GreenleafOrganicPest.com Blog

Mosquitoes, Dogs, and Heartworm: Keep Your Dog Safe

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jul 06, 2016 @ 08:15 AM

Mosquitoes are annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Nobody likes the itchy bites they give, but you may also be worried about mosquitoes spreading diseases. Thankfully, most mosquito bites are harmless in the United States because of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control. This organization works to stop the spread of diseases, including those carried by mosquitoes.

However, some mosquitoes may still transmit harmful infections-and not just to you. Mosquitoes can also infect your pets. In a previous post, we discussed how pets and pests interact. In this blog, we'll focus specifically on one of the most common mosquito-borne infections in dogs: heartworm. Read on to learn what it is and how to protect your pet.

What Is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworms are small parasites that take up residence inside the hearts and blood vessels of some mammals. Mostly they infect dogs, though animals like foxes, cats, and raccoons can also get them. An adult worm may be from a few inches to over a foot long, and the worms can live for five years.

The worms spread via mosquitoes. The offspring of the worms, called microfilaria, are tiny and live in the bloodstream of an infected animal. If a mosquito bites that animal, it may pick up microfilaria with the blood. The microfilaria grow within the mosquito for several days, and when the mosquito bites again, the microfilaria leave the mosquito and go into their new host.

Once inside the animal's bloodstream, they migrate into the heart or the biggest blood vessels to find a place to live. There, they grow into their adult form, mate with the other mature worms they came in with, and start producing their own microfilaria. After entering the dog, the worms will be fully grown in about six months.

Because the worms live in the dog's heart, they make it hard for the heart to function as it should. The worms clog parts of the heart, and blood cannot circulate throughout the dog's body properly. As a result, the other vital organs, like the kidneys or the lungs, may not get enough blood supply. If untreated, heartworms can have serious side effects, including death.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

The symptoms of heartworm look very similar to the symptoms of other diseases. You may see:

  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Coughing

The good news is there are blood tests that identify heartworm, so if you take your dog to the vet regularly, you can usually diagnose the issue and get treatment. Some vets even will do tests like X-rays or ultrasounds of the dog to look for heartworms.

How Do You Treat Heartworm Disease?

Unfortunately, if your dog shows symptoms, the disease is likely far along already. If a dog does not get treatment in time, the most you may be able to do is keep your pet comfortable for a few months until he or she passes away. Fortunately, most dogs can be treated successfully.

If your dog has heartworm disease, your vet will give the dog shots that will kill the adult worms. After the shots, while the worms die and decompose, you'll have to make your dog rest as much as possible. If the dog exercises, his or her fast heart rate may push the dead worms into the lungs' tiny blood vessels, blocking them. This can be deadly. You will have to restrict your dog's activity for a few weeks.

About one month after the treatment to kill the adult worms, the vet will give your dog medication to kill the microfilaria. Once they are gone, your dog should be much healthier, and your vet can start your dog on a heartworm prevention medicine to ensure the worms do not return. Most dogs are energetic and have a good appetite again after treatment.

How Can You Prevent Heartworm Disease?

Because heartworm is so serious, it's best to try to prevent it. Many of the techniques you already know for preventing mosquito bites still apply. For example, get rid of standing water in your yard (mosquitoes breed in standing water), and put screens on your windows. You can also avoid walking your pet during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

However, don't try putting mosquito repellent made for humans on your dog. The chemicals in the repellent can hurt dogs. If you want to give your dog the same pest protection you enjoy, be aware that most bug repellents for dogs work on more than just fleas and ticks-many also repel mosquitoes.

If you live in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent, contact your vet about medications that will prevent heartworm from infesting your dog. However, one of your best options is to get rid of mosquitoes around your home. Call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management for help. We have been in business since 1998, and we can get rid of the mosquitoes in your yard and protect you and your dog.

Tags: Mosquitoes

How Bugs and Insects Influenced the English Language

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 @ 10:16 AM

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When you hear a fly buzzing in your window, or you see a snail in your garden, your first thought is not likely to be about how these pests influenced the English language. You want the pests gone, and you don't care about their impact on the way you speak.

However, learning the origins of bug-related expressions can reveal interesting information about the interaction between bugs and humans throughout history. This way, the next time you tell your critical neighbor she's too nit-picky, you can be grateful that she's not actually picking lice eggs out of your hair.

Nit-Picking

First known use, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: 1951

As mentioned above, this phrase originally referred to the act of combing through a person's hair to remove lice eggs, also known as "nits." They affected humans all across Europe during the Middle Ages. Due to poor hygiene, lice were nearly impossible to prevent, and the only sure way to get rid of them was to manually pick the eggs out one by one.

In modern times, lice infestations are relatively rare, and specially medicated shampoos can kill the parasites easily. The act of nit-picking survives as an expression used to mean criticism of small and generally unimportant issues, likely because medieval nit-picking was a tedious task focused on removing nearly invisible pests.

Beeline

First known use: 1830

Ancient and medieval civilizations saw bees as highly organized animals with their own laws and customs. They seemed in awe of the bee's industry and absolute loyalty to the elected "king bee".

