November/December 2014

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 10:58 AM

Pest Protection & PreventionDamp_Conditions

Most homes have moisture problems of some kind. Wood-destroying pests, including termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and decay fungi, are at their worst, and often get their start, in places around the home that are damp.

    Moisture can come from a variety of sources, including rainwater, leaky plumbing, and landscape irrigation. Here are a few important steps to take to reduce moisture around your home.

     Keep your roof gutters cleaned out and in good repair. Gutters that don't work properly often spill water onto the side of a home, causing moisture problems. If you have tree limbs hanging over your home, install mesh gutter guards to help keep leaves and other debris out of the gutters.

     After the water passes through your downspouts, channel it away from your home, rather than dumping it at the foundation where it will often seep under the foundation. Use a splash block or attach plastic tubing to the end of the downspout to carry the water away. Another method is to direct the water into subsurface perforated drainage pipes that are embedded in crushed rock.

     trim tree branches well away from your home, and thin trees to let in more sun. Prune any plant growth away from crawl space and attic vents. Make sure your home has a good coat of paint to seal out moisture. Check for drips from faucets and pipes.

     Finally, call us if you discover any of these or other moisure problems, especially if it has been more than two years since you've had a professional inspection for wood-destroying organisms.

Move-in Time for Mice & Rats


In the fall and winter mice and rats invade homes in record numbers, looking for food and a more comfortable place to spend the cooler months. The question many people ask us is, "How do mice and rats get in?" The short answer is, "Very easily!"

     Mice and rats have an amazing ability to squeeze through small holes. A young mouse can squeeze through a hole smaller than a quarter. Amazing! And if the opening is too small, they will often make it bigger by gnawing around the edges.

     Openings around service conduits like electricity and phone lines, and water lines, and water pipes, providing easy access indoors and between apartments. Dryer vents and gaps around window-installed air conditioner units are other common entry points. Rodents can also crawl up through drain pipes not properly capped, as well as under exterior doors that don't seal well.

     Rats reach roof areas easily by "tight-rope walking" along utility lines and tree branches, by climbing up pipes, and even through gutter downspouts. This enables them to enter through roof chimney vents, cracks, around fireplace flashing, and through any other cracks and other openings.

     Surprisingly, rodents sometimes are inadvertently brought indoors hidden in bags, boxes, and used appliances or furniture. And they sometimes scurry in through and open door or unscreened window.

      Rodents are persistent, and they find many ways to get indoors. If you have these common pests, give us a call to professionally control them and address the entry points.

New Viruses found in New York Subway Rats


A team of scientists captured 133 rats at various places in New York City's subways, and used DNA sequencing to catalog the pathogens they were carrying.

     They found an alarming number of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, but what was most alarming was the viruses they found-18 viruses that are entirely unknown to science.

     The authors note that the new viruses have not been reported yet in humans, but it is possible that human infection with some of these viruses is already occurring. Because most viruses cause only mild symptoms, or symptoms very similar to other illnesses, many illnesses are misdiagnosed.

     A few of the viruses stand out, including a new species similar to the hepatitis C virus, and Seoul hantavirus, a dangerous disease that causes excessive bleeding, and had never been found in New York before.

     The study raises the question of how many more unknown viruses are lurking in rat populations around our country.

The Future of 'Jurassic Parks'


Ever since Michael Crichton published Jurassic Park in 1990 followed by the classic Spielberg film three years later, there has been a popular urban legend that blood-engorged mosquito fossils are common and that a real Jurassic Park is possible someday. In fact, fossilized mosquito are fairly rare, and even rarer are fossils of mosquitoes or other blood-sucking insects where there is evidence of blood in their stomachs from their latest victim-to date what has been discovered is only a couple mosquito fossils (one was discovered recently), a few sandflies, and an assassin bug.

     Unfortunately being able to extract DNA from blood that is now fossilized is a complete fantasy. So there never will be a Jurassic Park, except at the movies.

Do Sunspots Affect Honey Bees?


Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon where large numbers of honey bees gradually leave their hives, never to return again, has been confounding scientist all over the world since the disorder was first identified and named in 2006. Scientist have thought that the problem could be caused by parasitic mites, various bee diseases, certain kinds of pesticides, pollution, and many other causes, but research has eliminated each of these as being the sole cause of the disorder. Lately research has been focusing on the possibility of a combination of factors as being the cause.

     It's in the midst of allconfusion that a new study was just released in the Journal of Apicultural Research that points to an entirely unexpected culprit-solar storms, or sunspots. Sunspots cause fluctuations in earth's magnetic fields, and as it turns out, bees use magnetic fields to navigate by.

     it is difficult for us humans to understand how important magnetic fields are to bees. It would be like if we needed to go somewhere, but our eyes were bound so we couldn't see, or a heavy fog made our sight useless. Bees use earths magnetic fields to help them know where they are, and how to get home. This ability, called magnetoreception, is also used by birds, fish, and other animals. The researchers found that bees subjected to different magnetic fields were less able to find their way home.

     Taking this a step further, the researchers were also able to show that periods of increased levels of solar storms were the same periods as when honey bees losses were the greatest.

     Sunspots may end us as only part of the reason behind honey bee loses, but it may be the key part that has gone unnoticed up until now.