3 Reasons for Integrated Pest Management | Greenleaf Organic

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 10:46 AM

3 Reasons to Choose Integrated Pest Management for Your Home or Apartment

If you want to get rid of bugs or creatures in your home, but you don't want to use toxic chemicals or cruel traps, there is another way. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the practice of using reliable information and safe methods to prevent residential pest infestation. 

The unintended consequences of human activity will always pit pests against people. And people will always fight the pests. The problem is, the wrong kind of pest management causes beneficial insects to die and negatively impacts the entire ecosystem.

Bee colonies have collapsed in many parts of the U.S., new and destructive non-native insect invaders appear continuously to wreak havoc on our forests, and mammal habitat is swallowed up by development across the nation. Expect more infestations of unwanted chewers and crawlers, but use the wise approach of IPM to handle their appearance in your space.

IPM Makes More Sense

Homes and apartment buildings attract a variety of nuisance pests. Spewing a highly toxic chemical substance around the structure every few months (in the vain hopes that you'll kill or repel your pests) is both ineffective and unpleasant for human and pet residents. With IPM, you use a multi-level approach to solve pest issues.

Instead of guessing about the home invaders, an IPM-style pest control company accurately and thoroughly identifies the actual pests in your structure and yard. Rather than wantonly spraying chemicals everywhere, the pros determine the following:

  • Source of pests
  • Breeding areas of pests
  • Attractants drawing the pests
  • Openings allowing pests access
  • Presence of beneficial predators 
  • Targeted repellants and insecticides to use

When you practice targeted pest control, you do the least amount of damage to the environment. If you spray any old insecticide willy-nilly, you may kill the beneficial insects that would have helped you eradicate the truly destructive bugs.

An IPM-style pest control professional uses live traps to physically control larger nuisance animals. These pests include skunks, squirrels, opossums, and raccoons. You won't need to handle biting creatures or remove dead or injured animals from traps.

IPM Is Enjoyable

Practicing IPM is enjoyable because it makes your property and home more attractive and nature-friendly. If, instead, you do the equivalent of carpet-bombing your yard with poison to get rid of insects, you also drive away birds that sing. You kill pollinators that are vital to make your fruit and nut trees bear abundantly. Your place smells like toxic funk.

With low-impact products, the chemicals and substances used are cost-effective and targeted to kill the insects actually present on your property. Your home is treated with materials and methods that won't put you, your family, or your pets in danger.

In the farm fields, IPM practitioners use drones to monitor pest infestations. This is a fun way to fight pests, but the most enjoyable part about the drone use is the information the farmers gain. On a residential scale, you also get the satisfaction of knowing what you're fighting when you hire an IPM professional. You can use the knowledge you gain to teach kids about the ecosystem in their own backyard, too.

IPM Improves Your Property

Choose IPM and your property is upgraded. Remember that the "M" stands for management. When you address all of the issues that are attracting pests or allowing them access to your home, your property looks better and is more valuable.

Mechanical or physical pest control is a key part of IPM. Mechanical control includes trapping as noted above. It also involves manipulating the environment to deny access to bugs and rodents.

Simple mechanical methods include caulking and replacing screens with insect- and chew-proof materials. Removing attractants can be as simple as getting rid of yard waste or moving your garbage cans. All of the efforts you make toward IPM will improve your property's curb appeal and longevity.

Farmers choose a method known as cultural control to selectively manage pests in the field and retain their property's value. By enhancing the environment for beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, the farmers allow these good guys to take over and kill the bad bugs. If they sprayed poison that killed both good and bad bugs, they would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to replace the ladybugs and lacewings they'd lose to chemical treatments.

In the same way on your residential land, you have many unseen allies in the fight against harmful pests. Your IPM team will help you maintain the good bugs in your yard and get rid of the insects you don't want hanging around.

Contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management today to begin safely eradicating pests from your property. We're happy to treat your home or apartment complex in the Southern California region. We handle rodents, termites, ants, spiders, and nuisance-animal removal using live traps.

Flour Beetles: A Profile of a Truly Pesky Pest

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 12:25 PM

Four beetles may not be as common in homes as termites or cockroaches, but they can surely be an annoyance -- especially if you are a prolific baker or own an in-home baking business. Both these beetles and their larvae can invade not only flour, but also other grain products, rendering your ingredients contaminated and unusable. Read on to learn more about these truly pesky pests and how to keep them out of your pantry.

What Are Flour Beetles?

There are several species of flour beetles, but the two most common are Triboleum confusum and Triboleum casteneum. These are commonly known, respectively, as the confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle. 

Confused flour beetles are black in color. They have six distinct legs and elongated bodies, and they measure between 3 and 6 mm in length. Red flour beetles have a more reddish color, are similar in size, and are able to fly short distances. (Confused flour beetles cannot fly.)

Because the beetles are so small, it can be difficult to tell which type you are dealing with. However, in most situation, it does not really matter whether you have an infestation of red flour beetles or confused flour beetles as the two can be eradicated and managed with the same methods.

