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Avoiding Rodents this Winter

Avoiding Rodents this Winter

Rodents can pose a major threat to both; property and human health. Not only do they eat a variety of foods that you may have stored in your pantry, but they can also contaminate it. This can result in serious illnesses.  They can also cause significant damage to buildings by chewing on everything from insulation to wallboard.

The best thing you can do to avoid rodents in your home is continually being proactive and following proper prevention techniques. Some of it may seem like common sense as part of it is keeping up on day to day cleaning (especially in the kitchen) but some of it will require a little work of investing and knowing your property and home.

 

Prevention

In order to effectively keep rodents out of your property, follow the tips below.

  • Eliminate All Food and Water Sources.

The first thing that you should do is be sure that you eliminate any source of food or water from your home. You can do this by keeping items that are stored in the garage in secure air-tight containers. You should also remove fallen fruits and/or nuts from your yard if you have any. Be sure to remove all of the pet food that you have in your house right after feeding, do not leave it outside at night. This will only attract rodents. Repair any plumbing leaks before they cause more problems as rodents can use this to get water. Another thing to check for is excess gaps around pipes or cables entering into the side of your home.

  • Eliminate Hiding And Living Places For Rodents.

Eliminate potential hiding and living places for the rodents. Old/non-running vehicles can serve as a great shelter for rodent pests. The interior of the vehicle such as floor carpet and seats can be chewed and used for building nests.  The same goes for furniture kept outside.  Only store lumber/fire wood off of the ground and at least 20 feet away from your home. Remove unused piles of wood and other materials that rodents could use to form a nest.  Be sure to do a thorough fall yard clean up.  Remove leaf litter and do not leave piles of leaves as they can provide protection from rodents such as Voles.

If you make these tips part of your routine you will greatly reduce your chances rodents finding their way into your home.

 

Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440

Keep Pests Out Of Your Home

At Alpha Home Pest Control we encourage our clients to be proactive, using proper exclusion tactics and making their homes “unattractive” to the pests, helping keep pests out of your home.

Here are some common Q and A’s for homeowners to help understand why being proactive is important.

 

Q: What attracts pests to your home?

A: If you think about it, like most living things pests are attracted to and need food, water and shelter. Making sure you have followed good exclusion techniques and sealing up/off food and water will help keep pests at bay. Using air tight containers to store food (including extra pet food) and repairing leaky pipes and drains will make your home less attractive and the pests will be less likely to stay.

 

Q: How do pests find their way in?

A: Pests commonly find their way into homes through windows and doors that do not have a tight seal when closed and through cracks that may be around the window or doors. They don’t always crawl or fly in, sometimes they are carried in by you or even your pet! Groceries, firewood, and luggage are ways that pests can be carried into the home unseen. Be sure to inspect any packages and belongings before bringing them inside.  Another thing to add the check list is foundation vents, inspect the screen for any holes or being loose, correct any problems right away.  Broken foundation vents are a welcome mat for mice, other insects and even cats!

We always advise that firewood not be stored against the house.  Firewood attracts many pests’ spiders, ants, and termites to name a few.  Termites can cause a lot of damage and can be a very costly expense.  Another tip to follow is having about a 2 in. gap between your foundation and plants and grass.  Allowing bushes and shrubs to grow so closely to your home creates a stepping stone for pests and critters that may want inside.

 

Q: What to do if you have an infestation or starting to see more pest activity?

A: If you find yourself having pests issues and are unsure of how to properly handle the problem, call your pest management right away before the issue multiplies, which can slow down the elimination process and be more costly.

 

Call Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440

Fall Pest Prevention Tips

The weather has finally started to cool and fall is setting in. 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 rodents 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.

Moths in the Pantry

Moths in the Pantry

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.

What do they look like? 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.

How do they get into your home? 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 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 pests, 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

Pest Control for Commercial/Businesses

Pest Control for Commercial/Businesses

Alpha Home Pest Control understands how quickly a business can come to a stop when there are unwanted pests invading your work space. Pests do not discriminate and can quickly invade a structure if they please, leading to an infestation that could harm your professional reputation. Commercial Pest Control is a must for any business.

Office buildings, restaurants, warehouse/storage areas, schools, churches, house/apartment rentals whatever your business may be, Alpha has you covered. Not all commercial pest control services are the same. We understand your facility’s uniqueness requires a custom designed pest management and grounds care program.

If you are already working with a pest management company and still have pests, you need to give them a call. Let them know that what they are doing isn’t working and you need a new inspection with a custom designed plan of action that you both agree on. Don’t lose money by giving it to a company that isn’t doing their job. Many pest control companies (such as yours truly) will re-service free of charge as well. If they don’t seem to be on board and try to talk you out of a new inspection, give them the boot and find a new company that have your best interest in mind.

You can rest assured when working with Alpha Home Pest Control. We’re licensed, certified, experienced, use sustainable practices and the latest tools and techniques in pest management. Alpha will always have your best interest in mind. The products we use are top of the line and are kid and pet friendly.

Call Alpha Home Pest Control to schedule your free commercial consultation inspection and estimate including a custom designed plan of action that fits your unique business needs. (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.

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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