Gopher Control

Gopher Control

Have you ever had the yard or garden of your dreams and then discovered someone has gone through and vandalized it? Having your prized yard or garden destroyed and eaten by some mysterious creature can be a frustrating situation for some to handle. If you are noticing piles of dirt or tunnels a long with the damage going on, you may have a gopher!

The Idaho Pocket Gopher is a medium sized rodent and is found in Idaho (of course) and nearby states. They are yellowish brown with dark brown-tipped hair on the back, their feet are whitish and they have dark gray around their nose. Their length is can range from 7 to 9 inches. They are herbivores eating a variety of weeds, grasses, crops and plants. Gophers are often mistaken for other rodents such as moles, voles and groundhogs. But there are some ways to distinguish them from other rodents.

Gophers are excellent burrowers; their tunnels can range from a few inches to a few feet in depth and several hundred feet in length. What is unique about the gophers burrow is the shape. As a gopher digs tunnels and pushes dirt to the surface, he comes to the surface at an angle, resulting in crescent (sometimes referred to as horseshoe) or irregular shaped mounds. Moles tend to have volcano shaped mounds at the surface of their burrows. Another thing to note about the gophers mound is that it will usually have loose dirt and plant mixture plugging the tunnel opening. They will come up to eat vegetation near the opening of their burrow and when they return they will close their door and fill the hole.

Gopher control can be a difficult and overwhelming, you need to be just as persistent as the gophers when tackling the invader.  You can call your local Department of Agriculture, some cities depending on where you live will provide help with trapping or you can work with a professional pest control company.

 

Mud Dauber

Mud dauber is a common name for wasps that make their nests with mud. There are many species of wasps referred to as mud dauber’s; some other common names are dirt daubers, organ-pipe wasps, mud wasps and potter wasps. Although their appearance varies, mud daubers generally are from ½ to 1 inch long. Mud daubers are colored either completely black or blue metallic. Some species have yellow or greenish markings on the body. Their body shape is often referred to as “thread-waisted” with some mud daubers possessing an extremely long and thin, stretched out looking body segment located between the thorax and abdomen.

Mud daubers are an interesting insect, especially in the way that they feed their larvae. In the spring, the overwintering pupae develop into adults. The adult females begin building a new nest and after completing the mud nest, they start capturing insects or spiders that are then placed into each mud nest cell. Eggs are deposited on the prey within each cell, and the cell sealed with mud. The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on the prey left by the adult wasp, and then change into the pupa stage (cocoon) that overwinters. Here is the interesting part, the prey isn’t killed, but stung and paralyzed before being placed into the mud cell. This is crucial because if the prey was dead, it would decompose and then become unsuitable nourishment for required larval development. Adults feed on plant nectar, honeydew and the body fluids of the spiders and insects they capture. At least two species of mud daubers are especially important since they are reported to seek out and capture spiders including black widow spiders!

Mud daubers can actually be very beneficial since they help reduce the numbers of some pest insects and spiders. Also, they are not likely to sting.  But remember, it is never smart to approach their nests without using caution. If you’re a “do it yourself-er” scraping off the nest or using a strong stream of water from a garden hose may work, but they still may return. If mud daubers become a problem and keep coming back, be sure to contact your pest management professional for their recommendations and assistance.

Give us a call, Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440

Pets and Flea Control

Let’s talk about Flea Control.  Anyone who has a family pet of any kind knows how important it is to keep them happy, safe and comfortable.  Taking walks, and playing with pets keeps them healthy and happy, proper collars with I.D. tags help keep them safe if they were to get lost, giving them their own space within the home helps them feel comfortable knowing they have a loving secure home. If your pet has fleas they will not be comfortable.  Don’t wait till your pet has fleas, be proactive about flea control.

Adult fleas are shiny and are a reddish brown to black in color and measure about 2.5 mm long. Adult’s fleas are parasites as they feed by drawing blood from their host.  They are covered in tiny microscopic hairs that help for easy movement through animal fur.  Fleas are wingless and cannot fly, but they are capable of jumping long distances.  As for flea eggs, they make things more difficult.  They are tiny and they are often not even attached to your pet, instead they are in carpets, rugs, cracks in the floor, upholstered furniture and possibly bedding that isn’t changed often.  Most eggs will hatch in just two days, making it easy for them to quickly spread and take over your home.