What Problems Do Flour Beetles Cause?

Flour beetles are a huge nuisance in grain cellars and warehouses. The adult females lay their eggs in the flour, and about a week later, these eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae look like thick-bodied worms and are yellow in color. They feed on the flour, slowly increasing in size before eventually maturing into adults. 

It's not as common to find flour beetles in households as it is in large warehouses and grain mills, but they are certainly a pest to be aware of if you store and use flour in your home. They will ruin a batch of flour, making it completely unusable, and then hide out in your home ready to contaminate any new flour or grain products you buy.

Once you have flour beetles in your home, you need to take measures to eradicate them. Otherwise they'll just keep destroying batch after batch of flour. It's important to note that, while flour beetles are disgusting, they are not poisonous, do not bite, and do not release any toxic compounds into the flour.

What Are The Signs of a Flour Beetle Infestation?

If you have flour beetles in your home, you may spot the beetles themselves in, on, or around your flour storage containers. You may also see them in and around other grain products like oatmeal and cereal. Though the adults cannot feed on large pieces of grain, they are attracted to the dust and finely milled particles in these grain products.

You may also notice larvae in the flour or grain product. The larvae may appear like small grains of rice, but upon closer inspection, you may notice their segmented bodies and tiny legs. Flour and grain products infested with flour beetles and their larvae eventually begin to smell rancid and unappealing.

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Flour Beetles?

If you catch the infestation early, you may be able to eradicate the beetles with some good sanitation practices.

Start by discarding all of your flour and other grain products -- even bins and bags that do not appear to be infested. (They may be lightly infested with larvae or have eggs laid in them that have not hatched yet.) Dispose of them outside of the home so the insects cannot crawl back out of the trash can.

Next, thoroughly wash and sanitize all containers that were used to hold grain products. Vacuum out all cupboards and shelves where the flour was stored, and then wipe them down with soapy water. Wait a week or two before re-purchasing flour and other grain products. This way, adult beetles may die of starvation before you provide them with a potential new food source.

When you re-introduce flour and grain products to your home, be sure to store them in tightly sealed containers. Do not store your flour or other grain products in the original boxes or bags; flour beetles can chew right through these. Also, take steps to keep your storage area dry, as moisture may attract the bugs. Wipe up any spills immediately, and consider installing a dehumidifier if your pantry or storage area is humid.

If you have ongoing problems with flour beetles, your best bet is to call a pest control company like Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, LLC. Greenleaf also uses non-chemical means, whenever possible, to eradicate an infestation. Insecticides may sometimes be necessary in order to get a serious flour beetle infestation under control, but the professionals know how to safely use these chemicals around food and food preparation equipment. 


7 Surprising Places Where Rodents May Nest

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 @ 08:45 AM

nestingrodent.jpgMouse and rat infestations can cause serious property damage, from faulty wiring to issues with structural integrity. The first step in addressing a rodent infestation is determining the nest's location. Once a pest control expert finds the nest, he or she can make removal recommendations based on the species of rodent they find and the development of the nest.

But sometimes, rodent nests appear in places you may not expect. In this blog, we list seven of the most surprising places where you may discover an infestation.

1. Car Engine

Like most mammals, rodents are attracted to areas that offer both warmth and shelter. To a rodent, your car engine looks like the perfect nesting spot, especially if you do not use your car and garage frequently.

Rats, mice, and some other small rodents may nest in your engine compartment and chew on the wires there. To reduce the risk of these infestations, leave your hood up when you plan not to use your car for long periods of time and lay traps in your garage.

2. Documents

Rodents may live wherever they find nesting materials, food, and shelter. Unfortunately, this combination is just as likely to be found in your home office as in your pantry. If you have stacks or boxes of paper, they may encourage an infestation.

Keep your office free of as much clutter as possible. Additionally, avoid eating while you work to decrease any existing rodents' access to food.

3. Firewood Pile

Mice and rats can pose a threat to your property even when they nest outside. Brush and debris can provide enough shelter for some species, but your firewood looks appealing to rodents of all sizes.

Go through your firewood at least once a year and cover the stack during the off-season to reduce the risk of nesting. Best storage practices for firewood is off the ground.

4. Outdoor Burrows

Some rodent species, such as Norway rats, are adept diggers. If these rats do not find an ideal location for their nests, they may create a burrow to live in instead. These burrows often appear along the home's foundation and can cause structural instability.

Watch for any new holes on your property and have them assessed by a pest control professional as soon as possible. These burrows may belong to Norway rats, gophers, moles, or other small pests.

5. Storage

While cardboard boxes offer an affordable and easy-to-organize storage option, these containers also provide rodents with nesting materials. If you have large amounts of storage in your attic, garage, shed, or basement, check the area for signs of an infestation during the spring and fall. Whenever possible, use plastic storage bins instead of cardboard boxes, especially for edible items.

