GreenleafOrganicPest.com Blog

Africanized Bees: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Aug 06, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

An Africanized honeybee on a flower

Africanized killer honeybees are slowly moving further into the United States, including the Los Angeles area. A hybrid of European honeybees and a species of African bees, this aggressive pest will quickly populate your backyard, and if threatened, they will go after your family and pets.

If you or your neighbors start to notice Africanized bees in their yards, educate yourself about these bees to protect your family. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Africanized bees.

Why Were Africanized Honeybees Created?

The story of the killer bee began in Brazil in the 1950s. Scientists combined the genetics of a docile European honeybee with a more aggressive African bee. The goal was to create a hybrid that would produce more honey than the European honeybee without being overly aggressive. Unfortunately, the final product was a new species that did not produce more honey and was highly defensive of their colony.

Thousands of bees escaped the lab and spread throughout South America. They eventually moved through Mexico and now reside in several parts of the southern United States, including California.

What Do Africanized Honeybees Look Like?

Africanized bees look very similar to a typical honeybee. They are yellow with darker bands of color, are oval in shape, and have six legs, wings, and two antennae. The only difference is that Africanized bees are slightly smaller. The behavior of the bees and the location of the bees' nest are great ways to tell if you have European bees or Africanized bees.

European honeybees will look for pollen in larger groups and during the middle of the day, especially when the weather is sunny. Africanized honeybees will often collect pollen on their own or in smaller groups and will head out during the morning and evening.

European honeybees will build nests in more secluded, aboveground areas, such as the hollow of the tree or inside of a damaged wall. Africanized honeybees will often build nests underground or in the open from a tree trunk.

Why Are Africanized Honeybees Dangerous?

A single Africanized bee is not deadly. The insect's venom is the same as the African bee, and if you are stung by a single killer bee, the sting will be painful, but you will not suffer any serious complications. What makes Africanized bees so dangerous is their aggressive nature and that they will continuously attack if they feel threatened.

When a single Africanized bee stings an individual, it will release a scent that will signal the other bees in the swarm to attack. Once the Africanized bee colony is agitated, they will remain on alert and ready to attack anyone who threatens the hive for a full 24 hours after the initial incident. This species is also adapted to live on very little food for long periods.

If the food becomes too scarce, the colony will leave the nest and take over a new backyard or area that has more sustenance.

What Should I Do If I Encounter Africanized Honeybees?

Encountering a swarm of Africanized bees is scary, and knowing what to do can help protect you and your family from being stung dozens, or even hundreds, of times. Here are the steps you should immediately take if a swarm of killer bees confronts you:

  • Seek shelter: Rush into your home, car, or any enclosed space. The bees will follow you for up to 1/4 of a mile, so running is not a viable option.
  • Never swat or crush the bees: Swatting or killing the bees will only make the swarm more aggressive. When you stomp or crush the bee, it will emit an odor that will single more bees to swarm.
  • Forget jumping in water: Africanized bees will not leave if you jump into a lake or pool. Instead, they will wait for you to jump out and will continue to attack any exposed areas.

If you are stung several times, watch for the signs of a severe reaction to the venom. They include nausea, swelling, rashes, trouble breathing, lethargy, a burning sensation, or fainting. If you experience any of these symptoms, or if you are allergic to other types of bee stings, call 911 immediately.

Can I Get Rid of Africanized Honeybees on My Own?

The professionals should be the ones to eradicate a hive of Africanized bees. The bees will sense any disturbances around their hive and will not hesitate to strike. A professional will have the tools and skills necessary to effectively remove the hive and Africanized bees from your backyard.

Africanized killer bees are a dangerous pest that can terrorize a backyard and put your family and pets in danger. If you suspect you have an Africanized honeybee infestation on your property, or if you have any questions, contact the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

Tips for Keeping Nuisance Birds out of Your Backyard Garden

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 01:15 PM

Woman working in gardenIf you're an avid gardener, chances are you spend hours each week planting, watering, weeding, and making sure your crops or flowers are well cared for. Unfortunately, nuisance birds will also try to reap the benefits of all that hard work. In addition to destroying your garden, the feces of nuisance birds can harbor several diseases that dangerous for your family and pets, including histoplasmosis, salmonella, and E. Coli. 

Don't allow birds to take over your backyard garden. Instead, follow these simple tips to keep them out.

Provide the Birds with an Alternate Food Source

The idea of providing nuisance birds with food might seem counterintuitive because the readily-available treats might attract unwanted birds to your yard. Unfortunately, if you're planning to begin a garden or have had one for years, the aroma will also draw birds to your backyard. Planting flowers, vines, or trees to sacrifice to the birds or filling feeders with birdseed will help prevent nuisance birds from dining on your garden.

Plant the foliage in an area that is far away from your garden and easily accessible to the birds. Keep any pets away from this area to avoid deterring birds.

