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Mark A. Puglisi, ACE

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3 Tick-Borne Diseases Californians Should Know About

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 08:53 AM

migraneMany people erroneously think of ticks as being an insect. However, since ticks have four pairs of legs and no antennae, they are arachnids. At one time, these arachnids were often just a mere nuisance, and when a person found one on their skin, they simply plucked it off and probably didn't give it a second thought.

In recent years, though, the number of people getting tick-borne diseases has steadily been on the rise. This happens all across the United States. In fact, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of tick-borne diseases more than doubled between the years 2004 and 2016.

Unfortunately, the state of California is not immune to diseases that ticks cause. If you live in California and want to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases, here are three of them that all Californians should know about.

1. Lyme Disease

The western black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, transmits this disease. The deer tick can be found in 56 of the 58 counties in California. Of all the tick-borne disease reported to the CDC between 2004 and 2016, 82% of them were Lyme disease. In the state of California, up to 100 cases of Lyme disease get reported every year.

Because not everyone's case gets reported, health officials say that the number of Lyme disease cases probably exceeds 1,000 a year.

One of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease is a type of rash called erythema migrans. This rash looks like a bulls-eye and can appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a tick infects a person.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness

If the disease goes untreated, other symptoms can appear including joint pain and numbness or weakness of the limbs. Treatment of this tick-borne disease includes oral antibiotics. If the infection has traveled to the nervous system, the antibiotics may need intravenous admittance.

Even after the infection is gone, however, some people never fully recover from the disease and they continue to have symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches.

2. Anaplasmosis

Commonly referred to as anaplasmosis, this tick-borne disease is not nearly as common as Lyme disease. However, even though 0.2 cases per million persons have been reported in California, health officials warn that this is another tick-borne disease that is steadily on the rise. Across the country, the number of cases reported has gone from 348 in the year 2000 to 5,762 in 2017.

As with Lyme disease, the black-legged tick also causes anaplasmosis. People who are at risk for getting anaplasmosis include those over the age of 40 and those with weakened immune systems. Anyone who spends a lot of time where ticks are is also at a higher risk of getting anaplasmosis and other types of tick-borne diseases.

A person who gets infected with anaplasmosis generally does not get a rash. Symptoms usually appear within one to two weeks of the tick bite. These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting

If left untreated, this disease can cause serious symptoms, such as respiratory problems and organ failure. The disease has even caused death. Treatment involves an antibiotic called doxycycline.

3. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

While only a couple of cases of RMSF get reported each year in California, it is one of the more serious tick-borne illnesses. Even though less than one percent of all RMSF cases result in death, this tick-borne disease can cause severe symptoms.

Three different kinds of ticks transmit this disease. These ticks include the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. In 2017, over 6,200 cases of RMSF were reported across the country. When not treated within five days of becoming infected, the disease is sometimes fatal.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • A high fever that can last up to 3 weeks
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

RMSF can also cause a rash. This rash normally appears 2 to 5 days after the onset of fever and has small red dots on the hands and feet.

A similar tick-borne illness that has become more common in California is another type of spotted fever called Pacific Coast tick fever (PCTF). This disease was first reported in California in 2008. As of 2016, 13 more confirmed cases have been reported. While symptoms are similar to RMSF, they are not as severe.

Treatment for both types of tick-borne spotted fevers includes immediate treatment with doxycycline.

The best prevention against tick-borne diseases is to avoid tick-infested areas and check for ticks after being outdoors. If you find a tick, remove it right away. If you live in an area where ticks exist and want to know how you can get rid of them, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

Fun and Interesting Cricket Facts

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 @ 12:29 PM

cricket

Crickets are celebrated in human folklore, feared by the superstitious, and extolled by literary giants including Shakespeare and Dickens. Worldwide, around 900 species of crickets exist. Of these, 100 species of crickets call the U.S. home.

California's native and non-native cricket species include the field cricket, scaly cricket, and snowy tree cricket. If crickets drive you crazy, enjoy these fun cricket facts before the pest control technicians arrive.

