GreenleafOrganicPest.com Blog

The 411 on Cockroaches

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

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

Rats and Mice: What's the Difference?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 09:56 AM

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You flip on your kitchen light and see a furry blur with a tail scurry across your floor before it quickly disappears. Still in shock, you try to figure out what you just saw. Was it a mouse or a rat? Is there even a difference?

While they are closely related, rats and mice are different. A better understanding of these differences can help you identify your home invader before your pest problem worsens. Read on to learn more about the differences between mice and rats.

Mice

Physical Appearance

Mice are small, narrow-shaped rodents. They can be gray, brown, or white in color with triangular snouts and long whiskers. They also have large, floppy ears and a long, hairy tail. There are many species of mice, including field mice, smoky mice, spiny mice, deer mice, dormice, and house mice. Mice can be found almost anywhere in the world and in a variety of climates.

Diet and Habitat

Mice prefer to eat plants and grains, but they can feed on almost anything. They have large appetites, eating 15 to 20 times a day. Because they eat so frequently, mice tend to live in hidden areas near their food source. They build nests out of any soft materials they can find, such as finely shredded paper or fallen leaves.

Lifespan

If you see one mouse, you're likely to have plenty more. In just three weeks a female mouse can have as many as a dozen baby mice. That means one female mouse could produce as many as 150 offspring a year. Most mice have an average lifespan of less than a year.

Signs of Mice in Your Home

Mice can enter your home a variety of ways. They are strong swimmers and climbers and can jump higher than a foot off the ground. As skilled climbers, they can climb up drain pipes and other vertical surfaces.

Additionally, thanks to their slender bodies, mice can wiggle through holes and gaps as small as a dime. Mice are so good at getting into homes that they have been named in the top 100 " World's Worst" invaders.

Mice are very curious rodents, but they're nocturnal, so you might only hear them scurrying around at night. Although they're colorblind, mice have a strong sense of touch, taste, smell, and hearing. If you suspect you have mice in your home, check for gnawed-on food, small five-toed feet tracks, and small pellet-sized droppings.

Rats

Physical Appearance

Larger and heavier than mice, rats are medium to large rodents with long hairless tails. Their coats can be brown, black, or white and tend to be coarser and greasier than mice coats. The snouts of rats also tend to be shorter than those of mice. The most common rats in the US are Norway rats and roof rats.

Diet and Habitat

Rats prefer to eat meat and fresh grain, but they will eat almost anything. They also must have at least 1/2 to 1 ounce of fluid daily. This fluid can come from moisture in their food or from drinking fluids. Instead of nests, rats make their homes in burrows under buildings or in outside vegetation.

Life Span

A pair of male and female rats can quickly cause a rat infestation if they are in your home. A female rat can give birth to more than 70 rats a year if left unchecked. Rats can begin reproducing just three months after they're born, which exponentially increases the number of rats in your home. Rats have an average lifespan of two years.

Signs You Have Rats in Your Home

Even though they are significantly larger than mice, rats can still enter a building through small holes that are just 1/2 inch wide. Rats are also strong swimmers and can enter buildings through drain pipes or toilets. While they don't frequently climb, rats can do so to reach food, shelter, or water.

Rats are creatures of habit and rarely stray from their routines or known pathways. Unlike mice, they are very cautious and hesitate to approach new objects. They also like to stay close to home and rarely travel more than 300 feet from their burrow. Rats are nocturnal creatures and do most of their activities at night.

Some signs of rats in your home include elongated droppings (up to 1/2 inches long), medium-sized five-toed tracks, and burrowing holes. If you suspect that you have rats in your house, place a trap along their normal path for the best chance at catching them.

Take Back Your Home

A furry rodent in your house is no fun, but once you know whether you have a mouse or a rat problem, you're one step closer to eliminating the pest. If you're ready to get rid of your rodent problem, call a pest control professional and free your home of rats and mice.

Tags: rats and mice

Can My Landscape Affect My Pest Control Results?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Jul 09, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Can My Landscape Affect My Pest Control Results?

