Frequently Asked Pest Questions
Below, we'll tell you what to expect from these troublesome creatures, how to avoid them, and how Greenleaf Organic Pest Management eliminates them from your Los Angeles County property.
How are ants harmful?
Ants can be harmful because they contaminate your food by the trails that they leave. Ants nest inside walls seeking food sources. They prefer liquid food over solid as they can feed other members of their colony more effectively.
How can I get rid of ants?
The challenging part about getting rid of ants, is finding the source, as it may or may not be on your property.
Argentine ants are the most common ant and will send out scouts to look for a food source. Once a trail has been established finding the source is a bit easier. Treating only the exposed trail is only about 1-2 % of the colony size and will have little impact on the overall eradication. With all ant species, you must find the source.
Baits work very well as long as you leave them alone once the ants take to the bait. Most baits are slow acting by design. The ant picks up the bait and brings the product back to the colony. If the bait kills too fast then only the one ant that consumed the bait dies. You want the bait to be picked up and taken back to the colony so many feed on it.
How can I prevent ants in my home?
- Seal off openings around windows and doors with caulk to avoid infestations
- Fix water leaks to keep colonies away from your foundation
- Avoid weed barriers if possible, as they create the perfect environment for ants and other small insects
- Don’t leave food out or dishes overnight
- Wipe down counter tops with a mixture of vinegar and water to remove any soapy fragrances or pheromones left by the scouts
Rats & Mice
How are rodents harmful?
Rodents are harmful in a number of ways. They:
- leave contamination through urination and defecation
- gnaw on wiring causing house and car fires
- spread parasites and disease to other animals and in some cases, humans
Where do rodents hide?
Rats and mice have very different habits and behaviors. Mice typically nest very close to their food source (within about 10 feet) and do not need water as most of their water is consumed through the foods they eat. A typical place to find a mouse nest is inside your kitchen stove near the broiler. Rats on the other hand (roof rats), live in tall trees, but will also nest in and around foundations.
How can I get rid of rodents in my home?
When rodents invade a home you need to first find out how they are gaining access. Mice and rats really only need to find a hole the size of a quarter to get into your home, but remember they will gnaw and chew to get in as well. Ways rodents can enter your home:
- Crawl space access doors
- Drain lines (they are great swimmers)
- Telephone and cable lines
- Gaps in windows and doors
Once all of above access points have been secured, conventional rat traps are the best way to remove rodents from your structure.
How can I prevent rodents in my home?
Exclusion is the best and most effective way to keep rodents out of a structure. Take a thorough walk around your home or business looking for potential access points and be sure to seal them off. It's very important to use proper repair material, when addressing openings that are proven to be effective against re-entry. Keep storage around the house away from the foundation as well. Landscape plays a big part in rodent control. Heavy ground cover, such as ivy, are a favorite of rats, so keeping this to a minimum and far away from your structure will help minimize infestations.
Cockroaches, also known as Waterbugs (likely because it sounds less threatening), are a harmful pest that can cause childhood asthma (from the cast exoskeleton) and contaminate food.
Here in the Los Angeles area we have approximately 6 species of cockroaches, however, we will focus on the 3 most common: German, Oriental and American.
How are cockroaches harmful?
Roaches can contaminate the food that you eat and are also a health hazard to asthma patients, especially children.
They can be beneficial though, as they assist the ecosystem by feed on animal carcasses and decomposing vegetation.
Where are cockroaches found?
Each species of roach can be found in a different environment. The German Cockroach (or food roach), is typically found in restaurants and other food establishments. They are brought into kitchens through packaged goods and spread via infested equipment such as cable boxes, water coolers, clothing, and electronic appliances that have been brought in from an infested structure.
The Oriental Roach will come in to your home or business from dark and damp places such as sewers, compost, and heavy ground cover.
American Cockroaches share similar characteristics to the Oriental, however they are the largest of the three species (2" or more) and they can fly! These roaches prefer filthy environments with wet decaying organic material.
How do I get rid of cockroaches?
There are many ways to rid your home or business or roaches, but it is important that you first identify the species you are dealing with for proper treatment.
German cockroaches are best treated using gel formulated baits. Sanitation is also a key component in any roach elimination program. Bait is a food, so it is crucial that you have a clean establishment before you apply the bait to avoid a competing food source. Baits are slow acting by design; patience is important to give these products time to work.
Oriental & American waterbugs (roaches) can be treated the same with a good residual pesticide. Most often these species are found in wet environments. It is important that you eliminate this issue before applying the pesticide.
How can I prevent cockroaches in my home or business?
Be cautious when bringing in grocery bags or boxes. Inspect bulk items (potatoes), beverages in cardboard containers, paper bags; before before bringing them into your home or business.
Plumbing lines should be in good shape, especially drains that may be old and broken from the sewer. Drains in the home that are not used regularly should have a plug or seal of some kind so they restrict any passage of insects. Doors should also have proper door sweeps installed and screens with small mesh should be in good repair around the foundation of the home.
