May/June 2013 Newsletter

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 11:59 AM

Go Away

Wood-Damaging Pest: The Invisible Threat

     You see a bug and stomp on it. But what about pests you don't see? Termites and other wood destroyers are a very expensive threat to your home, causing homeowners billions of dollars every year. Yet they do their damage almost entirely hidden from view, crawling through hidden cracks in concrete, or active behind walls or under floors.

     In fact, termites typically eat away at a home for many years before a homeowner even notices them. Sometimes the first sign a homeowner sees are termite swarmers, and these aren't even produced by a termite colony until three or four years after a colony gets started. Even then, they begin producing very few swarmers at first, so still more years may pass before they are noticed. All during this time termites cause increasingly serious damage.

     Our native termite colonies may have up to one and a half million termites in them. And a mature colony of Formosan termites can have one to ten million termites! A colony of just a qarter million termites eats 16 pounds of wood per year, so large colonies do extensive damage.

     Visible pest are only the tip of the iceberg-much of the damage wood-destroying pests cause happens without the homeowner ever knowing it. That's why our professional inspections are so important/ By catching wood damaging pest problems early, we minimize or prevent damage from "invisible threat." And we are often able to make recommendations to help correct situations that attract termites, before they ever come knocking at your home.


Garden resized 600











Landscaping & Pests

     This is the time of the year when many people are spending time in their yards, planting, pruning, and caring for their landscape. It is important to be aware of how your landscaping affects pest populations around your home.

     Many trees and shurbs have problems with aphids or other sucking insects. These insects excrete honeydew a sweet, partially digested plant sap that is a main food of many ants. Plants with these sucking pest not only attack ants, but help feed and grow entire ant colonies.

     Shrubs with foliage that touches the ground are good hiding places for rats and mice as they wonder about at night. These should be pruned up off the ground. Areas near your home that have high grass or weeds need to be mowed occasionally. Ground covers, especially ivy beds, are a particular problem because they provide cover for rodents, as well as for certain kinds of cockroaches and other pests. If you can trim ground covers yearly to keep them low, that will help, although it doesn't eliminate the problem.

     Mulching around a foundation may help keep down weeds, but mulches can create moist conditions that attract pest. Whenever possible, replace wood-based mulches bordering your foundation with the new rubber mulch made from old tires, or a stone or gravel mulch.

     Finally, this is a good time to check any sprinkers and make sure they are watering your plants only, and not the side of your home. When sprinkler water hits the side of your home it can increase the moisture content inside the wall, as well as under your home. Both situations can increase pest problem.

Spider in box











Deadly Spider in Shipments

     When a shipment of tires from Arizon arrived in England in January, the surprise upon opening the container was a heavy infestation of black widow spiders inside the container.

     Apparently black widow egg cases had hatched during the 5,000 mile journey. Fortunately they were discovered and exterminated before they spread.

     In December a shipment of machinery parts sent from Texas to England also had black widow spiders.

     Black widow are widespread here but not established in England. Their venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, but they inject less of it than a rattlesnake bite. Black widow spider bites can make a person very sick, and in rare cases they are fatal, so prompt treatment by a doctor is important. 

Bird Nest Mites

Bird Nest Pest

Birds and their singing may be sweet, but their nests can be a source of pests that you don't want coming indoors. It is usually not a problem for people until young birds vacate their nests. Once this happens the pests eventually abandon the nests and start searching for a new food source. If the bird nest is under the eaves or somewhere else attached to your home, some of the pests may find their way into your home.

     Many of the bugs in bird nests are parasires that suck blood from young birds and adults. Among the blood-suckers in nests are bird bed bugs, which are very similar to regular bed bugs and also feed on humans, kissing bugs that can transmit Chages disease to people, and a variety of blood-sucking ticks, fleas, and mites.

     Besides blood-suckers, other pest are known scavengers in bird nests, feeding on feathers, droppings, etc. These pests include clothes moths that feed on woolens, fur, and feathers, carpet beetles that feed on woolens and stored foods, drugstore beetles that feed on stored foods, and other pests you don't want indoors.

     Because of these pests in bird nests, either try to discourage the construction of any nest  that is directly to your home, or remove it as soon as the young birds leave. Nests further out in tree limbs, where the branches do not contact your home, are usually not a threat.

Tags: landscape, sprinklers, pests, moisture