Keeping mindful of our water shortage and landscape needs can have both positive and negative results when it comes to your pest control needs. We all know that local fire departments mandate brush clearing away from structures during fire season. We also think this is a good idea, not just for reducing fire threat, but also for pests.

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Design choice and placement has a huge impact with the type of pest, and their levels, including rodents up and close to your home or business. I recently used a popular water conservation company to remove all my grass and replace with drought tolerant plants and rocks, and all for free. These types of landscape can increase pest if it isn’t done correctly. Fortunately I asked a lot of questions about the materials and process than the average homeowner for my own needs to reduce pest activity. Here are a few questions I asked and the reason why:  

Q. Will the landscape have any kind of weed barrier beneath the rocks?

A. Yes, they use a breathable cloth so water can penetrate to the soil along with nutrients.

Concern: Some barriers use plastic or rubber sheeting, which can “sweat” beneath the surface and create a perfect environment for ants and other home invading pest. This also hinders pest control treatments ability to reach the soil where the pest is located.

 

Q. Will you be planting along the foundation?

A. No, they keep an 18 inch free zone along the foundation.

Concern: Pest will use every opportunity to gain access indoor during the summer, so having a visual 18" gap, this makes for easy monitoring of activity

 

Q. Will there be any kind of irrigation?

A. Yes, they install a drip line to each plant which is controlled by a timed meter system.

Concern: Most landscapes are over watered, which causes pest to move more frequently when their habitat is disturbed. Many homeowners don’t adjust their sprinkler systems to match the season. This usually leads to unnecessary water usage and increased pest activity.

 Another consideration is aerial pest sites. Trees that touch your roof make for easy access to your home, so keeping trees away from your roof line. Also the debris that fall from trees, such as leaves and pine needles can clog up your rain gutters, but not before they become an active host for an aerial nesting site.

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This is especially a concern for ants which can easily find a multitude of ways to gain access to your home. They can not only travel from the roof top down into your living space, but from neighboring property. So I suggest that you take a walk around your property to identify access that can be used by insects and possible rodents.  

Greenleaf can handle all your needs when it comes to sealing out pests.  We custom build crawl vents and access openings using materials that meet or exceed best practice principles. We also offer a full range of services, so give us a call today for a FREE inspections and additional tips.

818-752-9989

 

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Tags: Landcape issues

Professional Pest Control...Or Just Do It Yourself?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Jul 03, 2015 @ 11:49 AM

Professional Pest Control …Versus….Do It Yourself

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HOW HARD CAN THAT BE?

Let’s face it; we are all looking to save a buck when it comes to the upkeep of our homes. From changing out our landscape to drought tolerant plants, reducing water consumption to DIY pest control. All great ideas, but sometimes these so called “DIY” advice can cost you more money in the long run if you don’t have the proper training or knowledge about what you are going to take on. Pest control is just one of those jobs some feel they can do.

LETS JUST ASK THIS GUY…

Sure most home stores have a DIY pest control aisle full of all kinds of products and equipment. I find myself walking through these departments on the weekends and heard a coversation fielding all kinds of questions:

  • What do you have for controlling….?
  • Do I need special equipment to apply it?
  • Do I need to wear a respirator?
  • Will this harm my pets?
  • Do I need to leave the house?
  • Do I have to mix it or just use out of the bottle?

These are just a few of the questions I have heard. Sometimes the answers scare me, which is the reason I decided to write this blog.

I WILL JUST BUY WHAT MY “GUY” HAD AND DO IT MYSELF

Yes, we can run off to Sears and buy an elaborate collection of Craftsman tools to fix the family car, but having the tools will not make you a mechanic. Having a cart full of pesticides, sprayer(s), and determination to rid your home of pest is great, but it won’t make you a professional. What about knowledge of the specific pest? What aisle will you find that on? Sure some think, “I will just spray everywhere and everything I see, I am sure I will kill everything” That you might, but killing everything isn’t, or shouldn’t be the objective.