How are spiders harmful to humans?
Here in California, most spiders do not cause a health concern. Both Black and Brown Widows are poisonous, however they rarely bite humans in a normal setting. They use their venom for the insects they hunt.
Spiders are actually a beneficial pest, but receive a bad rap because of fear. Spiders do a great job with eliminating other insects.
How to get rid of spiders?
Spiders typically build their webs where other insects migrate; under outdoor furniture, inside garages, and just about any place where excessive storage is kept. Spiders do this to be close to their food source. They need insects to feed off of.
Because spiders bodies are up high and don't typically make contact with treated surfaces, it makes them the most difficult pest to control. When getting rid of these pests it is best to target their food source. If general pest infestations are controlled then spiders will move off the site or die from consuming the other pests that have been treated.
How can I prevent spiders on my property?
Spiders come onto your property in many ways. From the firewood you buy to ballooning from neighboring properties (spiders will spin silken webs between their legs and "parasail" from trees and high structures, it is best to remove the food source, so the spiders don't stay.
Eliminate the places spiders and their prey like to stay by removing storage and plants at least 18 inches away from doors and foundations. Additionally keep plant clippings and leaves cleaned up to reduce food source for these pests.
When chemical treatment is suggested then a general application will be made to spiders as well as their food source.
Where are scorpions found in California?
Scorpions can be found in California, though most are infrequent and mostly found in heavy ground covered areas. Scorpions can enter homes if doors are left open or if the doors aren't properly fitted.
Prevention and control of scorpions is similar to control of spiders. However, physical changes to a suspected source is best practice rather than a pesticide.
California species are not particularly a health concern (much like bees), but as is everything else, different people react differently so there is no solid answer about the level of concern.
Fleas & Ticks
Fleas and ticks are an external parasite that can be found in just about any outdoor venue, from backyards to mountain hiking trails. They generally live on animals, such as dogs and cats. They survive off of a blood meal from their host (dog or cat) which is also needed to lay eggs.
Fleas can transfer disease through their bite as well as being consumed by a host animal.
How are fleas and ticks harmful?
Fleas are responsible for transferring parasites such as round worm and tape worm. They can also cause anemia and various skin dermatitis.
Ticks can transfer Lyme disease through their bite to humans.
How can I get rid of fleas and ticks?
First and foremost your pets need to be treated professionally with an approved pesticide for on animal application. The best way to get fleas and ticks out of your home is through frequent vacuuming and a complete flea treatment that involves, treating the pet(s), vacuuming floors, carpets, and furniture.
Weevils are a food pest. They can be found infesting open containers of flour, rice, and cereal.
How can I prevent weevils in my kitchen?
The best way to rid your kitchen of weevils, is to freeze grains to kill any eggs, ensure that all food containers are properly sealed, and regularly clean your pantry and cabinets.
Earwigs & Silverfish
We all have heard the stories of earwigs crawling into ears and burrowing into the brain, laying eggs. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't the case. Earwigs are actually a beneficial pest in the garden and landscape, as they eat decaying vegetation, other insects, and all types of fruit and vegetables.
Silverfish on the other hand eat starches and adhesives that contain Dextrin. Examples of that would be: glue, book bindings, paper, coffee, sugar, hair, carpets, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish are more a nuisance than anything else as they can ruin clothes, tapestries, books, paper products, etc.
Where can earwigs and silverfish be found?
Silverfish can be found in that have moisture such as vegetation, strong holds, blocks, and plywood sheeting. Earwigs are typically found in the yard where ground cover and damp leaves are found.
How can I get rid of earwigs and silverfish?
Earwigs love hiding in small areas such as sprinkler head orifices. Knowing this you can, roll up newspaper and place in your garden. The earwigs will crawl onto the paper, making it easy to dispose of them without the use of a pesticide. These pests are difficult to control with pesticides, so mechanical and physical methods work well.
The best way to rid your home of silverfish is by cleaning and removing excess clutter. Moisture is also an issue. Fixing leaks and areas with poor ventilation will help. The use of an approved pesticide can also be helpful.
Pillbugs can cause damage to plants and turf by eating decaying plants and roots. They are primarily found outdoors, but can be found indoors as well. The best way to reduce these pests in your home is to reduce ground cover and mulch.
Aphids are plant parasites that suck out the plant's sap. They cause losses of up to 30% in crops. Moreover, aphids are efficient vectors of may viral diseases in plants.
How are aphids harmful?
Aphids are a common garden pest, though they are not harmful to pets or humans, they damage and spread disease in plants.
How can I prevent aphids from destroying my garden?
Controlling ants will help reduce the presence of aphids as aphids herd ants for their honeydew. Keep a close eye on plant bloom and treat with an appropriate pesticide when aphids are noticed.
There are many varieties of white flies, a particular common variety is the Ficus Whitefly.
