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.


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.


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.



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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




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.


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.


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


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


tornado resized 600Survival Food resized 600

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.

Food Pest resized 600

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. 


 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


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

Pesticide Alternatives in Los Angeles, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:51 AM

Vine covered home resized 600


Winter time brings lots of special pest challenges based on the changing tempetures and the pest that increase activity. Rodents, ants and other common pest will look for easy access to your home. As an organic pest control company, I get asked a lot how to reduce pest around the home without pesticide? I’ve shared many tips in the past and have posted a homeowner guide on our website, but I would like to go into a couple areas that are typically overlooked.


We all love our gardens and landscape designs around our homes, but have you thought about how location, water, growth, fruit, and weed control barriers affect your pest control?  Sure you could “plant” cement all around your home and that would certainly reduce pest activity.  But who wants a concrete jungle around their home anyways.  So how can we have the best of both worlds without compromising our safety and risk damage to our home?   Knowing a little about pests can sure help when you are planning landscape design.

Access is a key element, especially rodents finding their way in to your home.  Trees can be one of the biggest points of access, especially when the trees are close to the home.  Rats can jump 4 feet vertically to a roofs edge and can drop many times that without being hurt, so keeping trees trimmed back and away from structures will certainly help with rats, squirrels, ants and other pest from having an easy access.  If you are thinking about planting any large trees around the house, remember to think down the road once these trees become established. The damage that a poorly placed tree can be not only a pest haven, but can cause catastrophic damage to roofs through adverse weather, pest (beetles) infestations that weaken the limbs and lift walkways, foundations and bust sewer lines, which all can be access and harborage points for all kinds of critters.  Keeping gutters clean will also help reduce “aerial nest” of pest.

Keep shrubs and bushes at least 2 feet from any wood windows, and siding. Plants need water and water doesn’t mix well with wood.   Automatic sprinkler systems are great but need constant monitoring.  Many watering plans water more non-growth areas than green and this is not just a waste of money and water, but it creates additional problems. Water constantly hitting stucco walls creates a warm, wet interior wall that can promote mold and pest harborage for many insects such as termites and carpenter ants.  Overwatering and off site application also creates puddles which promotes many unnecessary problems. This time of the year you should be reducing the frequency of your programmed sprinkler system.  Most homeowners don’t make the changes and this keeps the grounds saturated, so when rains come the property floods and pest “move” to a more suitable site, such as your pantry or bathrooms.  How many times have you seen sprinklers going off in the rain or on days that known rain is in the forecast?

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It’s a great idea to walk around your home monthly to look for and identify conditions that would be conducive to harborage and access.  You would want to check screens and door weather stripping for possible repair or replacement.   Remember, pests are opportunist and will find their way in your home through many access points.  If you have a concern, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Tags: landscape, rodents, Reduce pest, trees, pesticide

Nuisance Animal Control in North Hollywood, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 11:42 AM

Nuisance Animal 

Tips To Control Nusiance Animals

We all have heard that prevention is worth a pound of cure.  I am a firm believer in this when it comes to Nuisance Animals in and around your home.  Many factors have contributed to the increase of nuisance wildlife in our neighborhood communities.  More and more communities are moving out to traditional wildlife habitat areas and contact is becoming more prevalent.  As a professional in the pest control industry I have seen a huge increase in nuisance animal activity in valley communities, so much so that we had a need to open a Nuisance Animal Division in our pest control department to provide animal trapping.

I’d like to add some general information and techniques for property owners when wildlife becomes an issue.


  • Dug-up areas of your lawn. Skunks and raccoons “grub” tearing up sections of your lawn looking for grubs.
  • Vents torn open
  • Odor
  • Noises coming from above or below your home
  • Visual sightings
  • Change in behavior of your indoor pets (their hearing and smelling ability is far more sensitive)




  • Stop feeding wildlife!  They will lose their fear of humans and have lots of reason to set up house on or in your property.
  • Keep trash properly contained. Some trash containers are no match for these animals, so keep tight lids or latches on the lids.
  • Pets and pet food should be brought indoors and keep these areas clean.
  • Clear fallen fruit from around trees
  • Keep tree limbs and branches away from structures so these animals don’t have easy access to your roof.
  • Close all openings around the structure that would allow access to your subarea. Animals such as raccoons can pull off just about any vent cover if they so desire, so inspect your grounds regularly.
  • It is illegal to trap and relocate an animal to another area
  • Soak a rag in ammonia and place the rag in or on the trash can(s) or building(s) that are having problems. The smell will discourage future visits.
  • Moth balls placed inside of trash cans also help and achieve the same results. Moth balls will evaporate and will need to be replaced weekly.
  • Remove bird feeders from around your property.  This is a huge attraction to all rodents and animals.
  • Pass on this information to your neighbors. It’s likely that they also are having issues or at the very least, sightings.
  • Install chimney caps on your fireplace.

