Plants That Help Repel Insects

These days, more and more people are looking for a nice environmentally friendly approach to dealing with unwanted insects and mosquitoes. Have you ever thought of using plants that help repel unwanted insects? There are some helpful herbs too!

Basil helps to repel house flies and mosquitoes. A helpful tip is to plant basil in containers near your house doors and around outdoor settings such as the patio, where you may like to do some relaxing. You also can use fresh basil to make an insect repellent spray. A simple recipe calls for pouring 4 ounces of boiling water into a container holding 4 to 6 ounces of clean, fresh basil leaves(stems can be attached), letting the leaves steep for several hours, removing the leaves and squeezing all of the leaves’ moisture into the mixture. Then thoroughly mix 4 ounces of (cheap!) vodka with the basil-water mixture. Store in the refrigerator and apply as a spray when going outdoors. Be sure to keep the spray away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Lavender can help to repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries for all sorts of home remedies. Most people enjoy the smell of lavender while mosquitoes, flies and other unwanted insects are not so fond of it. Helpful tip: Plant it in sunny areas of the garden or by entryways to your house to help reduce pest activity in those areas.

Lemongrass helps to repels mosquitoes. Of course you’ve seen citronella candles or patio tiki torches in stores during the summer to help keep those mosquitoes at bay during summer parties. Please note that lemongrass is a perennial which means it will come back year after year in many climates. It does best in warmer and humid areas and can get quite large, but it is possible to grow indoors in colder areas or during colder months.

Mint helps to repels mosquitoes. It’s safe to say that mint is best grown in pots rather than the ground because it spreads aggressively fast. Once it gets established in the garden, it can be difficult to remove. The aromatic properties found in the leaves are also present in the stems and flowers. Helpful tip: Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden area or on the patio area will help keep nearby plants insect free.

Rosemary repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects that are harmful to vegetable plants. Rosemary is available in various forms. Plants can be grown in containers on a patio, grown in herb gardens or planted in landscaped beds, where some varieties can grow quite large. Rosemary’s oils are unpleasant to many insects. The plant itself and its cuttings are effective repellents. You can make a simple repellent spray by boiling 1 quart of dried rosemary in a quart of water for 20 to 30 minutes and then straining the liquid into a container at least a half-gallon in size that contains a quart of cool water. Put a cap on the combined liquid and store it in the refrigerator. Add the repellent to small squirt bottles as needed when going outdoors. Discard the remaining repellent in the refrigerator when it no longer has a strong telltale smell of rosemary.

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Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants, which usually make their homes in pavements, are small about 2.5 to 3mm long. They are black-brown ants, with lighter legs and antennae. They can be identified by two spines on the back, two nodes on the petiole, with parallel lines on head and thorax. The colonies can be moderately large.

Pavement ants find their way into buildings while out foraging for food. Their nest can be found outdoors under stones/rocks, along curbs or in cracks of pavement such as drive ways or patios. Nests can been found indoors as well, under floors, inside insulation and within walls.

Pavement ants, like other ants will feed on a wide variety of foods, including meats, grease, live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew from aphids. They prefer greasy foods, and can eat many foods consumed by humans. They forage for food for their colonies and set up trails to the food source from their nests. Pavement ant workers go into houses to forage and can become a bothersome pest when large groups infest your homes kitchen or backyard patio.

Seeing worker pavement ants is the one of most noticeable signs you may have an infestation, but another well known indicator can be small piles of excavated materials or sand along the sides or cracks of your patio or drive way pavement. The typical colony of pavement ants includes multiple queens and numerous workers. A queen establishes a new colony of pavement ants by laying eggs. Pavement worker ants then tend the queen’s brood until they develop into adults. During their development, broods are transferred from location to location to protect them from fluctuations in moisture and temperature.

The nests of pavement ants can be difficult to locate and may require some investigating. It’s important to understand what the proper treatment is for this particular ant. Some treatment products can cause the ants to panic and spread, which will just result in new colonies rather than solving the problem. It’s always wise to consult a professional before trying to treat on your own.