Several types of foliage are native to California and will attract birds, including:

  • Sunflowers
  • Milkweed
  • Elderberry
  • Buttonbush
  • Dogwood trees

In addition to planting these and other types of foliage to attract birds to a separate area of your yard, placing bird feeders will also help keep birds out of your garden. Make sure the feeders are well-stocked. If you want to avoid having squirrels invade the feeders, avoid placing them near your trees and invest in a squirrel-proof feeder or a squirrel baffle, which affixes to the top of the feeder.

Invest in Bird Netting

No matter the size of your garden, bird netting is an effective way to keep birds at bay. You can find several different types of netting, and the one you choose will depend on your budget and how much garden you need to cover.

Here are a few of the different bird netting options to consider:

  • Polypropylene netting. Made from a durable type of plastic, this type of netting won't conduct electricity and, depending on the size, will keep out several different types of nuisance birds, including pigeons, sparrows, and starlings.
  • Lightweight plastic netting. This netting is more cost-effective and can be used to protect your garden from a variety of birds as well.
  • Knotted netting. This netting features knots at the mesh intersections, which makes it very strong and an ideal choice if the birds are able to get through knotless netting.
  • Knotless netting. A better option if your budget is tight, this type of netting will keep out several species of smaller birds.

Bird netting is available in a variety of colors, sizes, and with different mesh sizes. You can also purchase nets that are tossed over bushes, raised off the ground above the garden, or that protect the garden from all sides.

Scare the Birds Away

Another common strategy that is often effective at keeping birds out of the garden is to scare them away. You have several options, depending on your needs, budget, and the size of your garden, including:

  • Scarecrow. A classic option, this scaring device can be purchased or built with items found in your garage. Place the scarecrow in an area where it’s easily visible to the birds.
  • Reflective items. From aluminum foil strips to specialty tape, when the light reflects off these items, it can confuse and frighten away the birds.
  • Scare decoys. Plastic owls, hawks, coyotes, and brightly-colored balloons with large eyes — several varieties of decoys are available. Place these throughout your garden.
  • Motion-activated devices. When a bird flies by the garden, the device will spray water or emit a loud noise that will startle the birds away. If the birds are attacking your garden at night, you can also use a device that features a light.

These scare tactics can be used on their own or in combination throughout your garden, no matter the size.

Seek the Help of Professionals

If you've tried everything or if the bird problem is out of control and you cannot handle it on your own, it's time to call a professional. A pest control agent can help you determine the best options to eliminate birds from your property. After a comprehensive examination of your garden and property, they will provide you with a game plan that will help you eliminate the birds without harming the vegetation, your family, and pets.

From scare decoys and bird netting to the help of a professional pest control agency, you have a variety of strategies to try to keep nuisance birds out of your backyard garden. If you have any further questions, contact the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

 

Termites | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, May 30, 2018 @ 01:14 PM

Termites-that-could-have-been-prevented-but-are-now-a-problem

Termites: Signs of a Problem & Methods of Prevention

Termites are insects that eat wood and plant matter. For homeowners, termites can be a source of anxiety. Left unchecked, a termite problem can do serious damage to a home, garage or shed.

However, not all homeowners know how to tell when they have a termite problem or how to prevent one. Knowing what termites look like, what the warning signs are, and how to keep termites out of your home can help you take care of your property and avoid costly damage. 

How Can You Tell If You Have Termites?

There are many different ways to tell when you have termites. Visual sightings, damaged wood, and mud tunnels can all point to termites. 

Visual Sighting

Termites look a little bit like ants with wings, and sometimes one can be mistaken for the other. The best way to tell the difference is by checking the length of the wings. Termites have two sets of wings, both of equal length. Ants have longer front wings and shorter hind wings. Adult termites are dark brown or blackish-brown and about 3/8 of an inch in length. 

Termites are usually not seen unless they swarm. When this happens, they will emerge in the thousands from the colony, often filling a room and moving toward a light source. Termites only swarm in the early spring when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Usually, swarms are seen after a heavy rain. 

Damaged or Hollow Wood

Termites eat wood from the inside out, so you may encounter a piece of timber or even a floorboard that has been completely hollowed out.

Sometimes with floor boards, termites eat the wood until they come to the heavily lacquered surface, and then they stop. This habit leaves the wood paper thin but still visually intact. When you touch the piece of floorboard, you’ll realize the wood is not solid inside. Or you may knock on a piece of lumber and hear a hollow sound. 

Often, homeowners discover this damaged wood after or during a construction project. For example, some homeowners won't discover termite damage until they tear back a layer of carpet and discover partially or completely ruined hardwood floorboards underneath. Other times, homeowners will find damaged wood in a crawl space or in the attic. 

Mud Tunnels

Termites build mud tunnels for the same reason that people build subway tunnels: for transportation. Mud tunnels are pencil-thin tunnels made from a combination of wood and soil. Mud tunnels can be built out of a colony to the ground or in exploration. Often, mud tunnels are found in the basement or outside the home, along the foundation. 

Many homeowners who see mud tunnels do not recognize them for what they are. These fragile tunnels can be easily damaged or destroyed. However, in protected areas (like the dark corner of a basement) mud tunnels can last for a long time after termites have been exterminated. Homeowners who find mud tunnels should not panic but instead should contact a reputable pest control company for an inspection. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Termites?