Rodents are particularly likely to nest in areas where you store food, including kibble and birdseed. Nests may appear in the area around your boxes or within a storage container itself. Look for any chewed holes in boxes, food spread around the area, or rodent droppings.

6. Trees

While some rodents prefer to live in or on the ground, others are content to live high up in your trees. These rats like to live in higher areas to protect their nests from predators and other hazards such as foot traffic.

These rats may climb up your trees and make nests near the tree trunk. Rodents that live in trees can threaten the plant itself and gain easier access to vulnerable areas of your home, including the roof and attic space.

7. Your Roof

As their name suggests, roof rats often nest in gutters, under loose roofing materials, under eaves, or in attics. These rats are strong climbers and jumpers. These characteristics mean that roof rats may be able to access your roof, even if your trees and powerlines are not that close.

You should check your roof once a year for any seasonal damage. As you look over the roof, pay attention to any piles of debris that could be rodent nests. If you have a roof rat infestation, you're also likely to hear scratching noises while on the uppermost floor of your house.

If left unaddressed, infestations on the roof or in the attic may spread to your ceilings or walls. Nests in these spaces can be more difficult to eliminate since removal requires access to the space behind the ceiling or wall.

When you suspect a mouse or rat problem on your property, don't forget to check these places in addition to more common nest locations such as crawl spaces, openings under appliances, and unfilled wall voids.

Have you noticed scratching noises, droppings, or other common signs of a rodent infestation? Call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management. We can help you find hidden nests and provide effective rodent control to help you reclaim your home. Call us at 877-524-7336 to schedule an appointment.

Opossum My Possum: 5 Signs of Opossum Infestation in Your Home

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Mar 03, 2017 @ 12:20 PM



Rodent infestations can take many forms, from large rat nests to one or two opossums (which are marsupials) that qualify as nuisance animals. The first step in eliminating any rodent problem is to identify the species you're dealing with.

Unfortunately, many rodents are nocturnal and wary of the noise and smells of humans, so you're unlikely to get a good look at these unwanted visitors. To identify your pest, you'll need to pay attention to other signs of an infestation.

In this blog, we discuss where opossums are likely to be found, explain some of the extensive damage these rodents can do, and list five common signs of opossum infestations.

Places You May Find Opossums

Opossums, which are actually marsupials,  prefer outdoor areas that feel more rural than urban and have lots of plant life for shelter. However, opossums can easily find their way into most homes, even in the city. Opossums are natural climbers and may use trees on your property to access the roof and attic of your home.

Like other rodents, opossums may also take up residence in open wall voids between insulation batts, unused and dark basement space, or garages and sheds.  

Why Opossums Infestations Are a Big Problem

Because opossums are one of the largest nuisance rodent species, they tend to cause more widespread damage than rats or mice, even though they live in significantly smaller groups. Most infestations consist of one to two opossums or an opossum mother and her young.

Opossums may rip shingles, siding, or insulation with their teeth and claws. Opossum feces can also leave large stains and may carry diseases like coccidiosis and tuberculosis.

Contrary to popular belief, opossums almost never carry rabies because the animals have an unusually low temperature for mammals that kills the disease. Any hissing and drooling are generally a defense mechanism rather than a symptom of a contagious disease.

Opossums can also be difficult to get rid of on your own because they are not easily scared or intimidated. If their hissing display does not work on a predator, the opossum may either play dead or become aggressive. Mother opossums in particular may pick a fight to protect what they perceive as their territory.

Signs of an Opossum Infestation in Your Home

If you have opossums in your home or inside another building on your property, the infestation should be immediately apparent. These animals are loud and less confined to nocturnal schedules than some rodents.

If your infestation is a group of opossums, you may notice any combination of the following five signs.

  1. Damage to the Building Exterior

Because opossums usually enter a building by climbing, you may notice exterior damage first. Often, opossum damage takes the form of torn up shingles and ripped soffit on your rooftop. An opossum infestation may also impact your siding, eaves, and gutter system.

  1. Disappearing Pet Food

Opossums are particularly drawn to cat food. If you have cats, especially any outdoor cats, you may notice that their food disappears more quickly when you have an opossum infestation. If you suspect an opossum infestation, take measures to protect your cats who could become injured in a fight with an opossum.

  1. Frequent Animal Vocalizations

Opossums have a wide range of vocalizations, including hissing and shrieking. Mother opossums also make clicking or lip smacking sounds to call their babies. If you notice these noises when inside a building, chances are you have an infestation or a single opossum trapped inside.

  1. Loud Scratching Noises

As opossums nest, they make lots of ripping, scuttling, and scratching noises. These noises can sound similar to rats or mice, but you will likely notice that the noises seem louder because they're created by a bigger animal.

Additionally, you may notice scratching across a wider area with an opossum infestation than with any other rodent problem because opossums do not stick solely to the edges of the attic space.