Whiteflies produce on average, three generations worth (of whiteflies) per year. Once the eggs hatch, the flies will usually move around the plant in search of a feeding site. Once they find a suitable site they will attach themselves and become immobile, feeding in the same spot until they reach adulthood. This cycle takes approximately 30 days to complete. After becoming adults, White flies will seek out other plants and the process repeats itself.
Are whiteflies harmful?
Because of the potential size of the population, this pest can cause a significant amount of damage to gardens are yards. Whiteflies cause plants to wilt and leaves to drop. They also cause sap to drip onto surfaces such as porches or decks and even cars.
How can I get rid of and prevent whiteflies?
Whiteflies are biting insects, because of this, a soil drench product is most effective. A pre-treatment each year can reduce populations. Additionally, keeping plants thinned out will help reduce infestations.
Bees, Wasps, & Hornets
Bees are the most important insect in the world. Bees pollinate many of the food we enjoy such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and many others. Without pollination these foods would not have much flavor and would not grow to their full potential.
Wasps and hornets are beneficial pests as well. They keep insect numbers in check as they feed on and remove dead insects.
These pests eat other insects and nectar and can be found anywhere.
Bees and wasps build their hives in locations that are somewhat protected, such as wall voids, attics, cracks in stucco, trees, etc. Wasp specifically will nest in the ground and make a paper nest that will hang underneath eves of homes.
How are bees, wasps, and hornets harmful?
Some people are highly allergic to the stings of wasp, bees and hornets and can cause some people to go into life threatening anaphylactic shock after being stung.
How can I rid my yard of wasp and bee hives?
Being that bees are essential to our agricultural market we try and not exterminate hives when at all possible and will contact a bee keeper who will remove the hive, with the queen intact, and relocate it. Wasp can be removed with various pesticides, at that point, the nest can safely be removed.
Mosquitoes must have a blood meal to develop fertile eggs, just like fleas. The males do not lay eggs, therefore they do not bite. The females on the other hand, will lay multiple groups of eggs which require a blood meal for each batch of eggs she lays.
Many people are not aware that mosquitoes must have sugar as a main source of energy, not blood. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, fruit juices, and liquids that ooze from plants. Sugar is used for flight fuel and needs to be replenished daily. Blood is reserved for egg production, which is needed less frequently.
How are mosquitoes harmful?
Mosquitoes transmit pathogens and viruses, such as:
- West Nile Virus
- Yellow Fever
Malaria was responsible for 627,000 deaths in 2012 alone.
How can I prevent and get rid of mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are found near standing water (required for them to breed). This pest can also be found in heavy brush and are most active at dusk.
You can help reduce mosquito’s populations by controlling the environment around your home. Remove any standing water, especially after it rains. Remove the standing water from: flower pot saucers, wagons, wheel barrels and even pools that do not have a running filter. You also want to make sure window screens are in place and fit properly.
Gophers & Squirrels
Both gophers and squirrels can cause severe damage as well as be a health concern. Ground squirrels destroy landscape and contribute to the overall damage and erosion caused to hillsides.
Gophers and squirrels eat plant material, so residential gardens are a target.
How are gophers and squirrels harmful?
We all have heard of the bubonic plague caused by the flea that infests these animals. This disease is still an issue today and many local and state agencies have programs in place to combat this issue.
How can I get rid of squirrels and gophers?
The most popular product for exterminating these pests is, Phostoxin. Phostoxin is a pellet that can be injected into the burrows with a gopher probe or placed by hand into the opening of squirrel tunnels. The amount of moisture in the air and soil will activate the pellet which will cause a reaction, producing a gas called phosphine which will kill both animals.
Are crickets harmful?
Crickets are not harmful to humans but they do cause damage to plants and fabrics.The Mole cricket, for example, damages turf and landscape. House crickets will go after fiber, so proper identification is important.
How can I rid my home and yard of crickets?
Crickets can be found in and outdoors. The size of the infestation will determine on the time of year and landscape design. The best way to rid and prevent them is to reduce ground cover and mulch and insure doors & windows are properly screened. Regularly scheduled pest control services will also greatly reduce cricket populations.
Moths & Fabric Pests
The most common fabric eating pests are silverfish, crickets, beetles, and moths. Most of these pests feed on natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, and furs.
How can I prevent these pests from eating my clothes?
The best way to prevent and control fabric pests is to dry clean all clothing and fabric items, then store in moth proof bags. Proper storage makes the biggest difference.
Stored Product Pests
There are many types of pests that can be found in your food, from moths to beetles. However, no matter the pest, you still don't want to find a little critter hiding in your flour.
How can I rid and prevent my food from being infected by these pests?
Infestation prevention is best accomplished with climate control and proper packaging. Most pests will not hatch if storage conditions are kept below 72 degrees and packaged in airtight containers so if an infestation is noted it will be contained and not spread to other items.