1. The Name Cricket Is Onomatopoeia

Crickets get their name for the sounds they make. Onomatopoeia is the term for creating a word that mimics the sounds made by the thing the word describes. Words like hiss, meow, and moo are examples of onomatopoeia.

The word cricket has its origins in the Old French word criquet. The game cricket did not borrow its name from the chirpy arthropod known as the cricket. The sport of cricket owes its name to another Old French term, except the original word, in this case, means goal post.

2. Cricket Myths Exist Around the Globe

In Asian cultures including areas of China and Japan, crickets are so beloved that families have kept the tiny serenading creatures in ornate little cages for generations. At the Insect Hearing Festival in Japan, crickets are set free in a ceremony at the end of every summer.

Some people love to fall asleep to the melodic song of crickets. Other people use crickets as sustainable little security alarms. The crickets grow quiet when anyone approaches their little cages, so they're true champions at giving an early heads-up when someone strange is on the doorstep.

In ancient areas of the U.K. and Europe, numerous myths and superstitions about crickets exist to this day. In some cultures, crickets are harbingers of prosperity and good fortune. According to some Irish belief systems, crickets are Old Folks who've lived many generations and have epic tales to tell with their endless songs.

Native American and other cultures believed that killing a cricket was bad luck. Meanwhile, Dickens gushed over the value of a cricket on the fireplace hearth.

3. Crickets Are Tasty and Nutritious

While munching on a cricket might seem strange, crickets are a delicacy in quite a few locations around the world. In fact, at least two billion people include crickets in their diets.

Recently, Western scientists and food experts have experimented with the benefits of edible crickets for the U.S. dinner plate. They have strong reason to believe that crickets could enhance human gut health.

Recently, one small study found that a diet rich in protein-packed insects increases healthy stomach bacteria and reduces body inflammation. As unpleasant as a deep-fried cricket may sound, crickets are a very sustainable source of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats.

Humans are good at digesting insects, so crickets are a possible food option to feed people of diverse ages. The little arthropods are a crunchy way to add nutrition to the diets of people with difficulty digesting other types of proteins.

4. Crickets Chirp Faster When the Weather Is Warmer

If you want a cricket to be quiet so you can get some sleep, turn down the heat. That's because a cricket will chirp faster as the air temperature warms.

Crickets make their chirping sounds by rubbing their wings together. The male cricket woos nearby female crickets and scares off rivals by chirping. Chirps come from rubbing the ridges on one wing over the hardened areas of the opposite wing.

Crickets do not make chirps by rubbing their legs together. The forelegs of crickets have special auditory organs to hear the chirps of other crickets more clearly.

5. Crickets Can Be Nuisances

Apollo himself may have adored the cricket, but you may be one of those people who is aggravated by the constant nocturnal chirping. You may have camel crickets or another cricket taking over your laundry room or pool area.

Prevention is the best way to ensure you don't suffer from a cricket infestation. The following preventative measures will help:

  • Seal up cracks around windows, vents, and doors.
  • Eliminate interior and exterior leaks and wet spots.
  • Keep firewood away from home and pool areas.
  • Keep your trash bins and containers up on bricks.
  • Use only sodium-vapor lighting around yard and pool.

Call a qualified pest control professional if a cricket infestation has gotten out of hand. Pest control companies have a variety of tactics to bait, trap, and eliminate all types of crickets and other household pests.

A pest control team will help you determine where the crickets have entered your home. After you close up access points and schedule routine pest control monitoring, your cricket problems should go away.

If you need help with a cricket infestation in your Los Angeles home, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management today. We practice integrated pest management and offer you a choice of home and garden treatment options.

Tags: pests, Nuisance animals, Reduce pest

3 Different Kitchen Pests and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Feb 25, 2019 @ 11:50 AM

cockroach-1

The kitchen is a common place for people to find pests, especially cockroaches, mice, and pantry moths. Knowing where these pests come from, what they eat, and how you can get rid of them can help you take care of your home. Here's what you need to know about kitchen pests.

1. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are a common problem in urban areas and apartments. Cockroaches are generally associated with poor sanitation, but if you live in an apartment building with many people and several units, any of your neighbors could be the source of the infestation. This can make eliminating cockroaches very challenging.

What Do Cockroaches Eat?

Cockroaches eat food scraps, greasy foods, starches, and garbage. In the absence of human food, cockroaches will eat any decaying matter including trash, cardboard, paper, and hair.

How Can You Get Rid of Cockroaches?

A common saying is that for every cockroach you see, there are ten you don't see. If you see cockroaches in your kitchen, this means many others are in corners, under appliances, in cabinets, and in hidden parts of your home. To get rid of all of your cockroaches, you'll need to use a combination of bait, poison, and environmental controls.

For example, keep your kitchen clean. Use multi-purpose cleaner on all surfaces, including the counters, floors, and in the sink. Clean every night after dinner. Take out the trash nightly, and do not leave dishes in the sink.

Hire a professional to use poisons or baits as necessary. Your pest control professional can decide which poisons or baits are most appropriate given the number and type of cockroaches that you see in your home.

How Can You Prevent Cockroaches?

The best way to prevent cockroaches is to keep your kitchen clean with the methods described above. Also, use caulk or steel wool to seal your home and prevent cockroaches from entering through cracks. Your pest control person can help you identify some places where cockroaches could enter your home.

2. Mice

Like cockroaches, mice are attracted to places where people live because they like to scavenge on the food that people leave. Mice often live outdoors until winter and enter the home when the weather turns cold outside.

What Do Mice Eat?

Mice eat just about anything they can reach. They're excellent chewers that can easily eat holes through cardboard boxes and bags to reach foods like cereal, crackers, and bread. Mice are likely to eat any dry food. They're also attracted to water leaks because they need the moisture to drink.

How Can You Get Rid of Mice?

Poisons and glue traps tend to be the easiest way to get rid of mice. They do not respond to spray. A good pest control person can help you with this since they'll be trained to place poisons and glue traps in the most strategic areas.

Use environmental controls to make your home less hospitable for mice. Pack up your dry foods in hard containers like plastic tubs or jars, because this makes finding food difficult for mice. Fix any leaks in your home, or work with your landlord to have them repair leaks.

How Can You Prevent Mice?

You can prevent mice in the same way you prevent roaches: by keeping your home clean and food inaccessible. Keep food garbage in a trash can with a lid that closes tightly. Store all food in plastic tubs with lids that close.

3. Pantry Moths

Pantry moths commonly enter the home through food packages. Once they're in the kitchen, they can be very hard to eliminate. Infestations may start small, but over time, these pests can take over your kitchen.

What Do Pantry Moths Eat?

Pantry moths eat grains, nuts, candy, oats, rice, and flour. You'll find them living in close quarters with these foods. In fact, pantry moths will live in jars, bags, boxes, and other containers that contain these foods. You'll be able to identify them in your foods by their webs and larvae.

How Can You Get Rid of Pantry Moths?

To get rid of pantry moths, you'll have to get rid of all infected food sources (check all of your boxes and bags). Then, work with your pest control person to take further action. Your pest control person may need to spray your kitchen, but before this can be done, you'll have to clear out your shelves of dishes and foods.

How Can You Prevent Pantry Moths?

You can prevent pantry moths by inspecting all foods before storing them in your home and throwing away infected foods. You can also prevent pantry moths by freezing foods like grains and cereals before storing them in your cabinets; this kills all larvae.

Contact Us With Questions

If you have more questions about kitchen pests and how you can prevent them, contact an expert. At Greenleaf Organic Pest Control Management, Inc., we're happy to help. Call today!

Tags: cockroaches, mice, Moths

Gophers Digging Up Your Backyard? Tips That Can Help

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Jan 21, 2019 @ 02:05 PM

Gophers Digging Up Your Backyard? Tips That Can Help

plantingGophers are a major nuisance for farmers, orchard owners, and homeowners across California. One gopher will dig several holes and a burrow system that is between 200 and 2,000 feet in length. 