  1. Pervasive Unpleasant Smells

One of the most distinct signs of an opossum infestation is the smell. Opossums defecate more frequently than most mammals and their droppings can be as large as a house cats. These wet droppings can soak into insulation and building materials, causing a distinctly unpleasant odor.

Opossums can also become trapped by wiring or other architectural elements and may die there. If you have a dead opossum in your attic, you'll know by the strong smell of decay.


If you notice a sudden influx of opossums in the area around your home, an interior infestation is more likely to develop. Cover all openings to your attic or basement and pest-proof any outbuildings to decrease the risk of infestation.

If you have an opossum infestation, call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management. We are fully licensed in nuisance animal trapping and can help you install measures to keep future pests away.

Get the Scoop on Gophers and Moles

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 07:48 AM


Your yard is your pride and joy. You take great care in mowing and watering your lawn. You strike the right balance of trees, shrubs, and flowers when designing your garden. And you've mastered when to prune, fertilize, and mulch the plants on your property.

So when you spot suspicious mounds near your hydrangeas or unsightly ridges near your driveway, you can't help but feel frustrated at the damage. Naturally, you want to remove the source as quickly as possible.

But before you take matters into your own hands, take a few minutes to identify whether you have a gopher or a mole tearing into your yard. These commonly confused pests require different removal and trapping methods. If you use the wrong technique or product, you may cause even more damage to your yard and leave it vulnerable to future infestations.

Here are the easiest ways to spot the difference between a gopher and a mole.


Both gophers and moles spend a great deal of time underground, so you might not catch a good look at either of your furry invaders. However, if you do happen to glance their way, you'll quickly notice the following features.


Moles have pointed, hairless muzzles and potato-shaped bodies. Their eyes are tiny, and at a distance, moles look like they don't have any eyes at all. They do not have any external ears, and their fur completely covers their ear canals. Moles also have large, broad forefeet, and they use their webbed toes like flippers as they swim through the soil.


Gophers have bulging cheeks and rounded snouts that end in prominent teeth. They have flat heads and stocky bodies. Though they have small eyes and ears, you can usually distinguish these facial features from the rest of their fur. Gophers have long claws on their forefeet that help them dig and push through the soil.

Digging Patterns

Even if you never see the moles or gophers in your yard, you can still identify the pest based on the damage they cause in your yard. Although gophers and moles dig tunnels, each one uses a different technique to build their home and search for food.   


When moles aren't foraging for food, they excavate their tunnels by pushing dirt straight above them. If their tunnels are close to the surface, they'll create conical, volcano-shaped mounds. Although molehills vary in size, most of them will have a uniform appearance.

Oftentimes, mole tunnels stay close to a solid object, so look for ridges and trails near your driveway, lawn border, or house foundation. These surface tunnels have little or no support from the surrounding soil, so they'll collapse if you step on them.


Gophers dig deeper than moles, creating tunnels and homes nearly six feet under the soil. As a result, you likely won't see any surface ridges or trails in your yard. When gophers exit to seek a mate or find food, they come to the surface at an angle, creating an irregular fan- or crescent-shaped mound. To prevent predators from invading their tunnels, gophers plug the hole at the top.

As gopher tunnels tend to be quite deep, the surrounding soil will lend structure and support to the holes. If you step on the mounds, they likely won't collapse as readily as molehills. 

Additional Identifiers

If you're still not sure whether you have a gopher or a mole digging through your yard, you can use the following details to identify your pest.


Moles are insectivores, and they'll eat over half of their body weight in bugs and grubs daily. Consequently, many moles will focus on eating the most insects possible and leave your plants alone. But due to the nature of their digging, moles can damage plant roots by creating air pockets around the plants, and more delicate flowers and plants will often die as a result.

If you see holes in the shadier, moist areas of your lawn (where insects often thrive), you may have a mole on your property.


Gophers, in contrast, are strict vegetarians. They'll mostly feed on underground plant roots, though they will also nibble on new buds, leaves, and surface vegetation during the spring and summer months. Sometimes gophers will drag entire plants underground, and they'll quickly trim down any vegetation near their holes and mounds.

If you see wilting or dead plants in your garden, you likely have a gopher.

Do You Spot Either in Your Garden?

Once you know the difference between moles and gophers, you can take steps to remove either pest from your yard. Reach out to a pest control expert to discuss possible trapping and removal methods.

If you find that gophers and moles frequent your yard each year, don't hesitate to ask about landscaping techniques and prevention as well. You may need to reduce the insect population in your yard to avoid attracting moles, or you might need to use chicken wire baskets to protect your plants from gophers.  


Tags: pests, Moles, Gophers, garden

Mouse Traps: Is Basic Prevention Enough to Safeguard Against an Infestation?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jan 04, 2017 @ 02:19 PM


The fall season brings with it cooler temperatures and a chance to warm your home from the inside. Whether you choose to turn on your furnace or start an indoor fire, you plan to take advantage of your home's warm interior.

But you're not the only one who looks forward to the warmth your home's heating systems provide.