Termite prevention is not foolproof. Although you can do some things to make your home less attractive to termites, no fail-safe way exists to keep termites away. Some simple suggestions include:

  • Keep wood piles away from the house.
  • Encourage good drainage around the house.
  • Inspect the property periodically for termite damage.
  • Fix leaks as soon as they develop.
  • Make repairs to the roof as soon as damage has been discovered.
  • Caulk or seal holes and cracks in the foundation as they are noticed. 

The best way to prevent termites is to contact a reputable pest control company and have your home inspected on a regular basis for a termite infestation. This preventative measure is especially important if other homes in the neighborhood have recently been treated for termites since termite swarms will stay in the general area when looking for a new place to make a colony. 

Once a home has been treated for a termite infestation, the termiticide will continue to work for years after the initial treatment. Your pest control person will tell you how long the termiticide should work. A good pest control company will also warranty their work. Find out what the terms of the warranty so you can call back your pest control company if needed.

Who Can You Talk to for More Information?

Termites can be a big pest. Homeowners who are proactive in their search for information about termites can protect their home and avoid the worst of the damage. 

If you're a homeowner who is concerned about termites, or if you have questions about how to identify and prevent termites, contact us at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.We'll be happy to answer your questions and give you more information. 

A Gardener's Guide to Aphids | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:11 AM

Blog

A Gardener's Guide to Aphids

For many homeowners, gardening is more than a hobby or a way to increase the aesthetic appeal of their property. It is a therapeutic release and a way to escape from the rigors of everyday life. Both diehard gardeners and those who only keep a few potted plants in the backyard have an enemy in common: aphids.

Aphids are small insects that can have a huge impact on the health and appearance of your garden. Here is some valuable information about aphids, including how to get rid of these pests.

What Are Aphids?

Although they are small, aphids can cause some serious damage to your garden and landscape. An adult aphid is typically one-eighth of an inch in length. Many gardeners believe that aphids are either green or white. Aphids can actually be several different colors, including black, orange, yellow, and gray. There are wingless and winged adult aphids, as well.

Most adult aphids do not have wings. However, if you have an abundance of aphids in your garden or landscape, some of them will grow wings to find a new food source.

Aphids also have antennae and a large, sucking facial appendage they use to remove the nutrients from plants.

What Are the Signs of an Aphid Infestation?

In addition to spotting these tiny insects on your indoor and outdoor plants, there are other signs of an aphid infestation, including:

  • The leaves of the plants will begin to wilt and turn yellow or brown. Eventually, they will fall off. This occurs because the aphids drink the nutrients that the plants need to thrive.
  • A sticky substance called honeydew will cover the leaves and stalks of the plant. This substance is secreted by aphids when they land on plants.
  • Other insects, particularly ants, will be attracted to your garden because of the high sugar content of the honeydew secreted by the aphids. If you notice an abundance of ants in your garden, the issue might be an aphid infestation.

The sweet honeydew also creates the ideal environment for the proliferation of sooty mold fungus. The fungus is black and when it spreads, and it will make it difficult for plants to soak up nutrients from the sun.

Aphids are not only an annoyance, they are also very dangerous for your plants.

What Impact Can Aphids Have on Vegetable Gardens?

If you have a vegetable garden in your backyard, it is just as vulnerable to aphid attacks as your plants and flowers. In addition to the damage caused by the secretion of honeydew and the loss of nutrients, aphids also carry a variety of lethal plant viruses that can destroy your vegetable garden.

For example, aphids will carry a virus called sweet potato feathery mottle virus, which affects sweet potatoes. Squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and watermelon are susceptible to the papaya ringspot virus, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, and the watermelon mosaic virus.

Even if there isn't a widespread aphid infestation in your garden, your vegetables may still not be safe from these viruses. It only takes a handful of aphids and a few minutes to spread any of the above-mentioned viruses, which can destroy your backyard garden very quickly.

How Can You Keep Aphids Out of Your Garden?

The most effective way to prevent aphids from destroying your flowers, indoor plants, and vegetable garden is to keep them off your property. One of the simplest ways to prevent aphids from entering your garden is to introduce a natural predator: the ladybug. Ladybugs will consume aphids, and you can either introduce them into your garden or plant flowers and other foliage that attracts ladybugs.

Ladybugs are attracted to several types of plants, herbs, and vegetables, including parsley, calendula, common yarrow, butterfly weed, and bachelor button.

If you're planning to plant a new garden or introduce potted plants into your home, make sure that the chosen area or the plants inside your home aren't already harboring an aphid infestation. If so, you will need to get rid of the existing aphids before you introduce any new plants or vegetables.

How Can You Get Rid of an Aphid Infestation?

The method you use to get rid of the aphids in your garden or indoor plants is dependent upon the degree of the infestation. If the infestation is localized, such as in a single indoor plant or a small patch of garden, you may be able to get rid of the aphids and their eggs with your garden hose or an insecticidal soap.

However, if the infestation is widespread or you aren't able to control the smaller infestation on your own, contacting a professional is the best option. A professional can help you get rid of the aphids in your garden and provide you with the tools and knowledge to ensure that aphids don't return.