Learn more about gophers, including how to identify them, how to keep them out, and how to safely remove them from your property.

 

Learn About Gophers

The most common type of pocket gopher (called gopher for short) found in California is the Botta's pocket gopher. Pocket gophers get their name from the small cheek pockets in which they store dirt while digging. These rodents are roughly six inches to just over a foot in length and are brown in color. Males are typically larger than females.

Botta's pocket gopher only comes out of its extensive burrow system when eating. Watch for pocket gophers near the entrance of burrows.

Pocket gophers eat almost anything that grows in the ground, including plants, grass, trees, shrubs, and vegetables, although they prefer roots and tubers because these grow underground. Gophers also dine on grubs, small insects, and worms.

Gophers are a nuisance not only because they dig unsightly holes on your property but also because their burrows impact soil erosion by disrupting your lawn's natural irrigation. Your backyard vegetable garden is vulnerable to damage. Any vegetables that grow underground, including carrots, potatoes, and radishes, are especially at risk.

Gophers gnaw through plastic, including your sprinkler system or plastic water lines, when creating their burrows.

 

Identify Signs of a Gopher Infestation

Watch for small mounds of dirt featuring holes shaped like the letter u. Gophers leave holes open so that they can easily eat nearby grass and vegetation. Once the vegetation near the hole is gone, the gophers plug the hole with dirt. 

Check for damage or chew marks on the base of trees or shrubs, especially near dirt mounds. Gophers do not travel far beyond their holes to find vegetation. If your sprinkler or irrigation system is functioning improperly, carefully dig around the pipes and check for damage or chew marks.

Underground electrical and utility lines are vulnerable to gopher damage as well. 

 

Prevent Gophers From Destroying Your Backyard Garden and Ornamentals

Keeping gophers out of your entire yard and property is difficult, especially since gopher burrows can reach depths of six feet underground. Instead, concentrate on smaller areas that you want to protect from gopher damage, including your backyard garden, ornamentals, and other expensive foliage. Erect a fence around these areas that is buried 18 inches to 2 feet underground.

Contact a pest-control agent before using chemical or homemade deterrents, such as castor oil or peppermint oil. Many store-bought deterrents contain toxic chemicals that can harm you, your children, and pets. Homemade deterrents aren't typically effective and, depending upon the product you use, could be harmful to your lawn, foliage, and pets.

Visual, biological, and audible frightening devices, such as predator decoys and motion-activated sprinklers, are often ineffective because the gophers are accustomed to the loud noises and commotion of a typical backyard.

 

Eliminate Gophers From Your Backyard

According to California law, gophers are classified as nongame animals. If gophers are destroying your crops, backyard garden, lawn, or any other foliage on your property and this destruction is costing you money, you have the legal right to eliminate the gophers in a safe manner. In California, you do not need to acquire a trapping license if you are not profiting from the trapping and sale of the gopher.

Trapping is a safe and effective option for homeowners. However, because gophers create an intricate burrowing system in your backyard, you may not be able to determine which burrow the gopher is using. Leaving the baiting and trapping of gophers to the professionals is the best option because they have the skills and tools necessary to locate the gophers and safely remove them from your property.

Toxic baits are available that can effectively control gophers. The most common contains strychnine alkaloid, a dangerous poison that will kill the gophers within one hour after consumption. These types of products should be handled and used by a professional as well.

Commercially available toxic baits are dangerous to other animals on your property, including your pets and wild animals that could be protected by California law.

You should also avoid flooding the burrows with water unless this method is recommended by a professional. Placing a garden hose into a burrow to drive out the gophers is often ineffective because it loosens the soil, making it easier for gophers to dig through the ground.

Gophers are a common nuisance animal in California that can wreak havoc on your lawn, trees, shrubs, and backyard garden. If you have any more questions or suspect that you have gophers on your property, contact the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc.

