Fall Pest Prevention

The weather has finally started to cool and summer is winding down.  You may see an increase in pest activity such as spiders and mice.  These pests will be on the lookout for a place to keep warm through winter but before you get all cozy inside your home we have some great fall pest prevention tips to follow.

 

  • Keep your yard clutter free, free of leaf litter and free of unnecessary items. Many insects and critters will seek shelter in piles of clutter
  • Store firewood as far away from your home as reasonably possible (at least 20-30 feet away from the home)
  • Don’t stack firewood directly on the ground. Use concrete blocks, bricks or firewood grates to keep the wood from direct contact with the ground. Maintaining good airflow underneath the wood pile will help reduce moisture as many insects are attracted to moisture.
  • Do not let water sit stagnant in the yard. Make sure flower pots drain properly, rain water isn’t collecting where it shouldn’t be (check gutters too), bird baths.
  • Pets should get fresh water daily, food and water bowls should not be left out all night
  • Remove all grass and weeds from around the foundation. Creating a gravel or stone barrier (about two feet) between the lawn and the foundation of the home will help reduce insects climbing onto your home. Material such as pea gravel can be helpful
  • Foundations vents should have proper fitting screens free of holes and tears. Open/screens with holes will allow rodents access underneath your house, and that is not a good problem to have. Stray cats may also find their way into the crawl space when seeking warm shelter. They’ll have no reason to move on if there are plenty of mice to eat.

Following fall prevention tips like this can save you headache and money in the future.  Making your home less attractive to the pest can reduce their numbers if you are seeing them around your home.

Beneficial Insects in the Garden

Keeping unwanted insects and the creepy crawlies out of the house is on most people’s agenda, but what about in the garden?  Not are insects are harmful to your garden plants, in fact there are many insects that are actually beneficial.  The beneficial insects are like watch dogs for your garden; they will be your aide and rid your garden of the harmful pests.

What are some common beneficial garden insects?  Here are a few examples:

  • Lady Bugs:  The lady bug is one of the most popular of the beneficial insects.  Lady bugs are the perfect opponent to have on your side when battling pesky aphids.  These helpful beetles also eat mealy bugs and other soft bodied insects.

 

  • Praying Mantis: The praying mantis is like the T-Rex of the garden, it can handle even the largest garden insect pest.  They have the ability to camouflage with the surroundings of the garden and snatch up a great deal of pests.

 

  • Green Lacewings:  The adult green lacewings feed on honeydew, nectar and pollen.  The green lacewing larvae are where the benefits start to kick in.  The larvae will consume crazy amounts of aphids and also feast on other soft bodied insects.

 

  • Spiders:  Ok, so spiders aren’t every ones favorite helpful side kick, but they can sure stay on top of insect control in the garden.  The great thing is that, spiders won’t harm your plants; they’re just there to hang out and catch some dinner in their web.  Spiders will eat many insects such as aphids, caterpillars, flies and many other pests they may be trying to eat your plants.

Next time you think you may need a little extra help in the garden, don’t forget about all the beneficial garden helpers out there!  If you are working the a professional pest control company, you can ask for your garden and surrounding area not to be treated.

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.  Grass spiders can be unsightly to look at 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.

False Black Widow

Some people may have never heard about the False Black Widow.  The false black widow spider is not as famous as the true black widow, but it does share a similar body shape.  The false black widow female is 6-10 millimeters in length, its color ranges from a purple-brown to black with light yellow markings. The shape of the false black widow is very similar to the true black widow with the bulbous body being more oval in shape.  The false black does not have the famous “hourglass” shape on its belly.

Like the true black widow, the false black widow also makes its web to look like jumbled irregular shape.  The spider relies on a messy web to catch prey such as small insects and other spiders which reports have included the true black widow.

Spring is when these spiders mate.  Females can produce 3 or more egg sacs each mating season, with each egg sacs that can contain 200 plus eggs.  It is reported that the males do not live long after mating with a life span of about 18-20 months.  False black widows can be found living in man-made structures year round, outside they can be found in cracks and crevices of rocks, under bark and on foliage growing low to the ground.

As for bites and venom, the false black widow can and may bite but usually only when threatened and in defense.  The bites of a false black widow are similar but much less severe than from a true black widow.  Some of the symptoms include moderate to severe pain at the bite site, nausea, headache, and lethargy.