However, some of the medieval beliefs about bees have been disproved by modern science. For instance, people used to believe that bees did not reproduce, but were born from the flesh of dead cows. They also believed that bees instinctively flew in a straight line back to their hive once they collected nectar.

While bees do possess impressive communication and navigational skills, they don't hone in on the hive as the ancients believed. Modern knowledge of bee behavior cleared up many misconceptions, but these ancients beliefs remain a part of our language in the term "beeline," a noun referring to the straight, fast course one takes when fixated on a destination.

Social Butterfly

First known use: 1837

In the 1800s, society and fashion were an important part of life for middle- and upper-class men and women. Women, especially, favored elaborate and colorful gowns, making the comparison to the brightly colored butterfly only natural.

The term originally had a derogatory connotation, as these brilliantly dressed young ladies were often seen as flitting from one social engagement to the next, seeking momentary entertainment. Over time, the phrase has softened to mean anyone who thrives in social settings and enjoys being in the company of others.

This phrase isn't unique to English. In China, they refer to a very social person as "a butterfly dancing among the flowers."

Flea Market

First known use: 1891

The term is a literal translation of the French expression marché aux puces, which referred to an open-air market that opened in Paris in 1860. Many such markets exist around the world under a variety of names, but the French was called the "market of fleas" because so many older, second-hand items had to be infested with fleas.

Bug

This word has come to have a large variety of meanings since it entered the English language in the 14th century as a synonym for monster or bogeyman, or anything that causes fear. It can mean a "true bug," a category of insects that includes species like aphids and cicadas. It's often used as a general term to describe any type of small invertebrate.

In modern times, it's also used to mean a small listening device or computer error. As a verb, it means to irritate or annoy someone or to leave an area quickly (bug out). Due to its long history and varied meanings, it's hard to trace how each definition of bug came to be. Etymologists aren't even sure how the term for a monster of terror came to be applied to beetles.

The first recorded use of "bug" as slang for annoying came in 1949, described as a popular term used by jazz musicians. "Bug" as a listening device or spying technique was first recorded in 1919, and may refer to the ability of insects to infiltrate any location and remain hidden.

Of all the meanings, the one with the clearest meaning is as an issue with technology. In 1889, Thomas Edison claimed that he had spent several days trying to fix a bug in his phonograph machine. The Pall Mall Gazette, the London evening newspaper that published the expression, explained that the term draws upon the image of a small insect hiding inside the machine and causing it to break.

 

It's clear that bugs had a major impact on the development on the English language, but that doesn't mean you need to let them stay in your house. If you have a pest problem and want an eco-friendly solution, call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

What You Need to Know About Raccoons as Pests

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 02:57 PM

file4781300045861.jpgIf you were to see a raccoon, what would you think? Would you think of these critters as fluffy, friendly creatures? Chances are you might. After all, movies such as "Pocahontas" portray the raccoon Meeko as a loyal companion. And movies like "Guardians of the Galaxy" reveal that raccoons are clever and have a mischievous demeanor-but these qualities still make Rocket seem like a good friend and fellow superhero.

On the other hand, movies like "Over the Hedge" depict raccoons as sneaky thieves, while films such as "Are We Done Yet?" and "Furry Vengeance" demonstrate a more vicious side of raccoons.

In reality, raccoons are pests that can cause a lot of damage to your home and property-and they can even wreak havoc on your life if you don't remove them as soon as possible. In this blog, we'll tell you everything you need to know about raccoons so you can contact the appropriate professionals to eliminate these nuisance animals from your home and yard.

Why Raccoons Are Considered Pests

By definition, a pest is any insect or animal that causes issues for humans. Specifically, pests cause problems as they damage crops, destroy landscaping, and mutilate buildings. Because raccoons live inside houses and other buildings, and because they cause a lot of property damage (which you'll read more about below), raccoons are considered pests.

Where Raccoons Live

Usually, raccoons prefer to live in natural habitats like wooded areas close to water. In the wild, you'll most often find raccoons in brush piles, hollow trees, rock crevices, and ground burrows. However, as their natural habitat has shrunk, raccoons have adapted to life in suburban areas. These critters will den underneath decks and anywhere in backyards.

You'll also find raccoons under homes and other buildings on your property, such as a shed.

Since raccoons are nocturnal animals, they need somewhere dark to sleep during the daytime. They prefer the following areas and structures of buildings:

  • Attics
  • Chimneys
  • Crawl spaces
  • Roofs
  • Soffits
  • Vents and ducts
  • Walls

Raccoons will also den in the holes and loose spaces beneath a house or building, since these areas are well protected and more difficult for people and other animals to discover.

What Raccoons Eat

As omnivores, raccoons eat a wide range of foods. They prefer to eat water-based animals, but their diets include a variety of plants and animals, such as:

  • Birds
  • Clams
  • Crayfish
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Fruit
  • Insects
  • Muskrats
  • Nuts
  • Rabbits
  • Snails
  • Turtles
  • Vegetables

Raccoons will also eat any animal eggs they find near their den. If they can't find any of their preferred food sources, they'll rummage through garbage cans outside your home and eat whatever food scraps they find inside. Raccoons will also eat dry pet food if they can access it.