 

11 Simple Ways To Deter Pests

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 @ 09:45 AM

mouse

Urban areas have lots of pests. As a homeowner in the Los Angeles area, you will encounter everything from black widows in your crawl space to pantry moths in your kitchen. You may also encounter rats, mice, termites, cockroaches, and ants. Protect your property from pests with these simple suggestions. These help keep away insects as well as rodents.

  1. Seal Your Home

Roaches and other small insects find their way into your house through cracks and crevices. Sealing cracks with caulk prevents this from happening. Use weatherstripping to close gaps under doors and windows. Do this in late fall, before winter comes. This way, when rodents look a warm place to stay, they will be less likely to get into your home.

  1. Minimize Odors From Trash

Odor from trash bags can attract bugs and vermin to your property. Storing trash somewhere away from your house can prevent pests from finding their way into your home. Use odor-blocking trash bags and sealed trash containers inside your house. Empty out your food garbage every night before going to bed.

Keep the outdoor trash cans away from the exterior wall of your house. Clean your garbage cans periodically to get rid of odors that may attract bugs.

  1. Eliminate Debris Piles Quickly

Home improvement projects and yard work can produce debris like carpet squares and grass. Leaving this debris sitting in your yard for any period of time may bring bugs to your property and even into your house. Clean up leftover debris and arrange for debris disposal as needed.

  1. Keep Foods Tightly Sealed

Improperly sealed food will attract everything from mice to pantry moths. Store dry foods like cereal and grains in hard plastic or glass jars. If you do not have individual jars where you can store your dry foods, store your dry food boxes in large plastic tubs.

  1. Cover Holes with Hardware Cloth or Screen

Often, homes have vents and pipes that enable airflow. Sometimes vents and pipes create a natural entrance for rodents and insects, especially if these openings do not have proper protection.

Hardware cloth is a tough wire mesh that mice and rats cannot penetrate. Cut out hardware cloth in the proper shape to cover all vents and openings in the walls of your home, and then use the hardware cloth to cover those openings and keep out vermin.

  1. Trim Landscaping

Landscaping makes an excellent hiding place for rodents like mice and rats. Some overgrown trees can even create a walkway that rodents may use to access your attic.

Trim landscaping properly throughout the year to prevent it from becoming a home for unwanted animals. When planting new landscaping, select slow-growing shrubs because slow-growing plants are easier to trim.

  1. Store Firewood Away From the House

Firewood attracts termites. The older and softer the wood, the more attractive it becomes to termites. Storing wood against your house may draw termites to your walls and into your home. Store firewood against a wall far away from your home. If possible, keep the firewood up and off the ground to make the wood less of a target for wood-eating pests. 

  1. Adopt a Cat

Cats are lethal to mice. Even cats that do not spend much time hunting mice still have a smell that naturally deters mice. If your home smells like a cat, mice may prefer to nest elsewhere.

Not a cat lover? Some dogs are also natural born mouse-killers, and those that are not can often be trained.

  1. Clean Up Pet Food Quickly

Pet food often contains meat by-products that can attract cockroaches, mice, and other animals. Leaving pet food out indefinitely after your pet eats will attract animals to your property. Clean up pet food as soon as your pet finishes eating. Keep track of how much your pet eats, and only feed your pet as much as it will eat in one sitting.

  1. Use a Pet Moat Dish

Even if you clean up pet food quickly, some insects may still be attracted to your pet's food dish. To prevent ants and cockroaches from accessing your pet's food, buy a moat dish. A moat dish has a space for a moat surrounding the area where food is. Keep the moat filled with slightly soapy water, and any insect that tries to gain access to the food dish will likely drown.

  1. Work With a Pest Control Company

Working with a pest control company is an excellent way to keep your home free of pests. Have a pest control company come to your house regularly and treat for insects and rodents as needed.

For more information about how you can keep your home free of pests, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc. We will be happy to answer your questions.