Common pets that can get fleas are cats, dogs, rabbits, pet mice and rats.  Even if you don’t have any pets it’s still possible for your house to contract fleas from non-domesticated animals such as squirrels, mice and rats that may find their way into your home!

So what should you do if you see your pet scratching excessively?  First, do a visual check through your pet’s fur.  Have them stand on a small white sheet or pillow case (this will make it easier to see flea’s that fall from the pet) and move the fur around.  Be focused, fleas are quick!  If you’re not seeing actual fleas watch their skin for bite marks, and “flea dirt” which is flea droppings.  The flea droppings look like reddish black pieces of pepper. If you see either of those, you can get over the counter flea treatments or talk with your vet about what will work best for your pet.

  • Next, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your house.  Vacuum all carpeted areas, furniture and areas where your pet lays, you should vacuum all areas daily for at least 1 week to stop they egg cycle. After each vacuum, remove the bag, place it in a plastic bag and seal it tightly, and dispose of it outside.  Using a steam cleaner would be a great tool to use if you have access to one or you could rent one.  Be sure to wash rugs, and all blankets and bedding in hot water and dry on high heat, including your bedding if you allow you pet on your bed.

If you have followed treatment and clean up tips but just can’t seem to get rid of the fleas call a professional pest control company.  Most pest control companies have flea control treatment services available and will be able to inspect your home to find the infested source.  It’s important to note that if you do have your home treated for fleas, you need to have your pet treated by the vet the same day.  This will help ensure the success of the treatment.

Box Elder Bug

Do you have Box Elder Bugs hanging around your porch and windows?

It’s never fun when you notice you have bugs in your home, a few here and there usually isn’t a big deal right? Not so much when it comes to the Box Elder Bug. You may notice one or two inside but beware, these guys stick together and invade by the thousands.

The bodies of box elder bugs are black in color and are marked by red lines along the thorax and sides. Their wings are flat and red. They measure between 11 to 14 mm long.

Box Elder Bugs like to make their homes in Box Elder, Maple and Ash trees during the warmer seasons and find their way into buildings and homes seeking shelter for the winter. Like many other pests, they may enter through small cracks and crevices within the building, and remain inside, hibernating, through fall and winter. They emerge again when heat sources within the building are high and can usually be located in the warmest areas of the walls. Although Box Elder Bugs do not cause damage to buildings, their droppings are unsightly and leave stains on furniture and fabrics.

Adult bugs live and breed on the leaves of box elder trees, laying their eggs in spring. They feed on soft parts of box elder trees, including leaves, flowers and new twigs. They also extract juices, causing minimal to substantial damage to their host tree.

The eggs of box elder bugs are reddish brown in color, allowing them to stay well hidden in the bark of the host tree. After a few days, the eggs hatch into red and gray nymphs, which eventually mature and begin the breeding process again. Mature box elder bugs can be found gathering in large numbers on branches and where there is the most sunlight.

Once the Box Elder Bugs are established in a tree it can be nearly impossible to eliminate them. There are some things you can do to help control and reduce them. To stop Box Elder Bugs from multiplying, it is often helpful to remove their host trees from the area surrounding your home, but note the adults can still fly from locations off the property.

Exclusion is a great, long-term treatment option if done properly and works well for most general pests. Keeping them out is critical.

Repairing damaged windows and door screens

  • Installing door sweeps on exterior doors
  • Installing or repairing screens in roof and soffit vents (Remember they can fly)
  • Sealing holes or gaps around places where cables, wires or plumbing enters the structure
  • Sealing off/plugging gaps at doors, windowsills, roof joints, and fascia boards. Checking for and sealing gaps and cracks where different building materials meet. For example, where siding meets the brick exterior or foundation.

If you think you have an infestation of Box Elder Bugs, it is best to contact your pest professional for treatment advice and recommendations.

Bed Bug and Your Health

Bed bugs and Your Health

Bed bugs and their bites can affect people differently.  Some people may not get the “classic sign” of red itchy bumps after being bitten and for those people it may take longer to notice the bed bugs, giving more time for the infestation to grow. Some people may experience a more negative effect, such as an allergic reaction to the bites. An allergic reaction may have more intense itching and the area may swell into hives. While bed bugs have been found to carry more than 20 types of diseases including, viruses, bacteria and worms, they are NOT known to transmit any diseases.