Why Raccoons Are Dangerous to You, Your Family, and Your Home

As previously mentioned, raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your home or other buildings on your property. In fact, raccoons can tear your air ducts apart, create large holes in your walls and underneath your home, and they can even tear apart the insulation in your attic as they build their dens.

The females especially damage a property significantly as they look for nesting sites. A female raccoon may do any of the following to your home as she creates a nest for her kits:

  • Rip shingles off the roof.
  • Tear fascia boards.
  • Claw rooftop ventilators.
  • Remove or destroy insulation air conditioning ducts.

Once a raccoon has built a den or nest, it will likely start to urinate and defecate in the area. Unfortunately, raccoons' urine and feces contain many harmful bacteria and parasites. If you and your family members (or anyone else in the building) become exposed to these parasites or bacteria, you could develop serious illnesses.

Some of these parasites and bacteria are even airborne, so you could become ill simply by breathing in these toxins. Raccoon feces and urine could cause you to develop the following health issues:

  • Salmonella
  • Roundworm
  • Leptospirosis
  • Giardiasis

If you come into contact with a raccoon and it bites or scratches you, you could also contract rabies. The raccoon must already have rabies to spread the virus to you, but bites and scratches from a non-rabid raccoon could also become infected.

What You Can Do to Get Rid of Raccoons on Your Property

If you see a raccoon in your home or anywhere on your property, contact your pest control specialist immediately. Do not approach the coon or attempt to remove it from your property yourself, as you could become injured or expose yourself to bacteria and parasites.

Rely on your pest control expert, as these professionals have the skill and knowledge to safely trap and remove raccoons from your home or yard. They can also seal your house or building to prevent raccoons and other nuisance animals from getting back inside. Additionally, look for a specialist who can clean and disinfect the area to reduce your risk for developing health issues from feces and urine exposure.

Should you require more services than nuisance animal trapping, ask your pest control expert what he or she offers so you can keep your property pest free.

Do Snails and Slugs Count as Garden Pests?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 @ 08:25 AM

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California stays relatively warm year-round. You love the appealing temperatures and consistent sunlight. You especially love that you can keep a garden all year long-in fact, you enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables any time you want.

As you look at your garden, you notice that some of the plants seem a little odd in color. You look closer and see shiny, slimy streaks along the stems and leaves. You know that these signs likely mean you have snails or slugs in your garden.

But do these slow crawlers really pose a threat to the plant life on your property? Below, we'll discuss snails and slugs in depth so you know how to recognize these pests in your yard. Read on so you know what to do in the event of a slug or snail infestation.

Their Appearance

Slugs and snails look fairly similar. These pests are often referred to as land mollusks because they come from the same animal family as clams, oysters, squid, and octopus. Snails and slugs are the only members of this family that you'll ever find on land, though you'll most often find them in water.

Snails look ovular in shape, and range in size-these gastropods can grow up to 10 inches in length. The most prominent feature of snails however, is the coiled shell they carry on their backs. Snails also have two soft antennae on the top of their heads, and their eyes rest at the tip of the antennae.

Interestingly, snails have compound eyes. These eyes are made up of dozens of light-sensitive elements. Each element has its own refractive system that forms parts of an image, and these parts combine to allow the critter to see. This eye type and structure is commonly found on most insects (like flies) and a few crustaceans.

Slugs are incredibly similar to snails, but with a few key differences. Slugs don't have a shell on their backs at all. In fact, slugs have an internal shell that is either tiny in size or just a small remnant of the shell. Additionally, slugs can grow up to 15 inches in length.

Both snails and slugs range in color, from light yellow to black and dark gray.

Their Living Environments

Snails and slugs prefer to live in dark spaces in hot, humid climates. Since slugs don't have a shell on their backs, they can easily fit into tight hiding places. For example, you'll often find slugs hiding underneath loose tree bark and slabs of stone.

Snails are less flexible than slugs, however. Because they carry a large shell on their backs, snails can't easily hide in smaller spaces. But they can quickly retreat into their shells and use the structure for protection against predators. You'll also find snails in damp, dark places near a plentiful food source.

Their Preferred Food Sources

These critters will eat any type of vegetation-if they can digest it, they'll eat it. However, snails and slugs prefer to munch on the leaves and stems of the following kinds of plants:

  • Lettuces
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Petunias
  • Daisies
  • Dandelions
  • Primroses
  • Daffodils
  • Lilies
  • Irises
  • Strawberries
  • Cabbages Peas

Land snails and slugs often eat plant matter, while their water-living counterparts are carnivorous scavengers that eat anything they can find.

Their Effect on Plant Life

Snails and slugs might seem like harmless creatures, but they actually cause quite a bit of damage to plant life in your yard and garden. They'll often chew irregular holes in the leaves, stems, and stalks of plants. These irregular holes can cause severe damage to plants.  If a snail or slug eats the fruits or vegetables in your garden, that produce becomes inedible for humans.

What You Can Do to Keep Snails and Slugs Out of Your Garden

To prevent slugs and snails from eating your fruits, vegetables, and other plants, use environmentally friendly methods.

For example, you could crush up old eggshells and scatter the pieces throughout the soil. If you have potted plants, sprinkle the crushed shells in the soil and fertilizer as well. Snails and slugs don't like the sharp edges, so they'll stay away from your plants. The shells also add nutrients to the soil to help your plants grow. Additionally, you could add coffee grounds to the soil to further repel slugs and fertilize any plants.