Mice, too, want to find a way to stay warm and cozy as it gets cooler outside. As the autumn season fades into winter, more and more mice may find their way into your home.

To prevent an infestation, you may take a few steps, such as:

  • Adding weather stripping to your entryways
  • Covering your vents with screens
  • Plugging up small holes, including dime-sized gaps
  • Sealing up entry points in your windows and doors with caulk

Additionally, you may think to buy mouse traps or mouse poison from your local grocery or hardware store and place these items around your property. However, not only are these prevention methods dangerous for you, your family members, your pets, and the environment, but they also might not be enough to safeguard against a mouse infestation.

Below, we'll discuss these kinds of basic prevention, tell you why you shouldn't consider them for your home, and give you an alternative to keeping your home secure from mice this season.


If you want to nip a mouse infestation in the bud, you may think that cheap mouse traps from the grocery store are a convenient option. You can likely conjure a mental image of these traps right away. They're made of a wood base with a metal spring system. Similarly, you may want to lay down glue boards. These traps are plastic trays that are coated with a thick, sticky glue.

However, these two kinds of traps can be incredibly ineffective at preventing an infestation. These traps only catch mice that have already entered your home, and once a mouse enters your home, you are already at risk for an infestation. After one mouse gets into your home, more will likely follow and perhaps even breed inside your house.

In addition to being ineffective at preventing an infestation, these traps require a fair degree of knowledge of rodent behavior to properly set traps. 

The glue traps, likewise, may not be strong enough to trap large mice for long. If the mouse is large and heavy enough, it may break free of the glue. However, fur and skin can be pulled off of the mouse, causing it serious injury.

Additionally, while glue trap manufacturers claim that these devices are non-toxic to humans and pets, the Humane Society has found that glue traps do present a few risks. For example, small pets can get stuck in the glue and lose hair, fur, or skin in an attempt to get free, causing serious pain for your beloved pet.

If a live mouse is still on the trap when you attempt to remove it, you could get bitten. The bite could become infected, or you could be exposed to other germs and bacteria that could make you sick. Likewise, any feces or urine stuck to the glue in the board may also expose you to other kinds of bacteria that present health risks to you and your family members.


If you don't like the idea of traps, you may consider buying hardware-store mouse poisons to prevent mice from entering or breeding in your home. Ready-to-use poisons come in little plastic boxes or containers, and the poison is typically pellet shaped to resemble food. Other poisons come in open trays that you can lay around your property or inside your home.

While poisons are fast-acting, they still pose a huge threat to you, your family, your pets, and any other animals you have on your property. They also do little to protect you from an infestation.

Anticoagulants are the most commonly used poisons. The chemicals in these poisons prevent blood from clotting, causing the animal to bleed out over a period of days.

Vitamin-based poisons overload a rodent's system with vitamin D and increase calcium levels. These high levels of calcium and vitamins cause hypercalcemia, a condition that leads to blood vessel mineralization and kidney and heart failure.

Bromethalin, a neurotoxin, affects the liver and brain. It allows fluid to form around the brain and sodium to build up in the liver. It takes effect within a few hours of ingestion, and there is no antidote.

Unfortunately, the packaging does little to protect animals and small children from pellets that fall out of the casing. If a person or animal were to ingest any of these poisons, they would need medical attention immediately. Depending on the concentration of poison they ingested, they may face serious health risks, such as severe dehydration, internal bleeding, or even death.

A Better, Safer Solution

Instead of settling for dangerous and ineffective prevention methods to keep your home clear of mice this fall and winter, turn to the pest control experts at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management. We offer multiple prevention methods so you can choose one that fits your budget and needs.

We'll also help you adjust your property so you can keep mice as far away from your home as possible. With our services, you can stay cozy in your home all fall and winter without worrying about mice moving in for the season.

How to Protect Your Pantry From Weevils

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Dec 05, 2016 @ 10:25 AM


You scoop out a cup of brown rice and pour it into your rice cooker. Just before you add water and turn the rice cooker on, you look a little closer-some of the grains of rice seem to be moving. On even closer inspection, you find that some of the rice isn't rice at all: your rice is actually infested with small, wriggling creatures. You have weevils.

Has this experience ever happened to you? If not, you might have had this same problem with other foods. Maybe you pulled out a half-eaten box of graham crackers only to find the surface of the cracker you wanted to eat was swarming with oblong brown bugs. Maybe you scraped the bottom of your sack of flour and came up with a half-cup of reddish-brown specks instead.

No matter the situation, the experience was alarming, disgusting, and expensive, since you had to throw out whole bags and boxes of food that the bugs claimed for their own.

Below, we'll talk about bugs that threaten pantries everywhere: granary and rice weevils. These small little bugs can wreak havoc on your kitchen, but it's possible to prevent them or exterminate them completely if they invade your pantry.

What Are Granary and Rice Weevils?