Aphids are a common problem that can be eliminated with the help of a professional. If you have any further questions, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

Tags: garden

Cockroach Myths and Misconceptions | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Mar 07, 2018 @ 07:53 AM

Roaches.jpg

Cockroaches: Common Myths and Misconceptions

If you're like most homeowners, the word cockroach sends shivers down your spine. There are approximately 4,500 different species of cockroaches across the globe, and about 30 of those will wreak havoc in homes. However, before you believe everything you've read or been told about cockroaches and cockroach infestations, it's important to know that a lot of this information isn't accurate.

Here are a few of the most common myths and misconceptions associated with cockroaches.

Cockroaches Are Only Found in Filthy Houses

If your home is immaculate, you might think that you're immune from a cockroach infestation. Unfortunately, even people with a clean home can harbor cockroaches. These insidious insects are searching for three things that are found in every home: food, water, and shelter.

Keeping your home cockroach-free, however, is possible. Here are a few tips to help your home less attractive to cockroaches:

  • Store your food in airtight containers, including your pet food
  • Never leave food sitting out. Leftovers should be tossed or stored immediately.
  • Take out your garbage each night
  • Eliminate any standing water inside or around your home

Eliminate as many entrances to your home as possible. Repair any damage to your foundation and siding. Run a bead of caulk around any cracks or gaps in your windows. Cockroaches can invade your home in winter, so practice these exclusion techniques year-round.

Cockroaches Are Gross, but They Can't Make Me Sick

Cockroaches make your skin crawl, but you might think they are merely a disgusting nuisance that won't make your family sick. Unfortunately, cockroaches carry a variety of life-threatening illness, including salmonella, cholera, dysentery, leprosy, and the plague. When the cockroaches eat your food, it can spread these illnesses through their saliva and feces.

The fecal matter of a cockroach can also cause an allergic reaction in adults and children. If anyone is suffering from asthma in your household, the cockroach feces can make the condition even worse.

Small Cockroaches Aren't Dangerous

Cockroaches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You may be frightened of huge cockroaches invading your home because these varieties are dangerous. There are four different varieties of cockroaches that most Americans will encounter: American cockroach, oriental cockroach, German cockroach, and brown-banded cockroach.

The American cockroach can reach lengths of three inches. However, the other three varieties will only reach lengths of less than one inch. Understanding the type of cockroach that is in your home will help an exterminator determine the best way to eliminate the infestation.

For example, German cockroaches are very common in warmer climates.  German Cockroaches, are brought in rather than come from the outside. Grocery stores, restaurants, schools and many other places are the most common way they find their way into our homes.  Always inspect bulk items, like cases of soda’s, potatoes, onions and many other items.

The adult is light brown and is typically around one-half inch in length. This variety has wings, although it cannot fly, and harbors a variety of bacteria that can make your family sick.

Cockroaches Can Live for Years Without Their Head

Another bizarre myth associated with cockroaches is the idea that this insect can live for months or years without its head. In reality, a cockroach cannot survive for years without a head, but it can live for around a week after being decapitated. This is possible because a cockroach has an open circulatory system.

A cockroach can breathe through small holes on the body, meaning it can still function without a mouth to breathe. The cockroach will eventually die because it still needs a mouth to eat and drink.

Stepping on a Female Cockroach Will Release Its Eggs

Many homeowners are reluctant to kill a cockroach inside their home by stepping on it because they believe that if it's a female, stepping on it will release all the eggs and you will start a full-scale infestation. This is another myth for many reasons. A female cockroach lay their eggs inside a shell called an ootheca. Some species of female cockroaches lay the eggs inside the ootheca and then release the sac.

Other varieties do keep their egg-filled ootheca on their body until the eggs hatch. However, if you were to step on this type of cockroach, you would not open the ootheca, and instead, you would kill the mother cockroach and all the eggs. So stomp away!

Cockroach Infestations Are Easy to Handle

One of the most common and pervasive myths associated with cockroaches is that if you only see a couple in your home it will be easy to handle the problem on your own. Unfortunately, if you've notice a single cockroach scurrying across your floor, chances are there are several more hiding out throughout your home.

If you notice a cockroach, do not try to handle the infestation yourself and instead, contact a professional. An exterminator will have the tools and experience necessary to determine how cockroaches are entering your home, and how to put an end to the infestation.

Cockroaches are an issue across the United States. If you have any further questions, or need an exterminator to fight a cockroach infestation your home, contact the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

Tags: cockroaches

Millipedes and Centipedes | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Feb 02, 2018 @ 08:17 AM

Scary Bug thing.jpg

A Few Facts About Millipedes, Centipedes, and IPM

Insects with six legs are creepy enough. Insects whose names advertise that they have a thousand (millipede) or even one hundred (centipede) legs are downright daunting. What do you do if these weird creatures show up in your house? First, don't panic, because most centipedes and millipedes mean you no harm.

Understand that you can use natural methods to prevent and limit millipede and centipede invasions. Practice integrated pest management (IPM) to control all sorts of pests in and around your home. Here are some facts to help you manage millipedes and centipedes.

