Family Outdoors

July and August Newsletter

Ants Are Moving In

undefinedAs ant experts, we notice interesting things about ants. For instance, they are no respecter of property—they invade homes of all sizes equally, and they infest every neighborhood. They are so common a problem that they are the #1 pest listed in Gallup polls. You can be sure that every day, ants are either invading your home, or trying to.

The first ants that crawl into a home are the “scouts” looking for food, water, or a nesting place. Once they find what they are looking for, they go back to their colony, laying down a scent trail as they go so other ants can more quickly find their way. Depending on the ant species, they may prefer sweets, or proteins like meat and grease. Many ants eat both, but they often switch their food preferences from day to day.

Whenever possible, never provide ants food and water. Clean up crumbs, grease, and liquid spills. Place opened food in the refrigerator or in sealed containers. Use garbage bags, or regularly rinse out your indoor and outdoor garbage containers.

Some ant species would like to move their entire colony indoors. They may nest in the oddest places, but favorite areas are behind walls and baseboards, beneath floors, in the soil of potted plants, and in other hidden areas.

As the area ant experts, we effectively control these common and persistent invaders. If you know someone who suffers from these pests, please tell them about our professional and courteous services!

Bed Bugs Continue to Increase

undefinedBed bugs are continuing to invade more and more homes and apartments, as these blood-suckers spread in this country. According to one survey of pest control professionals earlier this year, bed bugs are the second fastest growing pest problem, right behind rats and other rodents, which have also been increasing in recent years.

Most people discover bed bugs during the summer months. Not only do these pests grow faster and reproduce in less time when it is warmer, but bed bugs get spread around more during the summer. This is because of increased vacation travel, more people moving to new homes and apartments, and more students coming home from college.

A new survey just released in June by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) shows that homes, followed by apartments, are by far the most common places infested by bed bugs. But these pests are also encountered (in descending order) in hotels and motels, nursing homes, schools & day care centers, office buildings, college dorms, hospitals, and in public transportation. Bed bugs certainly get around!

Many people are still not very familiar with these blood-suckers. In fact, often people who call a pest management professional think they have other pests, especially fleas and cockroaches, when they actually have bed bugs.

That’s why it’s so important to have a professional identity and control pest infestations. We not only know all the pests that are invading homes, but we know how to best control each of them, keeping the safety of our customers foremost.

July Pest Tip!

Check your window screens and repair or replace them as needed. For very loose screens that pests can crawl around, install weather-stripping along one or more edge to tighten them. If doors tend to be left open, try installing screen doors automatically close.

Biggest Island Yet Declared Rat-Free

undefinedIt took nearly a decade, over 13 million dollars, and more than 300 tons of rat bait, but South Georgia Island has finally been declared completely free of rats and mice! This is the largest rodent eradication effort in history. The island is 103 miles long and 269,000 acres, or eight times larger than the largest island where rats were eradicated previously. It is criss-crossed by huge glaciers, which create isolated areas that could be baited separately.

Rats and mice came to this island in the southern Atlantic Ocean in the 18th century, escaping from sealing and whaling ships. Without any predators, rodents multiplied rapidly, feeding on seabird eggs and young seabirds that were in nests on the ground. They decimated populations of over 30 species of sea birds that nest on the island. Two species of birds that are found nowhere else were close to extinction from the rodents eating them.

Fortunately, many of these seabirds are already starting to make a comeback. The success of this project gives hope that conservation plans to eradicate rats and mice on larger islands may succeed.

Mosquito Blood Meals

undefinedDuring a two year period in Baltimore, most of the mosquitoes trapped were either Asian tiger mosquitoes that transmit West Nile, Zika, encephalitis, and dengue fever, or Culex mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus.

A DNA analysis of the blood in engorged female mosquitoes found that, surprisingly, rats were the most common meal of the Asian tiger mosquito, and they were the second most common meal of Culex mosquitoes, after birds. Humans and cats were next in meal frequency, and a smaller amount of blood was taken from deer and dogs.

The researchers believe the mosquitoes were feeding on whatever was available and easiest to bite. It is amazing that rats are so numerous, that they were the primary meal of Asian tiger mosquitoes in the city.

Researchers also found that the amount of blood mosquitoes sucked from humans differed in each area of the city. People that had plenty of shade, moisture, and plants in their backyards tended to have higher amounts of blood coming from people rather than animals.

LED Lightbulbs

undefinedOne big benefit of LED lighting is that bulbs are generally less attractive to insects than regular incandescent lightbulbs. However, they’re not immune from bringing the bugs around. If you’re either using an LED lightbulb outside or in a location where it can be seen from the outside, here are a few tips in order to keep the crawling and flying critters away:

  • Choose LED bulbs that have either a “warm white” or “yellow” tone to them, as they’re generally less bug-attractive. “Cool-white” or blue-ish tones tend to attract more insects.
  • Beware specialty bulbs. Specialty LED bulbs, such as plant-grow lights, emit UV radiation, which insect eyes can actually see. You may not be able to see this type of light, but it’ll bring the bugs coming to you quickly.
  • Brighter bulbs will attract more insects than dimmer ones. If everything else around a bulb is dark, use a bulb that’s just adequate for visibility instead of the brightest possible one and you should see fewer insects buzzing around.

Trains Hit Elephants. Can Bees Help?

undefinedIndia has lots of wild Asian elephants, and every year some of these magnificent animals are killed by trains hitting them. In the last 30 years, about 266 elephants have been killed by trains, and many more have been wounded. A combination of more trains, faster trains, and a larger elephant population has meant that the problem is getting worse.

Several solutions are being tried in an effort to keep elephants away from railway tracks. In one area in India, railway officials have installed devices that loudly broadcast the buzz of swarming honeybees. They hope the sound will keep elephants away because they fear the insects. Some farmers use real beehives to help keep elephants away from their crops.