Different species of weevils infest everything from cotton to hemlock to whole-wheat flour to dry lentils. Even if you've never had weevils before, you've probably heard of pests like the boll weevil, which can destroy entire cotton fields. Wheat and grain weevils have a similarly devastating effect on your pantry.

Weevils are small beetles that usually don't grow longer than an eighth of an inch. Their size allows them to infiltrate any type of food that isn't sealed in an airtight container. Rice weevils and granary weevils are red-brown and similarly sized.

The main difference between the two is that rice weevils can fly while wheat weevils can't, and granary weevils look glossy while rice weevils look dull. Also, if you live in southern California, you're more likely to encounter rice weevils than wheat weevils because they prefer warmer climates.

The good news is that consuming rice weevils might be disgusting, but it won't actually harm you. In fact, it's more than likely that you've consumed rice weevils before. Most food manufacturing plants do everything in their power to keep rice weevils away, but one slips through every once in a while.

Of course, no one would willingly choose to consume weevil-infested rice or grains. Weevil infestations can spread quickly, so once you find weevils in one bag of rice or flour, you usually have to throw out any open box or bag of dry goods, including cereal, crackers, and pasta.

How Can You Keep Weevils Away From Your Rice and Flour?

Take these steps to ensure weevils leave your pantry alone.

1. Deep-Clean Frequently

You probably sweep and mop your kitchen floor at least once a week, but how often do you take everything out of your pantry and scrub down the shelves? Probably not often enough.

At least every few weeks, remove everything from your pantry. Use hot water, soap, and a dishrag to rinse off all the shelves. Make sure you get into the back corners-weevils love to lurk just out of sight, and they're so small that they're easy to miss.

Cleaning out the pantry also gives you an opportunity to get rid of old, partially eaten boxes of crackers and other dry goods. If you don't clean out the pantry that often, you might find open boxes of pasta or Saltines that make the perfect undisturbed habitat for a weevil infestation to grow. If you aren't going to eat the food soon, put it in an airtight container or throw it out.

2. Seal All Containers Completely

The best way to keep weevils away is to store your flour and rice in airtight containers rather than the paper sacks or plastic bags they come in. Invest in large Ziploc bags or storage bins that keep bugs out.

You should also make sure everyone in your family reseals boxes of cereal and crackers. Roll the inner plastic bag up tightly, and then close the cardboard lid.

3. Use Herbs That Keep Bugs Out

Some herbs and spices, especially cloves and bay leaves, naturally repel weevils. Hang small bags of whole cloves or dried bay leaves around your pantry and switch them out when they start to lose their scent.

What If You Already Have an Infestation?

If you already have an infestation, throw out all the infested food immediately. Rinse the sides of your pantry down with vinegar, soap, and water, and vacuum out crevices and hard-to-reach corners.

If you pantry's shelves are removable, there might be small holes or notches up and down the pantry's sides that let you adjust the shelves' height. Your bug infestation can recur if bugs hide in small spaces like these, so cover the holes or notches with masking tape to cut off the bugs' air supply.

Following these steps should help you keep weevils out of your home and destroy an infestation if one happens. If you want additional advice or assistance as you protect your pantry from rice and granary weevils, call our professionals. We're happy to help! 

Tags: weevils

Snakes in the Garden: Why You Don't Need to Panic

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Nov 03, 2016 @ 10:57 AM


Snakes and humans have had a complicated relationship throughout history. They've been a symbol of both evil, as in the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden, and of life, as in the Australian Aboriginal stories about the Rainbow Serpent, which created the world and humans. Many early civilizations even told stories about human-snake hybrids, like the Gorgons of Ancient Greece.

In modern times, popular culture often takes a negative view of snakes. The great adventurer Indiana Jones is terrified of snakes, his major weakness. In the animated Disney version of The Jungle Book, the giant python Kaa attempts to hypnotize and eat the main character. In the Harry Potter  series, the antagonist can speak to snakes, and snakes and snake symbolism are used frequently for evil purposes.

With all of the negative attention placed on snakes, it makes sense why many people tend to get nervous or afraid when snakes are in the area. Unfortunately, this means many people misunderstand snakes and kill them unnecessarily. Very few snakes harm humans, and many kill more problematic pests like rats and mice.

The next time you see a snake in your yard, take a minute to identify it before panicking. Once you know what it is, you'll better know how to handle it. 