7 Interesting and Helpful Facts About Silverfish

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 @ 07:19 AM

7 Interesting and Helpful Facts About Silverfish

jarsWhat is that creepy-looking metallic gray bug with a bunch of antennae and legs, and why is it shimmying up the wall? It's most likely a silverfish, so named because of its silvery sheen and its rapid movements, which resemble the undulations of a swimming fish. Here are seven more interesting facts about silverfish.

 

  1. Silverfish Are Old-School Bugs

The first ancestors of silverfish are some of the most primitive insects known to science. Silverfish evolved no later than the mid-Devonian period, over 350 million years ago.

Silverfish —along with bugs like jumping bristletails — developed before winged insects. None of the 600 species of silverfish have wings to this day.

 

  1. Silverfish Never Really Grow Up

Silverfish never reach a defined adult form, which is another trait of primitive bugs. The insects can reproduce by the time they shed their skin, or molt, nine times, so they definitely have mature bug capabilities.

However, silverfish will molt throughout their lives and never develop a permanent exoskeleton. Since silverfish live for two to eight years, that adds up to as many as 50 molts throughout their lives. Young silverfish appear whitish, while subsequent molts reveal the silvery sheen that gives the bugs their name.

 

  1. Silverfish Eat Paste                                      

Silverfish are not picky eaters. They adore the dextrin and starches found in glue and dried wallpaper paste.

Other foods enjoyed by silverfish include:

  • Coffee
  • Hair
  • Cereal boxes and cereal
  • Dandruff and dead skin
  • Plaster
  • Sugar, rice, pasta, and flour
  • Linen and cotton

Often, the first sign of a silverfish infestation is holes and yellow stains in books and on paper products. Silverfish will even chew on photographs.

Thankfully, silverfish don't chew on humans or pets. They aren't biters and aren't known to carry diseases. Silverfish do have an amazing ability to live up to a year without food, as long as water is available.

 

  1. Silverfish Love to Come Out at Night

Household varieties of silverfish are nocturnal creatures. You may find holes in your favorite novels and suspect a silverfish invasion yet never see a single silverfish. The bugs are adept at hiding from view in damp, dark spaces around your home.

Hunt for a silverfish infestation in or under:

  • Sinks
  • Cabinets
  • Closets
  • Bathrooms and kitchens
  • Wall cracks and crevices
  • Boxes and bags

An additional sign of a silverfish infestation is their tiny droppings, which look like small black pepper flakes. You may also find exoskeletons that the silverfish have shed near their living spaces. The exoskeletons are transparent after being shed.

 

  1. Silverfish Engage in Ritual Reproduction

Silverfish don't reproduce via internal fertilization as many other insects do. Instead, the male and female perform an intricate mating ritual to produce their offspring externally. Their reproductive routine can last up to half an hour.

First, the silverfish couple face each other and touch their antennae together. Their antennae tremble and quiver as they back away from each other and then return to touching one another. Eventually, the male takes off and the female pursues him.

Once the female catches the male, the pair stand beside each other head to tail as the male's tail vibrates against the female. He finally lays a capsule of sperm called a spermatophore. The female sits on the capsule and takes the spermatophore up into her ovipositor to fertilize her eggs.

 

  1. Silverfish Are Relatively Easy to Eradicate

You can get rid of silverfish by performing the same housekeeping tasks used to eradicate other bugs. Keep your home clean and clutter-free. Seal up food containers. Store grains and cereals in jars with lids.

You should also:

  • Remove damp areas from your home.
  • Seal up cracks and crevices inside and out.
  • Keep pet food sealed in containers.
  • Use lavender or cedar in linen storage.
  • Repair damp or peeling wallpaper.
  • Avoid storing books and clothes in cardboard.

Periodically deep clean your cabinets and bookshelves. Spilled noodles and oatmeal attract silverfish, so promptly clean up spills and crumbs to remove these tempting silverfish meals. Do the same deep clean of your bookshelves every month or so. Remove books, dust the shelves, and inspect materials for signs of infestation.