It’s important to remember everyone may react differently and if you think you may have been bitten by a possible false black widow or medical attention may be needed.

Alpha Home Pest Control

Green Stink Bugs

We have been seeing a lot of Green Stink Bugs lately.  They seem to have taken over residential patios and gas station pumps during the night. These green stink bugs are large and have an oval shape, often referred to as shield shaped.  Their bright green color makes them hard to miss.

You can probable guess how the stink bug got its name.  Stink bugs get their name from the unpleasant odor of a chemical they produce and they will release this foul smelling chemical if threatened or crushed. So think about that before you go stomping on a stink bug!

Stink bugs use their sharp mouth parts to pierce plants and suck juices from it.  Most stink bugs don’t cause a tremendous amount of plant damage, unless their population gets out of hand. They will feed on flowers, leaves, stems and fruits.  They can become a pest inside the home as well.  Stink bugs may find their way into the home while they are looking for shelter for warmth during the colder months.  You may start to notice them inside during late summer or fall.  If you do find a stink bug in your home, remember they will release a very unpleasant odor if crushed.  You could use a vacuum to remove them from the home but be aware that they may release that odor or get crushed inside the vacuum, leaving you with a foul smelling vacuum.  A different approach could catch and release them outside.

Like most other pests, stink bugs will likely find their way into the home through small cracks, gaps and torn or missing screens. The best thing you can do is to be preventative.  Walk your property and check window screens, door sweeps, and foundation vents. Repair or replace damaged screens, caulk can be used to seal off any gaps or cracks.

Pests and Your Health

Certain pests and your health wont always mix well together.  Creepy crawly unwanted pests and rodents aren’t only annoying, they can contribute to some serious health problems. Preventative actions are important when it comes to protecting your home, business, schools, hospitals, restaurants, daycare’s and elderly rest homes.

Some examples:

  • Cockroaches can play a role in asthma and allergy triggers. The shedding of cockroaches’ body parts and feces can irritate and cause an increase in severity of asthmatic symptoms.

 

  • Mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. Diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling live or dead mice, coming in contact with mice saliva, urine feces, and by being bit by the rodent. It doesn’t stop there either, diseases can also be spread indirectly through mites, fleas and ticks that may have fed on an infected mouse. Some of the most common diseases carried by mice are Hantavirus, Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Rat-bite fever and Plague.

 

  • Flies, just the buzzing of flies around you are annoying enough but are they are known as carriers of easily communicable diseases. Flies carry diseases on their legs and the tiny hairs that cover their bodies. It only takes one landing for them to transfer these pathogens to the surfaces they land on such as food and counter tops. Diseases carried by common house flies include typhoid, cholera and dysentery. They have also been known to transmit the eggs of parasitic worms.

 

Whether it’s a home, office or commercial/public building be proactive and contact your local pest management professionals.  You will have peace of mind knowing that you are on a maintenance program against the battle of the unwanted pests and your health.

 

 

Indian Meal Moth-Pantry Pest

 

Have you noticed moths flying around your kitchen or even in the pantry? Maybe you’ve seen them but just didn’t give it that much thought, after all what’s the harm in a moth or two right? Well if you are seeing moths near your kitchen often, you could have an Indian Meal Moth infestation going on. Indian meal moths are considered the most common among pantry pests.

The adult Indian meal moth is small, about 3/8 inches long with a wingspan of about 5/8 inches. Their wing color is generally gray but the rear half of the wing is a rust-brown or bronze. The colors and patterns on the wings make it easy to identify and distinguish Indian meal moths from other house moths. The larval is cream colored, sometimes with yellow-green or pink shades, and the head is a dark brown. Larvae are sometimes seen as they are wandering about in search of a space to pupate, or pass through the pupal stage. These little guys tend to enjoy finding a spot high on the wall, where the wall meets the ceiling.

The most common way the Indian meal moth finds its way into your home is through your groceries. That’s right, most likely something you bought was already infested when you brought it into your home. The larvae of Indian meal moths can infest a large range of common pantry dry foods such as bread, birdseed, dry pet food, cereal, flour, pasta, dry soup mixes, dried fruit, nuts, and most spices. They have also been known to infest chocolate and dried flowers that have been used for decoration like wreaths and other craft projects.