 

If snails and slugs become too big of a problem in your garden or yard this season, don't hesitate to contact a pest control specialist. Find a company that emphasizes in green pest control solutions. These methods allow the experts to safely and humanely rid your property of pests while reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals.

If you have a large infestation of snails or slugs in your garden or yard, pest control experts are your most effective resource. These professionals can rid your yard of any size infestation and prevent future infestations from occurring.

Tags: pests

Termites 101: What You Need to Know

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 06, 2016 @ 08:53 AM

When you looked for a new home, you likely asked the realtor to keep a few factors in mind: overall price, square footage, and-most importantly-structural support. After you've lived in your home for some time, you hope that the price has increased and that the home is still as sturdy as when it was built.

Sometimes, however, pests can compromise the structural integrity of a building. One of those pests includes termites. In this blog, we discuss these gnawing critters so you know how to identify them and what to do if termites ever enter your home.

What Are Termites?

Simply put, termites are small insects that nest in and eat wood. However, several species of termites exist.

Drywood Termites

As the name suggests, drywood termites inhabit and consume dry woods. These insects measure about 3/8 of an inch in size, have six legs, and are long and narrow in shape. They appear light brown or tan in color and have wings and antennae.

In addition to dry wood, these termites eat plant-based products, including plastics, wallpaper, and fabrics.

Dampwood Termites

This termite's name also indicates the kind of wood it prefers. Dampwood termites typically live in and eat damp, moist wood. They range from 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch in size, have six legs, and are also long and narrow in shape. These termites look brownish orange in color, and this species also has wings and antennae.

Because these termites need damp wood to thrive, you'll usually find them inside dying or dead wood or in houses where water have moistened the wood.

Formosan Termites

Formosan termites, when found in nature, benefit the environment (which we'll discuss more below). These insects are about a 1/2 inch in length, narrow, and ovular in shape. They take on a yellowish brown color and also have antennae and wings. They live in colonies that size around 300 feet long and contain tens of thousands of termites.

These termite colonies contain three groups of insects: soldiers, reproductives, and workers. The soldiers defend the colony against predators. The reproductives only reproduce to further build the colony and provide it with additional workers, soldiers, and reproductives.

The workers build nests and tubes for the rest of the colony, and these termites maintain these areas as well. Additionally, the worker termites gather wood to feed the rest of the colony.

You can find Formosan termites in homes, boats, and other buildings. You can also find these termites in dead wood-however, these termites clear the area to make room for new plant life to grow.

Subterranean Termites

These termites also live in large colonies. In fact, subterranean termite colonies can have about two million members. The colony is also divided into the soldier, reproductive, and worker groups.

Subterranean termites grow between a 1/8 inch and one inch long. They are a creamy brown color and take on the same shape as the other classes of termites listed above. These termites also consume plant-based materials. Most commonly, they'll eat wood, but they will also eat wallpaper and similar items if they can't find a food source.

You'll usually find these termites in wet places aboveground or (as their name suggests) in wooden areas belowground.

What Attracts Termites to a Home?

In their search for food and shelter, termites can easily discover the wood that makes up your home's frame and structural support system. Because they can quickly and efficiently detect wood, termites will enter an area any way they can. Some termites will even squeeze through cracks and holes as small as a 1/32 inch big.

Typically, however, termites enter a home through foundation cracks, plumbing, expansion joints, and service entries.

How Can I Tell If There Are Termites in My Home?

If you have termites in your home, you'll notice the following signs:

  • Sagging floors and doors
  • Tiny holes in wood structures
  • Crumbling drywall
  • Wings or shed exoskeletons

Additionally, you may notice large mounds near your property that house termites. If you notice large amounts of wood damage, you could also have a termite problem.

How Can I Get Rid of Termites and Prevent a Future Infestation?

To eliminate termites from your home, get in touch with a pest control specialist. Prevent future infestations with the following tips:

  • Avoid burying, stacking, or storing wood next to your home.
  • Repair leaks as quickly as possible to keep wood dry.
  • Maintain your landscape by clearing away piles of debris, such as twigs and leaves.
  • Remove dead or dying trees from your property. Also remove decaying wood from your home. Seal any foundation cracks and holes to prevent termites from entering your home.

Think you have termites in your home? Contact your local pest control specialist to schedule a service. These professionals can inspect your home and property for termites and determine if you have an infestation or not.

Want more tips or details on how to keep your home and yard free of pests? Read through the rest of our blog, and don't forget to check back for more updates. If you have other questions or concerns, your pest control technician can answer them, so give them a call.

Tags: Termites

Are You Inviting Pests into Your Home? | Greenleaf Pest

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 @ 08:53 AM

Foods That Invite Pests Into Your Home

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Most, if not all, homeowners take great pride in their homes. They dedicate countless hours to cleaning and maintaining the structure. They even spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to decorate, remodel, and add onto their homes to make it cozier and more appealing to their families and friends.

Like typical homeowners, you want to keep your home clean and free of unwanted pests. But when bugs and critters find their way into your home, you may not know what attracted them in the first place. Despite your efforts to pest-proof your home, insects and rodents can still get inside-especially when they see or smell food.