Nature is a funny thing; killing off beneficial pest sometimes causes a bigger problem than the one you started with. I heard yesterday a conversation between one of our licensed technician on the phone explaining what we would use in their situation and the potential client said “oh, I tried that, it doesn’t work” and promptly hung up. When you try things on your own without the knowledge of what you are doing, you will likely get results that are less than favorable and just blame the product for the failure.

When I started in this industry 40 years ago, I would say my level of knowledge was pretty much at this DIY guy’s level and quickly realized I was going to be just a “spray jockey” if I didn’t learn more about what I was doing. I quickly realized that the “just spray everything“approach to pest control wasn’t going to yield the results I wanted and my customers would not be happy. So I went to school and learned as much as I could about pesticides, mode of action, pest biology and identification and choice of treatment just for starters.

Today’s pest challenges are not always about pesticide. Greenleaf incorporates many tools in solving pest issues, and many have nothing to do with pesticide. We use an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach. Low impact products when needed along with cultural and mechanical changes. If you have questions about your pest control needs, we are always here to help, and that is always FREE.

 

 

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Tags: Do It Yourself

Winter Pests... Or Not?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 02:41 PM

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Winter Pest, Not What You Think

We are just getting into the winter season and don't even have to look outside or on a calendar.  I can tell from the increased calls for biting insects, or what people believe are biting insects. Not only is it the time of year when temperatures drop, but it leaves our skin dry, itchy, and cracked and many times gives our clients the impression that something is biting them.  We call these the No-See-Ums or Mystery Pest.  It is the hardest "insect" to control, because they don't actually exist.

     Cold air, harsh winds and a host of other environmental factors can make this very uncomfortable for many people, especially when children are involved.  The season isn't the only thing that changes, our skin becomes extremely irritated and can even have raised bumps (from scratching) that look a lot like bites. This is why a proper inspection of a home is so important to rule out a true biting insect infestation. I have had many potential customes that just want their home sprayed.  This is a bad idea for many reasons because if it is not pest related it won't work...or will it?  You see this condition is partly caused from cold air, which has less moisture than warm or hot air, so when a water based treatment is performed it will actually feel like it gets better, but short lived.  So the clients calls you back for another treatment and the cycles continues.  Now you have a pesticide that was applied without confirming an active biting insect. Bad business and against the law. 

So what can you do to help relieve the symptoms without calling in your exterminator?

1. Apply a moisturizer daily will work to help lock in natural moisture in your skin.  Best time to apply lotions in immediatly after bathing, while the skin is still damp.

2.Install a whole-house humidifier, at least in your bedroom and keep the door closed to keep the moisture in.

3. Some natural oils can absorb quickly and won't leave a greasy feeling on your skin.

4. Environ DermaLac Lotion is also a great alternative, but can be expensive.

If you truly believe you have a pest related issue,, please give us a call and we will be happy to inspect your home.

 

 

Tags: Winter Pest, Not What You Think

Mystery Bug Bites

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:29 PM

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I'm sitting here looking out my window this morning watching the Santa Ana winds whip through trees, blowing everything through our office property.  The wind dries everything out, including your skin. I just reached for the industrial size, extra healing lotion because this wind has taken it's toll on my legs and arms.  Which is what inspired me to this blog post.

Every year we pretty much know when the Mystery Pest calls start to ring in.  We understand that many people suffer with various skin bumps, intense itching, sores and feel that they have "bug bites". unfortunately, diagnosed bites most often have a different origin. 

Most of these calls have had no visible insects or arachnids (spiders) and can further be complicated my medical doctors offering "looks like a bug bite" without any conclusive evidence to support that claim. Most of these calls are produced by a host of
other reasons that are not pest related.  The belief that an insect, seen or not seen, is a powerful thing to overcome, especially when the victim is convinced there can be no other explanation.  This can be one of the hardest things in our business to resolve when there is nothing there.  One of the reasons for this is their willingness to open their check book to have us just go ahead and spray regardless.  Well, I understand that there may be companies that would be happy to do this and walk away without every really identifing any pest at all, hoping it will kill the "NO SEE'MS and go about their day.  The problem with this is you are owning the problem to be pest related. Not to mention it is a violation of the law to treat unless a pest was properly identified.  If it isn't pest related, then pesticide isn't going to make the problem go away, so in many cases the company comes back out and does it again...We all know the definition of insanity right?  "doing the same thing and expecting different results".  Now you have an unhappy customer that paid good money for a bad job and now has pesticide all over who knows where. 

