GreenleafOrganicPest.com Blog

Pest Prevention Tips

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

Apple with ants resized 600

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

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

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

EXCLUSION

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

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

SUB-AREAS

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

ATTICS

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

GENERAL ISSUES

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

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

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

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

PETS

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

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

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Tags: pest prevention, pest exclusion, firewood storage practices

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

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

Pesticide options 

Pesticides Isn’t Always the Solution

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

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

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

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

Don’t always require pesticide:

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

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

First up is:

Food Pest

FOOD PEST

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

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

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

PREVENTION

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

Fabric Pest 

CLOTHS MOTHS

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

MYTH

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

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

Lice 

FRUIT FLIES

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

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

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

MYTH ABOUT BLEACH

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

Head Lice 

LICE

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

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

Scabies 

SCABIES

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

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

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

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

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Tags: pest prevention, Pesticide options, Lice