Below, we've listed some of the most common foods that attract pests into your home. We also discuss alternative storage methods and tell you how to prevent pests from entering your house in the future.

Fruits and Vegetables

You love to stock your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables. But the foods you use to make your smoothies, salads, and other side dishes actually attract several kinds of pests. You may want to keep your fruits and veggies stored in a basket from the ceiling or on the counter. However, this storage method leaves these foods vulnerable to pests.

Additionally, if you leave cut-up fruits and vegetables on the table or counter, pests will do whatever they can to eat those foods.

Rather than leave fruits and vegetables out in the open, try to store them inside your refrigerator if possible. If you have to keep some items out, try to use them as quickly as possible. As fruits and vegetables ripen, they may leak juices that only attract more pests into your home.

Meats

Some insects and rodents are omnivores, so they're attracted by the smells of raw and cooking meats. Whether you choose to cook meat inside each day or host a springtime picnic in your backyard, you'll want to carefully store your meats before, during, and after cooking.

Keep your raw meats inside plastic storage bags or airtight storage containers until you're ready to cook them. You should also store meats in your fridge until about half an hour before you cook them. As you put meat in the frying pan or on the grill, keep the excess meat in a covered container or bowl. Once you've cooked each piece of meat, keep it covered until you need to store the leftovers.

Chocolates

Rodents like mice and rats will eat anything in sight and smell. However, they prefer to eat foods full of carbohydrates and sugars-and chocolate is their food of choice. If you have any chocolate in your home, make sure to store it in durable, airtight container. You can even place this container in a cupboard to further reduce the chances of mice seeing or smelling the chocolate. Grains

Several kinds of pests (including mice, weevils, beetles, and moths) thrive off of grains. Make sure to securely package and store the following:

  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Pancake mix
  • Cake mix
  • Meal
  • Cereals

If you have legumes (such as beans and lentils) in your pantry, you'll also want to store them in sturdy containers. Most pests can smell these foods, and they'll gnaw through most packaging to get to the grains inside. However, if you store these items inside durable containers, the pests likely won't smell the grains. As a result, they're less likely to infest your home.

Crumbly Foods

Smaller pests like flies, ants, weevils, and beetles prefer to nibble on the crumbs you leave behind on your floors, tables, and countertops. Specifically, they enjoy eating crumbs from the following foods:

  • Breads
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Chips

No matter what foods you eat, thoroughly wipe down your tabletops and counters, and sweep your floors well. As you keep these surfaces free of crumbs, you reduce the chances that a pest will enter your home to get to a food source.

One Final Tip

Although most pests will eat whatever kind of food they can find, an overwhelming majority of rodents and critters prefer to eat decaying foods found in your trash. Make sure to take out the garbage regularly and to store full garbage bags inside a sealed trash receptacle. This step reduces the amount of bugs and critters inside your home and on your property.

When you have fewer food sources available, pests won't find your home as attractive. As a result, you can enjoy a pest-free home that looks and feels the way you want it to.

 

Use the tips listed above to properly store your foods and keep pests outside your home. If you need help ridding your home of any pest, get in touch with a local pest control specialist. You can even contact a professional that specializes in green pest control services so you don't have to use harmful pesticides to clear your home of bugs.

For more tips and information, read through our other blog posts.

Tags: pests

Protect Your Pets From Pests

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

Protect Your Pets From Pests

Your pet brings happiness and companionship to your home, and you want the very best for your furry friend. You work hard to make sure that your pet is healthy, has plenty of exercise, and remains safe.

Unfortunately, certain pests in the LA area threaten the well-being of household pets. If left unchecked, these insects and rodents can cause real harm to your pet and to your family.

Learn more about these pests and how you can protect your pets from dangerous bites and diseases.

Rats and Mice

The Threat

Your favorite canine or feline friend is a natural predator of rodents. Most dogs and cats will attack a rat or mouse if they spot one. In fact, some people keep a cat or dog around because they expect the rodent population to go down as a result. Unfortunately, these people don't realize that the rodents hidden in the walls of your home or lurking in your yard can be a major danger to pets.

Rats and mice pose two major threats. The first is that rats and mice carry diseases that can endanger your family pet. If your dog or cat bites or eats a rodent, the diseases that mouse carries can easily transfer to your pet. And if the rat itself doesn't have a disease, it may carry ticks or fleas that almost certainly do.

Rodents also steal food from your cat or dog, endangering the health of your pet by contaminating food and stealing important nutrients. Rodents are sneaky, and you may not even realize that your pet isn't eating as much as he or she should be.

The Solution

Rats are secretive, so it might take you a while to confirm that you have a rat or mouse infestation. Signs of rodents include droppings, grease marks along the walls and floor, or a dead rat or mouse. If you're confident that you have rodents at home, protect your pets and take action immediately.

First, contact your pest control expert. A pest control company can quickly eliminate rodents from a home in pet-safe ways. For example, they may avoid using rodenticide in places that may affect your pet.

While you wait for the pest control team to arrive, make sure that your pet's food is sealed and out of reach of rodents. Place the food down only when your pet is ready to eat, and ensure that the food doesn't go unsupervised before or after eating time.

