American Cockroaches: How To Identify and Prevent

American Cockroaches: How To Identify and Prevent

American cockroaches are a major household pest. Also known as water bugs and palmetto bugs, these pests are the largest of the cockroaches that infest homes. American cockroaches will make their way indoors in search of food and water. Their diet consists of leaves, wood particles, algae, fungi, small insects, food scraps, crumbs, and pet food. They can spread diseases and contaminate any surfaces they touch. They are also known to cause allergies and trigger asthma. These roaches will pick up germs on their legs and spread them to any surfaces they touch. They are known carriers of pathogens that cause diarrhea, cholera, leprosy, dysentery, plague, typhoid fever, and several viruses like poliomyelitis.

The first step in cockroach prevention is identifying the type of cockroach you are dealing with. Once that is determined, you can implement our favorite prevention tips to keep them from infesting your home.

Identification

American roaches are reddish-in color with a yellow band on the back of their heads. They range in size from 1-1/4″ to 2-1/8″ long, with some even reaching lengths of 3″. They have oval shaped bodies with 6 legs and a set of antennae. Despite their name, these cockroaches are found worldwide. Males and females both have wings and they can fly short distances. They can bite, but they rarely do. They normally live outdoors but will come inside looking for food and water. Outdoors they are commonly found in flower beds, trees, and under rocks. They are also commonly found in sewer systems. Inside the home they can be found in laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and crawlspaces.

Signs of an Infestation

Learning how to spot signs of an roach infestation is critical to getting it under control. The most common sign is seeing the presence of cockroaches in your home. They will often flee to dark spaces when they’ve been discovered. They also leave behind droppings in the areas where they inhabit. These droppings have blunt ends and ridges on the sides and are often mistaken for mouse droppings. American cockroaches will also leave egg capsules behind. These are dark colored, about 8 mm long, and are often glued to surfaces near food sources. Finally, roaches emit a pheromone that gives off a musty odor. Smelling this in your home is another indication there is a cockroach infestation inside.

Prevention

American roaches are highly resilient pests. They have evolved several adaptations over time that give them survival skills that make them difficult to eradicate. They can even survive up to a week without their heads! You can prevent cockroaches by:

  • Inspecting your home to identify openings they can use to get into your home.
    • Look for cracks in walls, gaps around electrical sockets, and bathroom and sink drains.
    • Seal these openings with silicone-based caulk.
    • Seal around doors and windows with weatherstripping.
  • Keeping your home clean and sanitary.
    • Keep counters sinks, floors, and tables clean and crumb-free.
    • Clean up any spills immediately.
    • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, especially overnight.
    • Store food in airtight containers.
    • Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
    • Vacuum at least once per week.
    • Ventilate crawlspaces to prevent moisture.
    • Run water periodically in bathrooms to keep u-traps full.

If you have a problem with roaches in your home, contact your local pest control company who can identify what kind of roaches you have, how they are getting in, and the best treatment and ongoing prevention plan for your home.

 

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5 Signs You May Need an Exterminator

5 Signs You May Need an Exterminator

Spring marks the beginning of the season for many common household pests. Mice, ants, wasps, roaches, bed bugs, and more increase their activity when the weather warms up. While a pest sneaking into your home here and there is normal, how do you know when it’s time to call in the professionals? Here are 5 signs it may be time to call an exterminator.

The Problem is Intensifying

A random pest sighting here and there in your home is normal. They can sneak in through open doors and windows or through the tiniest gaps and holes in the exterior of your home. They can also hitch a ride on luggage or boxes that are brought in from outside. There is a difference, however, between an occasional sighting and a daily presence. Seeing 2 to 3 ants in your kitchen once isn’t a big deal; seeing a trail of hundreds of ants going from the wall to the pantry is. Seeing one mouse outside in your yard isn’t a big deal; seeing multiple in your home, trapping several, or seeing the presence of droppings is. If the pest problem is escalating, it may be time for an exterminator.

Your Best Efforts Aren’t Working

Once you identify the pest problem, the next step is to try and get rid of them. Many homeowners prefer to try DIY pest control methods first before calling in a pro. If you continue to have a problem with pests despite your best efforts, it may be time to call an exterminator.

Concern for Safety

Pests can pose serious health risks to your family, your pets, and even your home. Termites can cause structural damage that can compromise the integrity of your house. Rodents are known to chew through electrical wires putting you at risk for a fire. Rodent feces contains harmful pathogens that can make your family sick. Cockroaches are known to trigger allergies and asthma. Some homeowners aren’t comfortable using DIY methods or have concerns about using over-the-counter chemicals around their children or pets. For these reasons, it may be time to call an exterminator.

The Problem Requires an Expert

Some pests are nearly impossible to eradicate on your own or require professionals to get rid of them. Bees are protected and must be relocated appropriately. Some bird species are protected, as well, and bird nest removal must be handled professionally. Roaches, termites, and bed bugs can be extremely difficult to eradicate on your own. If you have an issue with any of these pests, it may be time to call an exterminator.