Differences Between Millipedes and Centipedes

Centipedes and millipedes are beneficial arthropods. They're some of the oldest land animals known to scientists. Both are types of arthropods that have evolved as efficient members of the ecosystem.

Millipedes

Millipedes are the sleeker arthropods of the two types. Millipedes are from the Diplopoda class of arthropods. Each one of their body segments contains two to four pairs of legs. Millipedes move in an undulating fashion similar to caterpillars. They roll up into a tight ball when disturbed.

Millipedes accidentally stumble into your home and don't actually harm anything. Some millipedes excrete a substance that can cause discomfort to skin, but this is a rare occurrence.

Other identifying features of millipedes are:

  • Slow moving
  • Nonbiting
  • No rear-facing hind legs

There are over 12,000 species of millipedes in the world. The most common types of millipedes found in California are the greenhouse millipede, the bulb millipede, and the common millipede. Millipedes can be steel-gray to brownish in color, and some have bi-colored body segments.

Millipedes are attracted to damp soil, rotting wood, and fecal matter. These small creatures help break down soil and turn it back into fertile growing media. In some areas, millipedes also eat insects they find in the soil.

Centipedes

Centipedes are arthropods from the Chilopoda class. They're efficient hunters and help get rid of problem pests including roaches, bedbugs, termites, and flies. In fact, if you see a large invasion of centipedes, it could be a sign of another pest problem in your home.

Centipedes come out at night after hiding in cracks and crevices of closets, cabinets, and baseboards. The common house centipede is a frequent invader of California homes. It has gray markings and really long legs.

When a long-legged centipede dashes across a wall or floor with no warning, the pest's movement can make a person jump. Silverfish have a similar darting movement, but centipedes are often much longer creatures.

Here are some other features of centipedes:

  • They are fast moving
  • They will bite if provoked
  • They don't curl up when touched
  • They have backward-facing rear legs

There are around 8,000 species of centipedes in the world. These hardy arthropods even live inside the Arctic Circle. You may encounter a dozen or so varieties of centipedes in California.

Centipedes can have long or short legs and come in a variety of colors. Tiger centipedes are yellow and black as their name suggests. They are one of the venomous centipedes found in California desert areas, but they rarely enter homes in the region.

Things That Tempt Millipedes and Centipedes

Millipedes want piles of leaves and rotting organic matter to roll around in, and they're happy to explore under the mulch around your home's landscaping. All it takes is a crack in the home's foundation, and a curious millipede is wandering around in your basement.

Millipedes are also attracted to wet areas in crawlspaces, sheds, and garages. If leaf litter and dirt are mixed in with the moisture, millipedes want to be there.

Centipedes love to munch on termites. If your home is suffering a termite invasion, the centipede will show up for a ready food source. Termites and centipedes both love the same damp crawlspace and basement environments, so they coexist well under leaky pipes and damp joists. The centipede finds juicy bugs, settles down, calls your place home, and starts feasting.

Integrated Pest Management for Centipedes and Millipedes

When you practice whole-house IPM, you learn to spot the ways your home is tempting pests. You learn to remove those temptations so you don't attract pests. For effective centipede and millipede IPM, focus on the following tasks:

  • Clean up debris around foundation
  • Seal cracks in basement or foundation
  • Address moisture issues in crawl space or basement
  • Reduce mulch in landscaping and garden
  • Use fans and dehumidifiers in bathrooms and humid spaces

If you see a lot of centipedes, have your pest-control professional inspect your home for the insects the centipedes are hunting. When you get rid of the roaches, termites, or flies that are the food sources for centipedes, the centipedes move on to more productive hunting spots.

It's not advisable to use strong chemical insecticides to eliminate centipedes and millipedes. Most can be caught in a container and set free outside. If you prefer not to rehome these multilegged creatures, that's understandable. Your pest control company will help you eliminate the centipede or millipede infestation and help you practice IPM for all types of home invaders.

Contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc., today to learn more about the pests around your home. We handle indoor and outdoor pests for homeowners in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The Facts About Snails | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Dec 27, 2017 @ 08:56 AM

snail.jpg

Snails: Get the Facts About These Garden Pests

If your once-thriving vegetable garden suddenly appears chewed up or damaged, blame it on the brown garden snail. The brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum) possesses a voracious appetite. Once the pest finds a sustainable food source, it consumes everything in its path.

Sometime during the 1850s, the garden snail entered California as a European delicacy. But over the years, the brown snail has become more than just a fancy appetizer. The pest is now the bane of existence for numerous nurseries, farming communities, and even residential areas in the state.

To protect your vegetables and other plants from destruction, learn as much as you can about the mysterious brown garden snail.

Where Do Brown Garden Snails Hail From?

California is home to over 200 different species of snails and slugs. About 22 of the snails in the state, including the brown garden snail, come from Europe and other places outside of the U.S. Although mature snails hibernate during the cold season and emerge once spring arrives, young brown garden snails can remain active all year long.

