of the main things roaches eat are fibrous, organic materials found in paper and cardboard. Roaches love to feed on cardboard storage boxes that go undisturbed for long periods of time in attics, garages, and basements. Declutter as much as possible, getting rid of old boxes, newspapers, and magazines. Try to use plastic storage containers rather than cardboard boxes when possible.

Pets

Roaches don’t just get their food and water from humans. They are notorious for hijacking pet food and water bowls, especially at night, in their quest for survival. Try to feed your pets multiple times throughout the day rather than once at night. Don’t leave pet food or water bowls out overnight. Store pet food in airtight plastic containers rather than pet food bags. Clean up any spilled pet food and water, especially at night.

Neighbors

If your neighbors have a problem with cockroaches, there is a good chance you’ll end up with them, as well. This is especially true for apartments and other attached homes but can also occur with single family homes that are in close proximity to each other. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent your neighbors from getting an infestation; but you can take the above preventative steps and schedule routine pest control for your home to help keep them away.

Roaches can be extremely difficult to control and eliminate once they have established themselves in your home. If you have a problem with cockroaches or any other pests, contact a reliable pest control company who can identify the type of pest you are dealing with and provide you with an appropriate treatment and prevention plan.

 

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Controlling Armyworms

Controlling Armyworms

Are you noticing patchy areas of brown grass throughout your yard? This could be a sign that you have armyworms! While armyworms themselves are small, if found in large groups they can cause considerable damage to your lawn.

A type of caterpillar and a larva of moths, armyworms are striped with green, brown, and yellow colors. These pests will mostly feed on grass, plants, and vegetables. While one armyworm won’t cause significant damage, if they do end up multiplying, it can be tough to eradicate once they’ve infested the plants or grass. It’s important to know the signs of armyworms and the steps to prevent them from destroying your yard.

Signs of Armyworms

The first step in prevention is looking for signs that you have lawn and plant damage. Keep an eye out for patchy areas on your lawn that are turning brown. Brown spots in your yard are a major sign that your grass is being eaten by armyworms. Additionally, if armyworms are active on your property, you might see more birds, as well, as they will eat armyworms as a food source. You can also find these pests in their adult form as brown moths with a white spot on each wing. You can usually spot them feeding on nearby plants.

How to Prevent Armyworms

Preventing armyworms is easier than you think. Making sure that your grass is well-maintained with a good lawn care routine can help. Ensure that your grass is short by regularly mowing, frequently watering lawn and plants, and providing necessary nutrients for healthy green grass. It could be beneficial to consider reaching out to your local lawn care company or pest control provider who can provide you with an effective lawn care plan to help prevent armyworms and recommend effective products.

DIY Pest Control Tips for Household Pests

DIY Pest Control Tips for Household Pests

The last thing any homeowner wants to deal with is pests. A household pest is any insect or animal that is commonly found in a household structure that can cause destruction to the property or to your health. While the occasional critter can make its way inside, routine occurrences indicates the likelihood of an infestation. Fortunately there are some DIY pest control tips you can use at home to help prevent these pests from taking over. Here are a few of the most common household pests and how to prevent them.

Ants

Ants
Most ants don’t cause any structural damage to your home (with the exception of carpenter ants). They are, however, the #1 nuisance pest in the United States. Ants are difficult to control because their colonies are so large. These pests typically come indoors in search of food and water and can usually be found near these sources in your home – especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Prevent ants by:

  • Keeping your home clean.
  • Wiping countertops daily.
  • Cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Cleaning appliances regularly.
  • Emptying trash daily and keep trash containers clean.
  • Keeping food in sealed containers.
  • Getting rid of overripe fruit.
  • Repairing leaky pipes.
  • Keeping gutters clear.
  • Keeping shampoo and soap containers sealed and clean.
  • Sealing any exterior holes, gaps, and cracks.
  • Trimming back trees and shrubs from the house.
  • Clearing your yard of debris.
  • Using screens on doors and windows.

Birds

Birds
Birds are not usually considered nuisance pests but their nests can obstruct common areas of your home and their droppings can contaminate or damage other areas. Birds usually enter your home in search of food and shelter. Prevent birds by:

  • Using saltwater vs freshwater in fountains and water features.
  • Not leaving pet food out overnight.
  • Keeping grass mowed and hedges trimmed.
  • Dismantling nests IF they are actively being built (bird nest removal laws prevent touching nests that are already built or occupied).
  • Sealing exterior gaps, cracks, etc. as birds can use these to access attics.
  • Hanging strips of aluminum foil from trees or other high places to deter birds.
  • Installing predator decoys (like owls and snakes) to scare off birds, moving them frequently.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches
Cockroaches are dangerous to humans as they are known to carry serious diseases and trigger both allergies and asthma. These pests multiply quickly, making them very difficult to control. Roaches will come into homes in search of food, water, and shelter, with them often found in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Prevent roaches by:

  • Cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Throwing away or storing leftover food at night.
  • Cleaning surfaces nightly.
  • Rinsing food cartons before throwing them away.
  • Emptying trash nightly.
  • Storing food and pet food in airtight containers.
  • Not leaving pet food and water out overnight.
  • Using plastic storage rather than cardboard.
  • Getting rid of old newspapers and magazines.
  • Sealing any exterior gaps and crevices.
  • Using weatherstripping.
  • Using stoppers or metal baskets in sink drains.
  • Repairing leaks.
  • Caulking around tubs and sinks to seal them.
  • Hanging wet towels up after use.
  • Keeping kitchen sponges dry and not storing them on the counter.