You should also take your pet to the veterinarian after you are confident there are no more rodents in your home. A check-up will help ensure that your pet is healthy and that rodents haven't hurt him or her in unseen ways.

Mosquitoes

The Threat

You've probably heard of the West Nile virus, which mosquitoes spread across America each year. But did you realize that mosquitoes plague pets just as much as they bother humans? Pets are also at risk of West Nile and other mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Mosquitoes transmit the diseases they carry when they bite humans or animals, and the results of the bite can be deadly. Humans who live in heavily mosquito-populated areas can use mosquito netting, bug spray, and heavy clothing to avoid bites. Your cat or dog has a heavy coat of fur that can do a lot to ward off mosquitoes, but pets still need your help to avoid mosquitoes as much as possible.

The Solution

You can get rid of mosquitoes near your home by eliminating any standing water in your yard or neighborhood. Mosquitoes are drawn to warm, still water, especially if it is dirty, so get rid of it! Keep pools covered and remove bird baths, cisterns, and other containers that hold water.

You should also contact your local pest control company, which can spray your premises and discourage mosquitoes from coming near your yard, family, and pets.

Fleas and Ticks

The Threat

These pesky little bugs aren't just annoying and itchy-they, like mosquitoes, can transmit diseases that can really hurt your pets. Ticks and fleas carry diseases like West Nile, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Pets can pick up ticks and fleas just about anywhere, but they breed like crazy in the summer and are much more likely to infiltrate your home during the hot summer months. Flea and tick eggs roll off pet hair and into carpets, bedding, and furniture, threatening other members of your family as well.

You'll know you've got ticks or fleas in your home if you notice scratchy bites all over your pet's skin-or your own. If your pet is licking, nibbling, and scratching itself repeatedly, it's time to take action.

The Solution

Because ticks and fleas are highly mobile and very small, the only truly effective way to rid your home of these pests is to call pest control. And while you wait, take your dog or cat to the groomer to kill any ticks or fleas that might be living in your pet's hair.

You should also wash all of the linens in your home, including your pet's bedding. Vacuum carpets, clean pet toys, and keep the house clean.

After you've eliminated the ticks and fleas, keep your pets out of tall, thick grass, a favorite habitat of ticks and fleas.

If you or your pets are being plagued by pests, contact your pest control company immediately, and schedule an appointment with the vet. Keep your pets safe, and eliminate those pests!

The 411 on Cockroaches

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 01:42 PM

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The 411 on Cockroaches

You tiptoe into the kitchen late one night, hoping to enjoy a delicious late-night snack. You reach for the handle of the refrigerator, listening closely for sounds of movement from anyone else in the house, when suddenly, you know: you're not alone in the kitchen.

You flip on the light and spin around, and that's when you spot it-the cockroach scuttling across the floor.

Cockroaches are one of the nastiest pests in Los Angeles, and they're everywhere. Thousands of homes and apartment buildings in LA have cockroach infestations, and these creepy crawlies are more than just gross-they can spoil food and even cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Want to learn about this pest and how to get rid of it? Read more below.

Why Are Cockroaches a Problem?

You'll find four major species of cockroaches in LA-the German cockroach, the oriental cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, and the American cockroach. Like all species of this insect, LA cockroaches are drawn to moist, humid, dark areas.

Of course, you can find cockroaches just about anywhere, including in homes and in multi-level housing buildings, schools, hospitals, restaurants, offices-anywhere with food or storage areas. The dirtier the location, the more likely you'll be to find an infestation.

Cockroaches are pesky. They can damage paper and fabric, create stains, and even stink if there are enough of them in one area. They can transmit salmonella because of their contact with human excrement in sewers, causing food poisoning and spreading bacteria. As mentioned above, they can also provoke asthma and allergies, especially in young children.

How Can You Identify a Cockroach Infestation?

There are a lot of good reasons to avoid places with cockroach infestations. The creepy-crawliness aside, cockroaches are a danger to your health. But what if the infestation is in your own home?

You can usually spot cockroaches pretty easily. They leave clues, including droppings and stains, and you can usually catch them scuttling around, especially if there are a lot of them. Cockroaches are social, and if you see one, you can be sure that there are many others lurking about.

Cockroaches are nocturnal, so you're most likely to catch them at night, especially if you flip on a light in a dark room. Cockroaches avoid light, so they'll start moving as soon as the light turns on as well as detecting air current changes with their cercie, cockroaches think with their behinds, in a manner of speaking. On their posterior ends, cockroaches have a pair of appendages called cerci. Fine hairs on the cerci detect air movements. Nerve cells connected to the hairs help the cockroach make sense of the information.

Cockroaches like tropical environments, so if you know that you have cockroaches on the premises and have a place in your home that is often warm, dark, and wet, you're most likely to spot them there.

How Can You Prevent a Cockroach Infestation?

If you don't have cockroaches around and want to avoid them at all costs (which most humans do), there's something very important you can do: keep your house clean.