Always consider the possibility of known biting insects before other causes. There are many inspection technicques that can be implemented to help determine this. There are insects that certainly could be responsible for bites, and I have listed several below:

  • Fleas
  • Lice
  • Mosquitoes
  • Mites
  • Chiggers
  • Scabies
  • Spiders
  • Bed bugs
  • Bat bugs
  • Swallow bugs

Just like the no-see'ums have a season typically, so do biting insects.  The conditions can be very restricted to the outdoors, indoors, night time, just to name a few. Some insects may bite away from the home and not show symtems until a day or two later, such as chiggers.

Education is our best tool sometimes when we have difficulties establishing a partnership with clients. Developing trust in people open doors to solutions.  Pesticide is only a tool in our tool box, knowing when to reach for it is knowledge, knowing when to leave it alone and go another route is integrity to our craft, also organic.

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Tags: Chiggers, mystery pest, mites, bites

Protecting Your Food Storage from Pests

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Dec 06, 2013 @ 01:17 PM

 

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Food Pest Safety and Survival Food

Let’s face it; we are living in a time of economic uncertainty and tragic failures providing victims proper care and response in the face of disaster. We have seen the level of damage and emergency response with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.  This disaster taught us that we cannot rely on help reaching us in a timely manner (if at all) from our government, or its agencies for these types of disasters.

More and more people are seeking ways to be more self sufficient in surviving disasters.  This has been a personal concern for some time and I have become much more aware of the things we need to do in order to look after our families. Planning ahead is going to be the key to readiness.

Food and water after any disaster is critical, but often times not available in the disaster zone for long periods of time because of hording, poor response from emergency agencies, and possible contamination of supplies on hand.  It’s become very popular to be educated on survival techniques and long term food storage.  

As an Entomologist I am aware that just having these supplies isn’t a guarantee that the quality of the food will be in a usable state when it is needed.  I’ve seen my share of Stored Product Pest damage and the Millions of dollars it cost the manufacturing companies it affected over the years.  So knowing the potential damage it can cause to a survival program, I wanted to offer some storage practices that can help mitigate inventory loss.

Facts:  About 80% of human food comes from grains, such as barley, corn, millet, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat, and legumes, such as beans, soybeans and peanuts. All of which are great to have in a survival program.

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Loss of product comes from two sources, (1) the actual consumption of grains form insects and rodents. (2) Contamination and damages to structures or containers by poor storage and/or rodents and insect activities. Indirect contamination also can be from those from which result from dry and wet grain heating, moisture migration, bacteria, fungi, aflatoxins, and parasites of humans.

Stored Product Pest can already be in your food when you purchase it. I know this is scary, but many of the flour and grains have eggs in them and can hatch at any time depending on moisture and temperature.

Storage Practices:  Knowing the potential risk of these facts, you want to think about How and Where you are going to store your dry food products can greatly improve the chance that when you need it, it will be in a usable state.  I can’t imagine the heartache of opening your food supply when you really need it to only find a web filled, powdery mess, full of bugs.  So, for starters you want to choose a “pest Proof” container such as insect proof containers, such as glass or plastic jars. Pint-size freezer bags that are moisture and vapor proof work pretty well, but my first choice is a vacuum sealed bag, such as a Seal -a- Meal ®.  This offers many advantages such as

  • Air Tight
  • Extend the life of the food
  • Clear
  • Takes up less space
  • Adjustable size
  • Water proof
  • Contents can be boiled for cooking
  • Easy inspection for food pest inspection
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It’s always best to keep each item separate form others so if a product does hatch you will not contaminate your entire supply.  This is where you need to have a regular inspection of all storage.  Placing everything into a sealed drum isn’t your best option here.  Out of sight, is out of mind and you will not likely be happy when you do open it.  Pest won’t hatch out if you are able to keep in the refrigerator or better yet in a freezer.  I know not everyone has room, but having a spare freezer or refrigerator in the garage is a good investment. 