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

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Billbugs

In Idaho one of the most common lawn pests is the Bluegrass Billbug; these pests can cause some serious damage to your lawn if not taken care of properly. Alpha Home Pest Control can help make a proper diagnosis.
Damages from billbugs can resemble drought/lack of watering, with irregular patches of dry grass. Some people may think the dry looking lawn isn’t getting enough water and will continue to water more, however, the damaged lawn will not respond to the extra watering.
Adult Bluegrass Billbugs are gray, brown, or black with a curved snout and a hard body that is about 3/16″ (5 mm) in size. They overwinter in the soil mostly as adults. In the spring when the temperatures are starting to rise, the adult billbugs can often be seen walking on patios and sidewalks around May –mid June. Lawn damage from an adult billbug usually consists of holes in blades of grass caused by chewing. Damages that are far less serve than what their young larvae can do.
The Billbug larvae are white with a brown head, legless, C-shaped and about the size of a large grain of rice. The larvae are where the real damage is done. They feed on the grass roots and can easily spread causing large patches of dry looking lawn.
If you are noticing your lawn starting to get odd dry patches, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. (Remember, you can always call a pest professional to do this for you). Try the “Tug Test” to see if you have a billbug infestation:
• Find a spot where the dry grass meets green grass, hold the dry grass with your hand and gently tug on the dry grass
• If the grass easily lifts up with no attached roots, and has a saw dust like material at the base of the blades and stems, billbugs are likely the cause.
• You may also see the white larvae with their brown heads in the soil on the ground or on the piece of lawn you pulled up.
As spring time approaches and the temperatures warm, its best to stay ahead of the game and start a treatment plan before major damage has occurred.

Call Alpha Home Pest Control today! (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Hobo Spiders

Hobo Spiders

Hobo Spiders also known as Aggressive House Spiders can easily be confused with other spiders because of its common features and colors. They resemble many other common spiders such as wolf spiders and, some people have mistaken them for the brown recluse spider. Characteristics to identify a hobo spider are difficult to see with for the average person and require close examination for proper identification.
If someone has ever told you that they’ve been chased by a hobo spider, they just may be telling the truth. Hobo spiders are labeled as aggressive but they usually are not, UNLESS it feels threatened. Hobo spiders are extremely protective of their egg sacs and will bite if they sense a threat to their young. Oftentimes, humans do not realize that they are approaching upon a hobo spider, this often occurs when a spider is residing in dark areas.
As a species of house spider, hobo spiders are commonly found in and around human dwellings and structures. They prefer dark, less used areas, inside they can be found it corners, basements, and cluttered areas that don’t have much activity. Outside they can be found in a variety of spaces such as woodpiles, rock/flower beds, along fences, fields, in the grass and areas where it can weave a funnel web.
Similar to other spiders, Hobo spiders weave webs in the shape of funnels and it’s usually waiting inside to catch prey. The web of a hobo is not very sticky so once an insect gets caught, the hobo spider has to act quickly and attack to ensure it doesn’t escape. The web is also acts mating grounds. Females generally stay within the perimeter of their nests, while males move about in search of potential mating partners. Males have to cautiously approach their female counterparts, attempting to mate only after finding that the female is receptive, rather than hostile. If the female is hostile, she may attack and kill him. Females remain in their nests after mating. Males will move on and usually die soon after mating.
Like most of the spider species, female hobo spiders have larger abdomens and are larger than males. Females can grow in excess of 14 mm in length, while males are rarely longer than 11 mm. Its brown legs are a solid color, show no markings or rings and are smooth looking. They have a herringbone pattern on the top side of their abdomens. The males have larger appendage that are often referred to as “boxing gloves”. These are not fangs, but are merely the hobo spider’s reproductive organs.
Hobo spiders are thought to have necrotic venom, similar to the brown recluse spider, however, there is currently no solid scientific evidence suggesting that the venom of this species is of medical importance. The research results that were used to report the necrotic effects of the venom have not been consistently reproduced. This spider may or may not be a venomous as people believed. No matter the type, no one wants to be bitten by a spider.

Always to remember to use caution if you think you have hobo spiders in your home and to call a professional that can help identify and take care of the problem.
Give us a call (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Termites

Termites/Subterranean Termites

Color: Creamy white to dark brown/black
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval, Long, Narrow
Size: about 1/8 inch long

In Southern Idaho, the one main species of termites we have is the Subterranean Termite. These pests are actually beneficial ecologically in the fact that they break down detritus and add nutrients to the soil. However, that same feeding manner that is helpful to the ecosystem can cause severe damage to homes. Termites feed primarily on wood; they are able to compromise the strength and safety of an infested structure. Sometimes, if untreated, termite damage can cause structures to be deemed unlivable, until expensive repairs are completed. If subterranean termites find their way into your home or building, it is critical that the termites are properly eliminated as soon as possible, as the structural damage they can cause on a building can be shocking if left untreated.

Subterranean termites are soil-dwelling, social insects, and their food source is the cellulose in wood. This can be the wood in a tree stump or the wood inside your home. They live in colonies underground from which they build tunnels in search of food; the mud tunnels (referred to as mud tubes) are created from saliva, mud (of course) and feces. These tunnels are located near the foundation of infested homes/structures. Sometimes when moisture levels are high enough, the colony is well established and the area is secluded enough, they may have a nest above ground. Tiny mud tubes are an indication you may be dealing with termites.

Tips to avoid subterranean termites:

Avoid letting water collect and accumulate near the home’s foundation.
Redirect water away with properly working downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
Don’t bury wood waste or leave scraps of lumber in the yard.