Termites

Termites
Termites are known as silent destroyers, eating wood from the inside out and going undetected for long periods of time. Common signs of termites include swarms; mud tubes; discarded wings; discolored drywall; peeling paint; wood with a hollow sound when tapped; squeaky floorboards; doors and windows that stick; damaged wood; loose tiles; and buckling floors. Prevent termites by:

  • Using concrete foundations when building your home.
  • Covering exposed wood with sealant or metal barrier.
  • Keeping soil around foundations dry.
  • Keeping gutters and downspouts clear and functioning.
  • Filling cracks in cement foundations.
  • Filling in gaps around where utilities come into your home.
  • Fixing leaks immediately.
  • Keeping vents unblocked.
  • Keeping landscaping trimmed away from the sides of homes and foundations.
  • Not storing firewood next to the house.
  • Getting an annual termite inspection.

Rodents

Rodents
Rodents are common household pests and include rats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons. Rodents can cause significant damage to your property by chewing through electrical wires and insulation. They can also contaminate food and spread disease. Prevent rodents by:

  • Using metal trashcans with tight-fitting lids.
  • Storing pet food and birdseed in glass or metal containers with sealing lids.
  • Picking up fallen fruit and birdseed from the ground.
  • Removing standing water from bird feeders.
  • Storing firewood away from the home and elevating it.
  • Storing boxes in the garage off the ground.
  • Storing food in containers.
  • Cleaning up crumbs nightly.
  • Sealing exterior openings.
  • Keeping gutters clear.
  • Screening attic vents.
  • Screening windows and doors.

Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and Millipedes
Centipedes are arthropods with 14 or more body segments and one pair of legs per segment. Millipedes are also arthropods but they have 2 pairs of legs on their body segments. Neither of these pests are considered dangerous and don’t cause damage or spread disease. They can, however, be annoying if they infest in large numbers. Both of these pests thrive in moisture-rich environments. Prevent centipedes and millipedes by:

  • Repairing leaks.
  • Removing standing water.
  • Removing moisture-holding ground cover or mulch that is close to foundations.
  • Storing firewood away from the house and elevating it off the ground.
  • Inspecting firewood before bringing it in the house.
  • Sealing doors and windows that are low to the ground to prevent entry.

Spiders

Spiders
Although there are a few venomous spider species in our area, most spiders that make their way into your home are harmless (and even beneficial by eating other pests)! Prevent spiders by:

  • Sealing exterior cracks and crevices.
  • Screening doors and windows.
  • Vacuuming up spiders and eggs found in your home.
  • Brushing down webs with a broom.
  • Decluttering your home.
  • Vacuuming and dusting frequently.
  • Keeping shrubs and plants trimmed back from the sides of the home.
  • Keeping mulch a few inches away from foundations.
  • Using plastic rather than cardboard storage.

The key to household pest control is prevention. By taking these steps early, you can head off an infestation before it starts. If you have a problem with any household pests, contact your local pest control company for a free evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.

 

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Preventing Spiders

Preventing Spiders

Creepy and crawly, spiders can easily sneak into homes without you noticing. Most spiders that homeowners come across are harmless; but if you don’t take precautions, you can find them infesting your home. Below are some easy, do-it-yourself tips for spider prevention.

Clean Up Clutter

Spiders tend to look for dark, secluded areas to inhabit. You can often find them in rooms that have clutter, such as basements and attics. To keep these pests from infesting, keep garages, sheds, attics, basements, and other areas that aren’t utilized very often clean and clear of clutter.

In your regularly used rooms, be mindful of leaving clothes or clutter around the house. Try to avoid leaving clothes and shoes on the floor and instead, consider storing them in plastic bins. Shake out any clothing left on the floor and in the hamper.

Repair and Seal

The smallest gap or hole can allow spiders right into your home. Look around the inside and outside of your home and search for any open holes or gaps. Inspect your window screens, doors, and siding, as these are places that can provide openings leading inside.

If you find openings, seal them as soon as possible to eliminate the chance of these pests from entering. Make sure to inspect your house seasonally and provide any repairs.

Check Before Entering

Packages, secondhand furniture, and even groceries provide a perfect gateway inside homes for spiders. These pests will often hitch a ride on these items without you noticing. Make sure to inspect all packages delivered to your porch or steps,  groceries as you unload them, boxes of decorations brought in from storage, and used appliances and furniture bought secondhand.

Spotting spiders can be difficult, but once you see them or suspect that you have a problem, it’s best to call your local pest control company to help eliminate and prevent them. A service professional will inspect the exterior and interior of the home to identify and provide you with the best plan of action to treat them.

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