Cornu aspersum is a unique land mollusk that belongs to the gastropoda class. Gastropods generally rely on a single organ called a foot to move about. Special glands inside the foot secrete or release a slimy substance called mucus. This substance makes it easier for the snail to glide across different surfaces. 

Like many other gastropods, the brown garden snail has two long eyestalks on the top of its head. This strange setup allows the snail to see or detect danger in many different directions. The brown snail's shell is also unique in color. Some shells have a gold base with irregular dark markings, while other shells may appear dark brown with gold markings running through them.

What Do Brown Garden Snails Eat?

Brown garden snails usually travel to areas with plenty of moisture and food, such as residential vegetable gardens. Garden snails use the moisture in your soil to hydrate their soft bodies, as well as your vegetables to survive the seasons.

The snails can consume a variety of natural food sources, including:

  • Carrots
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Cucumbers
  • Ornamental plants
  • Tomatoes and their leaves
  • Roots

The pests may also consume weeds and decaying animals. If you use organic soil to sustain your garden, you may be inadvertently helping the garden snail thrive in it. The damage created by garden snails can be considerable. The pests usually create irregularly-shaped holes in the things they attack. Your plants may eventually wither away and perish. 

You can keep your garden safe and prevent the serious problems above by managing and controlling the snails in it.

How Can You Control Brown Garden Snails?

Management and control are the best ways to keep your garden free of brown snails. If you use pesticides, the chemicals may potentially harm your vegetables and make them unsafe to eat. If you remove the garden, you lose a sustainable food source for your family. You want to avoid these issues as much as possible.

It's a good idea for you contact a pest control contractor to assist you with the snails in your garden with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services. IPM uses a variety of methods to control or manage outdoor pests, including organic treatments. Organic treatments are low in toxins and make the least impact on the environment.

Placing baits in your garden to reduce the snail population over time may be an option. Baits may contain ingredients that kill young garden snails before they have a chance to breed. A pest control provider can discuss how the baits work and what they contain when you contact them.

In addition, a pest control company may offer other solutions you can use to keep your vegetables safe, including showing you how to clean up your garden. Snails can hide in weeds and excessive growth. By cleaning up your garden, you allow birds, lizards, and other natural predators of the pests to spot them easily.

A contractor may also suggest placing makeshift shelters around your garden. Snails usually feed at night and take cover during the day. Once the pests complete their nightly rounds in your garden, they may take refuge under or inside the makeshift shelters in the morning, making it easier for you to physically remove the pests.

With the combination of management tools above, you can keep snails from infesting your garden. Pest control will generally inspect and monitor your garden throughout the year as a precaution. New snails can travel to your garden if they find the conditions favorable.

You don't have to lose your vegetables to brown garden snails when you can do something about it. Contact us at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc. for a detailed inspection of your garden and more ideas on how to eliminate the snails in it.

Surprising Ant Facts | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

ants-1.jpg

4 Surprising Facts About Ants

Ants are relatively tiny insects compared to some of the other types of pests that may infest your house. It may be somewhat surprising that such small pests can cause such big problems and can be so difficult to get rid of.

However, ants are hardy and resistant to do-it-yourself attempts to get rid of them for a reason. Take a look at some surprising facts about ants that may explain why they're such a resilient pest.

Ants Have Been Around for Longer Than You Think

When researchers used DNA sequencing to trace the ant family tree, they found something surprising: ants are much older than previously thought. The insect originated between 140 and 168 million years ago, although they only began to diversify about 100 million years ago.

This means that back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, ants were there as well. However, the extinction-level event that wiped out dinosaurs, as well as many other animal species, failed to get rid of the ants.

If ants could survive when dinosaurs couldn't, you should not be surprised that they can resist your attempts to root them out of your home.

Ant Colonies Can Act as One When Threatened

Most people know that ants live in colonies and work together, but the extent of the cooperation shown by ants when they're threatened may surprise you.

When an ant colony is threatened, the ants can form what is referred to as a superorganism where the ants all act as one organism to protect the colony.

Scientists compare it to the way you might yank your hand off of a hot stove if you touched it accidentally. The nerves in your hand would relay the painful sensation to your brain, and your body would respond accordingly, moving away from the source of the pain. A group of ants can display this same coordinated response as if it were one body instead of many.

The colony doesn't necessarily have to be reacting to a human or animal predator threatening the colony for it to act as a single super-ant. In flooding that happens in the wake of a natural disaster, floating rafts of ants have been observed in the flood waters.

The ants, sensing that their colony is about to be destroyed will link themselves together using hooks on their legs until they form a large ball that's capable of floating. The worker ants will be on the outside, and the queen and any eggs or larvae will be in the middle, protected from the waters.

As you might imagine, running into one of these floating mounds of ants is bad news. If you're ever in a flood, try to steer clear of floating ant rafts. This just goes to show you how far the colony will go to protect itself and its queen.

Ants Can Have More Than One Queen

You probably know that the queen ant is the head of the colony. She handles all of the reproductive duties. As long as she's around, the colony will probably survive. Kill some worker ants and she'll produce more, but if you kill the queen the colony will fold.