Cockroaches love filth and disrepair, and you're most likely to find them in places that aren't very clean. Doing the following can help you to avoid an infestation:

  • Wash your bedding, clothing, and textiles frequently.
  • Sweep and vacuum the floors at least twice a week. Do not leave food crumbs on the floor.
  • Wash your dishes immediately instead of leaving them in the sink.
  • Clean and disinfect areas where food has been prepared.
  • Keep storage areas organized, clean, and dry.
  • Empty the trash and take it to the dumpster every day.
  • Do not allow clutter, clothing, and other possessions to pile up. Clean and disinfect the bathroom.

A clean home eliminates a lot of things that cockroaches are attracted to, like food and bacteria. You might have to work a little harder to keep your house clean than you would in other places of the world, where cockroaches just aren't a problem, but trust us-you don't want cockroaches in your home.

What Can You Do If You Already Have an Infestation?

Even if you keep your home spotless, there's always a chance that cockroaches will find your home attractive. After all, this is LA, and Southern California's warm, tropical climate is the perfect place for cockroaches to live and breed. One of the most common species of cockroach is the German roach which unlike the others, is brought in from outside sources such as grocery stores, schools and other places food is found.

If you have an infestation in your home, the very first thing you should do is call an exterminator. Your local extermination company knows which chemicals to use to get rid of bugs while still keeping your family and pets safe. Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to eliminate completely, and an exterminator might be the only way to protect your home from these nasty pests.

After calling the exterminator, there are a few additional things you can do until their truck arrives:

Eliminate the cockroaches' food and water sources. The cockroaches will come back if they can find an easy food and water source, so try to discover where the bugs are getting their daily supply and cut it off.

  • Find and destroy hiding places. Look for cracks in your walls, alongside door frames, and beneath cabinets. Seal these cracks to make it difficult for cockroaches to come back.
  • Use bait and traps. This will help you monitor the cockroach population after the exterminator sprays.
  • These tricks will help you to get rid of cockroaches now and avoid them in the future.

From here on out, you can enjoy your midnight raids on the refrigerator, knowing that there won't be a cockroach watching your every move. We all agree-cockroaches aren't really something you want in your home. Call your local exterminator today and get your infestation eliminated.

 

Tags: cockroaches

The Most Common Garden Pests in Los Angeles-And What You Can Do About Them

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 @ 01:09 PM

The Most Common Garden Pests in Los Angeles-And What You Can Do About Them

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Most homeowners take pride in their gardens. Whether they grow vegetables, cultivate flowers and shrubs, or plant fruit trees, they invest quite a bit of time, energy, and money into creating lush gardens that complement their beautiful homes.

If you're a gardener yourself, you understand the anxiety that a lot of gardeners feel about pests. After all, one pest infestation can destroy everything a gardener works so hard to achieve. It's depressing to get to harvest season with nothing to show for it, and it's discouraging to have a brown, dying garden instead of a colorful, vibrant one in the summer.

At the same time, many homeowners don't want to turn to conventional pesticides to control pest problems when it comes to their gardens. But if you want to protect your garden, what other choice do you have?

Fortunately, natural pest control solutions offer safer alternatives to garden pest control. Below, we've provided a guide to the most common garden pests in Los Angeles. Read our blog to learn a little bit more about these pests and how natural solutions can help you fend them off.

Common Garden Pests

Because of Los Angeles's mild, pleasant climate, a variety of pests make their home there, from insects to rodents to birds. If your garden is under attack, one or more of the following pests might be the main culprit:

Voles and Moles

Voles are rodents that look similar to mice-in fact, if you see a vole, you might not be able to tell the difference between it and a mouse. Usually, voles look slightly larger than mice with shorter tales and a smaller head shape. If you have a vole infestation, you'll notice the following problems:

Partially eaten plant roots and bulbs

Partially eaten root vegetables like potatoes and carrots

Two-inch-wide pathways of trampled grass across your garden

Typically, moles are larger than voles. Even though homeowners can confuse these two pests, they're actually quite different-while voles are rodents, moles belong to the same family as bats. Instead of eating plants, they eat earthworms, centipedes, slugs, and snails.

In their quest to find these creatures, though, moles can create tunnels that destroy your garden. If you have a mole problem, you'll probably notice raised mounds of dirt that crisscross your garden. Moles also create small pockets of air around plants' roots, which can destroy your more delicate annuals.

Snails and Slugs

Slugs lack snails' outer shells, but both snails and slugs cause similar problems for gardeners. If you live in or near Los Angeles, you'll probably have the most problems with one of two invasive, destructive snail species: brown garden snails or white garden snails.

If you have a slug or snail infestation, you'll notice asymmetrical holes on flowers and leaves. Snails and slugs can destroy fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground, like strawberries, but they typically go after flowers, seeds, and foliage.

Caterpillars and earwigs can cause similar damage as slugs and snails, so some homeowners have a hard time determining which type of infestation they have. However, you can tell you have a snail or slug infestation if you notice silvery trails of mucous across your leaves and grass.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny insects similar to aphids. They often cluster on the undersides of leaves, and they reproduce quickly-female whiteflies can lay up to 400 eggs at a time.

In a best-case scenario, you could stop a whitefly infestation before it even happens by checking the undersides of your plants' leaves for white dots in a circular pattern. These are whitefly eggs, and if you scrub them from the leaves using soap and water, you'll stop the infestation in its tracks.