Inspection and what to do:

If you think you may have Indian meal moths in your pantry, you’re going to need to do a thorough inspection of all food to identify the infested food source(s). You basically need to inspect ALL food items with the exception of unopened tin cans. Bags of food that you haven’t even opened yet need to be checked, remember the infestation may not have started at the grocery store, but could have started at the factory before the item was even packaged. You’re going to be looking for moths (of course!) but you need to keep a keen eye out for larvae. The larvae cover their food source with a silken webbing. The silken webbing often accumulates casts skins and fecal pellets which may help make them easier to see and notice. Remember to check EVERY item. Finding the source of the infestation is critical in ridding these pests. Immediately tightly seal the bag and dispose of all infested food and wipe down the shelves with warm water and soap to help remove any larvae and/or pupae. Also as advised with many other pest issues, store food in air tight glass or plastic containers to avoid re-infestation. Remember to check pet food and store it in air tight containers as well, even if you keep it in the garage.

If you feel you need help with the inspection or proper identification you can always call your pest management professional.

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

Silverfish

Silverfish are not just silver in color but may be white, brown, grey or blue-silver in color. Their bodies are teardrop-shaped and measure 12-19 mm in length. Silverfish have three long bristles that extend from the rear.

Silverfish can thrive in most climates but they prefer dark and damp areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms and attics. These insects maybe found in boxes that have been in away in storage. More commonly silverfish are usually discovered in the bathroom near a sink or bathtub. Silverfish move very quickly and are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. This can cause a delay in noticing their presence and an infestation may go unnoticed for long periods of time, giving time for the infestation to grow. Silverfish can cause damage with their feeding habits, affecting papers/book pages, clothing, wallpaper, and food in pantries. They also cause small holes in the materials they bite and may cause yellow staining on the material.

Silverfish may look fierce but are not known to bite humans and do not carry diseases. If they are disturbed they do not put up a fight, they will quickly flee and try to hide. Like other insect infestations, the longer you wait to start treatment, the longer the process will be. You can call your pest management company to help properly identify the insect and help establish a proper treatment plan.

Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440

Fruit Flies

 

Fruit flies are a common kitchen pest, but can be found anywhere around the home as long as conditions allow breeding. Adult fruit flies are about 3-4mm long, may appear to be brown or tan, and depending on the species may have red or dark colored eyes.

During summer is when fruit fly population it’s at its peak, and become more active.  Fruit flies that have made their way indoors can be active all year round, even during colder winter months, as long as conditions allow breeding, as mentioned above.

What conditions allow fruit fly breeding?

Fruit flies are attracted to and eat ripened fruit, vegetables and fermenting products.  The fruit fly will puncture the skin of the over ripened fruit to lay eggs inside and feed on the fruit.  Fruit flies are also attracted sap flows, and fermenting sugars found in spilled alcoholic beverages.  Mushrooms and bananas seem to be food of choice for fruit flies. The two most common signs of fruit flies would be noticing the adults flying around and seeing the pupae.  The adults are commonly seen flying around kitchens, trash cans or areas near the decaying fruit or veggies.  The larvae crawl out of the breeding material and may be noticed in a nearby dry spot.  They can go unnoticed at first and be mistaken for rodent droppings.  You can tell the difference by looking for a pair of horns at one end of the pupae.

Fruit flies can sometimes be difficult to remove as there can be many places for them to breed.  A thorough inspection and sanitation is key in gaining control over the situation. Like many other types of home infestations, you must locate the source allowing for feeding and breeding.

Start by inspecting places outside of the fridge that you have kept fruit, a fruit bowl on the counter, in the pantry.  Check all drawers, cupboards, selves, around and under all appliances, around and under sinks/drains, be sure to inspect the kitchen trash bin.  You will be looking for any forgotten fruit/vegetables that have been left behind, or perhaps spills that have gone unnoticed.  Giving everything a good wipe down with warm soapy water while you looking around is a great idea. Also, any new fruit/vegetables that are brought into the home should be stored in the fridge if applicable.  If you have completed your indoor inspection and have come across no clues, it’s time to take your inspection outside.  Check around your outdoor garbage/recycle bin, and any drains that may need cleaned.  If you have fruit trees on your property, fallen fruit on the ground may be the source you’re looking for.

After eliminating the feeding and breeding source, you should see a significant decrease in fruit fly population.  Without a secure place for feeding and breeding the fruit flies will eventually die out.   Be sure to keep up on sanitation and prevention to avoid a re-infestation.

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Box Elder Bugs

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.

http://www.alphhomepestcontrol.com

 

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