Nuisance animals have no problem invading houses and trashcans. They easily adapt to our environment and are nocturnal, meaning that most of their activity is at night. These animals are also seen during the day because food may be available and they may no longer have a fear of humans, especially if you haven’t stopped feeding them.  Some of these species, like skunks and raccoons will dig under your foundation and establish a den where they will nest and raise young.  Typically you will smell skunks, but may not detect raccoons. 


Rabies is a deadly disease that can be contracted by any mammal. It’s most common in bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks, and is passed along to others through nervous tissue saliva. Testing of the brain tissue or spinal fluid of the animal is necessary to confirm the presence of rabies if a person or pet has had contact with the animal.

  • Signs of an animal infected with rabies: MAY behave unusual aggressiveness or tameness.
  • Excessive drooling, “foaming at the mouth.”
  • Dragging the hind legs, mobility problems

If you hire someone to handle the problem for you, make sure they have the proper trapping licenses and NEVER handle or move any trap that may be placed out.

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Tags: Nuisance animals, grubs, raccoon prevention, animal trapping, Rabies

Pest Prevention Tips

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Dec 03, 2012 @ 12:27 PM

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The word Prevention is a powerful word when it comes to things that have the potential to harm us, our family and our food supply.  No I am not talking about natural disaster or civil unrest; I am talking about Pest Prevention.

 Many of the more serious issues with pest infestations can be avoided altogether if you know a little about the things you could do to help eliminate the threat or mitigate the damage after a pest issue is   discovered. 

Here are lists of things that can help prevent or eliminate pest infestations in your home.


Exclusion is the process of sealing openings that would allow pest to gain access to your home. This can be done not only for rodents of all size, but insects.  Typically any opening larger than ¼” would allow not only insects, but rats and mice.  Cracks around pipes and electrical boxes can be sealed with caulking as an example of a common material used in exclusion work.  Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors will keep pests from walking in and help keep dirt out as well.

Most living things need Food, Water and Warmth to survive. When we move around our home we typically focus on the inside and the outside.  But what about what is under our home and above it.  Subarea and attic are normally places we would rather not go in. The fact is these two voids can be a great place for pests, since it’s dark and quiet and humans aren’t in the way. 


Here in California many homes are built with a raised foundation.  Vents are installed all around the foundation which was designed to keep the subarea ventilated. The fact is this is a bad idea since it creates the very issue that builders were trying to avoid.  Moisture is an enemy to wood, but life sustaining to pest.  These areas are ideal for pests, but often the homeowner has never gone under their home, and who can blame them. Dirt filled crawl spaces are, well just nasty.  They are “bone yards” for plumbers, contractors and electricians.  Usually the “replaced” items that these trades remove such as old pipes, sinks, heaters etc. are just left under the house.  These items become harborage for many pests, much like a sunken ship in the ocean.  Making sure the screens are in good shape will keep out rodents such as rats, mice, cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks etc. You should check these once a month because these vents are used as access points for plumbers, cable service, phone lines and air conditioning contractors when they install their equipment.  I rarely see all the vents on a home totally secure for one reason or another.


Attics are another favorite place for all kinds of pests because they are normally warm and dark. Fiberglass insulation is a favorite among rats and animals. feces and urine can saturate attic insulation and create a foul smell in your living space. Attics many times have unique “built in” access because of roof gables, pitches and roof vents designed to keep water out, but not pests.  Tile roofs are also a challenge since older homes have no underlying sheeting and rodents can crawl right into the attic from the eve line. Roofers can resolve these issues.


There are many issues around homes that can be addressed that will greatly reduce the likelihood of pest issue with minor adjustments.  Firewood stored on the ground and against a structure is a bad idea. They become home to termites, beetles, rodents and carpenter ants. Firewood should be stored off the ground and as far away from the structure as possible so pests are away from the house. Wood should only be brought into the house when ready to burn.