If the eggs have hatched and you already have a whitefly infestation, you'll notice yellowing, dead, or drying leaves. You'll also notice a sticky residue on leaves; this substance is called honeydew, and it can lead to fungal infections that destroy your plants.

Natural Solutions to Pest Problems

If you experience these or other pest problems, call your pest control expert. He or she might talk to you about a few of the following natural, pesticide-free solutions:

Take good care of your plants and trees. Stronger, healthier plants are better prepared to resist infestations. Water your plants frequently and make sure they have the nutrients they need to thrive.

Remove dead or dying plants as soon as possible. Most pests are attracted to decaying plant material, so removing that creates a less hospitable environment for pests.

Introduce helpful species. Some insects like ladybugs can control pest populations, especially aphids and whiteflies.

Dig trenches or place wire mesh around gardens. If you have a smaller garden you want to protect from voles and moles, line the area with wire screens or dig a small trench around it.

Your pest control expert can analyze your unique garden and pest and propose situations that keep you safe, defend your garden, and beautify the landscape you've devoted so much time to.

To learn more about common pests, visit our blog frequently.

Skunks: 10 Things to Know

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 @ 02:38 PM

Skunks: 10 Things to Know

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Skunks are notorious pests. Whether or not you've encountered a skunk directly, you've likely heard horror stories of their love of garbage and lingering stink.

In California, skunks often make homes under sheds and houses. Not only do these pests cause inconvenience and unwanted odors, but they can also pose health threats to your family and pets.

In this blog, we walk you through what homeowners need to know about dealing with a skunk infestation.

1. Skunks Are Avid Climbers

The striped skunk has long claws that enable it to climb structures easily. For this reason, skunks often appear in fenced-off areas. Skunks are particularly adept at climbing chain link fences, but they can also scale wood piles, vehicles, and outdoor structures.

2. But They Probably Won't Climb Your Trees

Young skunks may climb trees in order to escape predators. However, as skunks get older, their long claws actually inhibit their ability to climb trees. This occurs because a skunk's claws do not grow sharp enough to penetrate tree bark.

3. Skunks Do Not Necessarily Carry Rabies

While skunks can contract rabies if exposed to the disease, their solitary nature actually prevents most skunks from ever coming in contact with a rabid animal. In fact, feral cats and stray dogs have a much higher chance of developing rabies than skunks do.

4. Rabid Skunks Can Be Prevented

Some property owners assume that the only way to prevent the spread of rabies is to dispose of animals that have the risk of being carriers. However, animal rehabilitators can vaccinate skunks against rabies with an inoculation that lasts for two years.

Additionally, all humane animal rehabilitators test skunk saliva, tears, hormones, and hair for rabies before releasing the animal.

5. Skunks Rarely Spray

Many people become jumpy when they notice a skunk because they assume that they're bound to be sprayed. In reality, spraying represents a defense tactic that skunks only use when they feel threatened. This conservation occurs because skunks produce a limited amount of their spray, which means the animals aren't eager to waste it.

If you see a skunk, stay back and don't make any loud noises or sudden movements. If the skunk decides you represent a threat, it will give you plenty of warning before it sprays. You can be pretty sure a skunk is about to spray if it stomps and turns around-its spray glands are on its backside.

6. And Skunk Spray Is Not Hazardous

Skunk spray doesn't smell very pleasant, but it isn't particularly dangerous. While many myths circulate around this substance, the spray is a skunk-specific body fluid produced for defense.

Spray doesn't contain any urine, contrary to most myths. Also contrary to most myths, skunk spray won't permanently blind you if it gets in your eyes, and the spray cannot pass rabies from a skunk to any other animal.

7. Skunks Usually Appear at Night

Skunks technically qualify as nocturnal animals. Most skunks become most active around dusk, and they may explore or hunt at any time during the night. This nocturnal nature is why you might wake up to scattered garbage or freshly dug holes when you have skunks on your property.

8. But They Can Also Appear During the Day

Unlike raccoons, however, skunk behavior includes activity throughout the day and night. Normal, healthy skunks may appear on your property in broad daylight, even when humans are nearby. Additionally, orphaned skunks may look for food and their parents for full 24-hour periods at a time.

A skunk going about its business during the day does not indicate the presence of rabies.

9. Skunks Can Become Serious Pests

Though most rumors about skunks have little or no truth to them, skunks can be serious pests. Skunks frequently burrow holes in lawns and gardens, as well as confront household pets. Like their brother raccoons, skunks also seek out food wherever they smell it, including your compost pile, garbage cans, and storage shed.

Most pest control companies categorize skunks as nuisance animals.

10. But You Cannot Relocate a Skunk Yourself

If you have a skunk on your property, it's in your best interests to reach out to a professional. The California Fish and Game Code gives you the right to remove skunks from your property, but it forbids you from relocating a skunk to another piece of land. This legal restriction protects local ecosystems from the possible spread of rabies.

If you have noticed a skunk or skunk family on your property, contact a pest control company. In most cases, humane pest control companies can trap and handle skunks easily.

Use your newfound knowledge as you avoid any skunks invading your property.

For more information on pests, both big and small, read our other blog posts.

Tags: animal trapping