Most importantly, remove wood contact with the soil/dirt. Always maintain a one-inch space between the soil and wood portions of the building.

Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive termite species. Their hard, saw-toothed jaws are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at at time. Over time this can cause a building to collaspe entirely, leading the homeowner to financial distress.

If you suspect a termite infestation, contact a profession about proper treatment options!

Give us a call (208)4754440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants

Color: brown or black
Legs: 6
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 2.4 to 3.3 mm
Region: Found throughout the U.S.

Odorous house or sometimes referred to as “sugar ants” are small, measuring 2.4 to 3.3 mm in length. They have dark brown or black bodies with one node on their petiole, which is hidden by their abdomens. The thoraxes of odorous house ants are unevenly shaped when viewed from the side. The most noticeable characteristic of these tiny ants is the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed.

Odorous house ant’s nests can be found in a variety of places. Inside buildings they are often found nesting near a source of moisture, beneath the floor or in the walls, beneath leaky fixtures, and inside wood that has been damaged by termites. Rainy weather is a great reason for them to invade buildings. While indoors they love to eat sweets but have been known to feed on meats, grease, sugary foods, dairy products, pastries, cooked or raw vegetables and fruit juices. Outside they are often found in exposed soil and often found under stacks of fire wood. They often feed on honeydew (a sugary waste produced from sap from feeding insects like aphids). These tiny ants are always on the move foraging and hunting for food night and day.

As all other ants, odorous house ants live in colonies. Each colony may contain two or more queens and over 100,000 workers. The odorous ant queens can produce hundreds of reproducers and thousands of workers. They also have been known to move their nests every three months or so.

Since odorous house ants are always on the move exploring and hunting for a new source of food, they can easily contaminate human food supplies. Odorous house ants do not sting or bite, but they can quickly become quite the persistent pest as they travel in large numbers.

If you think you may have odorous house ants in your home, contact a professional pest control company to discuss a proper course of action for odorous ant removal.
Give us a call! (208)475-4440 http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Choosing a Professional Pest Control Company

Choosing a Professional Pest Control Company

Finding unwanted pests in your home is never a fun experience and sometimes you may want to rely on a professional pest control company to help handle the situation. It can be a daunting task to find the right company that you feel comfortable with and can trust. There are many pest control companies out there but they are not all created equal, so it’s important not to rush in making a decision without doing a little research of your own first. Here are some helpful tips for choosing a professional  pest control company for you.

Ask friends, family and neighbors about pest control companies they have used successfully and if they were satisfied with the service.
• Look for qualified and licensed pest control professionals and companies, check to see if they are members of national, state or local pest management companies.
• Ask to see proper licensing and credentials
• Get quotes or bids from several companies you are considering
• Only use someone you feel comfortable with and can trust. Don’t be let anyone pressure you into something you’re unsure of.
• Be sure to understand what the contract consist of, work necessary to solve the problem, how long the contact is for, amount of money, early terminations fees
• Don’t just choose by price alone. Buy value or price
• If something is guaranteed, make sure it is in writing on the contract and what you need to do to keep that guarantee valid
• Ask about the products they use (for example is it a spray, dust or gel, granular etc), names of the products, are they safe for children and pets? They should be able to clearly and confidently explain what the products are and how they work.
• Check the Better Business Bureau for accreditation.
• Social media is a great tool to check out reviews. Most companies have their own Facebook, Twitter and Google+ where customers can rate the company and leave a review, you can also look for the company on sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.
Remember not to go with the first company your see, follow some of our tips and they may save you a headache and money in the long run.

Give us a call! (208)475-4440       http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Signs of Cockroaches

If you think you may have a cockroach infestation, detecting it as early as possible is critical to winning a major war against these nasty home invaders. The longer they are there the more time they have to get established and multiply, which makes them harder to get rid of and often more expensive. The faster a pest management specialist can evaluate and begin attacking the problem the faster you can take back and reclaim your home.
Here are Alpha’s top signs of cockroaches that you should know:
1) ACTUALLY SEEING A COCKROACH: This of course is the most obvious sign you have a roach problem. Cockroaches are nocturnal insects, so the best time to spot them is during the night. You can typically see them scatter after entering a room and turning on the light. If you spot cockroaches during the daytime, this can mean the infestation as been going on for quite a while or that it has developed to the point where strong action must be taken immediately.
2) FINDING COCKROACH FECES/DROPPINGS: Finding their feces is a sure sign you have a problem. The size of the feces depends on what type of cockroach you’re dealing with (the German cockroach is one of the most common). Feces can look like small specks of pepper or coffee grounds. The more droppings you discover the higher the number of roaches you are dealing with. Be sure to take note of where the droppings are found as they will be important areas to target when treatment begins.
3) FINDING EGG CASES: Roaches produce egg casings called oothecae. Oothecae are oblong, brown casings that hold many eggs. The German cockroach as mentioned before can produce an oothecae with up to 50 eggs inside. After the eggs hatch the oothecae is left behind, leaving sound evidence of an infestation. Look for oothecae behind furniture, inside pantries, in books, between cracks in the wall and other tight protected areas.
4) ODOR: Roaches can produce a strong, musty odor that gets stronger the longer they are there. This pungent oily smell can come from a large amount of roaches but just one German cockroach can create this smell on its own. You can also get an odor from dead cockroaches decomposing, as they produce oleic acid while decomposing, which can get quite strong.
If you think you may have roaches and have come across any of these signs on the list, give us a call! Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440 or visit us at http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Voles