The Signs Are There

When the signs of an infestation become too big to ignore, it may be time to call in a professional. Some common signs of pests in your home include:

  • Unusual noises (scratching, flapping, whining, gnawing), especially at night.
  • Gnaw or scratch marks on wood, wires, or fabric.
  • Feces or urine present in the home.
  • Dead pests.
  • Live pests.
  • Unusual or musty smells.
  • The presence of nests.
  • Pets start behaving oddly, especially at night.

If you have a problem with any kind of pest, contact a professional pest control company for an inspection to help identify what kind of pest you are dealing with, how they are getting in, and how to get rid of them quickly and safely.

 

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Controlling Millipedes In and Around Your Home

Controlling Millipedes In and Around Your Home

Millipedes are common household pests that are brownish-black in color and that can grow to about an inch in length. Also known as “thousand-leggers,” these pests don’t actually have 1000 legs. They do, however, have 2 pairs of very short legs on each segment of their body. They are often confused with centipedes which only have 1 pair of legs per body segment. Millipedes crawl slowly and will curl into a “c” shape and remain motionless when they are disturbed. They can also secrete an unpleasant smelling odor.

Millipedes overwinter as adults and lay their eggs in the spring. They can live for several years. They are scavengers, eating primarily decomposing vegetation. They are attracted to cool, dark, moist environments (like compost piles, flower beds, mulch, rotting logs, and under rocks and logs). When the weather is hot and dry or there is an overabundance of water, they will emerge and make their way into your home in search of moisture or shelter. They can infest in large numbers but they don’t bite, sting, transmit diseases, infest food, clothing, or even dry wood.

Millipedes will come indoors for a variety of reasons. When the weather is hot and dry, they will invade your home in search of moisture. When conditions are extremely wet they will be forced to higher ground (e.g. concrete slabs, foundations, and siding). In the fall they migrate in search of places to overwinter. In these conditions, they will make their way into your home through door thresholds (especially garage and sliding glass doors), through expansion joints, and through voids in concrete block walls. Millipedes cannot survive indoors more than a day or two.

Millipede Control

Now that you know more about millipedes and what attracts them to your home, what can you do to keep them from infesting your personal space?

  • Get rid of debris. Get rid of any leaves, grass clippings, heavy layers of mulch, wooden boards, boxes, stones, etc. that may be laying on the ground near your foundation. Keep mulch cover light and at least 6 to 12 inches away from foundations. Use inorganic mulch if possible.
  • Eliminate moisture. Keep water from accumulating near foundations, inside basement walls, and in crawlspaces. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris. Use splashguards to reduce puddling. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent clogs. Repair leaking spigots outside. Prevent puddling near AC drip lines. Dehumidify your crawlspace and basements with dehumidifiers, adequate ventilation, and sump pumps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace for additional protection.
  • Lawn care. Aerate your lawn to dethatch and make the soil less attractive to millipedes. Keep grass mowed close. Avoid overwatering the lawn and set sprinklers up on an appropriate schedule.
  • Seal entry points. Eliminating entry points is the best way to keep millipedes from sneaking in. Seal cracks and openings in foundation walls and around door and windowsills. Install door sweeps on all exterior doors. Apply caulk on the bottom outside edge and side of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where patios, sunrooms and sidewalks touch foundations and along the bottom of basement walls.

Chemical treatments indoors are usually not very effective against millipedes. If you have them inside just sweep or vacuum them up and dispose of them. Chemical treatments outdoors can help keep them from crossing the threshold inside. If you have a problem with millipedes, consider calling a professional pest control company for an evaluation and treatment plan.

 

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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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How to Prevent Little Black Ants

How to Prevent Little Black Ants

Little black ants are a common household pest usually seen in larger swarms during the warmer months of the year. These ants can be a huge nuisance, commonly infesting areas such as the bathroom and kitchen, searching for food and a place to nest. Once ants become a problem, it can be difficult to control them; but with some easy preventative measures, you’re less likely to encounter these pests!

Ants are always in search of food. Eliminating any food source that they have easy access to will be a major part of preventing them. After every meal, wipe down countertops and tables of any food crumbs or spills left behind. Don’t forget about your appliances either; ensure that your stove, microwave, and sink are also cleaned frequently. To prevent these pests from infesting your pantry, use sealed containers for any dry goods. Consider placing a bay leaf in canisters of dry food like flour to repel ants.

To survive, ants need water. Eliminating moisture throughout your home is key to ant prevention. Take some time to look around the interior and exterior of your home. If you notice any leaks, make sure you repair them immediately. Check your gutters often to make sure there are no clogs. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs. Additionally, make sure that the downspout is directing away from your foundation.

Being as little as they are, ants only need a small gap or hole to make their way inside. It’s essential to identify entry points and seal them properly to avoid infestation. Look around the interior and exterior of the home to look for these gaps. Popular places include areas where pipes and wires enter your home. Check your windows and door screens for any open holes and replace weatherstripping frequently.

Preventing ants can be difficult and feel impossible. If you’ve noticed an increase in ant activity around your home, consider contacting your local pest control provider. These professionals will complete a thorough and comprehensive treatment and control plan.

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