What you may not realize is that it's not always easy to kill the queen because there may be more than one queen. In new colonies, multiple queens allow for greater production of workers, which can help ensure that the colony survives.

When the worker ants are ready, they will kill off the extra queens until only one remains. Occasionally, they go too far and kill off all the queens, dooming the colony.

Don't count on worker ants to do the job for you if you have an ant infestation in your home or yard, however. If your new infestation has multiple queens, you may find that the ants are even harder to get rid of than anticipated.

Ants Leave a Trail

At first glance, ants don't seem like a particularly messy bug. On the contrary, they'll carry away crumbs and moisture that they find in your house, and may not seem to leave much behind.

However, if you have an infestation, you may notice multiple ants walking along in a perfectly straight line across your floor. They aren’t taught to walk in line like a classroom full of kindergarteners. They're following an invisible trail made of pheromones.

First, ant scouts go out to locate food sources. They lay down the initial pheromone trail. Then the worker ants simply follow the scent to find the food and carry it back to the queen.

You can temporarily confuse the ants by cleaning the scent of the trail away, but they'll just lay a new o. The better course of action is to observe the trails and let your pest control technician know where you've seen them. That way, your pest control specialist can lay traps or bait right along the trail for the ants to find.

Ants are interesting insects, but you don't want them in your home. If you have an ant infestation, contact a pest control company in your area for help getting rid of them.

3 California Cockroaches | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 @ 12:04 PM

Important Facts to Know About 3 Common California Cockroaches

It's no wonder cockroaches multiply and thrive in the most desperate conditions. The ubiquitous insects have been around for hundreds of millions of years in one form or another. Over the eons, they've developed into 3,500 separate species of bugs.

Over 50 types of cockroaches are active in the U.S., with six species of cockroaches being the most common species found in California. Below are some of the traits of the three main cockroach pests found in California along with some tips on preventing and managing infestations.

The three main types of insects discussed below are the Oriental cockroach, American cockroach and German cockroach. Should you wish to do more research on the various types of cockroaches found in the Southwest, the other three less common species are the Turkestan cockroach, brown-banded cockroach and smoky-brown cockroach.

Oriental Cockroaches

The Latin name for this insect is Blatta orientalis, while the common name is "water bug" in some locations. Oriental cockroaches adore wet, dark spots under drains and damp hoses. They can take up residence under a refrigerator or washing machine. The Oriental cockroach will freely travel in sewers, gaining access through loose connections, unsealed pipe openings and cracks in waste lines in order to enter your basement or home.

The Oriental cockroach is so dark brown, some individuals look black. The one-inch adults may have a sheen or a shiny coating. Females can fly a bit, while the males appear to have wings only for show. The nymphs and adults have a slightly cylindrical appearance that's almost a bullet shape when viewed from above.

Each female can carry and nurture around eight ready-to-deposit capsules that hold 16 eggs each. Eggs hold a total of 200 baby roaches per capsule and are ready for the female to drop in 30 hours. The capsules are not fastened in any way when dropped in their protected locations.

After around 60 days, the eggs hatch. Nymphs molt many times, and females can live up to 26 weeks. Oriental cockroach populations may peak during spring and summer and begin to decline as autumn approaches.

Aside from being unsightly, oriental cockroaches can carry diseases including dysentery and food poisoning. They also leave smelly secretions. Cockroach waste and dead skin are dangerous allergens for people with asthma and severe allergies.

American Cockroaches

The American cockroach can grow up to two inches in length. It is also known as Periplaneta americana. This cockroach adores basements and sewers and can be found in places where organic matter is decomposing. The American cockroach infests water-meter cases, hampers, bathtubs, drains and kennels. This insect is a common pest in industrial steam tunnels and landfills.

American cockroaches are a red-brown hue with a sometimes lighter head. The body shape is oval, and there are two long antennae that sweep along either side of the body for nearly its entire length. Juveniles appear more bullet-shaped.

Females form and drop capsules in one day that each hold up to 16 eggs. Eggs hatch in a month to 58 days. Since an adult female can produce up to 90 egg capsules, the average female American cockroach produces up to 800 nymphs.

The American cockroach can also fly. Adults can live a month without water and up to three months without food. American cockroaches will feed on documents, glue and other household materials besides food. They also contaminate food with disease-causing microorganisms and cause allergic reactions in children and adults.

German Cockroach

The nonflying German cockroach also goes by the name Blatella germanica. German cockroaches are the most common species in homes, schools and businesses. Unlike American and Oriental cockroaches that are drawn to rotting organic matter and moisture around your home, German cockroaches usually enter your home via items like a grocery sack or a thrift-store purse.

The German cockroach is around 1/2- to 3/4-inch long with a light brown body and wings. The adult and nymph cockroach have two vertical stripes behind the head running parallel from head to wings.

The success of this cockroach is due to its prolific breeding potential. A female can live up to 30 weeks and produce up to eight egg capsules in her lifetime. Each of those capsules contains 48 eggs that develop while the mother carries it. The capsules hatch in 28 days, with female nymphs grown and ready to breed 35 days after hatching.