What is a vole? A vole is a rodent and looks much like a mouse, only with shorter tails, they are dark brown in color and about five inches in length. To some this may sound like a cute and innocent critter and as long as it stays out of the house. Sure, out of the house is great, but these small rodents can wreak havoc on your yard and turn it into something resembling Swiss cheese in a short time.
Voles make networks of well defined, visible surface tunnels across the lawn with golf ball sized holes near the damage being made. Most of their time is spent inside the tunnels but they do venture out occasionally. Most voles are plant-eaters, feeding on grass and perennial-flower roots, seeds and bulbs. It won’t take long for voles to quickly colonize an area, as they are prolific reproducers. It takes about 21 days for impregnation to baby vole delivery of 3 to 6 young at a time; they can push numbers of up to 30 offspring per year.
Voles can really do some damage during the winter months when the ground is covered in snow. Most people don’t even realize they have voles until the snow melts away and all the tunnels and damage is visible.
Voles are smart and can be pretty tough to get rid of. If you are a “do it yourselfer” and want to give it try on your own before calling a professional, here are some tips:
 Nature vs. Nature: a great way to help control voles is to get a cat. Cats are great hunters and love hunting for rodents.
 Add a tall 15 foot bird perch to your yard for hawks and owls
 Adding more trees to attracted other types of birds is a good idea
 If you have snakes around your property (and don’t mind them of course!) don’t disturb them, snakes are a natural predator of voles
 For gardens, adding sharp material into the soil may discourage them from tunneling. Course gravel and commercial products such as Permatill are a great source.
Or if you prefer the professional handle it, give us a call!  We can discuss other available options to fit your situation and needs.

Signs of Bed Bugs

bed bug mattress

Signs of bed bugs can be hard to detect in the beginning. Bed bugs are a gross and extremely uncomfortable problem to have. You don’t have to be a “dirty and unkempt” person to get bed bugs either, anyone can get them. Bed bugs are not picky and love to travel, to them, the more the merrier. If you have an infestation, it’s best to find it early, before the infestation spreads or becomes established. Treating a minor (beginning stage) infestation is far less costly and easier than treating after it has grown and becomes more widespread.
To the average person, bed bug bites can be confused those of other biting insects such as mosquitoes or chiggers, so it’s important to pay attention to where and when the bites are occurring. Did the bites show up after camping all weekend, have you traveled anywhere/stayed in a hotel, or just woke up that were not there the night before?
We have compiled an easy to read list of signs to look for, to help you know if you have a bed bug problem.
 Itchy red bites: the appearance of flat, red welts in small clusters, zigzag lines or straight rows is a key sign of bed bugs. Their bites are irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.

 Unpleasant or uncomfortable nights of sleeping: It may seem obvious that the bed is where bed bugs are most often found. Of course they would be most active at night when you are in bed with them. If you find yourself with those itchy welts after sleeping in your bed (or trying to sleep), its likely bed bugs are the problem.
*Bed bugs tend to feed on exposed skin rather (than crawling their way up your pant leg) such as arms and shoulders, which some may leave uncovered while sleeping.

 Rust color stains on sheets or mattress: After the bed bug feeds on a human they will leave behind blood stains which will usually be found around the corners and edges of the bed and have a rusty color.

 Unpleasant musty odor. Bed bugs release pheromones and when there
are a lot of them, the smell can be quite strong. The musty odor has been described as that of a wet towel.
If you experience any of these signs we urge you to call a professional immediately.  http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com (208)475-4440

Signs of bed bugs.

These tips can be helpful if you are traveling too. Bed bugs can be pick up in hotel rooms and you may not know it till they’ve made themselves at home in your own bed. As soon as you enter your hotel room we suggest you to do some investigation. Check the sheets for small rust colored spots pull the sheets down to check to mattress for the spots as well. A small flash light would be handy to check the corners of the mattress were the bed bugs like to hang out. Also check edges of the carpet, anything upholstered like chairs and curtains, check the head board and inside drawers of dressers and nightstands.

 

 

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