Nov/Dec 2017

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 @ 01:39 PM

Pest Are Still Active

You would think that pest problems would be gone this time of the year, but unfortunately, that is wishful thinking.  Many pest can breed and multiply all winter indoors, thanks to central heating.  Here are just a few pests that are problems during late fall and winter, and what to do about them.

     Christmas trees- various pests take up residence in Christmas trees, then become active when you bring them into a warm home.  Shake trees well before you bring them home. Shake and hose out the tree before you bring them indoors.  

     Holiday feasts- Crumbs and spills attract all sorts of pests.  Clean them up, place trash in containers with tight-fitting lids, and empty regularly.  Leave dirty dishes and pans in a sink full of soapy water if you will not be cleaning them that night.

     Woolen items- Clothes moths and carpet beetles attack wool clothing and anything else made of wool.  Clean clothing is less likely to be attacked than worn or dirty clothing.

     Fall invaders becoming active- pests that invade in late August and September, like certain kinds of flies, stink bugs, and others, may "wake up" on warmer days and start falling out of cracks and crevices.  Some of these can stain curtains and walls.  Vacuum up small numbers.

     Also watch for ants nesting indoors, pest coming from Firewood, invading rats and mice, and bed bugs brought in from travels or overnight quests.  Because of these and other pests, ongoing  pest services are important in making your life healthier and better, and helping to protect your belongings.


Tree Stumps Cause Termite Troubles

Yards are often havens for termites.  One common source of food for them is decaying stumps and roots.  These often become "termite magnets" 

     Stumps are especially likely to become infested because their root systems underground spread out far and wide, often across property lines, and under buildings.  If the tree is within 10 feet of a foundation, the roots can gradually crack the concrete.  These cracks create hidden entryways to the building's structural wood.  Termites not only eat roots, they also follow them, so the roots may lead them directly to  a crack in the foundation.

     Stumps and their roots provide a large food source for termites.  A termite colony may spend years eating them.  As the termite colony grows they start depleting the food in the stumps and roots, and the termites become more and more aggressive in looking for new food sources.

     As stumps decay, they are ore likely to be found by termites, because wood that is decaying and moist is very highly attractive to termites.  Research shows that termites can actually detect the odors given off by decaying wood, and they will tunnel towards those odors.

     For all these reasons it is important to remove dead trees and shrubs, stumps, and as much of their root system as possible.  Stumps can be dug out, but hiring a company with a stump grinder is often more practical.  Stumps should be ground down to at least 10-14 inches below soil surface, and any large roots removed as well. 


Dirty Clothes Attract Bed Bugs

In a just-published study, when bed bugs were released into an empty room that had bags of clean and dirty clothes, they were much more likely to seek out the bags of dirty clothes than the clean clothes.

     Bed bugs use odors in our skin as an important way to find us and get a blood meal.  These odors remain in our clothes after we wear them.  In the study, the "dirty" clothes were worn for just three hours-long enough to pick up our human scent.

     What does this mean?  If you are in a hotel or anywhere else that may have bed bugs, having dirty clothes and shoes on a bed, or on the floor (especially near a bed) will increase the likelihood that bed bugs crawl into a pile of clothes or shoes and be carried home with you, potentially starting a new bed bug infestation.  Based on these new findings, it would probably be better to have worn items in a sealed plastic bag, and when you get home, empty the entire bag contents into the washing machine.

Ant Causes Eye Problems

We are still discovering unexpected ways pests cause problems.  An ant called the little fire ant causes eye lesions that can hinder vision or even cause blindness, according to a recent article in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

     It has been suspected for many years by many scientists and veterinarians that the little fire ant can cause lesions of the cornea, called leukomas.  But there has been no proof, and the cause of the condition was debated in the medical community.

     The little fire ant, about as long as a penny is thick, has a painful sting, like other fire ants. It often falls from trees when the wind blows. If it gets on an eye of a person, pet, or wild animal, the natural instinct is to blink, which triggers the ant to sting.  Apparently it is the toxin the ant injects that causes the lesions.

     The little fire ant has spread from Central and South America and is now in parts of Florida, south Texas and Hawaii.  The eye lesions were first reported in cats of Florida in 1979, and later dogs and other animals.  Soon after the ant invaded Hawaii in 1999, veterinarians, in areas where the ants had invaded, started seeing animals with these eye lesions.

     Interestingly, people in parts of Columbia, where the ant is native, have long attributed the eye lesions to the ants.  As early as the year 2000 there were reports that these people knew the ants caused the lesions because they had experienced the ants falling into their eyes while they worked in the jungle.