Standing water is also a common problem around houses.  Wheel barrels, wagons, tires, pots, buckets, trash cans, ponds that no longer circulate water are great breeding sites for mosquitoes.  

Obviously there are good and bad choices in landscape design and types of plants you choose.  Many landscape projects start with some kind of weed barrier.  The two most common types are a thick plastic or a meshed fabric which can be covered with bark.   Plastic created a serious environment that harbors ants and other pests.  The plastic allows moisture to build underneath and at the same time won’t allow a pesticide or fertilizer to reach the soil should it need treatment.  The cloth type works very well as a barrier for weeds and it also allows moisture to pass both directions making it the product of choice and will last much longer than plastic sheeting. Keeping plants health discourages pests eating their leaves and reduces fungus and various plant diseases.

Trash cans are also another highly place for pests. Flies, rodents, nuisance animals and odors can be an issue if stored near the house.  Tight fitting lids are a must and these trash receptors should be washed out after before taken back to where they are stored.


If you love pets as I do, then you know they also can be a source for pests such as fleas and ticks.  Our pets may spend a lot of time outdoors which puts them at risk for bringing in fleas and ticks. It’s important to keep your pets health and well groomed.  Where, and how you feed your pet is also can be a key source for pests. You should have a designated time to feed your pets, this way you can pick up their food when their done so food isn’t just sitting left out.  Food should not be left out inside or outside longer than is absolutely necessary.  Many health concerns that relate to your pets can be from food that has sat too long, allowing flies and other harmful pathogens to be ingested that can make them very sick.   

Prevention is always the best way to deal with pest issues, but when they arise we’re here to help.

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Tags: pest prevention, pest exclusion, firewood storage practices

Pesticide Isn't Always the Solution: Pesticide Alternatives in Los Angeles, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 @ 11:08 AM

Pesticide options 

Pesticides Isn’t Always the Solution

I am often asked to take care of a wide variety of pests in and out of homes.  There are times when pesticide isn’t always the solution to resolve every pest issue. Not all pests require pesticide to control all pest infestation.  As an organic pest control company our focus is resolving issues with the least toxic material available, when a pesticide is needed and only after pesticide options has been evaluated, which is referred to as Integrated Pest Management or IPM.

Unfortunately there are pest control companies that will be happy to take your money without identifying a pest issue first (illegal).  Some companies will treat for pest that really doesn’t exist or require treatment. Some pests don’t need pesticide intervention at all, and can easily be resolved through mechanical or sanitation changes.  Education of the general public is our most effective tool sometimes, but because their previous experience has left them with conflict of information, some companies find it easier to go ahead and take the money, spray and run rather than take the time to educate.

 Many clients want us to treat for pest, just because.  This could be based on what they believe to be true, it may be because they always had it done by others, or they are under the impression if they are paying for service they can have whatever they think is best.   Some of this comes from other companies that don’t follow regulations, some of it is bad information found on the Internet.

I want to focus a little more on the pest issues that for the most part can be addressed without pesticide treatment.  It’s what every Pest Control Company should be doing for their client, the public and the environment. 

Don’t always require pesticide:

  • Food Pests
  • Cloths Moths
  • Fruit Flies
  • Lice
  • Scabies

Mystery Pest, or NoSeeUms, as we call it really do exist; well maybe only in the minds of those that think they have them.  If you want to know more about this “pest” give a click for FREE downloadable document I have put together.

First up is:

Food Pest


Stored food pest fall into two groups...   Those that have them and those that will.  Most believe there food got infested from bugs in the pantry, which is partly correct.  Most grains have the ability to hatch the eggs that are already in the product before it went to your grocery store.  How can that be you ask?  Well, many whole grains can become infested with primary and secondary feeders such as weevils that “drill” holes in the seed and deposit their eggs which can stay dormant for long periods of time and hatch once they have made the travels to your pantry cupboard, leaving you with a packet or box of cast insect skin laced with pulverized grain that no longer looks like grain and certainly isn’t fit for human consumption.  On a side note, many complaints of a tummy ache can be caused by ingesting of the larval stage, which in some species have tiny barb-like hairs that irritate the stomach and colon.