 

  1. Silverfish Are Managed With Professional Pest Control

Your pest control professional has a variety of methods to remove silverfish from your home. The techs may use a variety of pesticides, pest deterrents, and traps to repel, catch, and kill the silverfish invading your home.

The precise pest-control measures used in your home will be based on your preferences and the presence of children and pets in the home. Bait traps and some applied chemical pesticides are best used in areas where no kids or pets have access.

Materials including boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and pyrethrin-based pesticides are all used to combat silverfish infestations. To learn more about ridding your home of silverfish in Los Angeles, California, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc., today.

Tags: indoor pest, pest control food safety

Could a Pest Infestation Leave You Short of Breath?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 @ 01:10 PM

 

woman-sneezing

People who suffer from outdoor allergies and asthma need to have a home that's a sanctuary from the allergens that can cause discomfort and shortness of breath.

Unfortunately, allergens can sometimes find their way inside the home, which can make the house feel like less of a respite and more of a trap. What you may not know is that if you're experiencing outdoor allergy symptoms inside the home, you might have a pest problem.

Learn about three pests you might be allergic to and what signs you should look out for.

Cockroaches

You don’t want cockroaches inside your home for a number of reasons. They're ugly to look at, and they can carry germs and contaminate food, just to name a few. However, they may be responsible for even more serious problems in allergy and asthma sufferers.

Cockroaches produce allergens that are similar to those produced by dust mites. These allergens can be found in cockroach feces as well as in body parts. When the allergens become airborne, you can breathe them in, resulting in symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. Some evidence suggests that exposure to cockroach allergens could cause asthma in preschoolers.

Cockroach allergens become airborne when they're disturbed, such as when you dust or vacuum an area where they've collected. Allergens can also settle into bedding and pillows, which means that you may breathe them in while you're sleeping.

Cockroaches are good at hiding, so if you see one or two around the house, that's a pretty good indication that there are more hiding in the nooks and crannies of your home. You may also find cockroach droppings that resemble coffee grounds or black pepper. If you notice these signs along with increased difficulty breathing or other allergy symptoms, contact an exterminator.

Ants

When it comes to ants, you probably worry more about being bitten than about potential breathing problems. Some ants have a powerful sting, and some people may have allergic reactions to being bitten by ants. However, you can also have an allergic reaction even to ants that don't bite.

Pharaoh ants are small yellow ants that can be found almost anywhere in the country. These ants do not bite, but they do find their way into many homes. They can often be found in bathrooms or kitchens because these rooms are where they're most likely to find food and water.

Research studies discovered that pharaoh ants could trigger breathing problems in some patients. Two middle-aged asthma patients reported breathing problems, but their homes didn't contain any other obvious causes of breathing problems, such as mold or pet dander.

Both patients believed that the ants were to blame for their breathing difficulties. After grinding up ants to make ant extracts, researchers tested the patients for allergic responses to the extracts and found that the patients were correct — their respiratory problems were an allergic reaction to the ants.

Note that not all asthma patients exhibited the same sensitivity when tested. However, the results from these two patients show that pharaoh ants can cause worsening asthma symptoms in some patients, so you might consider exploring this possibility if you have increased asthma symptoms and notice ants inside your home.

Rats

Rats are another type of common house pest that could be responsible for breathing problems in the home. People who suffer from rat allergies are generally allergic to either the rat's urine, the rat's saliva, or dead skin cells from the rat's body, otherwise known as dander.

Allergic reactions to rats can include skin rashes, itching skin or eyes, coughing, and a runny nose in addition to breathing problems. Even if you don't see rats, they can leave allergens in many parts of the house.

Rats groom themselves using saliva, which means that rat hair can be allergenic. Rats also have a tendency to track urine through the home with their feet, which means that rat urine can wind up anywhere, not just in the area where the rats hide.

Rats can hide inside walls, in attics and basements, and in garages, to name a few places. Signs of a rat infestation include droppings that look like large grains of rice, smudge marks from grease or dirt on their bodies, and scratching noises, especially at night. If you notice these signs in conjunction with increased allergy symptoms, you may have a rat allergy.