Common Snakes in Los Angeles

Southern California is home to many different types of snakes, most of which are non-venomous. When you see a snake in your yard, it's probably one of these generally harmless varieties:

  • Gopher snake. These snakes are usually light brown and covered in a pattern of both large and small dark brown spots. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes, although they are nonvenomous and rarely even bite. Their main defense mechanism is to coil up like a pit viper and strike with a closed mouth, smacking the threat with their nose.
  • Red, western, and striped racer. Each of these snakes is long, extremely thin, and faster than most snakes. Red racers are usually light red or pink, with a darker head and a mottled pattern. Western racers are solid colored and gray, brown or green. Striped racers have black scales with two thin, yellow stripes along each side.
  • California kingsnake. When domesticated, California's state snake actually makes a relatively easy-to-care for and friendly pet. The snake, which prefers constriction to biting when hunting, is larger than most California snakes and comes in many color varieties. Some may be red with yellow bands, others black with white bands, and others brown with yellow stripes.
  • Ring-necked snakes. These small, shy snakes are easily identified by their muted green coloring on top and vibrant red, yellow, or red coloring on their bellies. As the name suggests, they have a matching brightly-colored ring of scales around their neck. They prefer to hunt at night. Their submissive nature and small fangs mean they rarely bite even when handled.
  • Garter snake. These multicolored, patterned snakes are common throughout the country, especially in areas with a good water source. Amphibians make up a significant portion of their diet. Although garter snakes actually do possess a mild venom, it isn't strong enough to hurt humans even if they had a means of injecting it. Garter snakes lack strong front teeth.

When you find a snake in yard, it's more than likely one of these harmless types. However, there is one snake in California that poses a threat to humans.

  • Rattlesnakes. Because of their large, thick bodies and spotted brown coloring, rattle snakes are sometimes hard to distinguish from gopher snakes. However, rattlesnakes have a sharply triangular head and a banded tail ending in a rattle, which they use to warn away predators. These snakes strike quickly and the venom can kill if antivenin isn't administered within a few hours.

While rattlesnakes can be deadly, very few people who are bitten actually die. And rattlesnakes aren't extremely aggressive, preferring to warn people away instead of engaging. They will generally only attack if they feel threatened and the threat won't leave.

Deciding on Pest Control

It's one thing to know that a snake in your yard won't hurt you; it's another thing entirely to want to keep them around. While many snakes can keep rodent populations down, protecting you from an even more annoying pest, you probably don't want the snakes themselves near your pets or children, even if they aren't venomous. They may not know to leave the snake alone, and they may get bitten.

One or two gopher snakes in the garden probably isn't anything to be worried about, but if you notice a large population of snakes of any species near your home, look into pest control. Many companies, including Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, prefer to move the snakes to a safe location rather than kill them.

To discourage snakes from coming back, keep your grass short and keep woodpiles and lawn debris away from your home. If snakes don't have anywhere to hide, they likely won't stay in the area long.

If you're tired of snakes slithering through your yard, don't reach for the shovel. Call Greenleaf Organic Pest Management for safe, humane, and thorough removal. 

How Did These Ants Get in Your Kitchen?

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Oct 03, 2016 @ 02:19 PM

In Southern California, ants are fairly common and can easily invade your kitchen when food is left out. If you leave a bit of cake out overnight, you may wake up to lines of marching ants on your counters, floors, or walls. But how did they get there so fast? And what kinds of foods attract these ants?

In this blog, we'll discuss how ants are able to locate food and lead their colony to it, and we'll also address which foods ants prefer and don't prefer.

How Do Ants Find Food?

Ants are able to sense unique chemical combinations from great distances, and this ability helps them find their favorite foods and bring them back to the colony. But they may have to wander for a while before they sniff out the right foods.

To find food, ants essentially fan out from the nest, walking randomly until they find what they're looking for. They don't necessarily walk in straight lines, instead walking meandering paths as they push on. As they search, they lay down pheromones so they can find their way back home or so other ants can follow their trail. Every ant has a unique scent, so ants can identify if a route was left by a friend or foe.

When ants find food, they take a piece back with them to the colony, following their own trail back as they lay down more pheromones, thus doubling the strength of the scent. Once they've dropped off their findings, they'll go back on the path to further strengthen the scent of pheromones for their nest-mates to follow.

If the other wandering ants happen upon another ant's trail, they'll abandon their own and follow the scent. If they end up back at the nest without any food, they'll turn back around to keep following the trail and see where it leads. And all the while, they're laying down their own pheromones to strengthen the trail.

So, if an ant happens upon a strong trail that leads to food, they'll further fortify the trail with their own scent, and other ants will eventually happen upon the path.

After a while, enough ants will gather to collect food, resulting in a small group swarming a large muffin crumb or drop of syrup. This tactic allows ants to quickly find food and communicate with their nest-mates. But it can be inconvenient for a homeowner, especially when he or she finds the kitchen crawling with ants the morning after a dinner party.

What Foods Attract Ants?

Southern California is home to a number of different ant species, including:

  • Thief ants
  • Odorous house ants
  • Argentine ants
  • Pharaoh ants
  • Carpenter ants
  • Imported fire ants
  • Pavement ants

But not all ants share the same food preferences. For the most part, the diets of ants can be divided into three main groups: greasy foods, sugary foods, and everything else.

Greasy Foods

Some species of ants, such as thief ants, love greasy foods. They're attracted to foods like cheese, peanut butter, and nuts, and they'll often go for cooked foods as well. You can find them on counters or stoves, and you can sometimes find them in cabinets or sinks.