Bed bugs have come a long way and over the years, they have developed an immunity to many pesticides making them impossible to eliminate with over the counter/store bought products. If you find yourself dealing with a bed bug infestation whether it be in your home or in a place of business, its best to call a bed bug professional as soon as possible.   The longer you wait, the more time the infestation has to grow and could end up costing you not just time but more money as well.  They are new treatments for bed bugs available aside from traditional spray applications.  Heat treatment is by far the most effective treatment, since they high heat temperatures are fatal to bed bugs in any stage of their life cycle, including eggs.

The Paper Wasp

The paper wasp gets its name due to the construction of their nests. Paper wasp nests are made with their saliva and combined with plant material and really do look as if to be made from paper. Their nests include numerous compartments, within which wasps lay their eggs and raise their young. These nests typically do not have an outer shell making the cells of the nest visible. It somewhat resembles an umbrella and depending where you are may also known as umbrella wasps. They love to build their nests in sheltered areas, such as door frames, window sills, around outdoor light fixtures and the eaves of houses.

Adult paper wasps generally feed on nectar and pollen, although they also hunt for insects that are used to nourish their colonies’ larvae. As larvae develop into adults, they do their part and help assist in expanding the nest and taking care of future generations.  Something that people don’t realize is that paper wasps are actually considered beneficial because they assist in pollination by feeding on nectar, and they help control pest insect populations by feeding them to their larvae.

Now even though they are beneficial, nests should not be permitted to develop in or near the home structure. If you’ve every been stung by a wasp you know that stings from paper wasps are extremely painful and may cause serious reactions to people who are allergic to the venom.

If you do find a paper wasps nest (or any nest) developing on your homes structure, it is advised that you call a pest control professional to assist in treatment of paper wasp infestations. Removing a paper wasp nest may be dangerous. Paper wasps generally only attack if they feel threatened and if your trying to remove and destroy their home, they just might feel threatened.

Call Alpha Home Pest Control for you pest control needs (208)475-4440

Grass Spider

Grass spiders also known as the funnel web spider, one of the most distinctive things about the Grass Spider is their web.  Grass spiders tend to make their webs near the ground in the grass, weeds, fence lines and even wood piles.  What is interesting about the grass spiders web is the tunnel or cave that will usually be located off to one side. Grass spiders are more of the wait and attack type.  They don’t wait for prey to get tangled and stuck in the web, in fact their webs are not sticky like most other spider webs.  Grass spiders are quick and the tunnel works as an advantage for the spider as it makes it harder for prey to escape.  Once prey stumbles into the tunnel web the grass spider will attack.

Grass spiders are often mistaken for wolf spiders.  Although they do share similar colors, light brown to grayish and have light and dark strips near the head of the bod.  Grass spiders have much thinner bodies than wolf spiders. Grass spiders also have noticeable spinnerets from where they produce their web.

Grass spiders aren’t typically an indoor invader but you may notice them when temperatures start to drop in the fall or when summer temperatures begin to rise.  Grass spiders can be unsightly to look especially if you find one inside your home but these guys are low risk to humans and are unlikely to bite, unless threaten.  Grass spiders are actually considered to be beneficial to gardens and as a use of “organic” pest control.  So if you have noticed these guys out and around your yard or near your garden try not to fret too much, they will taking care of the other pesky insects. But if you are noticing grass spiders inside your home and by the multiples, go ahead and give Alpha Home Pest Control a call. 208-475-4440.

 

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

Most people know that ticks can be dangerous to humans and animals such as the family pet.  Ticks can carry and transmit Lyme disease and other diseases as well.  But what can you do?  You can be educated about what to be aware of and what you can do to help prevent ticks from getting under your skin, literally.

You would think if something was biting and burrowing its head into your skin, you would feel it right?  That is not always to case with ticks.  In fact, tick bites are usually painless.  Ticks are so small most people are unaware they have been bitten.

