The holiday season is upon us with decorations, food, and traveling to see family and friends. While most of us are focused on our holiday preparations, we often lose focus on another important aspect of this time of year – pest prevention. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean pests aren’t a problem. The holidays provide many opportunities for spiders, ticks, ants, mice, bed bugs, and other pests to make their way indoors and take over your home.
One of the most common ways pests can get into your home during the holidays is on live Christmas trees, wreaths, and firewood. Ants, spiders, ticks, and other pests can hide deep in the branches of trees and in the crevices of wood. They can even lay their eggs in trees or garland which can hatch once you put them out in your home, potentially causing a major infestation.
Pests can also access your home in those boxes of decorations you drag out from the attic, basement, garage, or crawlspace. Mice and other pests love to get into those cardboard boxes during the off season. You may be in for a surprise when you open your decorations by finding a live pest, droppings, or even damage to your lights and ornaments. It is especially important to check the wiring of your lights to make sure pests haven’t chewed through them.
The holidays are also one of the busiest travel times of the year. Most of us will either travel to visit loved ones or have loved ones travel to visit us. While we’re usually excited to see everyone, we’re not so excited to deal with bed bugs which often hitch rides on the luggage of these travelers. We often see a spike in bed bug cases during the holiday season.
So what can you do to pest proof your home and make sure you don’t get any unwanted guests for the holidays?
- Carefully inspect all items before bringing them into your home including trees wreaths, garland, and other decorations. Make sure to check for insects, eggs, and nests and shake them to rouse any pests that might be hidden deep within.
- Unpack your decorations outside instead of in your living room. Inspect them thoroughly for any signs of pests, droppings, gnaw marks, or any other damage before bringing them inside.
- Store your holiday decorations in plastic containers with lids that seal tightly instead of cardboard containers or bags.
- Don’t put discarded trees or cut firewood near your home. Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevate it if possible.
- Thoroughly check your luggage before you enter the place you are staying and ask your guests to do the same before they enter your home.
- Put your clothing in the dryer, if possible, for at least 20 minutes.
- Keep your bags closed when not in use and store them off the floor.
- If you suspect you have a pest problem this holiday season, contact a pest control professional who can provide you with an evaluation and treatment plan.
Leaves are falling, the weather is prepping for a big change, and while you decorate your home for the upcoming seasonal festivities, one of the seasons most notorious creepy crawlers will try to make its way into your home, posing a significant danger to you and your family.
Once the weather starts to cool, spiders look for refuge inside your house. Brown recluse spiders will make their way into undisturbed areas of your home (attics, garages, basements, and crawl spaces). At 1/2″ in size and varying from light brown to medium brown with a dark brown violin marking on its back, brown recluse spiders are very good at adapting to living in your home and can go months without food or water.
Most spiders are harmless, but brown recluse spiders can cause very painful and sometimes severe bites. Some people are only affected slightly by the bites of brown recluse spiders, sometimes only walking away with only a small red mark. Some however, may have a severe allergic reaction will need to seek out a medical professional to identify if the bite is from a brown recluse.
Mind these points during Fall:
- When pulling out decorations for the holidays, exercise caution. Brown recluse spiders will utilize these spaces as hiding spaces.
- We say this in every blog but seal any cracks and crevices around the house. This is the best defense as this is how brown recluse spiders will enter homes.
- As proactive as we’d like to be in our home preparations, calling a pest control professional to properly identify the pests and create a treatment plan is crucial.
The Atlantic Hurricane season starts in June and runs through the end of November. The damage of Florence has been felt throughout the southeastern United States and preparations for more potential storms have begun. The rising water and downed trees force pests to seek out shelter, and that often means your home. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent pests from taking refuge in your home during hurricane season:
Invest in Gutter Protection
Take Steps before the Storm Hits
After the Storm
- Once the storm passes, if your area experiences widespread power outages, you may have the unfortunate luck of dealing with spoiled food. This can attract flies, rodents, and many other pests. Store trash of this nature as far away from the home as possible to cut down on infestations.
- Looking for any structural damage from water is key as termites will be attracted to the slowly rotting wood. Look to remove and replace any damage done.
- External damage to the home presents an entrance for wildlife to enter homes for shelter. Look to repairing any of these external issues as quickly as possible.
You and your family’s safety are the number one concern. Consider scheduling a home inspector to come out and look for any other issues you should address in and around your home. Once that’s done, call your local, licensed pest control professional to perform an inspection that could help keep your family safe from pests.
We’ve all been there. You start cooking and open up the bag of flour only to find a bug staring back at you! Yuck! Stored product pests include both storage and pantry pests and fabric pests. Pantry pests are most commonly found in kitchens and food storage areas. Fabric pests are most commonly found in closets and rooms with a source of fiber, fur, or leather. These pests are often not spotted until they leave their food source to crawl or fly around your home. So what kind of pests are these and what can you do to prevent them? Check out these common storage and pantry pests and our 12 tips to prevent them.