German cockroaches lurk in damp, warm places under stoves and other appliances. They hide by day and scavenge by night on favorites like sugary and fatty foods. Because of their thin bodies and multiple legs, they run quickly and hide well.

German cockroaches carry diseases and spread odors in their secretions. As with many cockroaches, the excrement and shed skin of German cockroaches can cause asthma attacks, rashes and other allergic reactions.

Tips for Eliminating Cockroaches

Take a holistic approach to beating cockroaches. If you only treat the room where you see roaches, they'll simply move to another area of your home. Instead, call a professional pest management company to help you develop an integrated pest management strategy for combatting pests.

It's not necessary to use highly toxic chemicals or poisons to kill cockroaches. Call in the pros to treat your home with proven, effective, safer products. Call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management today to schedule a complete insect-pest survey and develop your individual pest-control strah22

Rodent Infestation and Health | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 @ 08:55 AM

6 Ways a Rodent Infestation Could Affect Your Health

 

Rat or mouse infestations can be annoying, inconvenient, and frustrating. However, some homeowners do not realize that this type of infestation can also be hazardous to their family's health.

While rodents virtually never carry bubonic plague in the modern age, an infestation in your home can have serious medical side effects. The most vulnerable members of your household are the young, elderly, and immunocompromised, but everyone can have negative consequences from proximity to rodents.

In this blog, we list six of the most common ways that a rodent infestation, especially a rat infestation, could affect the health of you and your family members.

1. Allergies

The presence of rodent pests in your home can exponentially increase the allergens in the air, just the way that bringing in a new furry pet might. Rats and mice leave behind fur, dander, and dry droppings that can spread just like dust particles do, namely through the HVAC system and on contaminated surfaces.

Initially these allergens may cause mild reactions similar to seasonal allergens. These symptoms could include irritated eyes, coughing, and congestion.

However, inhaling rodent fecal matter or urine can contribute to serious respiratory issues that may become permanent after long-term exposure. It can also potentially cause some of the other conditions on this list.

2. Hantavirus (HPS)

Hantavirus is contracted after breathing the waste particles of certain rats or by coming close to dead rodents that carry the virus. Individuals can also contract HPS after being bitten by an infected rodent. Hantavirus is generally carried by rice rats, cotton rats, white- footed mouse, and house mice.

HPS most commonly occurs in individuals with weakened or developing immune systems. Children have the highest risk of contraction.

The early stages of hantavirus are very similar to the flu so it is important to seek medical care if you've noticed the signs of a rat infestation and then developed flu-like symptoms. If left unaddressed, hantavirus sufferers could suffer respiratory arrest that can be fatal.

3. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis, also known as Weil's disease, is a bacterial infection that occurs due to contact with water that is contaminated with certain types of animal urine, including certain species of rat and mouse.

If rats nest close to or travel past a water supply line in your home, the risk of leptospirosis increases. This bacteria could also contaminate stored water. Like hantavirus, the early stages of leptospirosis are similar to the flu. An infected individual might experience chills, fever, headaches, and abdominal pain.

In extreme cases, leptospirosis can lead to renal failure, meningitis, and even death.

4. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV)

Unlike most rodent-carried diseases, lymphocytic choriomeningitis is primarily carried by mice rather than rats. LCMV can be contracted by breathing in excrement, nesting materials, saliva, or urine. It can also be contracted through open wound contact with these substances.

The risk of LCMV is one of the reasons that most mouse removals should be handled by a trained professional. The effects typically appear within one to two weeks of exposure and may include flu-like symptoms with the possibility of glandular pain, testicular pain, and chest pain. Complications of LCMV include serious neurological issues.

5. Rat-Bite Fever (RBF)

While many of the conditions transmitted by rodents occur without contact with the animal, others can happen after direct contact with a furry pest. Rat-bite fever can be contracted after touching a rat carcass or after being bitten or scratched by a rodent.

RBF can wait up to three months before manifesting, but when it does, the condition must be treated promptly or there is a risk of permanent damage. In addition to symptoms similar to hantavirus and leptospirosis, RBH creates swelling and rash on the hands, feet, and joint areas.

6. Salmonellosis

Like leptospirosis, salmonellosis is a bacterial disease. Salmonellosis results from exposure to salmonella bacteria, which occurs most often due to food contamination but can also develop after handling an infected rodent. The risk of infection is particularly high if you come into contact with infected fecal matter.

In most cases, salmonellosis exhibits with diarrhea and vomiting that, while uncomfortable, are not life threatening. However, the extent of these symptoms can cause dehydration and malnutrition that may require hospitalization.

Additionally, individuals who have had salmonellosis are at a higher risk of developing a specific form of arthritis afterward, known as reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis may turn into a chronic condition for some patients.

This list includes only the most common conditions that can result from an infestation. You should seek medical advisement for any new symptoms that appear after being in proximity to rodent pests.

Additionally, if any member of your family exhibits the symptoms of a rodent-related illness listed above, seek medical help and pest control measures as soon as possible.

The best way to protect your family from the conditions that rodents potentially spread is to safeguard your home against pests with the help of the experts at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.