Sugary Foods

Many ants favor the sweeter foods, surrounding a lone cookie crumb or a spot of honey on the counter. These ants are often more persistent than some of their cousins, and you can find them just about anywhere in your home. They'll even target fruits and nectar, and sometimes, they'll seek out the sweet honeydew excretions aphids leave behind.

Everything Else

Other ant species are happy to eat just about anything. They'll take sugary and greasy foods, and they'll even add a few other items to their diet, including insects, meat, oil, and eggs.

Some ant species eat things that are easily found in nature, such as seeds and plants. While they may scurry through your garden, they probably won't be a prevalent presence in your home.

What Foods Do Ants Dislike?

While a variety of ants can love a variety of foods, there are some foods and spices that can drive ants away. Ants dislike foods with strong scents, such as cinnamon, peppermint, and chili powder. They also avoid cloves and bay leaves, and throwing some of these in your picnic basket can help you have an ant-free meal in the outdoors.


Even if you keep your kitchen and home as clean as possible, ants can still infiltrate your home in search of food. When you notice them crawling along walls and floors and overtaking your property, call in the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management. We can provide you with effective pest control for ants of all varieties.

We use natural, non-toxic solutions to keep you and your family safe, and our friendly staff members can provide tips for keeping pests at bay.

Tags: ants, food pest, Food Safety

Bees With Jobs: Learn the Roles Bees Can Play

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Sep 02, 2016 @ 10:55 AM


Bees play a very important role in our ecosystem: not only do they produce honey, but they pollinate our crops. Without bees, we would not be able to grow our food.

But how do bees get things done? They live in a complex social system where each bee has a role to play to ensure the colony's continued survival. There are three types of jobs within a beehive, each necessary and important.

The Queen

The queen bee doesn't really rule the hive, unlike what her name implies. However, she is the most important figure in the hive because she ensures the hive's continued survival. Her role is to produce more bees, which she does constantly: some queen bees lay about 1,500 eggs per day, and the queens can live two to seven years, meaning she will lay millions of eggs in her lifetime.

Queen bees are marked as special at the moment the egg is laid. Most eggs are laid in a regular cell, but when it's time for a new queen to be born, the worker bees will construct a special queen cell that is bigger than the others. The larva in this cell will be fed a diet of "royal jelly," which is high in protein. Because of this special treatment, the insect will become sexually mature, unlike the other bees.

What happens when a queen hatches depends on the circumstances. If it's time for the bees to swarm and find a new home, the new queen may leave with them. However, if the current queen is getting old and this new queen is meant to replace her, she will immediately seek out any rival new queens in the hive and fight them to the death. The old queen is usually allowed to stay until she dies a natural death.

When the weather conditions are right, the new queen will seek out a drone congregation area, or a place where the male bees gather. There, she will mate with many bees and store the sperm in her body. When she comes back to the hive, she will stay there and use the stored sperm to produce eggs for the rest of her life, usually 2 to 7 years.

The Drones

Drones are male bees. They are unusual in that they only have one parent: to produce a drone, the queen will lay an unfertilized egg, meaning the drone has no father. Drones are larger than worker bees, have no stingers, and do not perform much work around the hive. Their primary purpose is to mate with queen bees.

Drones are born in the spring. During the late spring or early summer, they leave the hive to visit drone congregation grounds, where they wait for a new queen to visit. No one really knows how drones and queens manage to find these areas-the bees use the same places every year, even though the bees that visit every year have never come before.

When a queen bee visits the congregation area, the drones swarm her in an attempt to mate. Usually there are far too many drones to each mate with the new queen-only about one in 1,000 get the chance. However, the drones that do mate die shortly afterwards.

The other drones return to their colonies. Drones can only be away for maybe an hour at a time before they have to come back for more food. If drones do not mate, most hives will kill or drive them out in the autumn so they don't consume precious food during the winter.

The Workers

The vast majority of bees are worker bees, all of which are female. These bees take care of all the essential tasks that keep the hive running, leaving drones and the queen bee to worry about reproduction. Workers will:

  • Look after the queen bee (including feeding, grooming, and carrying away her waste).

  • Clean the cells the queen lays eggs into.

  • Feed the larvae that hatch from the eggs.

  • Produce wax to fix up the hive.

  • Make cells for storing food.

  • Collect and store nectar and pollen.

  • Carry away the corpses of dead bees.

  • Keep the hive warm enough or cool enough.

  • Guard the hive from intruders like wasps.

Sometimes a worker bee can lay eggs. However, if she does so, they will be unfertilized, and the resulting bees will be drones instead of more worker bees. 

Bees are both fascinating and very necessary to humans. We need them if we want to keep growing food, and many scientists are still puzzled by their complex society.

However, we may not want them in our yards. Sometimes hives can be removed from our properties without harm, when this is possible we will recommend live bee removal by a bee removal company.  Other times they may be in a wall or in an area that can’t be safely removed and we can help with that issue.

Tags: Bees