The best way to protect your health and is to keep pests out of your home to begin with. For people who already suffer from asthma or allergies, pest prevention can be especially important.

To investigate a possible infestation or for preventative services that will keep your home pest-free and allow you to breathe more easily, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc. We can make your home a sanctuary once more.

Do You Have Rats in Your Home? FAQs for Homeowners

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 01:26 PM

Rats can be a big problem for homeowners. Rats can spread diseases, cause destruction to property, and create more pest problems down the road. Many homeowners don't even know the signs that they have rats. This guide answers some common questions about rats, and it can help homeowners who want information about rats and how they can prevent this pest on their property.

 

What Are the Signs You Have Rats in Your Home?

If you have rats in your home, then you may notice these signs of an infestation. 

Rub Marks on Walls

Rats are known to have dirty bodies and poor eyesight. When traveling from one location to another, they travel known routes and stay close to the walls. The result is dirt or grime on the walls in the location where they frequently walk. 

Feces

Rats are like mice in that they drop feces everywhere they go. Feces can be found along their favorite routes and near the walls. In locations where rats spend a lot of time, feces may be found in small piles. Rat feces do not smell, but rat urine may smell like ammonia. Rat feces are approximately half an inch long and are shaped like grains of rice. This is larger than mouse poop, which is approximately a quarter of an inch long.

Holes

Rats can chew through surfaces as strong as wood and plastic and may have chewed their way into your home. Rats can also squeeze through small cracks so watch for those as well. 

Scratching Sounds

Rats make noises in the house as they chew through walls, eat food, and interact with one another. For example, if you have rats, then scratching noises can be heard in the walls and in the attic.

Of course, rats aren't the only animal that makes noises in the walls. Homeowners who hear scratching noises in their walls may also have mice, squirrels, or other small animals. A good pest control company can help the homeowner decide what type of animal is making the noise.

 

What's the Difference Between Rats and Mice?

Rats are longer, heavier, and they grow more slowly than mice. When the given the chance, many rats will kill mice. In addition, mice and rats tend not to occupy the same spaces. Mice focus on eating grains while rats like to eat garbage.  

 

Are Rats Dangerous?

Usually, rats are not inclined to bite people unless they feel threatened. However, rats can be dangerous because they can spread diseases such as the plague and rat bite fever. Rats can also be a fire hazard in homes they inhabit because they can chew through wires and create a fire hazard. 

 

How Can You Get Rid of the Rats in Your Home?

Getting rid of rats is not easy. Once they're living in a space, rats can be very loyal to their home. Once rats move in they need to be exterminated. 

Working with a professional pest control service is one of the best ways to get rid of rats. A good pest control service can use a combination of traps and other natural means to get rid of rats.

You should also remove food and water sources to make your home inhospitable — some ways to accomplish this include:

  • Fix any leaks in the house.
  • Put a lid on all interior and exterior garbage cans.
  • Take out the trash as soon as it’s full. 
  • Put any food in the pantry into glass containers.

Following these tips can help get rid of rats, but usually eliminating a rat population takes time. 

 

Can You Trap Rats Without Help From a Pest Control Service?

While you may be able to trap rats without help from a professional, a professional pest control person will know where to look for rats, what type of traps to use, and how to use them safely. Their knowledge will help the extermination go faster and smoother.

 

How Can You Prevent the Rats From Returning?

Once rats are gone, you should do a few things to prevent them from returning. Cleaning up every night after every meal can help make the home a less attractive environment to rats. Sealing up any holes that lead inside the house can also help. Usually, it is best to seal these holes with steel wool, which rats cannot chew through. 

Finally, many homeowners find that it helps to work with a pest control company for regular treatments, even after the rats are gone. Pest control companies can put traps around the home's exterior to control the rat population around the house. This makes it easier to prevent a rat infestation inside the house. 

If you have any other questions about rats and would like to know more about how to prevent and control their population, then contact us at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc. We're happy to answer your questions. 

 

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.