Indian Meal Moths
Indian meal moths are one of the most common stored food pests. They are commonly identified by their two toned wing pattern with tan and copper colors. They have a 1/2″ to 5/8″ wingspan. Indian meal moths feed on dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, powdered milk, birdseed, dog food and grains. These moths are most often spotted on ceilings, walls, and countertops. Indian meal moths are usually controlled by removing the infested source of food.
Clothes moths are one of the most common fabric pests. Clothes moths are smaller in size then Indian meal moths. They are identified by their shiny golden scales. Clothes moths are very secretive in nature and are primarily nocturnal. They feed on protein based fibers like wool cloth, carpets, furs, pet hair, piano felts, and natural hair brushes. Infested fabrics can be treated with dry cleaning but this doesn’t prevent reinfestation. Dry cleaned items should be stored in either cold storage or sealed in airtight containers with fresh cedar chips.
There are several types of beetles that feed on stored food and pantry items. Some of these include weevils, cigarette beetles, drugstore beetles, saw toothed grain beetles, larder beetles, mealworms, and flour beetles. These beetles feed on a variety of stored grains, fruits, spices, powdered milk, dried meat, and dead insects. Beetles can be controlled by finding their food source eliminating it. Once eliminated, all non-infested food supplies should be stored in air-tight containers.
Carpet beetles are the most common fabric pest beetle species. They are small and round with black or mottled wings. Carpet beetles are often mistaken for bedbugs. These beetles will feed on any source of animal protein, fabrics, carpets, and even mounted animal trophies. Carpet beetles can be controlled by inspecting your furs, wool, feathers, silks, and carpets for their presence and treating with heat or cold.
- Buy dried foods in quantities that can be used up in 2 to 4 months.
- Use up your older products before your newer ones.
- Inspect all packages before buying them or bringing them home.
- Store foods in tightly closed containers, preferably those made of glass, metal, or heavy plastic. This includes pet food.
- Keep food storage areas clean by cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Throw away any unused food products.
- Thoroughly clean cracks and corners of cupboards and doors with a vacuum cleaner.
- Check and clean areas where pet food and birdseed are stored.
- Regularly beat and air out wool rugs (once or twice a month).
- Clean baseboards of pet hair and dust.
- Remove old bird and rodent nests from your attic.
- Contact a pest control professional if you suspect you have an infestation of any of these pests.
One of the perks of summer is spending more time doing what we enjoy outdoors – barbecues, picnics, gardening anyone? But, you know that all of these fun activities come with another risk – pests! Nothing ruins a picnic faster than ants or mosquitoes. What can you do to make sure you can still enjoy all the fun times outside this summer? Check out these 9 ways to protect your outdoor fun from pests.
- Remove standing water. Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Walk around your yard and fill in any areas where water is prone to pooling. Use pumps in ponds and fountains. Empty out any containers that contain standing water like wading pools, flower pots, buckets, toys, wading pools, and more. Check gutters and rain spouts for clogs and clear them. Consider using gutter guards to help prevent clogs. Check around AC units for leaks.
- Clear out clutter and debris. There are lots of items around your yard that can hold rainwater like toys, tires, and even half empty bags. Make sure these are empty and cleared away or, if you can’t get rid of them, turn them over so they can’t collect water. Piles of leaves, fallen branches, and rotting fruit can attract pests to your yard by providing them with food and shelter. Make sure these are cleared out of your yard.
- Landscape your yard. Tall grass and weeds can harbor ticks, fleas, and ant hills. Mow your lawn regularly in spring and summer so pests have less places to hide. Overgrown shrubbery and tree branches that are in contact with the side of your home can provide a clear pathway for roaches and other pests. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed with at least 1 foot between the branches and the walls of your home.
- Store firewood properly. Firewood provides food and shelter for many different pests, especially termites. Make sure firewood is dry before storing it. Keep firewood stacked above the ground and use a rack or a platform if possible. This way ants and termites can’t easily access the wood. Make sure firewood is stored at least 5 feet away from any structures like houses or sheds. If possible, store firewood with a cover or roof over it.
- Use screens. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. Make sure doors and windows have screens on them. Check screens regularly for holes and tears and repair or replace them as needed. Check around doors and windows for gaps and replace weatherstripping as needed.
- Inspect your outdoor equipment. Regularly check the chains of swing sets and the corners of outdoor furniture for spiders and egg sacks and remove them immediately. Check under your porch, in your eaves, or near your grill for wasp nests and remove them immediately. Keep outside toys outside and inside toys inside. If you have to bring outside toys items inside make sure to wipe them down beforehand.
- Cover your food. Keep all food and beverages in sealed covers and containers. Keep food covered at all times. Keep garbage containers sealed. Bring utensils and dishware indoors shortly after the meal. Clean trash, spills, and crumbs immediately from tables and other surfaces. Rinse all beverage bottles and cans and dispose of them in tightly closed garbage containers. Use clear plastic cups for drinks since aluminum cans and plastic bottles provide hiding places for stinging insects.
- Use insect repellent. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. If you must be outdoors during this time, use insect repellent that contains DEET. Use repellent on both exposed skin and on your clothes. Wear long sleeves and pants to avoid bites. Use citronella candles around decks and patios.
- Call a professional. If you suspect you have a pest problem, call a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and a comprehensive treatment and prevention program for pests.