External threats are also a concern with long term storage.  Rodents are probably going to be your biggest concern because they can chew through just about every container material there is.  Metal drums that have a removable ring on the top is a good start.  Access is a key issue so choose a place that will be secure and available when you need it.  Monitoring your products on a regular basis is going to be key in the quality of your survival food.  There is Stored Product Pest pheromone traps available from the Internet that can be used to “sample” the storage area that you choose to keep your food in.  Also, if you choose your garage, be sure that your total storage isn’t going to cause an access issue if you have a major earthquake, you don’t want your food to be buried under Aunt Edna’s collection of glass wear.

If you have a specific issue or concern, please don’t hesitate to ask, I am here to answer your questions

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Tags: Food Safety, pest control food safety, survival food storage

Termite Control in Los Angeles, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 02:41 PM

No Termites

Tips For Reducing Termites

Most pest control companies deal mostly with the result of pest problems, and not so much with the cause.  Well, with over 5 Billion dollars in control and repair expenses each year for termite infested homes it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. 

Termites can potentially damage every home standing because they are like food pods to a termite.  It doesn’t have to be this way, nor does the cost have to be so high if we just took some preventative steps to take the bite out of termites from turning your home into their next main course.

Termites require food, shelter and water just as you and I do to survive.  Managing our homes and the property they sit on can greatly reduce your contributions to the multi-billion dollar pit of repair money each year.  As an Entomologist, it’s a key factor in control of all pests to understand the biology and habits of insects in order to control them, with or without pesticides. 

We are an Organic minded company always looking to use the least toxic material when it is required for a treatment strategy.  Taking an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach when dealing with pests that invade our homes and businesses, it makes good sense to focus on prevention rather than wait until it requires treatment.

Below are some of the reasons and causes that make it possible for termites to feast on your home, and the things you can do to help reduce that risk. Knowing these in advance can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Plumbing Leak

Water is an essential resource for most living things, especially termites.  Keeping a close eye for leaks on exterior water sources like hoses and faucets, will assist in identifying potential problems before they become one.

 Timers for sprinklers are another source of excessive moisture since most are a “set it and forget it” device. Like clocks and daylight savings, they need to be adjusted yearly. Heavy brush and mulch retain more water than some of the other areas of a yard.  It’s a good idea to keep all mulch away from the foundation of your home.

Faulty grade can lead to water finding its way under the home, creating over saturation that has no place to go. 

Gutter

 Damaged and missing gutters along roof line can be a serious source of excessive moisture and dry rot, especially when the gutters are full of organic debris like leaves, pine needles and other plant growth.  Cleaning these gutters each year will help reduce issues that will attract termites

Firewood

Storage of firewood typically is too close to the house as a rule since no one wants to walk out to the back-40 in the rain and cold to get wet firewood, so it sits under an eve against the house or worse yet in the garage.  Placing wood on the ground is bad practice since “earth to wood” allows easy access for termites to get a free trip indoors.

Form boards from cement work are usually left behind after construction, or worse yet tossed under you house where it stays out of sight.  Termites don’t need much of reason to search out more wood once the scraps are gone. Termites don’t rest or sleep and don’t belong to a local Union so they are committed to eating your home 24/7. 

Buck Stops Here

If you take the time to evaluate your home and the conditions that are conducive to termite infestations, you could save yourself thousands of dollars in repairs. 

If you haven’t had a termite inspection in the last 12 months, do yourself a favor and have your home inspected by a professional termite inspector, in most cases we offer a FREE inspection.  Typical inspection takes about 2 hours, depending on the type of home you have.  If you have any questions about termites or any other pest challenge, we are always here to help.

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Tags: Termite prevention, homeowner tips for termites