Spring Pests Waiting to Emerge
Spring is just around the corner, so where are all of those pests that will start invading homes in just a few months?
Pest have developed a number of clever ways to wait out cold conditions. Some, such as carpenter ants, actually produce an anti-freeze-glycerol-that allows them to survive at colder temperatures without their bodies freezing.
Ants move deeper into the ground to escape colder temperatures. Many ant colonies move up and down in the soil daily throughout the year. They bring their ant larvae and pupae up to where the sun warms the top layer of the colony during the day, and then move them lower at night to keep them warmer. So it is an easy matter for ants to move a little deeper during cold winter months.
Some pests hide in protected places and go into a state of diapause where their body functions slow way down, allowing them to survive until conditions are better again.
For other pests, all the tender adults may die, and only a tougher life-stage survives. For instance, adult moths are easily killed by cold temperatures, but their eggs or pupae are much more weather-resistant and survive cold periods. These continue their development as soon as weather warms.
Of course indoor pests like cockroaches, pantry pests, mice, and others continue to feed year-round in warm areas indoors. Before we know it, these pests, plus pests that wintered outdoors, will once again become more active and troublesome!
Termite Swarmers Coming!
It's estimated that over 2 million homes are damaged by termites every year. Unfortunately, most f these homeowners are completely unaware that a hoard of wood-destroying pests is silently eating the wood in their homes. one of the most common ways people first learn their home has termites, called "swarmers", are the males and females that start new colonies. These emerge and fly up into the air, often for only a few minutes, then land, lose their wings, pair up, and begin searching for places to start a new colonies.
Termites swarm at various times of the year, but many come out in the early spring, often on a warm day after a rain. Hundreds of these pests often emerge from a single colony. They may all come out at once, or in batches over several days or weeks when the conditions are right.
Swarmers are a good warning that termites are present, but it's not an early warning. A termite colony is generally four to five years old before it begins to produce its first swarmers. So if you see numbers of swarmers indoors, they are coming either from a colony that has been active for at least four years, or from an established colony that has moved into your home.
Don't take a chance if you see swarmers indoors-call us right away to schedule an inspection by a trained and licensed professional. Termites are an invisible threat that you want to take care of properly, before they cause more damage.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that pregnant women should now avoid Brownsville, Texas, where local mosquitoes have infected five people with the spreading Zika virus. The virus can cause birth defects to a fetus when a women becomes infected during pregnancy.
The Miami and South Beach area of Florida, where local mosquitoes had started infecting people with Zika starting last July, was declared free of locally-transmitted Zika in December by Governor Scott. This is a welcome development, just in time for the winter travel season! (In all, Florida has reported 249 locally transmitted cases of the virus.)
People become infected by Zika when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes. Most people with Zika were infected while traveling to Central or South America where the virus has spread, but the virus could become established in parts of the U.S. Besides birth defects, the virus can cause rash, high fever, and other symptoms. Only 20% of people infected with the virus show symptoms.
Recently it was discovered that the virus can be transmitted sexually. Because of this, people travel to areas where there is Zika, even if they show no symptoms of the disease, should abstain from sex or use safe measures for six months after returning.
About 5,000 cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S.
Germs & Kitchen Sponges
When testing 500 wet dishcloths and towels from five cities, researchers at the University of Arizona found 2/3 contained bacteria that can make people sick!
Remember, wash your dishcloths frequently and replace kitchen sponges often. Many people do not realize that they can wash sponges in the dishwasher-simply place them on the top rack, away from the heater coil. Or place them in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate harmful bacteria.
When cleaning up juices from poultry and other meats, use paper towels so you are less likely to contaminate other foods.
New Study: Mice Are A major Cause of Allergies in Children
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that children's asthma symptoms can be triggered by exposure to rodent allergens, especially in school.
In the study, dust samples were taken at 37 inner-city schools in Northeast, and analyzed for allergens. Allergens from mice were found in almost every sample mice were found in almost every sample taken, and the levels of allergens were generally even higher than allergens levels in homes. The study also found that children who attended schools that had higher mouse allergen level also tended to have asthma symptoms, including decreased lung function, more often.
Other allergens were also detected in the schools, from cockroaches, rats, dust mites, and cat and dog dander, but at lower levels, and only mouse allergens level were linked to the severity of student's asthma symptoms.
Asthma is a serious problem. Over 6 million children, or 15% of children in the U.S., have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention.
Previously a lot of studies looked at allergen levels in homes, but since children spend so much time in school, exposure there is also important. Previous studies have found mouse allergens in 95% of the homes tested. This means that children are exposed to mouse allergens for part of the day in schools, and then continue to be exposed at home.
Cleaning removes allergens, but not all of them. That is why it is so important to not allow pests like mice and cockroaches to become problems in the first place. Prevention is the key.