Here are some tick prevention tips while enjoying the outdoors:

  • Wear light colored clothing, this makes it easier to spot ticks if they have hitched a ride with you
  • Clothing should cover your body well: Long sleeves, pants and tall socks.
  • Tuck pants into socks (it’s not a fashion show, just do it)
  • Hair should be covered with a light colored hat. If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to have it tied/pulled back, or braided
  • Insect repellent is a great tool also, spray clothing with the repellent
  • Checking for ticks should be done immediately after coming indoors after being in an area that you may have encountered ticks
  • Remove clothing immediately and place in the dryer on the HOT setting, to kill any ticks that may be stuck on the clothing
  • Check your body and hair for ticks. Pay attention to behind the ears, elbows, behind the knees, underarms, and private areas.

Ticks can be out during any season, if the temperature is right.  Ticks may become active even during winter, as long as the temperatures are above 40 degrees.

As mentioned earlier, tick bites are usually painless; this is why it’s very important to check your body for ticks.  Don’t forget to check your pets for ticks also.  It’s a good idea to check pets before they enter the home, as the ticks may be passed through the house onto beds and other furniture.

Bees and Pollination

Bees and Pollination

This week is National Pollinator Week, it’s safe to say the bee is the most recognized pollinator.  No doubt bees are some of the best workers on the planet, buzzing about from flower to flower, visiting different plants and vegetation working nonstop all day long. Unfortunately bees can often be feared as a nuisance and unwanted insect.  When generally bees are there to do their job and go home without causing trouble.

What do these bees and pollination do for us besides create amazing honey? In truth, likely much more than we can possibly realize. There are hundreds of types of bees, all with different roles, habits, nests, and hives. Pollinating is absolutely critical and a major job role for many of the bees and plants around our world. Bees don’t only make honey and help flowers grow. They do so much more and they certainly don’t get the recognition they deserve. In addition to the flowers and many plants bees’ help, there are many crops that rely a great deal on help from the bees and just wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for the bees working hard pollinating and doing what they do.

While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop, here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if the bees weren’t around: apples, mango’s, kiwi fruit, plums, peaches, nectarines, guava, pomegranates, pears, black and red currants, alfalfa, okra, strawberries, onions, cashews, cactus, apricots, avocados, passion fruit, Lima beans, kidney beans, green beans, cherries, celery, coffee, walnuts, cotton, flax, macadamia nuts, sunflower oil, lemon, figs, limes, carrots, cucumber, hazelnut, cantaloupe, watermelon, coconut, tangerines, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, cocoa, vanilla, grapes, tomatoes.

If you have a large amount of bees on your property that have you concerned, please do not harm them.  You should contact your local bee keeper to report the bees (you can call non-emergency or even your local human society to help find the proper person).  The bee professional will assess the situation and will remove the bees (often times for free) or they may conclude that the bees will be moving on soon.  Either way, its bests to keep the advise of a professional to help protect the bees and ensure safety to humans.

Earwigs in Your Home?

Earwigs in Your Home?

If you are finding earwigs in your home, look no further, Alpha has you covered.  Earwigs are a common household pest and are unique with the way they look. They are easily recognizable by their pinchers located at the ends of their abdomen, which are generally harmless to humans. Earwigs will actually use the pinchers when sparing with other earwigs. They are dark reddish-brown, have light brown legs, and are about 5/8 inch long.

Female earwigs will reproduce up to 20-60 eggs in a single season. They will lay their eggs in a burrow in the soil. Most species of earwigs will have one generation a year, and over-winter in the soil. Both adults and the young require moisture to live. Inside the home they can often be found near water sources such as beneath sinks, in bathrooms, in utility rooms, and even hanging around your pet’s water bowl.

Earwigs are nocturnal primarily feeding at night. They are scavengers, eating dead insects and decomposing plant materials. They are also known to eat live plants and can do damage to crops.  Earwigs may look for shelter in areas with mulch, pine straw, leaf litter, and other debris. They prefer dark and damp areas like under sidewalks, and stones.

Earwigs are a common household pest and can get in through entry points like doors, windows or they may even hitch a ride on your pet.  Their populations often build up around foundations when there is excess moisture. Earwigs produce large populations rather quickly and are often a major problem in new subdivisions.

If you’re finding pesky earwigs in your home be sure to check those areas for moisture. If you can get the earwigs under control on your own, call Alpha Home Pest Control to help you prepare and defend your home against unwanted pests!

(208)475-4440

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