So now that we know some pest came from the inside of the grain in this case, you certainly don’t want to “spray” your food do you?  The damage is done, pick it up and toss it out.

 Some species of pest hatch out into a moth, such as the common Indian Meal Moth.  The larval stage of the moth is what feeds on the product.  The adult moth will die once the food source has been eliminated.  Don’t stop with that one food because temperature and humidity has a lot to do with these hatchings, you should go through ALL your processed and whole grain products, opened or unopened  and inspect them for possible infestation as well.


Since the “trigger” often is temperature and humidity, you can keep whole grain and processed grains in sealed containers which allow you to keep any new infestations from spreading. You can also store in your refrigerator (under 72 degrees) if you have the capacity.

Fabric Pest 


Cloths moths are another common pest issue that can have many sources.  Most live on the garment of natural fabric such as wool, silks and fur to name a few.  Case Making Cloth Moths will build a cocoon from the very fabric they are eating making it almost impossible to see until it is too late. Again it is the larval stage that carries this cocoon around as it moves through your cloths.  The moth, as in the Indian Meal Moth doesn’t cause the damage, but likely the only evidence you see other than holes.  The moth are weak fliers and don’t like light, so often times damage is high before the homeowner finds their favorite suit or dress riddled with holes.  Again, “spraying” your fine garments isn’t something you really want to do.  Better option is to take infested items to your dry cleaner and then seal them in either a garment bag or a Space Bag and store until you are ready to wear it. 


A word about cedar and moth balls as control products.  These products are best used to keep infestations from starting rather than trying to rely on them to control an existing one.  Foggers have been suggested by some, but I do not recommend them for much more than holding down newspaper against the floor.  Again, why would you want your cloths to be covered in a pesticide?   

 Many clients are under the impression that Pheromone traps are for controlling cloths moths.  They are not; they are mostly used to determine which species and or the absence or presence of fabric pest.  I see these over used in closets, finding as many as 10 when 1 is what is recommended.  Sure they can be used to monitor control measures, but to see them placed in homes as the only control measure is inappropriate. 



Fruit flies are another common problem that is regularly mistreated.  Treatment that is often applied is for the result of the problem and not the cause.  Have you ever tossed a banana peel in your trash and let it sit for 1 day?  Fruit flies seem to spontaneously appear out of thin air.  Well, the cause is the banana peel and that is a sanitation issue.  Fruit flies need organic material to lay their eggs in.  Resolving this issue doesn’t require a pesticide, rather a flashlight serves this pest issue best. 

Drains, soda cans, drip trays under the refrigerator, greasy tile grout, dirty trash cans, spillage, the list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.  The life cycle of this pest is short, but the infestation can be high if allowed to continue to breed in whatever “muck” is available.  I just finished posting in my last Blog a short video on these pest in a restaurant that highlights their sources. 

Correct the sanitation issue and this problem disappears as mysteriously as it started.  If the adult fly population is heavy, certainly a non-residual aerosol can be used to knock them down.


I’m not sure where the practice of pouring bleach down drains started, but I see this used all the time in restaurants.  Bleach is a sanitizer not a degreaser and certainly not a drain cleaner.  Save it for your grass-stained socks.  

Head Lice 


Who hasn’t had a child or know someone who has had a child sent home by the school nurse with a note telling them there is an outbreak of lice?  Lice attach “nits” to the follicle of the Childs hair.  These parasites do not live off the body and don’t require any pest control intervention.  Wash their cloths and hair brush if you like, but treatment must be addressed at the source.  Many over the counter products work just fine and will resolve the problem just follow the manufacturer’s label.   

Bit of interesting info on the word “Nit Picker”.  Nit pickers were hired to pick the Nit from the head of an infected individual. Picking nits is slow, tedious, detailed work. The origin is from the literal act of picking nits. A nit, by the way, is the archaic name for lice. Therefore nit picking is "lice removal."



Human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. 

Consult a dermatologist, not an exterminator for treatment. Scabies generally will not survive off the human body for more than 2-3 days and require no pest control intervention. 

So, there you have it.  Hopefully you take away a different view of what is needed rather than what is wanted based on insect biology rather than trying to make a buck off a misinformed homeowner.

If you have a pest question, please feel free to ask me here with the link below, and I will be happy to assist you.  Allow me to do what I love, and love what I do.

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Tags: pest prevention, Pesticide options, Lice